New guy trying to load for Bullseye

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New guy trying to load for Bullseye

Post by 71firebird400 on Sat May 17, 2014 1:18 am

Hi all, 

I am new to Bullseye and trying to master the art of reloading accurate 45 ammunition. I have been reloading for F-Class rifle for a number of years so the principles of accurate ammo are instilled in me, but obviously loading for pistols is a bit different. I am using a progressive press (Hornady LNL AP) that has been operating great. I am currently loading Zero 185gr JHP bullets, but intend on changing to a 200gr LSWC at some point to cut down on cost. I do not have very much experience loading lead bullets so that is an area I have a lot to learn. This is my current die setup-

Redding Sizer
Redding Expander
Powder Measure
RCBS Lockout Die
Redding Bullet Seater/Taper Crimp Die


Right off the bat I know I need to do away with the combination seater/crimp die and run these two operations in different positions.  However, in doing so I lose the ability to use the RCBS lockout die which concerns me a bit considering the small charges being used. Here are a couple questions to get the conversation started, but please throw in any general advice that comes to mind.

1. I have read that if I load lead bullets I would be advised to use a Lyman two step M expander die; is this necessary?
2. I would very much like to be able to expand on my powder measure using the PTX universal expander as I could then leave my RCBS lockout die in the rotation. However, in my reading, this expander will only flare the case mouth and not "expand" the case- thus it is not suitable for lead bullets. Is there any truth to this?
3. What bullet seater die should I consider using? Would the expensive Redding Competition Seater be worth considering?
4. What dedicated crimp die would you recommend? I assume this isn't as critical, but I'd appreciate hearing your responses.
5. Is there a preferred sizing die? I currently have a carbide Redding die.
6. Can someone describe the proper method for measuring crimp? I see the numbers .469 and .470 thrown around, but when I measure the outside diameter of my loaded cases they typically measure between .471 and .472. I have had nearly flawless function with that amount of crimp and dropping it another .002" to .003" would concern me that I'm potentially deforming the bullet.

Thank you in advance, I have been learning quickly by searching old threads on this forum and am very appreciative of the information folks are willing to share.

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Things I've learned

Post by SSgtG on Sat May 17, 2014 5:00 am

You will learn much by your own experience and others can only tell you what works for them. In that light I'll share what works for me.

I used the Hornady AP as well, you are correct, it's a great machine.
I don't think it matters much what dies you use either. I use a Hornady sizing die. I didn't care for the Hornady powder measure as even with the pistol powder insert the measure just wasn't very consistent. I used a Lee powder through expander die with a Lee Auto disk powder measure on it. The lee die is a bit short for the press but I wrap the die in some teflon tape and it works fine without the locking ring. I use the RCBS lockout die in the thirds station. Since using this I have not had a case with a short load yet. I use a standard Hornady bullet seating die and a Hornady taper crimp die to finish them off. I crimp to .470 although since you don't need to trim cases that can vary just a bit from case to case.
While this is considerably less involved than loading accurate rifle cases it will give you consistent and very accurate ammo. I've loaded more than 20,000 rnds using this set-up and here is the most important thing. In the .45 it boils down to bullet, barrel and shooter. Use a good bullet, the base must be very good and the bullet must be sized right. I like alox lube. the barrel must be able to shoot. The rest is up to the shooter.

Mike

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Re: New guy trying to load for Bullseye

Post by farmboy on Sat May 17, 2014 8:32 am

I use the PTX expander and it works great for me. It does take a little bit to set up- follow the instructions.  I have observed some that had issues because they didn't follow the instructions properly. If not set up properly it can cause some issues with powder drop consistency as well as case mouth flare. It is not hard to set up though.

 I use a Powder funnel for the .45 case expansion http://powderfunnels.com - I like it better than the Hornaday expander for .45. I use the Hornaday PTXs on all other calibers.  The key to lead is just a little more expansion to the case mouth so you don't shave lead off the bullet.  You only need to expand the case mouth. If you go to the PTX system you keep your powder check.  If not check out http://inlinefabrication.com/collections/hornady-lock-n-load-ap-ergo-roller-lever/products/skylight-led-lighting-system-for-the-hornady-lnl-ap  I like the light system and it allows me to see in the case very well( I use the powder cop and visual check is my 2nd powder check)

I like & use the Redding Dye but not absolutely neccessary. It does give very consistent COAL, more so than the Hornaday SD for me but as you probably know the operator on a progressive effects COAL with stroke consistency more than the dies . - It also seats on the shoulder of the bullet which is supposed to be better.

I don't think crimp dies make a diff, as SStg said your not trimming so it will vary. I crimp to 469 .  In my gun that is the most accurate crimp. Just measure right at case mouth with light (consistent pressure)touch of the caliper jaws. 

+1 on SStg  comment on bullet. At 50yd the bullet quality is very important(assuming your gun is capable) Zero 200LSWC is what I use.

Loading lead requires cleaning the bullet lube out of the seater and crimp die every 300-500 rounds(your experience may vary) but not a big deal with the LNL die set up.


Good Luck!


Last edited by farmboy on Tue May 20, 2014 7:23 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: New guy trying to load for Bullseye

Post by james r chapman on Sat May 17, 2014 11:10 am

I'm in the camp of separating your seating and crimp operations.
You can vary one without affecting the other.

Jim

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Re: New guy trying to load for Bullseye

Post by Rob Kovach on Sat May 17, 2014 11:21 am

The expander you use now is just fine.  For how soft you crimp, you can reload with the exact same setup you use now.  Alex Alphabet is using a very similar setup to yours and has been loading lead 200 LSWCs with no problems.

The only time you run into trouble with crimping and seating in the same die is if your crimp is so tight that it's cutting the lead before the bullet is fully seated.  You are not going to have that problem with a .468-.470 crimp.

...and when you measure crimp, you can only measure it accurately at the very rim of the case mouth--otherwise you are just measuring the case.

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Re: New guy trying to load for Bullseye

Post by noylj on Sat May 17, 2014 7:13 pm

Loading f-class has almost nothing to with with bullseye.
No need for expensive dies or case prep or anything. Out to 50 yards, it is almost all the shooter and trigger.
Set-up
1. Size
2. Expand, flare, and charge case. For lead bullets, verify that case ID after expansion is 0.001-0.002" less than bullet diameter. For Hornady, the .45 PTX does a great job. If expander is too small, get a larger one (based on expanded case ID--not writing about any case mouth flare--and bullet diameter and OD of expander plug. Be sure pistol rotor is installed in powder measure.
3. RCBS lock-out die
4. Bullet seat. You know importance of COL. Bullet should be easily held in case prior to seating. For SWC, get seating plug that seats on bullet shoulder. Seating stem must fit bullet
5. Taper crimp. All you need is remove case mouth flare.
Do NOT trim cases that head space on case mouth. Increasing head space by trimming hurts accuracy.
Sorting/weighing cases doesn't do anything except waste your time. Certainly any primer pocket/flash hole prep is useless

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Re: New guy trying to load for Bullseye

Post by james r chapman on Sat May 17, 2014 7:54 pm


any Master class shooters have opinions on Sorting cases and primer pockets???

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Re: New guy trying to load for Bullseye

Post by Rob Kovach on Sat May 17, 2014 8:26 pm

There are other posts that cover that topic.  They are older but they are here. 

If I remember correctly the consensus from the Masters was "stop wasting your time on brass, instead dryfire."


Remember those ammo tests that I had posted?  That was all mixed brass with dirty primer pockets.  In my stash of brass I have stuff that predates WWII.  There is no significant 50 yard advantage to .45ACP variables in brass.

A master that I shoot with tells this great story.  He used to be obnoxiously anal about brass.  One day he found himself running late for a league shoot and didn't have any ammo loaded, nor any clean brass--except for his bin of junk split brass. Split from the mouth down to halfway down the case. He quickly loaded up the split brass and shot a 296 with a 96 slow and 2 clean targets.  He doesn't worry about brass anymore.

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Re: New guy trying to load for Bullseye

Post by james r chapman on Sat May 17, 2014 8:46 pm

Just wondering since I've been told on this forum to use new brass for slow fire reloads.

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Re: New guy trying to load for Bullseye

Post by john bickar on Sat May 17, 2014 8:47 pm

Sorry, I'm not a Master, but stop wasting your time on brass, instead dry fire.

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Re: New guy trying to load for Bullseye

Post by john bickar on Sat May 17, 2014 10:55 pm

Snark aside, I'm going to completely derail the OP's thread. Sorry  Smile 

(Just so you know, it's pretty much universally agreed that you can load anything for 25 yards, and you'll find a lot of useful info on this board about that. That's not what I'm going to talk about.)

If the NRA handed out classification cards for reloading, I would be a Sharpshooter - maybe. I'm just not very good at it.

I'd rather shoot or dry fire than reload. Every minute that I spend reloading is a minute that I otherwise could be doing something that will actually improve my bullseye performance.

The most important part of reloading for bullseye is not the brass, not the primer, not the powder: it is the movement of your trigger finger, and the lack of movement in your other fingers, during shot execution.

For bullseye, one reloads in order to:

  • Obtain more accurate ammunition than one can reload, and/or,
  • Obtain a greater quantity of ammunition at a given cost level, to enable more live fire training

Ammo therefore exists on a continuum - if you're retired on a fixed government income, with a lot of free time and a fixed COLA each year, reloading makes a lot of sense. If you're a lawyer in Silicon Valley, you're a fool to reload (which is exactly what I told one of my shooting colleagues, who is a lawyer in Silicon Valley, with a family).

Most of us are somewhere in between.

Reloading for the Long Line Versus Dry Firing

Reloading is great for the short lines, where one can do it on a progressive press and crank out a large volume in a short amount of time (like action pistol shooters do), but it just might be a waste of time for many bullseye shooters to reload for the long line.

What is accurate ammunition?

If you have access to a Random Rest, you can get a general idea of the accuracy of one load, but only relative to other loads from the same gun, from the same Random Rest, on the same day. (If the NRA handed out classification cards for Random Rest testing, I might be an Expert.)

(And don't ask me about sandbags - the best group I can shoot off of sandbags is usually twice the size [or more] what I can shoot one-handed, so I think testing off of sandbags is a greater waste of time than watching Jersey Shore.)

Objectively, however, accurate ammunition is ammunition that shoots to within your ability to call a shot at the given distance.

At my ability level, I can call a slow fire shot to within 1" or less at 50 yards the large majority (~90%) of the time. At Sharpshooter ability level, that might be 2" or 3".

So the Random Rest is just a start; the true indicator is how given ammunition performs out of the hand under competition conditions.

How Can I Determine How Ammunition Performs When Shot from My Hand?

Over the course of time (several weeks to a few months), refer back to your journal to see how given ammo is performing, specifically how closely the holes on paper track to your call. (You are keeping a shooting journal, right?)

You can do this meticulously (track each shot of slow fire at 50 yards, note the position that you called the shot, then the position where it landed), or more generally (which is what I do, based on 25+ years of experience), but you need to track how often the shots went where you thought they were going.

How should I spend my time?

The $64,000 question, and this is why I continually advocate that up-and-coming shooters work on dry fire rather than reloading mumbo-jumbo. If you cannot call your shots within 1 scoring ring and the correct quadrant 90% of the time, a 2" reduction in Random Rest group size will not help you.

Astute veterans will point out that you cannot call your shots correctly with a gun/ammo combination that shoots minute-of-tailgate at 50 yards. This is correct, and why I advocate learning to shoot well with the .22 first. It's also why I like the Marine Corps manual for bullseye, because it teaches you to learn how to shoot (and call) 10s at the 25 yard line before you ever get into whether you should do seating and crimping in separate steps. (Hint: it doesn't ever talk about seating or crimping, and the Marines do just fine.)

Shoot the .22, and shoot center fire/.45 at 25 yards. That will tell you what's "you", and what's your reloads. (Hint: those 5s are not because you're crimping at .468 instead of .470).

Time Equals Money, and Vice Versa

How many years does it take to get to High Master reloader level? 10? 5 if you're a quick study? Consider that 50 yard center-fire shooting is only 22% of a 2700, and most of us shoot a lot more during the year at shorter ranges. Extremely accurate commercial ammo for bullseye is available at a few different price points (NSK, Atlanta Arms, ASYM).

What if you spent the time that you currently spend working up a killer 50-yard load dry-firing instead? I've seen a lot of people who spent $1500 or so on a wad gun, $1000 on a .22, $1500 on a ball gun, $150 on a shooting box, $95 on their sharpshooter net, $150 on their geezer cart, who won't spend $400 a year on ammo to give themselves more time to work on the fundamentals, which would actually move them up a classification.

And with Your Time Saved...
...you have to, you know, actually spend the time dry firing, or at the range live firing, or doing mental rehearsal exercises, or otherwise busting your ass in some way to be the best bullseye shooter you're capable of being. No swapping reloading time for watching Jersey Shore!

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Re: New guy trying to load for Bullseye

Post by LenV on Sun May 18, 2014 12:06 am

That is a great post.I agree with 99.8% of everything John said. And the .2% I disagree with has nothing to do with improving scores.Some of us OCD types just love loading bullets.If I can't be at the range then I can usually be found in the gun room loading bullets or cleaning the guns I just spent the day shooting. I could afford to buy all my ammo, but this sport isn't always about being the best you can be.Sometimes it's just about kicking back and smelling the gunsmoke. Of course that's just one persons opinion.

Len

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Re: New guy trying to load for Bullseye

Post by Rob Kovach on Sun May 18, 2014 1:05 am

SO, what John is saying is, load your 200gr LSWC with the setup you have right now, and HAVE FUN.

If you are really worried about 50 yard accuracy, just use those 185gr Zeros for the long line---Unless you have been doing what John was saying, you won't need ammo that good anyway.....I don't and I can shoot a 98 slow fire.

Until I can go a whole 2700 without using a paster, I need to do more of what John is saying and less fartin around on the computer.

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Re: New guy trying to load for Bullseye

Post by john bickar on Sun May 18, 2014 1:38 am

OldMaster64 wrote:Some of us OCD types just love loading bullets.If I can't be at the range then I can usually be found in the gun room loading bullets or cleaning the guns I just spent the day shooting. I could afford to buy all my ammo, but this sport isn't always about being the best you can be.Sometimes it's just about kicking back and smelling the gunsmoke. Of course that's just one persons opinion.

Len

Yes, absolutely!

The priorities for bullseye are:

  1. Be safe
  2. Have fun
  3. Be safe
  4. A bunch of other stuff
  5. Then the stuff that John Bickar is talking about


Reloading and tinkering and everything else is part of the "fun" of bullseye. But it took me a long time to learn that, if you don't like that part, you don't have to mess with it  Smile

I love to smell the smoke too Smile

In the course of my travels in the shooting sports, I run into a lot of engineers. They want to eliminate all of the errors, and thus, achieve perfection.

The thing is: pistol shooting is psychology, not engineering. It's a con game.

What's the source of that "con"? "Confidence".

Who are you "conning"? Yourself.

Convince yourself of this: "What I do is execute perfect shots."

Seating depth ends up paling in comparison to that.

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Re: New guy trying to load for Bullseye

Post by Rob Kovach on Sun May 18, 2014 1:57 am

John Bickar wrote: "What I do is execute perfect shots."
I went from an 87% average to a 93% average by telling myself that right after the sights settled and breaking the trigger.
It's totally a "con" to shoot bullseye well.

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Re: New guy trying to load for Bullseye

Post by 71firebird400 on Sun May 18, 2014 3:22 am

Thanks for all the replies. I will try expanding on the powder measure and breaking my seating/crimp operations into two stations. While I appreciate and understand the psychology aspect of the sport and the good intentions of those who have posted that seem to mock my questions I also recognize that the intent of my question was to see if there were any deficient aspects of my reloading process. I figure that I'll be putting in the time either way so I might as well be sure that my process is up to snuff.

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Re: New guy trying to load for Bullseye

Post by james r chapman on Sun May 18, 2014 7:43 am

Excellent, John!


Funny, I asked the Border Patrol guys what they reload, got blank stares and got handed a box of Atlanta Arms ammo...

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Re: New guy trying to load for Bullseye

Post by Steve B on Sun May 18, 2014 8:49 am

Regarding your Redding bullet seating die, just unscrew it a little until the case mouth avoids the crimping section then readjust the stem.  Or just buy a Redding competition seater.

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Re: New guy trying to load for Bullseye

Post by john bickar on Tue May 20, 2014 12:03 am

71firebird400 wrote:While I appreciate and understand the psychology aspect of the sport and the good intentions of those who have posted that seem to mock my questions I also recognize that the intent of my question was to see if there were any deficient aspects of my reloading process.

No, not mocking you at all, it's just that I get distracted easil...OMG SQUIRREL!!!

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Re: New guy trying to load for Bullseye

Post by LenV on Tue May 20, 2014 12:55 am

Now that was funny,but on a more serious side I always try to reload with the newest and nicest brass I have available. I am not sure how much longer I am going to reload these.I will let you know sometime this century/maybe. Ok,not that much more serious.

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Re: New guy trying to load for Bullseye

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