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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello y'all,

I'm planning on hand loading for my 1911s soon for the very first time. At this point I've only loaded for rifle. I could use some of your pistol loading experience.

Which L.E. Wilson case gauge would you recommend, the Min or Max gauge? MidwayUSA has both.

Note that all of my .45 pistols are Colt N.M. barrels, will this matter? I could also use the barrel itself to gauge/check to see if my loads are chambering.

I like the convenience of gauges for checking my rifle hand loads.

I appreciate your feedback, thank you.
 

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Pistol ain't rifle, where I do check and trim, but some people check and trim pistol brass. I've loaded thousands and never trimmed or case checked pistol brass. Opinions I'm sure will vary but it's generally well known that this isn't necessary for pistol. I load 45ACP, 38 Super, 10mm, 9mm...never checked or trimmed a case. Ensuring good crimp and the "plunk" test in your barrel is enough.
 

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I have not used anything but the Maximum Cartridge Gauge.
In the rare case when I want to know the length of a pistol case, I just apply calipers.

Considering that a minimum chamber must accept a maximum cartridge, I think that a round that passes the gauge but fails the chamber check, is a sign that something is out of spec. Too many "minimum match barrels" really undersize out there. But how precise can a $23.95 gauge be?
 

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I wouldn't buy a case length gauge for handgun cases, I imagine you already have calipers, which are more than enough to check you cases against SAAMI standards, and like has been mentioned, plunk test them for fit in your particular gun. Measuring case length in rifles is a whole 'nuther proposition; Most are bottlenecks, most are rimless, and the shoulder is what headspaces them, so the case gauge can measure that as well as overall length. I shoot 7 different handgun calibers from 9mm to .41 magnum and haven't ever needed to trim a case. I do keep an eye on length by random checks with a caliper after I clean the brass, but I keep a sharper eye out for split cases.
 

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I use Wilson gages to check all my pistol and rifle rounds. I didn't even know that min/max gages were available, nor what mine are. It is tedious to check so many reloads, but every know and then a gage will reject a split case, or one with a possible dangerous bulge. I reload a lot of many-times-shot cases, and when my pistol gauges reject a round, they will still almost always "plunk". I put them aside for shooting in my H&K pistols, which have more generous chambers. Has worked for me for many thousands of reloads.

All the best, and stay safe. NV
 

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I guess I should clarify my approach, I don't check my empty cases, only my completed reloads. NV
 

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I use the Wilson pistol and rifle gauges and I believe the pistol gauges are both. When I attempt to drop a resized and expanded case into the .45 acp gauge it will not go in because of the bell (expanded case mouth). The finished round drops in and the base sits at or below flush. Based on that it's a maximum gauge. When I set up my dies I use the barrel as the gauge. Rounds should drop in and out freely, nothing new to you if you have experience with rifle gauges. I don't do the "plunk" test with every round I load. Just to set up the dies and then every couple dozen rounds there after just to make sure nothing changed.

Grumpy
 

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When making a new round up (new bullet design/profile), I use my barrels to plunk and twist. When just making more of a known round I check each one in a case gauge. Being a single stage reloader it is an easy process.
 

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It is a pain to have to use a dowel to get a stuck round out of a finished case gauge. A friend made me a nifty device to automatically" push out a struck round. It is a coffee can bottom, with a dowel sticking up, and my pistol case gage attached to a short piece of plastic pipe with tape. So I can drop the round into the gage, and then drop it down onto the dowel, and it pops the round out into the "cup" at the bottom. No need to reach for a dowel fo push out a stuck round. Makes checking reloads a lot faster. I don't know if it is a min or max gauge.

Any rounds that do get "stuck" get a "plunk" test and occasionally I find a split or damaged case. I pull those, and toss the primed case. I am in no hurry, and have far more loaded rounds stockpiled than I can even shoot.

All the best, and stay safe. NV
 

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Plunk works well, and would be the ultimate proof, but that means I have to disassemble my pistols. My method works fine for me. To each his own. NV
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I see the consensus is the ker' PLUNK test. I will use this method to start with for now. Instead of buying more new gauges.

I'll need to learn the correct or consistent method of doing this, but seems straight forward enough.

Thank you, for all of the replies.
TG
 

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Plunk works well, and would be the ultimate proof, but that means I have to disassemble my pistols. My method works fine for me. To each his own. NV
Having done it so often, I can break down my 1911 to use the barrel for the plunk test, in seconds. Not quite as fast or one handed like they do in the movies, but quickly enough to not be an issue.

That said, you are 100% correct in using what works for you, not what someone else thinks you should do.

Grumpy
 

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I use several different projectiles for a few pistol calibers, so a case gauge is handy when I change things up for proper seating depth.
Yes I write down and check OAL frequently, but a gauge is handy as opposed to pulling the barrel every time.
 

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I have both a 9 mm and 45 ACP Max case length gauges in my tool collection. I only used them to set up my Dillon RL-550-B. I only expect to use them if I change my dies. So, if you are reloading on a single stage press, the Max length gauges may get used more.
 

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Pistol ain't rifle, where I do check and trim, but some people check and trim pistol brass. I've loaded thousands and never trimmed or case checked pistol brass. Opinions I'm sure will vary but it's generally well known that this isn't necessary for pistol. I load 45ACP, 38 Super, 10mm, 9mm...never checked or trimmed a case. Ensuring good crimp and the "plunk" test in your barrel is enough.
Rather than go into much detail, I second this info. I've loaded over 10K 9mm over the past decade and have never checked the first case. Clean them and put them thru the press. I do try to sort out crimped primer cases though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I will use the RL550B press for all of my hand loading. I do use the small Lee single stage only for decapping before a case cleaning/wet tumble.

I have both a 9 mm and 45 ACP Max case length gauges in my tool collection. I only used them to set up my Dillon RL-550-B. I only expect to use them if I change my dies. So, if you are reloading on a single stage press, the Max length gauges may get used more.
 
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