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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm so excited!  With the cost of 380 ammo roughly twice that of the 9mm Luger, I decided I'd try and load some.  As I have 9mm dies, I set them up to load the 380.  To my astonishment, they worked!  

I loaded some 115 FMJ Hornady.  I also recieved my order today of 1,000 bulk Remington Golden Saber 102 gr bullets.  I loaded some of them also.  I was very surprised to see that the Sabers have a crimp ring on them!  This I'm sure is to determine COL.

I'm not trying to load them for carry purposes, just practice.  I think any gun I'm carrying should be shot on a regular basis to stay in tune.  Hence the handloading.  I can hardly wait to get out of work tomorrow so I can try them.  If time permits, I'll chronograph them as well.

I'm so excited! lol
 

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I have handloaded for my P-3AT for years (since I got it). Most 9mm dies work fine, especially the ones that are based on bore/bullet diameter (expander, seater). The 9mm crimp dies I have tried are adjustable down enough to crimp .380. You may wish to pay special attention to the sizer die. .380 cartridges are a tiny bit smaller, and you might want to get a dedicated .380 sizer (like I did). But if its output fits a .380 maximum chamber gauge, don't worry about it.

I have not found a .380 bullet that did not feed into the P-3AT when properly seated. Even the Sierra flat points work well, although they look a lot like the evil Winchester white box factory loads that my gun does not like. My favorites in the past have been the Hornady 90 grain JHPs, but I may change with my recent purchase of the Remington 102 grain Golden Sabers.

My biggest problem with reloading for the P-3AT is the cases get so beat up they often do not fit the max chamber gauge even after full resizing (mainly extractor gouges). I also discard after 4 loadings, since these get worked much more than any other caliber I load.

Paul
 
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How do you guys find the spent brass?

Mine usually end up 20- 30 miles from where I shoot.

I sold all my reloading stuff almost 20 years ago, but I had a Browning BDA .380 that I reloaded for. I used my 9 mm set up for them and they worked fine. Can't rember much else about it.

I wish I had never sold the gun. It was sweet, and I think the mag capacity was 12 or 13.
 

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IMO: With Lee carbide die sets selling for less then $25 bucks, I think it is false economy trying to make do with 9mm Luger dies.
(Especially if you reload both calibers and have to constantly re-adjust the dies each time you switch back & forth.)

Anyway, they are far from the same cartridge, and at best, you may get them to work in your gun, but at worst, will have a case stuck so tightly in the chamber you will have to beat it out.

The 9mm resizing die is .017" larger near the base, which is exactly where the .380 case needs to be resized back to factory dimension the most, to get rid of the case swelling over the feed ramp cut.

The 9mm is also .007" larger at the neck, due to it's thicker brass, so a tight taper crimp is going to be hard to get. This can easily lead to bullet set-back during feeding, and cause high pressure problems, or possibly worse, a KAboom!


rcmodel
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for all the replies. Yes, if 380 Lee dies were available when I ordered the Golden Saber bullets I would had bought them, but they weren't. While I was waiting for the bullets I thought I'd try and load with my Lee 9mm dies. I have 2 sets, one in a Pro 1000. I have measured the sized cases and they are the correct size per Sierra manual. If they weren't, and I didn't want to wait, I could use 223 Rem dies as they are the same at the head end. Again, thanks for your concern, but I did my homework.

Now to results. I loaded 115 gr Hornady FMJ in Federal cases using CCI 500 primers with 3.4 grs of Unique at a COL of .984" per Sierra Tech line. Chronograph results showed an average FPS of 807, with spread of 24 FPS. This was Sierras accuracy load. And it did shoot well, groups at 7 yds were under 2", standing 2 hand hold.
The next load was 102 gr Remington Golden Saber in Federal cases using CCI 500 primers with 4.2 grs of Unique at a COL of .950", used the bullet ring for seating depth. Chronograph results showed an average FPS of 887, with a spread of 13 FPS. This load shot so well at 7 yds that I shot 25 shots on one target because they just tore one ragged hole just under 1 1/2". Recovered bullets from the dirt berm showed excellent expansion.

I don't plan on these loads for carry, but they do make excellent practice ammo at less than half the price of anything I can find anywhere. Both loads are below max loads according to Sierra and there were no pressure signs handloaders look for reading primers. Primers still had rounded edges with no flow of the cup.

Yes finding the empties is a B---H, but can be done. Sometimes I use a tarp when shooting my autos.

BTW, I'll oder 380 Lee dies when they become available from my supplier/s.
 

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Handloading for the P3-AT does have its rewards. ;D

The first 250 rounds that went through mine were mixed weights: 88 to 124 grains all jumbled together. Not a single FTF,FTE or any malfunction of any kind! Never did a F&B either, and mine is the dreaded parkerized version. Also, my spent brass does not get buggered up by the extractor or the ejection port. I use a Dillon SDB progressive.

As for finding your brass cases, try looking in MidwayUSA for 'brass catcher.' Mine is a lightweight plastic and velcro gizmo that straps onto my hand. A net bag positioned near the ejection port catches most cases. It was worth the $20 I paid for it.
 

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vaguru said:
Primers still had rounded edges with no flow of the cup.
If you get signs of high pressure from the primers flowing on a .380 ACP, I'd suggest you count your fingers.
You may be missing a few.

It just won't happen until you get into mag pistol pressure levels, or about twice the operating range of the .380.

The only reliable pressure sign you can count on is when the cases start to bulge into the feed ramp cut. Slightly beyond that, the case will blow out.

Then, it's time to count your fingers again! ;D


rcmodel
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
rcmodel: I understand. These loads show no signs of abnormal pressure. There is no bulging of the brass. These loads are listed in many manuals. Again, I do appreciate your concern, but I have been loading for 35 years without any mishaps. I have been told I'm a bit complusive due to the investigating I do before I "step in".
 

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In light of other comments, I will add a few more points:
  • I never see flattened primers in .380 (just using a P-3AT). All the pressure signs I have seen have been in the form of slight bulges.
  • For max loads (which data I never exceed), I use only new cases, and do not reuse them. The partially unsupported chamber of the P-3AT can give scary bulges with range pickups :)
  • I have all dedicated .380 dies and no longer use 9mm Luger dies.
  • My progressive press produces cheap .380 practice ammo that matches my carry ammo in bullet weight and velocity within published load data ranges. The major difference is the amount of flash, but I do not care about that because I do not have access to a range where I can regularly practice in low light. Of course, I shoot out my carry ammo regularly, too.
  • I do not generally prefer Lee dies, instead favoring specific features from other brands. I do, however, prefer their Factory Crimp Dies, particularly for the .380. I also like their Auto-Prime hand priming tool, but it took me a while to get used to it feeling like it would fall apart every time I operated it (a few thousand rounds now).
Regards,
Paul
 
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