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Old March 26, 2013, 11:36 AM   #26
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Welcome to the forum.

The cause of the confusion is differences in round nose shapes. Some molds cast more blunt hemispherical nose bullets that use shorter seating and some cast longer elliptical bullet nose profiles that more closely mimic the military ball bullet shape. Thus you can find 225-235 grain round nose bullets in lengths that vary from about .610" to about .680" inch. .45 Auto has a SAAMI COL of 1.175-1.275" to accommodate all bullet lengths from light target to heavy round nose shapes.

What actually matters is seating depth. That's because how far the bullet sits into the case determines how much space is underneath it for the powder to start building pressure in. Seating depth should be figured with respect to a maximum length case, regardless of your actual case lengths, to keep the powder space under the bullet constant.

Seating Depth = Case Length + Bullet Length - COL

So, for a given manual load in .45 Auto, since maximum case length is 0.898":

.45 Auto Seating Depth = 0.898" + Bullet Length - COL.

The military ammo is the .680" bullet, and it usually has a COL of about 1.260" to about 1.270" in what I've measured. Using the minimum end of that scale gets a maximum seating depth:

Maximum Seating Depth = 0.898" + 0.680" - 1.260" = 0.318"

That's for a military powder charge that develops about 400 ft-lbs of energy with a 235 grain RN bullet. That's a bit more than commercial hardball, which is usually a 230 grain RN bullet loaded to about 350 ft-lbs; about what the age-old standard load of 5.0 grains of Bullseye powder with a standard large pistol primer will get you. But let's keep that lower energy level as a extra safety margin. So, since that bullet is longest, consider 0.320" seating depth your lower limit.

To figure out if your bullet falls inside that range, calculate a minimum COL for it from that information by rearranging the first equation to:

COL = Case Length + Bullet Length -Seating Depth

If your RN bullet were 0.640" long (a common number), then:

Minimum COL = 0.898" + 0.640" - 0.318" = 1.220"

You can use that formula to get minimum COLs for different lengths and here's a table of the results if you do:

225-235 grain RN Bullet in .45 Auto 
5.0 grains of Bullseye
Standard LP primer.

 Length	       Minimum COL

0.695 in	1.275 in
0.690 in	1.270 in
0.685 in	1.265 in
0.680 in	1.260 in
0.675 in	1.255 in
0.670 in	1.250 in
0.665 in	1.245 in
0.660 in	1.240 in
0.655 in	1.235 in
0.650 in	1.230 in
0.645 in	1.225 in
0.640 in	1.220 in
0.635 in	1.215 in
0.630 in	1.210 in
0.625 in	1.205 in
0.620 in	1.200 in
0.615 in	1.195 in
0.610 in	1.190 in
0.605 in	1.185 in
0.600 in	1.180 in
0.595 in	1.175 in
But there are several catches to the above. One is that you don't want to put the shoulder of the top end of the bullet bearing surface (full diameter cylindrical portion) below the case mouth. So, depending on the design, you may not want to go all the way to that minimum. Too long is OK. Too short is not.

Another catch is that you might have a design that has to go shorter to chamber. In that case, you want to reduce the powder charge and work it back up, watching for pressure signs just to be sure you are safe confining the powder more than originally intended.

Another factor is just the opposite of the above one, and that is that in .45 Auto, particularly with lubricated lead bullets, the small powder space allows a primer to produce enough pressure to unseat the bullet, often before the powder gets fully lit up. In that case, the seating depth changes in the chamber, lowering peak pressure. Again, load work-up is key.

A final consideration with lead bullets, specifically, has to do with how they align in the chamber. Their ability to shoot accurately and to reduce leading, it can make a significant difference to seat the bullet out to touch the lands. With some bullet designs this becomes too long to fit the magazine or to chamber properly. But if your bullet shape is short enough to allow it, then the gun will tend to shoot best when seated as follows:

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Old March 26, 2013, 05:06 PM   #27
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confusion resolved

Thanks Unclenick for setting me straight. The loads I had done were luckily at the minimum charge and they were set .045 deeper than they should have been with the shoulder beneath the case mouth. With the .665 bullet set to an OAL of 1.245 they chamber well. With 3.6 gn of Clays that I had shot they were running about 730fps. and you could shoot them at paper all day.

The other questions I have are about swc in my Sig 220. They are .640 and the bullet manufacturer recommended 1.245-1.250 and my dummy load I made 1.250. The tip of the bullet gets scuffed chambering---should I be concerned?

I've read that plated lead takes the same load data as lead. Is that indeed true.

Thank you again for your help. I'm trying to go slow and learn all I can.
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Old March 27, 2013, 12:22 PM   #28
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Glad the seating depth got sorted out.

The scuff may just be the way that bullet hits the feed ramp or the way it turns to level in the chamber. I wouldn't be concerned unless it builds lead up somewhere.

Plated lead usually does use lead data. The issue is becoming confused because Hornady has been plating actual gilding metal jackets onto bullets rather than forming cups. But what are called plated bullets are usually covered in soft copper and are best treated as lead bullets. The other recommendation is not load them past the middle range of jacketed bullet data. It seems to me this information is in the FAQ at the Berry's bullet site.
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Old March 29, 2013, 10:00 PM   #29
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nice tight group

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Old May 6, 2013, 01:54 PM   #30
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Reloading 45 acp 230 gr JHP

Hey guys,

I'm new to reloading, as well as this form. So bare with my terminology! I have reloaded probably about 40 shells completely.(have not shot them and don't not want to until I know it is safe to do so, because of the way I have reloaded them)I used a lee 50th anniversary reloading kit with RCBS 3-die set( it seems to fit and work well with the lee press). Bullseye powder, federal shells , Winchester small primers, and hornady xpt 230 gr JHP. I have only one reloading book, Lyman 49th edition and it does not have 230 gr JHP. The closest is 225 gr JHP. It states that the OAL should be 1.243", I have reloaded mine to be around 1.200 give or take .005...will my bullets shoot safety??
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Old May 7, 2013, 10:12 AM   #31
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Unless you say what charge weight of Bullseye you put into each case, there is no way for anyone to even guess whether the load is safe or not. If you are new to reloading you should begin with a starting load of around 4.5 grains of Bullseye and then gradually creep the charge up at your seating depth, while watching for pressure signs. I would expect 4.5 grains to be safe because the Alliant web site has a maximum load of 5.0 grains of Bullseye posted for the Speer 230 grain Gold Dot seated to 1.2" COL and it is a similar type of bullet (though not identical, so you still need to work the loads up to be sure they are safe).

For the future, the Hornady Manual says the correct seating depth for your bullet is 1.230". If you email Hornady, they will give you their COL and recommended loads free, but they do not have Bullseye powder listed for that bullet.
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Old May 27, 2013, 08:13 AM   #32
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The problems I had with mine were resolved after I bought a new set of dies I had a old set of dies my dad gave me but I usually spent more time re adjusting the dies due to the finished rounds not chambering. The new dies were put into place and adjusted and everything is working fine just fine 800+ rounds later with a periodic check every 50rds and testing 5-6 rounds every one chambered and no lead shaving to cause the slide to go out of battery. Uncle Nick thanks for all the information that you have provided it has been a great help
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Old September 26, 2013, 09:38 PM   #33
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Diameter of pulled bullets after Lee FCD

I am a little late to the party but this might be of interest.

I made 10 dummy rounds while trying to solve a won't chamber problem(this thread was very helpful). All used once fired Winchester 45 ACP brass. Five had Missouri Bullet 230 RNL .452 and five were Bear Creek Supply 230 RN polymer coated lead .452.

The dummies were crimped lightly with a Lee FCD. The bullet diameters were
measured before loading, and after pulling, with a micrometer. The interesting thing was that the MBC bullets were NOT sized by the FCD while the BCS bullets WERE sized:

From box MBC avg .4521 >> after pulling avg .4520

BCS avg .4526 >> after pulling avg .4509

I was surprised by the difference. These results seem to undermine generalizations about the goodness or badness of LEE FCD for lead bullets.
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Old September 27, 2013, 09:03 AM   #34
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Welcome to the forum.

Sounds to me like normal case neck tension is ironing out the soft polymer coating on the BCS rounds. Try loading a few with no crimp to see if they don't shrink, too.

The Lee Carbide Factory Crimp Die won't iron anything that doesn't rub the carbide sizing ring at its mouth, so try pushing a finished round up into the ring with your fingers. If it goes, you're not getting rubbing. It if resists, you are getting sizing action (any bullet will spring back out a little after being sized down, to the fact it went through the ring under the force of the press already should not make it small enough to pass through the ring freely).
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Old February 13, 2014, 09:29 PM   #35
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I'd like to add a cpl thoughts to the above excellent posts.

* There are many good bullets made of lead alloy out there, but arguably the best of all is the H&G 68, a truncated SWC type that will feed through virtually any 1911...In the dozen or so that I've worked with, it chambered and gave top accuracy in all ranging from a tricked out Colt Gold Cup, to a WWll Remington-Rand. You don't need a round nose to get good feeding.

* Seating depth for most lead alloy bullets works best for my guns when kept out to around 1.260". For those bullets with a shoulder, I leave the barest hint of the shoulder (of the full dia. lead) showing above the case mouth. This hint of a shoulder (roughly 1/32" or so) cushions the bullet/case mouth junction as it chambers in the the barrel breach. If your 1911 has less than a sterling throating job on the breach, the lead cushion will help prevent jams.

* Case neck tension, not a crimp, keeps the bullet in place during chambering, and prevents setback. Your sizing die needs to be small enough to give sufficient case neck tension. NRA used to recommend 40# pressure, as a test of adequate neck tension. You push the completed round against your bench edge, or a scale and compare OAL measurements before and after.

* Crimping can be done on the seating die, using the roll crimp feature, but only so as to remove the case mouth flare, and perhaps just a smidge more. I do like to seat in one die, then crimp in another (really it's just removing the bell from the case mouth.) My favorite "crimping" die is a taper crimp, and here again, I use it solely to remove the bell.

* I don' t hunt with my 1911's, and don't carry concealed with hand loads. The latter for legal issues if I'm forced to use my carry piece. So...I cast my own bullets for target and practice use, and don't strive for high velocity. I want good 100% functioning, and when that's assured, I strive for top accuracy. I'm critical of my cast bullets, and discard those that show any deformity. My best loads, without in exception, run from 770 to 830 fps with the H&G 68 TWC bullet. I have only one 45 now that will not group under 2" at 25 yds from rest, and with my cast bullets too.

* If you're interested in casting your own, I have found that a Wheel Weight to pure lead ratio of 2/1 is hard enough to prevent leading in my .45's. With a pinch of tin added when necessary to allow good mold fill out. (Usually less than a cpl oz.'s to a 20 lb. melt.) For guns that need harder bullets, you can drop them straight from the mold into a diaper pail of water, quenching them and increasing hardness in the process. Currently (Feb of 2014), I'm paying $20 per 100 lbs. of wheel weights from a local tire shop but the guys there warn me that lead based weights are going away due to OSHA regulations. For that $20 I get about 60 lbs. of lead based weights, 10 lbs. of stick on pure lead weights, and the rest is some other metal: zinc, steel, or aluminum, plus clips etc. That yield allows me to shoot .44 Magnum Keith 250 gr LSWC's for less than a penny a piece. Primers are going for about 4c's now and powder is about 2c's....that's less than 7 cents per shot...cheaper than .22 lr when and if you can find it....yep...casting has it's benefits...some of my molds are over 50 yrs old now so the cost of the equipment is negated over time, plus you can shoot so long as you can get primers, and powder.

* For lube, I use an ancient Lyman 450 sizer/lubricator to size to .452" and apply 50-50 alox-beeswax lube. I do have one .45 that needs an add'l application of Lee Liquid Alox by swirl lubing. Easy to apply, I've added that step to all commercial bullets I buy...finding them overly hard and with granite hard lube that does nothing but look pretty..the LLA cures that and makes them leading free as good as my own castings.

* I don't clean primer pockets anymore with any handgun load. I assemble my loads using a Dillon 550B progressive and just seat the primers while sizing. I've never had a FTFire traced to a dirty primer pocket either and accuracy is superb. I do clean rifle pockets but probably don't need to there either. Winchester Large and Small Primers are my choices but I have used Federals for some auto's that seem to have lighter than normal firing pin strikes.

* I do clean my brass, tumbling it to remove the grit picked up when ejected on the ground. I use walnut media, adding a cut up dryer sheet from my wife's laundry room trash, plus a dollop of NuCar polish to each tumbling session. The dryer sheet keeps the media clean, and the NuCar shines up the brass to some extent. An hour does it...I want it clean but I'm not anal about its looks.

That's about it...HTH's Rod
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Last edited by rodfac; February 14, 2014 at 10:01 AM.
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Old February 13, 2014, 10:47 PM   #36
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The tutorial

This is pretty much what I read to get first hand know-how on the .45acp.
With the help of some manuals and this post, I am dialed! Thank you!
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Old March 30, 2015, 12:33 PM   #37
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I cast the Lee 230 gr TL RN bullet from straight wheel weights...

they actually weigh 240 gr.

I TL with either LLA thinned with mineral spirits, or Rooster straight from the bottle.

I've found that 5 gr of W231 is too hot and leads up my commander barrel pretty badly.

Going to back off to 5 gr next batch and see if that is an improvement.
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