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Discussion Starter #1
My most recent purchase was a 380 Auto of the Walther PPK design.

I decided to see if I had some cast bullets that would work in the 380. Understanding the bullet weights for the 380 run from 85 grains to a maximum of a 110 grain bullet by Nosler. Most manufacturers top out at 100 to 105 grains.

I purchased some 95 grain FMJ ammo made by S & B. I shot very well and the first twelve rounds I fired at fifty feet were all in a 3" group with a six shot cluster measuring only 1".

My search of my cast bullets came up with only two possibilities. One 111 grain wad cutter and one 115 grain SWC. Both are a bit heavier than the typical 380 bullet but are not too long or so I thought.

Now the trouble starts. I found with new Winchester brass and the once fired S & B brass the cast bullets could not be seated any deeper into the shell case than .200" without entering into the part of the brass where the case wall starts to thicken. I can actually feel the additional force required to seat the bullet past the .200" depth. Seating beyond the .200" depth causes a bulge ring at the base of the bullet and the pulled bullet can measure .002" to .005" smaller at the base than it started out at. Bullets with .355" to .357" diameter all do the same thing.

This undersizing of the bullets base causes poor accuracy and leading of the bore. This problem is present in the 9mm, 38 Super, 40mm and even the 45 ACP if lead or cast bullets are long enough or otherwise require being seated deep enough to control over all length that the base of the bullet starts into the area where the brass starts to thicken. I shoot all of the mentioned calibers and have run into the undersized bullet base in all of them. The 9mm was more of a problem than the rest, but it can happen in all of them.

If you have any doubt about what I am saying and want to see for yourself, seat a lead or cast bullet .250" or more into a 380 Auto case, then pull the bullet. You will be shocked by what you see.

Bullets with a BHN of 14.0 still were a problem. I am guessing a BHN of 20.0 or more may resist the undersizing but will still bulge the shell case. I don't have any cast bullets that hard.

I have ordered some 95 grain FMJ bullets and hard cast bullets. These are short enough and will not require the bullets to be seated deeper than .200".

If any of you are loading the 380 Auto with cast bullets and I see a lot of you are using the Lee 105 grain bullet, I suggest you pull a couple of bullets to see what the base looks like. If it shows a pronounced taper it was undersized in the thicker part of the brass. If you have had less than good accuracy and or leading, this could be the cause.
 

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I bought a box of commercial cast 100gr RNFP .358's that i'm still working on. They work fine sized down to .357" in my pistol. The first batch I made was before I had a sizing die and they would not chamber in my Colt Mustang Pocketlite but they chambered fine in my friend's imported .380.

I haven't noticed any leading at all when shooting these sized to .357".

I ordered the special RD 358 100 bullet and i'm hoping it works as well in my .380 as RD's other molds have worked in my guns.

The main reason I don't shoot my .380 all that much is the brass is so dang hard to find (tiny). :D
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Ole1830,

Your 100 grain bullet is short enough to not cause the problem I ran into with my 111 gr and 115 gr cast bullets.

That is why I had to order the 95 grain bullets.

I found plenty of 380 brass on the Gunbroker web site. Both new and once fired. I found bullets when looking through, Midway USA, MidSouth Shooters Supply, Graf and Natchez. At least one of the four should have what you need.
 

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I found plenty of 380 brass on the Gunbroker web site. Both new and once fired. I found bullets when looking through, Midway USA, MidSouth Shooters Supply, Graf and Natchez. At least one of the four should have what you need.
Yeah the way I typed it made it easy to misunderstand.

What I meant is the .380 cases are so small, they are hard to find when scattered all over the dirt. I don't want to lose too many because I only have about 400 cases and that's between myself and two buddies that I load for.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Ole1830,

I agree with you. The 380 shell case is so small they can hide easily. I have the same problem with 9mm and 45 ACP brass. When they fall in grass, even very short grass, they like to end up base down and the dark case mouth up is hard to see.

Most of my shooting is from a three sided and roofed shooting bench structure. I can shoot sitting at the bench or standing for off hand shooting. The floor is clean and brass easy to find unless it is thrown straight forward, which is rare.

When shooting at bowling pins I stack down a large tarp that catches most empties.
 

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380 Brass

This site is out right now, but you might check back since he just sold out within a few days ago.

He has 380 brass 500 for $40.20 (buy two for $35.00 each) and Free shipping.

http://www.bbrbrass.com/index.php/pistol-brass/380-once-fired-brass.html

Edit: And now I notice that you were referring to the brass being hard to find due to the size. Well, I'll leave the link in case someone else is looking for 380 brass. Although even this link is currently out.
 

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The .380 ACP is designed around 90 to 100 grain bullet weights. That you encountered seating depth issues with bullets designed for the 9mm Luger, et al, gives ample testimony to the design limit of a short cartridge. Stay within the design configuration.
 

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I'm using a Lyman 358242 mold for a 92 gr LRN boolit. I load 4.1 grs of Unique under it giving 730 fps out of my CZ83.





CD
 

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I have been using the Lee 356-102 mold with no seating problems whatsoever with the .380. It drops a nice short bullet that doesn't go too deep into the .380 brass. I have never counted, but I estimate I have loaded a thousand or more of them and they shoot just as well as any other bullet in my Ruger LCP. And they are way cheaper than jacketed bullets.

Regarding losing .380 brass at the range, I think there is some mystery here, akin to the chupacabra and the Loch Ness monster. I can shoot any other caliber and almost always find 100% of my brass, but not with .380. The ants, worms, grubs, or something drag those things down in the ground before I can find them. Some days, 50% recovery is the best I can do.
 

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I have to remember to put a tarp down when I shoot the .32/.380's as the ground always eats mine too.


CD
 
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