I Goofed

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by Scooter, Jul 30, 2003.

  1. Scooter

    Scooter New Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    Des Moines, Iowa
    Well, I have just returned from the range where I tested my first batch of reloaded .45 ACP. I have discovered I have about 500 rounds of unfireable junk.

    Looking at the product of my first reloading experience, I can tell what the problem is.......the top 1/3 of my brass is "belled" (right word?) too much. They don't seem to want to feed and allow the weapon to go into battery.

    When I was going in full production, I measured every 10th completed product with a digital micrometer, and everything seemed to measure out within tolerances. I used the factory crimp die to finish off my reloads. I have absolutely NO problems feeding factory ammo.


    1) Is the tolerance of the barrel too tight?
    2) Can I safely resize loaded rounds?
    3) Would I be better off "demanufacturing" the whole batch and start over?

    4) What degree of screwed am I?

    As ususal, I am grateful for your expert advice.

    Your faithful student,

    Screwed Scooter in Des Moines.
  2. armedandsafe

    armedandsafe Guest

    Are they belled, as in the lip sticks out, not contacting the bullet? Or, are they belled, as in there is a ring just below the lip?

    If the lip sticks out and doesn't contact the bullet, you are not crimping them, at all. Make sure your belling adjustment is set to just barely bell. You dont need much to help start the bullet without shaving. Make sure you measure the case length and batch them according to length. Or, trim every one the first time, to get a consistent length (within 1thou.) If using cases of varying lengths, batch them and set the crimp for each batch.

    If there is ring just below the lip, you are crimping them too much. Back off until you can just feel the case make contact with the crimp and then start trying them for feed. Do this with unprimed, un-charged rounds. When you get one which is just right, drill a hole through the side of the case and set it aside as a dummy for that case, that bullet, that die, in that press. I have a loading block with my dummies in it, labeled as to what they are. The block is labeled 1,2,3,4, etc. Each case is labeled with that # on the bottom of the case. This refers to the note in my reloading diary in the section labeled "Dummies."

    Good luck and keep pumping that handle. :D


  3. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

    First, remove the barrel from your gun and see if the rounds fit the chamber by hand.

    Try recrimping couple of rounds and test fit them to barrel/chamber. If that doesn't help, then you'll have to "demanufacture" your rounds and resize the brass.

    Until you get your setup perfect, it's not a bad idea to keep your barrel handy to use as a guage.

    Once you get everything to fit the barrel/chamber, make 25 rounds, reassemble your gun and shoot 20 of them. If everything works OK, measure everything on the remaining 5 rounds and and write it all down, then go back and lock your reloading setup in place.
  4. inplanotx

    inplanotx Active Member

    Jan 28, 2002
    Well Scooter, A&S and Xracer have given you excellent advice.

    I would only make two comments. First is, was it too much crimp or not enough? If not enough or too much, there is a way to solve this very easily. Get yourself a taper crimp die and crimp until the mouth measures .469". You will never have a problem after that. You did not say whether the bullets were FMJ or lead. Crimping a FMJ bullet can cause the crimp to bulge and will cause feeding problems. Run your finger from the middle of the case to the bullet. If you feel a ridge, then you are crimping too much with a roll crimp die. Next, run your finger from the bullet down the case. If you feel the case-bullet junction scrape your finger, then you are not taking out the bell and need to crimp more.

    In either case, you can recrimp without tearing the works apart as long as you are gentle in doing so. As I said, a taper crimp die is almost a must with an automatic case reload. They are cheap and always get the job done no matter what the case length is as long as it is not greatly over max length. I myself have done this until I read the Wison Combat book on automatics and how to reload them. Hope this helps.
  5. renaissance7697

    renaissance7697 New Member

    May 29, 2003
    No VA
    I concur with all above EXCEPT...

    I think something may have been missed in the original post/question.

    If f I read the scooter correctly, He ran the completed rounds through a "factory crimp die".
    If this is the Lee "factory crimp die" I am really puzzeled.

    It has always been My experience that the Lee (if used correctly) will effectively >> 100% << correct any and all crimp/bell/buldge problem left over from the initial size/load/seat process with or without an "initial crimping with a combination seat crimp die, because in addition to setting the crimp.....

    It "resizes" the finished (?) round to guarantee its fitting the chamber.

    Is it the Lee "factory Crimp Die" you are using?
    If so.........
    Are you sure you have IT correctly adjusted.
    (basically turned down to reduce back down, ALL of the bell.
    The resizing of the finished case is pretty much automatic.


    It may not be the "bulge" at all.
    Are you sure s the OAL correct for the bullet being used?
    If the bullet is seated too long for it's shape and is engaging the rifling before the case headspaces on the forward case rim, it could cause a failure to fully chamber.

    The OAL has to be correct for the specific bullet used.
    If the nose shape of the bullet being used is different from that for which the OAL is given, the ogive may hit the lands too soon preventing the round from chambering even if the OAL is below the maximum allowed for the caliber.
  6. renaissance7697

    renaissance7697 New Member

    May 29, 2003
    No VA
    Engaging rifling

    An afterthought

    Examine one of the cartidges that would not chamber and look for "marks" on the bullet indicating that it HAS touched the Rifling.
    Normally it should NOT have the marks/ do so.
    There should be and ever so small but measurable "jump" to engage the rifling.

    Not to have this "could" not only lead to chambering issues, but also create an overpressure as the bullet has trouble "Getting Started".
  7. Gunguy

    Gunguy Guest

    Scooter don't get discouraged, it takes time to become proficiant at reloading and you'll get there soon enough...just be cautious like you are doing and listen to these guys advice.

    I always have a die that seats the bullet to a depth I want it to be at that corresponds with loading specs on over all cartridge length with bullet seated.

    Then the brass and bullet go to last station and it is the crimping station that crimps the bullet into its final seated overall length.

    Take your pistol's barrel (out of the gun) drop the loaded cartridge into the chamber and see if it chambers OK.

    If it does not chamber properly adjust your bullet seat depth up or down to make it so it will chamber correctly. This just takes some getting use to.

    After you load a few try them in your barrel, I test every round I make to be sure it will chamber properly...if I ever need this gun to shoot I want to know that I've already tested each and every cartridge before hand.

    Let us know how it works out for you.

    Good luck and good shooting.

  8. Scooter

    Scooter New Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    Des Moines, Iowa
    I'm overwhelmed

    Thanks to all for the excellent advice. I'm not a good enough "explainer" so I may have mislead some of you. Remeber, I'm a first-timer. Here's some additional data that may help.


    4-hole Lee turret press with carbide dies (lightly oiled) and the Lee Factory Crimp die.


    Once-fired .45 brass (all my own, picked up at the range...hand cleaned, but not polished). Copper clad lead bullets.


    Measure every 20th powder charge (never missed a beat) and every 10th completed round for OAL (also within tolerances every time). All according to the manuals and the reloading books I have acquired.


    The top 1/3 of the brass (the end that the bullet goes in) on approximately half of the rounds are "belled". By that I mean the diameter has somehow "grown" too large for the barrel. The weapon will not go into battery, because of the slightly larger diameter of the brass. The belling is symetrical all around the brass.

    I moved not too long ago, and all my reloading stuff is still in a box in the garage. I'm goign to find it and dig it out of the garage this week and set everything back up to see where I went wrong. It almost looks like the crimp die didn't go down far enough to completely resize the round. I'm guessing, though.

    Am I on the right track here guys?
  9. Gunguy

    Gunguy Guest

    Friend reloader, can you tell us the diameter of your bullets before inserting into brass, or they .451 or .452 or something even bigger?

    Your description of symetrical or belling could be a plain old bullet case buldge in your seating operation.

    I would take a commercial .45 acp round (loaded) and place into your seating die and very gently lower the seating stem until it touches the top of the bullet.

    Then, if you are using a crimping die like I recomended, place the loaded round into the crimping die and very gently lower the crimping die until it barely touches the brass.

    I assume you are using a taper crimp die for the .45 acp, inspect your brass when you start running your new loads to be through those two stations...you may have to make some minor adjustments to get it bang on.

    Now, this is assuming you have done all the prior case prep like full length resizing of the brass and maybe a light brass case mouth chamfering with the old deburring tool.

    Try that and please let us know how it goes.

    Inplanotx is the absolute master on this stuff, he uses the nickle rule of thumb and I'll let him tell you if he comes along again.

  10. inplanotx

    inplanotx Active Member

    Jan 28, 2002
    If the case mouth is still belled, as you state, remove the bullet seating stem from the crimp die and adjust the crimp die to remove the bell. As I stated before, measure right at the tip of the case and down the case. It should measure .469 where the case and bullet meet.

    Better yet, get yourself a taper crimp die and you'll never have the problem again. The die is cheap! RCBS makes them and just add it as your final step after bullet seating.

    The nickle rule is to adjust your seating die until it is the width of a nickle from the case holder. This will prevent the die from crimping. Adjust your seater plug until the bullet is at the proper depth. Then go to the crimp die.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2003
  11. renaissance7697

    renaissance7697 New Member

    May 29, 2003
    No VA

    If you are using the "Lee Factory Crimp Die" (properly):
    What you describe SHOULD NOT HAPPEN!

    The Lee does two things.
    It "taper crimps" (Lee says "it CAN NOT overcrimp")
    It RESIZES the finished case via a Carbide ring in the die.

    The two operations are independent.

    The RESIZING of the case is accomplished automatically
    The "adjustment" is simply screwing the die down to the shell holder.
    No matter what you do to the case of the cartridge, the resizing should put it right so that the cartridge WILL enter the chamber.

    If you can run the cartridge into the die and extract it, it should be sized correctly.

    Even if you were using oversized bullets and even if the cases were screwed up somehow:
    If you can get it into and out of the die, the case should dimensionally fit your chamber.

    Mind you......it does NOT "seat the bullet"
    Do your bullets show marks indicating that they are engaging the rifeling??

    I believe that the pnenomina you are trying to describe, is a:
    "buldging of the case at or near the base of your seated bullet"
    (may be caused by many things including improper crimping, oversized bullets, varying case wall dimensions)

    It is MY experience that the Lee corrects this.

    { I am not a great "Lee" fan but: Their "factory crimp die" is one thing they really got right and there is nothing to equal it.}
    Cheap - all powerful and 100% results
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