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.25 ACP: Cheap, good reload with buckshot

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Gatofeo, Jul 15, 2011.

  1. Gatofeo

    Gatofeo Well-Known Member

    Tired of paying $12 for 100 .25 ACP jacketed bullets for reloading, if you can even find them? Try this cheap, plinking alternative:

    Resize a case and ensure it does not exceed the maximum length of .610 inch. If it does, carefully use a very fine file to reduce its length. Few case trimmers can accommodate the tiny .25 ACP. Though Lee makes .25 ACP reloading dies, it does not make a case trimmer pilot for this Lilliputian case.

    Bell the .25 ACP case mouth to avoid shaving the lead ball when it's seated. If your dies do not bell, insert a .223 case into the .25 ACP case mouth and tap the .223 case lightly with a hammer a few times. The shoulder of the .223 case will easily bell the mouth of the .25 ACP case.

    Prime a resized case with a standard small pistol primer. There is no need to use a magnum primer.

    Add powder (detailed instructions below).

    Seat a Buckshot No. 3 lead ball up to its midpoint into the case. The typical No. 3 buckshot ball weighs about 23 grains and is .250 inch in diameter. This is a good fit in the .25 Auto bore, which is nominally .251 inch.

    Firmly crimp the case around the seated ball.

    Turn the loaded case over and dip the ball, up to the case mouth, in Lee Liquid Alox. A screw-top bottle cap works well as a lubricant container for dipping the loaded balls. If the lubricant begins to stiffen, add a drop of Mineral Spirits and mix well with a toothpick to thin it.

    The seated lead ball lubricated, stand the cartridge on its base in the open air and allow the lubricant to dry overnight.

    This load is mild, functions most pistols, shoots to about the same point of aim as the 50-grain factory load and is accurate.
    Not much power to it, but it’s no toy. It will penetrate both sides of a can at 20 feet.

    For the powder charge, start with 1.0 (one) grain of Bullseye and increase the charge 0.1 (one-tenth of a grain). Stop when reliable functioning is attained.
    Most guns will operate well with 1.3 grains of Bullseye.
    Be very careful when charging the .25 Auto with powder, as only small powder charges are used and a double-charge can be easily overlooked. Look down into each charged case with a strong penlight to spot a double charge.
    A double charge of Bullseye would likely damage the pistol, and may injure the shooter.

    I have not tried other powders but similarly fast pistol powders should work. Or not. You’re on your own when it comes to experimentation.
    Using other powders, start the No. 3 buckshot load with a reloading manual’s suggested starting load for the 50 gr. jacketed bullet. This will ensure a mild starting load from which you can work up, if necessary. Remember, you’re seeking reliable functioning with this load, not velocity. If your first load is reliable and accurate, why go on?

    The light lubricant on the ball is important. Without it, leading will occur quickly. If your bore does lead, run a dry, bronze brush through it a few times.

    This is a surprisingly accurate load.
    At seven yards, from a benchrest, I've placed six of these lead balls into groups of 1.5 to 2 inches. This was with a pre-war Sauer & Sohn Model 1928 of outstanding quality but very small in my hands. Inexpensive, average or poor quality pistols may not be as accurate. Most .25 ACP pistols have rudimentary sights, so consistent accuracy can be difficult.
    I wish Ruger would chamber their Mark II for .25 ACP, with bull barrel and adjustable sights. I think people would be amazed at this cartridge's accuracy.

    This No. 3 buckshot load is fun. It would be handy for farmers and ranchers who encounter rats in their barn but don't want big holes in structures. It is strictly for plinking and practice and should never be carried for self defense.

    There are about 300 lead balls to a pound. Buckshot is usually sold in 5-pound containers, so you can buy about 1,500 No. 3 buckshot balls for about $20.
    Quite a savings over the jacketed bullet price, eh?
  2. 35 Whelen

    35 Whelen Well-Known Member

    Great idea. I've assembled similar loads over the years. One of my favorites is a .22 caliber pellet in my 220 Swift. A primer is plenty of power, but I found .5 grs. of Red Dot or similar powder gave better accuracy. Likewise, I've loaded 000 buckshot in my 375 Winchester. Lots of fun and cheap!
    Thanks for the post.
  3. dogrunner

    dogrunner Well-Known Member

    I've done essentially the same thing with .32 auto rounds in my NAA, .312 Lee RB..........like the man said, works and is remarkably accurate.

    Reloadin's not the problem.........recovering those itty bitty cases is the real challenge!~
  4. Gatofeo

    Gatofeo Well-Known Member

    At short range, a sphere can be amazingly accurate.
    I believe this may be due to the base of the ball being essentially perfect. No imperfections like on a flat-based bullet such as rounded corners or a pit in the base left by casting.
    For decades, it's been known that the bullet's base is the most critical area affecting accuracy. You can damage a bullet's nose, or even its sides, and it will still be reasonably accurate. But damage the base -- which is the last portion of the bullet to clear the muzzle under great pressure -- and accuracy suffers.
    It's probably why I've almost always found balls to be more accurate in my cap and ball revolvers than conical bullets.
  5. gpwelding1

    gpwelding1 Well-Known Member

    after seeing this thread i was going to try it my self.i started looking through some brass i had saved.i have some s & b .25acp that have me confused.instead if a single flash hole inside,they have two small flash holes,one on each side.:confused:
  6. dogrunner

    dogrunner Well-Known Member

    That's Berdan primed stuff...........usually U.S. ammo is Boxer primed (one exception is some of CCI's stuff) Nothing wrong with it, but for reloading one first has to have Berdan primers (they lack an integral anvil). Make it easy on yourself and get some U.S. primed casings.
  7. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Well-Known Member

    What a cool idea. :cool:
  8. Jimfern

    Jimfern Well-Known Member

    1970 Handloader's Digest

    I just read an article in this guide about loading 1 or 2 .454" round balls in 45 ACP and 45 long Colt behind grease wad packed small duplex powder charges. The article claims good accuracy at 25 and even 50 yards.

    As with duplex powder reloading, I don't see guys at the shooting range in suits and ties like the author on page 167. Times do change.
  9. Mike Kerr

    Mike Kerr Well-Known Member

    .25 ACP - Buckshot

    Neat idea. Cases smaller than 32ACP will cause great frustration on a number of fronts but it still sounds like a neat idea.


  10. Twmaster

    Twmaster Well-Known Member

    That's a sweet idea. I'm looking to buy a CZ50 .32ACP pistol and dies for my press. That little ball is a great idea.

    As to S&B brass.... I have a bunch of S&B brass in 380, 9MM and 7.62 Tok and all are box primed....
  11. cberge8

    cberge8 Well-Known Member

    Just got in the No 3 shot I ordered after reading this today. Loaded up a few, can't believe the accuracy, and for the price you can't beat it!

    It takes about 1.8gn of Bullseye to cycle my FN-Browning 1906 reliably. A little high, but it works well. Nearly completely fills the case, so no change of double charges.
  12. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Well-Known Member

    Could you run a close buck thought a bullet lubrisizer to get a more tubular round?
  13. Hondo 60

    Hondo 60 Well-Known Member

    Where do you get #3 lead shot?
    I don't reload shotshells, so I'm not familiar with the suppliers.
    I tried looking at midwayusa & google, but couldn't find it.

    But I DO reload handgun & rifle, so the techniques are understood.


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