The Remington Bulldog Cartridge-conversion is complete, so the next logical step is to set up to reload .45 Colt. To that end I became the proud owner of a set of Hornady Custom dies. I paid a little more than I would have online, but once you factor in shipping I was actually ahead, plus I got to support my favorite local gun store. Also picked up a shell-holder, a box of CCI Large Pistol Primers and 100 185gr. cast SWCs. I’d actually planned to go with a heavier bullet, but they were right there and the price was right so what the heck.
Consulting the internet for reloading data I figured that 8.5 grains of Unique was a reasonably conservative load and ought to be about right to start. After a nice dinner with the Light of My Life I headed into the shop to have a go. I read the instructions, set the powder-drop and got going.
The de-priming die worked exactly like the .38/.357 dies I have been using so that was easy enough. The I looked at the expanding die. This did not look like the .38 die, so I read and followed the directions. There were a couple of small bobbles but I got on track quickly enough. Switching the Hornady hand-primer to Large Pistol primers was dead-easy, and before long I was ready for the final step- seating the bullets. I checked the directions again, which were alarmingly vague, and set it up the way they seemed to indicated…
“Woah! That’s not right!”
I adjusted the die in a way that seemed sensible, then tried again…
“That’s… uh… better?”
OK, it was at least symmetrical, but it still wasn’t going to be easy to chamber… Back to the instructions. After carefully re-reading the directions the light-bulb came on and the problem was obvious…
“Yep- got it! These directions are useless.”
That being the case I filed them appropriately and took the die apart and examined it. Once it was in pieces it was pretty obvious how it was supposed to work. I reassembled the die, mounted it in the press and fiddled a little. Voila! Success. The bullets are seated quite deep, but being relatively light-for-caliber the nose of the SWC is quite long. The specified maximum overall length for .45 Colt is 1.6″, so I loaded these to 1.58″ with a fairly stout roll-crimp.
I now have 41 loaded cartridges, two candidates for the bullet-puller and a good working understanding of Hornady’s seating die, which is actually pretty neat. The Custom die has a sleeve that goes over the cartridge and bullet and aligns the bullet so that they seat straight every time, then a plunger seats the bullet to depth- useful, that.
I also learned an important lesson- if the instructions suck don’t try to use them.
Good to know, that last one. I’ll let you know how these shoot next week; too busy for a range trip the next few days. Y’all have a good weekend!
Michael Tinker Pearce, 18 May 2017
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