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Discussion Starter #1
I come from .38Sp/.357Mag, so I sort of assumed when I bought a Super Redhawk I could simply set my old .45Long Colt die set higher in the press and go ahead and handload my .454Casull brass. After all, I knew the diameter is the same. The Casull is simply longer.

Now, more or less by accident, I found out that RCBS produces a seperate die set for the .454Casull, but I can't find anything wrong with the Casull cartridges I handloaded using that .45LC die set. There's a slight coke bottle effect, but that's normal for most handloaded cartridges; my .45LC handloaded cartridges show the exact same coke bottle bulges.

So what's the deal? What is the actual difference between the RCBS .45LC and .454Casull die set? I mailed RCBS but they don't reply.

Thank you for your time,
Daniel.

(Edited by deebee at 7:17 pm on Feb. 22, 2001)
 

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The difference is in the profile of the crimp and dimensions of the sizing die.  Freedom Arms recommends the use of RCBS dies because they size slightly more than the the standard .45 Colt dies, and that is why RCBS makes a separate set of .454 dies for use in the FA revolver.  Since Ruger's and Taurus's are not held to the same exacting tollerances of the FA revolver (hence Ruger and Taurus OKs the use of .45 Colt rounds in the .454 chamber while FA advises against this practice) the use of .45 Colt dies is probably OK, but with FA revolvers you may find the .45 Colt dies do not size the case enough to enter the tighter FA chamber.  Also, as mentioned, the RCBS uses a slightly different crimp profile, and the dies say to seat the bullet, back off the seat stem, and then adjust to crimp.
 Normally you seat and crimp in the same step, but this practice is not recommended in the .454 for use in FA revolvers.  Again, using standard seating/crimping practices in the Ruger and Taurus will probably work just fine, as is the practice of using .45 Colt dies for these two revolvers.
  In short, if your cases fit, and the bullets don't buckle while crimping or slip under recoil, you are OK, and I wouldn't worry about it.  
 

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Here is Freedom Arms statement as posted on their web page:

TIP #3: Reloading dies?
The use of dies other than specified for the 454 CASULL IS NOT RECOMMENDED!
Reloading dies manufactured for the 454 CASULL have different internal dimensions
than 45 Long Colt dies. The two main differences are: 1.> The crimp die is different
than the standard crimp die in a way that allows a tapered roll crimp to retain the
heavier bullets at the higher velocities. 2.> The sizing die is smaller in diameter
to help in the retention of the heavier bullets. Also the longer length allows full
length sizing of the longer 454 case.

NOTE:   ALWAYS DO THE BULLET SEATING AND CRIMPING IN TWO STEPS. THIS
REDUCES THE CHANCE OF THE CASE SIDE WALLS COLLAPSING WHEN APPLYING THE
HEAVY CRIMPS

TIP #4: AFTER REFERRING TO YOUR FAVORITE RELOADING MANUAL.
An important fact to remember  while loading above 1400 F.P.S..
The  construction  of  the bullet is very important. The intent  of the  final loaded
round is also important, and needs to be considered also. Most commercially made pistol
bullets available today are designed for expansion  at  velocities  below 1400 F.P.S.
Using  bullets above  this velocity  results in poor accuracy, because the bullets can not  
withstand  the higher  pressures  generated at these higher velocities. The deformation  
of  the  bullets  base  when  fired  results in  poor accuracy. The higher velocities also  
cause bullet jacket separation and bullet weight loss, during uncontrolled expansion.
When the pressure is  high enough the jacket could separate from the bullet in the
cylinder, or in flight.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hi Big Bore, thank you for your reply.

I used to have a problem with bullets slipping under recoil reloading the Casull cartridges with a .45LC die set. I solved this by reducing the powder charge by 0.5 grn and adding more crimp.

I never suspected the die set, I assumed the reason was the gunpowder I used. I live in Europe, see, and Hodgdon is hard to obtain, so I am forced to use V-N110 (Vihtavuori N110). This is a very clean, very expensive, but also a rather voluminous powder, and when using a bullet that must be seated very deep (a 300 gn jacketed flatnose), the bullet is compressing the powder a lot.

The reloaded cartridges fit, but after 30 rounds two of the six chambers begin to foul up, and I have to push the rounds in, instead of simply dropping them into the chamber. I have never fired more than 36 rounds in a single session; by then, the mammoth recoil opens the skin between my thumb and index finger.

Do you think the fouling of the chambers is a result of using the wrong die set, or do you get chambers fouling in the FA as well?

In any case, I will order a proper RCBS Casull die set asap. I am unclear about one detail though: does this die set use a die for bullet seating, and a _seperate_ die for crimp? Or is this a combined seating / crimping die, and I should use the same die for bullet seating first, then adjust down for proper crimp (as per FA recommendation)?
 

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Hi, deebee:
  I don't have a Casull, so I might be speaking out of turn. However, the professional reloader who got me started always crimped separately. He said "When you're seating, you're moving the bullet, when you're crimping, you're stopping the bullet from moving."

  He used a machinery washer under the lock ring while seating, then removed the washer and retracted the seating plug for the crimping operation. You don't have to readjust the lock ring when you crimp if you use a washer. I do it that way too.

  If you're seating to the crimp groove, just eyeball your seating depth. The first time you seat, back the die off to where it don't crimp. Now retract the seating plug and adjust your die down until you get a proper crimp. Lock your locking ring. Next time you seat bullets, the washer will hold the die up enough to prevent crimping.
   
  The machinery washers I've got are .040" thick, which is enough. These are the thin washers for shimming bearings, not the big ones used with nuts and bolts.  If you've got the .130" spacer in your .38/.357 set, use it.

  Hope this makes sense.

  If your new RCBS dies have that brass setscrew in the lock ring, put a shot pellet under it. Saves wrecking the setscrew on the die threads.

  A young fellow has my RCBS catalog right now, but I don't think they make a separate crimping die.

Bye
Jack
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hello Jack,

Yeah, I still have that .38/357 spacer. Sounds like good advice, using that spacer under the lock ring for preventing crimp when seating the bullet. And I was just thinking, the seating plug has its own adjustable locking ring. This is a smaller locking ring, without a setscrew, which is why I'd have to check seating depth with every batch.

But I was thinking, once properly adjusted, I could seal that ring into place using Tipp-Ex or nail varnish (not Loctite; I might want to readjust for a different type of bullet). The seating plug screws out from the top of the die, so when the bullets are seated and it's time to crimp, I could remove the spacer and screw out the seating plug without having to readjust seating depth on the next batch.

I hope you follow my drift,
Daniel.
 

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Yes, I believe the crimp is different.  I think it is essentially, both a taper crimp and a roll crimp all in one, to keep the bullets from jumping the crimp groove under extreme recoil.

This combination crimp makes it especially difficult to seat and crimp in the same step.  I had two problems with trying to do it in one step.  First, I have had cases buckle as mentioned above.  Second, The taper portion of the crimp die closes down the mouth of the case before the bullet is pushed all the way in.  As the bullet is pushed further in, the case often shaves lead from the bullet because the mouth has been pressed in against the bullet.  This can happen some with any type of cartridge, but I had special problems with it in .454 Casull using RCBS dies.

Here is how I fixed it......  First I use a Dillon 550B press which normally expands the cases in the powder station so you don't need the expansion die.  I took the expansion plug out of the expansion die and made a new seating plug to fit it.  (The seating plug in the crimp die doesn't fit)  I then seat the bullets in the station after the powder station and crimp in the final station.

Did I explain this okay?  I happen to have a turning lathe at my disposal, which makes minor mods like this much easier.
 

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Hi, deebee:
  I've never bothered locking the lock nut on the seater stem because it just doesn't take that long to adjust to the crimping groove. Besides, I'm always switching bullets.

  If you do want to lock it, why not use a jamb nut. That is another nut on the stem that is tightened against the first one. (You might have a different name for them in Europe). All my RCBS dies use standard American thread sizes so you should be able to find one, or drill out a one size smaller metric nut and tap it. You might need a nut that's half as thick as a regular one, but two or three threads are all you need here. Then you won't have a mess to clean off your seater stem if you change bullets.

Bye
Jack
 

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I use lee dies to reload for my 454casull. They are 45colt/454 dies and I have never had a problem with the bullets ,370g, jumping crimp. They're loaded to 1350, and I use a factory crimp die in a separate operation. doug
 

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DeeBee;  Oh yes, the FA is very picky about getting dirty due to it's extremely tight tollerances.  The cylinder gap on my revolver is .001" so after about 30 rounds, the cylinder gets hard to turn and it's time for a good cleaning, and by that time it is taking some extra finger pressure to push the rounds into the chamber.  Die set is definately not the culpret here.  What one of the other posters said is what I do also, using a machined washer (Redding sells them in a set for .38/.357, .44 spcl/.44 Mag, and crimp/no crimp for about &#3610 if memory serves correctly) which allows me to seat with the washer in place with no crimp, back out the stem and remove the washer then crimp.  A tiny bit of blue Lock-Tite keeps the seating stem from losing adjustment but I don't use enough to make it hard to re-adjust the seating depth.  Hope this helps and good shooting.
 

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What a coincidence, I have a Lee die set in .45 LC and a Lee die set in .454 Casull, neither of which have I used yet.  Just last week I was getting ready to set them up for my 550 Dillon and was looking at the dies to see if they were different.  The sizer in the .454 set is marked .45 ACP!.  I called Lee to see if this was a mistake or not and the Lee person looked it up and said "no, their .454 set uses the .45 ACP sizing die because it is a little tighter".  I hope this is of help to someone.
 

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What a coincidence, I have a Lee die set in .45 LC and a Lee die set in .454 Casull, neither of which have I used yet.  Just last week I was getting ready to set them up for my 550 Dillon and was looking at the dies to see if they were different.  The sizer in the .454 set is marked .45 ACP!.  I called Lee to see if this was a mistake or not and the Lee person looked it up and said "no, their .454 set uses the .45 ACP sizing die because it is a little tighter".  I hope this is of help to someone.
 
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