Why Won't My .45 ACP RN Loads Fit??


Gary H
September 17, 2003, 09:46 PM
I am loading Laser-Cast 230gr. RN into new, trimmed (.888") IMI brass. Oregon Trail's own load book call for an OAL of 1.260". Unfortunately, the base of the cartridge will not fully insert into a maximum cartridge gauge. I've used this gauge since discovering that my Valtro will not go into battery with out of spec ammunition. Anyway, the base extends .032" beyond the gauge. The cartridge won't even fit before going through my Lee Factory Crimp Die.. turned 1/2 turn beyond touching. The bullet is undistorted.. ie. the loaded bullet looks as it did before loading. The unloaded brass fits just fine. The bullet contour is round nose, but as with other RN there is a ridge which extends beyond the brass. It is clear that this ridge is what is causing the problem. Speer suggest an OAL of 1.270". Oregon Trail's load book warns on each page that one should "never reduce the stated overall lengths." Ehhhh.. Emailed Oregon Trail... What next??

I just used my knife to cut away the slight ridge that extends beyond the top of the brass. The round nose contour ends and then the bullet diameter increases by .004" to .452". The full .452" extends about 0.030" beyond the end of the brass. It then reduces to .448" and the round nose contour begins. I simply cut the bullet down to .448" .. all the way to the brass and the max. cartridge gauge was happy. I figure that I could load 1000 rounds in about four days of trimming.

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September 17, 2003, 10:48 PM
Change bullets?

Zak Smith
September 17, 2003, 11:03 PM
If the bullet ogive surface (the "curved part") touches the rifling, you generally need to seat the bullet deeper.

I've had this happen in both my Dan Wesson Patriot and my CZ 9mm's.

For the DW1911, if I seat West Coast 200gr RN at 1.265" or longer, then chamber a round and eject it, the bullet will have some slight indentions from the rifling in the barrel. 1.270" or longer and it'll get stuck or not go into battery.

You can determine the OAL at which the bullets will function in your gun by:

1. Remove the barrel from the gun. Yes, take it out.

2. Load a dummy round with the same crimp and everything at the length that doesn't work.

3. Drop the dummy round into the chamber of the now-freestanding barrel. It should drop in cleanly, and not stick when you turn the barrel over. While inserted, you should be able to mash it into the chamber with your thumb and still rotate it around freely, and it should still fall out freely. If you cannot do this, reduce the OAL by .005" and repeat. Then knock off another .005" for margin.

4. Finally, if this is near a max load, you'll have to start 10% down with powder and work up again, since you've reduced the OAL from the published load.

5. Shoot a few hundred through your to make sure it runs right.


September 17, 2003, 11:07 PM
I had the same problem.

The .45acp headspaces on the cartridge mouth.

that lead ridge messes everything up.

Run those loads back through the seating die until that ridge
doesn't show.

I had to redo 250 rounds when I first started reloading .45

Gary H
September 17, 2003, 11:22 PM
Zak Smith:

The bullet is not overly long. The problem is as jsalcedo states. Of course, running the bullet in to eliminate the ridge also raises the pressure. Perhaps Sven has it right. It seems that a manufacturer should be able to get their specs right. I'll wait for their response. Maybe I have made some mistake here, but I can't imagine what.


I have some West Coast 230 RN and was going to compare the lead to the plated. My previous problems with plated was in .38 Special load.

Zak Smith
September 17, 2003, 11:35 PM

Sorry for the misunderstanding, but I'm not talking about the bullet being "overly long". I am talking about exactly what you describe, and I don't think it's specific to lead bullets.

The RN bullets I've got on hand have a .452" diameter base which comprises an approx .280" high cylinder. On top of this cylinder is the round/conical nose of the bullet.

If you imagine this bullet seated in a case, and then inserting that into the chamber, the chamber is wider than about .472" to accomodate the case with some margin. Then is constricts a little down for headspace. And the rifling's lands will constrict even more. If any part of the bullet contacts either the headspace ring or the rifling lands, the cartridge will either fail to go into battery, or if it does, it will get "stuck" to some extent making manually racking the slide extremely difficult.

Some bullet profiles offend more than other in this regard. For example, a Speer Gold Dot 124gr in 9mm has an ogive that starts pretty early relative to its base, so even in short-"land" barrel such as the CZ, it can be seated out to 1.155". On the other hand, a 115gr Hornady XTP has a straight base for much longer, and thus must be seated to a much shorter OAL to get it to function in the same gun.

You can reduce the OAL of a load with the understanding that it increases pressure. Thus, you must reduce the powder charge appropriately and then work-up as usual. In .45ACP, for mild-power loads (e.g. 165PF), decreasing the OAL by 0.030" isn't going to make a noticable difference.


Gary H
September 18, 2003, 01:26 AM
Sorry Zak.. didn't mean to cut you short.

I don't think that I have ever used the exact bullet used in the loading manual... until now.. I'll accept a slightly different velocity, but not even fitting into the chamber is a bit much.

September 18, 2003, 05:42 AM
Suggest OAL of 1.240-1.250"; please respond with powder and charge weight so I can suggest appropriate reduction.

In fact, supply every detail you have patience for.....................

September 18, 2003, 09:13 AM
The longer OAL is probably fine for most factory and military spec barrels and they comprise the majority of 1911 barrels in the world. But, you have a match grade barrel that has a tighter chamber, tighter throat and the rifling may start closer to the chamber. So, a slightly shorter OAL is needed to keep the bullet from wedging in the throat. Depending on just how tight the chamber happens to be, you may need to resort to the Lee Factory Crimp die to get the whole cartridge down in diameter.

Steve Smith
September 18, 2003, 09:37 AM
I echo Zak's ideas.

September 18, 2003, 11:02 AM
Gary, what's your crimp diameter?

September 18, 2003, 11:33 AM
but not even fitting into the chamber is a bit much.
Thing is, chambers differ. Loads that work fine in my Briley and my wife's Kimber won't chamber in her Ruger. Unless the load is near max, don't worry about reducing the OAL a smidge to get reliable chambering.

Gary H
September 18, 2003, 11:34 AM
IMI Match
Laser Cast 230 RN
4.1gr Titegroup
OAL: 1.260
RCBS Carbide Dies
Lee Factory Die..tightened 1/2 turn (.464)

September 18, 2003, 01:07 PM
Gary, Just thinking out loud......... that seems to me to be way too much crimp. Could you be distorting your brass or the bullet just at the edge of the case mouth? With that much crimp, something has to move somewhere and I'm wondering if that small area of exposed "flatness" on your bullet is bulging out. Just some thoughts. Hope it helps.

Zak Smith
September 18, 2003, 01:47 PM
As another data-point, with the West Coast bullets, I crimp them down to .462" with no bad effects so far.


Gary H
September 18, 2003, 01:47 PM
Except that it will not fit into the max gauge..even before the final crimp. A bullet will pass through the max gauge prior to loading, so I must be distorting the bullet due to not enough belle.

I increased the belle slightly and reduced the crimp and I need an OAL of 1.214 to get the resultant cartridge to fit in the Max Gauge...barely.

mr. e
September 18, 2003, 07:38 PM
This sounds like a similar problem I had when I first started loading. It happened with lead bullets and sometimes with copper jacketed ones. The way I've solved the problem is to not try to seat the bullet and crimp the round at the same time. I first back off the crimping die and seat the bullet to the proper depth. Then I back off the seating die and crimp the case until it passes the gauge.

I found that when I try to crimp and seat with lead in the same operation, I deform the bullet and it bulges out over the front of the case. When I try to do the same thing with copper, the case gets deformed. Either way, the resulting round gets stuck about the same place in the gauge, just before the base of the case seats in the gauge.

Gary H
September 19, 2003, 12:24 AM
mr. e:

I'm seating and crimping in separate steps..always have..made lots of other mistakes..

Gary H
September 19, 2003, 12:33 AM
I am posting a well thought out reply by Bruce Gray, the author of Oregon Trail's Load Book. A friend of mine told me that he was a wealth of knowledge. He certainly is kind to reply in such detail:

"Dear Gary,

Thanks for your excellent question. I'm sorry your Valtro didn't seem to work with our .230's. Read on, please.

Do not shorten the OAL below that listed in the manual! This bullet is designed to be seated with a small amount of shoulder protruding from the case mouth, against which the case is to be taper cripmed. The OAL's in our book are all absolutely correct. The manual has no data errors of this sort, so you can trust it.

Please permit me a shot at an explaination: Dillon's and other cartridge gauges are apparently made to minimum SAAMI chamber specs, which only makes sense of course. However, in the case of cartridges like .45 ACP there are cartridge specifications for both jacketed and cast / lead bullets. Cast bullet specs typically run .001" to .0015" larger than jacketed bullets for a given caliber, in accordance with long-established norms. OTB Co. follows these norms. Thus, case gauges won't usually give a true indication for cast bullet loads; as with yours, the shoulders always hang up.

However, this specific situation isn't necessarily an indication of a problem with safe and reliable function in a given pistol!

American commercial reamer makers and gun manufacturers include a rifling leade diameter large enough to accomodate cast bullets in older calibers where such specifications are established, I.E.: .45 ACP. Domestically-made pistols in calibers like .40 S&W for which no SAAMI cast bullet specs exist still will generally chamber cast bullet loads when loaded to factory-equivalent OAL's. For example, out .40 / 10mm bullets measure at around .4013", and will chamber in most all .40 pistols when loaded correctly using our OAL data.

On the other hand, European gun makers have a well-known mania for tight chambers. Why? They do not have our tradition of handloading nor of using cast bullets, and some such as HK and Tanfoglio form chambers directly in the barrel making process, yielding tighter leades. European pistols in .45 ACP are often chambered with very tight rifling leade diameters. In any event, the problem you are experiencing is caused by that small diameter rifling leade present in your Valtro pistol. It's probably adequate for most jacketed ammo, but just won't accept ours or any other cast bullet measuring over .451".

These are nice guns, and this is fortunately an easy fix for any good pistolsmith with a standard SAAMI-spec chambering reamer, a depth mic and five minutes of time. Such reaming will not affect accuracy if done correctly, and assuming your pistol's headspace is also correct to begin with. As a side benefit, chamber pressures will be reduced slightly, which can't hurt a thing! I strongly recommend you get this done.

As a side note, why are you finding it necessary to trim new brass? If your chamber is so short as to not accept new PMC brass, you have another issue that a pistolsmith should fix for you. I have fired about one million rounds of .45 ACP earlier in my 30 years as a top practical pistol and NRA Action competitor. I have never trimmed a single case of it. Besides, unlike in precision rifle shooting, such case preparation is meaningless in pistols; a few thousandths one way or another will have no measurable impact on accuracy so long as taper crimps values are not excessive to begin with.

I hope this information helps you, and invite you to get back to me with anything else I can assist you with. If you cannot find a local gunsmith you trust to ream your Valtro barrel, I will gladly do it for you as a favor any time after my return on the 28th. Thanks!

Bruce Gray
Grayguns Co."

September 19, 2003, 05:20 AM
Do what Mr. Gray says (or run those 1.214" with less Titegroup; suggest 4.8g W231).

Steve Smith
September 19, 2003, 09:08 AM
Sounds like Gary agrees with us, the ogive is most likely contacting the rifling of the barrel. I still agree with Zak and WeShoot2, seat the bullet deeper and drop the load a bit.

September 19, 2003, 09:15 AM
I would most certainly see what Mr. Jardine thinks about it while shooting loads seated deeper and lowered powder charges in the meantime.........

September 19, 2003, 12:17 PM
I had the same difficulty chambering with National Bullet Co. and other 230gr LRN makes (most of the single lube groove 230gr LRN's seem to be almost identical in profile other than the lube brand used). I reduced powder charge (Titegroup) and seated till the shoulder was even with the case mouth. Even at that point, the case wall diameter and the bullet diameter caused rough chambering and malfunctions in my Glock 30. I switched to a Lee factory crimp die instead of the taper crimp, and the resizing that it performs proved enough to provide adequate chambering in my pistol.

September 30, 2003, 04:51 PM
Could it be the crimp? I just loaded 50 rnds in .45acp using Hornady 185 gr jack swc with an oal of 1.26 and they will not chamber fully. When I compare them side by side with a factory fmj roundnose (that is a hair longer btw) I can see that my crimp is less. How much more should I crimp? Is it measurable by using calipers? I am using a Dillon SDB. I am going to do a little test when I get home. I bet my properly sized uncrimped empty brass will not fit fully into my Colt. There is no way my shorter swc won't chamber but the longer fmj will unless the crimp (casemouth) in coming into play. I'm the rookie here so be gentle. :D

Steve Smith
September 30, 2003, 05:15 PM
A taper crimp (the proper crimp for a .45 acp) should not turn in toward the bullet, but merely remove the flare from the belling process.

Gary H
September 30, 2003, 06:31 PM
or run those 1.214" with less Titegroup

The load book shows a maximum of 4.3gr. at OAL 1.260.

I've got 4.1gr. and can shoot the ammunition if I have an OAL of 1.214.

Should I dismantle, or is it safe to shoot?

Is there a "rule of thumb" that allows one to keep the thumb attached to the hand?

Steve Smith
September 30, 2003, 06:39 PM
I'd shoot it, but I'm crazy like dat, foo!

September 30, 2003, 08:10 PM
I had a very similar problem awhile back loading for my G21. I wound up dropping the load and seating to 1.190 with a 225 gr LFP. Worked it back up to 5,8 gr ww-231 and its been fine ever since.

September 30, 2003, 10:04 PM
It sounds like you have these kinds of bullets.

Since the 45ACP headspaces at the cartridge case mouth, you need to seat the bullet more until the shank (the cylindrical portion that is 0.452" in diameter) is flush or a little bit inset into the case.

These types of bullets are made in bullet swaging dies. They are usually unjacketted bullets, though you can make jacketted bullets in the same profile. The reason for this style of bullet is primarily cost/minimization of manufacturing steps.

1st step is always core swaging, or making a piece of lead to the precise volume for the bullet weight desired. If you can shape the bullet to its final shape in this 1st step, you are done. That ridge is there because you need an punch that fits into a cylinder. But to have no ridge, that punch will have to be very thin at the outside diameter, and that makes it weak and prone to breaking. If the punch breaks, you have inconsistent bullets which is bad for accuracy. To get rid of the ridge, you need to run the lump of lead into another die, and that adds another step and cost.

The other thing about OAL cartridge lengths is that its very bullet dependent. Shape and composition dependent as well. A jacketted bullet will be longer/bigger than a lead only bullet for the same weight, since the jacket is less dense than lead.

September 30, 2003, 10:56 PM
Told you I was a rookie. Looked up the precise oal for my EXACT type of bullet including manufacturer. 1.195. They drop in perfect. Got to get it in my thick head that we're not dealing with tenths or hundreths, but THOUSANDTHS! Uncrimped, empty cases fit in fine also. (You guys knew they would) Sheepish. Slow and exact, slow and exact, slow and exact........ And it's FUN!!! Maybe not after 100,000, but starting out, this is great!

Gary H
October 1, 2003, 12:23 AM
Whenever there is a load question, such as the one I mentioned above, is the chronograph a useful tool? For example, the load book has this bullet going a maximum of 783fps out of a 5" barrel. Now, if my velocity remains in this range with the shortened OAL, can I assume that I'm safe?


I think that many of us use similar bullets most of the time and exactly the bullets noted in the load book a minority of the time. At least, that has been my experience. In exchange, we try to look up loads from various sources. My question above is in reference to the exact bullet as per the load book. It has been instructional. My Glock 21 has a very generous chamber and rounds that won't chamber in my Valtro will cycle in the Glock all day.

October 1, 2003, 04:58 AM
IF your chrono-testing gives similar velocity you may assume the load is safe.

October 1, 2003, 05:52 AM
This information should NEVER be used for any purpose by anyone to do anything. Use of infomation within frees the author of any liability he may otherwise have been liable for.

First, let me say that I have noting but the upmost respect for Bruce Grey. He is a first class gentleman and shooter. His advise is sound and you would do well to follow it.

Second, I would shoot the 4.1/1.214" loads.
Hogdon list 4.8 grains of TITEGROUP for 818 fps at 16,700 CUP with a 230 grain roundnose FMJ and OAL of 1.200" Even if your lead SWC RN is fairly hard lead and has a little more bearing surface, pressure will be less with an equal powder charge. This doesn't mean you can stuff a 200 grain wadcutter all the way into the case and use a max load for a 200 grain JHP. In fact, you should [B] ALWAYS FOLLOW THE LOADS IN THE BOOK TO THE LETTER. [B]

Third, that does sound like maybe a bit much crimp. I might look at backing it off some.


October 1, 2003, 08:02 AM
Gary, I mean that I did the worst loading thing possible. I assumed. These are my first loads ever. Had my calipers ready & everything. Did the recc load minus 10%, checked throw every 10 rounds. But I measured a factory 230 fmj for oal because they feed great in my Colt and adjusted die accordingly! BUT, I was loading 185 swc. Never again will I assume that I am smart... :what:

October 1, 2003, 12:36 PM
I did manage to chrony my 225's at 1.190 with 5.8gr 231 and they were 870fps avg 10.

Dont you all use this load though, This was in my G21 and showed no evidence of high pressure.

October 1, 2003, 02:02 PM

If you're loading for a pistol where you can remove the barrel/chamber, try this.

Take the dang thing apart.

Then, with a bullet puller handy, take a primerless/powderless cartridge, and seat a bullet long. Try to drop it in the chamber. Doesn't fit? Turn the seater in a little, reseat, try it again. You'll eventually discover your ACTUAL maximum load length for that brass and that bullet. Back it into the case a few thousandths, start at a minimum powder charge, work it up, and you're golden.

You can talk to me more at KCR next week. Arne/Linda will be at Kay's on Wednesday night, then we're driving all together on Thursday.

October 1, 2003, 05:42 PM
Looking forward to it Bogie. Cool weather is rolling in this week, like mid-thirties at night! No telling next week, could be 90. ;) Your method is exactly how I fine tuned them.

Black Snowman
October 1, 2003, 06:16 PM
One thing bogie forgot to mention was that you'll find the max OAL for that barrel. It might be longer than the magazine can handle in an automatic.

I tried going over MOAL in my Glock 24 because of pressure paranoia but they would get hung up in the magazines. Just an FYI :)

October 2, 2003, 05:37 AM
I run my 250g (actual weight 252g) LRN-FP's at 1.174".

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha ha! BOOM!

(Don't try this at home.)

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