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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello All,

Yesterday and today was my first ever session of reloading. I had quite a bit of fun, if you can call tedious measuring, cleaning and doublechecking fun. Luckily I DO!

I used Lee carbide dies, including the factory crimp die, Hornady 300 grain xtps, Winchester brass, WSR primers and WSF powder. I made 50 rounds (a lot less than I had originally planned) in 10 lots of 5, varying the powder by 0.3 from 16.0 to 18.7 grains. The press was am RCBS Partner with the 505 scale.

I crimped the **** out of them. My buddy/mentor says I overdid it, but he's never owned a 454 or anything like it, and everything I have read said I am supposed to. Tell me what you think.

I can't wait to shoot these loads. Maybe next Sunday I can get a kitchen pass.

http://briefcase.yahoo.com/sgtsearoy
 

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Yeah,
I'd say you overdid it. If you take a look at some factory ammunition, you'll get a feel for what it should look like. It will look a lot different from the close up picture you attached. There should be no danger in firing these rounds, but it will play **** with your brass if you do it like this. Being that you are new to this, I'll remind you to check your case necks before reloading. If you've got any questions, this is the place.
 

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I've never loaded .454's but I've loaded lots of .38's, .357's, and .44's and your crimping does look excessive. By the way, I noticed what looks to be a really good dial caliper in your pix for which you are to be commended. To get good shot to shot consistancy most revolver cartridges require a uniform crimp to get the powder to burn correctly: this means uniform case length. Your caliper will help a lot here. Also don't expand the case mouth any more than you must to get the base of the bullet to seat. Overworking the brass will cause premature splitting and reduced case lifetime. Good shooting!
 

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Thanks for the support guys.

I'll back out the crimp die about 1/4 to 1/3 turn and try another few.

I did notice that I was working the case mouth very hard. It's my first set of brass. $20 for 100 in a Winchester bag. I'll also reduce the amount of flare. Those two adjustments ought to reduce the stress I'm putting on the brass quite a lot.

I've got those calipers, they're digital. How great they are I'm not sure but I use a pair a lot like them when I build VW engines. Unfortunately I did not use the calipers as much as I should have. I only measured the OAL of the loaded cases, trying to be consistent. Perhaps it was the Lee die, but I varied from 1.735 to 1.750, which in my mind is way too much vairance. Most were in the 1.738 to 1.742 range, which I thought was fine. Occasionally I would get a long or short round so I would wiggle the adjusting knob and the floating piece inside would drop. Then I'd get a dozen or so more good rounds before I had to wiggle it again. I did not measure the starting length of the empty case, which I later regretted since I had NO way of knowing if the bullets were seating consistently the same by looking at the amount of canelluer showing. It became obvious quickly that my cases varied by a few thousanths either way. Still, not bad for a rookie.

Having used this equipment I am begining to see what could make a set of $60 dies better than a set of $30 dies, and the difference between a $35 press and a $150 press. Things just wiggle. Maybe it's not a whole lot, and maybe if I only cared about sending rounds down range it would be fine. But I tend to be overly competitive, and so do things in competitive ways. I can see myself winding up in some competitive target shooting matches and prefer to do things to remove variance from everything, so that hit or miss is on me not my equipment. This little weekend has change my idea about what I will buy as my first kit, and it likely won't be red, but rather green. I'm afraid that even my plinking loads will be more than minimuim spec.

My hobby just got more expensive.
 

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The probable reason you're getting a variance in you OAL is because of the crimp you applied. You are probably actually swaging the brass with such a tight crimp. I don't use Lee dies, but I know many people who do and have no problems with them. Your problem in this case is your crimp, it's way overboard. As I said in the previous post, theses rounds should be perfectly safe to shoot. Make sure, when loading large capacity magnum rounds that you don't use less powder than is reccomended. The powder you are using is fairly tolerant of lower power loads, but WW296, H110 is not suitable for less than published loads. The best way to get a good, uniform, crimp is to seat the bullet and crimp the case mouth in two seperate steps. Seat the bullet so the top of the cannelure is just visible above the case mouth with no crimp. Using the same die, or another specific crimp die if you prefer, apply the crimp without the seating stem contacting the bullet. Your press and dies should serve you well for this caliber, the smaller press usually becomes an issue when you start full length resizing large rifle cases. If you want to invest some money in your hobby, get a digital reloading scale and a high quality powder measure, in that order if you want precision rounds. Most pistol powders will flow like water though a good powder measure. The digital powder scale is the biggest advancement in reloading in the last 15 years in my opinion. You might want to try a Redding Profile Crimp die if you want to use a different crimp die, a lot of people use the LEE factory crimp die and like them also. The crimp should taper into the cannelure, or crimp groove on a cast bullet, nothing more. The amount you taper it in is what you're looking for here. If you want rounds with the same OAL, you're going to have to trim your brass to the exact same length, as it almost never comes from the factory that way.Trimming the case also make the case mouths square, which allows for a good even crimp, which supports consistent combustion, which supports low velocity spread, which make for accurate ammunition. After brass has been trimmed, it needs to be inside and outside chamferred, but you should have a case chamfer tool even if you don't trim the brass, they come in handy. I would suggest a power trimmer if it's in the budget, because trimming brass is a tedious chore and the power trimmer makes it go by more quickly and easily. Since you load on a single stage press, you should also get a primer pocket cleaner to remove the residue from the primer pockets. There are many things you can do to get the utmost precision out of your handloads, but it all starts with sound techniques. You shoul practice your loading, once you are comfortable with the basic procedures you can look to enhance the consistency of your ammunition in order to increase accuracy. A chronograph is an invaluable aid in determining the quality of your ammunition. I use a Oehler Research Model 35 and like it, many shooters use the Chony, I have not used one of those. If the load shoots well and is consistent, you know you're on the right path. You can actually see a difference in your loads consistency with some of the different loading practices in my experience. I haven't loaded for the Casull, but there are over 25 die sets in my loading room, and most of it crosses over from one caliber to the other. Everything that you can make as close to exactly the same as you can, withing reason, will enhance the accuracy of the ammunition. All the shooting (testing) helps your skills, that's the most important thing. I would keep the 50 pieces of new brass seperate from the initial 50 you loaded, unless you plan to trim them all. Once your dies are set properly and firmly installed into your press, with all adjustments tight, you shouldn't have to mess with them during a single run of ammunition. Sorry to ramble with no particular direction here, hope it helps. The biggest thing you can do to ease into reloading is to buy a good manual, I'd suggest a Hornady in your case, and read the "how to" section front to back once or twice. In the case of the 454, you will want to stick to data to the letter, as this is a handgun round that works at rifle pressure levels and different bullets of the same weight occupy different amounts of the case capacity. This could turn a starting load into a max load when using a bullet that takes up more case capacity than the one specified in the data you're using, even it is the same weight.. I'm not trying to scare you away from it, just giving a safety tip.
 

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Hi, Searoy:
hciK and Fred didn't leave too much out, so I'll just work over a couple of points. Yup, they're overcrimped. While I don't have data on WSF here, and your max load may be at max pressure, it is not a max power load that you'd get with 30 or so grains of W296/H110. Besides, WSF doesn't have a reputation of being hard to ignite. So you don't need any more than a light tuck-in .38 Special crimp. That is, unless you get some bullet slippage under recoil. In that case, taking a thousandth or 2 off your expander ball is a better solution than over crimping.

Now you really should have trimmed all your brass to the same length. The Lee die isn't supposed to be as length sensitive as conventional dies, but it looks to me that your case was too long. That might be due to overcrimping though.

If your cases aren't equal in length, you have to set your die to flare the short ones enough to start a bullet, and your long cases are over-flared. That shortens case life. A case trimmer is your next toy. Many of us use a Forster, although some use a Lee. As I see it, the biggest limitation of the Lee is that the trim length is fixed, which doesn't matter, most of the time.

The Lyman M Die is far better for flaring case mouths than conventional expanders, as it brings the mouth out parallel, instead of making a trumpet flare.

Getting an even overall length requires even diameter bullets. Likely your seater is contacting the bullet about half way down the ogive, and not on the nose. Any variation in diameter here or how far the nose was pushed in when the hollow point was formed, affects overall length though no fault of your die. On the other hand, your over crimping combined with uneven length cases likely didn't help. The benchrest boys have their tools for getting an accurate measurement here. What they're looking for is the length at the point on the bullet's ogive that's bore diameter.

I've got a Chrony, and it works, although I don't claim it's as accurate as an Oehler. Which ever you by, first thing you do is round up at least 3 .22 rifles and run 10 shots out of each over your unit. You'll quickly see that there are fast and slow barrels. Revolvers are even worse, as they have the added variable of the barrel gap.

The Lyman manuals are better than Hornady's, Sierra's or Speer's but not by much. The latest Lyman #48 was released in the last week or two, and I haven't seen it yet.

Have fun
Jack
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Wow,

I had to increase the text size on my screen to read all of that!

I do have the Lee factory profile crimp die, and my crimping was done as an independent stage. I can't imagine seating and crimping at the same time after having used it. The next 50 I load will be better. I neeed to spend more time prepping the brass.

I found zero loading data for WSF. I'm working these loads up from scratch. WSF I believe is a replacement for 540. On everyone's burn rate chart WSF is among 540, HS-6, N340 and Herco, in slightly different orders. In the Viht manual it compares N340 with HS6 and 540, so WSF should be right in there. I see in the Lee powder scouper info that the WSF appears to be a little fluffier (less dense) than 540 or N340 so I take up more space in the case with the same charge. I like that.

If you look on this forum I also posted a thread called "WSF in the 454" or something like that. I explain most of my intentions there. In short, 540 and HS-6 loads with 300 grain bullets tend to follow the 15.0-19.0 min/max load, so I chose 16.0-18.7 as my in-the-middle range, not near the min load to avoid those issues, but short of the extrapolated max by 1.5% to avoid those issues.

I chose WSF because it fell into the range of max load velocity that I wanted, 300 grains @ 1400-ish fps muzzle. Anything from Herco to 3N37 was a possibility. I found WSF at a gun show for $15 and bought it. I wanted to run a near-max load with a faster powder to minimize air space in the case and reduce the problems of low charges of magnum powders. With my heaviest loads (18.7g) the bullet is right there near compression. I doubt I could put half a grain more before it touched. If there is physical space for a compressed 20.0 grains in the case at my seating depth I'd be shocked. There doesn't appear to be much to gain from the extra pressure besides stress so there's no point. I'd rather just buy some 296 and get serious than overpressure the WSF.

I measured the AOL after seating and after crimping. The crimp almost never changed the AOL, and if it did it was minor, .003 or less. If I can get the spread down to the typical 1.738-1.742 I'd be happy.

The bullets were seated to within a few thousanths of the top of the canelluer, at least on the first 3 or 4 I tested on. The differences in case length became apparant during the 50. I realized I should have trimmed cases after that. Next time.

My b/m has a chrono. We're going to set it up maybe this weekend to test my loads, otherwise I have just wasted my time taking care with my 10 lots.

I will use this brass until I wear it out, or want to switch powders. Then I'll toss it, like a new driver learning to drive a clutch.

I'm seriously considering going for Redding equipment all the way. Maybe not their real competition stuff, but good stuff nonetheless.

Please don't think I'm arguing with you. I have tried to consider my safety when making these loads, and the goal of my reloading. I'm not trying for all out max pressure loads, but instead a nice consistent load at reduced pressures and velocities for my 300 grain XTP, something usable hunting a pig or blacktail that won't blast through less-than-trophy size game.

I'll have to re-read this when I get home. Thanks again.
 

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Sounds like you've got a pretty good idea of how things work, and you shouldn't have any problems working up loads. I use a lot of Redding equipment, but also RCBS and Dillon Precision. If I was to start over and buy it all again, I'd still have most of the same stuff.
 

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Do get a Lyman "M" expander - you'll wonder how you ever got along without it. In addition to helping start the bullets straight, it will work the case mouths the least possible amount yet let bullets start in the case easily.

If you are seating bullets without crimping, every single round should have the exact same OAL, unless the bullet seating plug is horribly incompatible with your chosen bullets. Generally, I just use a modified seating plug that is totally flat, works great for most flat-nosed and hollowpoint bullets. Contact the die manufacturer for other seating stems, sometimes they can make you one or perhaps your die set should have come with some different stems.

Good advice from all, let us know how it goes.
 
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