Finally Got a Bullet Feeder

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Phlier, Jan 28, 2020.

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  1. Phlier

    Phlier Member

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    My son and I load a lot of 9mm. Multiple thousands each week.

    We've been hemming and hawing about getting a Mr. Bullet Feeder for years now, but dang, they're pricey.

    We recently switched to a different style 9mm mold (we cast everything we load for 9mm), and the new bullet *really* likes to be seated on the case completely square before going into the seating die. Unfortunately, this particular bullet design isn't available in a bevel base, which helps in this regard quite a bit.

    Some guys are probably asking "why not go back to your old bullet mold/design?" The new mold is 8 cavity, and when you're turning 20 to 40 pounds of alloy into bullets in one sitting, the extra cavities mean the difference between 200 casts per thousand bullets for a five cavity mold, and 125 casts per thousand for an eight cavity mold. That's a huge time savings. Plus, other than the fiddly-ness of loading the bullet straight, it is a fantastic bullet.

    Aaaand, keeping this bullet gives me the perfect excuse to finally get a bullet feeder: The MBF bullet setting die is well known for how nice and square it sets the bullet on the case.

    After watching my per-hour load count drop on my Dillon 1050 from 700 per hour with the old bullet to around 500 per hour with the new bullet, and the advantage of seating bullets squarely, I figured that I could finally justify the cost of a Mr. Bullet Feeder... well, the Mini Mr. Bullet Feeder, at least.

    Yesterday it finally showed up. I now understand why guys are willing to part with significant quantities of cash for a good quality bullet feeder.

    The Mini Mr. Bullet Feeder is actually everything they advertise it to be, which is pretty uncommon with today's products. It's dead reliable, sets the bullet perfectly square, and is easily installed and adjusted.

    The Mini will hold 114 of my cast (and powder coated) 124gr 9mm bullets, but I only load 100 at a time to keep in synch with my primer tube. So every time I have to stop and load primers, I also load the bullet tubes. Having to load the bullet tubes is a bit of a time sink, so I'm still only back to my old load cadence of 700 rounds per hour. I imagine with a Mr. Bullet Feeder collator, it would definitely be possible to hit Dillon's advertised rate of 1,000 rounds per hour with the 1050.

    The convenience of a bullet feeder is nice, but the best benefit of it, at least IMO, is the fact that it sets that bullet SQUARE and it sets that bullet square EVERY TIME. No more fiddling around trying to put a non-bevel base bullet square on the case!

    I've been working on trying to get an OpenBulletFeeder collator made for quite a while, but after yesterday, I'm throwing in the towel on that project, and am just gonna go ahead and buy the MBF collator. I'm finally convinced that the time savings and, more importantly, bullet consistency justify the price.

    My son and I have been shooting at this pace for a few years now, and when I look back on all the time we could've saved and the more consistent ammo we could've produced (although that wasn't really a factor with our old bullet), I'm really shaking my head that I was such a cheap skate for so long. There have been more than a few days that we spent reloading when we really wanted to be shooting. :)

    So I'm pretty impressed with Double Alpha's bullet feeder. I'd be really impressed with it if it was about a hundred bucks cheaper.

    For those guys out there that are producing a few thousand rounds per week, if you don't have a bullet feeder, stop punishing yourselves and get one. ;)

    The MBF collator is getting purchased today, along with a camera placed to view powder charges* and a Level 10 shell plate stabilizer.

    *I always visually check the powder charge, and the new bullet feeder makes it so I have to jam my face too far forward to check the charge before the bullet is placed on the case. Since I no longer have to be in that awkward manual-bullet-setting position, might as well kick back, relax, and watch the powder charge on my phone (which will be mounted to the press).

    I was going to use the money to buy a 350 Legend upper for the AR, along with brass and dies, but that gun is going to have to wait... the bullet feeder has waited long enough.
     
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  2. kmw1954

    kmw1954 Member

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    Nice write-up. After I got my Lee ABLP press and had been using it for a short time I did a caliber change to 9mm which I only had a Lee 3 die set and was happy with the ammo they were producing I looked into adding a lockout die or a powder cop until I came across the Hornady Bullet Feeder die. I ended up buying one to try in the 3rd position. After weeks of trying and with assistance from members here and on a couple other forums I never could get it to work. I then went and picked up an RCBS bullet feeder with the single tube and it did work with every 9mm and 380 bullet I tried thru it. This proved the concept I was investigating. It didn't really speed anything up but it sure made placing the bullet onto the charged case much easier as the 3rd station is all the way in the back of the press. I will continue to play with this setup and if it really works well I too may upgrade to a Mini Mr. Bullet Feeder for use with the 9mm and 380..
     
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  3. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    The seating square is why I like the GSI feeders. They also feed and seat at the same station, #7 on the 1050. They hold the bullet as it’s being seated so well, I use almost no flare, even on my cast and coated bullets.

    658FAD80-8589-44BA-8D22-004F9BE366D6.jpeg

    A progressive with collated brass and bullet feeders can load 100 rounds in under 4 minutes. Even the lowly Lee loadmaster.

    https://www.6mmbr.com/annealing.html

    How many you load in an hour will depend on how long it takes you to refill.



    but 1000/hr can be done without rushing if you have a functional primer filler.

    With my automated 1050 I can load, casegauge and box 1000 rounds in 51 minutes.

     
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  4. Phlier

    Phlier Member

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    I had completely forgotten about GSI's bullet feeders. I got distracted by the "Honey Do" list yesterday, so I didn't place the order for the MBF collator. Glad I didn't; looks like I should look into the GSI offerings first.

    I got a FA VibraPrime a few years ago, and over the course of time, have finally gotten it adjusted to where I can almost fill a primer tube as fast as you do in your video. I've tinkered and futzed with that little gizmo for hours and hours, and it's finally running pretty well.

    I have two things that are really hampering my production rate right now: 1. Loading the bullet feeder tubes. 2. The upstroke on the 1050. Even after going with a lighter weight detent ball and spring, I still get enough shell plate jiggle that freshly set bullets often get wiggled out-of-square by the ball seating in the detent on the shellplate during advancement. The aftermarket ball and spring have reduced the jiggle to the point that I'm no longer throwing powder out of cases, but still get enough of a jiggle to upset square bullets. If I really slow down the upstroke, it helps quite a bit. After looking at a lot of the various options to stabilize Dillon shell plates, I had just about settled on getting a Level 10 Innovations shell plate stabilizer.

    The Mini MBF at least wasn't money wasted, as it'll work well on the 550 for semi-auto calibers that I don't mind taper crimping and seating at the same station. I like to keep crimping and seating as separate stations, but with taper crimp calibers where I'm just removing the bell, I'm not completely opposed to doing it all at once.

    Thanks for the information, jmorris... always look forward to your posts.

    Edit: Looks like GSI stopped making their bullet feeders back in 2017. Ah well. Back to Plan A. ;)
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2020
  5. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    Yep, if you want a GSI you’ll have to find a used one.

    I have built a few collators from PVC and plastic but the last few I have made, I printed with a 3d printer.

     
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  6. Phlier

    Phlier Member

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    It's pretty rare that products live up to their hype. This was a happy exception... I think you'll be very pleased if you decide to get one.
     
  7. AR-Bossman

    AR-Bossman Member

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    PM sent
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2020
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  8. Phlier

    Phlier Member

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    @jmorris I was just curious as to what your opinion is on the Level 10 Innovations shell plate stabilizer? You know, for those of us that aren't handy enough to make our own. ;) I doubt you have one, but you're the kind of guy that can pretty much just look at a product and tell if it's gonna work or not.

    I've also been thinking about looking into a part made from a guy in Slovenia that increases the pressure with which the DAA bullet setter places the bullet on the case, but there doesn't appear to be a lot of information on this particular part out there yet.

    At this point, I think I'd rather work on keeping the shell plate from jumping rather than modifying the DAA setting die. But there's so many options out there for doing this, it's hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. I tried using some sort of roller bearing plate a few years ago, and that didn't work at all. Along with the lighter spring and ball that I already have, it looks like the Level 10 Innovations product might be the way to go. Anyone out there happen to be using the Level 10 product? Thoughts?

    I was happy when I was able to get the shell plate to not bounce around hard enough to spill powder, but adding the bullet feeder makes it so you need that shell plate to advance butter smooth to keep from tipping over that perfectly square set bullet.

    You guys that are running butter-smooth Dillon shell plates, how did you accomplish it? I've read through most of the old threads about this subject, in fact that's how I found out about the lighter spring and ball that I'm currently running. And I'm not talking about just reducing the shell plate jump, I'm talking about completely eliminating it.
     
  9. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I have never played with one. I haven’t had any problems with powder spill on my 1050’s so they are all stock in the indexing/detent areas.

    Even when running them manually a lot faster than my auto drives they just work, so I never tried to improve them in that area.

     
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  10. Phlier

    Phlier Member

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    When I first got my 1050 four years ago, I was having powder spilling problems on a 9mm load, and was able to get the shell plate jump under control well enough with the lighter spring and ball that it no longer throws powder out of the cases. And that's worked just fine until now. But there's still enough jump left (after adding the lighter spring and ball) that I get just a tad of bullet tilt when advancing from the bullet setting station to the bullet seating station. Sometimes it's just enough to slightly throw off a completely square bullet, other times it's enough to tip it over far enough that I have to manually correct it before seating.

    Here I thought I was done chasing this rabbit years ago...

    I went ahead and started a separate thread on this subject, hoping to get some input from others that have worked on this problem.
     
  11. Tilos

    Tilos Member

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    Are you using an M die(stepped) type expander plug for 9mm??
    Might help the tipping bullet problem,
    just askin,
    :D
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2020
  12. Phlier

    Phlier Member

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    Yup, but thanks for checking. :) The Mini Mr Bullet Feeder comes with an M die powder-through-expander funnel.
     
  13. Tilos

    Tilos Member

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    OK, I would think the straight/parallel expanded section would keep the bullet from tipping while indexing.
    Is this expander new to your operation?
    Maybe it needs to be adjusted to go deeper into the case to form the straight section?
    just guessing here, :uhoh:
     
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  14. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    That was my first thought also.

    The DAA expander plug has completely eliminated bullet tip on the 750 currently on my bench
     
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  15. Phlier

    Phlier Member

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    I'll mess around with it some more, but I currently have it setup to exactly match the picture shown on the installation instructions as far as how the bullet should look when it's set on top of the case.

    I think part of the issue is that it's a .357 diameter bullet, not the .3555 that the DAA powder-through-expander die is built around.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2020
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  16. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    You should be able to take out the case with the bullet sitting in the case mouth and invert it without the bullet falling out.

    When I pluck the bullet out of a case, there is a "pop" of the suction being broken.

    It doesn't matter what it looks like. If it isnt expanding the case mouth enough, you'll end up shaving coating. They make the plugs in various sizes
     
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  17. Phlier

    Phlier Member

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    That's extremely helpful, thank you! I can imagine that if it's setting the bullet into the case hard enough that it won't fall out when it's inverted, it's definitely set hard enough in the case to survive a shell plate advancement without tipping slightly. I'm going to go up to the reloading room right now and make some adjustments.

    I think you and @Tilos just solved this for me... thank you!

    One last thing... Brass is sticking to the new DAA powder-through-expander die pretty hard. Is this typical, or should I call them up and ask for a swap? I really don't want to have to spend a few hours polishing it. I never had a problem with my stock Dillon 9mm powder-through die and sticking brass.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2020
  18. Tilos

    Tilos Member

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    Exchange the expander for a bigger dia. one that's for 38/357...
    :thumbup:
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2020
  19. Phlier

    Phlier Member

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    I have a huge assortment of expander dies... My last "pet bullet" required NOE's .360/.357 expander in order to keep from swaging down the bullet to too small of a diameter. My current bullet (the one discussed here in this thread) requires the standard 9mm expander, as anything larger results in loss of adequate neck tension. I love this bullet, but it could stand two small changes: 1. a bevel base 2. a bit taller drive band. Having a bit larger of a drive band would make it possible to still get adequate neck tension using a larger expander die. But as it is right now, anything larger than a standard 9mm expander results in a bullet that is easily pushed down into the case.
     
  20. Tilos

    Tilos Member

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    you posted before: ""I think part of the issue is that it's a .357 diameter bullet, not the .3555 that the DAA powder-through-expander die is built around.""
    now this:
    Sorry, these seem to be conflicting statements to me, what am I missing ?
    :confused:
     
  21. Phlier

    Phlier Member

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    DAA uses that particular M Die to go along with their bullet setting die. Both are a matched pair, for .3555 diameter bullets. Using a .357 diameter bullet takes both of them out of their respective parameters; I doubt there'd be an issue at all if I was loading .3555 FMJ's. The setting die sits the bullets nice and square, but since the bullet is a bit wider than normal, it's causing it to tip when the shell plate is advanced. I think adjusting the setting die to set it harder into the brass should help.

    However, due to neck tension issues, I can't use a larger expander die with this particular bullet. It would be great if I could use a larger M die, but I just can't with this particular bullet. So I just need to make some adjustments.
     
  22. Phlier

    Phlier Member

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    Well, that did it.

    I adjusted the powder-through-expander die to put just a bit more of a bell on the case, and I can now take a piece of brass that just had a bullet set on it out of the press, turn it upside down, and tap the base of it without the bullet coming off.

    Then proceeded to load up 200 rounds. Every one of them stayed perfectly square when the shell plate advanced from the setting station to the seating station, regardless of how quickly the shell plate was advanced.
     
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  23. Tilos

    Tilos Member

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    I went to the DAA site and found that the custom powder dropper for 9mm is the same as the dropper for 38/357, so there's nothing to be gained swapping them.
    With that in mind, the stepped expansion of the 9mm dropper should expand the case to a diameter that will accept/receive the 0.357 diameter bullets if set to go deep enough into the case.
    It seems you have achieved success regardless of the mechanics :thumbup:
    :D
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2020
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