Leaky bullet puller?


March 16, 2012, 09:01 PM
I got a Frankford Arsenal kinetic/hammer bullet puller as part of my reloading set-up, most of which I bought used (at a great low overall cost).

The last few days I've loaded ammo for one particular .357 revolver using my Lee 4-hole turret with the Lee Pro Auto Disk. I decided to check the powder charge every 5 rounds instead of every 10, as is my usual routine. In this case I'm loading on the low end with jacketed bullets. Unfortunately the case-fill is so low (4.5g of HP38 in a .357 case) that I cannot visually identify an under-charge.

On about the 220th round of this run, I checked the charge and it was very low. The powder dispenser had been sticking a few times in the last 20 rounds, so I decided to be extra careful and pull the previous 2-3 rounds. Low charge on all of them.

I then pulled a round from each of the 4 boxes I'd already loaded. All showed a very low charge. So then I sampled 4 more - same result. By the time I had pulled 25 bullets, I'd found only ONE proper charge.

Now I was baffled - how could my "intensive" quality control (checking every fifth charge) allow so many under-charges ?

This afternoon - after checking various things on the Auto Disk and powder die, per Lee's helpful support team - I decided to pull a few more bullets. On a few of them, I noticed getting a bit of a spray of powder in the face on the last hammer strike. So I swept the floor, and sure enough, though I'd swept it clean just this morning, there was a fair amount of powder where I stopped the push broom.

It seems that, somehow, the FA buller puller is leaking. Everything seems in good working order. I tighten down the collet piece very firmly (sort of required to make it work anyway).

So now it seems that maybe the charges ARE correct after all. Powder leaking from the puller upon disassembly for testing would explain all the apparent under-charges, which otherwise are pretty baffling.

Has anyone heard of this or experienced it? Any suggestions?

Obviously I don't want to pull 190 bullets if I don't have to, so it's important to figure out if the bullet puller is the problem. Not sure how I can do this. Back-up plan would be to buy the RCBS collet puller and a few collets, which has other advantages anyway.

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March 16, 2012, 09:22 PM
If I had measured every 5th drop, I wouldn't be worried in the least.

You might try wrapping the end of the puller with some saran wrap to spot test some more, just for your peace of mind.

If you're still concerned, just throw a rod and hammer in the range bag in case of a squib.

March 16, 2012, 09:36 PM
Yeah, powder tends to go everywhere when using kinetic pullers. If I really want to know how much powder is in a cartridge I'll run it up through an empty hole in the press, grab the bullet with a padded pair of pliers and lower the ram. Sometimes I can re-use the bullets, but many times I can't.

I don't waste enough bullets this way to justify buying a collet type puller. As GLOOB mentioned above, if you weighed every 5th drop consider them okay.

March 16, 2012, 10:07 PM
The only time my FA bullet puller does not leak is when the case is a perfect match for the collet being used.

The way I check my powder charges when in doubt is to weigh the loaded round, pull the bullet, weigh only the bullet and case, subtract from your total cartridge weight. While you are still loosing powder in the process, at least you know how much was in the case.

March 16, 2012, 10:15 PM
Also when using a collet type puller there needs to be enough of the bullet on the flat that the collet can get a grip on to be able to pull it this way. SWC and most 9MM bullets don't play well with a collet type puller. Mine works well with rifle bullets but is hit or miss with most pistol bullets.

March 16, 2012, 10:16 PM
The time to visually check or weigh powder charges is before you seat bullets on them.

Use a loading block, charge 50 cases, look at all of the charges, then seat the bullets.


March 16, 2012, 10:58 PM
Thanks to all for their responses.

Think I'll put a zip-loc bag around the puller and hammer a few more out. If that shows something close to 4.3g, I'll feel a bit better.

Thus fortified, I will follow rcmodel's good suggestion and do a single-stage-style block of 50 - weighing each and every charge. If this goes well I will regain confidence in the powder dispenser and may return to normal turret loading - maintaining the 5-round interval in my charge testing.

I had read about the collet press pullers being better for rifle than pistol bullets. I think I will try Sport45's approach (which I had seen on a few other older threads in my search) just to get the hang of it. When disassembly is all that matters, I can stick with the kinetic puller; when I want to do a "forensic" disassembly and see what the charge is, I can use the pliers method.

March 16, 2012, 11:08 PM
One last bit, if its of concern to you :

Placing a foam earplug in the cavity of the kinetic puller will help prevent deformation of the bullets whilst you are hammering them.

FWIW, my lyman hammer leaks a little sometimes too ! It usually gets powder caught up near the collet on the backswing if the bullet releases on one stroke and I can't stop my arm from yanking it back for another strike in time !

If im pulling to check charge weight( not often ), I slip a rubber glove finger over the collet end before whacking, and open it over a clean piece of paper once ive cracked it out.

March 16, 2012, 11:29 PM
You could run several primed cases thru the cycle except remove the seating die & obviously not placing a bullet, grab your now filled cases & check the charge weights. The only time I had a problem w/ the Lee powder measure not throwing an accurate charge is with coarse powders of a low charge weight. The ball powders have always been easy to throw accurately for my Lee unit.

March 17, 2012, 03:14 AM
Good little tricks, blarby, thanks. Heavy Metal, that's actually what I've been doing. I loaded about 40 primed cases (from the pulled bullets), weighing every charge and placing them in a loading block. All were fine, so I finished those and did another 50, checking the charge every 5 rounds. Looks like the problem was the leaky bullet puller.

I visually check the charge in every round in every caliber to ensure no squibs, then check every 10th round for charge weight. .357 is a pain in this sense due to low case-fill with light loads - except for Trail Boss with lead, of course.

March 17, 2012, 07:30 AM
If you one-time purchase a collet-type bullet puller, adding collets for new calibers is pretty inexpensive compared to the time and risks of kinetic pulling.

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