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Old December 6, 2009, 01:09 PM   #1
Tony C
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Large Quantity Pistol Reload Process

Folks,

I started reloading about 10 months ago. I reload pistol exclusively, and mostly .45 Auto. My press is a single stage Hornady Lock and Load which I love. I have several manuals and have read several hundred posts here.

To my question...

I reload my .45 for USPSA shooting and so I need about 400-500 rounds per month. I got the process that I follow with each from what my manuals suggest and it is as follows:

1) Clean & Inspect the brass
2) Resize & De-prime
3) Clean the primer pocket
4) Chamfer & Deburr
5) Expand the Case mouth
6) Prime
7) Powder Charge
8) Seat Bullet
9) Taper Crimp

I really enjoy the process, but as you probably know, following all of these steps takes a lot of time per round. I got to thinking about people that use progressive presses and wondered how important some of these steps are for my application?

Is cleaning the primer pocket and chamfering / deburring really very important? It is only two steps but they take quite a bit of time.

Thanks for your help,
Tony C.
NW Oregon
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Old December 6, 2009, 01:31 PM   #2
Kyo
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dude i can load 500 in 1 sitting, but my process goes like this

deprime spent brass
put in tumbler with car wax for 2-3 hours with media
prime them all, then because I have the 4 hole turret, after I prime they go through the process per bullet until it goes through the factory crimp die.
Thats just my way. I don't clean the primer pocket cause its already clean, I don't chamfer and deburr because there isn't anything to deburr. Sometimes the extractor can rip out a case in a harsh way, and it leaves the edge of the case bent or jagged, but i deburr that in 2 seconds with a rubber dremel and reload.
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Old December 6, 2009, 03:14 PM   #3
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steps

Quote:
Is cleaning the primer pocket and chamfering / deburring really very important?
No and no and no.
I haven't ever cleaned a primer pocket. The rounds always go off and the gun is accurate. Not necessary to chamfer or deburr unless you trim and there's no need to trim .45 ACP cases ever.
Clean'em. Put them in the case feeder. Load'em, Shoot'em. Repeat.
Pete
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Old December 6, 2009, 03:37 PM   #4
Foxbat
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Get a progressive press, you won't believe how much simpler your life will become. You are wasting a lot of time on unnecessary things now. In addition a progressive loader will prevent you from making some mistakes.
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Old December 6, 2009, 03:54 PM   #5
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Quote: "3) Clean the primer pocket 4) Chamfer & Deburr"

Tony,
To speed up your reloading,
1. Omit steps 3 and 4 (IME not really necessary on .45 ACP),
2. Get a Hornady LNL-AP (progressive) press for high volume .45 ACP loads. Keep your LNL single station press for small volume loads. It will last the rest of your life and be very useful.
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Old December 6, 2009, 05:42 PM   #6
R.Lynn
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Quote:
Get a Hornady LNL-AP (progressive) press for high volume .45 ACP loads.
+1
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Old December 6, 2009, 05:50 PM   #7
Uncle Chan
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I used to load thousands of 45LC/mon when I competed (hope to again, sometime). I can load 500/hr on my 550B. I'm not the biggest fan of the 550B, but it works great for my 45LC. That's all I load on it. For EVERYTHING else, I use my nice inexpensive Lee Classic Turret. I can load 100/hr of pretty much anything else on it.
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Old December 6, 2009, 06:13 PM   #8
Nnobby45
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Quote:
Is cleaning the primer pocket and chamfering / deburring really very important? It is only two steps but they take quite a bit of time.
No. I can just keep up with the shooting I do by tumbling my brass and simply reloading it. Admittedly, I probably don't inspect the brass as well as I should.

If you enjoy the process and the steps, load .45 Colt or something like that---or take up rifle loading where those steps accomplish something.

For pistol practice, it's VOLUME. And that can be achieved with a progressive press (I'm a Dillon 550B loader). It can also achieve quality ammo--at least sufficient for practice.
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Old December 6, 2009, 06:17 PM   #9
gearheadpyro
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+1 on the Lee Classic Turret. I can do about 100 an hour on mine; the savings on a progressive are substantial, although a progressive will be faster.

My pistol loading goes like this:
1. Tumble clean for however long it takes.
2. Load them on the turret press, I prime on the press. That means my process is size/deprime, prime, charge/flare, seat the bullet, crimp with Lee factory crimp die. 4 pulls on the handle, one finished bullet. simple as that.
3. Shoot them.

I check cases randomly for excessive length and am yet to find any. The Lee factory crimp die does a good job of fixing uneven lengths. I do not clean any pistol primer pockets.

The process that you described is more like what I do for my match grade rifle ammo, give or take a step or two.
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Old December 6, 2009, 06:59 PM   #10
freakshow10mm
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Tumble
Size/decap
Prime
Expand mouth and charge with powder
Seat bullet to depth
Crimp

Trimming, cleaning primer pockets, etc on handgun brass is a waste of time and money.
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Old December 6, 2009, 07:08 PM   #11
Shane Tuttle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxbat
In addition a progressive loader will prevent you from making some mistakes.
I couldn't disagree more. A progressive does anything but prevent you from making some mistakes. Observing up to five different stations assuring they're doing their job at the same time only invites trouble due to human factors.

Quote:
1) Clean & Inspect the brass
Upon cleaning and inspecting, you can check the case mouths if they need to be deburred or not. Arguably, you can check if the length is fine. The issue is after most pistol brass is sized, they actually shrink in length over time.

Quote:
3) Clean the primer pocket
Unless you're looking for the most accurate load on the planet, it's completely unnecessary. I haven't had any issues regarding primer seating, ignition, or the like in the thousands of rounds I've fired throughout the years.

If you keep up with your brass, i.e. sorting, you can get a good idea on the trend of OAL. After making your round, disassemble the associated firearm. Take the empty barrel and drop your round in it. You can check for headspace this way and assure it will feed at the same time.
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Old December 6, 2009, 07:26 PM   #12
Lost Sheep
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You sound as if you might want a progressive

Quote:
1) Clean & Inspect the brass
2) Resize & De-prime
3) Clean the primer pocket
4) Chamfer & Deburr
5) Expand the Case mouth
6) Prime
7) Powder Charge
8) Seat Bullet
9) Taper Crimp
1) Clean & Inspect the brass.
Good Idea. Feel the case mouth for cracks (they are more likely to appear AFTER step #5, though)

3) Clean the primer pocket
not usually necessary, but you might want to size the primer hole. This only has to be done once in the lifetime of the brass. If the primer pocket has a crimp (military brass commonly has a "crimp" shoulder), that should be removed.

4) Chamfer & Deburr
Only if step 1 convinces you it is necessary.
5) Expand the Case mouth

When I first started loading, after about a week I found I could load a box of 50 in an hour, including setting up my gear from its storage (footlocker) and putting it away again. I haven't gotten much faster since then.

You sound like a good candidate for a progressive press. You are experienced enough to be able to watch the multiple things happening simultaneously. Go slowly at first. Stroke the handle down. Look at all the stages. Verify that everything that should have happened, did happen. Stroke the handle the other direction. Look at all the stages. Verify.... Stroke the handle again... repeat until you have everything firmly in your consciousness. Then crank out some cartridges.

After you have done this for a while, you will find that all the steps are in your subconscious. After this point, you can measure how many rounds per hour you can do. Until then, don't pay any attention to speed. Just pay attention to ensure all the steps are complete at each stage. It is WAAAAY too easy to run out of powder or primers and crank out a bunch of squib loads or unprimed, loaded cartridges.

That's my experience.

Don't feel pressured to go to a progressive press. They aren't cheap, and (see my next post) like computers, they don't prevent mistakes. They just let you make mistakes much faster.

Lost Sheep.
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Old December 6, 2009, 07:46 PM   #13
Lost Sheep
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My thoughts to Foxbat (and on his post)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxbat
Get a progressive press, you won't believe how much simpler your life will become. You are wasting a lot of time on unnecessary things now. In addition a progressive loader will prevent you from making some mistakes.
I agree that Tony C. would benefit by using a progresive. But simpler is a matter of perception. My single stage loading is complex on the bench, but simple in execution because only one step is taking place at a time. My progressive loading is simple on the bench (components in, loaded rounds out), but within the confines of the press, multiple things are happening of which I have to keep track.

Foxbat, please explain how a progressive prevents mistakes. I know that it reduces the risk of double charges or skipping the charging of a case, but those things can still happen (depending also on which progressive you have). Also, in 30+ years of reloading, I only ever produced 1 (maybe two) unpowdered cases from a single stage press. Last year, I produced 18 on my progressive (I failed to notice my powder hopper had gone empty). I pulled 24 bullets out of their cases to be sure I found them all.

Like I said in my prior post, when you automate something, be it by computer or by a progressive press, you don't eliminate mistakes. On the contray, you make it possible to mass produce them much faster. To make a mistake while using a single-stage requires inattention. Inattention while using a progressive can produce mistakes just as easily, and in greater quantity.

I will give you this: The kinds of mistakes most common with single stage press work are less likely on a progressive. But the progressive comes with a different set of possible mistakes that are unlikely or not possible on a single.

No ammunition loading activity is without the possibility of mistakes.

Lost Sheep.

Caveat:

Remember, only believe half of what you see and one quarter of what you hear. That goes double for what you get from the internet. Even this post. Maybe especially this post.

Do your own independent, confirming research when ANYONE gives you new facts on the web.

Also remember, even the idiotic stuff might have a kernel of truth buried in there somewhere.

disclaimer: If my advice seems over-obvious, take into account other readers of all experience levels are reading.
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Old December 6, 2009, 11:31 PM   #14
Shane Tuttle
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Quote:
disclaimer: If my advice seems over-obvious, take into account other readers of all experience levels are reading.
If it's information regarding safety, I don't care how advice seems over-obvious. There's absolutely nothing wrong with it. As I see it, the more often it's exposed here encouraging it, the better...
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Old December 7, 2009, 10:54 PM   #15
Tony C
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Thanks to All!

Gentlemen,

Thank you all for your advice, and the consistency of it. I would like a progressive, but am not sure I have the room.

Thanks as well for the constant reminder about safety. I still might be considered over cautious, mostly thanks to my wife. She is nervous about my reloading and firearms in general, and I am more careful because i don't want to substantiate her fears.

Merry Christmas,
Tony C.
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Old December 7, 2009, 11:20 PM   #16
LHB1
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Tony,
A personal comment/opinion regarding the danger of reloading (based on 45+ years reloading experience):
- Reloading is as SAFE as driving a car.
- Reloading is as DANGEROUS as driving a car.
Summary: reloading is as safe or dangerous as YOU make it.
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Old December 8, 2009, 06:21 AM   #17
darkgael
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room

Quote:
I would like a progressive, but am not sure I have the room.
When I bought my first progressive (I have four; two were given to me.), I lived in a small two bedroom apt. I mounted the press to a piece of 3/4" plywood and kept it stored behind the sofa in the LR. When I used it, I clamped it to the kitchen table.
Also, that "inspect the brass" step.....I look at the brass as I load it into the case feeder on the press....and I don't look hard. I'm not sure what "inspect" means to you but if I looked carefully at every piece that I reload, I'd never get much loaded.
Pete
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Old December 8, 2009, 09:00 AM   #18
twice barrel
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I'm currently on a Lee Classic Turret and can already see the benefit of another progressive. The reason I didn't is I'm just a big believer of the KISS principle...thinking of frequent caliber changing.

If I start shooting a whole lot more and focus on only one caliber I'll get a Lee Loadmaster and tweak it. I know that with proper care it will outlast me and even if quirky will crank out ammo plenty fast for my needs.

If I were younger and concerned with using the same piece of equipment for years I might consider a larger investment. Then again I never found any of my Rockchuckers to be anything exceptional and didn't like certain things about them although the first one was a real quality piece.

Regards,

TB
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