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Old April 21, 2010, 09:33 PM   #1
Johnny Guest
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Loading 230 RN Lead bullets for .45 ACP - - a Tutorial

(These hints work for some other autoloaders as well.)

This tutorial is written as an assist to those just starting to handload .45 ACP with lead bullets. Most of us start loading for the .45 ACP just as an economy measure. To begin with, all we care about is generally duplicating the characteristics of factory ammunition. With .45 ACP 230 gr. full metal jacket factory ammo becoming so expensive, the obvious remedy is to locate a source of lead bullets with a profile that closely approximates that of the FMJ bullet. Factory FMJ bullets and plated lead bullets are also quite suitable for handloading, but lead bullets end up being a LOT less expensive.

PLEASE NOTE: No one should start handloading without at least one good manual. Read all the helpful hints. It's not really boring, and it can save you a lot of wated steps. This tutorial is not intended to substitute for a good manual. It's just telling you how I (finally) learned to do the job well.

One common problem in loading lead bullets is the case mouth grabbing the bullet and shaving a tiny bit of lead. The .45 ACP is designed to headspace on the case mouth, so this little shaving can prevent the cartridge chambering properly. Even if the action closes sufficiently to allow the pistol to fire, headspacing will not be uniform, and so accuracy will suffer.

Here's one way to make things work.

Follow insructions on your die set. Screw the sizer die in so that it just barely kisses the shell holder, with no case in place. If the die is not carbide, lubricate the cases sparingly. It doesn't hurt to lube cases with carbide dies, but I usually don't bother. Run a case into the sizer and then turn the decapper stem in until the spent primer is popped out. Adjust until the decapper pin protrudes a few hundredths below the case base.

Now the case mouth should be expanded or "belled" until a bullet just starts in, and will set there without doing a balancing act. Reprime using your chosen method. Charge the case with an appropriate amount of a suitable powder. 5.5 grains of Unique or 5.4 of 231 are good.

Take your seating die and screw it into the press, only a few turns. Back the bullet seating stem all the way out. There are two ways to go at this point.

(1) Place a factory loaded 230 FMJ cartridge in the shell holder. Raise the ram all the way up. Screw the seating die in until it just firmly touches the case. The seating stem should NOT be touching the bullet. Back the die out about one-half of a turn. Turn the lock ring just finger snug. Now screw the seating stem in until it is snug against the factory bullet, and lock it in place. Lower the ram.

Now take the prepared, primed, charged case, put it in the shell holder, and set a lead bullet into the case mouth. Making sure the bullet remains upright, slowly raise the ram. If all went well, the bullet should be seated to a depth matching the factory cartridge. A pair of calipers is very valuable here.

Okay - - Closely examine the cartridge. You probably just about straightened out the case, removing most of the bell. There should be a tiny amount of flare left. This is good, in that it prevented shaving lead off at the mouth. You might want to remove the barrel from your pistol and drop the cartridge into the chamber. Compare the way it rests with a factory round. Your handload will most likely NOT go into the chamber as far. You may now either use a taper crimp die to remove all the case mouth bell, leaving the case sides completely straight, OR back out the seating stem and screw the seating die in to obtain the same result. Note that if you do the latter, you'll need to go through the die adjustment each time you switch between bullet seating and final case-straightening. Now guage the result in the chamber. You should have a loaded round that will function perfectly.

The other way to go:
(2) If for some reason you don't have a pristine factory 230 FMJ cartridge, you can accomplish the same thing, but you'll really need that set of calipers.

Place an empty, sized but NOT BELLED case in shell holder and raise the ram. Screw the seating die in until it touches the case mouth, and then back it out A FULL TURN. Snug up the locking ring. Screw the bullet seating stem WAY out.

Now place a sized, belled, but NOT PRIMED or charged case in the shell holder. Put a lead bullet into the case mouth and raise the ram all the way up. Screw the seating stem in until it makes firm contact with the bullet. See if the bullet started seating into the case. Lower the ram slightly, screw the seating stem in a turn or two, raise the ram, and inspect the result. By trial, keep adjusting the seating stem until you have a dummy cartridge with an overall length of 1.270". When you reach this, back out the seating stem and screw the die body in until the bell is almost removed.

Now you go through the final bell removal, case straightening process, preferably with a taper crimp die. The case mouth should now measure 0.473" immediately below the bullet, and you've now assembled a good, usable dummy cartridge with which to set your dies when you load primed, charged cases.

Please note: In no case should you attempt to both seat and remove all case bell in the same stroke. This almost ensures you'll shave some lead off on the case mouth.

I'll float this for a time, at least, and will check it periodically. If there's anything unclear, please let me know, and I'll edit as needed.

Best,
Johnny
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Old May 2, 2010, 07:00 PM   #2
Saint Dennis
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I've been seating and removing the case bell in one stroke on 45 acp for years with no problems. Thousands of rounds of 230 gr. LRN and they go through my 1911 like poo through a goose.
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Old May 9, 2010, 10:48 AM   #3
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I too have seated and taper crimped in one motion for years, never have shaved lead from my bullets for my pistol rounds.
Just saying.
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Old May 24, 2010, 04:59 AM   #4
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Ditto on the last 2 posts. I've loaded like that for years with no problems.
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Old June 2, 2010, 01:05 AM   #5
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Reloading 45 ACP

Once you start using separate dies for seating & then crimping, you'll never go back to one die for both.
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Old July 17, 2010, 04:26 PM   #6
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Target shooters have found, in general, the use of separate seating and crimping steps produces superior accuracy. But generalizations are just that, and there is no guarantee they will be applicable in any particular case. If you have a bullet design with a crimp groove in it, you should be able to time a single die to seat and crimp without shaving. All it requires is that you have a good case mouth chamfer, burnished smooth by the expander, and the case mouth be passing over the crimp groove during crimping.
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Old February 18, 2011, 02:39 PM   #7
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lets see if I can word this properly, is there a minimum over all length for the .45 acp with a 230 gr. lead round nose bullet?

a trusted friend of mine had to sell everything he had I bought most of his stuff including about 500rds of lead round nose .45 ammo, I noticed some of bullets were "short" when I looked in side of the .45 die I could seea heavey build up of lead that he probably didn't notice this and I like to know how much of this ammo is safe to shoot.

thanks.

Last edited by curt.45; February 18, 2011 at 02:41 PM. Reason: corrected mistakes
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Old February 18, 2011, 05:14 PM   #8
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None. Prudence says, never shoot someone else's reloads. Pull them with an inertial puller to preserve the components and reload them.

When bullets are seated too deeply into the case it raises pressure. How much depends on the powder, primer, and gun chamber geometry. A lead ring around a cartridge and up in the seating die is likely due to not flaring the case mouths adequately, then having the case mouth shave lead off. You can remove it with a plastic toothpick, usually, or else remove the seater stem from the die and clean it off outside.
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Old February 19, 2011, 08:01 AM   #9
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Curt, Your post doesn't include enough information to give a definitive answer, but there's plenty to indicate that some caution is required.

Do you know the type and amount of powder your friend used to load those cartridges? This could make a difference. If he didn't notice that some of the cartridges were noticibly shorter than the others, OR if it didn't bother him, I must question the level of care he used to load them.

Your initial question was, "is there a minimum over all length for the .45 acp with a 230 gr. lead round nose bullet?" Not really, but it's easy to see if the bullet is seated so deeply that the case mouth reaches past the ogive. If it does, the bullet is seated too deeply, and you might very well see some grossly excessive pressures. Also, you're very apt to have trouble with reliable feeding of such short rounds.

The .45 ACP is a low pressure cartridge. SAAMI standard maximum pressure is 21,000 psi, and no published load for the 230 RNL bullet is much above 18,000. Industry standard max overall length is 1.275". Most suggested loads show 1.270 for that shape bullet. A couple of thousandths less is not hazardous, but I'd go no shorter.

Given what the .45 ACP is, there's utterly no logic in trying to "magnumize" the cartridge seeking velocities above 850 fps with a 230. I personally load 230 LRN and plated bullets to about 800 fps. This is plenty to reliably operate any autoloading pistol with a standard recoil spring. It is plenty to knock over steel plates and Pepper Poppers in matches, and reliably runs two different Thompson SMGs. It is also easier on the guns AND the shooter.

I really believe the short, easy answer is to go with Unclenick's suggestion: pull all the bullets, re-expand the case mouths, recharge them with uniform amounts of powder, and reseat the bullets to 1.270", using the cleaned seating die.

If you're comfortable shooting your friend's powder charges, you can probably get away with a shortcut: Use your inertial bullet puller to lengthen all the too-short loaded rounds without actually pulling the bullet out of the case. Then reseat them to the proper, uniform, length.

Good luck to you.
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Old March 24, 2011, 10:04 PM   #10
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You are correct, Sir.

I'm new to reloading, only 1500 rds, but I found out the hard way (bad accuracy) that you are absolutly correct. Went from 5" spreads to 2". My old eyes and hands keep me from doing better. I enjoyed reading your tutorial.
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Old December 13, 2011, 07:39 AM   #11
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SO just out of curiousity you talk of the shell holder so would I be wrong to assume that you are talking about a single stage press LEE RCBS or other? I have a Dillon 550 so how would you adjust for that? or do I just use the micrometer for the measurement?
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Old December 13, 2011, 10:25 AM   #12
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"A rose by any other name . . . ."

Quote:
Originally Posted by TNT
. . . would I be wrong to assume that you are talking about a single stage press LEE RCBS or other?
Yes, you'd be wrong. My initial post in this thread applies to pretty much any brand pressd, progressive or single stage.

My use of the term, "shell holder" can mean pretty much any brand that holds a single cartridge case, OR the shell plate utilized by the Dillon progfessive presses. It could be that other brands of progressives may use a different term for that piece that holds the case as it is worked for any phase of the reloading process.

Best regards,
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Old December 14, 2011, 10:57 AM   #13
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TNT,

All the adjusting would be with the dies and powder measure on your Dillon. Nothing to adjust regarding the case holding system in any press.

Nick
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Old December 14, 2011, 11:47 AM   #14
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Lots of good info in here. Thanks.
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Old January 1, 2012, 12:46 AM   #15
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Casting your own to net $5-7 per box of 45s makes it that much better. More practice = a better shooter.
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Old November 7, 2012, 07:24 PM   #16
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It looks like I am using the same press the OP is using, along with the Lee 4 Die Set.

I have been told that when loading .45 ACP cartridges and using the Lee Factory Crimp Die (FCD), it's best to NOT allow the Seating Die to do any crimping of the case (the only function of the Seating Die should be to seat the bullet).

The instructions for adjusting the Lee Bullet Seating Die are basically, as I understand it:

1. Screw the die in until it touches the shell holder, then back it out 3 full turns and tighten the lock ring.

NOTE: If a crimp is desired, now screw the die inward slightly and test until the proper crimp is formed.
This additional crimp should NOT be needed when the Factory Crimp Die is used.


2. Cartridge overall length (OAL) is adjusted by screwing the top knurled knob either in or out.
_______________________________

Then, instructions for adjusting the Lee Factory Crimp Die:

1. Back out the top knurled knob. Screw the die in until it touches the shell holder and tighten the lock ring.

2. Insert a finished round in the die.

3. Screw the top knurled knob in until it touches the case mouth. Then remove the cartridge from the die and screw the top knurled knob inward an additional 1/2 turn for a light crimp or 1 full turn for a heavy crimp.


So, in the procedure above, we are using the Bullet Seating Die to only seat the bullet to achieve the desired OAL ... And we are using the Factory Crimp Die (FCD) to only crimp the case to the desired crimp.

Opinions?
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Old November 8, 2012, 10:26 AM   #17
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The easiest approach to the Lee instructions is just to view their help videos.
For the pistol seating die.
For the Carbide FCD.

For .45 Auto, the SAAMI spec calls for the case mouth to be at a diameter of 0.467" to 0.473" wide (see SAAMI drawing) for proper headspacing. (Note all cartridge diameter specs in that drawing are maximums with minus 0.006" tolerance unless otherwise noted at the individual diameter dimension.) So you want to adjust the crimp die to produce a case mouth diameter in that range. If you use mixed brass, since some is made thicker at the mouth than others, you do best to sort your brass by headstamp and check samples of each headstamp with your crimp die setup to make sure none are so thin that the bullet is loose after your normal crimp diameter is achieved. I've had that problem with Remington .45 Auto cases in the past, especially after the second or third reloading when they've started work hardening and tend to spring back more from either sizing or taper crimping.

Note on bullet COL: some round nose bullet designs are elliptical in profile, like military ammo, while some are hemispherical. The more blunt hemispherical shape often has to be seated deeper to feed properly. If you have that situation you may need to adjust charge weight down a little. Just use the the rule of thumb to knock the charge down 10% and work the load back up.
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Old February 21, 2013, 07:13 PM   #18
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Hey guys just wanted to interject into this thread.
I love the LEE FCD, they make setting crimps real easy.
One problem though is their use with cast bullets.
The LEE FCD has a carbide post sizing ring that works super with jacketed loads. It does not work with cast loads.

45 ACP jacketed bullets are sized at .451. That sizing ring is designed to post size a .451 projectile and the brass case.

Cast bullets for the 45 acp are sized at .452
When you run a .452 cast bullet and the brass case through a carbide sizing ring that's designed for a .451 projectile.
Your loaded .452 cast bullet gets re-sized to .451
Thats not what you want to have happen.

I quit using my FCD's with cast loads and use the bullet seating die to set the crimp. Accuracy has improved considerably.
You can if your inclined, knock out the post sizing ring from the FCd and still use it with out resizing your loads.
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Old March 4, 2013, 04:39 PM   #19
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Great thread

Just a note to thank Johny Guest who started this thread and the other commentators who tore apart his logic and offered dissent and/or agreement;

Thank you. Sincerely. As someone who is an experienced re-loader but has never reloaded 45acp or cast bullets, the conversation presented here puts me in a position to where I really think I can start loading them, have some ideas of what to watch out for and produce a quality accurate load the first time out. Eliminate a lot of the trial and error that comes with picking up a new cartridge to reload.

The dies are back-ordered and the only bullets available 'in stock' are the cast RN. It'll be April before I can actually start making bullets. My bad for not ordering the dies and bullets in November when I first considered that I should be reloading 45acp.

Anyway; great thread. Thanks again.
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Old March 6, 2013, 11:03 PM   #20
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Loading 230 RN Lead bullets for .45 ACP - - a Tutorial

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob443 View Post
Just a note to thank Johny Guest who started this thread and the other commentators who tore apart his logic and offered dissent and/or agreement;

Thank you. Sincerely. As someone who is an experienced re-loader but has never reloaded 45acp or cast bullets, the conversation presented here puts me in a position to where I really think I can start loading them, have some ideas of what to watch out for and produce a quality accurate load the first time out. Eliminate a lot of the trial and error that comes with picking up a new cartridge to reload.

The dies are back-ordered and the only bullets available 'in stock' are the cast RN. It'll be April before I can actually start making bullets. My bad for not ordering the dies and bullets in November when I first considered that I should be reloading 45acp.

Anyway; great thread. Thanks again.
Bob,

No need to wait till April to start reloading for your .45. Check online with Cabellas. I bought some Lee dies to reload this caliber last week and they arrived yesterday.

For cast bullets, I recommend Falcon Bullets. I ordered 500 200 grain lead semi wad cutters on Friday. They were delivered on Monday. Can't beat that for service!

Good luck!
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Old March 7, 2013, 09:07 AM   #21
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I've been watching Cabelas online. In fact I bought a couple of boxes of some 'ultra clean' 45acp from them. Arrived on Monday.

I am a big fan of Cabelas, for sure. When I was a kid I lived in Hastings Nebraska. A great Saturday afternoon was to go up to Kearney, where their catalog warehouse had a 'small' retail operation. Compared to Woolworths or Allen's department stores it was like going to Disneyland instead of the county fair.

But back to our story; I already have the Hornady dies on order and I want to stick with that. Most of my dies are Hornady, I am comfortable with them, have the die maintenance kit for them, and know what works best and how to install the maintenance parts.

Not that I have anything against Lee. I have a couple already and even a "lee loader" in 30-30 that I am fascinated with. In fact their FCD and 'bulge buster' dies arrived from Midway yesterday. Haven't figured out for sure if the FCD is a good match for cast. That seems to be the main point of contention of this whole thread.

The lead bullets I ordered should be here on Monday. Seems like MidwayUSA's shipping department either needs to do better planning, like get orders out same day, or at least think about holding orders for a couple of days when backorder items are expected to arrive in that time frame. Not too impressed with their shipping department for the last 3 orders.

Anyway, they are Meister brand 230gn LRN bullets and come highly recommended. I guess I'd order Falcon, next go around, if I have any problems with these. Not in SWC though. Seems my original 1911 always fails to feed the last one out of the magazine. Smacks dead on into the feed ramp and stops. Only on the last one though. A simple re-rack usually fixes it, but I prefer RN if only for that simple reason. None of the other 45s, including a Hi-Point, has any problem with the SWC, but if the 1911 has problems with it I'm inclined to avoid it. Any special reason you like the SWC?

Anyway; I appreciate the feedback, but it seems the ammo 'shortage' is coming to an end. I have been able to find good quality 45acp in stock at 3 retail locations now, and both Cabelas and Midway seem to have some available every day, so I'm okay waiting. My ammo is resupplied and I continue growing my stockpile of brass for the day when the dies do arrive.
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Old March 13, 2013, 10:32 AM   #22
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Loading 230 RN Lead bullets for .45 ACP

In regards to the Lee factory Crimp Die let me say this. Before I acquired the Lee Carbide 4 die set I could NOT make my 45 ACP 230 gr. cast boolit ammo cycle in any of my 3 45 ACP pistols. This was very frustrating. I used the original Lee Loader and an RCBS 3 die set to load the rounds.

I sure it was me that was causing the problem but that's irrelevant as I still could not get he rounds to cycle consistently. I finally broke down and got the Lee 4 die carbide set with the factory crimp die and lo and behold I had functioning ammo. All I did was follow the directions and it worked perfectly even with cast boolits.

Sometimes it's just different strokes for different folks. I too know a guy that has seated and crimped at the same time and he swears by it. I just like to do whatever works. Happy loading!
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Old March 13, 2013, 08:06 PM   #23
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Ditto Ares338.
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Old March 25, 2013, 04:09 PM   #24
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The more I read the more I'm confused.

45 ACP
Hodgdons load data with 230 LRN calls for an OAL of 1.200 with 3.5 gn of Clays.
I fired 150 rnds through 2 different Sig p220's with no issues and good accuracy. I'm looking through different posts here and most are saying 1.240+. The bullets are seated deep and deeper than the "top collar" of the bullet. Do I ignore the mfg data or just keep shooting them as be????
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Old March 25, 2013, 04:48 PM   #25
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Re: Loading 230 RN Lead bullets for .45 ACP - - a Tutorial

Totally agree on Falcon Bullets. I have gotten 38, 40 and 45 from them. Great product, price and super fast shipping
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