Reloading is one of the things that makes the shooting sports more like an art, and accents the aspect of craftsmanship in our fun. Safe reloading can provide premium ammo for the enthusiast at a discount. It also gives a fellow something to do on a cold winter day. If you have the money to get into it, I heartily recommend reloading.
When I got into it there was lots I did not know. There was even more that I did not know I did not know, which is worse. Now I think of myself as being a fellow who knows some, knows that he doesn’t know lots, and knows some of that which I am ignorant.
One of the things I have learned on the way is that a straight-wall case needs crimping.
When I bought my Norinco 1911 I also bought dies and components. After I shot all my factory ammo I started reloading.
The first batch was maddingly bad. I have a chronometer, with which you measure bullet velocity. The ten shot average was in the 830fps range, which is ok for .45 auto. One bullet came out at 510fps. I could actually see the 230g ball pass through the arms of the chrony. Because the velocity was so low, the bullet dropped considerably more than I had anticipated. My brand-new chrony narrowly escaped destruction.
I had a dud. How humiliating.
Worse yet, I had a failure to feed on every single mag. After flawlessly chewing through the factory stuff I was really bummed out. Was my gun no good? Or was it my reloading?
A micrometer, as shown in the picture, is the tool for the job. Unless you use it, you won’t be.
When I went back to the bench I re-read the instructions that came with my .45 auto dies. The bullet seater die contains a crimping function milled right into the die body. (These are RCBS dies) After achieving proper bullet depth, back the bullet seater out, turn the die body down, and re-press the cartridge. Adjust the die up or down to attain the correct crimp for your cartridge/handgun combo. Then reset the seater, and go to town. You have consistent crimp all day.
Because the straight-wall .45 auto seats on the case mouth, crimp is essential for consistent feeding. Bottle-neck cartridges seat on the shoulder, for comparison.
I omitted to explain the importance of casing length. We will go over that another time.
I have found that my best crimp for my gun is .005″ narrower than the measurement at the base, just forward of the rim. Every load I have crimped to this spec has functioned without fail. No failure to feed for me.
To sum, reloading is a rewarding process, but make sure you follow the directions! Humiliation at the range is not the worst thing that can happen if something is not done properly! Guns do blow apart in some cases. Be careful.
Safe reloading my friends. And remember, “ball stops ’em all”.