Need help with .360 wadcutters

  • Last Post 04 February 2024
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jtcarm posted this 21 December 2023

I have a couple of .38 wadcutter molds that drop bullets at .360.

I would like to load them as-cast, but can’t find an expander that works.

I’ve tried an NOE .358/.362 expander. The only way I could get bullets to seat without damage (and not even 100% of the time was to run the plug deep enough for the case mouth to just kiss the second step to flare it a tiny bit . Then cases started sticking, badly. Spoke with NOE and they said send it back. I had one from BACO that was worse, I broke a new case off trying to pull it free from the expander ball. On examination, it looked like the plug had some runout. That one went back for a refund.

So far the best results have come from sizing the bullets to .359 and using an RCBS Cowboy expander. But I’d really like to use them as-cast. Sizing thousands of wadcutters is nit my idea of fun.

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 21 December 2023

hi ... for about a year I have been using simple tapered expanders in my loading ... i make them on my hobby lathe because I can play with shapes and diameters ... and  because i have about a thousand feet of old bar stock ... 

i taper them to about 1.5 degree per side and put a short shoulder at the top for a starting funnel ...  then i use them in a Lee expander die housing and they then float to self-alignment.  

I have none of the NOE expanders but on their web page they look about the same as mine.

I have these for several calibers now and never have them stick.   even have used one to neck up at one stroke 35 whelen from 30-06 brass ... annealed, for sure.

I only polish them to 400 grit slick ... maybe I get by because I use a good lube ... Fluid Film ... a waxy lanolin ...? ... get it at NAPA store ... also terrific for storing guns.

just some trivia, hope something helps ..

oh, at least in my rifles, i think buggered castings from tight necks cause more flyers than bad barrels ...

also ... funny i never use the factory Lee expander buttons ... they are too abrupt ... not sure what they are used for ...





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jtcarm posted this 21 December 2023

I should mention: I culled all of the European brass, which seems to be thicker, and use only U.S. headstamps.

When cases started sticking on the expander, I tried Federal wadcutter cases and even some new Starline -same result. Winchester cases from the cheap 130-grain range ammo worked the easiest.

I tried polishing the plug with 2000-grit silicon carbide sandpaper. Seemed to make it easier for a few cases, but then sticky again.

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Ed Harris posted this 21 December 2023

With .360 bullets try them for fit in fired cases without sizing brass at all, just flaring a wee bit to hand start them. If chambers are snug enough they may stay in place seating to depth and then using the Redding Profile Crimp to size the loaded rounds and apply crimp. Lee FCD should work also, but I prefer the Redding.

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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jtcarm posted this 22 December 2023

Dang, that looks like it’ll work. And save my brass from resizing!

Thanks Ed!

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MP1886 posted this 22 December 2023

After I polish my expanders with the finest papers, crocus cloth being the finest, I then put it in a lathe, you can use a drill press or hand drill if you don't have a lathe, and final polish it with piece of an old bath towel with red jeweler's rouge on it. The look like chrome when finished. I've been known to use childrens color crayongs for lube. They made those is large thicker sizes too. 

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jtcarm posted this 23 December 2023

Yeah, I have a DP, but the chuck isn’t big enough. The head looks to be about 5/8” diameter.

I hand buffed some with 2000-grit silicon carbide. I might need to try 1200 and work back up to 2000 or 2500.

The jury’s out on the no-sizing. It works, but they chamber with varying degrees of ease.

I loaded 100 last night and a couple slipped all the way in with finger pressure. The rest were good once I got my Profile crimp die dialed in. The bullets are DEWCs from an MP 8-cavity. The mold absolutely rains lovely SAECO 348 clones with almost no rejects when pre-heated. Sized to .358 or .359, they’re very accurate. But sizing kinda defeats the purpose of a gang mold.

I also use these as bulk practice bullets, so I don’t want to spend a ton of time on them.

I might switch to my H&G 244 for that job. It’s only 4-cavity, but drops .359 bullets.

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delmarskid posted this 23 December 2023

I have not seen what alloy you are casting with. Could you skip the tin and have them drop smaller?

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jtcarm posted this 24 December 2023


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jtcarm posted this 24 December 2023

One thing I’ve noticed is that the plain-base H&G 244s don’t have to be hand-seated nearly as deep as the DEWCs to be properly aligned.

The bevel-base of the DEWCs have to be inserted deeper into the case before the full-diameter driving band gets in to align things. That means the expander has to be set deeper to provide enough of the large diameter to get the bullet aligned. That’s forcing the case mouth over the second step on the NOE expander, which is pretty abrupt. I don’t know if it’s even meant to contact the case.

It would work much better if the large diameter gave way to a gentle flare, like the RCBS Cowboy expander.

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Hornet posted this 25 December 2023

If you dig into the NOE listing on RIFLE expander plugs, they have .363/.359, .364/.360, and .365/.361 expanders with the longer lengths on the smaller diameter that might be more compatible with the seating depth for the full wadcutters.

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358156hp posted this 25 December 2023

If you must size cases, and many of the old-time bullseye shooters didn't, try removing the guts from a LEE FCD and use the sizing ring to size your cases, at least they will have some uniformity if it works. You didn't mention what press you are working with, if it's a Dillon PM you have other options from Uniquetek. I have a powder funnel from  them that is designed to go completely into the case and expand it for the full length of a wadcutter, then it puts an "M" type flare at the case mouth. As a bit of background, carbide sizing dies for straightwall cases always seem to size the cases too far down.

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pbcaster45 posted this 24 January 2024


Here's what I do to get top accuracy from the Speer 148 grain HBWC. No bullet deformation and this load equals Federal Gold Medal Match in my Colt Python and Clark PPC Revolver.


Brass: Federal or CCI (These two brands have less internal taper)


Sizer Die: Lee Undersize .38 Super Die (Yeah! It's for the .38 Super but works great for minimal sizing of .38 Special brass!)

RCBS Expander Die with Special Order Wadcutter Expander (I got mine from Huntington Die Specialties)

CH Wadcutter Speed Seater Die

RCBS Taper Crimp Die


Bullet: Speer 148 gr. HBWC

Powder: Winchester WST 2.7 grs.

Primer: Federal 100 Small Pistol

Case: Federal .38 Special

LOAL: 1.155


Works great and should help with those fat cast bullets.

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gnoahhh posted this 24 January 2024

I too prefer the RCBS expander die. For years now I turn my own expander plugs for odd/custom diameters, heck even common diameters too once I saw how simple they are to make.


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Eutectic posted this 30 January 2024

I had RCBS make custom long expander plugs  for me. I also have a short expander with flair angle. This allows adjustment of expansion size and depth. It requires an extra station to adjust the case flair.

The carbide sizing ring in the LEE factory crimp die minimally sizes cases giving increased case life.

My experience is the least crimp is what you want. For 38 target loads that is no crimp, just remove the flair. The RCBS profile crimp die will do this as well as apply a good crimp for magnum loads or carbine use.


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wimilkman posted this 04 February 2024

Pb caster45

I love that gun you have , like you use a 38 super die for 38 special, I do load 38 super also.

I had Lee Precision make me a custom expander for my powder thru die for a 38 S&W die that I use for 9mm I stumbled across that on there Custom Service tab on there website and it works great. I am considering having them make me one for 38 special for HBWC I am not real fond of the Noe one I have.

Fred Honeyager

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