45 acp reloads and set-back


November 20, 2013, 03:29 AM
I'm new to reloading. I've had some good results with 30-30 reloads, but my first batches of 45 acp were a disappointment.

I went to the range to test two loads, one with 185 gr Speer GDHP and another with 230 grain plated hollow points. I used Bullseye, so a lot of room in the case. I'm using the Lee three die set with a taper crimp -- which I thought I actually might have been too heavy on, before today.

OAL for the 185 was 1.2
OAL for the 230 was 1.27

I had trouble chambering the first 185, so I ejected it and saw that the bullet had set back to about 1.15. I decided to test the potential set back on the rest before firing, so I cycled through a magazine of each. The rest of the 185s chambered smoothly, but OAL dropped to around 1.17-1.18. After chambering, the 230s also dropped OAL to 1.24-1.25. I thought it might have been because of the shorter 185 grain bullet. Maybe so. Maybe the 230s dropped for another reason, like I hadn't seated them far enough to begin with. Or maybe not enough crimp. What do you think? Would it be resolved by using a bulkier powder?

Also, I was using a 20lb recoil spring since I was shooting some +P and wanted to see how extraction worked switching between pressures.

I decided not to fire any of the reloads because I wasn't sure how much more set-back would occur when chambering again. I'll probably be pulling some bullets tomorrow.

I appreciate any suggestions.

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November 20, 2013, 05:56 AM
You should do a thumb "push test" on each round before you remove it from the press after seating or before placing in magazine.
All you need to do for taper crimp is remove the case mouth flare/bell. In your case, you may be crimping too much (a taper crimp DOES NOT help hold the bullet in place) and actually removing the bullet/case tension.
You don't use the powder to hold the bullet in place either. Simply decrease your crimp.
Just crimp enough to have each round pass a "plunk" test in your barrel or a case gage.

November 20, 2013, 06:19 AM
You may also need to reduce the case flare to just enough to start a bullet. I it is flaring too much then case tension will not be sufficient throughout the bearing surface of the bullet.
+ one on the plunk test. If the bullet you are using does not precisely match the one listed from your load data, the ogive may be different causing contact with the rifeling in the barrel. The plunk test will point it out if that's the case.

November 20, 2013, 06:22 AM

Here is a link to the plunk test if needed.

November 20, 2013, 08:37 AM
Brass wall thickness may make a difference. Some Remington brass may produce very light neck tension. Check your expander diameter, about .450" is about right. Check sized case diameter before & after seating a bullet. Brass should expand on bullet seating .002" for a 45 acp. Do not taper crimp to much, it may size the bullet diameter smaller. In 44 mag. , .003" is better with jacketed bullets. Soft plated bullets may not work as well. The sizing die must do its job correctly first.

November 20, 2013, 08:55 AM
I was probably over-doing the taper crimp and reducing neck tension.

Would a Lee factory crimp die help? I only have the three die set, with bullet seating die/taper crimp.

Regarding the flare: Should the full circumference of the bullet base be able to sit/fit in the flare (barely)? I also reloaded some hardcast and the brass shaved off some lead, so I assumed I wasn't flaring enough. Maybe I over adjusted.

November 20, 2013, 09:14 AM
I see no need for a lee Factory crimp die. Just flare enough to not shave lead. Case length has an effect on the die setting. If using range brass, with large variations in trim length. Set flare on the shortest case. Set taper crimp on the longest case. (Never needed to trim a 45acp case)

Tony k
November 20, 2013, 09:18 AM
Would a Lee factory crimp die help? I only have the three die set, with bullet seating die/taper crimp

I'm probably not as experienced as others on this forum, but my .45 auto loads have become much more reliable once I added a lee factory crip die as a fourth step.

Also, for a while I was testing some hornady xtp 230grains in my taurus 1911. I finally gave up on them because I was concerned about feed issues and setback. Even when the bullet seemed to chamber properly, I noticed some slight setback (about.005") and I also noticed deformation of the hollow point. It appeared that sliding up the feed ramp under pressure from the spring was causing the hp to have a slight oval shape. I would imagine that a heavy +p spring would make setback and other feed problems even more pronounced. I'm sticking with round nosed bullets. Have you tried an oal of 1.25 or 1.26?

November 20, 2013, 09:23 AM
I prefer to taper crimp in a separate step from seating. I find it easier to set each step. But many seat and crimp in the same step. As has been said, you just want to remove the flare in the case mouth.

In my opinion, the Lee handgun FCD is a solution looking for a problem but many folks like them. So, just get a taper crimp die. Lee makes them as do most of the other manufactuers.

I bell the case mouth only enough for the bullet to seat without shaving material. If you chamfer the inside of the case mouth you can usually get by with a little less flare.

It is a bit of a feel thing.

Cast bullets, partularly square edge based bullets need a skosh more flare than jacketed or plated.

Hope this helps.

November 20, 2013, 09:35 AM
I appreciate the responses. Thanks.

November 20, 2013, 09:48 AM
On a tangent, can one predict the increase in pressure caused by setback per .01 or .025 or .05 inches?

I assume it depends too much on the specifics of each load -- power, charge, oal -- to have an equation or direct correlation.

Foto Joe
November 20, 2013, 10:18 AM
Regarding your tangent: NO

Given that 45ACP is a low pressure (relatively) load you'd think that there'd be some leeway in there for pressure and there probably is but...I personally really don't want to be the crash test dummy. A couple of .00x's of setback probably isn't going to cause you any issue but here's the problem: Once the cartridge is in the hole you can't see how far it has set back. If it pushed back .002 (45ACP only) then about the only difference you see might be just a velocity difference. On the other hand if it sets back .2 or .4 you might be looking for pieces of your 1911 on the next shooting station.

As far as the Lee Factory Crimp Die is concerned, as stated above "the Lee handgun FCD is a solution looking for a problem but many folks like them", I'm in the "many folks like them" group. Some time back I added FCD's for all my die sets and with the exception of 44-40 I've been very happy with the results.

November 20, 2013, 12:03 PM
I think I'll try again before trying the FCD -- keeping flare and taper crimp minimal.

Only starting loads until I figure this out.

Foto Joe
November 20, 2013, 12:41 PM
I will say that since I started shooting only cast lead boolits the problem of setback has been a non-issue.

November 20, 2013, 02:42 PM
Check your neck tension by pushing down on the bullet on some bathroom scales. If you have 40lbs or greater you should be fine. Some bullets have a rolled bottom edge. Most of these can be loaded without any flare/expander.

AOL is gun specific. So determine what works best in your gun. If your too long you may be putting more impact on the nose while chambering. Chambering a round is a very violent action when a slide hits home. Most of the 230 gr use a 1.250" OAL. My BE gun has a tight chamber and likes a shorter length for it to feed reliably. Profile has a big impact on how a bullet feeds. They will contact at different locations on the feed ramp. Hitting low with a strong RS can and will give you setback. If bullet tension is good it is very minimal. You should be able to chamber 3 times before the setback is significant.

btw. The RS main function is to feed a round from the magazine. You can tame recoil better by using a square bottom FP Stop and a heavier main spring.

November 20, 2013, 02:48 PM
Im still trying to figure all this crimping stuff out myself. I like the factory crimp die. Very glad I have it. Everybody says "just crimp enough to remove the flare". Hell I cant see the flare, but it's accepting the bullet, it's gota be there. I just follow the directions on the die, put a little crimp and hope that's ok. I sure would like to see what to much crimp looked like, to little crimp looked like, and just enough crimp looked like. I guess that's where a mentor would come in handy.

November 20, 2013, 02:55 PM
Cump - Do yourself a huge favor and buy a Lyman cartridge gauge - for ANY caliber you reload.


November 20, 2013, 03:34 PM
Since you are working with plated and Gold Dots, I have a simple and effective method that should completely eliminate your problem, as follows;

Resize, put a light even chamfer on the inside of the mouths, set the bullet on top, it will set up nice and straight, and then just seat to the desired OAL. Back your seating die out enough that it will absolutely not make contact with the case mouth. In other words, don't crimp at all. And don't bell the mouths at all either, that is what the light chamfer is substituting. Seating like this will produce maximum obtainable neck tension.

As for finding the correct OAL for your firearm. Seat them deep enough to fit the magazine, and deep enough to clear the lands. With the barrel out, hand chamber and feel for contact with the lands. Turn the cartridge when it's fully chambered, feeling for resistance, and looking for marks on the bullet from the lands. Also drop it in and see if it makes that plunk sound. Push the cartridge into the chamber, it should drop back out of the chamber by gravity alone.

Regarding your powder choice, I personally like to use slower burning bulkier powders, but that's me. But don't attempt to fix set back issues by supporting the bullet with a bulky powder, that isn't really a fix. Taper crimp on rimless cartridges does not produce neck tension at all. In fact, it will decrease neck when too much is applied, which is why I have eliminated taper crimp all together with jacketed bullets, and have been told it also works with plated bullets.


November 20, 2013, 04:04 PM

I'll give it a try. Thanks.

November 20, 2013, 07:47 PM
I have only had this problem with one combination and its 45acp with 185gr jacketed bullets. I ended up turning down my expander a couple thousandths. Solved the problem and didnt affect any of my other loads either, they are just a little extra coke bottled.

November 22, 2013, 08:09 PM
I'm a bit of an oddball I guess because I use a LFCD on both .40 and .45 loads and plated, jacketed bullets.

November 22, 2013, 08:37 PM
The aforementioned thumb test works pretty well. I found some brass that doesn't hold a bullet well - namely Aguila, and some old WWII brass. The WWII brass has too much spring-back. I took to sorting 45acp brass. It's a hassle, but it's one less thing to worry about.

Based on comments from this board, gave the Missouri Bullet 200gr IDP-#4 a try, and discovered that with the right crimp setback is no longer an issue as the top grove catches enough of the case mouth to prevent it. And there's no issue with headspacing on the mouth.

November 22, 2013, 09:35 PM
crimping is one of the most talked about/argued about/rehashed topic you could ever hope to name in reloading. here's my take on it.
If it isn't required as MANY folks say,why is a crimp ring built into almost every seater die made?

I disagree that crimp has nothing to do with holding the bullet in place,,and also disagree that over crimping actually loosens a bullet.HOw do you squeeze something 'loose' ?

. I have learned/decided over the years to ALWAYS seat and crimp with 2 seperate dies,it makes it sooo much easier to fine tune a die that is only doing one operation.
.,.. on jacketed 45acp ammo,I crimp so the case mouth is a few thousandths smaller than the case diameter measured half way down the length of the bullet.All I fell is a light 'snick' ,not a 'kachunk' when the round is being crimped .

don't mean to sound like an expert,simply my opinions gleaned over 30 years of making ammo..and making a few mistakes along the way.

glad you didn't fire the loose rounds,that was good thinking. Also,glad you ddin't just throw a ton more powder in for the bullet to rest against.they'd still be picking up gun parts,and possibly body parts.

November 22, 2013, 10:43 PM
There are other's here who have far more experience than I do, but with about 30 yrs. of reloading, and encountering and solving various challenges over the years, I feel I have a viable background as well. I'm no expert either, and continue to learn new things within this hobby, even so.

Rimless cartridges which head space on the mouth, don't have a canelure by which to crimp into, therefore the mouth is unable to hold onto the bullet.

As indicated in my reloading books, these type crimps (taper crimp) intended for rimless cartridges serve an entirely different purpose, which is to return the case mouth back to it's original diameter after having been belled to accept a bullet during seating, nothing more. Belling is utilized as a means to seat a bullet without shaving it. Therefore, if a rimless case can be made to accept a bullet without shaving the bullet, which can be accomplished by chamfering the inside of the case mouth, then neck tension will be achieved at it's maximum potential.

And as well, a crimp so excessive that it diminishes the diameter of the mouth, can create a situation in which the mouth would become pinched in the throat, thus increasing pressures unpredictably, and potentially excessively high. This is because the case mouth must head spaces against the chamber throat.

As well, over crimping can also cause excessive head space, which could result in mis-fires.

Loss of neck tension is caused by over crimping, simply because it decreases the diameter of the projectile, and since bullets don't spring back, yet the brass does spring back, neck tension then becomes diminished.


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