THe Home Armory: Loading Pistol Ammo

THe Home Armory: Loading Pistol Ammo

This is a discussion on THe Home Armory: Loading Pistol Ammo within the Reloading forums, part of the Sniping Related category; The Democrats are coming and these accursed leftists will try to ban pistols and pistol ammo. So let's talk about loading pistol ammo. I want ...

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  1. #1
    Senior Member madgunsmith's Avatar
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    THe Home Armory: Loading Pistol Ammo

    The Democrats are coming and these accursed leftists will try to ban pistols and pistol ammo.

    So let's talk about loading pistol ammo. I want everyone here to load at least 1000 rounds of ammo for each pistol in his possession.

    So let's talk about loading 9mm, .40 S&W and the .45ACP. The first thing that you must realize is that each of these rounds headspaces on the case mouth. This is very important because you cannot trim your cases too short. And you cannot use a roll crimp with these three calibers.

    First you will need a carbide die set. RCBS die sets are available at reasonable prices from Cabelas. ( http://www.cabelas.com)

    9mm Parabellum Die Set---Part No. 356--Price: $36.99
    9mm Shellholder--Part No. 016--Price$5.99
    .40 S&W Die Set--Part No. 349--Price: $36.99
    .40 S&W Shellholder--Part No. 027--Price $5.99
    .45 ACP Die Set--Part No. 353--Price: $36.99
    .45 ACP Shellholder--Part No. 003--Price $5.99

    In addition to a die set and shellholder, I recommend that you get yourself a taper crimp die. A taper crimp die is not absolutely necessary; however, a good taper crimp gives you an additional margin of safety. ( I want bullets to stay put. If a bullet gets pushed too deep inside a case, this can increase pressures to the point where things get dangerous)

    Redding taper crimp dies are available from Sinclair International. http://www.sinclairintl.com

    9mm Taper Crimp Die #RD85172-----Price: $19.50
    .40 S&W Taper Crimp Die #RD85272--Price: $19.50
    .45 ACP Taper Crimp Die #RD85189--Price: $19.50

    You also need one of Dillon's stainless steel case gages. If you ammo fits inside the Dillon case gage, then you can be certain that your handloads will fit inside your pistol.

    9mm Dillon case gage--Part No: E59-15161--Price $10.95
    .40 S&W Dillon case gage--Part No. E5915164--Price: $10.95
    .45 ACP Dillon case gage--Part No. E5915166--Price: $10.95

    You may also need a powder measure. RCBS makes an inexpensive powder dispenser specially for pistol ammo. It's called the Little Dandy. The Little Dandy costs about $33. Go to RCBS website and call them. http://www.rcbs.com

    You can also use the Lee powder scoops and a powder trickler; however it is a little inconvenient. But don't let yourself get discouraged. Load that ammo and say, "no" to communism.

    Next episode: Choosing components:

  2. #2
    Senior Member madgunsmith's Avatar
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    Let's talk powder for a moment. One of the oldest American smokeless powders is Unique. This powder was around in the early part of the 20th century. This powder was used in US military ammo during World War 1. I also have a soft spot in my heart for this powder as it was the first powder I ever used.

    Two of my favorite gunwriters were the late Skeeter Skelton and the late Major George C. Nonte. Both men championed the use of Unique and who am I to argue with John Browning, Skeeter and George C? So use Unique.

    Skeeter Skelton's favorite 9mm load consisted of a 115 grain bullet and 6.0 grains of Unique. This load always worked for me and it produces about 1250 fps from a 5" barrel.

    A classic .45 ACP load consists of 6.0 grains of Unique and the 230 grain roundnose. Muzzle velocity is about 900 fps.

    The Hodgdon Manual gives a load of 5.9 grains of Unique with the 180 grain bullet for the .40 S&W. This load yields about 934 fps.

    The great thing about using Unique is that you use about the same charge for all three calibers. Load 5.9 grains if you are going to load all three calibers. That way, you won't have to fiddle with your powder measure or yourRCBS Little Dandy. Once your powder dispensing system is set up, just leave it alone.

    Now, you can use other powders if you want. But if you use Unique, you will not go wrong. Don't listen to me; listen to Skeeter Skelton and George C. Nonte. You will thank me.


    Mad

  3. #3
    Senior Member madgunsmith's Avatar
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    Brass:

    You should buy bulk brass from Cabela's.

    9mm Luger brass: (500) Part no: 303: Price: $64.99 (Remington)
    9mm Luger brass: (1000) Part no: 503: Price: $124.99 (Remington)
    .40 S&W brass: (500) Part no: 308: Price: $89.99 (Remington)
    .40 S&W brass: (1000) Part no: 508: Price: $174.99 (Remington)
    .45 ACP brass: (1000) Part no: 513: Price: $158.99 (Remington)

    Now let's talk bullets for a moment. One of the best deals in bulk bullets is also available from Cabela's. You can get 1000 Winchester 9mm 115 grain JHP slugs for $76.99. ( Part no. 341)

    For .40 caliber and .45 bullets, I like the Ranier Ballistics lead-safe bullets. These are cast lead bullets that feature an electroplated copper jacket. With a copper coating, the bore is protected from leading. And the electoplated jacket means that these slugs are cheaper.

    For .45 ACP, order the 230 grain roundnose, Cabela's part no 315. The cost is $35.99 for 500 slugs. Best buy at least two boxes.

    For .40 S&W buy the 180 grain HP. The Cabela's part no is 881 and the price is $39.99. Make sure that you buy at least two boxes.

    For powder get Unique which is also available from Cabela's, part no. 071, price: $21.99

    For primers, you can also order these from Cabela's:

    1000 Small pistol primers, (for 9mm and .40): Part no. 400, Price: $24.99 ( CCI)

    1000 Large pistol primers, (for .45 ACP) Part no. 300, Price: $24.99 (CCI)


    Stay tuned for loading tips.
    1000 Large pistol primers, (for .45)

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  5. #4
    Senior Member madgunsmith's Avatar
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    Having discussed components, let's talk a little bit more about the loading of pistol rounds. The first thing I should warn you about is the absolute, critical importance of seating bullets to the right depth. If you seat your bullets too deeply, you can kill yourself. It is very, very dangerous to seat pistol bullets too deeply.

    Now that I have your attention, let me assure you that it is perfectly safe to load pistol ammo. But pay attention to what you are doing.

    In his book, Major Nonte explained that a 9mm bullet seated too deeply in a 9mm Parebellum round could produce pressures in excess of 75,000 psi. This is close to proof rifle pressures!! Can you imagine a proof .308 pressure level in a handgun? Anyhow, if you seat your bullets to the right depth and taper crimp them properly, then you will be just fine. But always be aware of the potential danger posed by too short pistol rounds.

    The Glock pistol and certain 1911 models feature unsupported chambers and this can cause extreme danger when combined with bullets seated too deeply into the case. The early 1911 featured a chamber that is unsupported at the feed ramp. The rounds are funnelled into the chamber via the unsupported feed ramp and everything works well until someone chambers an overpressure round. The overpressure round will blow out where the case is not supported. The sudden release of hot gases will usually split the grips of the gun and destroy the magazine; however, in extreme cases, the shooter can be injured. The same problem with unsupported chambers exists with certain Glock pistols.

    Now I am not knocking Glocks and/or 1911 pistols. What I am saying is that you should make absolutely sure that your rounds are the right length and that they are properly taper crimped. If your rounds are the right length and properly crimped, you will never have a problem.

    And do not repeatedly chamber and extract rounds in your Glock or 1911. As you repeatedly chamber and extract a round, the bullet is repeatedly pushed against the feedramp. And the bullet can be pushed too far into the case. And if you fire such a round in an unsupported chamber, you can blow up the gun.

    So heed these overall lengths:

    9mm Parabellum: Seat 115 grain bullets to 1.120" overall length
    .40 S&W: Seat 180 grain bullets fo 1.135" overall length
    45 ACP : Seat 230 grain bullets to 1.275" overall length


    Note that with a 115 grain hollow point bullet, the overall length recommened by the Lyman Manual is 1.014 ". By seating the round to 1.120, we are seating the bullet to the same depth recommended for the 125 grain load. The longer seating depth serves as an extra margin of safety.

    With the 180 grain bullet the Lyman Manual recommends a seating length for the 40 S&Wof 1.115". The recommended seating depth of the .45 ACP is 1.275"; however the .45 ACP is a less intense round.

    I will describe the loading of rounds shortly. But never, ever forget the importance of proper seating depth. HEED THESE SEATING DEPTHS AND BE CAREFUL.


    Mad.

  6. #5
    Senior Member madgunsmith's Avatar
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    Let's create a few dummy cartridges:

    In a typical pistol die set, you have a sizing die, a bullet expanding die and a seater die.

    Since we are loading new brass, let's not worry about the sizing die for now. Let's discuss the expander die and the seating die.

    The expander die is sometimes called a "flare die" or a "belling die". This die is used to slightly flare the mouth of the cartridge case. In a straight walled pistol case this step is necessary in order to start the seating of the bullet.

    Screw the expander die into your press and adjust it according to the provided instructions. Understand that you do not have to do anything drastic. You only want to very gently flare the case mouth. A properly flared case mouth is not perceptably different from an unflared case. You should be able to feel the flare with your fingers. And after you flare a case, you should be able to start the bullet into the case.

    After you have flared a few cases, install your bullet seating die. The bullet seating die works in the same way as a rifle bullet seating die. Read the instructions provided and read my instructions in other threads. Adjust the bullet seating stem and and seat a few bullets into those flared cases. Play with the bullet seating depth and make sure that your bullet seating depth is correct. For this example, let's assume that we are loading dummy rounds in 9mm Parabellum caliber. So we make sure that our rounds are loaded to 1.120 "

    Then you should set up the taper crimp die. Follow the directions and once the die is installed apply taper crimps to your dummy rounds. You do not need to overdo things. The taper crimp is done gently. You do not want to play the role of King Kong. You are not trying to crush anything.

    After you have crimped your dummy rounds, try pushing the nose of the bullets against your bench. See if the bullets will move. Then load the dummy rounds in your pistol. Extract them and load them again. And again and again. Meaure the rounds and see if the bullets move.

    Ideally, the bullets should never move. But if the bullets move after being loaded and extracted several times, just understand that you should never repeatedly load and unload live ammunition. Doing so is a potential safety hazard.


    Mad.

    Next episode: Loading ammo.

  7. #6
    Senior Member madgunsmith's Avatar
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    All right now--you've loaded up a few dummy rounds and you find that your rounds are tightly put together.

    Time to load some live ammo. First use the flare die to lightly flare all of your cases.

    Then it is time to prime your cases. Pistol cases are primed in exactly the same way as rifle cases. I suggest that you use an RCBS hand priming tool. That's why I always use.

    After your cases are primed, you are now ready to charge the cases with powder. Start loading with a reduced load. Reduce the charge by about one grain.

    Charge all your cases. Make absolutely sure that your cases are charged. If you ever try firing a round without powder, you can jam the bullet into the barrel. And the following round can blow the gun apart and cause you serious injury.

    So inspect all of your primed cases with a stong flashlight. Make absolutely sure that every case contains powder.

    Then you are ready to seat the bullets. Start a bullet into the primed case and then run the case into your seating die. Make sure that the bullet has been seated to the right length.

    After all your bullets are seated, install the taper crimp die in your press. Then apply a light taper crimp to your loaded cartridges.

    After you test fire a few rounds, you can increase the charge if all appears to be safe.

    You might be interested to learn that my recommended loads have the following pressures:

    This is from the Lyman Reloading Book:

    6,8 grain of Unique and the 230 grain bullet in the .45ACP gives about 16,900 Copper Units of Pressure:

    In the .40 S&W, 5.8 grains of Unique gives you 23,100 Copper Units of Pressure when used with the 180 grain bullet.

    In 9mm Parabellum, 5,8 grains of Unique will develope about 30,700 Copper Units of Pressure when loaded with the 115 grain bullet.

    Anyhow, that's about it for pistol loads. Now let's have your comments, please.

    Mad.

  8. #7
    Senior Member JCinPA's Avatar
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    Mad,

    I'm loading 30-06, .308, and just got dies for .45 ACP now. You got me started about two months ago. I got the Lee reloading manual, a couple of LoadBooks, and have found tons of web resources, but you, sir, are like a one-man reloading school.

    Can't thank you enough.

    John

  9. #8
    Senior Member madgunsmith's Avatar
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    Thank me by teaching others. Let's make every shooter a handloader.
    And please share with us your handloading experiences. What did you learn? And what would you do differently? And what recommendations would you make for the new handloader?

    What are your loads and how do they work? My cat wants to know.


    Mad.

  10. #9
    Senior Member JCinPA's Avatar
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    Well, OK. I guess missteps by noobies can be instructive. :wink:

    First, I would not spend a ton of money on equipment. I've been steadily picking up stuff, and I'm doing it as I go along. I highly recommend the Lee Anniversary Kit. If Lee made that kit with the Classic Cast Press (single stage), I would heartily recommend it, but they don't. The Challenger Press, Lee's powder scale, the Perfect Powder Measure, and their other gear, properly used, will load very accurate ammo. I am not saying you won't want to upgrade later, but you'll be a more knowledgeable buyer with experience, and you won't regret moving up from the Lee gear, it's so inexpensive. If you've sunk a lot of dough into other gear, you'll be kicking yourself if you replace it. Although I'm lusting after the Lee Classic Cast Press, I know I could load tens of thousands of accurate rounds I'd be delighted with on the Anniversary kit equipment. I don't make this recommendation because I'm a Lee Kool Aid drinker or I think it's the best equipment out there, but because of simple economics. It's less expensive to gain experience on this stuff before buying someone else's "pet" equipment brands, which may not turn out to be your pet equipment brands.

    When buying the Lee Anniversary Kit, don't forget the proper pilot for the case trimmer for your cartridge. I also bought an RCBS powder trickler and a caliper with the Lee kit. Those items, plus your first components, will get you started. I found that a cordless drill makes a GREAT case prep tool. I put the Lee locking thing for the case in the drill, stand it upright on its battery base, and put it on the LOW setting, then use it to trim and chamfer my cases. Another tip, do run several (2-3) hoppers of powder through the powder measure before using it, to coat the inside of the hopper and metering chamber with powder dust and eliminate static charge. Powder will stick or be electrostatically attracted to the chamber walls until you do and you'll get wildly varying loads. If you run a couple of hoppers through first, putting the powder back in it's bottle, you will be able to drop very accurate charges indeed. This likely applies to all brands of powder chargers, and not just Lee.

    These are optional, but you may want to buy a set of Lyman check weights. I, and others, have found the Lee scale to be very accurate, but it made me feel better to verify that it is, indeed, spot on, accuracy-wise. Not necessary, but nice to have. Oh, and get some spray lube for rifle cases. Well worth the money in time saving over lubing with your fingers or on a pad. After you load for a while, by all means, upgrade presses, scales, powder measures, whatever you like. You'll be much more knowledgeable about equipment with a little experience. By the way, the reviews and writeups at Midwayusa.com are valuable learning tools, as well. Before I leave equipment, let me say that I would advocate the Lee Anniversary Kit over a turret or progressive even if you are a high-volume IPSC shooter. I'll explain why in my second point.

    Second, you will make some mistake at some point. I realize there may some sufficiently anal genius out there that would prove me wrong on this one, buy you are probably not him (or her), no offense. :wink: Here's my mistake. . .

    http://www.snipercentral.com/forums/vie ... hp?t=10244

    That happened because I was working from memory. It reminded me of my Air Force days and how fond I was of checklists. RTFI (read the instructions), and do it every time before you pull that handle. Different dies index on different things--the shell holder, the case mouth, back out a fraction, turn in a fraction. Go ahead and work from memory, but before pulling the handle, take a quick glance at the instructions just to double check. Mine are taped to the wall in front of me.

    This is why I suggest a single stage kit even for high volume shooters. There's a lot going on in a turret or progressive press, and while I'm sure many folks have started on them successfully, it is my unqualified, but strong opinion that you will learn better on a single stage. By all means, get yourself the Lee Classic Turret Press or one of the Dillon models (I'm agnostic and don't have experience with either), if you shoot IPSC, you almost have no choice. But load 1,000 rounds on a single stage first. That will take you through your first mistake or two, and you will be much more comfortable, and competent, with the entire process before switching to your progressive.

    Third--and this follows my theme of the crawl, walk, run learning curve--load one cartridge at first and experiment with different loads before branching out to other cartridges. I played with .30-06 for a while, turning out target loads with 168 gr Sierra HPBTs first. Then, because my son is built like a whippet, I started playing with the Sierra 155 gr HPBTs and even some 110's making varmint loads. I switched from IMR4895 to Varget finding the Varget meters a little more consistently, while having a fairly similar burn rate. After three or four loading sessions, I bought dies for .45ACP and .308WIN, and I'm about to branch out to new cartridges. But I learned a lot playing with one cartridge for a while.
    About manuals. I would buy one, doesn't matter which one, just buy one big manual (I bought Lee's, which I recommend if you get the Anniversary Kit because it has a lot of info on their equipment in it). After that, I recommend LoadBooks USA for cartridge-specific data. They are cheap (Midway carries them), and they consolidate data for the specific load from a dozen other manuals. I'll likely never buy another big loading manual. There are hundreds of loads in them that I will never load, and aside from being cheaper, getting the LoadBooks gives me tons more data on the cartridges I am interested in. I have one for .30-06, 308WIN and 45ACP now.

    Also, check out web resources. Hodgdon powder has a fantastic load database that is FREE and covers an incredible amount of loads using all Hodgdon, IMR and Winchester powders. It's huge! and did I mention, it's FREE? Find it here:
    http://www.hodgdon.com/

    You will also find a lot of date on other enthusiast websites. Google is your best friend here, try lots of different queries, and you'll find a wealth of data. If you have a favorite weapons, chances are good there is a forum for it (1911 pistol, surplus rifle sites, M1 Garand, the CMP site, and etcetera) with a reloading forum. And Google will turn up articles from Guns & Ammo and other magazines with great reloading articles.

    And come back here and post questions. No matter how stupid (read my recent questions about vibratory cleaners), nobody has made fun of me yet! This place is a wonderful resource.

    Well, that's my 2 cen. . .well, looks more like a buck-and-a-half. I will leave the posting of pet loads up to the more experienced here, and Mad and Jeff are the guys for technical questions. They may not remember back to when they were beginners, though. Experience does that, sometimes, wipes out early memories. I'm happy to answer beginner questions, but don't ask me about equipment, as all I know at the moment is Lee.

    My one equipment opinion, though, is that Lee dies are fine. I know Mad favors RCBS, and others believe you just gotta have some particular brand. But read the reviews in the die sections at MidwayUSA.com. I obsessed over my first set of dies, considering getting expensive competition dies thinking this would be the one place I might want to splurge. After considerable "analysis paralysis", I decided to get Lee dies thinking I could upgrade later.

    Until I can shoot better, I'm quite certain dies will have no impact for me. Lee dies are a great value, although RCBS and even Redding are not that expensive from the right sources, which Mad has listed. But until you start winning serious prize money, I wouldn't obsess over brand of reloading dies.

    One brand, however (I think it's Forster, but someone will correct me if I'm wrong) will custom hone their sizing die for you, at reasonable cost, for a specific rifle. So if you are a better shooter than me (um, seeing as how this is a SNIPER site, ya think there might be a couple? :roll: ), and you have an expensive Uber-rifle, you might consider their dies and send them a few fired cases and the die to have it tuned to that rifle. But for my money, Lee dies are fine.

    Hope this is worth the time it took to read! Thanks again, Mad, you and Jeff have been immensely helpful!

    John

  11. #10

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    A word on Lee dies.I have , and still do, load with some Lee dies.For the most part, these are neck sizing dies. If you only load for one rifle in a particular caliber, this is fine. If, like many here, you have more than one rifle in a particular caliber, it may be a good idea to have a full length sizing die. Rifle chambers may not be identical, and usually aren't. If a case forms to a particular chamber, it may be tight or loose in another rifles chamber.


    Another reason for full length sizer dies is used brass.A case in point is military ammo.I get a lot of cheap brass, and sometimes free brass, from the local military base. Some of it has been fired through machine guns, and this can stretch or jam brass. A neck sizer die may not make this brass useable, where a Full Length sizer will.This is one of the main reasons for the use of RCBS or Redding FL dies. If you reload as much as I do, you will begin to appreciate dies made from carbide steel, as opposed to tool steel.Especially if you get a case stuck in a die.

    Jeff

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