I may have screwed up....opinions please


March 28, 2012, 02:58 AM
A couple weeks ago, we went down to visit my grandparents and I used my grandfather's reloading equipment to load 500 rounds of .45 ACP.

I used tumbled once fired brass, HSM 230 gr FMJ-FP plated bullets (only bullet I could get more than 100 of locally), 4.8 grs of Titegroup and Federal 150GM primers. The Federal match primers were $4.00/1000 cheaper than the regular ones, so I got them.

I used the Sierra book, edition 5, 6th printing, which specs a COL of 1.270" for a 230 gr round nose bullet. I measured round nose bullets and the flat points that I was going to be using. The flat points measured 0.100" shorter than the round noses, and I set my seating die to give me a COL of 1.200".

I loaded 50 rounds, and shot them through both of my .45's without incident, and without any visual signs of overpressure, so I loaded the other 450 rounds.

Afterwards, my grandfather took a look at what I'd done and told me that the calipers I'd been using had been dropped and probably weren't properly calibrated. He rummaged through his garage and found another caliper that was properly calibrated, and we found that I'd actually created 500 rounds of ammo with a COL of 1.180".

Since then I've shot a couple dozen of these rounds, and they seem pretty hot to me, but that could be psychological from my being worried about seating the bullet too deep and causing high chamber pressures, or it could just be because I had shoulder surgery a month ago and my strong side isn't so strong or stable right now.

I think that I should be ok, the max charge in my book for a 230 gr projectile is 5.2 gr and I loaded each case with 4.8 gr. However, do you think that the bullets are seated deep enough to cause pressure levels that I should worry about? While recognizing that ultimately I'm responsible for the safety of my loads, I'd like opinions from those who are far more experienced than I am. This was my first foray into reloading, and I'd prefer not to break myself or a gun with it.

If there is anything I can clarify, just ask.

Many thanks.

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evan price
March 28, 2012, 04:31 AM
Without knowing the actual length of the bullet itself from base to nose, it is impossible to tell if your bullets are actually seated too deep or not.

The book data lists a specific type of bullet and OAL and a different brand of bullet may not have the shape of the nose the same. A shorter, fatter nosed bullet will weigh the same but will appear to be less OAL. Only way to be sure is to measure how much of the listed bullet is inside the case, and then compare that to how much of YOUR bullet is inside the case. That way you know if you are actually seated deeper and enough to be a concern.

IF your brass is not guppy-bellying, or doing anything else unusual, you might be OK because 45 acp does have +P capabilities in a modern service pistol. I load 4.7 of Titegroup and a 230-grain lead ball-profile to roughly 1.25" OAL and it's within spec for 45 auto, but on the high end.

March 28, 2012, 07:38 AM
I agree with evan. Probably fine.

If you had done the same thing in a high pressure caliber like 9MM, it could indeed have caused problems, but since it is .45 ACP, and your charge was what it was, you got away with it. Lesson learned.

Now it is time to fix or replace the calipers. You can always check calipers using a jacketed bullet. That will insure they are at least very close.

March 28, 2012, 09:17 AM
OAL is gun specific. What works good in one may not in another. If the ones you shot feed fine in your gun, you should be good. Just make sure their are not touching the lands. TG is one powder I refuse to use along with bullseye. I do not like ultra fist burn powder that do not fill the case. And the TG is a very moody powder. Just keep an eye open for over pressure signs and feeding issues. I think you will be fine.

March 28, 2012, 11:51 AM
Chronograph them and see how fast they're moving. That should give you a glimpse at the pressure.

I'm with the party that says the 2 hundredths of an inch probably won't make any difference. Hodgdon's data says that 4.8 grains of Titegroup is a maximum charge for a 230 grain FMJ/FP at 1.200". I have found that Hodgdon data is sometimes lower than the other sources, which seem to all be in agreement. For example, my .40 loads are 0.1 grains above Hodgdon max, but my Lee manual and the Speer manual say I'm down near a starting load. The chronograph doesn't show it being super hot and I'm not bulging my brass, so I ignore the Hodgdon max.

March 28, 2012, 12:36 PM
Okay, I pulled some bullets and made some measurements. These are all seated about 0.005" deeper than the commercial ammo I have on hand. Given that I'm right in the middle of my manual's recommendations for powder charge since they recommend 4.5-5.2 grs I think I should be ok.

I'll have to get a chronograph to verify velocities, but given that I started with a low pressure cartridge it seems to me that I should be ok. Many thanks ya'll.

Steve C
March 28, 2012, 12:57 PM
The .45 ACP is a low pressure dcartridge. You will never see any typical "pressure" signs until you are well above the allowable pressure for the cartridge, probably close to 2X the pressure. Indications of too hat a load in the .45 acp is cases being thrown much further than normal.

The .45 ACP is a large capacity case and worrying about OAL generating extra pressure is just foolishness. Too much internet nonsense regarding small differences in OAL causing higher pressures without the understanding that a lot depends upon the powder and case volume. Hodgdon claims Tight Group delivers consistant pressures and velocities regardless of excess volume in cases. Most powders you can load the bullet right on top of the powder without causing excessive pressure and many powders can be compressed.

The only importance of OAL in the .45 ACP is does the round chamber and feed in your pistol.

March 28, 2012, 04:08 PM
I think the chronograph will show you that you're perfectly fine. How is the accuracy?

March 28, 2012, 04:25 PM
There was an old Sierra test that showed a specific 9mm luger load with a certain powder/bullet/charge combo would double in peak pressure if the bullet were setback 0.3".

That's a case with a really cramped internal volume, and then we're talking 300 mics of setback. You're talking about 20 mics in a case with a large capacity.

Just putting things in perspective for ya.

I, for one, find I'm using shorter than book OAL's for a lot of my pistol reloads for various reasons. As long as you don't start at a max load AND a much shorter than book OAL, there's not too much to worry about. If they feel a little hot to you, just back off on the next batch.

March 28, 2012, 07:10 PM
As already clarified, the 45 ACP is not a high rpessure cartridge so your just fine, and especially since you've already test fired a couple dozen with no obvious signs of a problem.

And as to OAL, I also agree that the correct OAL is specific, to the firearm being loaded for. And to elaborate a bit more on that in that, the correct procedure for determining OAL is by taking the barrel out of the auto loading pistol is to remove the barrel and then hand chamber the round, or doing the drop test as it is referred to, until you have enough seating depth that the bullet clears the lands, and fits the magazine.

About your bullet. You referred to it as an FMJ FP, but said it is plated. Plated and FMJ are two rather significantly different bullets. A plated bullet is only thinnly plated with copper where as the FMJ is an actual copper jacket around the lead core. This being the difference, it is often advised that data for the plated bullet should fall some where in between lead (non jacketed), and that of jacketed. This being said, it would probably be a good idea to research the bullet your using and also chronograph the load your currently using. This is to avoid any leading problems or anything else that can arise from pushing a plated bullet too fast, if this should be the circumstance. My ending advise would be to do some reading about loading plated bullets, so you can better understand where they fall into published data.

March 29, 2012, 12:00 AM
Thank you all for the replies. In my 5" Para SSP these rounds chamber and fire beautifully, with my currently less than rock solid (shoulder surgery) stance I can hold a 8 rd magazine to about 2.5" at 15 yds if I try. My RIA officer's model doesn't always fully chamber the round, but it's starting to do that with several loads, I think it's time for a new recoil spring on it. I can't wait until I have my own press later this year and have more time than a rushed long weekend to churn out more ammo.

March 29, 2012, 11:03 PM
Drop that slide on your finger, if its hurts the problen is the cartridge, not the gun. It shouldn't take a whole lot of weight from the slide to chamber that round, in fact it should drop right in with only gravity.

Hondo 60
March 30, 2012, 01:16 AM
Wow, gamestalker, that seems kinda masochistic. :eek:

March 31, 2012, 12:18 AM
Drop that slide on your finger, if its hurts the problen is the cartridge, not the gun. It shouldn't take a whole lot of weight from the slide to chamber that round, in fact it should drop right in with only gravity.
Sage advice. Lol!

April 1, 2012, 03:31 PM
Maybe I should clarify....

The issue I'm experiencing with that gun is consistent across all types of ammo I have on hand. With about 1 in 15 rounds the slide doesn't move the last 1/16" or so into battery. The round chambers, but the last bit of travel on slide, for the locking lugs in slide and barrel to mesh doesn't always happen. It happens across the spread of ammo I have on hand, with all magazines, and I haven't seen anything consistent with where in the magazine the round is. Sometimes it's the first round, sometimes the last, and usually somewhere in between. This suggests to me that the recoil spring is wearing out and losing power at the end of it's decompression stroke. If I'm wrong please tell me.

Master Blaster
April 1, 2012, 03:59 PM
You are fine. Shoot them with no worries. If it was 40 S&W and a max charge I would say pull them, but its .45 acp and not near max.

April 2, 2012, 11:05 AM
A new spring sounds like a good place to start fixing the chambering issue.

Also, clean the heck out of the chamber as well.


April 2, 2012, 09:47 PM
Loading data for plated bullets has been published in the latest Lee manual.

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