View Full Version : Reloading .45 ACP (230 grain FMJ): What Else Do I Need?

12-15-11, 19:58
I'm just starting out reloading, and I'm hoping I can get some advice. I bought some equipment and supplies a while back but had to postpone things due to my work situation. Now I'm trying to get back at it.

Here's what I have so far:

* RCBS Model 505 Reloading Scale
* Lee .45 ACP Carbide Dies #90513 (uses #13 shell holder)
* Lee Class Turret Press (4 hole)
* Hogdon Clays Powder (shows 5.2 grain for .45 ACP)
* Magtech Large Pistol Primers #2-1/2
* Montana Gold 230-grain FMJ Bullets

I know I still need to get some more equipment and supplies, but I don't know what else I need. All I want to reload is basic 230-grain FMJ loads.

Any and all help will be much appreciated!

12-15-11, 20:36
While you are picking up the rest of your supplies, I'd get a reloading manual or 3. There is must have info in there that is really going to save you a lot of grief... maybe your hands and face as well. Dont know your situation and I'm not trying to preach, just sayin!

Dial or digital calipers are a must for determining your OAL, so add those to the list. That is really going to play a role in how the round feeds in YOUR pistol and what kind of presure going to ned up with. I noticed you mentioned 5.2gr. of Clays. I know the front of the jug list that, but you're really going to want to work up all your loads. I shoot 4.0gr. of Clays behind 230. Clays is fast, soft and clean. But, if I want a "regular" 230 FMJ load, I love W231. I think its all relative to what you want.

One can go on forever... There's a metric crap-ton of info out there, just go slow, be safe and have fun.

12-15-11, 20:52
You are going to need some brass.:dance3:

12-15-11, 22:32
Some case prep tools like a primer pocket cleaner a tumbler at some point to clean up your brass. Also a hand primer is nice to have if you want to get away from the bench and prime. And as Atchcraft said a few current reloading manuals and calipers. Then read and ask questions and take your time reloading to make sure you make every step the same and safe.

12-16-11, 10:48
Here is my set up for pistol. Granted I dont have to set dies everytime since i use a 550b but the basics are the same.

Tumble brass
Seat bullet of choice (oal is important here and calipers are required)
Crimp (taper or factory crimp die)
I stick each case into a case gauge and then into bulk holding.

You need caliper and a scale for tools. Books for load data and something to handle primers. The rest is mostly to make you load the same quality ammo faster.

Before anyone yells about case inspection that is handled in the many times you handle the brass including using the final case gauge.

12-16-11, 14:40
Agree with others, above, that dial calipers (or digital) are really worthwhile.

Strongly suggest you obtain a taper crimp die and do that as a separate operation after seating bullets (do not crimp during the seating operation.)

Now the ticklish part: setting up the taper crimp die.
Ignore reloading manual specifications, as those are maximum dimensions. Instead, take two or three top-quality factory rounds and very carefully measure the outside diameter of the very end of the case mouths. Use the knife-edge part of the calipers to be sure you get the very end of the case mouth of the factory rounds. You should get 0.469" plus or minus .001.

Then, carefully, gradually, adjust you crimping die--trial and correction--until your reloaded rounds have that measurement at the edge of the case mouth. Tighten the locking ring on the die, and you are done!

If the crimp isn't enough, the rounds may jam by not feeding into the chamber. If the rounds are crimped too much, the gun may jam because the rounds go too far into the chamber (the .45 headspaces on the case mouth--same for 9mm and .40 S&W.)

By the way, use the same method for determining overall cartridge length/seating depth. Take two or three factory FMJ 230 gr. rounds with the same bullet shape and measure those for overall length (much easier than measuring crimp on the case mouth.) Seat bullets to that overall length.

Hope this helps a bit!

12-17-11, 10:37
Thanks, everyone, for the advice.

So it seems that, at a minimum, I still need:

*Dial or digital calipers
*Primer pocket cleaner
*Current reloading manuals
*Taper crimp die

Iím guessing a chrono of some sort would be helpful too.

(As for brass, Iím well set there thanks to years of shooting WWB value-packs.)

Any advice on a particular type/brand of any of the above, and where to buy them, would help a lot.

Thanks again.

12-17-11, 11:15
* Hogdon Clays Powder (shows 5.2 grain for .45 ACP)

Whoa! This is not correct and would likely produce a dangerous over-pressure load per my Hodgdon manual. Clays "can" be used for lower velocity 45 ACP with 230 gr FMJ bullets, but there are better choices, IMO.

12-17-11, 11:28
Whoa! This is not correct and would likely produce a dangerous over-pressure load per my Hodgdon manual. Clays "can" be used for lower velocity 45 ACP with 230 gr FMJ bullets, but there are better choices, IMO.Yep, that's what the sticker on the front says.

I bought the stuff on the advice of an acquaintance, but I've since learned there are better choices. Still, it is what it is, I'm stuck with it, and while it's not the best, it will work. I hope.

12-17-11, 17:36
Possibly you are referring to Universal Clays, a different powder than Clays.

12-17-11, 17:59
The green and tan label sez:

Quality Propellants for Over 50 Years
The Brand That's True

Underneath is "Reloading Data Center"
Bottom left under that is:
38 Special 2.5 gr.
44 Special 4.6 gr.
45 ACP 5.2 gr.

12-17-11, 18:35
The green and tan label sez:

Quality Propellants for Over 50 Years
The Brand That's True

Underneath is "Reloading Data Center"
Bottom left under that is:
38 Special 2.5 gr.
44 Special 4.6 gr.
45 ACP 5.2 gr.

I have Clays on my shelf. The load you're quoting from the bottle is a MAX load for a 155 grain lead semi-wadcutter bullet.

Unless you're shooting that particular bullet (which would be fairly rare for .45 ACP) you can not use that data.

Never start with a max load and never substitute a load meant for another bullet weight, ever.

Buy a manual and read. Then read some more. Then make sure to start low and work up.

Hodgdon's website quotes 3.7 grains starting and 4.0 grains max load for a 230 grain Hornady FMJ FP at 1.2" OAL. Clays is a good powder in .45 for light target loads. Shoots soft and clean, but you need to know what you're doing. Pressure spikes quickly with Clays and it won't fill the case well. If you have any setback, or a double charge (easier to do with powders like Clays) you could be in for a very bad day.

12-17-11, 19:11
Depending on where you get your brass from you may need some small pistol primers as well.

I came across a batch of 45 acp brass that was small pistol primer.

I think it came from a batch of CCI Brass 230g fmj ammo that I had shot and saved the brass to reload at a later date. If I remember I will take a picture of the two different cases and post it up here.

12-17-11, 19:51

*Dial or digital calipers (prefer quality metal digital) Napaauto parts
*Primer pocket cleaner(never used one)
*Tumbler(use walnut media from Petco aka bird litter cheaper because it doesn't say firearm/gun/or tactical on the box.)
Some type of this

*Current reloading manuals such as (Lyman 49 edtion, Speer#14)
Download the Hodgon reloading info from


Iím guessing a chrono of some sort would be helpful too.
beg or borrow.

(As for brass, Iím well set there thanks to years of shooting WWB value-packs.) Check brass for primer size no need for small pistol primers just sort out small keep seperate or toss.

Case gauge or just use your barrel if inclined

12-17-11, 20:05
Blazer is using SPP, found that out the hard way, after a lot of "wtf is wrong with my press?"

Get a good electronic scale as well. Dillon is good.

My Hodgdon book shows 4.0 max for Clays and 6.0 for Universal Clays. So yeah, don't get those two mixed up.

If you want some accurate easy shooting loads. The 185g LSWC from Missouri bullet and 3.6g of Bullseye is really nice.

12-17-11, 20:20
Blazer is using SPP, found that out the hard way, after a lot of "wtf is wrong with my press"

Luckly I run a Square Deal (no case feeder)so I just double check before inserting the brass

To date, Blazer, Federal NT 45 auto, Some Federal 45 auto, & Fiocchi 45 auto have small pistol primers

when I have several hundred I'll load them up on my other SD set up for small pistol primers.

12-17-11, 20:25
Solo 1000 is also a great powder for 45acp. Clean burning and fluffy so a double charge is very obvious.

12-17-11, 21:29
Get a bullet puller too. Just one of those "hammer style" ones will do.

Snake Plissken
12-18-11, 16:08
I don't ever bother trimming 45 ACP brass. I just take the barrel from the pistol and use it as a case gage for the final product. Although I use LRN with 5.0 gr of W231 over large pistol primers. Still haven't dabbled with all that stupid small primer bull shit Federal started.

Be sure to taper crimp with a Lee taper crimp die. Generally I do not have luck with seating +crimp setups. Roll crimp is for rimmed straight wall brass and taper crimp is for the rest. Just stay away from the "factory crimp" dies as they will shave your bullets upon crimping and can lead to problems (often will).

Also, buy cheaper bullets. PowderValley has Berry's for cheap if you need plated but they also have MissouriBullet LRNs for cheap as well. Try 185 gr stuff too. Shoots flatter and you get a velocity bonus.

12-31-11, 11:14
First of all, thanks everyone for your help. I've picked up a Lee reloading manual and am looking for others. I've also picked up the digital calipers.

Based on your advice, and some more reading on my part, it seems that basically all I have left to get are the following:

Lee carbide factory crimp die
Cleaning brass with vinegar solution rather than tumbler
A scale weight check set (not sure where to get this)
Deburring tool ($3 Lee “chamfer” tool?)
Lee Pro Auto Disk Powder Measure instead of my RCBS 505 scale?
Lee Auto-Prime XR or Lee Safety Prime?

I'm getting excited now about finally being able to reload!

12-31-11, 11:59
The Pro Auto-Disk measure is good, but I'd add an Adjustable Charge Bar to that. It makes dialing in a charge easy, and allows you to dial in a weight that falls between disk volumes/weights.

Keep your scale. At first, you'll need this to confirm weights of thrown charges as you are trying to get the correct volumetric setting established. But once you've confirmed 3-4 weights, then just go with the powder measure volume -- no need to keep verifying the weight with the scale.

I use RCBS check weights for scale calibration. You should be able to find these at any online retailer (Midway, Natchez, Mid South, etc.). They are pretty universally stocked across retailers.

You've got carbide dies, those are good. Even so, I prefer applying a dab of lube to cases occasionally to keep the press running smoothly. Lube isn't needed per se to protect the die or prevent sticking a case, but it does make the press run more smoothly since the effort you apply across the various perations is lower and more consistent from station-to-station. Once you're done, tumble the rounds in cob or walnut shell media for 5 minutes or so to remove lube.

When I first started out I got a Lee trimmer pilot/length guage and deburring tool. But I found along the way that resizing my cases (9mm, .38 Spec, .357 Mag), I didn't experience case growth. I've never loaded .45 ACP so maybe you will get a bit of growth, in which case any deburring tool will work. But you may find that trimming straight walled pistol cases isn't necessary. Can't say the same for bottle-necked .223 cases. In my experience, for those you must trim.

You will figure this out once you start resizing your cases -- just measure the case length of a clean unsized case, and then measure the same case after resizing. If it grows enough, you'll need to trim, chamfer and debur. If you find this is necessary, then I'd look at getting a 2nd toolhead and batch processing your cases (resizing, followed by case prep, and maybe off-the-press priming) and then using the 2nd toolhead for charging, seating and crimping.

I found that it's best to trim once resizing is completed, and it was always a hassle to resize case, remove it from the shellholder for trimming and other prep, and then reinserting it to complete the cycle. I found it much easier to batch process cases first and then just run them through the auto-indexing TP.

12-31-11, 13:56
Sell your scale.

Get a Dillon or similar digital for $120. It comes with a calibration weight.

Midway sells calibration weight sets for $25+

Waiting for that balance arm to steady and hope you are looking at it correctly is a PITA.

the digital scales are great if you are loading and have to stop for a malfunction or what ever. Just grab the loaded shell. dump powder on scale, test, pour back in shell if correct and keep on going. Run a quick check every 100 or so rounds. It's just a whole different world than those beam scales.

01-01-12, 16:49
I've got nothing but good things to say right now abut the RCBS ChargeMaster Digital Scale and Powder dispenser. After a few years of hand trickling, the time saved for me allows me to spend more time shooting.

RCBS 1500 Chargemaster
RCBS Chargemaster 1500! (http://www.midwayusa.com/product/772151/rcbs-chargemaster-1500-powder-scale-and-dispenser-combo-110-volt)

Old 2011 Rebate but I'm sure they will come out with a 2012 one soon!

This thing is super fast measuring anything below 12grains!

Oh! and the 6mmBR Article comparing digital powder measures:
Powder Dispensor Review / Comparo (http://www.6mmbr.com/powderdispensers01.html)

01-04-12, 17:43
Thanks again, good advice.

By the way, what more would I need to get, equipmentwise, to reload .223?

01-04-12, 18:34
There is a thread here in teh reloading section that links to several videos showing step by step how to reload .223

You would just need to substitute a few things as his setup was all Dillon.

It takes a while to watch all videos but will give you a very clear picture of what you will have to do from dirty brass to finished round. Plus if you add different pieces like that digital powder measure you can figure where it would fit in to the routine.

ETA: See this link. Somewhere on this forum he also made a thread to go with the 13 video series but I can't find it. Shouldn't need it though. Just watch videos.