Jump to content

First Timer Questions: Hornady Custom Grade Dies


Recommended Posts

First attempts at reloading here, couple issues.

I've got an RCBS Single-stage press and Hornady Custom Grade 3-piece Die Set for 9mm.

 

1- Decapping doesn't seem to be working for me? Not a huge deal, I've de-capped most of my brass offline w/ a hand-held, but following YouTube vid's, etc., I've been running the brass through that die, b/c it also re-sizes, right? Whenever I attempt to de-prime a piece using the die in the press, the de-primer gets pushed backwards up the die? I've tried tightening it down, but doesn't seem to help. Again, not a show-stopper, I've got bags of de-primed brass already. But I should be running it all through that die to re-size, regardless of primer, correct? Resizes the entire length of cartridge inside dimensions?

 

2- Belling die seems to be working OK. I've set it to very slightly widen the mouth, I can just barely slip a bullet in there by a hair, whereas prior to belling, it will not go into case. Over-belling a few cases while setting up was obvious (huge curl, tossed that brass)

 

3a- Seating bullets - haven't even tried this yet, darned die's got too many adjustable parts and pieces! Can anyone explain (in simple terms!) how all the adjustable parts should be set? Do I still set the die into the press by raising the ram and screwing it in until it touches the mount plate, then fiddle w/ the other 2 components to seat the bullet?

 

3b- Crimping - I've got 1000 plated bullets from Berry's Bullets, and do not see any visible cannelure, do I crimp them when seating (and of course, how do I set the die to do that?)

 

4- When do I seat the primer? After the 2 sizing dies? Can I slip the primer in the little cup as I'm lowering it from the belling-die (e.g. bell and prime on the same movement)?

 

5- How tight should I be on the powder measuring? I've got an old Lee Perfect powder measure from a friend, in testing on some powder it was oscillating from 3.9 to 4.2, when I was trying for 4.0 grains. MOST of the 20-or-so charges I measured were at 4.0, but there was some variance.... is that an acceptable tolerance? I'm just loading for target/practice handgun, not competition or anything like that.

 

Thanks for the help!

 

- Kevin

 

Link to post

Follow up: Powder Question!

 

I've got a fresh bottle of TiteGroup that lists 4.8 grains of powder for a 115gr. Speer Gold Dot HP and CCI 500 Primer.

 

I'm using Berry's 124gr. FMJ and CCI 500 Sm. Pistol Primers.

 

.... start out at 4.5 grains of powder, load 20-shells, see how they perform, adjust as needed? (mind the variance noted above of +/- 0.2 grains on the powder measurer)

 

Using rounds in S&W M&P 9 Compact, possibly Ruger LC9s

 

- K
 

Link to post

1) the pins are designed to slip if you use too much force, but they also may need to be tightened.  I dunno about your brand but most brands you have to tighten them a LOT before the pin will work.  I am kind of a wimp, and it takes all I can do with 2 wrenches to get it right on MY dies.    Yes, you should resize. 

 

3a:  get a standard commercial 9mm.  Put in your press.  Jack it up into your seating die.  Set it so that the die touches the bullet but does not seat it any deeper.  Try that to see where you are (measure your OAL against your recipe).  Should be close if you are not using a weird bullet. Start with it dialed a little "out" so if you are not right, you need to push in deeper.  Its easy to push in deeper and adjust.  Its not easy to pull the bullet back out and seat less deep.

 

3b .. not sure about your dies.  I have a 4th die (deprime size, powder / expand, seat, crimp) for it.  I just barely crimp 9mm a little.  If you over-do it, your brass can slip into the barrel too deep and may fail to fire.  My crimp mostly un-does the fat lead bullet's effect on the brass by squeezing it a little. For copper plated normal bullets you can literally just touch them with the crimp die, its not much at all.  The die should have an adjustment on it. 

 

4) this is easy :)  you prime before you powder.  You powder before you put a bullet in.  If you powder before primer, the powder falls out the bottom of the case, and that sucks.  If you bullet before you powder, you will have a similar obvious issue.   I prime right after sizing die is done.

 

5) 9mm is quite forgiving but this is directly related to your recipe.  If you are cooking up a redline +P+ 357 mag rated 9mm, you can't afford an extra 1/2 a grain tossed in there.   If its a standard 9mm load shot in a +P rated gun, you can be pretty sloppy.   If its a mega hot powder that uses 2 grains for max load, 1/2 a gain of slop is a big deal.  If its using 8 grains, that extra 1/2 isn't so much.   Yours sound OK.  People make ammo using a water-dipper device to "measure" it and its fine.   For best results I use a fatter powder (more grains per load) which reduces the accuracy variation ... the more powder you use (by using a fat powder), the less a small error effects it, and the better your accuracy and consistency -- because your scale has a fixed amount of error by weight, right?   SO long as your errors don't push you past the DO NOT EXCEED limit on your load data, its fine.  And if using standard loads in a +P rated gun, you can even wiggle past that value safely for the better part of a grain on most powders.

 

*

Look it up.   http://www.hodgdonreloading.com/

says (for 124 )

Hodgdon Titegroup

3.6 to 4.1

 

You are way past their max load here.   DO NOT EVER GUESS.  You can do linear interpolation between weights, and you can go low and work up, but DO NOT GUESS (please, for your own safety!)

Edited by Jonnin
Link to post
On the Hornady dies I have the decapping stem is threaded with a collet lock nut. You should be able to use a piece of de-primed brass to set it... the the DE capper out of the die. Size a piece of already de-primed brass and with the case still in the die insert the collet with the de-capper in to the die. Screw the de-capper in until it bottoms out then back it out 1/4 to 1/2 turn and lock the collet. You should be good to go.

Belling the mouth sounds about right. The bullet should just kind of stick in the case mouth. All you're trying to do is give it a start without shaving the sides of the bullet.

Seating depth you should have a caliper but most round nose 9mm is loaded to the same length so you can start with a factory round and use the method jonnin suggests.

The die has three parts the top punch, the crimping punch and the body. Follow the instructions that came with the dies for the best results. (Yes they are a bit complicated) but this is sort of a one time dal unless you change the bullet. Or do this...

Back the top punch and the crimp collar out most of the way. Screw the die body in until it touch the shell holder back it out 1/8 turn then lock the die ring in place. Insert your factory round in the Shell holder then run it up into the die, and screw the crimp collar down until it just touched the case. Lower the ram and screw it in 1/16 turn and run that factory round back up. Tighten the lock nut against the o-ring. Now screw the top punch down until it just touched the bullet and tighten it's lock nut against the o-ring.

There is no can nature on most plated bullets no need you just want to take that small flare/bell out of he case. No need to crush the crap out of it.

This should get you very close.

I like mupy measure to throw within 1/10th grain. Check your average by throwing 10 charges and weight them divide by 10 and you get he average.


DO NOT USE 115GR DATA FOR 124GR BULLETS pressure will be very high. I'm using titegroup and loading 3.9gr. 4.1 is MAX Start with 3.7 and see if they cycle reliably if so leave it alone. No need for more than that for plinking. Hornady lists the berry 124 gr in the online data. Go to their website and you can download the data easy enough.
Link to post

19 rounds are ready for testing!

 

Weighed each charge, 3.8-3.9 gr. of powder, couple came in at 3.7, only one hit 4.0, but I picked it up and put it back down and it said 3.9.... think the scale might be a little flaky (Frankford Arsenal, but a cheaper model). I did zero it to the reference weight before use (but that sucker's like 50 grams...) OAL was a little sloppy, 29.7-29.3 mm's... will that have a dramatic effect on the pressure's?

I noticed sometimes pulling the shell down after seating the bullet was a bit difficult, felt metal scraping, other times it was pretty smooth... is this the die 'crimping' things? The bullets are seated firmly in there, not going to just fall out.

Dunno when I'll get around to testing it, maybe have to swing by the range on my way home from work one night.

 

Is gunpowder in the vacuum cleaner really a big deal? Should I use my shop-vac or the wife's roller-brush model?

I'd rather replace the shop-vac if I'm going to kill one of them... :D

 

- K
 

Link to post
You should be OK with those charge weights.

The sometimes difficult down stroke when crimping is caused by variation in case length and/or variation in how you stroke the press. If it's too much back out the crimp sleeve 1/8 turn. If you do this you will need o reset the seating punch against a factory round again because it backs out with the crimp sleeve too.

Vacuuming powder.... some say never. I'm OK with it if it's just a few grains. Powder is flammable not explosive. Never vacuum primers. That could get exciting....
Link to post

Also starting out, I don't think you should be using titegroup, while it is a great powder it doesn't have a wide range between min and max loads. 

Maybe try using power pistol, although it does suck for the flash it produces, it has a huge range between min and max. so there is more room for error.

I also use a shop vac for powder without issue.

Link to post

I've used the shop vac for years..........no problem YET.  The elusive OAL gives me a fit.  As a general rule look at the min OAL.  Proceed with caution if you go shorter, Max. OAL gives you problems in chambering and magazine function but is generally safer.  Shorter increases your pressure, Longer can but only if it is jammed into the rifling.  Usually by that time you will be out of battery.

Link to post

is there anybody close by that show you the ropes on reloading?  

 

Yes Frank, he showed me the ropes once a few months ago, but the 'ol noggin only has so much room... That's actually one reason I wanted a 'portable' board for setting up my reloading setup. Soon as he's done getting his hernia healed, I'll be heading over there for some pointers!

 

- K
 

Link to post

Got out to the range Weds. to test things out, for the most part they ran OK. I had 2 that failed to fire (gun went click, primers dented, but no bang). I also made up a batch of 124 gr. bullets using 3.6 grains of powder, and had 2 that stove-piped, it was noticebly 'lighter'. The 3.9 gr. load felt almost identical to the commercial ammo I usually use, so made up another couple hundred cartridges of 3.9 to practice with.

 

The brass looked OK to me after firing, I did not see any head separation of case wear, but I'm no expert...

CAM00139.jpg
gif hosting

 

The 2 that FTF were from the first 20-or-so rounds I ever made, and I do specifically recall taking a few pulls to get used to seating the primers. On inspection, it does appear they are a little 'high' on the brass, so I'll go ahead and chalk those 2 rounds up to bad primer seating. I shot a total of 60+ reloads that day, and those were the only 2 that mis-behaved.

CAM00141.jpg
free jpeg images

 

Otherwise the rounds performed well. I was very pleased. Made up a bunch more last night I'm itching to take out. So much for 'saving money'.... but I can tell already I sure will get to shoot a lot more! :D

 

- K
 

 

Link to post

1- Decapping doesn't seem to be working for me? Not a huge deal, I've de-capped most of my brass offline w/ a hand-held, but following YouTube vid's, etc., I've been running the brass through that die, b/c it also re-sizes, right? Whenever I attempt to de-prime a piece using the die in the press, the de-primer gets pushed backwards up the die? I've tried tightening it down, but doesn't seem to help. Again, not a show-stopper, I've got bags of de-primed brass already. But I should be running it all through that die to re-size, regardless of primer, correct? Resizes the entire length of cartridge inside dimensions?

Turn lock ring all the way up. Raise ram and screw die down until it just touches the shell holder/shell plate.

Insert a deprimed case. Does the depriming pin enter the flash hole? If not, raise the ram and, turning the case upside down, try to push the case head into the die so the depriming pin can enter the flash hole. If it still doesn't go in, the flash hole is too small or the depriming pin is too large. Fix the problem. I've never had a problem, but who knows.

If alignment is the issue, loosen the lock ring/collet on the depriming rod. Raise a deprimed case and wiggle the rod around until it enters the flash hole. Push it all the way down and lift it up about 0.1" and, while the pin is still in the flash hole, tighten that collet. Remove the die and re-tighten the collet with all your might.

 

2- Belling die seems to be working OK. I've set it to very slightly widen the mouth, I can just barely slip a bullet in there by a hair, whereas prior to belling, it will not go into case. Over-belling a few cases while setting up was obvious (huge curl, tossed that brass)

Sounds like you are just barely flaring enough. I flare more than that, as it is so easy to damage a bullet and destroy accuracy by trying to use too little flare.

 

3a- Seating bullets - haven't even tried this yet, darned die's got too many adjustable parts and pieces! Can anyone explain (in simple terms!) how all the adjustable parts should be set? Do I still set the die into the press by raising the ram and screwing it in until it touches the mount plate, then fiddle w/ the other 2 components to seat the bullet?

There is a sliding sleeve that helps to keep bullet aligned. You don't do anything with it. All you have to do is loosen the lock ring on the seating stem.

So, how to seat and crimp with the seating die (I don't recommend it, separating the steps works better):

Turn seating stem all the way up. Do not tighten the small lock ring. Turn the die body lock ring all the way up. Insert case in shell holder/shell plate. Raise ram. Screw die body down until the crimp section hits the case (sudden increase in force need to screw the die body down). Stop. Turn die body UP one or two full turns so the crimp section is out of the way. Very lightly, turn die body lock ring until the die doesn't freely move.

Lower ram and place bullet on case. Raise ram. Turn seating stem down until it contacts the bullet (sudden increase in force needed to turn stem down). Lower ram and turn seating stem down one or two full turns. Raise ram. This will seat the bullet (NOT at the correct COL, but the bullet is seated).

Now, adjust seating stem until you get your target COL. I like to load a couple of inert dummy rounds, so, after partially seating the bullet, I raise the seating stem up and turn the die body down until the crimp section hits the flared case mouth. I take the barrel from the gun and use it to perform a "plunk" test. I turn the die body down maybe ½ turn, crimp the case, and then run a "plunk" test and repeat until the case chambers and makes a PLUNK sound as it drops in the barrel. This should be just enough "crimp" to let the case enter the barrel but may not be enough for your real loads, but all you want is enough to check the COL for feeding and chambering.

So, I take my two dummy rounds at the long COL I have and try to hand cycle them from magazine into chamber and adjust the COL until they chamber 100%. Then I might reduce the COL a little bit from that and that becomes MY COL for THAT bullet in THAT gun.

The bullets used for the inert dummy rounds may be damaged by seating through the crimp, but they are not going to be used necessarily anyway. I generally label them and keep them.

So, back to the seating die. You have a partially seated bullet and a target COL. So, turn the seating stem down until you reach the target COL. When you have the COL you want, turn the seeing stem all the way and now you will turn the die body down to get the target crimp. For taper crimp, I shoot for the SAAMI case mouth dimension or no more than 0.002" smaller.

When crimp is right, and the cartridge is in the die, tighten the die body lock ring to maintain alignment. Turn the seating stem until it just touches the bullet (you can easily seat the bullet deeper by hand, so DON'T use any force) and lock it's lock ring.

You now have the die and seating stem aligned and the COL and crimp set and you are ready to go.

Simply, wasn't it.

 

3b- Crimping - I've got 1000 plated bullets from Berry's Bullets, and do not see any visible cannelure, do I crimp them when seating (and of course, how do I set the die to do that?)

 

You only need a cannelure for roll crimping. If you are using cheap plated bullets without a cannelure in a revolver, you need to keep the loads very light. If you are loading for a semi-auto, you don't need cannelures or crimp grooves and YOU need to determine the COL that works in your gun and think of taper crimp as NOTHING more than removing the case mouth flare.

I crimp separately, but see instructions above.

I really have to ask--have you read a couple of reloading manuals and have you read the die instructions?

 

4- When do I seat the primer? After the 2 sizing dies? Can I slip the primer in the little cup as I'm lowering it from the belling-die (e.g. bell and prime on the same movement)?

What two sizing dies? Are you thinking of the expander die as a sizing die?

There is only one sizing die. You seat the primers BEFORE you add powder. Where/when doesn't matter, as long as it is before you add powder. Most size/deprime and then, whether on the press or separately, they primer the case.

So, you can size/deprime and seat a primer or you can size/deprime, expand, and then seat a primer. It is all covered in the instructions and reloading manuals.

NO, you have a primer cup that holds the primer to be seated. Have you read the directions for your press? You could, I suppose, align the primer in the pocket, put the primer/case down on a metal base and whack the case to seat the primer--but don't blame us if a primer discharges.

 

5- How tight should I be on the powder measuring? I've got an old Lee Perfect powder measure from a friend, in testing on some powder it was oscillating from 3.9 to 4.2, when I was trying for 4.0 grains. MOST of the 20-or-so charges I measured were at 4.0, but there was some variance.... is that an acceptable tolerance? I'm just loading for target/practice handgun, not competition or anything like that.

For 99.99% of all loading, +/- 0.2gn is good enough. For all loading, +/- 0.1gn is good enough. The PPM is my most consistent powder measure. Have you read the directions? EVERY single line on every Lee instruction sheet is critically important. In general, disassemble the measure and clean it. Wash the plastic parts with soapy water and air dry (don't rinse).

I have NEVER had a powder measure that did not occasionally throw a charge that was 0.2 up or down from the target and it NEVER made any difference. Most of the throws are right on, but out of 50 throws, one will almost always be 0.2gn high or low. If you can't live with it, buy a powder dispenser. This is the same tolerance that all loaders have lived with for at least 125 years (and, really, the same or much tighter than used during the whole history of throwing powder charges since the first black powder gun).

Reassemble and tighten the tension screw/bolt. If powder leaks, DO NOT tighten this screw/bolt while there is powder in the measure--disassemble first and clean.

Fill hopper with graphitized powder (generally very dark gray/black and it will leave some graphite on your hands) or simply graphite powder itself and run through measure so all moving parts get some graphite dry lube.

When you fill the hopper with powder for loading, be sure to shake the hopper lightly to settle the powder. When you move the handle up or down, always "tap, tap" the handle to settle the powder and help fill the cavity. Do not rush and be sure to allow time for powder to leave the cavity and enter the case.

Before you ever weight a charge, be sure to throw at least 10 charges (and return powder to hopper) to get the system settled. If you throw and weight three charges and they aren't within 0.1gn of each other, the system isn't settled yet. Whenever you change the charge thrown, be sure to throw at least 3 charges (and return the powder to the hopper).

 

Edited by noylj
Link to post
  • 2 weeks later...

Well I think I'm getting the hang of things... put a few hundred rounds downrange w/ the missus today, not one failure.

Even tried a variety of bullets (HP and FMJ's), at different load strengths, and found one that was a little too hot (brass showing signs of deforming).

Now I need to save up my cake and stock up on components instead of buying commercial ammo! Woo Hoo!

 

- K

 

Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

THE FINE PRINT

Tennessee Gun Owners (TNGunOwners.com) is the premier Community and Discussion Forum for gun owners, firearm enthusiasts, sportsmen and Second Amendment proponents in the state of Tennessee and surrounding region.

TNGunOwners.com (TGO) is a presentation of Enthusiast Productions. The TGO state flag logo and the TGO tri-hole "icon" logo are trademarks of Tennessee Gun Owners. The TGO logos and all content presented on this site may not be reproduced in any form without express written permission. The opinions expressed on TGO are those of their authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the site's owners or staff.

Before engaging in any transaction of goods or services on TGO, all parties involved must know and follow the local, state and Federal laws regarding those transactions. TGO makes no claims, guarantees or assurances regarding any such transactions.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to the following.
Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Guidelines