A beginner with a Lock N Load AP. Need advice


November 3, 2009, 04:19 PM
My brother and I have been talking about getting into reloading for awhile and finally ordered a Hornady Lock N Load AP Monday. I helped my dad load 12 gauge shells back 20 years ago or so and that is the only knowledge we have, which is another way of saying we don't have a clue what we are doing. We're getting some books (like ABCs of Reloading), some DVDs and of course a couple of reloading manuals but I thought I would ask a few questions here as well.

We are not trying to do any actual loading right now. We're just trying to get all our equipment needs lined up and accumulate all the stuff we need. We are planning on starting off loading 223 Rem and 45 ACP since we shoot more of that than anything else (and we have alot of once fired 223 and 45 brass). We'll branch out later when we feel more comfortable and ultimately want to do some custom loads for the 500 S&W but that is way down the road.

I have a few questions and would like confirmation on a few things. I apologize if these are stupid questions or have been answered elsewhere.

1) Shell plates and shell holders confused me but after reading through this forum I think I know the answer. Shell plates are for the progressive presses and shell holders are for single stage presses and tools like the hand-held priming tool. Is that correct?

2) Looking at the Hornady Custom-Grade New Dimension dies, does one "set" satisfy all the needs for that caliber, say 45 ACP? I think it does but I wanted to be sure. I know I need the Hornady bushings for each set of dies.

3) Dies really seem to confuse me. I see Hornady offers a taper crimp die that is suggested for semi-auto loads. Since we are going to load 45 ACP for our 1911s we really want this. Why do they offer it for revolver calibers like 460 & 500 S&W?

4) The press comes with the case activated powder measure. Do we need another "die" (like a PTX) or anything else to get the powder out of the hopper and into the case?

5) I see alot of talk online about Lee factory crimp dies and I think I have seen where guys are using one in their Hornady press. Do we need to get some of those and not crimp with the Hornady dies?

In my reading on the internet this seems to be a common setup for the 5 station LNL AP:
Station 1 resizes and deprimes (1 1/2 seats new primer)
Station 2 bells the case
Station 3 drops the powder
Station 4 seats the bullet
Station 5 crimps

We want a Powder Cop or something similar in the mix somewhere. Is there something that would seat and crimp in one station and free up a spot for the Powder Cop?

Here is what we are looking at buying right now:

Shell plate for 223 Rem
Shell Plate for 45 ACP
Custom-Grade New Dimension 223 Rem full-length die set (includes full-length size die, seating die and expander assembly)
Custom-Grade New Dimension 45 ACP full-length die set (includes full-length size die, seating die and expander assembly)
Digital scale
Powder Cop
Case tumbler
Case tumbler media
Primer flip tray
Bullet Puller

Do we need a case trimmer or anything else related to working the brass?

Anything we're overlooking. Any advice?

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November 3, 2009, 05:13 PM
1) Correct

2) Yes. They will do everything you need to load .45 or .223, unless you want to seat and crimp in separate steps. Then you will need to do it in separate runs or buy an extra seater or crimp die.

3) 90+ % of the time folks use taper crimps on auto calibers and roll crimps on revolver rounds. The dies come standard that way.

4) Don't know. I Use a Redding measure with a semi custom set up to dump powder automatically. I expand with my regular expander dies in the station before it.

5) You don't need them.

Powder Cop:

After tumbling, I run all my brass through my LNL with only the sizer/depriming die in the LNL the first time through. Then I do brass prep, tumble again if any trimming/deburring/chamfering is done. Then I hand prime it. (Priming on the press is fine) Then I run it all through the LNL again to load it. This frees up the first station and gives you enough spaces for your Powder Cop die even if you seat and crimp in separate steps.

You will eventually need some sort of case trimmer. You will never need to trim .45 ACP brass, but you will need to trim the .223. I use a Possum Hollow trimmer for .223, but any trimmer will work. The Possum Hollow is cheap and fast.

November 3, 2009, 05:18 PM
1) Correct

2) Yes and No. Yes the 3 die set will do all the required operations on 45 ACP, but alot of people buy a seperate Taper Crimp die. The set comes with a seat/crimp die, not a seperate taper crimp die. The reason is if you crimp and seat in the same operation with lead, sometimes the crimping will shave lead off as the bullet seats. It also allows you to have more control on the crimping operation.

3) Um... not a revolver guy.

4) No. It comes with what you need. The PTX expands the case mouth. The 3 die set from hornady also has a die to do just that. Now if you want to free up a die station for say a powder check die..... The PTX will become usefull.

5) Read this recent thread about the FCD. A hornady taper crimp die is sufficant. http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=483839

Station 1 resizes and deprimes (1 1/2 seats new primer)
Station 2 bells the case
Station 3 drops the powder
Station 4 seats the bullet
Station 5 crimps

We want a Powder Cop or something similar in the mix somewhere. Is there something that would seat and crimp in one station and free up a spot for the Powder Cop"

Use this for a powder cop setup:

Station 1 resizes and deprimes (1 1/2 seats new primer)
Station 2 PTX die/Drop Powder
Station 3 Powder Cop
Station 4 seats the bullet
Station 5 crimps (Need to buy a seperate die for this.)

You can probally get buy with calipers and wait on the micrometer. You will need a case trimmer for the .223

I'm sure I forgot something but others will let you know.

November 3, 2009, 05:18 PM
1) Yes.

2) Yes. I'm not personally familiar with the Hornady dies, but every other standard die set I have - far too many of them - provide everything you need for that particular caliber. Now, (for example) you may want to add a separate crimp die so you don't have to seat and crimp in the same operation, but strictly speaking you don't have to do that.

3) As you know, you need to use a taper crimp die for any cartridge, such as the .45 ACP, that headspaces on the case mouth. I can only assume that the taper crimp dies for those big-banger rimmed cartridges are so you can use bullets that don't have a cannelure (and so shouldn't be roll-crimped), but that's only a guess.

4) The PTX "die" and the Hornady powder-through-expander dies are only necessary if you want to combine the expanding step with the powder charging step to free up another position on the press (for a lockout die, perhaps) . The LnL comes with the necessary hardware so that you can reload without having to do that, i.e., you expand in one station and charge in the next. That's the way I currently do it, and I may get around to combining steps one of these days, but then again I may not.

5) You certainly don't need a separate crimp die, Lee factory crimp or other type, but I use one on a few of the calibers I reload (for example, .35 Remington, where I've had a bit of trouble with cases buckling because the brass is a bit thin) and I think it can contribute to making better ammunition.

The sequence of operations you describe is pretty typical. The powder-through-expander type die would free up a station for your powder cop die.

You're going to need to trim your .223 (and any other bottleneck rifle) brass at some point, so a case trimmer is a must, along with the proper size pilot and a deburring tool. You might want to consider getting the RCBS X-dies for your .223 so you only have to do the trimming chore once. If you plan on working with surplus military brass for the .223 you may also need to invest in a primer pocket swager.

Hope that helps.

November 3, 2009, 05:19 PM
Walkalong you just beat me too it....:neener:

November 3, 2009, 05:46 PM
I use a lock n load ap.. It works great. I want duplicate everyones answers. But I will say , they are right on the money. Read your books, TWICE . Ask queations here at THR is probably the next best thing to do.

November 3, 2009, 05:53 PM
I know you said that you are not looking to load right away, but I would keep my eye out for primers if you come across any that you will be load buy them so you dont get stuck waiting for them on back order

November 3, 2009, 07:21 PM
Just wanted to say thanks for all the answers.

xd9, I've already been on the lookout since they seem to be scarce. There is a gunshow in town this weekend but I won't be here. :-(

November 3, 2009, 07:21 PM
Some suggestions (as a user of the LNLAP):

Most of the previous answers are correct; you don't need a PTX (powder thru expander) if you're using a separate expander, which will have come w/ the set of dies.

Also, just to extend the previous discussion: You expand or "bell" the case mouth a bit so as to allow the bullet to slide in without shaving off some of the bullet, or crushing the case. Once the bullet is set, though, you need to get rid of the bell (or case mouth expansion, as it is also called). That's what a taper-crimp die does--it simply removes the belling on the case by squeezing it back over toward the bullet. Calling it a "crimp" die is unfortunate nomenclature--you're really just removing the belling, not "crimping" anything. The bullet is held by the normal tension of the case, not the "crimp."

Crimping in the normal sense of the word is what people do to crimp a revolver round into a cannelure (or a rifle round, same thing), and that's not what you need on a semi-auto case like the .45ACP.

If you want to use an extra safety measure like the powder cop (and more on why you should choose something else in a minute), you need to bell the case mouth (expand it, IOW) as part of the powder drop step, in order to free up a station for powder checking. Hornady sells various PTX's for various calibers; I use something else that works for all calibers, and I'd recommend it.

You can find it at http://powderfunnels.com/products.html It costs $25 shipping included, and considering what you have to pay for a single Hornady PTX, I believe it's worth getting because you only have to buy one because it works with all common calibers. (He used to call it the LNLPTX, but ran into some trademark issues w/ Hornady, so he changed the name).

Now, on to the "powder cop." I think it's a big waste, because IMO it's no better than simply paying attention to what's in the case when you set the bullet. If you don't watch the powder cop, it does you no good. Also IMO, a much better alternative exists--the RCBS Lockout Die. http://www.grafs.com/product/268269 The lockout die will not allow the press to fully cycle--stops it in other words--if you have a no-charge situation or a double-charge situation.

The powder cop, on the other hand, requires you to look at it--frankly, you can get the same results from the Lockout Die (you can look at the stem sticking up), but people should be looking at the powder loads as they put the bullet on the case anyway. Having to look at the Powder Cop to see your load strikes me as no different than looking in the case to see how much powder is there--and if you lose focus and don't look at the Powder Cop, it does you absolutely no good at all.

The Lockout Die, on the other hand, will stop you if you have too much or too little powder. In fact, I liked it so much I bought a second one so one can be dedicated to my .45acp loads, and one to my 9mm loads.

I recommend the lockout die unequivocally. Yeah, it costs a bit more--but it doesn't require you to monitor it; it just works. I still look in the case to check the powder (a double-check doesn't hurt anyone), but if I forget to look, the Lockout Die is on the prowl. It's fabulous.

Finally, consider getting a single-stage press too. I believe you'll learn more easily on a single stage than you will w/ the LNLAP. I've been reloading for about 14 months; learned on a single-stage, then graduated to the LNLAP. It was a bit of a struggle to figure it all out, despite the fact that I understood, quite well, the process using a single-stage press.

Until you know how a good round is supposed to look--and perform--after having produced it on a single-stage press, how will you know where mistakes or mis-setups are causing problems on the LNLAP?

A single-stage press is good for working up loads (I do that with mine--new bullet for my pistols, I work up rounds 5 at a time of different powder loads on my single-stage). That single-stage is often better for doing rifle rounds, especially for sizing and depriming. It also is an excellent way to pull bullets using a collet-style puller. And I prime some of my rifle rounds on it.

So, consider getting one.

Good luck and welcome to the game!

November 3, 2009, 07:30 PM
The Hornady press works great!
Here's a couple of HD videos showing setting up and loading 45ACP on the Lock-N-Load AP progressive:

In these videos, I show using the PTX expander in the powder station (only need it if you want to free up a station), the powder cop die, and separate seating/crimping. I have the Hornady taper crimp die which works great.

Screenshots from the videos:



November 3, 2009, 09:34 PM
Those are great pics and videos. I've watched some videos on YouTube of the LNL AP but none were that good. Thanks for posting them!

November 4, 2009, 09:31 AM
His videos are excellent.

November 6, 2009, 11:06 PM
The previous advise was good. My suggestion would be to ORDER EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW!!! Hornady has been running the bulllet rebate since 2007?? or so. I would see no need for them to continue into 2010, but they might. Press, two die sets that's 1400 free pills! I do like the Hornady dies so much more than the others. Supply line seems to be better than spring-summer. I use taper crimp due to need to overbell cases for RCBS bullet feeder.

November 6, 2009, 11:48 PM
tag for future reading

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