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 Anyone Reloading 38 Short Colt? 
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Location: Austin, TX
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Real Name: Dave
I have a Smith PC 627 moonclipped 357 revolver. It's currently used exclusively for 38 Special which I load to roughly +P levels with 158gr cast bullets of .358 diameter. The challenge I'm having is aligning the 8 round moonclips into the cylinder on reloads. Having a lot of trouble getting them to drop in cleanly. In steel matches this is more a hassle than a real problem as there is no time limit loading the gun before starting each relay. The problem starts if shooting ICORE or USPSA which I'm hoping to restart in 2018.

So I'm considering a couple troubleshooting options for this:
- Buy a new Smith PC 929 with 8 shot moonclips for 9mm :bigsmile:
- Keep using PC 627 but change from currently Lee FCD (roll crimp) on 38 Special to Redding Taper Crimp die to see if that eases moonclip seating
- Keep using PC 627 but switch from 38 Special to 38 Short Colt

The second experiment is pretty cheap needing only a single die purchase. Will definitely try that.

The third experiment is a bit more work. As far as brass I have 8000 - 10000+ 38 Special cases on hand. Can investigate converting some to 38 Short Colt and/or buying a small lot of new 38 Short Colt brass for testing purposes.

I'm a bit more puzzled on the issue of reloading dies for 38 Short Colt. I notice Lee produces a 38 Short Colt reloading die set. On the interwebs I see some indications that other folks use a combination of 38 Special and 9mm dies depending on the operation.

Just reaching out to see if anyone else on the forum has any experience loading this ancient cartridge and what they might recommend for reloading die setup.

Thanks in advance.

Note that if the 38 Short Colts load in moonclip really well I'll just stick with my PC 627 for competition, skip the PC 929, and use some of that money for an Uberti 1872 Open Top. Hard to lose either way lol :bigsmile:


Sun Dec 17, 2017 2:06 pm
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Screw moon clips. Unless you shoot 9mm through it a lot I would unload a pistol that uses moon clips for a rimmed cartridge. I fail to understand why such a pistol would even exist. Seems it’s worth a bit of money though.

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Sun Dec 17, 2017 7:18 pm
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Location: Austin, TX
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Received some boxes from Midway this week with some new crimp dies since I use separate dies for seating and crimping. So I ran a comparison in 38 Special of the following crimp dies:
- Lee Factory Crimp Die
- Redding Profile Crimp Die
- Redding Taper Crimp Die

It seems my original troubles with moonclip loading were likely the result of an improperly adjusted crimp die. Actually I found that any one of these three dies produced moonclips that could easily seat in the revolver once the dies were properly adjusted to provide a suitable crimp.

Of the three I think I will stick with the Redding Profile Crimp Die which appears on close inspection to produce a short, gradual taper followed by a roll crimp at the case mouth. I've ruled out the Redding Taper Die because my load is a 158gr LRN (currently Dardas) over 5.0gr Unique which yields a +P load so I'd rather not chance having any bullets become unseated in the revolver cylinder due to recoil.

The Lee FCD has served me well although there is a lot of debate whether it downsizes or swages lead bullets due to the internal carbide sizing ring. Some users on the interwebs indicate this may cause increased leading but I've seen no evidence of this in my usage. So I think I'll simply change to the Profile Crimp Die to avoid this whole debate.

So now my 38 Special loads are worked out that will serve to get me restarted in steel matches later this month.

I've also picked up a couple hundred rounds of Starline 38 Short Colt brass and will be purchasing QuickLoad in the next couple weeks so I can do some modeling of fast burning powders under heavy 158gr/160gr bullets in that cartridge. So far I'm looking at VV N320 or Titegroup. Thinking is that for any match where reloads are on the clock that 38 Short Colt will support faster reloads than 38 Special. Plus it's an interesting experiment to work up loads in a historical cartridge for use in a modern revolver.

Thanks to Madpick for taking time to demo QuickLoad as that helped a lot in moving forward with this project.


Thu Jan 04, 2018 6:25 pm
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What moon clips are you using? My son had some issues on reloads with his 627 Pro Series. Went to using the TK Custom moon clips that are specific for StarLine brass (what I use for his 38 loads), very tight hold on the brass, almost no movement. His reloads became smoother almost instantly. Almost went the short colt route, but a buddy we shoot with played around with loads for months and couldn't get the accuracy out of his TTR that he had with his 38 loads. That kinda put the kid off the idea.
We bought a 929, but had a lot of issues with it right out of the box, I would have a hard time recommending it to someone. A lot of the guys we shoot Speed Steel with own them and its seems to be about a 50\50 chance it'll run right or be sent back to S&W. The guys we shoot with that shoot ICORE or other run and gun revolver matches chamfer and polish the hell out of the cylinder chamber throats to make reloads with the longer case of the 38 easier. Match guns take some tinkering sometimes to get em just right, good luck!

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Fri Jan 05, 2018 6:44 pm
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Thanks Twizz for the perspective on both the moonclips and the 929 reliability... Right now money is tight so I think a new revolver is out of the picture for a while yet anyways, next gun is probably a Walther PPQ or Beretta APX striker fired gun for use in defensive pistol training classes.

At the moment I'm using a supply of 40 or 50 of these cheaper moonclips with the large supply of Federal brass I have on hand:
http://www.revolversupply.com/moon-clip-38-357-s-w-627-nickel-plated-0-025-thick/

They are fairly flexible. I did use to have a supply of TK Custom moonclips for my old Smith 686 6 shot. They are extremely high quality though quite expensive. I'll take a look at picking up some of the TK Custom clips to try out and see if that speeds up reloads before jumping in to buy a large set for the 627.

I'll post up again once I have a bit of mileage with the 38 Short Colt loads, might take a while.


Fri Jan 05, 2018 7:50 pm
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The Revolver Supply moon clips are what Dom started out with also. With Starline 38 spl brass, they were pretty sloppy, and Dom had a hard time getting reloads to drop in. The TKs fixed that and compared to reloading 38 short Colts, heavily modifying the cylinder throats or buying a $1200 9mm revolver, they are much cheaper in retrospect.

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Sat Jan 06, 2018 10:29 pm
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TwizDD wrote:
The Revolver Supply moon clips are what Dom started out with also. With Starline 38 spl brass, they were pretty sloppy, and Dom had a hard time getting reloads to drop in. The TKs fixed that and compared to reloading 38 short Colts, heavily modifying the cylinder throats or buying a $1200 9mm revolver, they are much cheaper in retrospect.


True that. Working up 38 Short Colt reloads is no cheap task between picking up a copy of QuickLoad and buying new powder in bulk. I'll definitely try a ten pack of the TK Custom moon clips for $65, it's quite cheap comparatively.

BTW I found an awesome fit chart for TK Custom moonclips which cross-references the moonclip type and thickness with various brands of brass:
https://www.tkcustom.com/resources/faq-s

This is really helpful as I shot American Eagle ammo for some time before starting to reload so I have probably at least 10,000 cases on hand.


Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:32 pm
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