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Loading .45 cowboy specials (dies, etc)


Ripsaw

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I've been experimenting with .45CS and just wondering how others are handling loading. I've been using the .45 colt sizing die but switched to the .45 ACP dies for the belling/powder drop, bullet seating and crimping dies in my Square Deal press. The .45 Colt dies can't adjust enough to handle the shorter cases. The only limitation is the .45ACP crimp die is a taper crimp, not a roll crimp. Do I have any other choices with the Square Deal? (other than buying a 550, 650, 1050, etc.) I do have a Rockchucker that I potentially could use for a final crimp if I had an appropriate .45 caliber crimp die that would handle the .45CS case. The taper crimp seems to work fine, so maybe I'm good? Loading Clays and a 180g Missouri Bullet Co. hi-tek coated "cowboy" bullet. Thoughts?

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Sometimes a taper crimp die can be turned down a little more and it will "roll" the mouth. With C45Spl, it really won't hurt to over crimp slightly - not like .45 Auto where over crimping is a disaster.

 

I use a .45 auto rim crimp die so I can get a nice tight roll crimp on mine, but, then, I'm not limited by loading on a SQ Deal. The .45 Auto Rim is exactly the right length and diameter and crimp type. My 550 loader takes regular die sets.

 

But if you are getting "clean enough" combustion and consistent power loads with your current taper crimp die, why look farther? Go shoot!

 

Good luck, GJ

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If you need two pair of pliers to turn the bullet, then you probably have enough taper crimp. I also use the .45 Autorim. Another solution is to cut down a .45 Colt die so the crimp part will reach the CS loaded round. Might be a real commitment on a Square Deal.

 

CR

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Sometimes a taper crimp will roll and sometimes it won't. Hornady CUSTOM has a ACP/AR die set, but the AMERICAN die sets are taper only and won't roll. I ground one down a little to try to make it roll. No dice.

 

With 180's it was my experience that roll crimp wasn't needed. They just required a minimum charge of powder to combust fully and get the rounds downrange in time for the match to be over.

 

If you must have a roll crimp, I'd invest in a Schofield crimp die for the square deal b and turn down the end of the die to suit your purposes or call Dillon and see if you can special order a .45 ACP die with a roll crimp. I can't see an added extra step on another machine.

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I've tried cut down 45 Colt seating die, 45 ACP seating die, Lee Factory Crimp die and didn't get what I wanted. I come across an RCBS 45 ACP/AR ROLL crimp die. It works to my satisfaction.

 

Here is a link to the item on Grafs website. I'm sure you can get them other places.

 

https://www.grafs.com/retail/catalog/product/productId/13396

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Redding Reloading has a roll crimp die for the .45 AR, as well. Part # 86189

 

Exactly the die I use.

GJ

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It's not just about good combustion, it is also about the bullet pushing into the case and raising peak pressure, if you are loading smokeless powder. Especially if used in a tube magazine in a rifle. Why not call Dillon and ask what they can do for you?

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I see a universal problem with handgun die sets of late. They are designed with the assumption you're going to load jacketed bullets. The 45 Colt, and by extension the C45S has another issue to compound the problem, that is chamber and throat size of the chambers can very greatly. The sizing dies tend to size way too much, the expander dies don't expand enough. Work the brass to death. If you use a cast lead bullet that fits the bore of your gun, the load may well end up with a waistline like Scarlet O'Hara.

 

I worked around the problem by chucking the carbide sizing die in my lathe and opening it up with a diamond bit in my Dremel tool until the undersized expander really didn't expand - just put a bell on the case. The sized and un-expanded case still seats a 452 bullet plenty tight.

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I see a universal problem with handgun die sets of late. They are designed with the assumption you're going to load jacketed bullets.

 

Universal? Nope! RCBS markets an expensive line of dies with larger expander buttons and more belling ability, specifically for cast bullet loading. Their Cowboy line.

 

Lyman makes an M-die specifically designed to allow great expansion of pistol and rifle cartridges for cast bullets.

 

Know what? I have some of each and don't try to jam lead bullets into under-expanded cases.

 

Good luck, GJ

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Started loading C45S before they became commercial. Found the taper crimp of a 45 ACP die unsatisfactory. Just didn't work, especially since I use the round in my rifles. For lead bullets, rifle or not, a nice tight roll crimp gives better all round performance. I found the primo die for C45S to be the Redding 45 Auto Rim crimp die. Works a treat.

 

Coffinmaker

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Universal? Nope! RCBS markets an expensive line of dies with larger expander buttons and more belling ability, specifically for cast bullet loading. Their Cowboy line.

 

Lyman makes an M-die specifically designed to allow great expansion of pistol and rifle cartridges for cast bullets.

 

Know what? I have some of each and don't try to jam lead bullets into under-expanded cases.

 

Good luck, GJ

I bought a set of RCBS cowboy dies for my 32-20 and they work excellent for loading cast lead bullets.

 

In my case, I was trying to mix and match dies from 3 different sets of 45 Colt - Lyman, Lee and RCBS and one 45 ACP plus use a Dillon powder funnel die. It's working fine now.

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Ya know, pards - we keep forgetting something!

 

The Cowboy 45 Special is a WILDCAT cartridge. Even if Starline is making custom brass for a vendor with the correct headstamp, it does not mean this is an accepted, industry standard (SAAMI) cartridge. Experimentation is to be expected and required to make this wildcat purr. That no die sets are made for this is to be EXPECTED as part of the challenge.

 

I'm just glad it is POSSIBLE to load it. I sure wouldn't expect it to be .38-special-simple to load it. Thank you, AJ!

 

(Sometimes still feels like rocket science to me)

 

Good luck, GJ

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I've tried cut down 45 Colt seating die, 45 ACP seating die, Lee Factory Crimp die and didn't get what I wanted. I come across an RCBS 45 ACP/AR ROLL crimp die. It works to my satisfaction.

 

Here is a link to the item on Grafs website. I'm sure you can get them other places.

 

https://www.grafs.com/retail/catalog/product/productId/13396

Have to double check but I may have one of those dies that I would sell.

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I'm only using the C45S in pistols, so perhaps the taper crimp will suffice. So far, I've gotten reasonably low SDs (~30) over a chrono, at an average of 500fps using clays and a 180g bullet. Some sooting of the cases (to be expected) but otherwise clean burning. I've also run some using Red Dot and Nitro100NF, but Clays seemed to work best. I think Nitro100 is a little fast for that bullet but might be better with a 160g bullet.

 

Since I'm trying to stick with the SDB as a loading platform, probably my only option, since Dillion does not have 45AR dies for the SDB, is to grind down a 45 Schofield die. Or, a 45C die. I suppose I could cut a .45C die, and use the cutoff on top of the crimp portion as a spacer in the tool head.

 

I appreciate all the ideas and suggestions. Still tinkerin'.

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Adirondack Jack posted this on his Website when he was selling them......

--Dawg

 

Question: What about loading dies? Updated 12/15/06

Cowboy .45 Special is designed to use ordinary "off the shelf" dies.

 

Using a .45 Colt shell plate and sizing die, and expander and seat/crimp dies from a .45 ACP or autorim die set.

 

 

While any ACP/Autorim dies will work, along with a .45 Colt shell plate, the very best results to date have been achieved using Hornady New Dimension .45 caliber dies no. 546554.

 

Note Hornady uses the same dies for .45 Colt, ACP, Autorim, and win mag.

 

They produce a proper roll crimp, and use a sliding bullet guide that aids in seating even very short bullets straight.

 

The sizing die is also a bit larger than typical ACP dies, which provides proper bullet tension for .452-4 cast bullets, and requires less effort to size and expand.

 

This makes the press run smoother, and works brass less as well.

 

Personally, I only neck size fired cases, adjusting the sizer so it resizes the part of the brass where the bullet seats, but not the lower aspect.

 

Question: What dies will work?

If you already have .45 ACP dies, and don't care to get Hornady dies, your ACP dies will work, together with your .45 Colt shell plate.

 

BUT, there are ways to make "better" ammo by using a bit more intelligent die setup.

 

Since we are loading for .45 COLT chambers, which are notoriously roomy (the old SAAMI numbers are sloppy, and chambers cut to SAAMI max are prone to burnt powder blow-by) we need to think about the actual dimensions of our cases if the goal is to limit blow-by, especially at typical CAS levels.

 

The Cowboy .45 Special has much less blow-by at middle of the road CAS loads, but if you like em reallly light, or load with BP or subs, read on.

 

One way to help reduce blow-by at low velocity levels is to use a .45 COLT sizer die instead of the slightly smaller ACP sizing die.

 

Even better is what is known as "neck sizing" our fired brass.

 

When a case is fired it expands and "bounces" back part way, ending up a few thousanths bigger than "resized" brass.

 

Since we are working with very roomy chambers, we can leave the brass in the "as fired" state, sizing ONLY the case neck where the bullet seats, and sizing that only as much as needed to get decent neck tension on the bullet.

 

Typical pistol dies are designed to "full length size", but can be set up to partially resize or "neck size".

 

To do this, take a .45 Colt sizing die and adjust it so that the decapping pin JUST knocks out the spent primer.

 

Note how close the die mouth is to the shell plate.

 

Most often it is still going to resize more than half of the case.

 

Now, loosen the collet holding the decapping pin, and using a small drift, push the decapping pin about .150 below the top of the die such that only the bottom portion of the collet holds the pin, and retighten the collet.

 

Now adjust the die until it JUST knocks out the old primer, and note how much of the case is up inside the die.

 

Likely you can get the die adjusted to a point where ONLY the case mouth is resized (the area that grabs the bullet) and no further.

 

Now, as long as you can reliably knock out old primers and you're resizing the top .200 in. or so of the case neck, you've done all the sizing CAS brass needs.

 

Load a few fired, neck sized cases with your favorite bullets and make sure they chamber ok in your pistols (mine do with ease) and compare the diameter of the loaded once fired, neck sized cases to those which have been full length resized.

 

You'll likely see about .005 or .006 inch diameter difference at the point of the bullet base, which means when you next fire them, these neck sized rounds will seal much better during firing, leave little powder residue in the chambers, and still extract just fine.

 

This is especially important as we load for minimum recoil with light bullets.

 

Cowboy .45 Special develops more pressure than .45 Colt at a given velocity and that means LESS blow-by at modest levels, but if ya push the lower limits of velocity, it's still possible to get smoky cases.

 

Neck sizing with a .45 COLT sizing die will reduce the smoky cases.

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I'm only using the C45S in pistols, so perhaps the taper crimp will suffice. So far, I've gotten reasonably low SDs (~30) over a chrono, at an average of 500fps using clays and a 180g bullet. Some sooting of the cases (to be expected) but otherwise clean burning. I've also run some using Red Dot and Nitro100NF, but Clays seemed to work best. I think Nitro100 is a little fast for that bullet but might be better with a 160g bullet.

 

Since I'm trying to stick with the SDB as a loading platform, probably my only option, since Dillion does not have 45AR dies for the SDB, is to grind down a 45 Schofield die. Or, a 45C die. I suppose I could cut a .45C die, and use the cutoff on top of the crimp portion as a spacer in the tool head.

 

I appreciate all the ideas and suggestions. Still tinkerin'.

 

Howdy Ripsaw,

 

The taper crimp is fine, no need for cutting & grinding. You probably wouldn't notice much difference anyway. Till fairly recently I was using the same setup for .45acp and .45spl and just changed the shell plate and locator pins. If you're shooting this weekend bring some extras with you, I'd like to check out what you've come up with for the 180g bullet.

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I've been experimenting with .45CS and just wondering how others are handling loading. I've been using the .45 colt sizing die but switched to the .45 ACP dies for the belling/powder drop, bullet seating and crimping dies in my Square Deal press. The .45 Colt dies can't adjust enough to handle the shorter cases. The only limitation is the .45ACP crimp die is a taper crimp, not a roll crimp. Do I have any other choices with the Square Deal? (other than buying a 550, 650, 1050, etc.) I do have a Rockchucker that I potentially could use for a final crimp if I had an appropriate .45 caliber crimp die that would handle the .45CS case. The taper crimp seems to work fine, so maybe I'm good? Loading Clays and a 180g Missouri Bullet Co. hi-tek coated "cowboy" bullet. Thoughts?

I use a taper crimp die for my 45 colt loads in my 92 as I use a 230 Gr truncated bullet designed for 45 ACP, it doesn't have a crimp groove. With a good taper crimp I have never had a problem running these in my 92.

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So easy. No special die needed. Just called Dillon (they're so HELPFUL), and was told, "... just turn the 45ACP crimp die down further, all our Dillon Dies are a combination taper/roll crimp die. Yes, even the ones for the Square Deal."

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But. I use dies other than Dillon because I use the RCBS lockout die in station 3 on our 450 and 550B presses - what means I use a combination seat and crimp die innstation 4. And I already had an assortment of dies.

Simple: RCBS 45ACP Roll crimp/seater die

169099.jpg

Same die I use. (Not actual size)... ;):P

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Then I misinterpreted your post previous to this last one. The OP was askin' about solutions for his Sq.Deal, and everyone kept offering solutions that won't work in that machine.

 

Edit... well... ok... not "everyone"... ;)

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Then I misinterpreted your post previous to this last one. The OP was askin' about solutions for his Sq.Deal, and everyone kept offering solutions that won't work in that machine.

 

Edit... well... ok... not "everyone"... ;)

Ok, I've been doing some studying. See if I pass the test. The Dillon Square Deal press is caliber specific and only Dillon makes caliber conversion kits to change to a small list of calibers. Standard 7/8-14 dies will not work in this press.

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While any ACP/Autorim dies will work, along with a .45 Colt shell plate, the very best results to date have been achieved using Hornady New Dimension .45 caliber dies no. 546554.

 

Note Hornady uses the same dies for .45 Colt, ACP, Autorim, and win mag.

 

They produce a proper roll crimp, and use a sliding bullet guide that aids in seating even very short bullets straight.

 

The sizing die is also a bit larger than typical ACP dies, which provides proper bullet tension for .452-4 cast bullets, and requires less effort to size and expand.

 

This makes the press run smoother, and works brass less as well.

BUT, there are ways to make "better" ammo by using a bit more intelligent die setup.

One way to help reduce blow-by at low velocity levels is to use a .45 COLT sizer die instead of the slightly smaller ACP sizing die.

 

I use mine for everything in two rifles and a few pistols. Therefore I full length size. I love my Hornady Custom dies. The new dimension dies are awesome and the roll crimp is as described as is the easiest of loading short projectiles. I was highly excited to have my reloading backed up by this post. The LC sizing die is a great idea that I recently came to as well.

 

Thanks Dawg!

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Howdy Ripsaw,

 

The taper crimp is fine, no need for cutting & grinding. You probably wouldn't notice much difference anyway. Till fairly recently I was using the same setup for .45acp and .45spl and just changed the shell plate and locator pins. If you're shooting this weekend bring some extras with you, I'd like to check out what you've come up with for the 180g bullet.

 

Cody, thanks. Yes, I'll bring some Sunday.

 

 

So easy. No special die needed. Just called Dillon (they're so HELPFUL), and was told, "... just turn the 45ACP crimp die down further, all our Dillon Dies are a combination taper/roll crimp die. Yes, even the ones for the Square Deal."

 

Griff, thanks for doing that. I had not had time to do that today.

 

Ok, I've been doing some studying. See if I pass the test. The Dillon Square Deal press is caliber specific and only Dillon makes caliber conversion kits to change to a small list of calibers. Standard 7/8-14 dies will not work in this press.

 

Correct-a-mundo. (Though the list of calibers is large enough to cover most straight wall pistol cartridges.)

 

I like the square deal, despite it's limitations. It is auto indexing (unlike the 550) and it's inexpensive enough to have one set up for each caliber I load a lot of. I have three SDBs. I can typically load 300-400 rds/hr, so it's easy to crank out 1000-1200 rds in a couple evenings.

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Who said old dowgs can't learn new tricks? I can sleep better knowing I learned something new.

 

3 SDB x $400/ea = $1200.

 

550B with powder measure and primer feed and no dies at $400. Plus 3 conversion kits, dies - about $100 ea = $300. Add 2 extra die blocks $50. $350 + $400 = $750.

 

$1200-$750=$450 for auto advance and not needing to change out caliber kit.

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....the very best results to date have been achieved using Hornady New Dimension .45 caliber dies no. 546554.

 

Note Hornady uses the same dies for .45 Colt, ACP, Autorim, and win mag.

 

They produce a proper roll crimp, and use a sliding bullet guide that aids in seating even very short bullets straight.

 

The sizing die is also a bit larger than typical ACP dies, which provides proper bullet tension for .452-4 cast bullets, and requires less effort to size and expand.

This has been my experience.

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Whe I shot .45 CS only in pistols, I would skip the sizing. It puts extra wear on the brass (leading to cracks) and had not advantage. Now I shoot a Uberti 1860 set uo for .45 CS, so I size all brass withe a .45 Colt die and use my Lee speed loader dies for .45 ACP for expanding, seating and crimping. It is a very simple process.

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Who said old dowgs can't learn new tricks? I can sleep better knowing I learned something new.

 

3 SDB x $400/ea = $1200.

 

550B with powder measure and primer feed and no dies at $400. Plus 3 conversion kits, dies - about $100 ea = $300. Add 2 extra die blocks $50. $350 + $400 = $750.

 

$1200-$750=$450 for auto advance and not needing to change out caliber kit.

 

I din't mean to imply that it was the lowest cost alternative, only that the SDB costs less than the other presses, i.e., less expensive than having the same quantity of 550s or 650s. For ME, it's more convenient. Maybe not the best answer for others.

 

The presses remain set up and adjusted for each cartridge. No messing around anytime I want to load. That's worth it to me.

 

And you'd have to add 2 more powder measures to your 550 set up.

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