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Pistol Cartridge Loading - The ongoing Journey

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    Posted: March/11/2022 at 12:48

Well my friends,

It’s Friday and I have been popping out to the garage to play about with reloading gizmo’s and such on my journey into reloading pistol cartridges for the first time.

I have for a long time had a Lee turret press but I have only used the turrets to change between calibres rather than for any progressive reloading.

However, this week given how slow I am at reloading “pistol” rounds vs the guys who do it regularly I thought I would automate the turret and see how I do. So, I have set up the 4 hole turret with my Lee 4 die 44 mag / 44 special pistol set

So, I have learnt a few things…

1)      1) I’m still not 100% sold on priming on the press and I think for my precision / hunting bottle neck rifle rounds I will still primer using a hand primer but I will persist as it might be just my lack of practice

2)      2) I think I’m going to buy a Lee auto drum powder dispenser.

a.       It would seem to be quicker rather than a scoop of powder for each charge (seems to take 2 hands)

b.       You are less likely to forget to charge your case as if you have to remember to

                                                               i.      Place primer on primer arm and seat

                                                             ii.      Manually charge case

                                                           iii.      Put bullet on top of case ready to seat

(If I can cut of these steps seems I will be less likely mess-up something)

c.       If you drop a charge through your “charge-through” expander die without raising the ram all the way after priming, it is just a little messy…

3)      4) I still frickin’ hate handling Unique powder… I swear you look at that stuff and it leaves whatever vessel it is in for somewhere else (Also still not convinced I like how it throws / scoops for volumetric measures)

4)      5) I also learned that if you don’t do a full stroke, your load through expander can make any pistol bullet look like it was designed for a weird, big bore Nagant….

5)      6) I’m impressed with how clean the Federal 150 primers are vs the small and large Magtech rifle primers I use in bottle neck cartridges… (I wonder if this tells me something…)

So, despite the “learning process”, I did load 50+ rds of 44 special fairly quickly this afternoon and I think it bears working with more. (Unique and 240gr RNFP)

So, next plan of action is:

1)      1) Get Lee autodrum (Might pick up a Rifle Charging Die as well, I load a fair bit of .223 Rem with X-terminator and that does very consistent weights volumetrically)

2)      2) I’m going to experiment with priming by hand (using RCBS hand primer) and then resizing, expanding etc (For Lee Carbide pistol dies the pin isn’t needed for the case sizing so can set the decapping pin so it doesn’t decap on the up stroke).

3)      3) Order up some Hogdgon Universal (Apparently it meters well and is the single base, modern, Unique – which I like how it shoots, but hate how it handles…)

Please chime in with advice, wise cracks, anecdotes or anything else you feel.

Scrummy
Was sure I had a point when I started this post...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BeltFed Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/11/2022 at 19:54
Hmm, I never cared much for turret presses, but that's just me. The advantage of a turret press is you can set your dies up and be ready when you're ready for the next step, instead of changing and setting up dies for a single stage press. In other words, your turret press is just a fancy preset single stage press.

On a single stage press, I've always batch loaded. Reloading 50, a 100, 150, etc. at a time. I'd run all the cases through a single process at a time. Of course this means I would have to have a reloading block for each 50 cases. 200 rounds required 4 blocks, and that was about all I would load at a time.
Stage 1: resize and deprime the case.
Stage 2: expand the case mouth and seat the primer using the press. I never had an issue seating primers with the press.
Step 3: I would charge each case in a block using a Lyman powder drop with the powder knocker. Handle up, 2 knocks. Handle down, 1 knock. All while holding the case to the powder drop tube/funnel. I usually checked the weight of a charge every 5th round.
Oh, the powder drop was not mounted on the press, but to my loading bench.
Step 4: after checking to make sure each case in the block had powder, I would seat the bullet in the case, usually with a roll crimp. Then on to the next block. Taper crimp for auto pistols was a separate operation.
Rounds were then inspected and placed in a cartridge box with the load information.
Life's concerns should be about the 120lb pack your trying to get to the top of the mountain, and not the rock in your boot.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kickboxer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/12/2022 at 09:23
Pistols, I generally autodrop powder... I have always hand measured and dropped powder for rifle cartridges, except for a short period years ago where I autoloaded some 30-06.  I have the Lee Autoloader for pistol rounds and if I ever reload 5.56/.223 and 7.62x39 will probably use it for those. I use the Lee Classic Cast 50 BMG Single Stage press for everything else.  Love it.  
Last week I was looking at a magazine and "grunted" at a picture of a pistol.  My wife said "what are you looking at?"  I said "Desert Eagle 50 A.E. ...  arrrrr, arrrrrr, arrrrrrrrrr."  She said "why don't you get one?".  
Gotta love that Lady...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Urimaginaryfrnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/12/2022 at 16:26
I tend to treat 44 M as a rifle cartridge and load all rifle calibers except .223 on a single stage RCBS.  With the Dillon 650 before brass goes in it the brass is cleaned trimmed resized de-primed primer pocket cleaned, uniformed, swaged if needed and hand primed.  So what goes in is primed brass ready to load. I'm always a bit skeptical of any powder thrower (which slows me down a lot). The advantage of the progressive Dillon for me is leaving dies in the interchangeable plates, but its just as much trouble to have to change out the shell holder wheel etc to switch calibers.  I like the progressive for pistol calibers. If I had it to do over I would go with one pistol caliber only in the Dillon Square Deal https://www.dillonprecision.com/square-deal-b-reloader_8_1_25237.html
and load all rifle calibers on a single stage press.  But if hindsight was an option I would pick only one rifle caliber probably .375H&H rather than the mix that I have. Iowa's hunting laws changing constantly has not helped.  But I really wish I only loaded one pistol and one rifle cartridge and shot 22mag or 22 at everything else.  I swore I would never load 9mm but found dies & bullets cheaper than 200 rounds of ball ammo with the loaded ammo not even available, I still hate 9mm. And even though I hate .223 with crimped primers It would be painful to leave the brass on the range.  

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tahqua Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/13/2022 at 09:22
Originally posted by BeltFed BeltFed wrote:

Hmm, I never cared much for turret presses, but that's just me. The advantage of a turret press is you can set your dies up and be ready when you're ready for the next step, instead of changing and setting up dies for a single stage press. In other words, your turret press is just a fancy preset single stage press.

On a single stage press, I've always batch loaded. Reloading 50, a 100, 150, etc. at a time. I'd run all the cases through a single process at a time. Of course this means I would have to have a reloading block for each 50 cases. 200 rounds required 4 blocks, and that was about all I would load at a time.
Stage 1: resize and deprime the case.
Stage 2: expand the case mouth and seat the primer using the press. I never had an issue seating primers with the press.
Step 3: I would charge each case in a block using a Lyman powder drop with the powder knocker. Handle up, 2 knocks. Handle down, 1 knock. All while holding the case to the powder drop tube/funnel. I usually checked the weight of a charge every 5th round.
Oh, the powder drop was not mounted on the press, but to my loading bench.
Step 4: after checking to make sure each case in the block had powder, I would seat the bullet in the case, usually with a roll crimp. Then on to the next block. Taper crimp for auto pistols was a separate operation.
Rounds were then inspected and placed in a cartridge box with the load information.

What he said! That's my process
Doug
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Scrumbag Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/14/2022 at 03:59
BF, for rifle cartridges I use your reloading method though I tend to way the individual charges (Mostly as use Reload Swiss and Vihavouri powders which are stick powders and trying to get those things to throw consistent volumetric weights is nigh on impossible).

I am getting good results accuracy wise from Ramshot X-Terminator which does meter nicely so will try that for the plinking FMJ stuff

And I still frickin hate handling Unique...
Was sure I had a point when I started this post...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BeltFed Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/14/2022 at 11:14
All of my pistol loads use either a ball type powder or flake powders. They meter fairly consistently with most powder drops. I mainly use 296, 231, 2400, and Unique for my pistol loads. I've used others, and would like to try a few others like Green Dot, but the ones mentioned above have given me the best results. They fill the cases to the base of the bullet. I can easily see the charge in the case before I seat the bullet, and they meter consistently.
Don't know why you don't like Unique, but it's one of my go to powders for 9 mm and 40 S&W.
Life's concerns should be about the 120lb pack your trying to get to the top of the mountain, and not the rock in your boot.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Scrumbag Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/15/2022 at 12:08
Well, maybe it's me but I seem to be fair messier with Unique than anything else.

Scrummy
Was sure I had a point when I started this post...
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