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Case bulge .45 ACP

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by Uberdillo, Mar 12, 2011.

  1. Uberdillo

    Uberdillo Oregon Active Member

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    I'm reloading .45 acp with 200 gr hardcast bullets on a 550b. My cartridges tend to bulge on one side. You can definitely see and feel that there's a raised side where the the bullet seats. Opposite that side the cartridge wall is fairly straight. I've played with the bell a little, mainly to not shave lead/lube. When I take a belled case and roll it on a piece of flat steel, the amount of light I can see under it varies a little and it varies from case to case.

    I can run them through the factory crimp die, but that still doesn't make them concentric. They do chamber alright. I'm perfectly comfortable with bullet bulge where the bullet seats as it's obvious even on factory loads, however factory loads are visibly concentric.

    Is this normal?
    How much does concentricity affect accuracy out of a handgun?
    Regardless of performance, what would you start looking at in order to make factory-looking, uniform cartriges?

    Thanks for any help/wisdom in advance.
     
  2. salmonriverjohn

    salmonriverjohn N.W Oregon coast, Gods country Well-Known Member

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    You may want to private message "usmc" as he loads literally thousands of these and has more info on the load than most I've talked to. Tell him salmonriverjohn sent you.
     
  3. humdrum

    humdrum Lakewood Active Member

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    I had that same problem with my Dillon and .45ACP setup some time back. Turns out the bullet seater die had gotten boogered up with lead/dirt/lube and affected how it conformed to the bullet nose as it was pushing it into the case, causing a pressure load to one side of the bullet and inturn bulged the case ever so slightly. A thorough strip and clean of the dies helped cure it for me. Another thing I've noticed on the 550's is the shellplate would sometimes act up if not torqued properly. If you have access to a single-stage press use the dies from the progressive and see if the problem can be duplicated on the single-stage. If the problem goes away you can be sure its not the dies. That would only leave funny brass or a funny blue press... good luck.
     
  4. iusmc2002

    iusmc2002 Colville, WA Active Member

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  5. Pepe-lepew

    Pepe-lepew Mid Valley Active Member

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    It is not uncommon to notice what you are seeing. To minimize, make sure the seater fits the bullet correct (flat for a flat nose) and place the bullet as straight as possible in the case mouth before seating. Use a case gauge to check any questionable rounds. Many of the rounds I produce will slightly seat to one side. I have not bothered to check accuracy on mine since they shoot better than I can aim and I don't bench rest shoot my pistols. Try some accuracy tests yourself and post your results.
     
  6. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    I have had good success eliminating case bulge on straight-wall cases (and others), by "incrementally" seating, and rotating the case on the shell holder for each partial thrust into the seater die. If this sounds confusing, start your bullet as straight as possible with your fingers on a correctly belled case. Operate the ram only enough to get the bullet started. Back out, rotate the cartridge in the shell holder (maybe a 1/4 turn), then seat a bit further. Back out and rotate again, seat a bit further (rinse and repeat as necessary). Sorry: not a technique for those seeking production speed over quality.
     
  7. Uberdillo

    Uberdillo Oregon Active Member

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    I checked the seater die, it's pretty clean. I noted that the seater insert hits the lead bullets on the tips of the bullet whereas it tends to leave a subtle indented ring around the fmj bullets. The face of the seater insert (round nose seater for 200 gr LRN) is clean but rough from machining. The tool marks leave a telltale stamp about 4-5 mm across on the bullet tips. It makes me think that someday I might polish that face to see if it would reduce the resistance against the righting tendency of the bullet during seating.

    It's good to hear that this isn't uncommon. I'm still figuring things out and definitely putting everything through a dillon case gauge at this point. I've got three small batches loaded up to see if I can perceive any difference between seating/crimping, seating then crimping, and seating and FCD/crimping. If I stop putzing around with the machine long enough to get outside and shoot I'll post how it goes.

    The shellplate had a bit of up and down wobble to it that I got rid of. I'm hoping that will count for something.

    The incremental seating makes sense. I'll try a batch like that.

    Many thanks.
     
  8. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    There are two issues here... first, your sizing die is probably a hair on the tight side, and second, you may not be expanding enough. I know this is kinda've a pain on most dillons, but try a few single stage with a .450" expander plug, and see if it continues. Otherwise I might suggest it's an issue with your seating die. I didn't catch which bullet you're loading, but the dillon seating plugs are double ended, so if you are using a SWC bullet, you should probably make the switch to a seater that better fits your bullets' profile.

    What frequently happens is if you have an undersized case, and are only belling (not expanding) is the bullet will push it's way in, and kinda find "the path of least resistance" well, the path of least resistance will usually involve seating the bullet crooked. This condition isn't really one I consider dangerous, but it can negatively impact accuracy, and reasonable effort should be taken to solve the issue.
     
  9. Ramjet57

    Ramjet57 Nw Oregun Member

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    Dillon dies use a small expander, the purpose is so the bullets are not able to push in while in the magazine and cause reaised pressure, I have used a 650 for 17 years and get some with bulges, as long as the fit the case gage and are not going into a wolf barrel they work just fine. If you can shoot really well you could try putting the bulge at different postions around the clock in the chamber and see if it makes a difference in where they hit the target:D
    I am not that good with a pistol.:(
     
  10. jib

    jib Central OR Active Member

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    Is the expander and seating stems centered in the die body ? You can use a toothpick or ? as a gauge.
     
  11. HollisOR

    HollisOR Rural OR, South of Dallas Active Member

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    Do you put a slight flair at the case mouth? Also lead bullets generally are not the same OD as jacketed. Usually about 0.001 oversized. It can vary depending on who sized it. A little bulge can be normal, because of the difference in bullet OD and case mouth sizer. If you have a case gauge where you can see if the finish round will chamber, that can help. For recreational shooting, probably not big deal. Depending on what you are reloading for, it may or may not be a issue. AS it has been mentioned, also check our bullet seater.
     
  12. Uberdillo

    Uberdillo Oregon Active Member

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    For accuracy, I got 5 of them through a 1.25" hole at 40 feet on my best group. I can't do that with UMC 230 gr factory loads or mil ball (200 gr LRN, 5.8 gr Unique, XD 4"). I think I've found they're definitely more accurate than I am regardless of these bulges.

    AM Products: The expander plug mics to .449”. I’m using Lee dies with the generic round nose seater stem for all my round nose bullets, no SWC or any flat nose projectiles here. The expander funnel really sticks to the case and your path of least resistance description makes sense intuitively. I remember looking at some and feeling like they were crooked but I’m not sure if it was measureable or just an illusion. Where would you find a larger expander funnel?

    Ramjet: That makes me worry less about bullet setback and I’m not that good of a shot either at the moment.

    Jib: I’m not sure I understood what to do with the toothpick to test if the seater or expander was centered. Like drop a plumb line through?

    HollisOR: I definitely flare the case mouth on the second stage, maybe too much. These are the largest bullets I have at 0.452” so that makes sense that the bulge is more prominent here. I hadn’t even though about that. I looked really hard at some old FMJ reloads and the off-center bulge is there on my 0.451” FMJ reloads but it’s very hard to spot.

    The feedback is great! I wish I was shooting and reloading more to keep up with it!
     
  13. jib

    jib Central OR Active Member

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    "Jib: I’m not sure I understood what to do with the toothpick to test if the seater or expander was centered. Like drop a plumb line through? "

    I use a 4" piece of 10 or 12 gauge straight copper wire that is used as a gauge to determine if the expander and seating plugs are centered in the die body. If the wire insertion depth varies about the circumference of the plug, it is not centered in the die body. If you loosen the plug's lock ring do you feel play ? If so when the lock ring is tightened the plug can move off center from the die body. The excess tolerance in the threads can be easily fixed.

    I have had this problem with RCBS carbide dies in 9x18 Makarov, .38spl/357 mag, 44spl/44mag and 45 acp after tuning the dies the bullets seat inline with the case.

    So if case flare and the correct seating plug are not the cause, it could be the toothpick.
     
  14. Browning55

    Browning55 Seattle-Everett Area Active Member

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    I've had that happen. Most often the cause has been fatigued brass. Annealing can help. Don't wait too long to replace.
     
  15. Uberdillo

    Uberdillo Oregon Active Member

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    I finally got around to shooting some more and ran out of lead bullets before I could really make a difference on the bulge. I feel like I cheated because while trying to sort this aesthetic issue out, I pretty much overhauled and cleaned my press, tightened everything up and reset the dies. I just loaded 50 berry's 230 gr plated RN and I hardly know what to say. They all look ideal and every one drops into the case gauge first time. I had 5 round group make a nice little ragged hole at 10 yards. Pretty happy.
     
  16. turq

    turq Molino,oregon Member

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    Is it a Glock pistol?

    Also in the Annealing process temperature can be critical, please read some articles before annealing cases esp rifle, pistol is not so high pressure. Good Luck
     
  17. Uberdillo

    Uberdillo Oregon Active Member

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    It's an XD .45 and/or colt 1911. Feel free to forward any annealing info. I'm still reloading once fired brass and I'm banking on my loads of 5.8 gr Unique not stressing the brass to the limit. I do like the idea of annealing, it's familiar from my limited silversmithing but I have no idea what the specifics are for reconditioning brass cases.
     
  18. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    Annealing a pistol case??? Good luck. The case is so short you'll end up annealing the entire case and actually exacerbate problems. The area next to the case head will be weakened and any lack of support in the feed ramp area will yield a bulge of different type. The kind that go Ka-Boom or at the least blow the bottom out of the magazine.

    Annealing is reserved for longer cases where it's possible to isolate the heat to the case mouth and shoulder area. It's also reserved by most who perform this task to cases that are relatively expensive to replace and they are trying to extend the reloading life as far as possible.