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Final Crimp Question for .45

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Newish to loading .45acp on my Dillon Xl650.

Just installed the conversion kit and dies, not getting the greatest reliability in the final Dillon crimp die as some rounds feel tight in the Dillon case gauge whilst others plop in and fall right out.

Replaces the third Dillon crimp die with a Lee Factory crimp die and getting the results that I want, but wondering why the Dillon crimp die isn't working as well (rather use the Dillon die) is there something that I haven't done right setting it up? Any hints? Should the Dillon crimp die be working so that every completed round plunks in and slides out of the Dillon case gauge with ease?


Thanks in advance.

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Use that Lee factory crimp die with a Lee bulge buster kit together as recommended here before, and you remove the large base diameter from the cases, just above the extractor groove.   You can use it on fired cases, or even loaded ones when a loaded round gauge says the round is oversize.     Your loaded round gauge probably chokes on a few rounds with 90% of the round entering the gauge, then stopping short.   That is the bulged base most of the time.  One other cause is a little lead being extruded up at the mouth from the seating and taper crimp.   But, most of the time it's a fat base on the cartridge case.   And yes, it's because almost all .45 auto sizing dies do not REACH FAR ENOUGH DOWN THE CASE to size the bulge off the case (they all run into the shell holder).  

The Dillon crimp die will work fine.   Use that FCD for bulge busting, because it pushes the entire case though the sizing ring.   Here's the instructions from Lee:

Lee Bulge Buster

It's pretty cheap, and works.  You will feel and see a shiny a spot where the LEE FCD die reduces the case diameter just above the extraction groove.

If you just use the Lee Factory Crimp Die to try to correct case size during crimping, the shell holder (or shell plate on a Dillon) will likely prevent the lowest part of the case entering that Lee FCD, and you will still have some bulge that defeats 100% feed reliability.

good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe
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Thanks all appreciate the advice.

I've loaded for a lot of calibers over 40+ years and .44-40 and now .45auto have been the two that have made me feel like a total novice.

Been so busy with Christmas and its blisteringly hot down here so I haven't been able to spend long stretches in my reloading room.

Put the Dillon crimp die back in and found and followed this setup suggestion and I think I have it nailed.

Reading heaps....it seems .468 is the crimp to aim for with lead pills?

I have noticed that using a kinetic hammer on a dummy round loaded using the Dillon crimp take a LOT more whacking to remove the pill than one loaded using the Lee FCD? 


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The SAAMI cartridge design has the main body of the .45 auto case at 0.476" diameter at the edge of the extractor groove, slightly tapering to about 0.473" at the mouth.   The .45 auto only gets a taper crimp to protect the head spacing ledge that the case wall provides at the crimp.  So, I never crimp tighter than 0.471"   You can/should back that Dillon crimp die body off a little.   You are making a tighter crimp than you need, and could run out of headspace, and when that happens, you get a few firing pin strikes that don't fire the primer since the cartridge can be driven a little ways into the chamber.


.44-40 and now .45 auto have... made me feel like a total novice.

Yep, both .45 auto and .44 wcf are persnickety loading.  In different ways.  If 1911s were routinely cut with a 0.150" long throat or more, it would be real easy to load.   But, of course, that gun was designed to be a FMJ ball gun, not a lead slinger, so that's the why of the short throat.  Some smiths have a reamer to cut a longer throat in the barrel, and since the barrel is easily removed from the gun, it should not be be a big charge.

If SAAMI committee had really done a good job spec'ing MODERN, tight (for the 1930s) chamber and barrel dimensions for the standard, and even renamed it different than what Winchester originally named it, say, ".44-40" - we 100 years later would all be happy loaders.  As it is, we are dealing with a case designed to be rolled out of sheet copper and shot down a non-standard sized barrel, just so guns made in the 1800s could still be used, even though most were 40 or 50 years old and designed for black powder that was just about obsolete when the committee met..  🤣

good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe
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