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Old 06-02-2018, 08:59 PM
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Default The "Burt Ward" moment

Anyone who remembers the 1960's Batman TV show will recall Burt Ward (Robin) "Holy (insert word here) Batman" comments. Well I have now had the second of what I call "the Burt Ward moment" when it comes to my reloading.

The first happened a couple of years ago when I was shooting my .38 S&W Victory model. The load was a 148 gn jacketed HBWC over 2.4 gn Mulwex AP50N in practice for a 48 round Classic Pistol match fired at 10 and 25 yards.

The first 3 or 4 rounds in a string fired as usual. The next had a louder than usual sound, harder than normal recoil and the whole pistol locked up. My first thought was that somehow I had placed double charge in the case. After carefully tapping the cylinder open with a mallet I keep in my range tool box I found I could not extract the fired cartridge. I had to tap that free too. That was when I discovered the jacket was still attached to the case but the bullet core was gone. There was no damage to the case or the pistol.

I posted some photos and the consensus was that rather than a double charge it was more likely a bullet failure between the jacket and the core. My pride remained intact.

My Springfield Armoury 1911 has a favourite load, a 200 gn plated flat point bullet over Tightgroup, loaded to a 178/180 PF. I have tried to find a load as accurate as this one using 230 gn LRN bullets but cannot. The closest is a load of W231 that will give a 50% larger group at 15 meters with usually one flyer in every 5 rounds, everything else being equal between the two loads.

Last week I loaded up 50 rounds of the 230 gn bullets using a load recommended on another thread of just under a max loading of Tightgroup. I also cast up some 200 gn LSWC bullets and loaded them into cases with a slightly reduced charge from the 200 gn JFP load. On Friday I called in at the range during my lunch break to try these loads out.

First up, the 230 gn/Tightgroup loads. These shot worse for me in my pistol than the W231 loads do. Clearly this pistol prefers the lighter projectiles and the 230 gn LRN prefers W231 powder. So it was on to the home cast 200 gn loads.

Now I am admitting here that loading these rounds was not without issue. Firstly the nose of these bullets is narrower than both the plated and LRN ones, so they were not seated as far into the case at first. After adjusting the seating die to crimp on the front band I had several stick in either the seating or crimping die, which required me to remove each die, pull it apart and put it back together again.

Then I found that loaded to crimp on the first band the OAL was too great to seat in my magazines, so had to reseat and recrimp them just forward of the front band. This whole process had taken much longer than it should have!

I loaded two magazines with five rounds each. The first five I fired one shot at a time. The second mag I fired in one string. Recoil impulse and the sound of each shot were about the same as for the plated 200 gn rounds but the shots were all over the place on the target so I patched out and prepared to shoot again.

The first four rounds slow fire went off as they normally do. The fifth round was loud, recoil felt stout, I felt hot gasses and several small, sharp, stinging impacts on my cheek and nose (thankfully i was wearing shooting glasses). The pistol was in one piece but locked up solid. I couldn't even drop the magazine from the gun. My first thought was "Holy (insert your word here) I must have loaded a double charge". Then I felt blood running down my right cheek.

I had to use the mallet to tap the magazine release which freed the mag. At this point the slide started to move around 1/8" (2-3 mm) from battery but no further. I packed everything up and spent the rest of the day thinking three things:

1, How was I going to get the pistol open,
2. Would I be lucky enough to get away with just a new barrel, or
3. Was my whole pistol wrecked.

On my way home I called into the hardware store and bought a 4" long threaded brass water pipe join plus an end cap. At home I attached the end cap to the threaded join, placed the open end over the barrel muzzle and started to lightly tap the closed end with a ball pen hammer. After about half a dozen taps the slide started to move.

It took a few more taps to get fully open and I could not lock it back with he slide release. The case was jammed tight against the rear of the slide and I had to pry the case out. That was when I found the primer and half of the case head missing. The rest of the case was undamaged but the strongest part had been torn in half.

Looking at the chamber, barrel and the frame of the pistol there is no obvious damage. Once reassembled the gun seems to function properly, slide locking back, hammer falling when the trigger is pulled and both safeties working as they should. So what actually happened here?

There were only four shots on the target so did the cast bullet come apart the way the jacketed .38 S&W round did but not retain anything of the projectile in the case this time?

Or did the case for some reason (overloading in the past or just too many reloads) fail at its strongest point? (All the new brass I buy are Starline, but over the years shooting in competitions I have lost some and picked up other mixed brand brass instead. The head stamp on this case is unreadable).

Or did I get very lucky with a double powder charge?

One thing is for certain, trying to find a lead practice round is over. From now on, providing my pistol checks out okay, I will be shooting the same PFP load in both practice and competition. The additional costs of shooting the plated bullets is more than offset by the issues around loading lead ones.

In the meantime I am contemplating going through every .45 ACP round I have loaded (currently over 500 of my competition loads, 250 of the LRN 230 gn bullets loaded to 125 PF for Service Match and about 300 of the LRN loaded to 155 PF for Wild Bunch shooting) and discarding any cases that do not have a Starline headstamp.

And I will count myself extremely lucky for getting away with just a small cut to my cheek.
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Old 06-02-2018, 09:20 PM
Wise_A Wise_A is offline
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What do the 200-gr LSWCs look like loaded?

Also, how the hell does one man have this much miserable reloading luck?
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Old 06-02-2018, 09:24 PM
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Starting with a "near max" internet load might not be a good idea. It may have been developed in a barrel with a fully supported chamber, where most 45ACPs have only partial support for case on lower half (where yours let go). Do you load your ammo on a machine or one at a time? I prefer to use loading blocks (50rnds) ,charge all cases with powder (lyman measure or rcbs lil dandy) then visually inspect charges. A lack of charge or double charge stands out when looking at the whole block under good light. I also use safety glasses with a 2x bifocal. If all looks well, then I seat bullets. Your 45 case looks like double charge to me but could be excess headspace. 45ACP is designed to headspace on mouth of case only using a taper crimp if any. Lower groove on 200grlswc is designed to hold lube, usually with front band seated about even with mouth of case. Glad you weren't hurt!
And congrats to Kiwi Scott Dixon on Indycar win today!
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Old 06-02-2018, 09:41 PM
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Default When I first starting loading 9mm...

It was my first semi auto cartridge and I had an inordinate amount of trouble, some with the guns, some with picking a bullet that had strict and unusual requirements on OAL. It took a while but I perfected the process. I've had to tap the slide back several times, and I always feel uneasy that the gun will be damaged but so far so good.

Two I've had to return to the factory. A Ket tec where the spring jumped the track. A call to Keltec and the guy said that some guns did that, and they sent it back fixed. I also had a Shield barrel replaced for what I was sure was a short chamber, and it may well have been short, but they did replace the barrel.

The other boo boos or 'HOLY ____' moments I could attribute to me not quite knowing what I was doing. Now I can load a couple hundred and maybe reject one or two.

Oh, as per your problem, most quality bullet companies have perfected better ways to bond the core to the jacket. Older bullets needed to be pushed at a certain minimum velocity or the jackets could be left behind in the barrel. Especially bad were 'half jacketed' bullets that most companies don't make anymore.
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Old 06-02-2018, 09:43 PM
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Red face

I have had a very similar experience loading 40 S&W brass that was "past its prime". In the first place 40 S&W brass is thin-walled out of the factory. I was shooting USPSA Limited class and loading the ammo with 220 gr lead truncated cone bullets. Powder charge was a very moderate amount of Clays. I had two events of the case head completely separated from the brass in the chamber during a stage(this really ruins my score since the gun is out of service). I was able to remove the brass at a safe table and rejoin my squad(a bit apprehensively). This happened to me once more before I discontinued using that load in matches. There was no question of double charge and I learned that others had similar problems.

Old brass and Clays OR Titegroup is trouble looking to happen without a double-charge. I now load 200gr bullets with a bit of N320 in once-fired police brass and leave it on the ground. Starline is the only 40 brass built with stronger side walls.
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Old 06-03-2018, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by rwsmith View Post
It was my first semi auto cartridge and I had an inordinate amount of trouble, some with the guns, some with picking a bullet that had strict and unusual requirements on OAL. It took a while but I perfected the process. I've had to tap the slide back several times, and I always feel uneasy that the gun will be damaged but so far so good.
That's where I was going with it. I had an overlong, lightly-loaded 200-gr RNFP partially split a case and stick a bullet maybe a quarter inch past the rifling once.
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Old 06-03-2018, 01:37 PM
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Glad you survived unscathed, if shaken. Hate to ask, but how many holes in the target?

Occasionally weird stuff can happen. Once at a match, I had an ejected empty leave a smoke trail as it flew through the air. A whole bunch of people noted it and found the empty. The case web & head had a crack in with burn marks. No clue about what might have caused it, no excessive recoil or anything.

That you had perceived extra recoil, I have to wonder if you had a bullet just far enough into the bore that the chambered round pushed it just enough further forward to avoid ringing the barrel. Or, just maybe, a double charge.
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Old 06-03-2018, 02:17 PM
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Glad you're OK!

There's a hard expansion ring around the case just ahead of the blowout. It looks like the gun fired just slightly out of battery.
If that case was previously fired out of a gun with a looser chamber than yours, and was then resized in a carbide sizing die, it may have remained a bit oversized near the web.
So, it would've jammed just short of being fully chambered.
The disconnector should have prevented the gun from firing.

An alternate explanation is that it was an overload and the case head blew out. But, if that happened, typically the magazine is blown out, the grips are splintered, and you might have a hand injury.

I "second" your idea to cull and discard other people's fired brass from your own Starline brass.

You should have the disconnector evaluated. If it was defective or worn, that could be part of the problem. But, a full evaluation of the whole pistol is likely a good idea.

Best Regards,
Jim
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Old 06-03-2018, 05:51 PM
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What do the 200-gr LSWCs look like loaded?

Also, how the hell does one man have this much miserable reloading luck?
Unfortunately I have now stripped all remaining rounds to recycle the Starline cases, so none left to photograph.
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Old 06-03-2018, 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted by S&W ucla View Post
Starting with a "near max" internet load might not be a good idea. It may have been developed in a barrel with a fully supported chamber, where most 45ACPs have only partial support for case on lower half (where yours let go). Do you load your ammo on a machine or one at a time? I prefer to use loading blocks (50rnds) ,charge all cases with powder (lyman measure or rcbs lil dandy) then visually inspect charges. A lack of charge or double charge stands out when looking at the whole block under good light. I also use safety glasses with a 2x bifocal. If all looks well, then I seat bullets. Your 45 case looks like double charge to me but could be excess headspace. 45ACP is designed to headspace on mouth of case only using a taper crimp if any. Lower groove on 200grlswc is designed to hold lube, usually with front band seated about even with mouth of case. Glad you weren't hurt!
And congrats to Kiwi Scott Dixon on Indycar win today!
The internet load was for the 230 gn LRN and taken from a Hodgson manual. It was 4.8-5.1 gn and the load I used was 4.9 gn. There was no problem with this load other than the accuracy. Despite a lot of experimentation I have not been able to find any load for 230 gn LRN and Tightgroup that will work for me.

The load under the SWC was one that I had worked up over several weeks in this pistol for the 200gn PFP bullets and while it was near max for these it was under max for cast 200 gn SWC’s on Hodgson’s website.

The case mouth was eventually set level with the front of the bulletin forward driving band and I used the same taper crimp I use on all my .45 ACP loads.
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Old 06-03-2018, 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by rwsmith View Post
It was my first semi auto cartridge and I had an inordinate amount of trouble, some with the guns, some with picking a bullet that had strict and unusual requirements on OAL. It took a while but I perfected the process. I've had to tap the slide back several times, and I always feel uneasy that the gun will be damaged but so far so good.

Two I've had to return to the factory. A Ket tec where the spring jumped the track. A call to Keltec and the guy said that some guns did that, and they sent it back fixed. I also had a Shield barrel replaced for what I was sure was a short chamber, and it may well have been short, but they did replace the barrel.

The other boo boos or 'HOLY ____' moments I could attribute to me not quite knowing what I was doing. Now I can load a couple hundred and maybe reject one or two.

Oh, as per your problem, most quality bullet companies have perfected better ways to bond the core to the jacket. Older bullets needed to be pushed at a certain minimum velocity or the jackets could be left behind in the barrel. Especially bad were 'half jacketed' bullets that most companies don't make anymore.
I know what you mean about 9mm.

One of my pistols has rifling unusually deep into the chamber. Many 124 and 115 gn bullet profiles will catch on the rifling before the slide is fully closed.

My other 9mm simply will not feed plated flat point bullets from the top of the magazine no matter how I play with OAL.
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Old 06-03-2018, 06:20 PM
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Glad you're OK!

There's a hard expansion ring around the case just ahead of the blowout. It looks like the gun fired just slightly out of battery.
If that case was previously fired out of a gun with a looser chamber than yours, and was then resized in a carbide sizing die, it may have remained a bit oversized near the web.
So, it would've jammed just short of being fully chambered.
The disconnector should have prevented the gun from firing.

An alternate explanation is that it was an overload and the case head blew out. But, if that happened, typically the magazine is blown out, the grips are splintered, and you might have a hand injury.

I "second" your idea to cull and discard other people's fired brass from your own Starline brass.

You should have the disconnector evaluated. If it was defective or worn, that could be part of the problem. But, a full evaluation of the whole pistol is likely a good idea.

Best Regards,
Jim
The disconnector was replaced along with the hammer and sear towards the end of 2017 when the action was worked on.

While I was not using a holster, I was applying the safety lowering the pistol to an approximate holster position and acting as if I was drawing the gun for each shot (it is one of my standard practice routines). I doubt the safety would have engaged if the slide was not fully in battery.

The only other explanation I can think of is the bullet getting pushed further into the case when it hit the feed ramp, but then it should have failed to feed into the chamber.
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Old 06-03-2018, 08:21 PM
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Default Or a matter of a small measurement?

I have just reslugged my barrel three times. There were no “soft” areas when drifting the slugs so hopefully there are no barrel bulges, there are no rings that I can see. All three slugs mic’d out at .4495, what the barrel slugged out previously.

The 200 gn PFP bullets mic out at .4515, as do the commercially cast 230 gn LRN.

When I cast the 100 200 gn SWC I mic’d 10 of them at .4515 (2), .452 (7) and .4525 (1). I do not have a .451 bullet sizing die and I decided to use them unsized.

After slugging the barrel and mic’ing the results I started to run the remaining cast SWC (abt 40 remaining as I discarded some I didn’t like the look of) through my micrometer and found several in the first 20 that mic’d out at .4545. This may be why a few of the bullets caught in the seating and crimping dies and others didn’t?

Is it possible they were oversized enough to “ stick” while engaging the rifling causing pressures to rise as the slide started out of battery? My understanding is that the bullet should be exiting the muzzle before the slide starts to move.
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Old 06-04-2018, 01:04 AM
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Unfortunately I have now stripped all remaining rounds to recycle the Starline cases, so none left to photograph.
Well, if the bullet is an H&G #68 or clone, OAL should be in the vicinity of 1.250". The exposed shoulder should be about as thick as a thumbnail.

I doubt the bullets were simply oversize, and I sort've doubt your OAL was bad.
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Old 06-05-2018, 12:13 AM
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Default I am embarrassed

Sitting at home today with a bad head cold I have had for a week, and re-reading this thread, it occurs to me that I have given the impression of wanting to blame everything but bad reloading technique for this incident.

This is not the case at all.

I have stated in other threads and posts that I reload on Lee Pro 1000 presses using Lee Auto Drum powder measures so I did not repeat it here. I have the drum screws tightened to prevent powder leakage, but this results in the drums not returning to the “charge” position. The drum stops just short of the charge dropper but close enough to allow some powder to fall into the drum. I use my right hand to operate the press and when the shellplate returns to the bottom and rotates I use my right hand to manually return the drum to the “charge” position while my left hand places the bullet in the case.

When something goes wrong, like the bullets sticking in the seating or crimping dies, I stop the shellplate before it rotates, fix the problem, remove the charged case, empty the powder back into the hopper, place the case back on the shellplate, rotate the drum to the “charge” position and repeat the last loading cycle.

It is more than possible that with the start of my head cold on Thursday and only giving myself a short time to load these rounds adding to time pressure, that after removing a stuck bullet I did not empty the powder from the case before pulling the lever again. If this did happen the drum, while not fully charged, would likely have had some powder fall into it creating an overcharge.

My concern though is if this did not occur, and I accept it probably did, then something else caused this incident and I would like to avoid a repeat if that is the case.

Apologies if I gave anyone the wrong impression.

Last edited by Kiwi cop; 06-05-2018 at 12:18 AM.
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Old 06-23-2018, 05:15 PM
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Default Another case failure

Well I took the .45 back to the range on Thursday but I grabbed the wrong box of magazines (9mm) so could only firesingle shots. 5 rounds, no problems and accuracy still great.

Friday I made sure I had the correct mags and dropped into the range as I was driving past. Part way through the first full magazine I feel a much lighter spitting on my cheek and the impact goes low on the target, as if velocity was down.

On picking up the brass after the string I find one case split from the mouth to the base. On checking it was definately not a Starline case, so obviously range brass.

Just the one “ bad” experience out of almost 80 rounds fired. I can see an afternoon being spent sorting my brass and 1000 new cases charged to my credit card very soon.

Last edited by Kiwi cop; 06-23-2018 at 05:16 PM.
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Old 06-23-2018, 08:31 PM
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I now you shoot a lot...........
and you have been lucky so far but that rabbits foot is at its end !!

Do you have life insurance for the family?

Seems to me you are having a lot of Oh !#~&*T^*)'s lately.

Stay SAFE !!
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Old 06-23-2018, 08:55 PM
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I now you shoot a lot...........
and you have been lucky so far but that rabbits foot is at its end !!

Do you have life insurance for the family?

Seems to me you are having a lot of Oh !#~&*T^*)'s lately.

Stay SAFE !!
The issue with the .38 S&W round was two or three years ago now and seemingly down to a badly cast/plated bullet. A few others here seem to have had similar instances occur with plated HBWC over the years.

The big one with the .45 acp a few weeks ago was the first real fright I have had in 25 years reloading for pistols and over 30 years for rifles. I think a combination of oversize cast bullets sticking in the seating die = frustration = a slightly (due to my particular setup) powder overcharge + a suspect case.

Since then I have loaded and fired several hundred 9mm and .45 rounds from another pistol without any issues. I admit however that distractions are now not allowed in the man cave while I am reloading. If my wife is using the treadmill then I size and prime cases only. Powder charging etc is only to be done when I can give it my full concentration.

Friday's extremely mild occurrence I put down to the case failing. I barley felt the blowback on my face, and there was certainly no bleeding from the primer/brass blowing back as it did with the 'big one'.

But I agree it is time for new cases. I have about 1200 .45 rounds currently loaded. Half are reduced power (150 and 130 PF LRN loads) set aside for Wild Bunch and Service match. The rest are full power (170 PF) loads barrel dropped and set aside for two competitions in September and October. However in the next week or so I will go through them all and sort them out. Any non Starline cases will be relegated to be stripped down and the cases dumped. The Starline cases, which I bought new, will be kept for practice rounds.

Unfortunately most of my spare funds right now are being put aside for our holiday, but I will have to find a couple of hundred NZ$ to get some new cases from Starline delivered from the US. (They cost around NZ$80/100 here yet only US$94/500 plus shipping from Starline direct).

I don't think the life insurance will be required, even though it is well up to date, and the local rabbits can breath a sigh of relief as I won't be after some new feet.

Last edited by Kiwi cop; 06-23-2018 at 09:21 PM.
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Old 06-24-2018, 12:14 AM
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Aren't you holidaying with us in the States? Why not just have the cases delivered to you here?
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Old 06-24-2018, 02:42 AM
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Aren't you holidaying with us in the States? Why not just have the cases delivered to you here?
Not until October, after our NI champs and we get back on the 16th November, 6 days before our Nationals, not enough time to load for them. I'm thinking of getting 500 delivered then picking up 1000 from Midway on our way from Kansas City to St Louis. (Ain't it funny how our route just happens to include Phoenix, half hour from Scottsdale (Dillon) and we pass right through Columbus MO pickup point for Midway)?

I swear I didn't plan it that way, it just happened
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Old 06-24-2018, 04:01 AM
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Suuuuuure, what a coincidence.
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Old 06-24-2018, 04:32 AM
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Suuuuuure, what a coincidence.
Well okay, I could have driven back to Springfield from KC and got back on Rt 66, but it was the long way round. This way is much shorter. It just happens the old goes through Columbus.

And Phoenix was always an overnight stop. How was I to know Dillon was to be so handy?
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Old 06-24-2018, 04:42 AM
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Pretty darn good planning I would say. BTW, what kind of hoops do you have to jump through to get all the goodies home and how bad will they smack you at customs on it?
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Old 06-24-2018, 06:23 AM
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Pretty darn good planning I would say. BTW, what kind of hoops do you have to jump through to get all the goodies home and how bad will they smack you at customs on it?
At present under NZ$400 no duty or taxes to pay on arrival.

I may have to mail home a few parcels to split it up below that limit though a package of .45 ACP brass should bulky but not weigh too much.

Now if I cana just get my wife to refrain from buying too much.
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Old 06-24-2018, 07:34 AM
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Wish I had spent more for the Dillon 550. I only use mine with 2 dies. NO primer/bullet seating, or powder drop. Those get done with the rockchucker single stage & a trickler. BTW Hollywood has it's own stories of Burt Ward, ROBIN, his tights, & keeping the chicks in the nest.
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