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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  CAS TOPICS  |  The Darksider's Den (Moderators: Marshal Halloway, Major 2, Capt Quirk)  |  Topic: Cheap homemade compression die 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Cheap homemade compression die  (Read 1266 times)
OD#3
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« on: January 02, 2018, 12:40:15 am »


A cursory look through the archives didn't reveal that this particular method had been discussed before.  If I missed it, I apologize. 

I've been loading up some .44-40 BP cartridges lately.  .44-40 is a new one for me, having been a .45 Colt man all my adult life.  But I had a moment of weakness and bought a Win/Miroku '66 in .44-40, so I'm having to learn a new cartridge.  Anyway, on some of my loads, I was trying to duplicate the original loads using a few balloon-head cases and bullets that I'd cast from an old Ideal 42498 mold.  Naturally, I needed to load 40 grains, and I needed a compression die. 

Quite often, when loading oddball cartridges, I have to mix and match components from multiple reloading dies to get the desired results.  And I had a few partial sets of .44 special dies that I'd been gifted over the years.  It occurred to me that I probably had a few spare RCBS .44 special/mag bullet seating stems in the bunch, and I selected one.  I then chucked it into the drill press and held a file against the bottom of the spinning seating stem to reduce its bullet-nose-cavity to just a flat square face.  That didn't take very long at all, and voilla! I had a cheap compression die.  This, screwed into a .45 ACP seating/crimp die and adjusted properly gave just enough room for the belled .44-40 case mouth to enter and still accept the homemade compression die.  Worked like a charm and was free.  I load these using an old Redding T-15 turret press that accommodates 6 dies, so it was nice to just have a dedicated position for powder compression. 

On another note, I'm not a big fan of reloading these .44-40's compared to .45 Colt.  Lubricating the cases for sizing isn't all that hard, but the resizing effort is still harder than with a nice carbide sizing ring on the straight-walled cartridges.  And it looks like I'm gonna want to get a Lee factory crimp die for it, as these rounds I'm reloading are real sensitive to how heavily I crimp them with the standard bullet-seating/crimp die in my Lyman dies.  Too much crimp makes for hard chambering, as it tends to bulge the case mouth a little, and I like a heavy crimp.  I'm currently making-do with what I have and adjusting the die for a modest crimp.

I purposely did not anneal these case mouths, as I wanted to compare in-person the blow-by mitigating effects of my annealed .45 colt necks against the standard and thinner .44-40 case necks.  But some of these balloon-head cases are pretty old.  They're not mercury-primer old, but I did have quite a few culls when reloading them due to case mouth cracking.  And I had a few loose primer pockets (two even had their primers pop out during powder compression).  This was a phenomenon that makes sense, considering that the primer pocket is pretty much unsupported and more liable to stretch, but it was something I hadn't even considered until I had two primers just fall out.  I will probably retire them after the first shooting and would likely be well-advised to do so.  But as for the majority of my other cases--the solid head ones, I have a question.  These are cases that I got from a friend and are at least once-fired.  I'd like to be able to reload these as much as I can.  Does anyone anneal .44-40 case necks for longevity, or are they already so thin that the case-buckling tendency of the thin-walled .44-40 would be unmanageable if I softened them by annealing?
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wildman1
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« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2018, 07:02:02 am »

I have been considering annealing for 44-40 and may try a few cases as that is about all I shoot and have been getting a few cracked case mouths.
wM1
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Coal Creek Griff
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« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2018, 11:26:37 am »

I anneal my 44-40 cases to assist with longevity.  I don't have problems with crumpling the cases unless I get careless and don't center them in the shellholder before trying to run them into the die.

CC Griff
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OD#3
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« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2018, 02:47:06 pm »

Just the answer I needed to see!  Thanks!
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Navy Six
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« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2018, 06:34:29 pm »

Some of my 44-40 cases are more than 20 years old and have been reloaded 8-10 times. I have never annealed a case. Some of the "issues" that crop up reloading the 44-40 are:
1. Varying case length--for some reason this caliber can vary slightly depending on manufacturer. This of course can affect the crimp.
2. Thin case necks--since you stated you are now loading blackpowder, a heavy crimp is unnecessary. Too heavy a crimp will overwork any case mouth.  Also, if a bullet is initially started into the case a little crooked, the thin neck will not "self correct" and straighten out the bullet like a thicker 45 Colt case can. Then when a crimp is applied to a crooked bullet, a bulged neck is often the result. When a bullet is seated crooked in the 44-40(and the 38-40) you can actually visually see the base canted to one side.
All this was corrected by:
* Check the case length occasionally
* Use Starline cases. They are a little thicker and hold up quite well.
* Use a Redding Competition Seating Die to seat the bullets. They will go in the case straight
* Use a Lee Factory Crimp Die
* Take your time
This sounds like a lot of extra work but really isn't. I've never found it any harder resizing a lubed case compared to a straight walled case using a carbide sizing die. The 44-40 is a great cartridge and especially fun to shoot with blackpowder. Take all the stories about problems reloading this cartridge with a grain of salt. Many times people are passing along rumors they heard without any real experience. By the way, the last time I split a case neck was over 15 years ago.
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OD#3
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« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2018, 10:08:01 pm »

Navy Six, I very much appreciate your advice, so I'm not challenging any of your points here.  But, problem one is that the cheapest price I've seen on a Redding competition seating die is still about $70.  That's a whole lot of dough for a seating die, and I just don't have much disposable money right now after the holidays.  Problem two is that I'd rather hoped to avoid purchasing more brass anytime soon, although I'm a big fan of Starline brass.  If I had my 'druthers, I'd throw out all of my reloading brass in all my common calibers and replace it with all new Starline brass.  But I'm not fortunate enough to do that right now, so I'll have to make do with the mix of 44-40 cases I acquired years ago that were already used with an unknown number of reloadings.   I may have to anneal.

Now, the Lee Factory Crimp die is a sure thing.  I can get one for about 12 bucks, and I'm a real fan of them.  I even ordered a rifle-type factory crimp die for my .45 Colt years ago, because I preferred its design over their standard pistol FCD.

However, I was reading about the Redding competition seater tonight, and I've just seen too many threads where people praise that to ignore it forever.  It really looks like a good seater, so it will be on my wish list.  Perhaps someone will get it for my birthday. 

Thanks for sharing your expertise in loading the .44-40. 
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Navy Six
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« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2018, 11:52:05 am »

OD#3, the Redding Seating Die is expensive. However, the number of reloading problems it helped me avoid over the years has made it money well spent. Your idea of getting one for a birthday gift is great Wink. That is how I've been able to accumulate this equipment. My usual ploy is to ask my wife for those type of gifts for:
1. Christmas
2. my birthday(in March)
3. Fathers Day
4. September--I usually have to make up a holiday, but since my wife and I are both school teachers I just say its"Back To School"
   You will notice each holiday is about 3 months apart. That means I don't have to wait too long for any new equipment to roll in! Anyway, be careful about trying to compress too much powder into that 44-40 case. The modern cases usually won't comfortably hold that much and I've seen instances where people have bulged the case body by applying too much compression. This of course leads to all sorts of chambering problems if not detected ahead of time. One of my friends had to then run all the loaded rounds back through a resizing die before any would chamber--something that would make me nervous. Good luck with your efforts!

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Lefty Dude
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« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2018, 03:24:42 pm »

Because the 44WCF case has a thin case mouth, if the bullet is seated slightly forward in the crimp groove when you do a heavy roll crimp the mouth will bottom out in the crimp groove. This causes the this case mouth to bulge, and cause chambering difficulties. I always leave a few thousands gap between the case mouth and crimp groove for the thin mouth to flow into the crimp groove.
When heavy crimping also the case length is important.
I use only Starline brass. Remington is to Hard and Winchester is too soft. Also Remington has a thicker rim and causes a hang up on extraction in rifles. Thick Remington 44WCF brass can cause some loading issues with Colt & Colt clone SAA Revolvers.

Lefty Dude, Here ; one who has shot and loaded thousands of 44 WCF for CAS/SASS competition.
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OD#3
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« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2018, 08:23:00 pm »

Well, I found a good deal on a Lee Factory Crimp Die (optics planet has them for just over $10.00 right now if anyone is interested).  So one is on its way.  I've got a few months to put bugs in people's ears about my birthday present.
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Navy Six
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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2018, 09:35:24 am »

Lefty Dude, I guess you discovered the importance of correctly seating the bullets crimp groove in the case mouth the same way we all did---the hard way!! Grin  That is the reason I went to bullets from the Lyman mold #427098( I believe OD#3 said he was using an older copy of this mold). This bullet doesn't have a crimp groove at all and doesn't need one as you are seating the it over a case full of blackpowder. There is no chance of the bullet being pushed back into the case in a lever action. You still need a crimp(revolvers), so #427098 allows you to crimp over the ogive. Crimping bullets in that manner gives me a finished cartridge OAL of 1.575/1.580(max for the 44-40 is 1.592) which has functioned smoothly in every Colt/Uberti lever action/revolver that I own.
 Don't mean to be rattling on here Roll Eyes, but I get interested/excited when people mention loading the original calibers in the original style guns. Yes, reloading the 44-40(and 38-40 which I like even better) comes with a couple of quirks compared to straight walled cartridges like the 45 Colt. However, once these particulars are understood reloading them presents no more issues than any other cartridge.
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Driftwood Johnson
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« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2018, 10:56:03 am »

Quote
I've been loading up some .44-40 BP cartridges lately.  .44-40 is a new one for me, having been a .45 Colt man all my adult life.  But I had a moment of weakness and bought a Win/Miroku '66 in .44-40, so I'm having to learn a new cartridge.  Anyway, on some of my loads, I was trying to duplicate the original loads using a few balloon-head cases and bullets that I'd cast from an old Ideal 42498 mold.  Naturally, I needed to load 40 grains, and I needed a compression die. 

Howdy

I have been loading 44-40 with Black Powder for quite a few years now.

I have never used a compression die.

Never.

Modern solid head cases do not have the same powder capacity that the old Balloon Head cases had, so trying to stuff 40 grains of powder into them is overkill.

My technique for loading BP into 44-40 is the same as every cartridge I load with Black Powder. I put in enough powder so the bullet will compress the powder by 1/16" - 1/8". That is all that is needed. With the Mav-Dutchman bullet I load in 2.2CC of FFg, whatever powder I happen to be using. Since not all powders weigh the same, the actual grain weight of 2.2CC will vary from brand of powder to brand of powder. I usually use Schuetzen these days, and according to my loading notebook, 2.2CC of Schuetzen FFg is about 33.3 grains. Which is plenty. 2.2CC of Goex FFg is about 31.3 grains, again, plenty.
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Thats bad business! How long do you think Id stay in operation if it cost me money every time I pulled a job? If hed pay me that much to stop robbing him, Id stop robbing him.

Ya probably inherited every penny ya got!
Coffinmaker
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« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2018, 12:46:38 pm »

Well ......

I only use 44-40 brass to avoid annealing 45 Colt brass to alleviate Blow-By.  Ergo ..... I'm no help at all.  But, since the various boards are really really quiet (dead??) and I'm really really bored, just thought I'd share some really really useless information   Roll Eyes

This post may be completely ignored without hurting my feelings at all.  Grin

PS:  HI Odie!!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!  I am however, annealing everything else on the planet   Shocked   Your fault, My fault, Nobody'd fault (stolen famous movie line) Torches-R-Fun (not).

PSS:  PLUS ONE to Driftwood.  No matter what the cartridge, I've never felt the need to nor had the desire to ... compress any load.  I am a card carrying Recoil Wimp though, so striving for those loads from those halcyon days of yesteryear holds no interest.
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