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Importance of expander die for cast bullets?

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Importance of expander die for cast bullets? Empty Importance of expander die for cast bullets?

Post by TomTA 9/29/2023, 5:27 am

How important is getting a Lyman Type M or one of PhotoEscape's HTC expander dies when loading cast 45 SWCs? I've been using the standard Dillon powder die, but for whatever reason I'm REALLY struggling to get anything that will group decently; 3" at 25 yards (and up) is the norm.  I'm using 160 - 200 grain SWC from different manufacturers (Brazos, Summers, etc.) and W231, Red Dot, and Bullseye loads over a range of powder charges and am getting really frustrated.  I'm assuming it's not a gun problem as it's pretty much the same using either of 2 Tanfoglios or a Pardini. It's either me or some fundamental loading problem.  (Don't even get me started on the tribulations of trying to load decent cast 9mm).

Could it be something as simple as a slightly deformed bullet base from seating? I've pulled a few bullets after seating and crimping and swaging doesn't seem to be a significant problem.  When I rest the bullet on the case mouth it's sometimes slightly askew, but they appear to seat straight.  I seat and crimp in separate steps.

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Post by DA/SA 9/29/2023, 5:32 am

Have you measured a bullet before loading and after pulling it back out? Was it the same?

How tight are you crimping?

They will seat straighter if you use PhotoEscape's expander and a shoulder seating die. (contacts the LSWC on the shoulder only)
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Post by TomTA 9/29/2023, 5:47 am

I use the lightest crimp that will feed reliably; about .469.  I thought using the Lee FCD might be the culprit, so I changed to crimping with a seating die with the stem removed.  No appreciable improvement.

Yes, I measure before and after.  There's a slight compression at the point where the case mouth is crimped, but the rest of the bearing surface is pretty much unchanged.

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Post by james r chapman 9/29/2023, 6:08 am

Hard cast? Not enough crimp. 
As stated, expanding the case to allow a short step seats bullet straighter.
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Post by Wobbley 9/29/2023, 6:18 am

I use an RCBS expander.  Or the Expander in the Hornady case activated powder measure.  I’ve used the Dillon expanders and IMO they’re best with jacketed bullets.
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Post by DA/SA 9/29/2023, 7:36 am

Try .463" crimp and report back. (with LSWC)
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Post by TomTA 9/29/2023, 7:44 am

DA/SA wrote:Try .463" crimp and report back. (with LSWC)
I'll try some of those tomorrow morning.  I assumed that tightening up the crimp more than a bare minimum would lead to greater problems with swaging.

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Post by Wes Lorenz 9/29/2023, 2:51 pm

DA/SA wrote:They will seat straighter if you use PhotoEscape's expander and a shoulder seating die. (contacts the LSWC on the shoulder only)
The best advice is above. No smeared bases from angular insertion or swaging by undersize factory expanders.
As far as the .463" taper goes - think that the bullet will get tapered as it enters the tapered throat from the chamber to the barrel bore. You're easing it's entry.
Just my .02

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Post by Wobbley 9/29/2023, 3:38 pm

Don’t forget that case has about .009 wall.  So if you crimp at .463 the bullet gets squished to .445-.447.  The main reason for the heavy crimp comes from the old days of relatively soft cast bullets.  In those days the bullets were cast from alloys of 1:20 tin-lead which had a hardness of 10.  Modern bullets are harder (12-16) which do not need a heavy crimp.  My standard crimp for cast loads is .467.  So my deformation is .449-.451.  I have found that tighter crimps don’t help poor shooting ammo shoot better.
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Post by DA/SA 9/29/2023, 4:15 pm

Wobbley wrote: the bullet gets squished 
The bullet doesn't get "squished". 

Just a very narrow band just behind the shoulder. 

A pulled bullet measures exactly the same as it did prior to being loaded.

Five rounds of those "squished" bullets at 25 yds to check my zero a couple weeks ago after I had the scope off and back on.

Importance of expander die for cast bullets? VgVzXhtl
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Post by Wes Lorenz 9/29/2023, 4:50 pm

I wonder if some of you engineers would Trig how far down the case taper is for OAL brass dimensions from .875" to .890."
This would show how much taper is swaged into the average .300"+ bearing surface of most .45 LSWC's.
I still contend the LSWC is crammed at high pressure into the forcing cone, so the powder burn is where you get your accuracy depending on individual pistols.
Do you set the crimp die a .890" (new Starline brass) and then re-adjust for you old short line brass? or just leave it set up for all of your reloads?
I measured my Lee FCD taper cylinder and found it is 10 degrees...........who's quick with math.

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Post by PhotoEscape 9/29/2023, 6:25 pm

Ashley,
If cast bullets in your rounds get "squished" by heavier crimp, you might need to check your crimp die, and possibly, sizing die.  This is when theory meets practice - unless you are using FCD type crimp die, your reloads should not be affected beyond crimp band.  DA/SA is absolutely correct on this! 

Heavier crimp for cast bullets is, IMHO, to prevent from bullet set back when round is being slammed into chamber.  And also from bullet flying forward into lands under inertia when chambering is finishing.  That brings up the question of case sizing, - this is where it all starts.  SAAMI specs 0.473" OD for 45 ACP case, and it is straight walled case (no internal taper).  Wall thickness of the brass varies from brand to brand, generally from 0.009" to 0.011".  With cast bullets mostly being sized to 0.452" it means that cases should be sized at (from) ~0.469" (for 0.009" walls) to ~0.473" (for 0.011" walls).  That would provide enough neck tension at the base of cast bullet and prevent set back.  However ALL manufacturers are scared to death with possibilities of bullets set back, and sizing rings mostly machined too small.  That's what causing cast bullets swaging, and resulting in ammo having wasp waists.  If sizing is done correctly, it is easy then to expand portion of the case to the ID close to bullet's OD and for the appropriate depth, which in turn provides for seating without any deformation.

I personally crimp 45 ACP ammo loaded with cast bullets from 0.463" (for short bullets like Brazos 160gr or #130 185gr) to 0.465" (for longer 180/200gr #68 BB and FB bullets).  Both types are seated based on base to shoulder dimension (0.920" +/-0.005"). 

Once again, the above is IMO.
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Post by Wobbley 9/29/2023, 6:59 pm

I’d have to cast some cerrosafe in a die to tell you, but I’m reasonably confident that it’s a short taper, probably around 1:10.  This means that to get a .004 increase in crimp you’d need to screw the die down .040 which is just over half a turn.  So a .463 crimp from a .473 case, would be .100 long.  Which is about 1/4 the bullet bore diameter portion.  

Looking back at my 1970 NRA Handloader’s Guide the article “Pistol Champions’ Target Loads” didn’t have any consensus on crimp for the 45.  Some had heavy roll to none.  Most just used a taper, but no dimension specified. MD Waite in his article only indicated that crimp was needed “to preclude the bullet moving during chambering” but no dimension was given.  The only dimension noted was in an article by Alton Dinan who recommended crimping to .460 Shocked with either a taper or roll crimp.  Yet his table shows no significant trend in benefit from roll or taper crimp.  The one that proved to be very accurate was the Western Super Match with a swaged 210 and his judgement was that it had a light roll.  

As for the idea that “ I’ll load 10 of each crimp from x to y and see which one is best”… I offer that you can consume way to much time chasing your tail doing that.  To get statistically valid results you’d need to shoot almost 1000 rounds to determine that.  That’s time you should be spending training.  What I did was compromised.  I crimp to .466-.467.  If the load doesn’t perform I’d rather spend the time trying a different powder or charge or, better, practicing.  My performance standard for my skill/pistol/ammo is that from a rest at 25 yards, it needs so shoot into the X ring on demand.  If it does that that’s good enough, load a couple of thousand and go play.
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Post by james r chapman 9/30/2023, 1:44 am

Another issue is accurately measuring that crimp to .001
Calipers May get “close” . So much depends on feel.
If you happen to have an optical comparitor. 
Maybe load 6, measured for oal or shoulder height.
Fire 5 and measure the remaining one.
If it’s not moving your probably good.
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Post by DA/SA 9/30/2023, 3:36 am

PhotoEscape wrote: unless you are using FCD type crimp die, your reloads should not be affected beyond crimp band. 
I do use a Lee FCD. 

I bought one to try and sure enough, it swaged the bullet down nearly .001" I called Lee and asked what the tolerance was on their .45 FCD, and it is nearly .003", which is ridiculous for a bore that size. After I explained what I was doing and why, and that I wanted one on the large side of the tolerance, the Customer Service guy caved and agreed to take the die back and "look at it". When it returned it was just what I had requested size wise and works perfectly. The tolerance is why people seem to either like them or hate them.

And Jim, As to measuring crimp, and other related things, I do use an Optical Comparator.

Wes Lorenz, I use cases that I couldn't tell you how many times they have been fired, so case length varies. As far as I can see, case length variation affects crimp only by tenths. I began looking at that when seeing posts implying that the variation would be significant.

I've never been an "ammo tester". I just read a few posts on here and came to the conclusion that lighter loads like heavier crimp and just thought that .463" crimp sounded like a good number to me. Of course we are discussing LSWC's here, not FMJ.

YMMV


Last edited by DA/SA on 9/30/2023, 3:38 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Al 9/30/2023, 3:37 am

TomTA wrote:
DA/SA wrote:Try .463" crimp and report back. (with LSWC)
I'll try some of those tomorrow morning.  I assumed that tightening up the crimp more than a bare minimum would lead to greater problems with swaging.
Let your targets tell you what your pistol/ammo combination likes.
When RR @ 25 yds with 200 gr Zero Swaged-3.6gr Clays, it stayed fairly consistent 1", until I tried .462 with Remington brass (quite thin), went to barely over 0.6". Would not have normally gone down that far except I turned the taper crimp die down too far by accident.

Wound up being the best shooting short line load on both the Caspian & Springfield wad guns.
Al
 PS: Forgot to add, one of the smartest things I did was follow Dale T.'s recommendation of getting a decent powder through expander die from photoescape. No more bullet tipping while seating.
Smile cheers cheers


Last edited by Al on 9/30/2023, 4:23 am; edited 1 time in total

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Post by PhotoEscape 9/30/2023, 4:13 am

DA/SA wrote:I do use a Lee FCD. 

I bought one to try and sure enough, it swaged the bullet down nearly .001" I called Lee and asked what the tolerance was on their .45 FCD, and it is nearly .003", which is ridiculous for a bore that size.

That's exactly the point I am making.  Sizing rings are ground too small, and it is justified by company's set tolerances.  I had same experience with Lee sizing dies recently. when I started loading 32 WC.  I bought 8 (eight!!) sizing dies in hope I will get lucky.  Not a chance - they all were in range from 0.326" to 0.329".  And I needed them in 0.331" - 0.334".  I also communicated with Lee on the subject, and can even post emails exchanges - I'd have to order custom dies, that cost almost three times more because of grind fee, than regular production dies.  (I did use this route previously when I needed FCD dies for 45ACP and 38 WC calibers).  FC60 to the rescue!  

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Post by chopper 9/30/2023, 6:37 am

Sometimes I wonder why jacketed bullets and even some lead bullets don't use knurled cannelures around them anymore. 
 Some of the older match cartridge companies  used cannelures on their brass, but they used the same length bullets with them. It would be nice to know what crimp they used to control the powder burn.
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Post by Wobbley 9/30/2023, 9:00 am

It’s been conjecture for several years that mouth crimp wasn’t the sole means of controlling powder burn in low powered pistol match loads.  Did you ever notice that 38 Spcl wadcutter had a cannelure in the case body that was into the base of the round?  Or 38 LRN had one on the upper 1/3 about where the body of the bullet was inside the case?  It was a way for ammo companies to adjust their bullet retention on firing better than case crimp.   https://youtu.be/Sl4ybplI9GU?si=CdY1s-omGXNw4Tta
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Post by TomTA 9/30/2023, 9:13 am

Well, no joy at the range today with .465 crimp. Loaded 200 gr Summers coated over 5 and 5.2 of W231, plus 160 and 200 Brazos over 4.9. "Groups" still starting at 4", with the least bad being the Brazos over the lighter charge. Even with old eyes and iron sights it shouldn't be that bad off the bench.

I'll go out and load some more at .463 and try again. It's tough to get the calipers right at the edge of the brass for consistent measurement.


Last edited by TomTA on 9/30/2023, 9:18 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Added sentence)

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Post by Wobbley 9/30/2023, 9:18 am

I’d try a different powder… 231 has never seemed to be “The Powder” in most bullseye recipes.  WST, Bullseye, Titegroup, 700X, and N310 have far more usage in bullseye than 231.  So I’d do a powder change at this point.  I should note that Summers and Brazos are good bullets with reputations for accuracy.
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Post by DA/SA 9/30/2023, 9:28 am

What have you been shooting in these pistols prior to this, and how did it group at 25 yards?
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Post by rburk 9/30/2023, 10:17 am

I would also pull a bullet and measure the crimp on the bullet, pretty easy to measure with calipers on the bullet itself.

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Post by james r chapman 9/30/2023, 10:25 am

I’d leave the 231 for .38 spl
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Post by chopper 9/30/2023, 1:50 pm

james r chapman wrote:I’d leave the 231 for .38 spl
 I like 231 for 38 spl also, and titegroup.
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