38 Special Case Trimming

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38 Special Case Trimming

Postby Macd » 13 May 2018 07

Yesterday I prepped several hundred 38 Special cases. There were 10 different head stamps and some of the cases were decades old. All appeared to be in good condition with no obvious signs of fatigue. I measured a case from each head stamp and the lengths varied from 1.135 (SAAMI Minimum) to 1.153. The majority fit in the 1.140 to 1.145 range. Thankfully the short head stamp (1.135) was only a dozen or so cases so they will be put aside. This left the shortest cases at 1.140. I am currently using nickel plated cases that all came from the same 4 boxes of W-W. They are 1.142+\- .001. All my loads, seating depth and crimping are set on this case length. While a few thousands either way doesn't make much difference, there is a point where a case is too long and the crimp groove or cannelure is below the case mouth. After much deliberation I have decided to trim all cases down to 1.142. I ordered the Zip trim, chuck and case gauge and shell holder. I figure I have about 1200 cases and perhaps 600-700 will get some trimming. Oh my aching fingers :cry:
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Re: 38 Special Case Trimming

Postby lrrice » 13 May 2018 08

I have loaded 38 (and all other straight wall cases) until the nickel wore off and the cases split and have never trimmed it. I've never had the slightly varied cases cause any issue. I wouldn't worry about it unless it was for highly accurate competitive shooting.
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Re: 38 Special Case Trimming

Postby Fyodor » 13 May 2018 10

I own about 6000 cases in .38spl. Half of that was acquired from factory ammo, but the other half is random range brass. I never even considered trimming that! And I never had a problem. Well, that's not exactly true: I found that one specific brand is a bit shorter and causes problems because it doesn't crimp properly. But instead of trimming 5890 cases, I tossed the 110.
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Re: 38 Special Case Trimming

Postby Ranch Dog » 13 May 2018 17

Macd wrote:I ordered the Zip trim, chuck and case gauge and shell holder. I figure I have about 1200 cases and perhaps 600-700 will get some trimming. Oh my aching fingers :cry:

Oh my, just like starting a lawmower. I trim all my stuff including the 38 Spl (only about 600 a year) on the Lyman Prep Center using the Lee Case Trimmers & Lee's Threaded Cutter #90648.
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Re: 38 Special Case Trimming

Postby mikld » 14 May 2018 14

I figger revolver case trimming is an "if you wanna, go ahead" thing. I started reloading 38 Specials in '69, way before I started looking in on forums (2009?) and "learning" cases need a small length tolerance. Since I started reloading 8 other cartridges my 38 brass stash has dropped to about 500-600 cases, and I've not measured/trimmed one. I often crimp by feel (pretty accurate and repeatable in my case) so "case length = crimp consistency" does not apply and I crimp all my bullets in their crimp groove or cannalure. Sometimes when I'm working up a load or just being anal (or really bored), I'll sort my 38 Special cases by head stamp, but just as often will use mixed brass...
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