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Crimping handgun loads - YES or NO???

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by theflyguy, Mar 19, 2013.

  1. theflyguy

    theflyguy Beaverton, Oregon Member

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    Hey guys,

    I'm getting ready to do my first reloads (9mm & .40)...I've prepped all my brass...but I'm a little afraid doing it for the first time. I've read my books but am still unsure do I need to crimp the shell casings once I've made the round?

    I will be shooting them in semi-auto's....please advise.


    Thanks,
     
  2. davidandreap

    davidandreap Sutherlin Oregon Member

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    The answer is Sort of. You need to expand the neck slightly to except the bullet. Then you crimp just enough to bring the case back to straight. Since semi-autos use the edge of the case to set head space, you would not want to over crimp the case.

    David
     
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  3. Mikej

    Mikej Portland Gold Supporter Gold Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Get yourself set up like the directions on the die set says. (Assuming you're using a single stage press?) I believe it says something like : With the shell holder in the ram, and the ram all the way up, screw the seater die in untill it bottoms out, then unscrew three full turns. Lock the die in place with the locking ring. After that you will unscrew the seater plug enough that it will not seat the bullet too deep. Work from there with the ram to get your OAL correct by moving the seater plug in a little at a time as you stroke the ram.

    As far as taper crimping goes, you'll anscrew the seater plug at this point and start turning the die down untill you feel some resistance.(That will be the taper of the die coming in contact with the flare you put in the case to accept the bullet). You don't need, or want, to feel too much resistance. (You'll know if you get too much as the case will fold a bit on you and may not chamber properly). Tighten the lock ring down again.

    After you get the crimp where you like it, have your finished round at the top of the stroke and screw the seater plug in untill it touches the top of the bullet. After that you should be pretty close to the OAL you want. One other thing, have the barrel of the gun you'll be shooting sitting there so you can drop the finished round into the chamber to make sure it's going to work in that gun. You'll want to hear a little "TINK", and it should fall right out when you tip the barrel up. Also, you better have a bullet puller in case you mess up and seat a bullet too deep.

    I played with mine a bit with no primer or powder before I even read the directions! LOL
    Have fun!

    Mike
     
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  4. bellarum

    bellarum beaverton Well-Known Member

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    +1
     
  5. Otter

    Otter Oregon - mid Willamette Valley Active Member

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    You have to crimp enough to hold the bullet in the case, after you expand or bell the case to fit the bullet in it. But as mentioned above these calibers headspace on the mouth of the case. You have to leave enough of the edge exposed so it headspaces correctly, yet flatten it enough so that the cartridges feed into the chamber from the magazine without jamming. I have to do it by feel. I learned by feeling a factory round and then adjusting my dies until the crimp felt like the factory round. Once you get a feel for it, you never forget.
     
  6. davidandreap

    davidandreap Sutherlin Oregon Member

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    Yeah my post was assuming you have reloaded other types of ammo.
     
  7. P7id10T

    P7id10T Cedar Hills Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Always. Where on rifle rounds I do not.
    On a progressive it's the last station before ejecting the round.
    IMO, pistol brass thickness is not enough to hold the bullet in place reliably. If your brass is not holding the bullet tightly enough and it is not crimped, when the bullet feeds up the ramp, it may push the bullet back against the powder. It's happened to me, resulting in a failure to feed because the round never made it up the ramp.
     
  8. My 3 sons

    My 3 sons Bonney Lake Active Member

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    This is one of the reasons I love this site. So many different thought processes you get to hear about one topic and all of them coming from experience not just something read from a book.

    I'm certainly not as experienced as most of the posters here. IMHO the approach I was taught to take your time and mak small test batches is best. I am inpatient about mot things but I learned quickly that making two to three trips to the range to test my loads is time well spent. Better to start on the light side of all research than spend the time at the emergency room because of a rushed load build.

    Make several dummy rounds, no primer or powder, with the bullet seated and crimped. This is where the bullet puller comes nto play, I am best friends with mine by now. Load them in the magazine of your gun and work the action. OAL can become shorter if the crimp is too light as the bullet impacting the feed ramp may push back. Make your first adjustments at this point. Remember, too little crimp is better to deal with than too much. With as little crimp as you need to get them to feed without moving make loads with the lightest powder charge and primer. I did five at a time of several charge weights and never went o the max charge. Took them to the range and fired them slowly. Be aware of squibs in the tube (bullets that didnt clear due to a light powder charge) before you fire the next round. Check your brass after each load sequence for primer flattening or case damage or worse case damage to your gun.

    I he a lot of guys talk about Johnson Creek gun range in Portland. If it is like the Taoma Sportsmans club where I live there is a great resource of "old timers" (sorry fellas) that would be happy to keep you safe and loading well.

    Good luck and I hope you love reloading as much as I have come to.

    Tommy
     
  9. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    First of all, there are two kinds of handguns. Revolvers and auto-loaders.

    Both require different kinds of crimps.

    For an autoloader, unless it uses a rimmed case, it headspaces on the case mouth so all you want is a taper crimp that pushes the case mouth back against the bullet. Any more than just firmly touching the bullet is considered excessive.

    If you have a revolver, especially one of the "Hand Cannons", crimps can be essential to prevent not bullet setback (like in the autoloader) but bullet "extension". A bullet has a fair amount of inertia and can move out of the case under heavy recoil. Not unlike using one of those kinetic bullet removing "hammers". This can cause the cylinder to jam, even to the point where the crane can't be swung out with the cylinder to remove the offending round(s). Crimping prevents this.

    Also, some powders in certain cartridges require a heavy crimp to prevent detonation/high pressure problems. One that comes to mind is Win 296. Not only do they warn against reduced loads with this powder, the manufacturer calls for a heavy crimp to hold the bullet back enough for proper ignition of the powder. Revolvers as a rule use roll crimps and the bullets are usually designed with a crimp groove or cannelure for this purpose. (9mm revolvers still use the taper crimp).

    I have never had a problem by crimping my handgun loads but I have had several by failing to do so. For the small effort involved I now just crimp all handgun loads. Love those Lee Factory Crimp Dies.
     
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  10. theflyguy

    theflyguy Beaverton, Oregon Member

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    Thanks guys....wasn't sure if the crimping was in the same step when I seat the bullet or after....make more sense now.
     
  11. IheartGUNS

    IheartGUNS WaCo Well-Known Member

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    Right on the $$$
     
  12. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    All the points here plus a few:

    Crimping plays several critical roles in the autoloader... first, it removes the "bell" put on the case mouth to allow seating the bullet. Second, it provides a bit of resistance to the bullet being pushed into the cartridge case when feeding and handling, and third, it helps the powder ignite by providing extra resistance on ignition.

    Now, the things to look out for when you're crimping, if you overcrimp, this can wreak havoc on your reloads, as your cartridges may go too far into the chamber as part of the case will be inside the throat... this is bad and can result in high pressures, however it can also make rounds that are so far into the chamber that they will not go off. Over-crimping can also cause problems for handling and chambering, as brass has more spring-back than lead and gilding metal (what they make jackets out of), this means your bullet will be smashed smaller than the case effectively negating the effect of crimping. Also, over-crimping pretty much destroys any hope you had for accuracy.

    For autoloading pistols, taper crimping is the manner of crimping you want. Most companies make a taper crimp die for your caliber, it is a very good investment. For 9mm I use an RCBS taper crimp die that lives in it's own station. Personally, I've had mixed/bad results doing the crimping and seating as a single operation (bulged case necks and stripped jacket material are common) so I use a seating, followed by a crimp.

    When you're getting ready to set up your dies, take the barrel out of your gun, and you can use that as a cartridge gauge, take an empty cartridge case, and make a dummy round, drop it in the barrel, see how it fits, if it looks good (similar to a factory round) call it good and start loading, maybe check again every 5 rounds or so. If it doesn't look the same, make adjustments as necessary.
     
  13. theflyguy

    theflyguy Beaverton, Oregon Member

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    Ok this leds me to two questions...

    1) how much do I need to "bell" the shell casting mouth to seat the bullet....just enough so the bullet will sit in the opening or do I need to bell it out much more?

    2) So it sounds like I can "not" use the standard seating die to crimp the casting....so I have to buy another die? Some of the videos I watched on YouTube spoke about what "MikeJ" stated..."With the shell holder in the ram, and the ram all the way up, screw the seater die in untill it bottoms out, then unscrew three full turns. Lock the die in place with the locking ring. After that you will unscrew the seater plug enough that it will not seat the bullet too deep. Work from there with the ram to get your OAL correct by moving the seater plug in a little at a time as you stroke the ram.

    As far as taper crimping goes, you'll anscrew the seater plug at this point and start turning the die down untill you feel some resistance.(That will be the taper of the die coming in contact with the flare you put in the case to accept the bullet). You don't need, or want, to feel too much resistance. (You'll know if you get too much as the case will fold a bit on you and may not chamber properly). Tighten the lock ring down again
    ".

    I plan on doing my first loads this weekend. I already primed my brass...but it looks like I need run some dummy rounds first to make sure my process is good.
     
  14. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    Belling should only be sufficient to seat the bullet without stripping (grinding/cutting off copper), usually this is to the bullet, and then plus a few thousands... not much.

    You MAY be able to use the standard seating die... you will have to check. If your die set came with a standard taper crimp seating die (most modern sets do, they will be marked with a TC, alternatively with a roll or RC stamp, depends on manufacturer) you can accomplish seating and crimping in two operations using the same die, first pass will seat bullet to length, and can be used with a slight crimp, then seating plug will be removed and final crimping done.

    My taper crimp die is just a standard seating/TC die that I took the seating plug out of. You can use this, or you can buy a special die for it, up to you entirely. I've even used a sizing die where I only pushed the case slightly into the die.

    Setting up a crimping die is mostly a matter of backing out the seater plug, and repeatedly running the cartridge up into the die until it feels/fits right. If you have your handgun barrel there... run the case up into the die, drop it in the barrel, crimp it some more and repeat, if you load 1-2 dummy rounds that are clearly overcrimped, you now know what overcrimping looks like. Same thing with undercrimped.

    One of the things that comes with experience in reloading is that each tool you have has many more uses than the manufacturer suggests. A sizing die properly used can be a crimping die, a belling die can be a seating die, a .32 cal sizing die can neck a .38SPL case down so you can star crimp it for making blanks that will feed through lever action rifles...

    So while some of the stuff I say comes out like jibberish, it's simply impossible to convey the decades of reloading experience I have into a few paragraphs on a board. The main thing you should take away: check and double-check your measurements (especially powder), and whenever possible try 1 (preferably 5) before you make 500.
     
  15. theflyguy

    theflyguy Beaverton, Oregon Member

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    Ok, so how much is too much when you bell the shell casing?

    Please bare with me with this picture I drew.
    Crimping.JPG

    How much do I need to bell/flair the opening?

    Watching the YouTube videos it looks like "just enough" to have the bullet base sit in the casing. Or do I need to bell/flair it to the approx depth that the bullet will sit at when complete? The videos I've found that go into this detail say to bell/flair "as little as possible" in order not to over expand the casing and shortening it life.

    I'm using RCBS carbide 9mm & .40 three piece die set.

    Advice?

    Crimping.JPG
     
  16. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    The picture on the left is about the right amount. Simple way to know. Start with almost nothing for a bell. If a bullet will sit square on the case, and when you seat it you don't see lead or copper scrapings at the top of the case, that's all you need. Increase it a small amount if you see these.

    Just enough to allow the bullet to sit square on top of the case, not so little that it scrapes when seating. Bullets vary from square bases to slight bevels so you amount of flare or bell will vary from others.

    The more you work the case mouth, the sooner it will split.
     
  17. theflyguy

    theflyguy Beaverton, Oregon Member

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    Thanks guys,

    You been a BIG help in getting me started. I just don't want to screw up and damage my guns or MYSELF.

    Thanks again,
     
  18. Mikej

    Mikej Portland Gold Supporter Gold Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    As Deadshot2 says, just expand enough that the bullet sits atop the shell with out falling off. When I first started I thought it would be easier if I just used the deburing tool on the inside of the case rather than use the expander die, it did work but turned out MUCH easier to run the shells through the expander. One thing you'll note if using once fired, mixed headstamp brass, all brass is not created equal. The different brands of brass have different consistencies, so as you are sizing/flaring/seating different brand brass will feel differently. I don't believe that's anything to worry about, and I've not had issues. I would guess if you were shooting in tourney stuff you would be more picky about it all. Also, it seems on 9mm and .40 the bullet will show as a slight bulge in the case, not sure why it doesn't do that with .45 and .38/.357, maybe the Lee dies I'm using? I'm using Lyman and Hornady for .45 and .38/357.

    Mike
     
  19. theflyguy

    theflyguy Beaverton, Oregon Member

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    Well I loaded my first rounds this morning. I'm using Unique, did 5 rounds with 4.5 grs and 5 rounds with 4.7 grs. I seated the JHP's to a total of 1.128 (used a factory round as my template). Crimping is still a mystery to me. I did as you guys mentioned above: "you'll anscrew the seater plug at this point and start turning the die down untill you feel some resistance.(That will be the taper of the die coming in contact with the flare you put in the case to accept the bullet). You don't need, or want, to feel too much resistance. (You'll know if you get too much as the case will fold a bit on you and may not chamber properly). Tighten the lock ring down again".

    I ran the first round up to crimp...I feel resistance, but should I actually "see" something on the shell casing? I took a unprimed, no powder casing ran the bullet as I did with all the others...then tried the crimping process. Kept doing it till I could see a ever so slight bevel. I see a marking on the outside of the casing maybe 1/32". Would that be considered too much?

    Does anyone have pictures of what a proper and improper criming looks like?

    Thanks again for helping me starting my reloading hobby.
     
  20. Norwestr55

    Norwestr55 Monmouth OR Deplorable Silver Supporter

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    Measure the crimp at the top of the case with your calipers. Anywhere from .375-.378 is a good place to start. .375 might be a little too much for plated and/or cast bullets and deform the bullet.
    ETA Check for bullet setback. Measure the OAL and then with your thumb push the loaded bullet against a table top or whatever. Measure again and if the setback isn't any more than 0.001 than you're good.