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,45 acp cartridge sizing dies

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Rodger Barthlow
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Post by Rodger Barthlow 2/16/2023, 12:36 pm

So much has been said about how carbide 45acp dies over working the cases and we should use 45 Long Colt sizing dies which don't due to the larger diameter of the 45Long Colt , .454 vs .451. and the Lee FCD die for crimping the case mouth.
So I have some 185gr WW Super Target that I measured the circumference from the crimp band up is .4715" diameter below the crimp band is .4695", Zero 185gr LSWCHP loaded in cases after sized with a Dillon carbide die and then case expanded using one of Photo E Scapes case expanders, .4695" diameter below the bullet base .4725", #130 H&G 200gr LSWC that I cast and size to .452" diameter loaded using the Dillon case expander with the case mouth belled for easy seating of the bullet old style .4715" below the bullet base .4705", a fired case from am Kart 45 barrel .4720" diameter.
Reloaded cases were randomly selected so times loaded are unknown.
We talk about squeezing the bullet distorting the base when we seat the bullet in a tight case and with soft swaged lead bullets there could be a case for it but with hard cast or jacketed bullets I don't think so. The proof being my cast #130 H&G compared to the WW Super Target jacket loads diameters. Factory .4715" at bullet and .4695" below tells me the factory brass was tight till expanded for seating the bullet way tighter than my reloaded sized brass with my hard cast bullets, .001" difference as .002" difference with factory.

So the ringer might be the case loaded with the soft swaged bullet, .4695" and below .4725" some of which could be explained by brass spring back or the fact that the crimp die was set for a .4695"diameter taper crimp. But that doesn't explain the factory ammo size difference we try to eliminate the bulge using a Lee FCD to remove the dreaded bulge?

I think I'm going to leave things alone and continue what I've been doing except with the addition of Photo E Scape's powder funnel expander which helps alleviate lead shaving when seating lead bullets.
Rodger Barthlow
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Post by DA/SA 2/16/2023, 4:59 pm

Best way to figure all of that out is to measure a bullet, stuff it into the resized case, and crimp it.

Then pull the bullet and measure it again.

If no change in the bullet diameter all is well!
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Post by Richard Benoit 2/16/2023, 7:51 pm

DA/SA wrote:Best way to figure all of that out is to measure a bullet, stuff it into the resized case, and crimp it.

Then pull the bullet and measure it again.

If no change in the bullet diameter all is well!
I did that. Sized with a Dillon sizing die and using the Dillon powder drop , a Zero swaged bullet came out of the case @.450 or below. Since switching to a 45LC sizing die and a PhotoEscape drop tube, bullets come out the same size they go in , leading is a thing of the past and accuracy is excellent. It's also easier on my troubled arm , I'm never going back , with swaged or cast bullets. Jacketed bullets are a different matter. I think it was Mr. Chapman who said , hard cast and beveled bases solve problems you didn't know you had.

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Post by bruce martindale 2/17/2023, 10:48 am

 who said , hard cast and beveled bases solve problems you didn't know you had.


That, was me. 


Unfortunately, New 45 Colt dies are same as ACP but the Hornady 454 Casull dies are larger. Jacketed still need the smaller standard acp die with a smaller powder thru plug

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Post by Richard Benoit 2/17/2023, 12:52 pm

bruce martindale wrote: who said , hard cast and beveled bases solve problems you didn't know you had.


That, was me. 


Unfortunately, New 45 Colt dies are same as ACP but the Hornady 454 Casull dies are larger. Jacketed still need the smaller standard acp die with a smaller powder thru plug
Sorry for the misplaced credit. Also, I didn't mention reliability , because if it's not reliable , nothing else matters. Kart , Bar-Sto and KKM barrels have all been totally happy with ammo sized in 45LC dies.

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Post by PhotoEscape 2/17/2023, 1:08 pm

Well, I decided to jump in on this post and try to outline how I think when it comes to sizing of cases, and reloading in general.  So, please excuse rather lengthy (as I anticipate it will be) post.  Please also understand that everything I write is strictly my opinion and my interpretation of opinions of others on this forum.  I do not pretend that what I say / write is an ultimate "how to", - feel free to critique at your will.  With that.............

What is the root of the advises to use 45 Colt, 454 Casull or 38 Super, etc. sizing dies for sizing cases for other than designated calibers come from?  The answer is, - we are using bullets with different ODs, and very often larger ones then can be accommodated by sizing dies specific to caliber we load.  To put it point blank - sizing dies are have smaller than required ID in sizing rings / areas.  Next logical question is why sizing dies specific to particular caliber are manufactured this way?  For the sake of this post, I will leave aside topic of margin / tolerances.  However, please take my word, tolerances go from SMALL to VERY SMALL IDs.  My answer to the above question is quite trivial - number of "casual" reloaders is significantly higher than number of competitive shooters in ALL disciplines.  More so, even in competitive world number of Precision shooters is relatively insignificant.  On a flip side number of liability lawyers is akin to number of reloaders.  Oversizing cases can easily cause bullet set back.  Needless to say such can cause devastating results for non-discriminating reloader, and this would lead to obvious consequences, - liability for manufacturers. 

So, how do we deal with such conundrum.  I want to state that using suggested above solution is rather work around and based on experimentation.  It is sufficiently good, and might be the answer for many of us.  However, I do not think it is the answer.  As I said above it is rather work around.  I am going to outline below what I think is more logical way of dealing with sizing and subsequent stages of reloading, especially when it comes to reloading for Precision Pistol.

Here is my logical chain: Barrel -> Bullet -> Case -> Sizing Die -> Expander -> Seater - Crimper. 

Barrel - we must know what works best for barrel(s) in our guns.  Slugging is one option.  Exhaustive testing is another.  If guns are custom built, more often than not mechanics will advise what bullet, and very often even load for their builds.  Once we know, select bullet(s) and do your best to stay with it.

Bullet - there are two dimensions of the bullet and quality of the base which affect accuracy the most.  (Weight variation is important, but to a lesser degree.) That is bullet OD and length of barring surface.  Former directly correlates with sizing die, later - with expander.  Culling bullets keeping in mind OD, OAL (and in case of SWC - base to shoulder length) and quality of the base is highly advisable!

Case - not all cases are created equally.  I will discount case length here.  Unless there is visible difference, it is not as important for pistol reloading, even precision pistol, as it is important for precision rifle shooters.  The most important parameter when is comes to case is wall thickness.  It varies from manufacturer to manufactures.  It varies even within batches of brass produced by the same manufacturer.  However to lesser degree.  Difference very often is more than 0.001" per side.  Another important parameter is brass spring back.  It depends on the alloy used by case manufacturer and varies from about 0.0005" to about 0.001" based on measurements I had done.

Sizing - here is where things start coming together.  Very simple calculation, - the sum of bullet's OD plus two wall thickness's minus brass spring back would offer ID dimension for sizing ring.  Combine that with +/- 0.0005" for tolerance and you ready for sourcing of the sizing die specific to your loads / barrel.  There is a need to be mindful of bullet set back though.  So, asking for -0.0005"/+0.000" tolerance is advised.

I want to step aside here, and give credit to member of this forum, who I learned a lot from.  Dave / fc60 posted more than on one occasion his suggestions on case sizing and reloading in general.  The posted above is my interpretation and summation derived from Dave's post in addition to my own experience and experiments. 

On to the next item in my logical chain (and work flow).

Expander - similarly to sizing, and keeping in mind why we have so many liability lawyers, two parameters must be considered here.  Bullet's OD and depth of seating.  Theoretically speaking with proper sizing there is no need to expand case.  However, this is where lawyers come to play.  With straight wall cases sizing alone can provide for bullet set back.  Hence practical approach would be to use math again.  Ideally OD of the expander should be equal to OD of the bullet.  However taking to account other variables OD of the expander is summation of bullet's OD, brass spring back, variation of alloy and +/- 0.0005" tolerance.  Length of the expander should accommodate barring surface of the bullet minus about from 0.03" to 0.05" and minus desired length of the bullet's barring surface protruding above case mouth (i.e. 45 ACP SWC most often is seated at 0.92" base to shoulder, so there is some of the barring surface left above case mouth).  This provides for sufficient neck tension and precludes from bullet set back.

Seating - properly sized and properly expanded case should provide for ability to seat bullet almost to the desired seating depth by applying finger pressure.  Using such method is also your safety check, - if you can push bullet deeper with your finger it calls for making adjustments to prior stages of reloading.  Seating die should be used for finishing of the process and push bullet for remaining 0.03"-0.05".  However the importance of selecting proper seating die comes from making sure that profile of seating steam matches profile of the bullet.  Since we are using cast and swagged bullets, deforming them is quite easy.

Crimping - I view crimping as means of adjusting velocity of resulting ammo as a primary function.  However I do not discount that sometimes it also serves as additional mean for holding bullet (especially with swaged projectiles), and when it is called for, for bringing resulting round back to spec (typical example is loading full length 38 WC in cases with internal taper starting closer to case mouth then length of the bullet).    

With that........ I took enough of your time for reading this.  I thank you for that.  As I stated, all written above are my thoughts.  I do not pretend that I'm accurate, - I constantly learn.  Hence, feel free ........

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Post by bruce martindale 2/17/2023, 1:15 pm

No need to apologize.

For fun, You can try unresized shells with soft lead bullets. The crimp holds the bullet in place. 

Next, I'm going to read Alex's post above and learn more than I previously knew. More than one way to skin a cat.

Edited...Good sum up by Alex. Spring back is important. Brass is elastic to a point so the wrong expander simply stretches the brass and it then goes back to the original dimension. Wall thickness is important. I'm using the thinnest brass I can get for lead because I shoot a lot of soft swaged and soft cast bullets. These are Winchester and Remington cases at 9-10 mils thick.
 For jacketed I'm using Federal as the walls are thicker . higher bullet pull force is needed and the tight case won't damage the bullet. Little crimp like 0.470 of is all that's needed.  Crimp gets the holding power for lead. Case internal dimension is important for deep seated long bearing surface bullets. +P cases will screw up 38 w/c loads and even some 45s. The dimensions I've measured for the Lee Factory crimp die are wrong for lead and it swaged the bullet. It does make a good resizer and you can make a decap assembly for it too.  'nuff for now. Thanks Alex

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Post by Rodger Barthlow 2/17/2023, 6:49 pm

Thanks for the summation Alex and to Bruce for his input.
My post was generated due to buying one of Alex's Dillon powder funnel case expanders.
I never had a bullet slip farther into a case than needed before I acquired his expander. It happened because I didn't have it adjusted properly and have since figured it out. I have since adjusted it to allow for the seater to seat the bullet .0001" below the expanded depth and then use a .469" diameter crimp to hold the bullet which works for me. 

Using a Lee FCD to finish off the loading process to get rid of the bullet bulge got me thinking why since my idea is it would swag the bullet diameter smaller than necessary, and you would have an undersized bullet rattling down the barrel.
For product control I choose to use the factory WW 185gr JSWC Super Target ammo which I have some of and is the holy grail for accuracy in factory ammo till WW decided to stop making it. It has the bullet bulge and wasp waist below the seated bullet that everyone seems determined to get rid of, so I ask why when something works why try to change it?

Zero 185gr LSWCHP was brought up so I measured some swaged LSWCHP I have on hand the Zero measured .4515" I like to bump these in my Lyman bullet sizer using a .452" sizing die to clean up the base and they come out .4525" after I have added some Rooster jacket bullet lube to replace what was rubbed off while sizing and helps prevent leading, 185gr Star LSWCHP is .4520" and may explain why they shot better than the factory Zero's out of my guns, last but not least is the 185gr Precision Delta LSWCHP that replaced the Star and measure .4510", I bump these also because they shoot lousy and the base needs to be cleaned up to keep them from leading my barrel.
The only swaging of the bullet in my loads is when they are crimped with a tapper crimp die.
 To pull one of these bullets I expect to find them under sized since they were forced through a smaller case mouth after being crimped.
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Post by Black_Talon 2/17/2023, 9:49 pm

Rodger Barthlow wrote:I like to bump these in my Lyman bullet sizer using a .452" sizing die to clean up the base

How do you bump them up without changing the shape of the nose? Do you have some sort of punch that fully supports the existing nose profile?
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Post by Rodger Barthlow 2/18/2023, 12:29 pm

Black_Talon wrote:
Rodger Barthlow wrote:I like to bump these in my Lyman bullet sizer using a .452" sizing die to clean up the base

How do you bump them up without changing the shape of the nose? Do you have some sort of punch that fully supports the existing nose profile?
The answer to your question is yes and no, what I'm using is a Lyman top punch for a SWC style bullet which fits the profile of the LSWCHP bullets. The Lyman bullet sizing press is not a push through type bullet sizing press so you squeeze the base or what I call bumping the bullet which compresses the soft bullet enlarging the diameter so I'm swaging it to a larger diameter and flattening the base. You have to wipe the base with a cloth to remove the lead foil that is created due to the swaging. I then tumble lube the bullets in a plastic ice cream container with Rooster Jacket and dry them in a toaster air frier oven I bought to powder coat my own bullets. 15 minutes on the lowest warm setting dry's the lube quicker than letting them set over night with a fan blowing on them.
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