Finally ready to begin reloading

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  • 3 Post By gasmitty
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Thread: Finally ready to begin reloading

  1. #1
    Member Array BlackJack's Avatar
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    Finally ready to begin reloading

    Ok, I have finally been able to get everything I need to begin reloading.

    Unfortunately, between the unavailability of supplies and my travel schedule, it has taken me a long time to get everything together.

    Well, one of the first things I did was to view as many videos as I could on youtube. Unfortunately they all seem to be demonstrations of how to reload WITHOUT demonstrating how to setup. I have not been able to find one single video that shows and explains how to setup and adjust the dies. Everybody just changes dies that are already set.

    Well, the sizing die, with the decapping pin is easy to set. That went well and I was able to size and deprime 100+ 9mm cases in short order.

    Priming the cases also went smoothly, but now I am looking at the expanding die and the seating and crimping die. I know what they do and I know how they are supposed to be setup based on the instructions. However, it would be nice to actually see it done.

    The instructions say:

    “The case mouth should be expanded (belled) just enough to accept the bullet base when placed on top of the case – no more! The expander is tapered and may be adjusted fro more or less expanding (belling) by loosening the ...”.

    Well, do you want it expanded just enough to accept the base of a bullet, or do you want it expanded more? The instructions seem to contradict themselves from line to line. And it is the same thing for the seating and crimping die!

    I realize that the first few rounds will be trial and error and may end up having the bullet pulled and not even being fired, and I am fine with that, I just wish that out of all of those videos that have been put up there SOMEBODY would have thought to include some of the details about the setup! So many of these videos “seem” be an attempt at being instructional, yet they all seem to assume that it is proper to skip over the most important steps.

    Sorry about ranting, but even though I have no concerns about moving forward, I always like to get as much insight as I can so that I can get by with as few mistakes as possible. Well, tomorrow I will begin with the expanding die and the seating and crimping die. I'll let you know how many have to be “undone” before I have something I am actually prepared to try on the range.

    Oh, and just so you know, I am working with/on the following:

    RCBS Rock Chucker (older one marked RCII)
    RCBS 3 die Carbide Taper Crimp set
    RCBS Universal Hand Priming Tool
    9mm mixed, once fired brass
    Federal Small Pistol Primers
    Alliant Power Pistol Powder (I am planning on starting at 6 gr)
    Remington 115 gr FMJ Bullets

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  3. #2
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    I think I saw just one question in here.

    The answer is, expand the neck just enough to accept the bullet. Repeated deformation of the brass (expansion when firing, resizing, belling the mouth, crimping) work-hardens and embrittles it. When brass gets "tired", the most common symptom is cracks at the case mouth.

    Start with some resized but unprimed brass. Adjust your die initially so you can just barely see or feel a slight flare to the case mouth, then see if you can start a bullet without it falling out of the case. If it does, adjust your die down a little more, and repeat until the bullet goes into the case a little and stays there. I suggest making adjustments of a half-turn at a time until you get close, then you can fine-tune it from there.

    At one extreme, the case mouth is belled so much the bullet drops down into the case and the mouth OD is so big it won't enter the seating/crimping die. At the other extreme, the case mouth is so narrow that the bullet sits on it and not in it, and the case collapses when you try to seat the bullet with the press.

    Hope that helps!
    Smitty
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    Quote Originally Posted by gasmitty View Post
    I think I saw just one question in here.

    The answer is, expand the neck just enough to accept the bullet. Repeated deformation of the brass (expansion when firing, resizing, belling the mouth, crimping) work-hardens and embrittles it. When brass gets "tired", the most common symptom is cracks at the case mouth.

    Start with some resized but unprimed brass. Adjust your die initially so you can just barely see or feel a slight flare to the case mouth, then see if you can start a bullet without it falling out of the case. If it does, adjust your die down a little more, and repeat until the bullet goes into the case a little and stays there. I suggest making adjustments of a half-turn at a time until you get close, then you can fine-tune it from there.

    At one extreme, the case mouth is belled so much the bullet drops down into the case and the mouth OD is so bit it won't enter the seating/crimping die. At the other extreme, the case mouth is so narrow that the bullet sits on it and not in it, and the case collapses when you try to seat the bullet with the press.

    Hope that helps!
    That nails it pretty good; the resizing die takes the case mouth .002-.003 less than bullet diameter. The lower portion of the expander opens the neck back up to .001 less than bullet size and the flared portion opens it farther. The thing is you only want to expand enough to allow to seat the bullet enough that it will not fall out before you seat and crimp it. Since you are reloading 9MM you only want to crimp enough to remove the belling of the case mouth.
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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    on the crimp die take a resized case and then with the ram raised screw the die down until it stops on the case,lower the ram and turn the die in another 1/2 to 1 turn. back out the seating portion and once you have the bullet ready to seat on a belled case turn it in until the bullet is the right depth for COAL.you can adjust the die down a little for more crimp but will need to back out the seating part and readjust so you don't set the bullet too deep. I always slide a finished round in my barrel chamber to make sure it slides in and out easily,this is where using a Lee Factory crimp die helps,since it not only crimps the bullet,but sizes the case also
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    Member Array BlackJack's Avatar
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    Thanks!

    This is the kind of detail that is missing from all of those videos that I watched. I know that these details are something that are easy to take for granted, once you have gotten the hang of it. But, as a beginner, these are the kinds of “tidbits” that will make a world of difference as I start out.

    Thanks again!

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    VIP Member Array StormRhydr's Avatar
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    Hey, BlackJack:) Im in the same boat as you. I have reloaded shotshell all my life, but new to metallic cartridge reloading. I bought all the stuff, and we both know how hard that has been during this latest shortage.

    I note that you use RCBS stuff. I went with hornady, though all of my dies are by LEE. Anyway, hornady has some very good setup videos. ONE OF THEM, and of course I cant remember which one, goes into detail on what you are looking for.

    The other posts pretty much nail it, but there are videos on it, too. On a side note, I watched those videos, and everything went great, till I got to the bullet seating part. I got the bell part correct, but totally screwed up the "seating die" part. Seating the bullets way too deep, initially.

    It was no big deal, I was doing the adjustments on unprimed & no powder cases, but thats the one thing I messed up. Btw, the videos were spot on, I just got ambitious, and pushed it on the seating die, lol.

  8. #7
    Member Array BlackJack's Avatar
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    Well, I had some time this evening so I decided to go ahead and see what I could do. I had already sized and primed the cases, so what was left was the expanding, powder and then bullet seating.

    The powder went fairly well. I got the powder measure (RCBS Uniflow Powder Measure) set where I wanted it and threw 10 trial loads first to make sure that it was consistent. I then loaded powder into 10 cases and threw a trial one to make sure that I was still getting the powder I thought I should be getting. Well, the powder had increased by .5gr! So I pored the powder from the 10 cases I had just pored back into the powder measure and reset the powder measure. I threw another 10 trial loads to make sure that it was consistent and then loaded powder into 10 cases again. I then threw another trial load and it measured right where it was supposed to. So now, I am feel a bit better. I loaded powder into a total of 50 cases, throwing a trial load every 10 cases. Everything went smoothly and the powder was still measuring exactly where it should at the end of all 50 cases.

    Next I went on to seating/crimping It took a few minutes of “fiddling” and I ended up comparing OAL to the loading manual, a factory loaded round and a reloaded round from a lot that I purchased at a gun show (I was surprised to find that the reloads that I got at the gun show were consistently .05” shorter than the spec called for). So, anyway, I got the crimp and seating die setup and started seating my bullets. One thing I noticed is that many (about 60%) of the bullets did not seat perfectly straight. Not off by much, but if you look closely you can see that they lean to the side slightly. Is this a problem? I assume that it would impact accuracy, but how about reliability and safety? It is not off enough to even show up in a picture, so I am guessing it will be ok, but I can see it, and I am sure that anybody that knows what they are looking at would notice it to. Should I try expanding it a bit more before seating the bullet?

    Anyway, when I was done, I took one of mine and one of the factory (WWB) rounds up to show my wife (sh has a very critical eye) to get her opinion on how it looked. Her first comment was that she couldn't tell which one was factory and which one was mine, but “this one” is a little heavier”. Well the heavier one was the factory load, I am guessing that it is a bit heavier because it either has more powder or thicker brass. After I told her that the heavy one was the factory load, she then took another look at mine and said “oh yes, this one does have more marks on the outside”. Well, for a visual inspection, I don't think I could have asked for anything more.



    StormRhydr,

    Thanks for the “heads up” on the Hornady videos. I'll check them out.

    As for RCBS vs. Hornady and Lee... I actually purchased my press about 18 years ago as kit, with almost everything I would need, and then it sat in the basement until I recently decided that I was going to pull it out and look at it. It was a “spur of the moment” purchase back than and I had no idea what was or wasn't available or what was or wasn't needed. I just knew that it was on sale and I might someday want to try it.

    So now I have tried it and, based on how the first 50 went, I am planning on starting to do most, if not all, of my practice rounds myself. It is not just the $$ saved, but I enjoyed it and it was easy.

    Of course, I still have to test what I have done, unfortunately, my schedule won't allow me to get back up to the range for another two weeks, but it is a start.

    I think the only thing I still have to get is a chronograph.

    Once I am comfortable with 9mm I will then probably expand to .45 ACP, .308 and 5.56 but that probably wont actual;y happen until sometime next spring.

    Thanks again for the help everybody. I really o think it made a difference today.

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    Member Array lambo969's Avatar
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    Looks like I'm late to the party, but take gasmitty's advice about loading a few without and powder or primer to heart. I always do this when rotating between calibers to make sure I have everything set up correctly. Afterwards I take those 'practice' rounds, mark them with paint on the bullet, and then put a little hot glue in the primer pocket. I toss them into the range bag and have instant dummy rounds or 'snap caps'.

    I've lost way too many of the expensive snap caps on the range. Recycling in this way makes sure that all components get some use (money not wasted), I always have dummy rounds for dry fire practice (saves money), and random insertion into magazines during range sessions gives me plenty of malfunction clearing and mag change practice!

    Good luck in your endeavors!

  10. #9
    Member Array BlackJack's Avatar
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    StormRhydr,

    I just got finished watching some of the Hornady videos.

    I must say that I am impressed. Not only are they well done and give the detailed information you need to setup everything, but they also give a good overview of the operation of the Lock-N-Load AP press. When I am ready to look for something more than a single stage press, Hornady will definitely be on my list of presses to look at.

    Thanks for the lead.

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