Jump to content
The SASS Wild Bunch Forum

45 acp COL and crimping issue

Red Eye

Recommended Posts

Hello the wire,

Long time CAS shooter here trying to get into WBAS and I'm having trouble with my 45acp rounds.

I bought some 230gr LRN, sized .452. Loaded them up with 5.5gr of Unique and seat up my seating die on my SDB so the case mouth is just below the "ring" that goes around the bullet where the ogive starts to go inward toward the nose, which gives me a col of 1.237. Only a few of these rounds will go easily into my Dillon case gauge. It seems I can't get the crimp tighter than .472 without bulging the brass. I'm useing new Starline brass.


What am I doing wrong? Everyone says to use bullets sized .452 but that seems to be the problem. All the places I have checked size to .452. Does anyone make lead 45acp bullets sized .451? That would seem to fix the problem of getting the crimp tighter so it will chamber better.


I have taken the barrel out of my Ruger SR1911 and they do "plunk" into the barrel better then the case gauge but I'm a believer that they should plunk into the case gauges.

What is everyone elses crimp diameter measurement?  Should I be loading them lomger? shorter?


Other than WB, my normal loads are 230gr FMJ, col is 1.260, crimp is .469-.470 and everything is great.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use an overall length of 1.215" with a .468/.469 crimp using 230gr LRN bullets.

I case gauge all rounds and the only ones that don't fit the gauge are split cases that I missed when sorting brass.

I'm using Dillon dies on a 650 press with a Lee Factory Crimp die in the final position.


Good Luck,



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't had the time yet to get to the range to see if they chamber and shoot.


In order to get a col of 1.215, I'd have to seat the bullet so that the "ring" is covered and I figired that would make the crimp even larger; maybe I'll try a few that way though and see what happens when I get to the range.


Also, there's are very noticable bulge/ line that you can see where the base of the bullet is inside the case, just doesn't look right.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since you have a micrometer/caliper available to measure (good deal - all loaders should have something!), measure a couple of the rounds that don't go into the case gage.   I agree that all rounds should pass a standard loaded-round gage!  


What causes me problems is the BASE of the case, just above the extraction groove.   Especially with "range brass" that came from who-knows-where.   There are several guns commonly in use, chambered in.45 auto, that allow the base to swell when fired.  A standard sizer die cannot remove that bulge.   When you measure, if you get ANY diameter above 0.473 inch, except for the "rim" itself, you have a badly bulged case.   Not to mention any names, but G*&^K and grease guns and other sub guns all have unsupported or very sloppy chambers that allow the base area to swell on firing.


It is hard to bulge a 45 auto case up at the mouth with just a taper crimp that tightens down to 0.472.   That is just barely crimping.  If you are seating and crimping in a single die, back off the die body to just seat, but not crimp at all, a few cases.   If those will not chamber, then you are not causing your problem just by adding the crimp!


Most of the 45 auto 230 grain LRN are made to crimp right at the leading edge of the "driving band".   Shorten your OAL until you can get the mouth to slip up over the band and crimp right where it starts the nose ogive curve. Then, look down from the top of the loaded round and see that you can still see part of the thickness of the case mouth that has not been buried into the lead of the slug.  Just a little of the thickness should be crimped into the lead, most should be left free of the lead so that proper headspacing (on the mouth of the case) is not lost.  You are probably trying to jam the leading edge of the lead driving band of the slug into the beginning of the throat of the barrel


Make sure you do not get any bulging of the exposed part of the slug just above the crimp when you crimp, either.  That is a problem some folks have with the 200 grain SWC (cast much softer usually), not normally with the 230 gr LRN.  


Most commercially cast 45 auto slugs are cast REALLY hard, like 14-16 Brinnell hardness.  Sometimes it take a firmer hand on the seating step to make the crimp - sorta like seating jacketed slugs.  


If all else fails, then I would get a separate crimp die to apply the taper crimp after you have seated to the desired length.  I favor the Redding profile crimp die, but the Lee Factory Crimp Die is very good, and has an extra use.......It can be used to remove those nasty bulges that the sizing die cannot reach by getting the "add on" parts in the "Lee Bulge Buster."   Those extra parts allow you to size the ENTIRE case (even the rim, which is OK, if not actually "factory spec").   If you do have bulges down by the base, the Bulge Buster is the only cheap way to get them out.  I found I went from having 5-10 rounds per hundred not fit the loaded round gage to less than one per hundred when I started "busting the bulges" off of all my 45 auto cases.


And, finally, there are a few designs of the 230 grain lead round nose molds that make a slug which does not taper quickly through the ogive.   The fat nose can hit the throat and rifling and prevent the round going in the chamber the last 1/10 of an inch.   Compare the slugs you are using to those that known-successsful 45 auto shooters are using.   Personally, I dislike the LRN so much that if I shoot a 230 grain bullet in the 1911, I use a 230 grain Truncated Cone bullet, which NEVER hits the rifling if seated at the correct OAL.


Good luck, GJ


PS - the "bulge" you see in the case mid-height at the base of the seated slug is normal.  A 45 auto sizer die takes the brass down to a little less than 0.473 inch.  Inserting the slug counts on having neck tension from that tight case help hold the slug in place.   All this works right when you figure out your other problems.  It is ALMOST NEVER solved right by dropping down to a .451 bullet diameter, and besides, you will have a hard time convincing a commercial caster to size small just for you.  You have a different problem than the bullet diameter.   If you doubt this part, measure the case right where the bullet bulge is the most visible.  I'll bet you are not over 0.473 inch - the magic diameter for a well-formed loaded round.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for all the responses but especially Garrison Joe, you really explained everything well and gave me much "food for thought"  Following your advise, i decided to load shorter, get the mouth of the case over that driving ring and starting making up some dummy rounds first ( no primer or powder) When I hit upon a COL of 1.220- 1.225, everything was great. Got a crimp of .470/.471, everything passed all the "plunk" tests in my case gauge and the barrel of my Ruger 1911 with ease ( yes, I removed the barrel from gun for the tests)


You were correct also that when it was loaded longer, that driving ring was stopping the round from properly chambering/ headspacing on the case mouth, way too long. I guess I figured since my 230 FMj loads were at a COL of 1.255- 1.260 and all was well that the 230 lrn should be longer also. I forgot to figure in the 230FMJ's don't have that ring and can still be chambered correctly on the case mouth but 230 LRN's can't. Live and learn........


I use a Dillon SDB so I do seat and crimp separetly.


Thanks again everyone; I got it figured out now........


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just a quick update......got to the range today to test my loads, they actually turned out to be COL  1.225-1.230 ( some slight variatations in seated depth due to slight different "ogive" shapes of the bullets)  5.5 gr of Unique, 230 gr LRN bullet, new Starline brass, Federal primerrs, crimped at .470-.471

Everything was great, all ammo fed, chambered, ejected as they should.......no problems at all and a pretty accurate load too. I might experiment with a 5.2 / 5.3 load but at least now I've got my proven WB load.


Thanks again for the advise !!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 years later...

I'm new to 45 acp reloading. I looked in the reloading book and it just shows the OAL.

Is there a in between number? meaning is it best to have a little over the OAL or under?

I'm using Lee Die set and I've noticed that when seating the bullet, there is a difference in the

length when I measure with my calipers not much but there is a slight variance



Link to comment
Share on other sites


First, OAL length will vary some because the seating stem in your dies are not pushing directly on the end of the bullet. They stem is pressing on some point on the ogive(curve, for lack of an easier explanation) of the bullet, unless its a semi or full wadcutter. The bullets will vary slightly.

Second, the OAL of a semi auto cartridge should not be determined by a manual. It will be determined by what feeds in the gun. I can't think of the last time I measured the OAL length of my 45 Auto ammo but I will bet it would vary as well. However, I do know that it feeds in my guns all the time.

My advice is to get a loaded cartridge gauge and make sure everything gauges. Some will tell you to use your barrel but i don't recommend it for two reasons. One, it doesn't gauge the complete cartridge. Secondly, and more importantly, at some point, the possibility of you getting distracted and accidentally having a live round in your gun when you don't want it to be there. Phone rings, wife hollars from the house, neighbor pulls up.

However, back to your question. If you use the OAL length from the manual, slightly shorter would be better. That way, when you do have that long bullet, and you will, it will still be short enough to feed.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Listen to Boggus, get a case gage!

I don't seat the bullets to a printed COL.  Seat them to what will chamber every time which generally means seating the lead bullet as deep as possible.  If the throat on your barrel is not free bored, the bullet will contact the throat before the case mouth can contact the chamber. 

A case gage will give you honest feedback while you are reloading.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On .45 Auto rounds, here's two very important lengths/dimensions to check.


The top of the driving band on the slug has to be RIGHT at the case mouth.  Because the .45 auto chamber has NO throat, the bullet nose, forward of the case mouth, is shoved right into the rifling!  There is usually just about 0.050" taper at the start of barrel lands, but don't count on the amount of taper being the same on every gun!


So, find the top edge of the driving band (the full-diameter band closest to the nose).  On most round nose (cast) bullets, the driving band is slightly larger diameter (0.003" or maybe more) than the largest diameter of the round nose.  If you have a bullet design where the nose blends smoothly into the driving band,  well, you have to be real careful to find where you can just start to measure the nose tapering down to a smaller diameter, and seat just behind that point.  (Mark that taper start point with a sharpie on your seater "setup" slug.)


I use a truncated cone flat nose slug design.  On that, it is very clear where the transition is between driving band and the conical nose.  Seat so the case mouth comes just to that junction.


And some folks use a semiwadcutter (target) bullet design for the 1911.  That's fine - seat so the driving band is right at the case mouth, too.


The main concept - don't have any length of the front driving band (which should be slug diameter of 0.451 to 0.452") showing in front of the case mouth.   


At this point, load several rounds and test them all in a tightly-cut chamber gauge.  All should chamber.  That does not mean you are done yet, though.


Second critical length - an unfired round has to be short enough that you can rack the slide back and the loaded round pops out easily.  Too long a length on your loaded cartridges, and you will regret the first time you have a bobble of some sort that requires you to reload with a full magazine and only fire one or two rounds.  If you can't pass the second length test when you are properly passing the first length test, choose another bullet (one with a shorter nose - round nose flat point (RNFP) designs are ideal for being as short as possible)!


And, finally, some guns feed a particular design of bullet only if the OAL is right for that bullet and that feed ramp geometry and magazine lip design and barrel throating work!  So, third test is to rigorously test your loads that they feed well every time!  That may mean running practice sessions with 250 rounds, tested over at least a couple sessions!  If you can't pass the third test with the load length that worked for test 1 and 2, choose another bullet or get some work done on the gun!


Because there are tons of designs for cast bullets even for the 1911 pistol, any loading book can only suggest the OAL that is right for the load.  As BD and JFN have stressed, the final answer comes from what your gun(s) need.  This is not like loading jacketed slug rounds where the bullet is within a few micro inches of the design specification every time and for every box you pick up off the shelf, over 20 years of production.


Good luck, GJ

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
Im new to wild bunch shooting but have been reloading 45ACP for years now. When I switched to reloading lead bullets for cas, I ran into the same problem.  What garrison joe and boggus deal posted are right on target. (Pun intended). But as a note, for myself,  I found that I get much better and more consistent results using a Lee factory crimp die instead of a tapered crimp die. It does not roll the leading edge of the case over as much and you get a better fit to where it rests in the barrel.  I also check every load with a case guage. If it fits into the guage, I've found I have yet to have a feeding problem.  Works for me! Good luck and happy & safe shooting.  W. L.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

WL - Glad some of our advice was working for you.


If you are getting ANY roll of the mouth from a taper crimp die on .45 auto, the crimp die is set too low or it's mis-manufactured!


Take your calipers and measure RIGHT at the mouth.  If you crimp tighter than about 0.470" you are putting too much crimp on with the taper crimp die.  You still want at least half the thickness of the brass at the mouth showing (look down from the nose of loaded cartridge - should see most of the thickness of the brass in the mouth looking back at you).  If you are burying the mouth into the lead, or rolling it over the ogive of the slug, that's too much crimp.  The taper crimp should only be setting the inside third of the wall thickness at the mouth into the lead, so you still have a good ledge of brass outside the slug to headspace against the end of the chamber!


A Lee factory crimp die can work for you, but if it seems to be "correcting" the shape of the crimp compared to what the taper crimp die was putting on, you probably had the taper crimp die adjusted too low.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...