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Thread: Jeep's loading chronicles

  1. #21
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    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    So life, happens, and after being out of reloading I'm finally back into it with new equipment. I no longer cast my own bullets due to time and location/frustration, I just buy plated bullets at the moment, and will buy a case of coated bullets once my 9mm bullet supply is exhausted.

    Calibers reloaded -
    .38 special w/ 158grain plated bullets over Winchester 231. 158 grain shoots POA/POI for my J frame revolvers, OAL is set by the cannelure of the bullet.
    9mm Luger w/ 124 grain plated/125 grain coated over Winchester 231 124 grain shoots 6 o'clock hold for Valor, Blur has 100 MOA adjustment in the optic. Oal is set to 1.145".

    Winchester 231 was settled on for its flexibility, past experience, ease of local purchase, price, and commentary by Lyman reloading about accuracy potential for of both of these cartridges. My last chrono numbers made power factor for Blur, just under for Valor.
    Blur's fps (cold bore) 1073 then 1042/1034/1042
    Valor's fps (cold bore) 1000 then 1008/1003/993/1011

    Stand : Lee reloading stand. I was skeptical of how stable it would be but needed something compact, portable, and easy to disassemble for a move. This fit the bill and is shockingly stable. I've used the lower shelf as a holder for boxes of bullets and no extra weight, and find it does tend to 'shimmy' over the course of a reloading session or two, and is easily dragged back into place. I'm reloading on smooth concrete, extra weight on the bottom or on carpet/wood flooring would likely eliminate this shimmy effect. It's minimal and I have no plans at the moment to try and prevent it, save putting my left foot behind the front left leg. Works quite well with a garage stool that has an adjustable seat.

    Scale: Frankford arsenal digital scale. It's far superior to a beam scale for my accuracy and ease of use requirements. A built in cover for the scale pad prevents damage in the couple drops I've given it without reducing any repeatability, and comes with a weight with a stamped weight to verify zero. I combine this with a powder funnel/pan combo to do spot checks of powder amounts. One thing manufacturing and life has taught me is that pursuit of perfection leads to stress levels and perfection to another magnitude beyond what your equipment is capable of producing; I simply tar out the scale with the funnel/pan combo and place the powder from 10 drops in the pan, divide by 10, and make sure that number is equivalent to my desired powder charge. The beam scale that Lee includes in the kit is alright at best - it never hurts to have 2 methods of measuring your powder to make sure one scale isn't completely out of calibration.

    Press (multiple) : Lee Value turret press kit w/ Lee carbide dies
    I got this knowing I would upgrade relatively soon for 9mm, but wanted to start loading as cheaply as I could for 38 special and 9x19 without the time requirement a single stage has. I've used the auto disk powder measure in the past and it works fine, but the auto drum is much, much better, more precise, more repeatable, and easier to setup. I use Lee carbide dies which were sufficient until my shooting volume started to exceed my brass supply and I bought some brass for cheap. I started to have issues with .38spl bullets falling into the case upon seating and found this due to thin walls, usually RP head stamp brass. An EGW U die was purchased and fixed this problem in .38spl. I also purchased one for 9x19 to try and figure out a picky pistol, which ultimately needed gunsmithing work. I still use the U die for 9x19, because it hurts nothing at the end of the day and I had already purchased it. This press is now dedicated to .38special

    For Christmas I got a Lee Breech Lock Pro, mounted it on a steel plate for the above stand, moved my 9x19 dies over to it, obtained another safety primer system and auto drum system, and have a case feeder/collator setup on it. The press 'feels' slower than the turret press, but the ammo output is much faster. Yes, the priming system requires you to place a primer just like the turret, and handle a piece of brass and a bullet, it is far more efficient than the turret overall. I produced 500 cartridges without a case feeder last night while watching Forgotten Weapons series. While the press does allow functionality without the case feeder, the case feeder really speeds things up; you're now required to simply operate the safety prime and pick up a bullet, so material handling operations are reduced by a 1/3. Ammo is also much more consistent in OAL than the turret press. I'm very impressed by the single lock-ring eliminator Lee includes, and will order 3 more for my other dies.

    To me, the Breech lock pro press offers easier setup than other Lee turret presses, and makes no attempt at imitating a Dillon (I think the LnL AP attempts to be a Dillon, and falls very short of it). Having owned Lee Loadmasters/Turrets/Single stages, Hornady LnL AP, Dillon 650/1050 some setup with various case feeders and bullet feeders, this press has the best bang-for-production and out of any progressive I've ever had while having much safer priming operation than a Loadmaster. A Dillon progressive with motorized case feeder will destroy it in production numbers, but Dillon also costs quite a bit more (for good reason I should add).

    Edit - brass prep.

    I use the shell sorters since I'm the only one picking up brass at my club, so a rough sort goes a long way to making my life easier, and I pick up every piece of brass I can find.

    For cleaning, I'm a huge fan of the Frankford Arsenal wet tumbler. They have 2 sizes, I'd recommend getting the big one for $60 or so more. I don't use pins for bottleneck cases, as they could get stuck below the neck and good luck getting them out. I do use them for straight cases, as this stuff does an incredible job of cleaning the cases and by default getting a lot to the lead residue off/out of the cases so I have less exposure at the end of the day; since it's wet there's no dust on everything. If you use pins, the separator is practically a necessity, and is very very good at getting all the pins out of all of the cases. I use the 'brass dryer' to dry the cases - shake the snot out of them in the blue cage of the separator to get rid of as much water as possible, then load them up in the dryer and let it go overnight. You can use a food dehydrator; I chose to get the brass dryer version because there's no way an accident could happen and somebody uses the food dehydrator for food this way.
    Last edited by jeep45238; 01-03-2020 at 09:39 AM.

  2. #22
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    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Load development 2.0 -

    I changed over from Berry's 124 grain plated round nose to SNS 125 poly coated. For kicks I didn't adjust any dies, ran a few, and dropped them into the case gauge. No way do they pass, and it's a good reason to examine why you should double check our dies if you change bullets, even in the same weight range.

    The difference is the bullets are .001" larger in diameter, and the straight portion of the bullet profile extends higher in reference to the bullet nose (more gentle ogive) with the bullet being slightly taller and a tapered base. The change in nose profile means the bullet contacts the outer rim of the bullet seater die plug versus the nose - this should result in better concentric runout (it's a semi auto pistol round, whatever) and higher % of rounds that pass case gauge if running near the limits of OAL. This change also means that the OAL must be adjusted at the die, as the bullet shoulder (whatever it's called - the rounded part) will sit deeper into the chamber for the same OAL.

    All of this means the bullet must be seated deeper in the case. The taper base also makes it way easier to get the bullet in the case by hand. This means load development and verifying that the ammo meets power factor in both pistols has to be done again. No worries :-)

    For kicks/experimentation I also grabbed the lee bullet feed kit to play around with, and force myself to take a longer break during longer sessions. If you're not familiar with the breechblock auto, the due stations are extremely close, and the corners of the lee jam nuts are almost touching if you have to be in that orientation. Once you add the bullet feeder it make it so the bushings weren't fully engaged in one of my stations, and the other one could wiggle loose a bit. My fix was grabbing the Dillon lock rings as they are 1" across instead of 1 1/8" across. As far as the lee jam nuts providing a small free float, that's true - but this press has the same o-ring setup for the bushings themselves, making those slightly free-floating/self centering so running traditional style jam nuts doesn't loose that benefit. I'm not sold on the bullet feeder, since there's no collator - but we'll see what happens.

    My thoughts on this press having ran single stages, turrets, Loadmasters, Hornady LnL AP, 650 w/ bullet feeder and case feeder, and 1050 w/ bullet feeder and case feeder is this:
    it is quite a bit slower than the Dillon products due to the priming system having to be manually operated for each cycle and the 650/1050 designed from the get go with a high capacity case collator - add a bullet collator/feeder and you will absolutely never want to run anything else from a production standpoint.

    This same system also makes it safer than the Loadmaster in the event of a primer detonation while seating (I've had it happen on a Loadmaster). It is simpler to keep running than a Hornady LnL AP while keeping better OAL consistency. It demolishes single stage and turret presses in volume and my elbow/shoulder isn't tight the next morning either.

    For about the same price as a Lee turret you get a pretty reliable system with easy caliber changes that pushes higher production and less rushing. It allows for a simple, non-motorized, reasonably effective case feeding mechanism that the press was designed around, albeit the collator/capacity is low and you will need to rotate the tubes to keep the flow going (it's really a very, very small nit pick). The central rod that indexes the shell plate can be removed, making it manually indexing and simpler to teach people new to reloading what's going on and do a single case at a time. If you're not going to reload much rifle ammo, this honestly is the non-Dillon press to get in my opinion; the money you save will go a long way to buying components and buying an upgraded press at some point if you want to later.

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