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Frustrated with reloading .44-40


Sixgun Symphony #62632

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I just had to walk away from the reloading bench. I have been loading 200gr .427 inch cast bullets in Winchester brass with Pyrodex P.

 

 

I have been crushing alot of cases and it's frustrating. I can't salvage the brass due to damage, so the primed cases go into the trash and this gets expensive after a few dozen tossed cases.

 

I am seeking helpful comments.

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I just had to walk away from the reloading bench. I have been loading 200gr .427 inch cast bullets in Winchester brass with Pyrodex P.

 

 

I have been crushing alot of cases and it's frustrating. I can't salvage the brass due to damage, so the primed cases go into the trash and this gets expensive after a few dozen tossed cases.

 

I am seeking helpful comments.

 

 

I bet you're crushing them on the bullet seater right?

 

Rye

 

 

 

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If you ARE crushing them on the seater die, back off the die and re-adjust the seater for the correct depth. Get a LEE FACTORY CRIMP DIE. Bullet seater/crimp dies for 44-40 put pressure on the case from the top and can crush the case. LEE's crimp die crimps from the side. In 20 years of loading 44-40, most of the crushed cases were crushed by ME not paying attention as to where the case was in relation to the die.

 

 

Hope this helps

 

 

TF

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:FlagAm::FlagAm::FlagAm::FlagAm::FlagAm:

 

Are you pulling bullets and saving the powder? You can.

And I have always carefully removed the good primers too.

I've saved them for practice ammo. And they've always seated well and worked.

 

My findings only.

 

MG

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If you ARE crushing them on the seater die, back off the die and re-adjust the seater for the correct depth. Get a LEE FACTORY CRIMP DIE. Bullet seater/crimp dies for 44-40 put pressure on the case from the top and can crush the case. LEE's crimp die crimps from the side. In 20 years of loading 44-40, most of the crushed cases were crushed by ME not paying attention as to where the case was in relation to the die.

 

 

Hope this helps

 

 

TF

 

Will the factory crimp die work with cast bullets?

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What dies are you using?

 

If the cases are wrinkled on the bullet seating station, the bullet is still moving down as the case edge catches the crimp groove.

 

May need a little bit more belling.

May have the wrong inside sizing plug.

 

Also, Winchester brass is the thinnest 44-40 brass. It also has one of the shallowest and narrowest rim grooves. This makes it hard for 60, 66 and 73 extractor springs to get hold of this brass. They don't drop all the was in the groove for a good grip. Some Marlins have problems with extracting Winchester brass.

 

I reload commercially and just finished 3000 rounds. 2500 44-40 and 500 32-20. I lost one case. Didn't see it fall sideways on the shell plate. Crushed with a decapping pin through it.

 

I prefer Lee dies. I do not use the Factory crimp die but a second sizing die with no decapping pin. It is used for only the first 1/16" of the final loaded round.

----------------

I set the bell with no bullet. You can see how much or how little flare there is. Once you get this where you want it, try placing a bullet and set it so the bullet is above final crimped location by about .002". The crimp will pull the bullet down that much when crimping. If the bullet is too deep the bullet being pulled down will place the case edge in the crimp groove toughing the top edge of the groove. This shoulder will pull the brass down as the bullet seats. Wrinkle! or junk. Which ever you want to call it.

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Howdy Sixgun, help us out here, whats your routine?? Are you using case lube?? Are you using a powder through expander die or a seperate expander die?? Are using a seperate seating die and crimping die, or a seat/crimp die?? What kind of dies?? Is the shell plate lined up with the die?? Which die is crushing the case??.

 

I've loading thousands of 44/40 on both Lee and Hornady dies, both Lee Clasic Turret and Hornady LNL AP without any trouble.

 

 

Jefro :ph34r: Relax-Enjoy

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Howdy

 

OK, seating and crimping in two separate operations is certainly one solution, but I have been seating and crimping 44-40 in one step for years. You just have to be very precise the way you set up the die.

 

Due to the thinness of the neck, 44-40 cases are much more fragile than other cases like 45 Colt. They will not stand up to the type of abuse that the more robust cases will.

 

First of all, make sure your cases are well centered in the shell holder or shell plate. If you slam a 44-40 into the bottom of the seating die, it will probably crumple, while a 45 Colt will shrug off the same blow. So rule number one with 44-40 is to go slow. Raise the ram slowly enough that if you feel the case mouth contact the die you can stop the stroke and recenter the case in the shell holder/plate so that it enters the die properly.

 

Rule number two is to set your seating crimp die very carefully. With a conventional seating crimp die, the crimp comes to its final shape as the shell rises to its uppermost position in the die. The crimp continues to roll over until the shell stops rising into the die. If the die is not set up perfectly, the crimp can be formed too high. This causes the brass to roll over and crimp into the driving band of the bullet. This is fine with a robust case like 45 Colt, the thicker brass at the case mouth is sturdy enough to bulldoze its way into the bullet a little bit. One can afford to be a little bit sloppy setting up a seating/crimp die with 45 Colt. But if you attempt the same thing with 44-40, the thinner brass at the case mouth is not stiff enough to force its way into the lead. Instead, what happens is as the case is still rising into the die, and the brass tries to crimp into the bullet, something has to give. The brass is not robust enough to bulldoze into the lead, instead it gives, and is forced down as the case is still rising. This usually results in a bulge below the bullet, like this:

 

Crumpled 44-40

 

Or this:

 

Badly Crumpled 44-40

 

Take heart, there is a very simple solution, I have been doing it for years. Adjust your seating crimp die so that the crimp rolls nicely in the crimp groove where it belongs and does not butt into the lead. Adjust the die so that there is a hairline of space between the tippy top of the crimp and the underside of the top of the crimp groove.

 

Like this:

 

Crimp

 

I have actually exaggerated the space for this photo. In actual practice, I keep the gap between the crimp and the top of the crimp groove to about .005-.010 at the most. This solution works, I have been doing it for years. The crimp rolls over and forms nicely in the crimp groove without butting against the lead at all. So the crimp forms where it is supposed to and the brass does not get shoved down below the bullet. The gap allows for any variation you may have with case lengths.

 

Also, take note of the amount of bell I have applied to the case. Do not overdo it. 44-40 brass is fragile and will not take much abuse. Bell the case mouth no more than necessary to allow the bullet to slide in without shaving lead.

 

Another trick for 44-40 is to use the expander plug from a 44 Magnum/44 Special die set, because the plug will be a couple of thousandths larger in diameter. But if you are using .427 bullets this should not be necessary. It can help when using .429 or .430 bullets, but it should not be necessary with .427 bullets.

 

That's it in a nutshell. You can use the Factory Crimp die if you want to, as a crutch, but if you set the die properly, you don't need it. Go slow, don't smash the case into the bottom of the die, and adjust your die so you have that teeny space.

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:FlagAm::FlagAm::FlagAm::FlagAm::FlagAm:

 

Are you pulling bullets and saving the powder? You can.

And I have always carefully removed the good primers too.

I've saved them for practice ammo. And they've always seated well and worked.

 

My findings only.

 

MG

 

I save the powder and the bullet goes into a container for casting more bullets. The cases are destroyed, so I toss 'em. I did not think it was safe to decap new live primers but I will give it a try.

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Heck, I've decapped zillions of live primers. Just do it slowly, don't slam the ram up.

 

But if you try my suggestion, I'll bet you a donunt your problem will go away.

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I am using RCBS "Cowboy" steel die set. It has the decapper/resizer, the belling die, and the seating/crimping die.

 

I am not using lube as it's new brass and so I am not resizing.

 

It crumples when I seat/crimp the bullet into the cartridge case. I think it may be because the lock ring is not staying in place. I have had problems with lead accumulating in the die but I remove the seating plug and run a brush through to get the lead out when I need to.

 

I will try some of the methods explained here. Thanks much! :)

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I do not load .44WCF, but I do load lots of .32 and .38WCF rounds that are very similar.

To stop crumpling the cartridges:

- use bullets with a beveled base (flat bases are said to be more accurate but we are shooting CAS targets)

- lube every other case, even with new brass (This reduces lube build-up in the dies)

- seat and crimp in separate operations until you get the other steps down

- compare the newly loaded rounds with nominal case dimensions or comparing them to factory-loaded ammo to verify the should location

I crumple about 1 of every 200 rounds in a Lee single-stage press and three-die sets. I shoot my rounds in four separate guns and never have chamber fit issues. Starline brass is best, and Winchester is next. I do not use Remington.

Once you get past this issue, loading these rounds is actually pretty easy.

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Always resize your 44-40 brass, new or not. 44-40 is tricky enough to reload in the first place, don't take shortcuts.

 

Some brands come shaped differently than others. Some will be reformed by the sizing die more than others.

 

Always resize it and always use case lube. Just a little bit, not too much. I use Hornady spray case lube. Don't use too much, droplets of liquid left on the case can cause dents in the brass. Just spray on a little bit, allow it to dry for a few minutes before sizing.

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It crumples when I seat/crimp the bullet into the cartridge case. I think it may be because the lock ring is not staying in place. I have had problems with lead accumulating in the die but I remove the seating plug and run a brush through to get the lead out when I need to.

 

I have explained to you why your brass is crumpling when you seat and crimp in one step. Look at my illustrations. Try what I told you, the problem will go away.

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Will the factory crimp die work with cast bullets?

 

 

YUP

 

 

Everything mentioned here has it's merits. I was taught to reload by one of the top shooters in SASS in the 80's and early 90's (DEADLY REDLY-RIP) I don't consider myself an expert, but what he taught me has worked just fine. Try the suggestions here and use what works best for you.

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I have explained to you why your brass is crumpling when you seat and crimp in one step. Look at my illustrations. Try what I told you, the problem will go away.

What DJ said, this is the way I learned. Reset the die, you should not have lead shavings or build up in the seat/crimp die. Always resize the brass, use Hornady One Shot case lube, a little goes a long way. Good Luck :)

 

 

Jefro :ph34r: Relax-Enjoy

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I load thousands of round each year.

Actually I personally loaded 462,000+ in 2011 for others.

I don't know how many I loaded for myself and testing. Lots.

---------------------

 

1. Fired brass is not uniform in size due to chambers not being dimensionally true and different guns have different size chambers. A single cylinder can have 6 different dimensions if not trued up. IT ain't much but you can feel the difference as it goes through the sizing die.

 

2. New brass depending on manufacturer may or may not have the shoulder put in to bottle neck case. Straight cases are machined close but not exact. Some are under sized and most are a little over sized.

 

Therefore ..... All brass, fired and new goes through the sizing process.

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I always resize brass, new or otherwise. I am using the same RCBS dies as you and i never use lube. I set the seating die to seat only then crimp as a separate operation with a Redding profile crimp die. I only ruin brass when I set the bullet crooked in the seating station.

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+1 Lee Factory Crimp Die

 

Need to seat and crimp in separate stages.

 

The FC Die will crimp without any downward pressure, which is what causes the shoulders to buckle. The Lee F die is the solution for all the WCF cartridges with thin tender shoulders. I've used these with great success in .44, .38, .32, .30, & .25 WCF cartridges.

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SS,

 

If you're getting lead buildup, you're probably shaving lead when seating. A bit more bell may help this.

 

I have both Lee and RCBS Cowboy .44-40 dies. Either will work fine. Some differences I've found: RCBS will give you a more gradual shoulder and bell, but will size the neck down narrower.

 

FWIW, when I've gotten crumples like those in Driftwood's pix, I've fired 'em - they iron right back out. This is not a recommendation; the crumple probably weakens the brass at that point (but I haven't had a case separation yet).

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What Driftwood said. Some dies sets still use an .427 expander/bell plug which is correct but a lot of guns use .429 bullets. They are mostly interchangeable BUT, too small a bell too big a bullet and because the 44-40 case is pretty thin to begin with....crunch. I never seat and crimp in the same operation. (Well, almost never but I load like, fifty different cartridges) The seating die is still pushing the bullet down as the crimp shoulder is...crimping. Mostly this works out ok but again, with the thin 44-40 cases, especially if you're using a bullets thats .429 and an expander plug that's .427...crunch. I know it's a pain to adjust and readjust dies every time, either buy a separate crimp die or, seat the bullets then adjust the die to just crimp.

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One more thought.

 

I agree, always RESIZE your brass. For bottleneck cases I ALWAYS use a LE Wilson case gage. These are simple go - no go gages that show you if the case is sized to SAMMI specs. I find they are invaluable to make sure that you have the sizing die set right. They generally are less than $20 and ensure that you have the setting right.

 

Start with a piece of brass that is way out of spec and keep adjusting the die until it just fits in the LE Wilson case gage. Lock it down and you are good to go.

 

Conejo

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One more hint.... after your brass is sized. measure the case length. Trim your brass to the same maximum length or a couple of thousandths less. 44-40 brass does stretch and get longer, surprisingly quickly. measure it and trim it.

 

The crimp/seat die will work better and you will get less case neck buldge at the crimp.

 

If you use a Lee Factory Crimp die, you are less likely to crush a case neck and somewhat less affected by stretched brass.

 

Have fun and go slow. 44-40 brass does not seem to reload quickly for me.

 

PS: Count me among those who prefer to seat and crimp in seperate steps.

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Follow Driftwood's procedure and all will be right with the universe.

 

However you must realize that in order to keep the universe in balance an occasional 44-40 case must be sacrificed to the Crusher gods.

It's a Yin-Yang thing.

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I followed Driftwood's advioce to the lett then found some cases that were longer than others. Solution? (1) Either trim cases, (2) discard long ones or (3) go to the Lee factory crimp die. I selected #3 and have not crushed a case in several years.

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I just had to walk away from the reloading bench. I have been loading 200gr .427 inch cast bullets in Winchester brass with Pyrodex P.

 

 

I have been crushing alot of cases and it's frustrating. I can't salvage the brass due to damage, so the primed cases go into the trash and this gets expensive after a few dozen tossed cases.

 

I am seeking helpful comments.

 

 

Sixgun, read carefully and pay attention to what Driftwwod has to say. The guy is an expert 44WCF reloader. Great advice there.

Rye

 

 

 

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Howdy Again

 

Here is another wrinkle that I did not mention to go along with my teeny little gap method of loading 44-40. I have never trimmed a case in my life. Not 45 Colt, 45 Schofield, 44-40, nor several 'pistol' other calibers. What I did when initially setting up my seating/crimp die to seat and crimp 44-40 in one step was to first measure a representative sample of cases. Yes, they varied a bit in length, but not very much. Probably not more that .008 or so all told. So after measuring a representative sample of brass, I chose a couple of the longest ones to use to set up my die. Having chosen a couple of the longest pieces, any shorter piece is guaranteed to have a gap, maybe a bit wider, but everything will have a gap.

 

Again, it is a matter of degrees. I have brand new 44-40 brass and I have stuff I have shot for years. None of it seems to vary very much in length. Not much more than the .008 or so that I mentioned. So if I leave a .005 or so gap with the longest brass, maybe I have left a gap nearing .013 with some shorter brass. But most of it averages out to be a minor gap, maybe .010 or so in width.

 

Nothing wrong with using the Lee Factory Crimp if that is what you want to do, but I completely disagree with those who say it is necessary to use the LFC die and that is the only way to load 44-40. My method works for five different rifles, all chambered for 44-40, the newest made around 2005 or so, the oldest made in 1894.

 

Been doing it for years.

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Not currently reloading 44-40, but there is too much GOOD info in this thread to let it pass. Never know when a 44-40 might take up residence....

I'm book marking this post for future reference!

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I changed my expander die out for a .44 mag die and the neck squashing stopped....until....

 

I loaded a batch of new Winchester brass. I got a lot of bulge. Talking to a pard, I learned that factory brass might not be sized correctly and that Winchester brass has a softer neck (which is why I'm loading it with BP...I use Starline for smokeless) which bulges more.

 

I'm about to reload some BP in my Wnchester brass, hoping that the act of firing it as opened up the ID of the neck enough to handle the seating of the bullet.

 

I'm putting .429 bullets in the cases because my rifles slug at .428 and my Vaqueros slug to .430 (both chamber and barrel), so .429 works in both. I also had good luck loading .430 in the Starline brass after I switched to the .44mag expander. I almost never crush a case.

 

-Pico Pistolero

blog.picopistolero.com

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