View Full Version : My first reloading session
Rick the Librarian
Sunday, I had my first reloading session with my experienced friend/relative close by. He was very helpful. I had some trouble getting the Lee balance scale to work right, although he says he uses his without a hitch. A few other glitches which will be probably taken care of by experience.
We cranked out 20 cartridges, using 230 grain FMJ and 4.5 grains of Red Dot. I made 10 more "solo" last night and the measuring went smoother. I can see an electronic balance and a micrometer are in my future. Hope to give the reloads a try soon.
A question: Obviously, cast bullets are MUCH cheaper than the FMJ bullets I was using for starters. Anyone have a good recipe for 230 grain cast bullets using Red Dot? Didn't see one online or in the info I have.
It depends on the bullet weight of course but if your using almost any normal bullet weight common to the .45 acp using a lead bullet,your 4.5 grain load will work even though it is a mid level load.
Rick, the Lee balance scale is a piece of junk. I had one and could never get it work right and other people I have known have had a similar experience. Good scales do not come cheap but are necessary for accurate and safe reloading. Personally I would recommend the RCBS 505. It is probably the most popular one in use and will last a lifetime.
When you go to cast bullets, drop down to ~3.5 grains of Red Dot and increase only as necessary for best accuracy and positive functioning. You will save some 20%+ on powder cost, prolong the life of your cases and your pistol - and paper targets out to 50 yards will not know the difference. Later, you will probably try some ~180-grain cast SWC's and wonder why you were wasting money and recoil with the heavyweights.
In my Colt commercial 1911A1 with original springs, 3.5 grains of Red Dot and 185's gives enough recoil impulse to eject and feed, but not enough to lock the slide on the last round. With 230's, the same charge is fully functional. Results in a different pistol will vary with design, condition, and installed springs, of course.
I use lee powder scoops. The first few are weighed just to make sure I'm using the right scoop. I load 5gr Red Dot for 230 gr bullets and 6gr Red Dot for 185gr bullets. Haven't used cast bullets for a number of years but a lower amount of powder is needed. Have a old Hornady Manual that has most of the loads for Red Dot somewhere in my junk room that would take days to find. Probably could give Hornady a call for more information.
Consider buying a case gauge for .45ACP. A few thousands either way on the seat and crimp die can give you trouble.
Rick the Librarian
I used the micrometer on all the cartridges we did and they were all in the 1.265"-1.270" range.
I emailed the makers of Red Dot about a load for 230 grain cast bullets and they said the same 4.5 grains of powder would be fine. I may go with 4 grains, just because I feel a little safer with a lighter load. Again, the purpose is plinking - at least to start out.
Good. You are, of course, going to have to start loading 30-06 as well to feed all those 1903s. An any case, back to to .45 ACP. I'd like to suggest that 1) you use Lee liquid Alox on your cast bullets to minimize leading, and 2) you use the Lee Factory Crimp Die to make sure the rounds will all chamber. I have seen many jams caused by the failure to use the Lee crimp die, which serves to size the case to SAAMI spec as well as crimp the bullet.
Rick, I checked the Lyman Reloader's Manual. They recommend 4 gr of red dot for both 230 grain jacketed as well as 225 grain lead cast. Red Dot is a fast burning shotgun powder. Fast burning powders are good for lighter grain bullets and slower burning powders are good for heavier bullets. The more the case is filled with powder, the better the ignition and burning for accuracy, so I've read. As a rule, I always use a powder that fills the case the most respective to bullet weight. ALWAYS GO BY THE RELOADING MANUALS AND NOT PEOPLE RECOMMENDATIONS. The Lyman manual usually gives "accuracy" loads recommending a particular powder to bullet weight. Firearms have a personality. Some prefer one powder over another respective to bullet weight..
My .357 Model 686 with a six inch barrel loved Blue Dot but it was a fast burning powder that caused severe forcing cone erosion and top strap erosion to the point of having the barrel and frame replaced. The revolver did much better, wear-wise, with 231 powder with 75,000 rounds fired through her using 125 grain jacketed bullet.
I did fire for awhile a Colt Series 70 .45 ACP. The .45 ACP is fun and different to shoot compared to a wheel gun. Keep the case length in specs.
Rick the Librarian
The booklet that accompanied my Lee dies recommended 5 grains (both starting and max) for Red Dot with a 230 grain FMJ. I decided to back off to 4.5 grains, using the "10% less" rule. As I said above, the makers of Red Dot (in an email to me) recommended the same amount (4.5 grains) with a 230 grain cast lead bullet. I would probably go down to 4 grains, just to be safe. Had someone suggested a load, I would checked it out in a "hard" source before trying it out.
As for reloading 30-06, I have enough CMP ammo stockpiled, that I don't think I will be doing it anytime soon. I am interested in reloading for 30-40 Krag, 7.5 Swiss and maybe .303. I'm also aware that reloading for full-powered rifle is a step up from where I'm at currently. I'll probably stick to .45 for a while until I have the procedure down straight.
I might be in the market for an electronic scale, if anyone has any recommendations that won't require a second mortgage.
I and many other use the Lee scale with no problems at all. It is very sensitive. On the CMP board, someone posted that it will react to as little as three grains (as in particles) of some powders. When close to the balance point, mine will react to three or four particles of W231. About a year ago, an analytical chemist posted that the Lee scale is as accurate as some of the scales in his lab costing several times more. It is just a balance beam; there is nothing to go wrong.
Since 1967 to present, I've reloaded shotgun shells, .45 ACP, .357, and 30'O6 ammo using a Lee turret press and Lee auto powder measure (the one device with the discs having varying size holes for the pistol rounds.)
For the 30'O6, I've used basic Lee powder dippers with the numbers printed on them to denote amount of powder. I've had great success with these rather than weigh out each cartridge's powder on a scale. I'm happy hitting the bullseye rather than splitting hairs. Of course, I understand the need of some shooters for precision powder measurements but Lyman gives a min/max powder suggestion. I use the Lee powder scoop that gives the middle of the road powder measurement for the M1, M17, and Springfield O3 and OsA3.
I do not crimp the 30'O6 cases to the cannelure of the bullet because that increases initial gas pressure. The resized caseneck holds the bullet tightly. I also keep the finished reload overall length to the specs of the Lyman Reloader's Manual.
As far as reloading for the 30-40 Krag, I've read to keep the reloads to minimum powder specs per bullet weight. I have not reloaded for my 1898 Krag but intend to. I will not fully resize the cases but only neck-size. The new Remington cases do enter the chamber without resistance on a closed bolt so no full length sizing is necessary for my rifle. Of course, semi-auto enblock clip M1 rilfe cartridges must be full length sized for the cartridges to cycle in the action. Once you fire the brass in your bolt action rifle, you only need to neck-size the brass for reloading. The brass lasts longer that way because it isn't downsized and stretched repeatedly giving way to thin walls and insipient bright rings near the base indication of a potential case separation.
Good you have a supply of CMP 30'O6 cartridges. When one reloads for the M1, one must be aware that military brass has thicker walls than commercial brass. As a result the same amount of powder in military brass is more confined than in commercial brass. That means to expect higher gas pressure (chamber pressure) in the military brass. But if you only use minimal to middle of the road powder charges, you need not worry about excessive chamber pressures. When you use max powder charges, that's where an accurate powder scale is essential.
Reloading for a rifle, pistol, or shotgun is a simple and safe endeavor if you follow reliable reference direction and common sense. As you reload more and more, you learn little tricks of the trade that enhance the quality of your reloads as well as gives you several fail-safe measures to assure the safety aspects of reloads. ALL these things become second nature to the effective reloader through time and experience. Welcome to the world of reloading.
Rick the Librarian
The powder dipper that came with my .45 ACP dies was marked "5 CC" on it. Using the Lee scale, it seemed to be well-below the 4-4.5 grains. Maybe I'll try it again. It would be a lot easier to use it than mess with the scales and powder dispenser.
Once you've mastered the powder measure, you'll probably use the scale only for initial setting and then re-checking after every 10 or 20 charges thrown without weighing. Weighing each charge is good exercise and part of the learning process but will become superfluous except when loading high-precision competitive ammo.
Dippers can be adequately precise for moderate loads but are certainly no quicker or more accurate than the Lee measure. According the Lee Precision, the 0.5cc dipper will hold 3.5 grains of Red Dot - but that will vary a bit with technique, powder lot, and even the weather. http://www.leeprecision.com/cgi-data/instruct/Dippers.pdf
Rick the Librarian
Actually, I had planned to use the powder measure and just check every few loads (my friend/relative/mentor said he checks about every five loads, but claims to be a little "anal" in this regard -- not a bad thing in reloading!). However, my difficulty in getting a consistant "throw" has made me hold off. It certainly would be easier that way.
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