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Old 05-14-2017, 02:57 PM
sasu sasu is online now
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Default Progressive loading - two incidents in one session

I learned my lesson not to use the progressive reloading press if I am not fully concentrated.

I was reloading 357 Magnum and was distracted a couple of times, plus the press threw a few spent primers into the primer slide causing stoppages.

The first sign that something went wrong was when I was checking a case for powder there was no case to check! I had not inserted a case a couple steps earlier. OK, I can manage around that, I thought.

I had a few stoppages with the primer slide and sorted those out. Nothing to it, I thought.

When I ended the session, I found an empty case with a primer and roll crimp, but no powder and no bullet. Whoah! How did I load a cartridge without powder and without a bullet?

After all those irregularities I had to weigh every cartridge. One was 8 grains heavier than the others. I removed the bullet and this is what I found inside the case:



A spent 22 LR case had been stuck inside the empty case. It accounted for the extra weight, not a double charge of powder as I suspected.

Another cartridge was 5 grains lighter than the others and I could not hear powder sloshing inside the case. When I removed the bullet I saw there was no powder, that accounted for the 5 grain weight difference.

After these two findings I went through every cartridge shaking them by my ear to hear that there was powder in each of them. I will shoot these cartridges but have to be on the lookout for a squib.

This was a reminder not to reload if you cannot concentrate on the job at that time.

EDIT: Did I just invent a 357-22LR rimfire wildcat cartridge?

Last edited by sasu; 05-14-2017 at 03:00 PM.
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Old 05-14-2017, 03:15 PM
MichiganScott MichiganScott is offline
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Reloading is definitely something that needs your full attention. I have a lock on the door to my reloading room so no one can bother me. The room is a no phone zone.
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Old 05-14-2017, 03:39 PM
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Progressive or single stage reloading can both be dangerous if not paying attention.

I've had cases inside other cases before but never loaded the case. Usually the outcome is a bent decapping pin.
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Old 05-14-2017, 03:49 PM
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I've never had those problems with my single-stage press.
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Old 05-14-2017, 03:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SMSgt View Post
I've never had those problems with my single-stage press.
I've never had those problems with my 650, which now has about 30k rounds through it....

OP's title seems to indict the type of press. These issues seem, to me, more unique to the operator during this particular loading session, than the type of equipment used.
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Old 05-14-2017, 05:20 PM
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Progressive presses are not for everyone
I do not load if someone else is in my reloading room
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Old 05-14-2017, 05:50 PM
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Good for you that these accidents didn't have a bad conclusion.And it goes to show that YES,it can and does happen.
Last year,I was loading on my RL300(manual powder and primer dispenser)when my wife got into the shop and asked me what I'd like for supper.She then continued the conversation for a couple of minutes while I kept the operation going.
The morning after I went shooting these rounds and had one without any powder.While I can't proof that it was one loaded when she interrupted me,I could certainly bet an old $2 on it!
Concentration is the keyword when you are reloading!
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Old 05-14-2017, 07:32 PM
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Regardless of the press, relading when you cant pay attention can be terminal!
Fwiw, the 22lr case would have increased pressure inside the case, it is reducing volume. While maybe not double charge pressure, certainly over pressure.
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Old 05-14-2017, 07:39 PM
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How do you know the other reloads are ok? Just because you shook them doesn't mean a thing as far as safety goes.

Last edited by Ole Joe Clark; 05-15-2017 at 08:07 AM. Reason: corrected word, my computer can's spell.
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Old 05-14-2017, 07:47 PM
TjB101 TjB101 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SMSgt View Post
I've never had those problems with my single-stage press.


Ditto... but it's a slowwwww process compared to a progressive. But the above scares me a tad.
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Old 05-14-2017, 07:49 PM
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You just made an excellent case for not using someone else's reloads. But you are right, that if you are going to reload, one MUST always pay attention.
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Old 05-14-2017, 08:26 PM
apollo99 apollo99 is offline
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MichiganScott hit it on the head, No phones, no interruptions, 100% full attention. Reloading is an economical and rewarding pastime, however we must do out part in the process. Good thing the OP recognized his mistakes and corrected them, and thanks for the reminder to us all.
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Old 05-14-2017, 10:14 PM
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It is way to easy to mess things up on a progressive, that's why I sold my Dillon and went back to a single stage.
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Old 05-14-2017, 10:58 PM
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If ANYTHING happens to disturb my concentration or rhythm I stop, remove all cartriges from the press, pull any bullets that have been seated or crimped, empty the powder, etc. After the interruption is over and I can give full concentration to my loading I will resume loading.

The lighting on my press is such that I can look into the case at station 2 to make sure that it is empty and at station 3 to make sure that it has a single charge of powder. I put a new case in station 1 and a bullet on the charger case in station 3. Then I operate the handle down and back up. If necessary, rotate the shell plate (Dillon 450 and 550). Repeat until done.
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Old 05-15-2017, 12:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ole Joe Clark View Post
How do you know the other reloads are ok? Just because you shook them doesn't mean a think as far as safety goes.
By shaking them I know there is at least some powder in them, and the likelihood of the powder measure dispensing a wrong dose of powder is very low.

By weighing all of the cartridges I know there is a high probability there is no double charge of powder. The weighing exposed the two duds, one with the 22 LR case inside of it, the other one with no powder.

I have a strict process on the progressive press of looking inside a charged case every time before inserting a bullet - still I managed to produce one cartridge without powder and another without even a bullet!

Yesterday's loads were a bit challenging to check the powder level visually as the amount of powder was very small compared to the case capacity. I was making silly low power loads mandated by Cowboy Action Shooting safety rules. I have two lamps specially directed into the press to highlight powder level and I also removed a charged case a few times when I could not see well, and still a break in concentration resulted in the above mentioned incidents.

This was a lesson that reminds to give the reloading process your whole attention or not doing it at all.

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Old 05-15-2017, 12:42 AM
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Every once in a while I think I want a progressive press. Many moons ago I sent a Dillon back since it gave me some primer seating headaches. And honestly, there was too much going on at once for me to feel comfortable with it. I've been using a single stage ever since. But there are times when I get weary of loading .45 ACP. I'd like to be able to crank out some rounds, but then I remember why I use a single stage. There is some advantage to running a batch of cases through one operation and then moving on to the next step.
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Old 05-15-2017, 01:10 AM
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Default I've explained....

I've explained how I can sorely test 'fool proof' procedures. I use a SS and last session I found a few .380 cases not marked as such mixed in with my 9mm. Not real dangerous in itself, but I was surprised how they got through resizing, decapping and expanding, only to be found in a the priming operation. STILL, one got through and when I was plunk testing them, one slid down into the chamber instead of having the rim exposed. To my greater credit I didn't see this as a problem right away until my brain started working and said, "That ain't right!" Man.....THINK.
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Old 05-15-2017, 02:09 AM
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The only time I ever came close to a true foul-up, I was loading half a box of .44 Magnums on my turret--and here's the dangerous part--in a hurry and somewhat distracted by conversation for a fun-shoot match. I somehow seated a bullet before charging the case.

Fortunately, the 8-9 grains of powder spilling all over the bench alerted me. So I stopped, pitched my ruined cartridge, and decided to grab the .45 that I had a ton of ammo for.

I also looked into the rapid disassembly of a 629 at my club. As near as I can tell, the cause of the accident was the "experienced reloader" manning the press was distracted by teaching his now sans-629 buddy how to reload.
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Old 05-15-2017, 07:23 AM
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One time I was working through a bag of 250 cleaned but not deprimed cases picked up at a local gun show. Felt a good deal more resistance than normal with one particular case so I gave the press a good look see after removing the case from the shell plate. Have to give RCBS Kudos for the strength of their decapping pins because there was a 22LR case stuck on that pin. Not only did I decap the case I punched a slightly off center hole through the bottom of that 22LR case and yesterday at least 3 years after this incident I am still using that very same decapping pin.
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Old 05-15-2017, 07:45 AM
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Sure hope I'm not standing next to you as you test fire your loads to determine if there's too little or too much powder in them instead of pulling the bullets.
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Old 05-15-2017, 08:17 AM
Bleek Gilliam Bleek Gilliam is online now
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It's simply not for everyone. Some people simply don't have the attention span, level of attention to detail, or mechanical aptitude and understanding required for loading progressive or single stage and that's there the horror stories come from.

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Old 05-15-2017, 03:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daverich4 View Post
Sure hope I'm not standing next to you as you test fire your loads
Not to worry, I shoot alone as I do not keep friends.

On a more serious note, I will be extra careful with this batch of reloads. They are very mild loads so even a 1.5 times overcharge is still within specs, and a double charge would not slosh inside the case. Squibs are a possibility, but being cast bullets they should be quite slippery coming out of the barrel. I made some mistakes while operating the press, but the powder measure does its own thing regardless of my clumsiness so the charges should be OK and I already pruned out the one powderless cartridge.

Quite a decapping pin, by the way, punching through the 22 LR case bottom without a hiccup.

All in a all, a lesson learned here. Reloading is no half way task.
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Old 05-15-2017, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by zonker5 View Post
It is way to easy to mess things up on a progressive, that's why I sold my Dillon and went back to a single stage.
This mind set is also dangerous. It is NOT the press but the nut pulling the handle. Before progressives, many guys were blowing up guns with squibs & doubles, easy to do looking into a block of 50 or 100 cases if your technique is wrong or you just aren't 100% focused.
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Old 05-15-2017, 03:29 PM
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Thanks for posting.
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Old 05-15-2017, 03:35 PM
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I have been loading on a progressive of one kind or another since 1966. Have I messed any up..sure have but I always caught the foul ups. They were ALWAYS my fault..and I always caught them. Most recent was a couple of years ago. Loading 45 auto with 231 at 5.3 gr.. That machine has been set for 5.3 of 231 for3 years. I had to add powder (from a different lot) and shazam the powder charge went from 5.3 to 6.6 gr. Luckily I had dumped the loaded rounds and started anew. Loaded 91 rounds when I did a powder weight check and caught the overage. messed my mind up for a bit. Dumped the powder and got a match of the original lot number and it was back to 5.3 again. Don't know why...but has never happened again. I always check when using a new can of powder same lot or not. When loading on a progressive I never load maximum loads especially in mag handgun rounds.
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Old 05-15-2017, 03:56 PM
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I'm surprised at the high regarding for loading on a single stage press displayed on this thread. It really is just as easy if not easier to screw up any step on a single stage press. With my Hornady LNL the most likely way to miss a powder drop would result in every station being missed and would be more obvious and easier to spot than a missed powder drop using any single stage process. With an auto indexing press it's not impossible to double charge a case, but it is a lot harder to do than with the Lee perfect powder dispenser I was using before.

With a progressive press you put an empty case and bullet down with every stroke of the handle. Once the stations are setup correctly there is less room for operator error. You remove much of the possibility for incorrectly handling a case if you only touch it once. I have loaded thousands of rounds on a single stage Rock Chucker and 10,000+ on my Lock N Load and can easily say the rounds loaded on the LNL are just as safe if not safer.
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Old 05-15-2017, 05:28 PM
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I have been reloading many years now (about 35+) and YES complete concentration must be given to the task 100% of the time. I don't like anyone around when I reload for fear of distraction and I never watch TV while reloading either.

There are many things you should check constantly:

* make sure you do not have an incorrect caliber that sneaks into your cartridge plate. ex: .38 spl. in a .357 Mag. or .44 in a .45 Colt.

* make sure even if the caliber is correct, the primer size is also the correct one - ex:: 45 acp comes with large AND small primers!

* make sure your always throwing the intended powder charge AND that you have adequate powder in the hopper - check often

* check for foreign objects (like .22 cases or debris) inside the case before loading. Sometimes even tumbling media gets clogged inside.

* check for the occasional inverted primer

* make sure your dies are clean - I usually clean mine every 500 - 700 rounds while loading waxed lead bullets. Wax can make bullets seat too deep or clog up the works.

* Lube press so you do not need to exert excess force which in turn can screw things up

* ALWAYS wear safety glasses or face shield!!!!!!

* don't load when you are troubled, have something on your mind or under stress - they take your mind off of what you are doing.

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Old 05-15-2017, 06:22 PM
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Default No Kaboom Reloading

It's a common enough thread where a forum member decides to get into reloading and starts with a progressive press. There's too much going on for the beginning reloader. Inexperience can be dangerous. Better to learn on a single stage press unless you can arrange for the guidance of an experienced tutor.

We each have our reloading protocols and my protocol is to look into each and every case as it leaves the charging station on my Dillon 550B. An empty case has never made it past the charging station but occasionally, spilled powder tells me that a sized casing did not pick up a primer at station one, the powder flowing out the flash hole.
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Old 05-15-2017, 06:39 PM
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Default On breaking firing pins.

There is a lot of imported 9mm ammo out there and it's easy to get one or a couple of berdan primed jobs.

Also, my eyes are bad so if I don't see a headstamp that I can recognize, out it goes. I have just compared it to other cases side by side, but that ain't good enough. P - N - T or some other letters or numbers aren't good enough.
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Old 05-15-2017, 07:15 PM
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The same happen to me had a 22 l inside a 44mag and it crushed,broke the decapping pin. luckily I caught it.
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Old 05-15-2017, 07:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by federali View Post
It's a common enough thread where a forum member decides to get into reloading and starts with a progressive press. There's too much going on for the beginning reloader. Inexperience can be dangerous. Better to learn on a single stage press unless you can arrange for the guidance of an experienced tutor.

We each have our reloading protocols and my protocol is to look into each and every case as it leaves the charging station on my Dillon 550B. An empty case has never made it past the charging station but occasionally, spilled powder tells me that a sized casing did not pick up a primer at station one, the powder flowing out the flash hole.
I started on a ss press 40yrs ago, still have it, Today though, at least for pistol shooters, I have no problem recommending a good progressive as their first press & just using it as an inverted turret. Load one round at a time until you feel the process is fully understood, then start loading progressive. If you shoot 500rds a week, full time job, maybe couple kids, you are burning out trying to do that on a ss press. Progressives can be safer than ss press because you don't handle the cases as often. You see the powder charge as you advance the shell plate or as the case auto advances. Place the bullet & move on. You are only looking at one case with powder each time, certainly better than looking into 50 cases in a loading block to verify charges.
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Old 05-15-2017, 11:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by federali View Post
It's a common enough thread where a forum member decides to get into reloading and starts with a progressive press. There's too much going on for the beginning reloader. Inexperience can be dangerous. Better to learn on a single stage press unless you can arrange for the guidance of an experienced tutor.

We each have our reloading protocols and my protocol is to look into each and every case as it leaves the charging station on my Dillon 550B. An empty case has never made it past the charging station but occasionally, spilled powder tells me that a sized casing did not pick up a primer at station one, the powder flowing out the flash hole.
A 650 is all I've ever used. Im no rocket scientist.

It depends on the depth at which you are willing to understand your equipment. Nothing more.

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Old 05-16-2017, 01:22 AM
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I have loaded since the 70's and have yet to have a major mistake.
I always check the inside of each case for materials inside and the cal. on the head stamp before putting it with the other cases.

Then I can clean, tumble or what ever when I get time to start
my loading process, either part way or to a completed loading.

Making sure you start off with the correct and proper materials without flaws is #1.

Take your time and do a good job.
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Old 05-16-2017, 06:55 AM
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Default Another Minor Hazard

Covered in depth in other threads, an increasing number of .45 ACP brass with small primer pockets are finding their way into my range brass. I do cull these for separate loading but I've trained myself to immediately stop the lever when I feel the resistance of trying to load a large primer into a small primer pocket.
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Old 05-16-2017, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by sasu View Post
On a more serious note, I will be extra careful with this batch of reloads. They are very mild loads so even a 1.5 times overcharge is still within specs, and a double charge would not slosh inside the case.
You mentioned that you were loading 357 Magnums but not what your actual load was. I'm curious what load would allow you to add 50% more powder to it and still be under maximum.
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Old 05-16-2017, 12:47 PM
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After reading most of these post's above I have come to the conclusion that most of the poster's don't employ a powder check/lockout die in their progressive loading setup. I really think the powder check lockout die is worth it's weight in gold because no matter what you do wrong, ie 22 case or no powder it stops you dead in your tracks and won't let you continue until you remove the case in that station.

Just my 2 cents - FWIW
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Old 05-16-2017, 01:11 PM
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After reading most of these post's above I have come to the conclusion that most of the poster's don't employ a powder check/lockout die in their progressive loading setup. I really think the powder check lockout die is worth it's weight in gold because no matter what you do wrong, ie 22 case or no powder it stops you dead in your tracks and won't let you continue until you remove the case in that station.

Just my 2 cents - FWIW
I've used the RCBS lockout die in my press for years. Out of 10's of thousands of rounds it's only stopped two loads but that alone is worth it to me. I also visually inspect each round as it comes up to the front but the lockout die never gets tired or distracted.
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Old 05-16-2017, 01:26 PM
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You mentioned that you were loading 357 Magnums but not what your actual load was. I'm curious what load would allow you to add 50% more powder to it and still be under maximum.
158 gr cast bullet and 5.1 gr of N340. The Vihtavuori guide says max for jacketed 158 gr bullet is 7.7 gr.

The velocity from a 20" lever action is 1100 fps. Cowboy Action rules require to stay under 1400 fps out of a rifle.

I shot 15 of these reloads today with no problems.
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Old 05-16-2017, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by federali View Post
Covered in depth in other threads, an increasing number of .45 ACP brass with small primer pockets are finding their way into my range brass. I do cull these for separate loading but I've trained myself to immediately stop the lever when I feel the resistance of trying to load a large primer into a small primer pocket.
I try but occasionally a sp 45acp slips into my 650. I keep sized/deprimed cases right there to swap out at stn 2.
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Old 05-16-2017, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by sasu View Post
158 gr cast bullet and 5.1 gr of N340. The Vihtavuori guide says max for jacketed 158 gr bullet is 7.7 gr.

The velocity from a 20" lever action is 1100 fps. Cowboy Action rules require to stay under 1400 fps out of a rifle.

I shot 15 of these reloads today with no problems.
It looks like you're just above Vihtavuori's suggested minimum load for a 158 cast bullet and using their maximum for a completely different JACKETED bullet as a maximum?

"Squibs are a possibility, but being cast bullets they should be quite slippery coming out of the barrel. I made some mistakes while operating the press, but the powder measure does its own thing regardless of my clumsiness so the charges should be OK and I already pruned out the one powderless cartridge."

You think some of your loads might not have enough powder in them but lead is really slippery so as long as there is "some" powder in the case the bullets will slide out the barrel? And the powder measure is correct regardless of how poorly you operate the press except for the one you had that didn't have any powder in it? (Not counting the one you found that had neither powder NOR bullet in it.) But your plan is to shoot them instead of pulling them to see if there are any more bad ones. Wow.
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Old 05-16-2017, 02:19 PM
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Maybe some of those rounds have two bullets...
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Old 05-16-2017, 03:23 PM
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Assuming the brass was all from the same lot it is possible to determine with a reasonable amount of certainty that the charges in the case are all close. Using mixed headstmap brass or even brass all from the same manufacturer but from different periods will make the weight variations be to large to be of any use.

As long as you take precautions on any rounds that has light recoil and avoid shooting a live round into a stuck bullet it should be fine.
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Old 05-16-2017, 03:34 PM
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The advantage to a single stage press when considering something like this is that the single stage press requires the operator to put their hand on the case at each stage. If you use a written checklist, like I do, then you can include an inspection check at each of those operations.

My checklist has been refined over the last 39 years, but it currently has 22 operations. At the conclusion of each operation, a box is checked to indicate completion. It is slow, deliberate work, but I don't shoot that much.
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Old 05-16-2017, 03:45 PM
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Quote:
reddog81 wrote:
Using mixed headstmap brass or even brass all from the same manufacturer but from different periods will make the weight variations be to large...
I do sort my brass by manufacturer and year (where year is stamped), but even if I didn't I would still weigh each completed round. This would not to be to establish whether the powder charges were consistent (for single stage guys like me, the time for determining that is when the powder is being thrown and trickled up to weight), but to verify that I don't have a double charge of powder.

All of the pistol cartridges I load (9mm, 38Spl, 45ACP) are susceptible to being double-charged. The 38Special could even be triple=charged. Even brass that varies by a grain or two from manufacturer to manufacturer will not disguise a double charge of nearly 5 grains of powder.
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Old 05-16-2017, 03:53 PM
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Also, since we're getting into the area of inspecting cases during the reloading process, someone on another site recommended getting a otoscope for inspecting bottleneck cases - particularly bottleneck cases under 30 caliber.

I got one from Amazon:



It has come in very handly. It makes it easy to see the occasional piece of debris inside the case. I have occasionally been able to see the shadow formed by the "valley" of the thinning case wall near the head before the tell-tale ring appears on the outside of the case.

I won't say it's the best $7 you'll ever spend, but I doubt you'll suffer from any buyer's remorse.

Last edited by hdwhit; 05-16-2017 at 03:55 PM. Reason: Add testimonial at the end
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Old 05-17-2017, 11:46 AM
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I do sort my brass by manufacturer and year (where year is stamped), but even if I didn't I would still weigh each completed round. This would not to be to establish whether the powder charges were consistent (for single stage guys like me, the time for determining that is when the powder is being thrown and trickled up to weight), but to verify that I don't have a double charge of powder.

All of the pistol cartridges I load (9mm, 38Spl, 45ACP) are susceptible to being double-charged. The 38Special could even be triple=charged. Even brass that varies by a grain or two from manufacturer to manufacturer will not disguise a double charge of nearly 5 grains of powder.
Really you are wasting your time trying to find a double charge of fast burning powder in larger pistol cases. Weigh 10 empty case, in a 45acp, they can vary 3-4gr easy. Add variation in bullet wt, even primer weight, you can see where that is going. In a rifle case, pretty hard to double charge unless you are using small charges of pistol powder.
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Old 05-17-2017, 10:52 PM
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The ability to correct our behavior, evaluate our process and learn from errors of commission, omission, and all other -issions is part of the discipline required to reload.

As far as 'correct' goes, I've yet to read ANY thread where someone does their 'routine' exactly as ~I~ do my own....yet 'safety' remains a constant goal of all of us.
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Old 05-24-2017, 10:15 AM
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All reloading can be dangerous! I use a 550rl and for many years used just a Leeloader hand kit when I only loaded for one caliber. Now that I load for 7 different calibers I've become acutely aware of how easy it is to make a mistake or miss a potentially dangerous flaw in product. Those of us that load thousands of rounds can all attest to something that they caught that probably scared them (I hope!). It just serves to make us more cautious. I buy a lot of pre primed brass and aluminum cases that I only load once. Those require close inspection due to manufacturing defects. I've fired over 5000 rounds of these in .45 auto and can tell you that I would NOT rely on them for self defense! I've found holes, malformed lips and various other defects regardless of manufacturer.
BE SAFE!
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Old 05-25-2017, 12:59 PM
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I buy a lot of pre primed brass and aluminum cases that I only load once. Those require close inspection due to manufacturing defects. I've fired over 5000 rounds of these in .45 auto and can tell you that I would NOT rely on them for self defense! I've found holes, malformed lips and various other defects regardless of manufacturer.
BE SAFE!
There is a reason alum cases should not be reloaded.
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Old 06-06-2017, 02:49 PM
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I think one thing that goes overlooked is the cleanliness of your workspace. Making sure you have a consistent process for how you do things and where everything is located. That makes things easier on me when I do need to find a tool or make an adjustment. Also, starting from the beginning with a "dummy" round each time to make sure everything is adjusted correctly. Especially powder despencer. Love it though. I have simplified everything in my room. I went to 4 square deals instead of the 650 and absolutely love it. This was after the RCBS I learned on and The Lyman turret. I am not sure why I like the square deals better. I just do. I agree with working on the single stage for a while. Definitely taught me a lot of lessons and to not get in a hurry.
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