A mold for .38 Long

Ballards

Moderators: Regnier (gunrunner), JohnK, Sure-Shot

Post Reply
Antietamgw
Beginner
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2008 9:00 am

A mold for .38 Long

Post by Antietamgw » Fri Feb 15, 2008 10:44 pm

A couple weeks back I had an afternoon off and decided to alter a mold to (hopefully) suit my #2 in .38 Long. I started with a single cavity Lee with a cavity cut for their 150 gr. SWC. I ground a nose form bit to open the SWC nose and first lube groove to .3765. I like the RNFP design and have had good luck with it on paper, cans and game so that is the contour I ground the form bit for. The driving band and middle band were opened to .360, which suits fired cases in my chamber. I chucked the mold in a 4 jaw chuck, indicated in and said a little prayer. It turned out pretty well and drops a bullet of 171 grains. I left a lube groove on the nose and left the grooves on what is now the heel, just in case they were needed. My #2 was in sad shape when I got it and needs some work. I used screws and a link from another rifle to get her up and shooting to test the bullets from this mold. I'll likely have to make a trigger as the sear is ground incorrectly and has been shortened a bit as well. The trigger pull has to be 10 lbs! I cast some bullets from straight wheel weights. They were lubed with Johnson's Paste Wax by warming the bullets to 175F - 200F and rolling them in a jug with a dollop of the Johnson's. I've used this before on plinking loads at higher pressures than I intended for this load and it worked fine. Accuracy wasn't affected either way based on the same loads with alox or LBT Blue. When the Johnson's dries it isn't sticky and doesn't pick up dirt or lint. I thought it might work well for an outside lubed bullet. I decided to start with Unique and figured about 3.2gr. to possibly 3.4gr. would be about the max I'd want to use. My rifle's chamber takes a 1.1" case length, longer than the .880" - 1.0" lengths I've seen listed for .38 Long. I looked at pressure tested data for .38 S&W and .38 Spl to come up with an idea for safe loads. I started at 2.2 gr with vertical stringing. Groups rounded out at 2.6 gr. the group in the pic is 3.0 gr. and is the heaviest I've tried. I'll shoot it some more with 2.8 and 3.0 and probably won't go any higher. So far all groups have been shot at 30 yards from sitting position using the original sights. I'd like to add a tang sight and a Lyman 17 front as I've never liked Buckhorn type rear sights and small brass front blades much. I was a bit concerned with stabilizing the 171 gr. bullet at the low velocities and looking at the targets, I may be getting some tipping which should be easy to see at longer ranges. . Until the weather gets better and I have time to set up my longer range, 30 yards will have to do. Attached is a pic of the bullet, loaded round and a 10 shot target. If anyone has some load data they would care to share, it would be appreciated. It was fun getting this #2 shooting again. There is alot of work yet to do but it looks promising. It might just make a squirrel rifle...
Image
Image
Keep your plow and sword, know how and when to use them.

Sure-Shot
Distinguished Expert
Posts: 1306
Joined: Sun Nov 17, 2002 5:01 pm
Location: Poulsbo, Washington, USA

Re: A mold for .38 Long

Post by Sure-Shot » Sat Feb 16, 2008 11:33 am

Great work and good shooting. Neat that you were able to make that type of change to a mould.
GBOT, GBUSA

User avatar
marlinman93
Distinguished Expert
Posts: 2416
Joined: Sun Nov 10, 2002 1:22 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon

Re: A mold for .38 Long

Post by marlinman93 » Sat Feb 16, 2008 5:35 pm

Very clever, and it shoots well too! You need to start modifying Lee .357 molds and resell them! I know of a few folks that might be interested in .38 Long molds!
Jeff's Outfitters sells a nice vernier for your Ballard that works great, and it's priced at half of what equal sights sell for; $65! He's no the web too.
Marlin lever actions 1870's-WWI, Ballards, and single shot rifles!

Antietamgw
Beginner
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2008 9:00 am

Re: A mold for .38 Long

Post by Antietamgw » Mon Feb 18, 2008 12:58 pm

Thanks for the kind words. I shot another 50 rounds and believe I'll settle on 2.8gr. It will be interesting to see what the chrono says but I'm not ready to open my real range yet. I tried some light loads using Bullseye but Unique was definately more consistant. I'd like to look into a powder slower than Unique as I THINK it is slightly position sensitive. Hard to tell with the heavy trigger and shooting from sitting position. It was pretty cold and the fliers came more often as the temp of my butt dropped. Thanks for the tip on Jeff's Outfitter's. I'd heard of them somewhere, possibly here or the ASSRA forum. I'll order one. It should do fine as I don't expect to be making many sight changes once I settle on a load and front sight that I can see in the woods. I've been having a ball with this rifle and have probably put 200 rounds through it the last couple weeks. I need to quit shooting it long enough to make a trigger and get some different sights on it. The heavy trigger makes It hard to shoot supported and impossible offhand. As far as molds go, I might modify some for others but would need to work on tooling to be able to consistantly produce the same cavity. Right now my workload at work and on the farm is pretty heavy. I'd like to try a shorter bullet keeping about the same bearing length. There is nothing wrong with the 171 gr. but I'm curious since the original design was for 140gr. -150gr. I'll have to dig around a little, I know I have an unused Lee wadcutter mold stashed somewhere safe...
Keep your plow and sword, know how and when to use them.

User avatar
marlinman93
Distinguished Expert
Posts: 2416
Joined: Sun Nov 10, 2002 1:22 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon

Re: A mold for .38 Long

Post by marlinman93 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 8:02 pm

Yea, I think Lee makes a 125 gr. mold too, andthat would be about right once you opened it up to the .38 Long diameter. A guy could hav a cherry made to open them up, which would really save time and make the job even easier too! I may look into this myself, and modify a few worthless .357" molds I have! My hobby lathe doesn't have a 4 jaw chuck, so I wont even try it with my 3 jaw.-Vall
Marlin lever actions 1870's-WWI, Ballards, and single shot rifles!

Antietamgw
Beginner
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2008 9:00 am

Re: A mold for .38 Long

Post by Antietamgw » Sat Feb 23, 2008 10:34 am

Vall,
A cherry should work fine. If one was to start with a blank or a mold of less than .357, closing the mold on the cherry would probably require a pretty fancy self-centering vise. Grizzly sells a half decent one for $125 or so but I doubt it's quite the quality required.

Using an existing .357 mold of the right length is a different story though, at least in theory. I think a cherry could be made using a 3 jaw chuck. It would be easy to just make a "half or D" reamer with the nose portion to open the nose of the mold and the heel portion left round and at the diameter that would ride the bottom of the grease groove of the existing mold so that the new cavity was cut concentric and centered in the existing block. The small amount of nose that would need to be ground to make the reamer could pretty easily be done with a file. A drill press or mill could be used to turn the cherry and the existing mold handles used to close the mold on the cherry. I think as the mold closed on the heel portion it would be supported and the nose would tend to center itself even if it is were off center by a few thousands.

I've been shooting this rifle a good bit the last couple weeks. I'm anxious to get it the trigger work done and get it on the bench. A recent group - guess my concentration just won't last 10 rounds anymore...Image
Keep your plow and sword, know how and when to use them.

User avatar
marlinman93
Distinguished Expert
Posts: 2416
Joined: Sun Nov 10, 2002 1:22 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon

Re: A mold for .38 Long

Post by marlinman93 » Sat Feb 23, 2008 7:00 pm

Thanks for the info! I was thinking similarly. As long as I'm using aluminum molds, it wont take any special steel to build a cherry to ream them out.
I've got a #2 in .38 Long with set triggers, and I want to start giving it more shooting time, so I would like to modify a double cavity Lee mold to increase my casting. The old Ieal works well, but one at a time just doesn't cut it!
Marlin lever actions 1870's-WWI, Ballards, and single shot rifles!

Roundsworth
Beginner
Posts: 31
Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2013 4:38 am
Location: Minnesota

Re: A mold for .38 Long

Post by Roundsworth » Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:06 pm

Buffalo Arms offers a hollow based 150 grain bullet for the 38 Colt cast from pure lead. It is listed at .358". I am collecting data while waiting for a nice Ball and Williams Ballard that was converted to centerfire some years ago. I believe it is a 1st Model with the one piece breech (not split). I have seen numerous photos of other B & W Ballards with same conversion to CF.
GMC(SW), USN - Retired / 1978 - 2001
USS San Diego
USS Missouri
USS Boxer
NAS Whidbey Island

Roundsworth
Beginner
Posts: 31
Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2013 4:38 am
Location: Minnesota

Re: A mold for .38 Long

Post by Roundsworth » Sun Jan 12, 2014 5:31 am

Marlinman93, what is the length of the case you are using with your heeled bullet? I now have some 150 grain pure lead hollow based bullets and have ordered some 150 grain heeled bullets from Gad's. I also have a quantity of both lengths of 38 Long cases and am searching through any load data I can find for a proper charge of Unique.
GMC(SW), USN - Retired / 1978 - 2001
USS San Diego
USS Missouri
USS Boxer
NAS Whidbey Island

User avatar
marlinman93
Distinguished Expert
Posts: 2416
Joined: Sun Nov 10, 2002 1:22 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon

Re: A mold for .38 Long

Post by marlinman93 » Sun Jan 19, 2014 5:51 pm

Roundsworth wrote:Marlinman93, what is the length of the case you are using with your heeled bullet? I now have some 150 grain pure lead hollow based bullets and have ordered some 150 grain heeled bullets from Gad's. I also have a quantity of both lengths of 38 Long cases and am searching through any load data I can find for a proper charge of Unique.
I'm using either original, or Starline brass in 1.030" length.
Marlin lever actions 1870's-WWI, Ballards, and single shot rifles!

Roundsworth
Beginner
Posts: 31
Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2013 4:38 am
Location: Minnesota

Re: A mold for .38 Long

Post by Roundsworth » Sun Jan 19, 2014 7:17 pm

Thanks, Vall!
GMC(SW), USN - Retired / 1978 - 2001
USS San Diego
USS Missouri
USS Boxer
NAS Whidbey Island

Post Reply