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Author Topic: 36 conversion ammo  (Read 356 times)

Offline bigted

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36 conversion ammo
« on: April 02, 2021, 06:20:46 PM »
Well I have been working on proper ammo that will shoot accurately from these 36 conversion cylinders.

We know the barrel bore is around .375 on most 51/61 or 1858 Navy's. Therefore we have all shot hollow base .38 spcl wadcutter ammo so the bullet expands enough to fill those .375 grooves. These work after a fashion ... however ... they are almost impossible loaded with BP. AND they need to be around 600 fps or so as the fragile hollow base will be distorted upon exit from the barrel.

I have long thought that .375 bullets should do well and loaded with black powder or fast smokeless powder with excellent results. Heeled bullets are the answer.

I have seen Mike Belevue's Utube on doing this but was less than impressed with his method as it is very involved and many steps.

Until recently however , I have been hung up on the how of crimping them in the case. As Mike points out, the bullets main body is the same diameter as the case it is intended to crimp. This interferes with the crimp on the heeled bullets. I have solved this mystery. For the 38 special case, if you use Lee's finger crimp die (factory crimp) AND use a flat plate in the rammer on a single stage press instead of a shell holder so the case goes up into the die far enough to allow the mouth of the case to be contacted by the fingers and then release it to allow the loaded case to drop from the die without sizing the bullet in any way. Sometimes a small stick is required to bump it back out.

This allows heeled bullets to be loaded AND crimped in place. This allows a bullet that is of a diameter that is required for the groove diameter and have chance for accuracy.

So acquired the needed Lee die for 357 mag ( only one they make) and have been messin round with it to crimp 38 spcl's on heeled bullets. I have what I hope is a workable system but alas they work in my Remington navy but are too long for my Colts.

My workaround will be to get yet another 357 mag die and work on shortening it enough so it will work with 38 long Colt cases. Have yet to do this yet but the thinkin is going strong. A pictorial will follow when I get a complete success to report.

Reason to begin this thread is to garner thoughts from you all on things I might be overlooking.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2021, 06:27:11 PM by bigted »
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Offline ShotgunDave

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Re: 36 conversion ammo
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2021, 07:46:07 PM »
I look forward to seeing how this all works out. I have long considered a .38 conversion for one of my Navy's. I know there are nay sayers about loading heeled bullets. That it's too much work and such. But to me, it's one more thing we can do to be closer historically to our beloved BP pistols. We don't so it because it's convenient, we have modern guns for that. We do this to re-live the old days.

Have you looked at Gary Barnes' website? He has everything needed to load heel based ammo. And it's not that expensive either.
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Offline AntiqueSledMan

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Re: 36 conversion ammo
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2021, 03:56:56 AM »
Hello Ted,

I didn't like the way Mike loaded his 38 Long Colt, I thought it was a lot of doinkling around.
I have yet to load a 38 Long Colt, but have had complete success with the 44 Colt.
I can't see where the two could be so different, and actually just one more step then a standard cartridge.
Crimping is the issue, and I see no issue at all. Actually now, after I went through this step, it's easier then ever.
With the 38 Long & Short Colt, you can crimp with a LEE 35 Remington Factory Crimp Die.
Of course one could purchase a Modified Crimp Die from Old West Bullet Molds.

AntiqueSledMan.

Offline ssb73q

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Re: 36 conversion ammo
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2021, 06:59:02 AM »
Hi Ted, you may want to see this thread:
https://blackpowdersmoke.com/colt/index.php/topic,2521.0.html

Regards,
Richard
There’s nothing better in the morning than the smell of bacon and black powder smoke!

Offline Navy Six

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Re: 36 conversion ammo
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2021, 11:15:46 AM »
I have been shooting(about 15 years) a pair of Uberti 51 Navies in which I installed Kirst cylinders. I wanted to use the guns with the .375 groove barrel it originally came with. That meant hollow base or heel bullets. I started out with the hollow base and ordered a pair of molds from Rapine(no longer in business). They had thin skirts which aided in their expansion but were a bit long and restricted powder capacity in the 38LC case. This was solved by filling the case(17 grs 3F) and partially inserting the bullet. I then turned the cartridge up-side down, allowing the powder to fill the hollow base and using a hand press I finished seating the bullet while up-side down. These loads shot exceptionally well as long as the bullets were cast from soft lead, but casting was slow going in a single cavity mold.
A few years ago I decided to try heel bullets and a couple of molds were obtained from Accurate Molds. I also contacted Old West Bullet Molds and acquired their 38LC heel crimper along with their specialized--and necessary-- shell holder. This made crimping the heel bullets very simple and was money well spent. Since I can crank out the bullets five at a time from the Accurate five cavity mold, this is now my preferred method of loading the 38LC in a converted 51 Navy with an un-lined bore.
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Offline bigted

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Re: 36 conversion ammo
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2021, 06:11:08 PM »
Well I loaded and shot some heeled bullets from my brand new accurate mold ahead of a 1cc  charge of Trail Boss powder. These bullets were lubed with bee wax/vasaline for 20 rounds and 20 were lubed with pure Lee liquid allox. All lubing happened to the bullets before loading in the casrs.

38 special cases used and of coarse the length is too long for my colt's sooo ... (everybody stay calm) ... I shot them in my semi modified Remington navy conversion cylinder.

I plan on shortening some cases for proper length in my Pietta navy conversion cylinder. Now on with the news;

Had to ream the chamber mouth's to .376 inch so the bullets would chamber as this diameter is what I want to send through the pipe for best opportunity for best accuracy.

Also needed to ream my Lee 357 mag factory crimp die to fit these bullets.

Next I welded up the center hole in a shell holder to give me a flat level platform to shove the loaded case into the die and have it activate the crimp on the bullet AND the case mouth thus crimping the heel into the case.

Now for that awful Uberti Remington Navy and these wonderful heeled bullet loads in 38 special cases.

I shot the bee wax/Vaseline lube first. First cylinder full of 5 rounds equaled 4 in one hole at 15 long strides and rested. Flyer opened it to 2 inch otherwise it would have been easy 3/4 inch group. Next 5 did the exact same thing ... getting cocky my third cylinder opened to 1 in + and the flyer for 3 inch overall. My 4rth cylinder of 5 went rite back in the same kinda group as the first 2 cylinders did. VERY IMPRESSED!

Next I shot the Lee allox lubed bullets but these did poorly with the best being a 2 inch + the flyer. None went any tighter and I guess this lube is not agreeable

I will try to cut the allox with 50/50 mineral spirits next as Richard has done but gotta say this has its work cut out for bettering the wax mix.

All in all ... I find after getting my system figured out, it is just as easy or maybe easier to load because for 1, I did not size my cases. Second, seating these heeled bullets is a snap ... by hand, easy peasy. I plan to continue my quest with these heeled .375 bullets weighing in around 140 grains.

Nother thing I neglected to mention, the point of impact is to point of aim. Very cool bonus.

Hope the colt rendition will do as well.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2021, 06:19:38 PM by bigted »
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Offline ShotgunDave

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Re: 36 conversion ammo
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2021, 09:19:18 AM »
That sounds like an excellent result!!
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Offline mazo kid

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Re: 36 conversion ammo
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2021, 11:35:27 AM »
Now you have me thinking (Yeah, I know!). Ted, what did you use to ream your cylinders? I have an old Herter's mold that MIGHT work, maybe with some sizing. Like I need yet another project!