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Can't seat bullets in .450 Marlin brass and I can't figure out why

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by SPU, Apr 23, 2013.

  1. SPU

    SPU Southwest Oregon Old Fart

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    I am relatively new to reloading compared to many here. I have successfully reloaded a few thousand rounds of .38 special, .45 ACP, and .357 Mag without incident.

    I decided it was time to try some rifle reloading and since .450 Marlin is a straight walled case (except for the band), I thought it would be a good first rifle round to try. I made a mistake trimming the cases to 2 inches instead of 2.09". But I thought the brass would be usable in my Magnum Research BFR.

    My problem came when I tried seating 405 grain lead flat nosed bullets. I am using new Hornady dies and a Lee Classic press. No matter what I did, I ran out of adjustment to seat the bullet. I could barely get it to the second lube line, never mind the cannalure. If I screwed the die in just a tad I crushed the brass, of course.

    I pulled the die apart several times but all looks like the drawings in the die instructions.

    I then bought some 300 grain bullets (again cast) thinking the shorter distance to the crimp line because of a shorter bullet would help. But the same shallow seating occurred. I get no resistance when I try to seat it. I made sure to put the brass in the shell holder, screw the die down until it hits, then back off one turn. I back the seater screw out all the way. Then insert a bullet, raise the ram, and -- very little happens.

    I'm pretty sure I did something simple that was incorrect. I just can't figure it out. I need to be schooled. Anybody know what I am doing wrong? Thanks in advance.
     
  2. MarkAd

    MarkAd Port Orchard Well-Known Member

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    Theres the answer as to why it is not seating.
    Adjust the seating die screw down a 1/4 turn and seat the bullet. Measure and repeat until the cartridge is close and then tweak it until you have the bullet seated to the lenght you need.
     
  3. SPU

    SPU Southwest Oregon Old Fart

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    I was unclear, I back it out all the way to give myself as much adjustment as possible. Even when I screw in the seater all the way to the top of the die I get poor results. I can pull the bullet out with my fingers.
     
  4. rick benjamin

    rick benjamin USA, Or, Damascus Secure the drama Silver Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    You don't mention your bullet diameter. Hope it's .458
    Have you mike'd your expander die? Even partly seated bullets shouldn't pull free.
    Book says this is a crimped case, but since you're shooting a monster revolver, shouldn't matter unless the revolver cylinder expects the crimp.
    Regards
    Rick
     
  5. SPU

    SPU Southwest Oregon Old Fart

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    Rick, the bullets are .458 (I checked a sampling). I have not measured the expander die, but the set is BRAND new. I will double check the expander die. In honesty, I think I belled the cases more than I would next time, but I can't see how that would affect seating -- crimping, yes, but seating? I have not tried to pull all the bullets by hand, but I have a few that were seated only a quarter inch or so. I was pretty frustrated and I'm a big guy, lol.

    I appreciate folks trying to help me with this problem.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2013
  6. SPU

    SPU Southwest Oregon Old Fart

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    Inside diameter of the sizing die is .4594 which sounds right to me given the thickness of the brass.

    I have never used Hornady dies before: Is there any chance I put the seating die back together wrong after I cleaned it?

    Also, I noticed a niche in the die box labeled seating stem. Tell me I wasn't supposed to buy one? I thought the stem was the object that slides into the bullet guide sleeve in the die.
     
  7. nwbobber

    nwbobber Longview, Wa. Active Member

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    The dies should be complete as you bought them. The die does two things, it seats the bullet, and applies a crimp, likely a roll crimp. The outer die should be adjusted a bit off the case (crimper not contacting the rim) at first to seat the first bullet till you get it just right. Thats the way I do it anyway. When you have that and the die is assembled set a bullet on there and with the seater backed almost all the way out (up), run the cartridge up into the die. Then screw the die in (down) until it contacts the bullet firmly. Lower the Ram, check the length, take one turn on the seater, check the length again, now you should be able to quickly get to your desired depth, knowing how many turns it will take to get there. Once you have the correct cartridge length, back the seater out again. You want to adjust your crimp die slowly down onto the case mouth until you get the proper crimp, and once you have a good crimp, run the cartridge back up in to the die, screw the seater down untill it firmly contacts the bullet, tighten the lock rings, test another cartridge, do any fine tuning.

    Hope this helps. Hornady has cutaway views of their seater dies on their website if you are unsure of the proper assembly.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2013
  8. nwbobber

    nwbobber Longview, Wa. Active Member

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    Why don't you get some more brass and start off with this first try at rifle reloading staying within all the published data. If you seat that bullet deeper than the published load data it's basically an experiment. Case capacity is one of the important variables regarding burn rate and pressure. Even in a revolver you are going to need to get a good crimp on that baby, cause the recoil is going to be serious. Not that it can't be done, just thought maybe you should get a bit more experience working loads up, reading pressure signs etc. before you try working outside the information available to you. The brass isn't that expensive, and you want to have fun with this for a long time I hope.
     
  9. SPU

    SPU Southwest Oregon Old Fart

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    nwbobber. Thanks for the advice. The procedure I followed for the .450 is the same as you describe above, and the same I followed with thousands of handgun loads without any incidents or difficulties outside a few learning opportunities in the beginning. I have worked up loads from low to sweet spot for several handguns. That is why I am so puzzled now and reaching for straws. I think your suggestion of buying new, or processing some once fired brass, and starting over from scratch is the best one. I'm going to ask a friend with decades of experience to look over my shoulder. He is puzzled why it is happening and it sounds like there are no easy answers. P.S. the die is put back together correctly. Thanks for everybody's time to respond.
     
  10. nwbobber

    nwbobber Longview, Wa. Active Member

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    I am puzzled also, I have the Hornady dies for 45-70, and 30-06, I just went out and took the 06 die apart to look (the 47-70 is in a progressive and not so easy). Since the 450 marlin was promoted with the lever evolution bullets, I wonder if there is another seating stem for the different style bullets. It might be worth a call to Hornady, check part numbers and such, you could have gotten a die that was mistakenly assembled with incompatible parts for your FP bullets. Let us know how it turns out.
     
  11. nwbobber

    nwbobber Longview, Wa. Active Member

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    Hornady has a seating stem p#397120 that is designed for their FTX 325 gr bullet. Maybe that is what you have. I have no idea how that would affect what you are trying to do, just an idea.
     
  12. rick benjamin

    rick benjamin USA, Or, Damascus Secure the drama Silver Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    Some photos of my 45-70 RCBS dies with measurements
    and a 45-70 cartridge for reference
    Expander plug is .45 and .46

    001 RCBS 45-70 3 die set.JPG

    002 seater crimper w ctg touching.JPG

    003 seater rod w shell.JPG
     
  13. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    Yet more reasons I prefer RCBS dies...

    I am thinking you need a different seating punch, call hornady and scream at them until you get a new punch. Worst case, you may need to make a custom punch (or have one made). If you have a good selection of dies around, you might try using a die from a different, but compatible caliber to seat, and then stick with the hornady die for crimping. .45-70 might be a good choice for a seating die. If you have a lathe, and some spare dies, you might try taking .5" off the bottom...
     
  14. SPU

    SPU Southwest Oregon Old Fart

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    OK, I had a buddy with 38 years experience reloading watch me. He didn't see anything I was doing wrong, but I got the same result. He tried with the same result. We pulled the seating die apart again and he came to the conclusion the seating punch was too short.

    I called Hornady customer service and the guy was nice. But the dies are made to seat their bullets, and he thinks the different flat nosed cast bullets I was using just don't work. He suggested either sending a couple pieces of my brass (I was using once fired Hornady), a few samples of the bullets I'm using and the seater die to them. They would make a custom punch for $40. OR he suggested hand forming a bit of folded aluminum foil and make the punch a little longer with a flat profile.

    So that is where I am. Since I have hundreds of these bullets I don't want to shelve them. I'll likely send the die in with bullets and brass and get 'er done.
     
  15. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    Seriously?

    I also checked, RCBS makes a set for .450 marlin, however they are back ordered...

    Since you obviously have a micrometer, measure the seating punch and I'll make you a new one for a RNFP (magma bullet) in the next week or two. (try to give me a sketch in MS paint or something, don't care if it's exact, just has to have correct dimensions)

    If I remember correctly the hornady seating stems look like an upside-down top-hat.

    Also, if you have a set of 45ACP hornady dies, try the seating stem from that.
     
  16. TCOV

    TCOV OLYMPIC PENINSULA Active Member

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    SPU -- You should call Hornady again and ask to speak to someone up the ladder from your last nonhelper. Have them explain how they make reloading dies that only work with their pointed bullet when most people are wanting to use another style. If the difference is that great they should ship with two seating plugs. You shouldn't have to modify or pay $40 to use their die with common bullet styles. Very poor service. If you load 450 Marlin enough you will also find they have used two different lengths in their brass depending on what bullet style the factory load used. I have found 2.085 and 2.103. Kind of frustrating and shows poor engineering on their part. I have Lyman dies and had no problems. I would keep chewing on them to get the service a quality company should give.
     
  17. SPU

    SPU Southwest Oregon Old Fart

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    AMProducts, I may take you up on that if I can get my computer-whiz kid to make up a drawing. He is taking a drafting class and getting A's. I'm not much at that drawing stuff.

    I bought the Hornady set because some forums said it was the best for .450 Marlin. My first Hornady set. They are pretty, but I think my last (so I don't have a Hornady .45ACP seating stem to try).

    TCOV: I think your advice of calling Hornady one more time and talking to someone further up the food chain might be worth a try. All they can say is no.

    I appreciate all the advice and help. As things go along I'll let folks know how it goes.
     
  18. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    If you're going to send me a drawing, give it to me in DXF or solidworks 2010...
     
  19. nwbobber

    nwbobber Longview, Wa. Active Member

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    I have the hornady seater die for 45-70, which has a case length of 2.105, vs the 450 marlins 2.100. I bought it before they came up with reloading bullets in their FTX design, the seater plug in my die seats every FP bullet I have used nicely. If they still make this setup just the plug should work, unless the bullet guide sleeve is contacting your bullet. In that case I would think it might be possible that the older 45-70 die would work. I wonder if all the guide sleeves are the same outside dimension for similar sized cases, and if you got the right guy on the phone with hornady you couldn't get what you need. They show their die today as working for both 45-70 and 450, the seater plug out of mine has part # H12 stamped on the top. FWIW Midways site has one user review complaining that they DID NOT include the seater plug for the 325 gr FTX bullet, I don't think you need any custom work, you just need a better customer support person on the phone. I can't believe they would not serve all the 45-70 shooters using cast bullets today, it is quite common.
     
  20. nwbobber

    nwbobber Longview, Wa. Active Member

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    The plug from my die is 1.205 long, the "Top Hat" brim is .135 long .4990 dia., body is .4565 dia, and with a lyman 2640193 405 gr FP inserted it measures 2.042 overall.