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Old August 17, 2015, 12:12 PM   #1
Metal god
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Loading lead cast bullets ( 230gr LRN 45acp )

By mistake I bought some lead bullets thinking they were plated . Although not a big deal I'd rather not deal with lead in general . Now that I have 500 of them I'm going to do some load development . When I find a decent load I'll just load them all up and put away for a rainy day .

I have a few questions on this subject that came up while doing my usual test with dummy rounds before I start a completely new load .

1) I have more HS-6 powder then any other . Will that be a good powder for 230gr RN lead bullets ? ( other powders I have = Longshot , unique , Titegroup , CFE pistol , Auto comp )

2) Because these are cheap lead bullets and I'll be just putting these rounds in storage I plan to use mixed off brand brass ( PMC , Aguela , GFL , some R P , etc ) Any issues with that idea ?

3) I did some seating , crimping and plunk test to see what will work .

1st , I'm using the Lee 4 die set with FCD . When using the FCD even with NO crimp adjusted into the die I see I'm still swaging the bullet down a bit . About .001 to .0015 at the the area of the bullet where the case mouth would be . The base of the bullet is still the correct diameter after pulling . I searched the forum and found a old thread talking about the FCD doing this on 45 rounds . The OP did not have any real issues per-say , just that he noticed it happening . What's the significance of this happening if any ?

2nd , how much crimp on a bullet that does not have a crimp grove ? I tested 5 different crimp strengths from none just that slight swage to heavy crimp that indented the bullet about .011 . The dents in the bullets were ( .0015 , .003 , .006 . 009 .011 ). All 5 past the plunk test and measured the same depth from head to top of barrel area .

4) I was reading my Lyman cast bullet manual and it was saying because lead bullets tend to have less pressure to expand the case and seal the chamber . Some times annealing is needed . I do anneal rifle cases when needed but have to assume the book is referring to larger cases like 45-70 and not the 45acp case . The 45acp case seems to small to anneal with any real control . This was more of a hmm thing and I figured I'd ask for your thoughts ?


That's my first few questions for now .
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Last edited by Metal god; August 17, 2015 at 02:13 PM.
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Old August 17, 2015, 12:48 PM   #2
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1) I would use Bullseye. From your list, I would likely choose Unique. I don't have experience with the other powders except Titegroup, so don't take my advice as "DON'T use those!" Titegroup runs -HOT- and can be a problem with melting cast lead bullets, so I would look elsewhere before Titegroup... but in full disclosure, I run some very light target .44 Mag (870 fps) with cast lead and Titegroup and it is terrific.

Sorry, lengthy one with passion coming up:
2) I loathe idea of mixed headstamps in the same box... And no, it is not some kind of OCD. Some of it is pride, but from a practical and tangible standpoint -- mixed headstamp brass gives MIXED results. Perhaps not so much down range or on target (maybe over a chrono) but where it gives the most mixed results is during the loading process.

To test my theory:
take 15 pieces of all the same headstamp brass and flare the case mouth on each, all in a row

now, take 15 pieces of fully mixed colors, headstamps, whatever... do the SAME thing and feel the difference in resistance on your press lever.

If you don't feel the difference, I question either your equipment or your attention to detail. If you don't feel the difference, then MAYBE this level of detail simply doesn't concern you (and I have no problem with that!) but you won't see it in my range kit because for me -- it is simply not acceptable.

Where it matters the absolute most, IMO, is with bullet seating and case mouth tension/bullet pull, especially in semi-auto rounds. I guard greatly against unnoticed and/or unintended bullet setback and my finest weapon to do that is working with cartridge cases that I know and trust, and the hands-on . feel . in my press lever.

^this, and my powder handling is why I believe that my handloads are top-tier and above "meh, good enough!"

3-1 Lee FCD and lead bullets are not a great idea and -IF- you can make your ammo work without it, that is the better route IMO. If you cannot... then experimenting is fine as long as you are diligent about ENSURING that you have case mouth tension/bullet pull. The Lee FCD has a carbide post-sizing ring that does attempt to "squeeze down" a loaded round and we all know that lead slugs don't have much spring-back. My method for ensuring proper case mouth tension is the simple but VERY firm push test in to the edge of the bench. That bullet better not move or sink in. Remember that the feed cycle of a semi-auto is a royally harsh environment. Bullets that are not sitting in there tightly are subject to setback (and rise in pressure.)

3-2 How much crimp? In .45, it's not crimp like we may wish to think it is. It is a taper crimp and it's purpose is to remove the mouth flaring we imparted earlier. Often when loading lead... we use a bit MORE flare to ensure seating bullets without shaving. I would adjust the taper crimp die to close the brass down so that an EMPTY (no bullet) piece of brass falls in/out of the chamber. Do NOT use a taper crimp in .45 Auto to try to crimp a bullet in to place. Case mouth tension does that and a taper crimp will only serve to RUIN that.

3-4 Annealing? No. I can't imagine anyone is doing that in pistol brass. Also, you skipped 3-3!
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Old August 17, 2015, 02:10 PM   #3
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Quote:
To test my theory:
take 15 pieces of all the same headstamp brass and flare the case mouth on each, all in a row

now, take 15 pieces of fully mixed colors, headstamps, whatever... do the SAME thing and feel the difference in resistance on your press lever.
That was one of the first things I noticed and that was not separating them . I just flared about 500 mixed cases and I could almost tell you which head stamp I flared just by the feel . R.P. by far was the lightest . Almost felt nothing with those as compared to Win or PMC . The R.P were so light I even sized a few again to be sure I sized them the first time . Got the same result . I guess I'll mic the wall thickness and see what the difference is compared to the others .

FWIW , I'm also in the camp of separating head stamps and the amount of case prep I do tends to be quite time consuming . The fact I really don't want these bullets makes me not want to spend more time then needed on loading them . It's possible I never shoot them past load development . That's the reason I don't want to use my better powders . For this load good enough is all I'm looking for really .

I may go as far as pulling all the Remington cases out of that lot of mixed brass . They were clearly different then the others . Maybe even only use the Remington brass . I'll need to go back and re-evaluate the cases and see what I have enough of to load 400 rounds I'll never shoot unless ( well It starts with a Z and ends with a ombie )

I also test my bullet hold by pushing the round into the bench nose first but that has always been my rifle rounds . Never tried with pistol rounds , guess I'll give that a try . So I should just use my seating die to crimp the lead bullets ?

As far as crimp goes . I was thinking maybe the swage it self will hold the bullet enough . Like I said it kinda crimps the bullet at the mouth . When the bullet is pulled you can see the little ridge of lead just ahead of where the case mouth stopped . For the bullet to get set back . The case mouth would have to shave that little bit of lead off . I'll do some push test and see what kind of effort it takes to set the bullet back .
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Old August 17, 2015, 03:14 PM   #4
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For me, either in a M1911 or my Sig P220, a 230 LRN with 5.5 grains Unique meets my function and velocity requirements. I want to be around 800 fps with a 230 grain bullet because that was the velocity of the original 1910 round. I have chronographed factory ammunition that went faster, but I don't have pressure gages and I don't want the recoil.

I taper crimp the rounds to 0.469". Get your calipers out and measure the diameter of the case mouth at the very top of the case.




Code:


Kimber Custom Classic M1911

230 LRN 5.5 grs Unique lot UN331 1989 Mixed brass WLP (brass)
	
16-May-09 high 83  °F

OAL 1.250" taper crimped 0.469"
		
Ave Vel =827.4				
Std Dev =17.63	 	 		 
ES =	85.68				
High = 	871.6				
Low =	785.9				
N =	31				
				
						
			
					
230 LRN  6.0 grs Unique lot 6/21/1998 Mixed brass WLP (nickle)	
16-May-09	 high 83  °F		

OAL 1.250" taper crimped 0.469"

Ave Vel =885				
Std Dev =16.79	 	 		 
ES =	67.26				
High = 	917.8				
Low =	850.5				
N =	30				
			
accurate lots recoil15' foot ejection					
					
						
						
230 LRN  6.5 grs Unique lot UN387 6/21/93 Mixed brass WLP 
		
OAL 1.250" taper crimped 0.469	 	"		
18-Mar-07 T = 62 °F						
						
Ave Vel =926.4					
Std Dev =16.64					
ES	71.16					
High	963.4					
Low	892.3					
N =	32				
light leading,  accurate,  centered,  hard recoil, 20 foot ejection	







SIG SAUER P220 			
					
230 LRN  5.5 grs Unique  Lot UN331 mixed brass WLP OAL 1.25"  taper crimp 0.469"
23-Apr-11	T = 75 °F				
Ave Vel =	790.6				
Std Dev =	17.14				
ES =	57.3				
High =  = 	815.6				
Low =	758.3				
N =	10				
					
					
230 LRN  6.0 grs Unique  Lot 6/21/1998 mixed brass WLP OAL 1.25" taper crimp 0.469"
23-Apr-11	T = 75 °F				
Ave Vel =	852.6				
Std Dev =	19.54				
ES =	65.93				
High =  = 	892				
Low =	826.1				
N =	15
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Old August 17, 2015, 03:15 PM   #5
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Quote:
Although not a big deal I'd rather not deal with lead in general.
I'm curious why not? I'm not a big fan of lead in general either, but it works great in some calibers - and 45 ACP is definitely one of them. From my personal experience (almost 30 years), lead can't be beat for accuracy in 45 ACP, and barrel leading is near non-existent. I only load lead with 38 Special, 44 Special, and 45 ACP - it gives me fits in all other chamberings, and so I don't bother.

Quote:
I have more HS-6 powder then any other . Will that be a good powder for 230gr RN lead bullets?
Yes it will. HS-6 runs cool and is thus well-suited for heavy lead slugs. The only caveat is that you'll have to pump them up a bit or it'll run sooty. So they'll be strong rounds, but they'll shoot nice. Of the powders you mention, TiteGroup would be the best choice, IMO.

Quote:
I plan to use mixed off brand brass ( PMC , Aguela , GFL , some R P , etc ) Any issues with that idea?
Not to me. I use mixed brass for 45 ACP pretty regularly. You'll get differing opinions on this. But for me, mixed brass only concerns me with 9mm - because it's so small.

Quote:
When using the FCD even with NO crimp adjusted into the die I see I'm still swaging the bullet down a bit.
I use a Lee FCD for 45 ACP - wouldn't load without it. Is it swaging down the bullet? I don't know. Don't care either. All my 45 ACP ammo is exceptionally accurate and doesn't lead the barrel. So I'm good. I think it's a great die - especially for 45 ACP.

Quote:
How much crimp on a bullet that does not have a crimp grove?
I've never measured a crimp. I crimp by feel. I just want to feel it "impinge" the case mouth some. Can't really put it into words. No substitute for experience and good ol' fashioned common sense for this one.

Quote:
I was reading my Lyman cast bullet manual and it was saying sometimes annealing is needed.
I've never annealed a 45 ACP case (any case, for that matter - I only load for pistol). I've never had any problem.
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Old August 17, 2015, 03:41 PM   #6
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I would advise to try not to over think things too much. Keep it simple. I have several guns that have not seen a jacketed or plated round since I started casting. 3 have never had a factory load run out of them at all, and most likely never will as long as I am the one loading for them.

I run mixed head stamps in brass due to the fact that my .45 acp brand of choice is the ones I get free from the range. I have never used the powder you listed so I am not sure how it will work with cast. I will throw out some of my experience with cast in the .45 acp. Powders I would avoid for cast are Tite Group, and Hi Skor 800x. Both have produced leading with bullets that did not give that problem with other powders. They just seem too melt the lead or something.

My powders of choice are as follows:

Bull's Eye most bangs for the buck out of a can. Not the cleanest, though highly effective, and meters well.

HP-38/ Win 231 Works, and meters well. I like it when I can find it I always buy 2 cans. They never seem to last that long for some reason.


Red Dot I hand weigh each load with it. It works. Not the most clean. Though it works and is very consistent from shot to shot. If it metered better at small volume it would be my go to.



Oh and a side note about barrel leading. Use a good copper remover before shooting the lead. In fact I advise use the copper remover 3 times in 3 days. You would be surprised at how more copper will come out. Then oil well. Before shooting run a dry patch. Then shoot. If you use solvent in the barrel while it is still warm it will make cleaning much easier once you get home.


Nate
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Old August 17, 2015, 06:35 PM   #7
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Here is what I have found. I don't or won't use the FCD in lead bullets. I use the taper crimp, when I crimp.

I have two different sized bullets. .451 and .452. I shoot lead, powder coated lead, plated, and jacketed. I don't crimp on anything but jacketed bullets and straight lead.

I simply flare the case neck to just allow the bullets to enter and seat them. the .452 bulges the case a bit but, if you don't over flare the case before seating, the bullet is held well and seats straight with no shaving. I over flare the case when shooting just lead and crimp back to .472 outside case diameter at the case mouth. I do that not t snug the bullet as much as to tighten up the flared case mouth to ensure good feeding.

I have used Bullseye and Unique and prefer the Unique in the 45. I seat to 1.200 and use 5.5 grains of Unique. No leading and extremely accurate. Hpwever, the Unique is a bit harsh versus the 4.7 grains of Bullseye I was using. But, I couldn't keep the Bullseye from leading, regardless of charge. While it wasn't bad and could be brushed out in a minute or two for 200 rounds, it was depositing lead. The same bullets with the 5.5 grains of Unique; No lead after 300 rounds. Two patches and the barrel was spotless.

The FCD will downsize bullets and with lead, full bore bullets are needed. It might be OK in your gun but, chances are it won't. Undersized bullets will lead and cause less than best accuracy.

My advice is to stick with lead, preferably powder coated lead. Once you get your load, it will be EXTREMELY accurate and much cleaner than jacketed bullets. I really like it and if you are already shooting plated stuff, get some powder coated lead and, enjoy a better bullet God Bless
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Old August 17, 2015, 07:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
I don't or won't use the FCD in lead bullets. I use the taper crimp, when I crimp.
The Lee FCD in 45 ACP is a taper crimp die.

Quote:
The FCD will downsize bullets and with lead, full bore bullets are needed.
I don't believe this to be the case at all. At least in my experience. No, I haven't mic'ed the bullets post-FCD, but using the die with many thousands of (lead, plated, & jacketed) rounds, hasn't impacted performance in any way whatsoever with my ammunition. Any dimensional changes that the FCD may impart is purely an "on paper" phenomenon and has no adverse effect in the real world.
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Old August 17, 2015, 07:22 PM   #9
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Yet another fan of 5.5 grains unique under 230 lrn. COL adjusted to specific firearm/bullet brand.
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Old August 17, 2015, 08:47 PM   #10
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I enjoy shooting LRN bullets in .45ACP - very accurate for me and no noticeable leading in any of the 3 1911 patterns I use them in. Don't fear them, at least not without trying them first.

I personally don't use the FCD for .45ACP, just a light taper crimp with the seating die (more like just ironing out the mouth to remove the flare). Sizing a ring into the bullet where the crimp is isn't a problem, but sizing down the entire diameter of the bullet would be. Theoretically the FCD should not significantly resize/swage the entire bullet if the assembled rounds are in spec but I could see it being potentially counter-productive if it were further sizing lead rounds that already fit your chamber. If assembled rounds using the standard seat/crimp die will pass the plunk test consistently without using the FCD, that is how I would start off, and save the extra step. Seating depth can be a little bit touchy as far as reliable feeding; doesn't hurt to make a few dummies and try quickly hand cycling from the magazine before committing to an OAL.
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Old August 17, 2015, 09:23 PM   #11
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Almost every bullet I have fired in my Blackhawk .45 Colt and Ruger 1911 .45 ACP has been lead and I use the Lee crimp dies on both. Roll crimp for Colt and taper crimp for ACP. No problems at all. Lead is less expensive than jacketed and I am told that it is easier on the barrel.
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Old August 17, 2015, 10:12 PM   #12
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I don't want to use lead because of the health hazards of it . I've been loading match grade rifle ammo now for awhile and always liked the fact I'm never actually touching lead . I tumble and separate in my reloading room and figured no lead was in contact with anything so no lead in the air . I do cover my face with a mask or shirt when I separate the media . My thinking is if I start shooting a bunch of lead bullets the residue from everything they touch or were fired from will now have to be handled with more care then I'm used to . It just seems like a real pain . A

As my signature states my grandson is turning one year old tomorrow and he lives with me . Now in general He dose not go in my reloading room but I'm in there a lot and everything I touch out side of that room will have the potential for contamination . Hell like right now , I was just in there doing some measurements to post on here a little later . I was handling the lead bullets and never washed my hands after . That means I just opened the two baby gates leading through the house and now my keyboard . .

Yeah I know get in the mind set of cleaning my hands . Maybe keep some handy wipes in the reloading room to use before leaving . Got plenty of baby wipes around haha . I get it , it can be a safe practice if I use safe methods . I'll just need to get in the right mind set . After years of not thinking about using any lead . It will take some time to get in that safe mind set . If anything and I do start using lead . It'll likely be coated bullets .

Stand by . I have some measurement numbers coming your way if about 30 min
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Old August 17, 2015, 10:28 PM   #13
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Lead Safety

When I load lead, I wear gloves. But that's actually overkill.

It's not really an issue to simply handle lead as it does not absorb into the body easily. For the most part, you must actually ingest it. Washing your hands thoroughly after loading, or at least before eating is a good idea. I've heard that you should wash your hands with cold water first, followed by hot water. Okay. Whatever.

I've been tested for lead (and mercury). I'm well below the threshold of concern - even by the child standard; which is half that of an adult.

I have a three year old granddaughter running around here. She likes to "help" me load. Due to her age, I keep her from any critical processes, obviously. And I also make sure she doesn't handle any lead bullets.
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Old August 17, 2015, 11:07 PM   #14
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Ok here are some numbers .

Bullet diameter .452
Case wall thickness = .011
barrel - lands = .443 , grooves = .4525


Cartridge with no crimp


Case mouth with bullet seated .4715
Bullet at crimp after pulling .451
Bullet base after pulling .4515



Cartridge with light crimp


case mouth with bullet seated .471
bullet at crimp after pulling .450
bullet at base after pulling .451


Not sure what all that means . It does appear my FCD is swaging the bullets at least .0005 smaller then my barrels grooves . Now match jacketed rifle bullets you want your bullets about .0003 to .0005 larger then your grooves . Does that hold true with lead pistol bullets ? If I'm swaging the bullets smaller then my grooves . Will gas squeeze/leak by the bullet when fired ? Or is the lead soft enough to swell/deform and seal the barrel ?
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Old August 17, 2015, 11:17 PM   #15
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Nick, My Doctor reloads and that's pretty much what he told me when I mentioned a lead test.
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Old August 18, 2015, 12:32 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metal god View Post
I tumble and separate in my reloading room and figured no lead was in contact with anything so no lead in the air . I do cover my face with a mask or shirt when I separate the media . My thinking is if I start shooting a bunch of lead bullets the residue from everything they touch or were fired from will now have to be handled with more care then I'm used to . It just seems like a real pain .
The worst form of lead contamination is the primer residue. It is compound lead in powder form, and it can easily go air born when dealing with dry tumbling medium. I wouldn't to do it indoor if I have to. I choose to do wet tumbling for this reason; no lead dust.

When it comes to lead poisoning, different people have different take. No intention to restart another such debate that goes nowhere. Do what we think is right, not only for ourselves, but for the little ones as well.

-TL
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Old August 18, 2015, 12:44 AM   #17
Metal god
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Well that hurts my feelings . I thought newer Pimer manufacturing did not use lead in there primers now . I know some foreign primers have lead like wolf I believe does .
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Old August 18, 2015, 01:24 AM   #18
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Nope, all large pistol primers and all rifle primers have lead. There are some small pistol primers that are lead free, but they're hard to find for handloading. Some factory ammo uses them like Win Clean, Federal non-toxic and some of the Fiocchi loads, that's one of the reasons why you see small primer .45 auto brass.
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Old August 18, 2015, 02:04 PM   #19
Metal god
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Quote:
The Lee FCD in 45 ACP is a taper crimp die.
I'm not sure what is what but I can say that I have a 308 FCD . My 308 FCD works very different then my 45acp FCD .

The 308 die uses the shell holder to actuate the crimping parts in the die . It crimps pretty much like the Lee collet neck die works . The 45acp die does not appear to compress the neck/mouth in the same way as the 308 FCD does .

Before posting I just went and took the dies apart and compared them . They are not even close to being the same thing . They both may be called FCD's but the way they work is very different . The 45acp cartridge is forced into a cylinder/sleeve that allows the case to enter a little ways then tappers down like a wedge squeezing the mouth of the case down . The 308 FCD clamps around a large portion of the neck actual crushing the neck around the bullet after it's fully inside the die .
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Old August 18, 2015, 02:30 PM   #20
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Yes, the rifle FCD and the Handgun Carbide FCD are very different tools, for sure.

The part of the carbide handgun FCD that is questionable for use with cast lead is NOT the crimping feature -- is the carbide sizing ring. This ring "irons out" the loaded round and can be helpful for some folks but (theoretically) it can introduce problems when used with lead bullets.

I have heard of some folks taking the die apart and knocking the ring out and using just the crimp feature. On the other hand, many folks screw the adjustment screw out so that the die does not impart any crimp, and ONLY the carbide sizing ring is utilized.

One side bit I wanted to mention:
YES, discussions on lead & handling hazards abound, but as the OP brought it in to the discussion, it seems prudent to add to the above (terrific) info regarding primers... lead hazards are minimal for adult people but -VERY- real for babies, toddlers and children. Also... for the OP as you mentioned years of jacketed rifle bullet handling and "no exposed lead", well... sorry, no free lunch. Those bullets are indeed jacketed, but produced in a facility that had lead all over it. Inside the bullets is lead. There is trace lead in every box, bag, and slug you've ever handled.

Your diligence & awareness is a very good thing, especially with an extremely important 1-year old shooter to be in the mix, but please chase the facts and don't rely on hopes & shortcuts. He's too important!
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Old August 18, 2015, 02:34 PM   #21
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Heh, sorry...
One last nugget. Though we all seek the knowledge, understanding and ability to expand what we do at the load bench, it occurs to me that if we are going THIS deep in to learning about loading cast lead and all because you ended up with 500 or 1,000 slugs that you did not want and/or have no intention of buying MORE of, hand in hand with (valid!) concerns over lead slugs...

This is nutty!
Close the box and put them on a low shelf. Trade them away or re-open Pandora's Box in 10-20 years.
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Old August 18, 2015, 02:43 PM   #22
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There are 2 kinds of FCDs from Lee; collet for necked brass, and carbide ring for straight wall brass. 45 acp is the second kind apparently. The carbide ring does full cartridge sizing (even lee doesn't like to call it that) to correct bulging caused by bullet seated crooked.

Some handloaders take issue with full cartridge sizing, especially with cast bullets. It may deform the softer bullets. I tend to agree with that. I try to seat the bullet straight to avoid using the fcd. I find hornady seating dies do very good job, and started migrating to their products.

-TL
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Old August 18, 2015, 09:14 PM   #23
Metal god
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Quote:
One last nugget. Though we all seek the knowledge, understanding and ability to expand what we do at the load bench, it occurs to me that if we are going THIS deep in to learning about loading cast lead and all because you ended up with 500 or 1,000 slugs that you did not want and/or have no intention of buying MORE of, hand in hand with (valid!) concerns over lead slugs...

This is nutty!
Close the box and put them on a low shelf. Trade them away or re-open Pandora's Box in 10-20 years.
LOL , I hear you . That was the plan but then I started looking around at the other components I had and thought " why not at least load them to have on hand if ever needed " . I have powder I can spare , Fed primers I no longer plan to use and mixed brass just sitting around . Why not load them up .

As I'm sure you can tell . Although these rounds will not have the importance to me as other cartridges I load . I still want them to be good , safe and reliable loads non the less . That's where all the questions come in . I've never loaded lead bullets before so this line of questions is no different then any other completely new load I would start . The only real questionable thing in all this IMO is mixed brass . The rest of my questions I feel are important to me/a first time loader of lead .

Right now as it stands I'll likely do my first loads using the mixed brass and use the FCD with out the crimp . I'll just use the light swaging as the crimp . I'll also remove the Remington brass from the lot . I feel they were the least consistent case of the batch compared to the rest as a whole .
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Old August 18, 2015, 10:34 PM   #24
Nick_C_S
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If those bullets were mine, I'd load 'em up - with the FCD - and have a good time shooting them. They would go nice n straight and without leading. I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever. Because it would be no different than the thousands of ones I've done in the past.
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Old August 18, 2015, 11:16 PM   #25
Jim Watson
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Do you have any friends with .45s who aren't worried about cast bullets?
They would be grateful friends to get some bullets cheap to free.
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