View Full Version : .38-45 Anyone here know about it and where to get dies?

January 22, 2007, 17:56
I'm probably buying a Dillon 550 from an older gentleman locally. He asked if I bought it if I could load some .38-45 for him. I doubt if the dies are available, but if they are ya'll would know. I'd never even heard of it before.


January 22, 2007, 18:09
RCBS will have them.

The .38/.45 Clerke was a neat atttempt to make a 1911 easier to shoot and accurate enough for bullseye shooting.

I have an article or two around here somewhere in an old Annual gun rag, but here's a few pointers:

1: It helps to start with new or once fired brass.
2: Have the barrel handy to adjust headspace so the shoulder isn't set back to speak of.
3: Keep your pressures reasonable, do NOT try and make a .357 or such out of it.
4: Lead bullets are perfectly acceptable as the cartridge can be headspaced on the shoulder rather than the case mouth.

I'll try to find the articles.

January 22, 2007, 20:28
Midway lists them on there website. They are special order and are $156 bucks plus shipping.

January 22, 2007, 20:44
Ouch, I had a feeling they'd be expensive. I don't know about setting the headspace or what not as he's got the pistol. If he's willing to buy the dies or give me credit towards the 550 for the price of the dies I may give it a try. It may be more than I'm capable of as the only thing I've ever loaded is .45acp on a single stage press.


January 22, 2007, 22:31
Your not real far from me I'm in the Farmington area. If you have questions or concerns you can PM me and I will give you contact info so you can call me. I have never loaded for this particular round it's probably not much different from any other. I'll do some research and let you know what I find.

January 22, 2007, 22:45
Actually the .38/.45 is set up like any conventional rifle (bottleneck case) round as far as the sizer is concerned.
Then an expander/decapper.
When the case is sized, you take the case and stick it in the barrel (removed from the weapon) and with a straight edge along the rear face of the case and size it until the case just fits flush with the barrel hood (on top) or just under.

I like to make 5-10 like this and then test fire them, then take the cases and smoke them to help adjust the dies to their final position. After smoking them, you re-adjust the sizing die to just touch the shoulder and lock it in place. You now have your headspace set.

I don't load the .38/.45 anymore but do shoot the .400 Cor-Bon which has the same problems and eccentricities as the .38/.45 but less necking down.

January 22, 2007, 22:50
I assume carbide dies are out of the question as it is a bottlenecked case?

Andy the Aussie
January 23, 2007, 00:22
I presently have a 38/45JWH which is very similar to both the Clerke and Casul rounds. Neat round and very accurate for me thus far. I have a set of custom dies coming (made up by my gunsmith who did the barrel job for me. Careful of pressure especially if the handgun is a 1911 with an unsupported barrel, this was where most ran into problems. I would prefer my 1911 was still in 45ACP but the Govt decided this was far t dangerous for a mere mortal such as me. I make do with this round. In a supported barrel I would image you could really get it cranking along ;)


January 23, 2007, 11:13
Cool, I always like to hear other Faler's are close by. I'll send you a pm and get your info when I get my press and everything.

OK, guys how do you size brass down from a regular .45? Is that just the die that does it?

Thanks For Everything Guys,

January 23, 2007, 22:23
You might find a set of dies on GunBroker.com or (gasp!) E-Bay. Ya never know.

January 23, 2007, 22:52
Andy, look for data for the .38 Casull, it's gonna be what you're looking for.

And yes you just have to lubricate the .45 Auto and run them into the .38/.45 dies to make them.
I've had better luck with necking jobs like this by adding an extra step to the process, running the .45 cases through a .400 Cor-Bon sizer for example. It reduces the stress imparted into the case when you size it down. Less likely to buckle or crush a case.

January 23, 2007, 23:04
+! on Whirlybird's suggestions to use the intermediate die. Reforming which reduces the neck size calls for Imperial sizing wax. The stuff is fantastic when it comes to reforming cases. I have reformed 30-06 cases to 7x57 with no more effort or force than is used for normally resizing 30-06 cases.

Your offer to supply reloaded ammo is kind, and may be part of the deal, but in these days it may not be the best thing to do. All it takes is one bad case, one overload, one bad barrel, or any combination of these factors and you'll find yourself at the wrong end of a lawsuit. To reload for another person is to bet your house and everything you own on the hope that nothing goes wrong. Not worth the risk to me. I'd give extra money instead of the reloads.