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Staestc 05-11-2012 10:52 PM

Confessions of a nube reloader
Okay, so I got all my new equipment and books and manuals, after reading and studying for months. I bought some jacketed ammo and loaded for both my .357 and .45, paying very close attention to everything I had learned and it just worked fantastically!

Then I moved to lead bullets for the .45 with high hopes. The LSWC's did not feed well in my XDm. Posted about that. I shortened the OAL and they feed better, only 1 in 20 or so seem to fail to go into battery, and I think I can probably figure out how to get them to work reliably. However, that was quite a set back from my earlier success :(

Then I bought the Missouri Bullet Company's IDM #4-XD bullets which are bound to feed in an XDm (given they work in XD's), and failed miserably loading those as well, but this was due to my unfounded confidence in my wonderful abilities :rolleyes:

I shot one cartridge of the 40 I had loaded, and the second jammed to the point I could not even pull the slide back to clear the jam! When I left the range, dejected, I was convinced that I needed to take the gun to the shop the next morning. I Googled, and figured out that all I needed was a bit more leverage on the slide to clear the gun, but it woke me up. Hell, I had a live round stuck in the gun, something that scares me when I have no control over it! :eek:

I finally figured out what actually went wrong with the whole process. I knew from all my studies to check that the bullets actually chamber and that the headspace is right, using the actual barrel, and did so when I loaded for the .45 the first time. However I seem to have skipped this simple and obvious step when I loaded my new lead bullets. I had the OAL too long for these bullets, and the bullet was interfering with the lands (not sure that's the right term) and keeping the cartridge from going all the way into battery. But I had made matters even worse than that.

Not having loaded lead bullets before, I failed to consider how soft they were. When I flared the cases before seating, I did it the same way that had worked for jacketed bullets. The result, and something I did not see till I studied this under my new illuminated magnifying glass thing, is that when I seated the bullets the case pushed a tiny ring of lead ahead of them that was promptly flattened to the bullet just ahead of the case by the crimp, in effect lengthening the case.

I'm very new at this stuff, but am convinced that I screwed up because of being overconfident with my book knowledge and lacking real experience. I learned valuable lessons.

Maybe this will help some other newb. I would suggest that anybody new to reloading study, study, study, like I did. Read the ABC's of reloading and everything you can find on the net multiple times, like I did. But then I would suggest that you create a checklist, based on all the new found knowledge, of every step and every check you need to perform with every cartridge you are reloading, and follow that checklist, something I did not do, but am about to!

Just my two bits,

Axxe55 05-11-2012 11:09 PM

Travis, i had a similar experiance with cast lead bullets in my 1911 45. very similar in that they wouldn't allow the slide to completely close. i took them and tried recrimping, and the slide would close a little further but not enough to chamber fully. because of this, i will only use jacketed bullets and will not use cast lead bullets in a semi auto pistol. i have no problems whatsoever when using the jacketed bullets. just my thoughts on this.

locutus 05-11-2012 11:21 PM

Get a Midway USA catalog, and order case gauges for all calibers you load.
They're only a few bucks each, and worth their weight in gold.

Drop your loaded rounds in the case gauge, and if they fit, they'll fit your weapon.

steve4102 05-11-2012 11:33 PM

I shoot a lot of lead in my 1911's and I have found this works well for adjusting seating depth. I set my OAL as in #3 and my semi-auto run flawlessly.
I also use the Lee Factory Crimp die, makes all my ammo feed like butter.

rjd3282 05-11-2012 11:39 PM

Don't feel too bad at least you learned something. It's the guys who never learn from their mistakes that scare me. :)

Staestc 05-12-2012 12:11 PM


Originally Posted by steve4102 (Post 797601)
I shoot a lot of lead in my 1911's and I have found this works well for adjusting seating depth. I set my OAL as in #3 and my semi-auto run flawlessly.
I also use the Lee Factory Crimp die, makes all my ammo feed like butter.

Steve, that is one of the pictures that I found while googling that helped me figure out what the problem was! It was kinda hard to find that one and it's a fantastic illustration! Once I figured out that my headspace was too long, I was able to figure out why.

Locustus, I figure I don't need case gauges, given that I have the actual barrel. When I loaded 20 more rounds of the MBC LRNFP to test, I check the fit of the cartridge into the barrel at every single step: Resized, flared, bullet seated, and crimped. Made sure it headspaced correctly. I am pretty sure these will work fine. I am going to go shoot them and 20 others that I loaded with the first bullets I have ever cast as soon as the sun comes up here and we will see.

Staestc 05-12-2012 04:20 PM

YAY :D My new OAL and crimp with the MBC LRNFP worked fine in the 45 XDm. Even better, the Lee 200 gr. truncated cone bullets that I cast all worked great with no feeding issues!! Oh Happy Days :)

JWagner 05-12-2012 07:48 PM

Thanks for posting this. I am running on a very parallel path, as I have just strarted reloading for my 1911. The jacketed bullets worked just fine, but the lead ones gave me a jam that was really difficult to free up. It is no fun wrestling with a gun with a live round stuck inside.

Axxe55 05-12-2012 07:56 PM

another thing is i wonder about cast lead bullets is they come in .451 and .452 diameter. maybe the smaller diameter would work better? just curious. i personally am going to stick with jacketed bullets and leave the cast lead alone!

Staestc 05-13-2012 01:02 AM

You probably need to slug your barrel and determine exactly what size it is to determine the best size lead bullet. The problem with going to small is that gas can escape around it while in the barrel which leads to gas cutting and leading problems. I have not measured mine.

Feeding issues are unlikely to be caused by bullet diameter, from what I understand. Overall Length is most likely the culprit, but some guns just don't feed lead bullets very well, since lead is soft and has much more drag on the feed ramp, etc. than hard jackets or plating on bullets.

JWagner, your issue sounds very much like the problem I had. Test your headspace at each step in your barrel (and compare to the illustration that Steve put up in this thread). You may want to load a few dummy rounds with no primer or powder as a test just to see if you can hand cycle them through.

I used the Missouri Bullet Company 200 gr round nose flat points because they are known to work in XDs which are more finicky that XDms. I bought the mold for the Lee 230 gr truncated cone, because I thought it would have a good chance of feeding well, and it appears that it does, at least in my XDm .45.

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