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Thread: New to reloading- looking for tips

  1. #1
    Junior Shooter
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    New to reloading- looking for tips

    Hey everyone, new guy here who's just getting into reloading!

    I bought a Hornady Lock N Load AP press with case feeder. Hornady 9mm dies, Hornady powder cop, case plate, and Hornady electronic powder scale. Still a few more things to get before I start, but so far that's what I've got.

    I plan to load around 5000 rounds of 9mm and 1000 rounds of. 45ACP in my first year.

    Anyone have any tips for someone just starting?

    Also I know it's suggested to get a reloading manual, but what is it that it'll tell me? I'll be using Hogdon CFE Pistol powder and they list how many grains to put in on their site. What I'm getting at is it worth the $60+ that I'll have to pay here in Canada? Is there a lot more valuable info that is needed to properly reload? Probably a stupid question, but I really don't know.

    Thanks in advance!

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  2. #2
    Marksman noylj's Avatar
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    You read the manual to learn how to reload and so you'll have load data available. If you have already read and reloaded, and you are really only going to use ONE powder, then you might be able to do fine with just the powder manufacturer's information.
    So, do you know how to adjust the dies? How to work up a load? How to establish the COL for your gun (oh, forget that, manual don't seem to cover THAT anymore), effect of burn rate, do you know all the safety tips (such as always inspect the height of the powder in the case after charging with powder, the important differences between lead, plated, and jacketed bullets and ensuring you don't use data for monolithic or frangible bullets, and all the proper terms?
    However, if you check several reloading manuals, you'll find that the start/max loads can change quite a bit from manual to manual. This is do to different lots of powder, different bullets (and, sometimes, even different lots of the "same" bullet), and, to a lesser extent, different cases and primers.
    I have always checked several sources and started at the lowest start load.
    Your "problem" is you are stepping right in with a new powder, so there is very little printed data for it, other than what the Hodgdon site has.
    I like "Handloading for Handloaders" by Nolte for a great treatise on reloading handgun cartridges.
    Finally, what is your goal for this ammo? Do you just want to shoot and put holes in targets or do you want to take part in some action pistol matches or do you want to load very accurate loads for minimal group size?
    What weight bullet do you plan to use?
    I have no idea what things are like in Canada (hell, I assume), but if you can, you really should load your first 100-200 bullets with REAL jacketed bullets and NOT plated. If you can get a good price, you can buy EXCELLENT jacketed bullets from Precision Delta or Zero (Powder Valley, is possible) for the same or a bit more than plated. Jacketed are much easier for the beginner and they are still the best.
    Next, throw away the powder cop and buy an RCBS Lock-Out die. It stops the press. With the cop, you have to LOOK at the die stem, at a time when you are more interested in the bullet seating.
    The GREAT thing about the Hornady AP is that the charged case in station 4 is directly under your nose so you have NO excuse NOT to actually LOOK IN THE CASE AT THE POWDER HEIGHT before placing a bullet on the case.

    Last edited by noylj; 11-26-2017 at 12:30 AM.

  3. #3
    Marksman noylj's Avatar
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    Here are some of my tips:

    Case Cleaning
    Without a doubt the least important and most talked about part of reloading.

    1) All that is needed is to wipe off the outside of the case with a rag, unless shooting black powder. All you need to do is remove any dirt/grit from the case exterior so the sizing die isn't damaged. Accuracy does not go up with cleanliness of the case.
    2) 30 minutes with 20/40 corn will clean and polish the case exterior and remove some of the interior soot. If you deprime first, you will remove the residual white powder sometimes left in the primer pocket. The use of 20/40 grit keeps any media from packing in the flash hole or primer pocket.
    For very dirty cases with dried mud or whatever, ground nut hulls work well--but they also produce a lot of dust that can pack inside a case and take a lot of elbow grease to remove.
    Some folks like to add an abrasive to polish the brass (jeweler's rouge or Nu-Finish) and some like to add mineral spirits and paper towel/used laundry softener sheets to the media to remove some of the powder. Corn doesn't produce much powder.
    3) 20-30 minutes in an ultrasonic cleaner, using hot water/Dawn/citric acid will completely remove the soot and give the brass a slight polish. You will need to rinse the cases and let air-dry. Some go as far as to dry the cases in an oven and then tumble them for more polish. I find just air-drying on a towel is more than adequate.
    4) 6-8 hours with a rotary tumbler (some say 2 hours, but 6 hours is about the minimum for me), stainless steel pins, dawn, and citric acid will completely clean and polish the cases. The pins have to be separated from the cases and the cases need to be rinsed and air-dried. It is best to pour off as much of the dirty solution as possible and then add enough water and pour off to get the solution clear. Then you need to have a media separator (my RCBS works perfect) with a tub/bucket full of water to get the pins to fall out from the cases.

    Everything beyond step #1 is done for the reloader's pleasure and not for any need.

    I prefer #2, as #1 hurts my arthritis and the rest take more time/money--though I have the equipment for all four.
    If you simply have to have really shiny brass, forget the US system and go with the stainless pins--but be ready for a LOT longer time for cleaning and a lot more water usage.
    For all methods, I prefer to decap first.


  4. #4
    Marksman noylj's Avatar
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    Your COL (Cartridge Overall Length) is determined by;
    your barrel (chamber and throat dimensions)
    and
    your gun (feed ramp)
    and
    your magazine (COL that fits magazine and when the magazine lips release the round for feeding)
    and
    the PARTICULAR bullet you are using.
    What worked in a pressure barrel or the lab's gun or in my gun has very little to do with what will work best in your gun.
    Take the barrel out of the gun. Create two inert dummy rounds (no powder or primer) at max COL and remove enough case mouth flare for rounds to chamber (you can achieve this by using a sized case—expand-and-flare it, and remove the flare just until the case "plunks" in the barrel and lock the die body down temporarily).
    Drop the inert rounds in and decrease the COL until they chamber completely. This will be your "max" effective COL. I prefer to have the case head flush with the barrel hood (or a few mils higher than where the head of an empty case aligns with the barrel, as all cases are too short and I prefer to minimize head space). After this, place the inert rounds in the magazine and be sure they fit the magazine and feed and chamber.
    You can also do this for any chambering problems you have. Remove the barrel and drop rounds in until you find one that won't chamber. Take that round and "paint" the bullet and case black with Magic Marker or other marker. Drop this round in the barrel and rotate it back-and-forth.
    Remove and inspect the round:
    1) Scratches on bullet--COL is too long
    2) Scratches on edge of the case mouth--insufficient crimp
    3) Scratches just below the case mouth--too much crimp, you're crushing the case
    4) Scratches on case at base of bullet--bullet seated crooked due to insufficient case expansion (not case mouth flare) or improper seating stem fit
    5) Scratches on case just above extractor groove--case bulge not removed during sizing. May need a bulge buster.


  5. #5
    Marksman noylj's Avatar
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    Last edited by noylj; 11-26-2017 at 12:35 AM.

  6. #6
    Marksman noylj's Avatar
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    Die Set-Up:
    1) Sizing die: With shell holder installed (or shell plate), raise ram and hold UP. Screw the die body down until it contacts the shell holder. Lower ram, insert case, and raise ram. With case in die, tighten lock ring. You don't NEED to use a clamping lock ring with lock screw at all, but you can. I too use only clamping lock rings (see Hornady and Forster) or Lee/Dillon lock nuts. I actually prefer Lee and Dillon nuts, particularly for use with die bushings or tool heads.
    I find that so far, after over 40 years, I have never had to adjust a decapping rod as received. When I break or bend one, I mark on the decapping rod where it and the die body meet so, when I install a new pin, I can align the pin in a case and set the stem back where it was. Since going to using a Lee Universal Decapping Die as part of case sort and inspection, I have never broken or bent a pin.
    2) Expander die: If the expander is on a stem, raise ram with shell holder all the way UP. Screw die body down until it just touches the shell holder, turn up half to one full turn up. Loosen the expander stem and raise it up, lower ram, place case in ram, and raise it all the way up and, if needed, help the expander to enter the case. Tighten the lock ring for the die body. Lower ram, incrementally adjust expander down until you get the case mouth flare you want and, with expander stem in case, tighten the expander lock nut.
    If using a one-piece expander, like from Hornady, you simply use a case to get the expansion and flare you want and, with the case still in the die, tighten the die body lock ring.
    3) Powder-through powder measure: The expander is loose and floats, so simply screw the powder die body down until you get the case mouth flare you want and ensure that the powder measure actuator is fully cycling up-and-down, and lock the powder die down.
    With progressives that have die bushings, I often find it better to set-up the powder measure on another station that avoids having the powder measure hit the primer tube or anything else as I adjust the powder die. When everything is correct, I lock the powder die to the bushing and move it to the powder station. With the bushings having several positions for the bushing to enter the press, you can find a position where the powder measure doesn't interfere with anything else.
    With tool heads, you generally can leave the measure-to-tool head loose so you can adjust the powder die body without rotating the powder measure and lock the powder die in place when everything is set correct.
    4) Seating die: Inspect seating stem to bullet fit and, if required, order a correctly fitting seating stem. Why waste time trying to improve your dies if your seating stem is not a proper fit and seats the bullet crooked?
    Place expanded and flared case in shell holder and raise ram all the way UP and hold it there. Turn seating stem all the way UP. Screw the seating die body down until the crimp section hits the case and screw the die body UP two full turns. Place bullet on case and raise ram. Screw seating stem down until it contacts the bullet. Lower ram and screw seating stem down at least two full turns and lock the die body. Raise ram and seat the bullet. Adjust seating stem to get targeted COL (Cartridge Overall Length) and, with the round still under tension, lock the seating stem down.
    If you are using the die for crimp, you will need to NOT lock the seating stem, but rather raise it all the way, and adjust the die body down until you get the targeted crimp and, with the round still in the die, lock the die body down, turn seating stem until it contacts the bullet, and lock the seating stem down.
    Crimp die: Leave die floating until you get the crimp and, again with round in the die, lock the die body down.

    Last edited by noylj; 11-26-2017 at 12:34 AM.

  7. #7
    Junior Shooter
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    Wow thank you for taking all that time to type those posts, that's awesome!!

    I plan to shoot either 115 or 124 grain 9mm. These are just for target rounds, so I was planning on just shooting light loads. No point in using more powder if they're just going to hit paper and steel targets right? That being said I'd prefer to have as tight of groups as possible.

    I'm open to a different powder, I was more so price shopping on it, and had seen good reviews, which is why I thought I'd go with CFE Pistol.

    My brass cleaning plan was to go with a Frankford Arsenal tumbler with the corn media. This way seemed to be the simplest with the best results.



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