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Moon clip loading

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by cluttonfred, Nov 17, 2019.

  1. cluttonfred

    cluttonfred Member

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    I just picked up a new S&W 642 Pro Series and found it pretty miserable to load that last round in the moon clips and probably bent the clips a little. Is there a trick to it? If not, anyone have any thoughts on pros and cons of any of the moon clip loading tools out there? Cheers, Matthew
     
  2. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd Member

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    I've long since ceased to bother with manufactured tools and make my loaders/unloaders from copper pipe.

    Never once had an issue.

    I don't bother committing sizes to memory and just take a round to ACE hardware to match.

    This one's for my 1917 .45s and I have a couple around for .38 as well as .32 for some pistol or other I once owned.
    Haven't bent any clips other than some crap-ass made of cheese versions a long time ago. IMG_1080.JPG IMG_1081.JPG



    Todd.
     
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  3. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    At the lower end, you can go old school and use a set of vicegrips.
    At the upper end you can get the highly efficient BMT Mooner ($95)
    Somewhere in the middle is the TK Custom Moon Clip Tool ($65)
     
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  4. AZAndy
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    AZAndy Contributing Member

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    I have a Dillon tool that currently goes for $40. It handles both .45 and .357. It makes life easier and is thus worth every cent.
     
  5. kidneyboy

    kidneyboy Member

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    revolversupply.com
    Moonclip loaders - $40
    unloaders - $17 - $35

    Completely agree with AZAndy, well worth the money
     
  6. AK103K

    AK103K Member

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    Loading without a tool is a lot easier than unloading. The first five usually go in pretty easy. Its usually the last round thats the hardest, and a Leatherman, or similar needlenose type pair of pliers, makes setting the last round easy. Just come down from the top, one jaw on the inside of the clip, one on the outside of the rim of the round, plumb the round up, and squeeze gently. Pops right in.

    I have one of the rotating loaders, and it works, but it tends to be "fumbly", and I find doing it by hand with the Leatherman is faster and easier.

    Unloading, Ive found the tool like Todd makes above, to work the slickest. Slip over the case and twist. Empty drops into the tube. The one I use also holds 6 empty cases off 45 in the tube, so you dont have to stop and dump each round. If you make your own, use a longer tube, or leave the rubber slip on "grip" off, and they would just drop out the end into a container or where ever.
     
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  7. Havok7416
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    Havok7416 Member

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    I've never had a problem loading moonclips. Unloading can be a bit tricky but I have also done that by hand on occasion (although I have the appropriate tools).
     
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  8. mcb

    mcb Member

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    38/357 can be very picky about pairing of moonclips to cartridges. The groove on 38/357 that the moonclip fits into is not part of the SAAMI Spec. and each manufacture has their own internal specs for that groove. Thus some brass works with some moonclips and some does not.

    If you look at TK Custom they offer four different moonclips for a J-frame 38/357. Take a look and get moonclips that fit with your brass if you have a specific ammo you want to run. The OEM clips that come with a S&W J-frame are .025 thick moonclips made by TK custom. They tend to work best with most Remington and Federal brass but will be very tight on most Winchester.

    https://tkcustom.com/products/moonc...tfilter_ids[]=4&productfilter_ids[]=8&sortby=
    TK Custom product filter (bottom of the filter options) will help you select the best moonclip for your ammo.

    Conversely moonclips for rimless revolvers are nearly universal to all brass.

    ETA: They are pricey but they are very handy if you loading a lot of ammo onto and off of moonclips, BMT Mooner, the Cadillac of moonclip tools.

    http://www.bmtequipped.com/purchase.php
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2019
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  9. cluttonfred

    cluttonfred Member

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    Thanks, all, for the feedback. I am using Fiocchi wadcutters and that last round was very hard to load with my fingers and I think I bent the clips and created some burrs on the brass. Thanks mcb for pointing out that the TKC site actually has a filter for ammo brand, which lists Fiocchi, so that definitely helps. It's interesting that TKC actually offers four different .38/357 J-frame moon clips: the stock .025 blued ones that ship with the 642 Pro Series, the same in bright stainless, a different .025 one in bright stainless for Hornady/Fiocchi/PMC/Speer (same thickness but different depth grooves?), and a .020 one for Winchester. It's more complicated than I thought it would be!
     
  10. alfsauve

    alfsauve Member

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    I use a BMT for my .38 and 9mm but when I had model 25s, I just loaded with my finger. Tough finger I guess. For unloading I used a knife blade and pried each one out by using the adjacent as a fulcrum. The last one just snapped out with my fingers. (And yes these were fairly tight TK clips)
     
  11. cluttonfred

    cluttonfred Member

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  12. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    After watching the video of it is use, I think I can safely state that the only advantage of it over vice grips and a cut down golf club is portability...which is also it's weakness as it seems to be at the edge of usability due to it's small size. Using a split ring from a key chain as it's pivot would also give me pause...but not as much as it's almost $70 price

    It's claim to be "The Best Moon Clip Tool Available for Field or Competition Use" is hard to take seriously compared to the BMT

    DSC_0363-300x250.jpg
     

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  13. Lucky Derby

    Lucky Derby Member

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    Never used moonclips except for .45ACP. Never found them too difficult to load by hand. For removing empty brass I've been using a spent .308 case for the last 25 or so years, in pretty much the same manner as alfsauve uses a knife blade. I imagine a spent .223 case would work for .38/9mm like the .308 works for .45
     
  14. cluttonfred

    cluttonfred Member

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    This moon clip thing has been a learning experience for me. I now know that there are*no* SAAMI specs for the groove in front of the rim on a .38 Special or .357 Magnum. In fact, all of the revolver cartridges I looked at noted "undercut ahead of rim is optional" in the SAAMI drawings so there doesn't need to be any groove at all. Auto pistol cartridges, on the other hand, include very detailed specs on the extractor groove.

    All this explains why I bent my three factory moon clips pretty badly inserting and removing Fiocchi ammo which didn't fit the clips. :-( At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    Good news is that I contacted TK Customs (who make the clips for S&W and others) asking about their various 38/357 moon clip thicknesses and compatibility with different ammo manufacturers. Their answer was to offer to send me some free samples so I could decide which ones I liked best. That's service!

    Side note...I put 50 rounds of Fiocchi wadcutters through my 642 today (without the clips) and some Remington +P 125 gr SJHP as well. Suffice to say that I enjoyed the wadcutters, not so much the +P. I have some Hornady HST to try as well but I suspect I will mostly stick to standard pressure loads.
     
  15. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    I recommend the BMT Equipped moon clip tools. A bit pricey for some folks but once you use them, you won't go back to any other tool.

    The BMT Equipped moon clip tools make using moon clips a joy.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2019
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