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DMF13
12-04-2022, 11:26 PM
Two years after first asking about getting started in reloading, with tons of good advice from this forum, including a member who offered to let me come try out his press (unfortunately he's in another state), and another who spent over an hour on the phone advising me, I'm on final approach, and should be loading rounds after the holidays.

These are general reloading items I have already:
1. Components (Federal GM100 SPP, Winchester 231 powder, and lots of once fired Winchester, Federal, and Hornady cases, and Iím about to order some Blue Bullets 135gr TC bullets)
2. FART Lite (I've cleaned about 15K once fired cases in the last year and a half, and have another 10K uncleaned once fired cases)
3. Case Dryer
4. Scale (a Lee beam scale, and a National Metallic digital scale)
5. Calipers
6. Sturdy bench, and Inline Fabrication Quick Change bench plate, with the spacer (I might mount it flush later, but I'm leery of my skill with a router, and don't want to ruin my table)
7. RCBS Lockout die
8. Lee undersize sizing/depriming die
9. DAA/Lee 2-in-1 seat/crimp die
10. 6 Hornady Sure-Loc rings
11. Lyman and Hornady load data books, along with the load data info from the Blue Bullets website
13. Primer flip tray

These are the press specific items recently delivered, or on their way, from the recent BF/CM deals:
1. Hornady Lock-n-Load AP Press - I was all set to get a Square Deal B, but the Brownells LNL-AP sale price, along with the their BF/CM discounts, was too good a deal to pass up. Total cost, not including sales tax, was $460. At that price, if my calculations were correct, I can set up the LNL-AP for slightly more than the SDB would have cost.
2. Hornady #8 Shell Plate for 9mm
3. Spent Primer bottle
4. DAA PTX funnel
5. Inline Fabrication QC mount for the LNL-AP (I'll be loading in the garage, but storing the press inside to mitigate rust)
6. Inline Fabrication Skylight
7. Extra SPP pick up tubes

The plan right now is to start with one station empty, and add a bullet feeding die once I get comfortable with the process.

I think that's what I'll need to get started, but any advice you all can provide is greatly appreciated.

Here are things I hope to add over time:
1. Hundo case gauge (Iíll use a spare G19 barrel at first)
2. Chronograph
3. Short or Ergo roller handle from Inline Fabrication (not sure which I want)
4. Mini Mr Bullet Feeder or SoCal Mag-P, and DAA bullet dropper die (the DAA die, because I plan on using coated bullets, and have heard the Hornady bullet dropper doesnít work well with those)

The goal is to get a good load dialed in for 9mm 135gr, that will easily make minor power factor for USPSA, and then start cranking out rounds.

I built a bench is free standing, and has retractable casters if I want to move it. It's very heavy, and stable, but to make it even more solid, I'm thinking about mounting a piece of 2x6 across some studs, with a couple of T-nuts in it, so I can bolt the bench to the wall. That way, if I need to move it for other projects, I can just remove those the bolts, lower the casters, and move it around.

Again, I'd be grateful for advice on things I've forgotten, or got wrong.

DMF13
06-03-2023, 05:59 PM
I finally got off my butt, got everything set up, and created test loads for:

135gr TC Blue Bullets
Federal Gold Medal Match SPP
Hornady Nickel Plated Brass (once fired, wet tumbled, no pins, before decapping)

I loaded 10 to 12 rounds at the following weights:
3.7gr
3.8gr
3.9gr
4.0gr
4.1gr
4.2gr

OAL was set at 1.150", but when I actually started running cases, with rounds at each station, OAL varied from 1.150 to 1.156.

I had a couple of cases that had high primers, which I attribute to me not having a feel for the press yet, and failing to fully seat the primers. Twice the powder measure stuck in the up position, and I got no powder, buy my visual check caught that before placing a bullet.

I did have one round fail to case gauge, and I'm not sure why that happened. I'm running a U die for sizing, and a factory crimp die. Probably overkill, but I thought that would be a "belt and suspenders" approach.

Today I shot test groups, at 10 yards, forearms supported over a bench. i was using my Glock 19 Gen 5 that will be my Carry Optics gun for USPSA.

Except for the 3.7gr, and 3.8gr, I got each group at less than 2", roughly 1.75" for each 10 to 12 shot group.

I am guessing my old eyes, and a little weakness in trigger control account for not having tighter groups.

I'm open to suggestions, but my plan moving forward is to adjust the seating die, to get the overall length bracketed around the load data recommended 1.150," and start cranking out rounds with 4.2gr. The high end load is more to keep my practice rounds closer in feel to our duty rounds, than concerns about power factor. 4.2gr should be about 139PF.

DMF13
06-03-2023, 09:12 PM
I foolishly forgot to mention, the powder is Winchester 231.

SecondsCount
06-03-2023, 09:56 PM
Congrats on some successful loads!

Blue Bullets are good for general use, and I really like the 135, but out of my HKs, a jacketed HP is noticeably more accurate.

DMF13
07-01-2023, 06:23 PM
Got a few hundred rounds loaded, and used some in my most recent match.

Had some big problems with the primer system, but a call to customer service got that resolved that. I just needed to adjust timing at the bracket that holds times the cam wire. Turns out some folks think the primer slide should be perfectly centered in housing assembly at the top of the stroke, but CS explained it needs slide way past center or the whole system can jam up. Works great now.

I've had to adjust the shell plate timing 4 times, which CS thought was unusual, so they sent me new pawls, and an index wheel, just in case I can't keep it in time. They said its unlikely either part is defective, but they are the most likely culprits if continuing to fine tune the timing doesn't work, and wanted me to have the parts just in case.

Just shy of 3% of the cases failed.case gauge. Out of curiosity I ran them through the Factory Crimp Die a second time, and all but one then passed the case gauge.

I also had several high primers, but all occurred when the shell plate timing was off. When the timing was right, all primers were slightly below flush.

The powder drop was working great, with the 10 drop averaging, 4.08 grains at the beginning and end of every 100 rounds, until today. After about 50 rounds I went to place the bullet, and there was powder, but it was noticeably low. It was 1.8 grains, on the digital scale. A ran two drops, at 1.4 grains, and 1.9 grains. I stopped loading, and I'm going to completely dissassemble, clean, and reassemble the whole thing.

Once I get the timing, and powder drop, properly tuned, I'm going to run several hundred more rounds, and then add a Mini bullet feeder.

CCT125US
07-01-2023, 06:32 PM
Congrats on some successful loads!

Blue Bullets are good for general use, and I really like the 135, but out of my HKs, a jacketed HP is noticeably more accurate.

Of note, Blue Bullets offers a special order section in which you can order .356 diameter bullets. These are more accurate than their standard diameter of .355 out of multiple HKs for me. Talking a consistent and repeatable gain of 8-10 pts on a B8 at 25 yards. With the .356, I can typically shoot a 96+, where the .355 is typically around 85+. Tested out of multiple P30s, USPc, P2000s and P2000sks. YMMV

DMF13
07-12-2023, 08:52 PM
I got the powder drop worked out, and its back to being very consistent, dropping 4.09gr, checked with a 10 drop average, at the beginning, and end, of each session.

The primer system, and shell plate are now properly adjusted. Although, I am having a problem where the bolt holding the shell plate sometimes works loose. A little research indicates I should probably add a lock washer. I don't have a 3/8" 'star' lock washer lying around, but I'll grab one this week.

I am embarrassed to say that, as I started to build a rhythm, I have a tendency to get sloppy placing the new case on the plate, and as a result I've broken 5 decapping pins, when the incompletely inserted case tips sideways, when advancing to the sizing die. That's the only thing the last two runs I've done that has cost me serious time.

I still have about 3% of the rounds failing the case gauge, after the normal process, but zero high primers, now that everything is properly tuned. I set the ones that fail the gauge aside, and run those rounds back through the Factory Crimp Die, at the end of the loading session. Nearly all those rounds then pass the gauge. Out of the last 500 rounds I've loaded, only two rounds totally failed the case gauge, if they had a second run through the FCD.

This is making me an ammo snob. I don't want to use up the assorted Winchester White Box, Blazer, and other cheap ammo I have lying around anymore, now that my CO pistol is zeroed for my reloads.

DMF13
09-10-2023, 07:14 PM
Things are generally going well, except for one thing. I'm bending/breaking decapping rods at a rate of about one every 82 rounds. I loaded 328 rounds today, and broke 4 rods.

I've adjusted the tension on the rods exactly how Lee describes, but it still happens way too often.

Everything else is good. COAL based on random sampling is 1.495 to 1.520. Powder throw, based on checks at the beginning and end of each session, is 4.1gr +/- .05. (average of 5 throws each check) Primer timing, and shell plate timing, have been spot on. If I check/tighten up the shell plate each time I load primers, that's no problem either.

The only thing vexing me is the frequency of broken decapping pins. Lee replaces them, but its a hassle, and I have to pay to ship the broken ones back.

Duelist
09-10-2023, 07:27 PM
INteresting. I donít recall ever breaking a decapping pin (or rod), regardless of die manufacturer, but I have not been using a progressive press system either, so my experience may not be relevant to what you are going through.

Are your cases still tipping over, causing the breakages?

Flamingo
09-10-2023, 07:31 PM
The only thing vexing me is the frequency of broken decapping pins. Lee replaces them, but its a hassle, and I have to pay to ship the broken ones back.

Are you reloading Norma brass? They have really small flash holes.

DMF13
09-10-2023, 08:21 PM
Are you reloading Norma brass? They have really small flash holes.No, its mostly Federal, and Winchester, brass, and Hornady nickel plated brass. Its not specific to any brand of brass though.

SecondsCount
09-10-2023, 08:54 PM
Does the LNL AP have a little spring, etc to hold the brass in place when placed in the shellplate? My Dillon 550B has one that keeps the brass in place when you let go of it.

Flamingo
09-10-2023, 09:52 PM
I do my depriming as a separate step prior to cleaning. I had a tool head with just a depriming die. I use a Mighty Armory (https://www.mightyarmory.com/collections/decapping-dies/products/copy-of-mighty-armory-shorty-bull-decapping-die-in-stock). I like it.

DMF13
09-10-2023, 11:51 PM
Are you reloading Norma brass? They have really small flash holes.


Does the LNL AP have a little spring, etc to hold the brass in place when placed in the shellplate? My Dillon 550B has one that keeps the brass in place when you let go of it.There is a spring that holds the cases in place. Its held down at the first spot where cases are inserted, so they can slide into the plate, and then it rises up to hold the case as the plate advances to the size/decap die.

DMF13
09-11-2023, 12:00 AM
Are you reloading Norma brass? They have really small flash holes.


Does the LNL AP have a little spring, etc to hold the brass in place when placed in the shellplate? My Dillon 550B has one that keeps the brass in place when you let go of it.There is a spring that holds the cases in place. Its held down at the first spot where cases are inserted, so they can slide into the plate, and then it rises up to hold the case as the plate advances to the size/decap die.