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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

I’m looking for some advice to help me get started in reloading 45 ACP. I’ve been reloading for rifle and shotgun for a few years, so I’m not new to the reload process, but I have no experience with pistol reloading.

I have all the equipment needed to reload very accurate rifle rounds, but I’m not sure of the type of equipment the pistol experts usually use. I’ll be gearing my reloading and practice sessions towards ammo used in IDPA and IPSC shooting. I know I’ll need new dies, but I can use some guidance regarding what type to get (I use Redding FL sizing, Type S neck sizing, and Competition Seater dies for my rifle rounds). Is a separate crimp die the way to go, or do most competitors use a combination seater/crimp die ?

I’d also like some info on the types of bullets, brass, powder, and primers IDPA & IPSC shooters use. I’ll eventually get into casting my own bullets, so any recommendations on bullet molds and casting equipment would also be welcome. Thanks in advance.
 

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You posed questions with thousands of possible answers. You definitely sound like an experienced reloader. A good place for you to start would be Rob Leatham's and Brian Enos' videos & books specifically about reloading for competition. You can find their materials in The Blue Press catalog from Dillon.
Ask fellow IDPA and USPSA shooter for advice. Front Sight, the magazine for USPSA members, has a reloading section in each bi-monthly issue.
Here is one of a thousand answers, my favorite load uses:
5.3 grains of Winchester 231
Winchester primer
Starline brass
230 grain complete metal jacket, round nose from Montana Gold
1.260 to 1.262 over all length
.002 taper crimp

Master level shooters will tend to prefer lighter bullets going at faster speeds, in this case 185 or 200 grains. In my full-sized 5" government .45s using 16 lb recoil springs, the above loads have resulted in only three failures to feed (one session) in 6,000 rounds and that was the magazine's fault. In other words, it is reliable.
 

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When I started loading for my .45, I bought Lee dies to get the "factory crimp" die. I've never been sorry. Lee dies may not have the overall patina of quality of RCBS dies, but they work, and the crimping die is the third best thing since sliced bread.


If your gun is similar to mine, it will like some brands of bullets more than others. Same cases, same primers, same powder and charge weight, same bullet weight and style, same seating depth, but different manufacturer = different POI and group size. I recommend that you buy a sampling of bullets and see which brand your gun likes best.

------------------
If God didn't want us to own guns, why did He make the 1911?
 

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Any good quality dies will fit the bill. I use RCBS carbide with a seperate taper crimp die. When I was hot in IPSC I used 200 grain H&G 68s over 8.5 grains of WW540. Unfortunately, 540 has been discontinued. I recently used the last of my 540 stash, but I've had good results with AA #5. I use WW primers and TZZ and WCC military brass. I don't know if you're familar with the IPSC power factor, but you need a factor of 175,000 (if things haven't changed) to make major (bullet weight X velocity). A 200 grainer must travel at 875 FPS. Hope I didn't insult your knowledge level.

Good luck,

Eddie
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the replies everyone.

Chico – Thanks for the load suggestion. It looks like as good a place as any to start.

Eddie – There’s no way to insult my knowledge level about this topic, because I have very limited knowledge about pistol reloading. I’m very interested in learning how pistol reloading compares to rifle reloading.

I just bought a Springfield Loaded PX9109 and shot it for the first time last weekend. Boy, was that fun. I think my rifles may start to get jealous. I can see I’m going to be going through a whole lot of ammo for it, and while I’m willing to do what it takes to make high quality ammunition, I don’t want to do unnecessary work that will take away from my shooting time.

In the rifle world, I’m used to detailed case preparation, load development, and doing everything possible to improve accuracy and shrink group size. I’ve heard from some people that reloading for pistol is basically just popping in a new primer, dropping your charge and seating a bullet, but I find that very hard to believe. There must be more to it than that. Here are some questions that come to mind:

How much brass preparation is needed ?

Do you need to clean your primer pockets each firing ?

Are micrometer seating dies (like the Redding) necessary, or is that overkill ?

In rifle reloading, you can experiment with bullet seating depths to see the effect on accuracy. Do I assume correctly that pistol bullets are just seated to a standard magazine length with no experimenting ?

Is case trimming required, or do cases wear out before they need to be trimmed ?

From jpwright’s and Eddie’s response, it looks like a separate crimp die is the way to go. Is that the general consensus ?

Any other key points that I may have missed would be greatly appreciated.

Steve
 

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Mantis,
Here goes:

Overall - remember you are shooting action pistol, not bullseye.

Brass prep - some people will smooth out the inside of their brand new brass before beginning the sizing step. I do not.

Primer pockets - I do not pay any special attention to them.

Micrometer seating dies & Seating depths- If I shot 38 super, then I would use them. For .45 match ammo using my Dillon 550B I simply go at a speed to ensure top quality. Now then, my guns can tolerate round nose from 1.240 to 1.270. That is a wide range. If you shoot wad cutters or flat noses, then tolerances will be tighter. Yes, it did take experimentation.

Case trimming - My loads are light, 170 to 175 power factors. Both IDPA & USPSA require a 165 PF. As such, I do not wear out much brass. Still, after 10-15 reloads I have experienced a split-case rate of about 3 or 4 per 500 rounds.

Separate crimp die - Yes. It is a critical part of reliable rounds. Run your finger nail over a quality reload round. Do the same over a standard factory round. There is a difference.

One tip - If you are shooting 15,000 rounds or more per year, then I would recommend replacing your magazine springs yearly. I would say 90% of malfunctions (failures to feed, failures to extract or jams) are due to either magazines or the ammunition. Knowing it is NOT your magazine eliminates one variable.

And just as it is recommended to research more than one reference book for reload data, do the same here. Seek out as much advise as you can.
 

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The separate crimping die is a good thing to have. The Lee die also has a carbide sizer that will take care of any oversized rounds, and this can be useful with cast bullets.

Personally I use a 200 SWC from an old Ideal mould, charged with 5.5 grains of W231 to make the old major, and an OAL of 1.200". I've got at least one 1911 that hates this bullet unless it's seated to 1.250", so that part is a trial and error kind of thing.

IMHO, the .45 auto is the easiest thing to reload and accuracy is usually very good as long as the velocity is kept above 830 FPS(my results anyway).

The Lee micro-groove bullet mould (200 SWC) for use with the quick and easy liquid alox lube, as well as the quick and easy Lee sizer die will shoot as good as any other bullet in most cases. I personally prefer my bullets to no longer be covered in lube, but the Lee method is definitely cheap and easy while still providing a quality bullet out of scrap wheel weights.

Just keep in mind that action pistol ammo doesn't have the same requirements as high power or benchrest ammo, so simple usually equates to better.

I trim my .45 brass usually only once to get a uniform length. Primer pockets are always cleaned as a matter of personal preference. When I was still shooting high power matches, I have even been caught with flash hole tools and primer pocket uniformers. I'd have to say that most of that was a waste of time for IPSC/IDPA ammo.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Walking Point,

Thanks for your reply. I'm not too disappointed that I won't need to use my flash hole deburrer, primer pocket uniformer, or case neck turner. As you say, the simpler the better.

What do you use to trim your brass ? I see Sinclair has pistol case holders for the Wilson trimmer.
 

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Mantis,
No need to trim .45ACP brass. Kind of an anomaly of sorts. The casings actually get shorter after being fired. Some people won't believe this. Check it out with calipers.

good shootin', gunny
 

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reloading question

Gunney is right on. No need to trim 45ACP brass. Been reloading for mine for 7 years now along with 357 Mag,38 Spec,45LC,7mm Mauser, 7.7 Jap AND 30-30 (and all this on a Dillon 550B). By far the easiest to reload is the 45 ACP. My ONLY suggestion is make sure you get carbide dies. Having to lube 500 cases is a MAJOR pain in the butt!

Mantis said:
Thanks for the replies everyone.

Chico ? Thanks for the load suggestion. It looks like as good a place as any to start.

Eddie ? There?s no way to insult my knowledge level about this topic, because I have very limited knowledge about pistol reloading. I?m very interested in learning how pistol reloading compares to rifle reloading.

I just bought a Springfield Loaded PX9109 and shot it for the first time last weekend. Boy, was that fun. I think my rifles may start to get jealous. I can see I?m going to be going through a whole lot of ammo for it, and while I?m willing to do what it takes to make high quality ammunition, I don?t want to do unnecessary work that will take away from my shooting time.

In the rifle world, I?m used to detailed case preparation, load development, and doing everything possible to improve accuracy and shrink group size. I?ve heard from some people that reloading for pistol is basically just popping in a new primer, dropping your charge and seating a bullet, but I find that very hard to believe. There must be more to it than that. Here are some questions that come to mind:

How much brass preparation is needed ?

Do you need to clean your primer pockets each firing ?

Are micrometer seating dies (like the Redding) necessary, or is that overkill ?

In rifle reloading, you can experiment with bullet seating depths to see the effect on accuracy. Do I assume correctly that pistol bullets are just seated to a standard magazine length with no experimenting ?

Is case trimming required, or do cases wear out before they need to be trimmed ?

From jpwright?s and Eddie?s response, it looks like a separate crimp die is the way to go. Is that the general consensus ?

Any other key points that I may have missed would be greatly appreciated.

Steve
 

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I have experienced my cases getting shorter as well. I can not explain why but I know it is true. I would only recommend trimming them to make them uniform and I would take as little off as possible.

Beyond a doubt, most agree that the crimping should be done with a seperate crimping die. Their are others who offer a crimping die other than Lee. Actually most die manufactures offer a seperate crimping die and are also offering them in a 4 die set. Personally, I use a Redding crimp die.

I also use a Redding competition bullet seater die. For the most part, I like this die because I believe it does a better job of seating the bullets straight with the spring loaded bullet seater plug. The micrometer dial on the top is also nice if you record the settings for each type of bullet that you reload for. When you switch bullet styles, all you have to do is dial in the correct setting that you recorded for that bullet.
 

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Carbide dies, for volume pistol loading like you will do for IDPA type shoots are a must. They`re the cats meow for any straight wall case reloading IMO.

If you plan on casting or useing lead bullets take a good look at the Lyman "M" die. :rock: The Lyman works very well when belling cases for lead bullets.

Did I mention carbide sizers?? :biglaugh:
 

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Mantis,

"I'm looking for some advice to help me get started in reloading 45 ACP. I�ve been reloading for rifle and shotgun for a few years, so I'm not new to the reload process, but I have no experience with pistol reloading."

I have modified a basic needs list that I typically put out for new shooters to show thinking going from rifle to pistol particularly .45ACP, based on what I learned going from high power rifle reloading to IPSC and IDPA reloading.

"I have all the equipment needed to reload very accurate rifle rounds, but I�m not sure of the type of equipment the pistol experts usually use. I'll be gearing my reloading and practice sessions towards ammo used in IDPA and IPSC shooting. I know I'll need new dies, but I can use some guidance regarding what type to get (I use Redding FL sizing, Type S neck sizing, and Competition Seater dies for my rifle rounds). Is a separate crimp die the way to go, or do most competitors use a combination seater/crimp die ?"

For action pistol shooting, you can probably get by with the least expensive dies out there and I wish I had done that with my .45. I bought Hornady and wish I had gone Lee, mostly because I separated my bullet seating/crimping functions and I could have done that less expensively and probably better with the Lee four die set. So yes, I feel the separate crimp die is the way to go and you can quickly change from lead bullets to FMJ and back with separate seating/crimping setups-particularly if you have Lock N Load bushings.

"Id also like some info on the types of bullets, brass, powder, and primers IDPA & IPSC shooters use. I'll eventually get into casting my own bullets, so any recommendations on bullet molds and casting equipment would also be welcome. Thanks in advance."

I shoot both disciplines, though not as much as I'd like. I settled on 200 grain SWC lead bullets. I cast my own, but you can also buy them cheaper than FMJ. I separate brass into same type headstamp, but I don't do anything else with my brass. My friends who use new brass don't shoot any better than I do "no special handling" brass. I switched from W231 to Titegroup due to cost and performance. As far as casting goes, that's a whole nother story. I just recently went through the casting my own bullets analysis and have too much information for this post. But please free to email me at [email protected] and I'll be glad to provide you with the small ton of stuff I learned. Just remove the nospam in the email address.

Here's the promised list:

Reloading Equipment for Action Pistol

Here's a couple of good books on casting and some bits on reloading:

Modern Reloading by Richard Lee
Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook

1. On reloading press-for what you're doing, you’ll need to know what quantities before a press selecting a press (assuming you may only be reloading on a single stage here, so I apologize in advance if I'm assumed too much) because quantities dictate press type. If you have a Rock Chucker or a Lee Classic Cast press, I'd suggest getting Hornady Lock N Load bushing conversion kit for the Rock chucker and 10 additional bushings. With these, you adjust your dies once, tighten down the lock ring and next time you want to change dies, you just insert/twist/snap/lock-in and you're done changing dies in about 2 seconds. I use these on my Lee Classic Cast press and Rock Chucker and they're wonderful.

For reloading pistol, particularly for competition, consider a turret or progressive press. If you are not familiar with progressives, a turret would be a good choice, to have a bit more control and to get an understanding of what’s happening, though a progressive is “do-able,” you run a slightly higher risk of making a mistake that could cause a double charge or undercharge of powder, though that can mostly be eliminated by a powder check die (I like the RCBS lockout die and the Dillon alarm system). Good brands of turrets are Lee (90932 4 station, automatic advance), Dillon (AT500, 4 station), RCBS (88901, cast iron) and Redding (T7, cast iron). For the lowest price, the Lee will do the job, get you started and if you decide to stay with it, you may want a more expensive turret or you may want to go progressive. If you want to go progressive, excellent brands are Hornady (Lock N Load {5 station fully automated; I have one and love it.}), Dillon (550 {4 station semi-automated turret or 650 station fully automated}) (I don’t recommend Dillon’s SBD because it’s dies won’t fit anything else, nor will any other dies fit it, so you’re stuck with Dillon dies and it doesn’t reload rifle.) and the RCBS 2000 (Excellent cast iron semi automated turret, w/excellent primer feed). A good economy brand is the Lee Pro 1000. The Lee can take some tweaking, but it can be done and it’s less expensive, a serious consideration if your money is tight. Here’s a good how-to website for Lee equipment:

http://www.geocities.com/leereloading/index.htm

2. Reloading dies for the caliber of your choice. I have Hornady and RCBS dies, but I'm about to buy and use Lee for a 9MM pistol I have and wouldn't hesitate to buy Dillon, if I needed a die they carry for my applications. I think all brands load excellent ammo. Rumor has it that Redding is the Cadillac of dies, but their prices reflect it. If money were no objection, I'd definitely explore the Redding dies. For pistol, you'll want to buy carbide or TiN coated dies, so you won't have to lubricate the brass to resize it. For progressive presses, you'll need a shellplate that matches the dies/calibre you are going to use.

3. A Powder measure/dispenser (Many kits include these.) The Hornady, RCBS and Redding are good brands. I have both Hornady and Redding. Of these, the Hornady is automated and is more consistent (to me) because of the automation. It came with my Hornady Lock and Load Auto Progressive Press. (BTW, in my opinion, the Hornady progressive is the bomb when price, features and quality are taken into account. I have a price comparison vs. Dillon, but I'd rather not prejudice you. The Dillon guys will argue hot and loudly with me on this, because they love their Dillons as much as I love my Hornady.)

4. A powder scale, no matter single stage, turret or progressive, but you probably already have one of these. I like the RCBS 505 and 1010, the Hornady and the Dillon scales. I have a Redding from my highpower days, but wish I had gotten another brand because the fine adjustment is hard to see and can be bumped out of adjustment accidentally.

5. You'll still need a set of calipers to measure your cartridges with. Two important dimensions on .45 ACP are the cartridge overall length and diameter with a the types and diameters of bullets. Pressure and dependable feeding are the two items of concern here.

6. Some snap lid plastic storage containers with bins to store the pieces and parts of equipment. It might not be a good idea to look at plastic fishing tackle boxes with lots of storage compartments.

7. Plastic bins to hold brass, bullets and loaded cartridges while reloading. Buy the cheapest bins, such as HarborFreight. They're all plastic, so you gain nothing by paying more. I found these to be wonderful when reloading pistol, because of the volume of brass and bullets. I would also suggest 50 round plastic boxes to hold the loaded cartridges. Don't buy the 100 cartridge size, because the 50 size fits much better into range bags and are less expensive.

8. Cartridge gauge. These are nicely convenient to check to see if your reloaded cartridges are within SAAMI specification. You can use your barrel in a pinch, but having the cartridge gauge is soo much nicer. Really prevents acccidental jams or feeding issues. Wilson and RCBS are good brands, but if you shoot highpower, you probably know already.

9. Case lube - I use Hornady One Shot on my rifle cartridges, but I find it and their cleaner lube handy for lubricating moving parts on my progressive that I don't have grease and oil getting into. For some cartridges, I used lube to speed/smooth things up a bit. Or try out Imperial Sizing Die Wax, which I hear is another excellent product. You won't need but a little every so often to makes things easier/smoother.

10. Brass - I recommend you buy some Winchester white box and use that brass or UMC. Also, you might want to pick up once fired range brass. There tends is a lot of good pistol brass left at ranges and is perfectly suitable for all but the most demanding applications, such as bullseyes pistol competition. It's perfectly fine for action pistol shooting and just about anything else. Unlike highpower, you don't get much from doing a ton of brass preparation or from spending money on expensive brass. Spend the money on getting a top notch pistol together and use some version of an H&G #68 lead bullet.

11. Powder - For your application, I'd look real hard at Titegroup, Bullseye and Clays.

16. Bullets - FMJ is great, but lead is cheaper. Buy in bulk, a thousand or more at a time. You'll want to get used to reloading them before casting your own. With .45 ACP, casting will certainly result in significant savings. I'm reloading my own for $1.53 a box of 50 and I cast my own bullets, get the lead for free or cheap (wheelweights) and buy powder and primers in 8 pounds and 5000 primers.

17. You will need to clean the brass. If you don't have a vibratory cleaner and a sifter, I strongly suggest getting one. One combination that does well is the Frankford Arsenal brand, inexpensive and highly effective, it's the one I have. Another more expensive, but very nice alternative would be the Dillon vibratory cleaner/sifter combination (Dillonprecision.com).

Hope this helps,

Dave in Oakwood, GA
 
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