Q&A: Help! crushed cases loading 45ACP!

I recently got this question from a reader (recoilamrs) regarding loading 45ACP on the Hornady Lock-N-Load:

Hi! This is killing me I swear!! No matter what I do I can’t reload 45 auto that fits into my XD45. It doesn’t look like new ammo and it always seems to bend the case wall. I don’t know what else I can do. I’ve tried reading the manual. Can you please make a video on setting the dies? I got the deprimer down good but the other two are driving me crazy. If I could just see someone else do it that would be great. And I’m watching your video on 45 auto reloading and your instruction is awesome. So can you help me PLEASE!!???

I think everyone who has reloaded pistol ammo has run into this problem (crushed cases). It can be quite madening!

I’d bet you are over-crimping. Here’s how I setup a seat/crimp die for automatics:

  1. Install seat/crimp die in LNL bushing, snap into place
  2. Back the seating plug mostly out
  3. Raise the die in the bushing fairly high
  4. Take a loaded round that is properly sized (factory ammo would be good option) and put it in the shellplate before the seat/crimp station
  5. Raise the ram, keep the ram at the top of its stroke
  6. Turn the die down until you feel it contact the case (make sure seating plug is not touching bullet
    Tighten slightly (slightly!!!)
  7. Turn down the seating plug (make sure you’re using the right profile, flat point versus round nose) until it contacts the bullet.

That should be enough to dial you in. Run a test round through, check your cartridge overall length with calipers and dial in.

16 thoughts on “Q&A: Help! crushed cases loading 45ACP!”

  1. The LnL has arrived and I have the dies for .45 ACP set-up and I am setting up the .223 dies. The de-cap/sizing die does not seem to want to set-up like the instructions suggest. I ran the die body down to the shell plate when in the “up” position and then adjusted the de-cap pin as the instructions in the die box suggest. The case stops short of punching the primer out.

    I raised the die body up and reset the de-capping pin to punch out the spent primer and resize the case mouth. I have the de-cap pin set at 1/2″ below the mounting base. This does not seem right. The powder measure seems to have a little hitch in it too.

    Do you have any tips on this with this particular caliber (.223 rem)?

    1. Using mixed brass or with Mil-Crimp ?

      Can offer this: even with 9mm pistol cases, have had to set the pin markedly longer than either Dillon or Redding suggests to insure
      all the primers “pop” out of the various mfg’s. cases !

      Never have had a problem with same set at this longer distance, no broken or damaged pins during many K reloads for USPSA/IDPA ammo, etc.

      This is not to say the pins haven’t been damaged or broken via other case problems, however !

  2. The hitch in the powder measure could be the size of the powder (Varget). The rotor seems to kind of catch just as it turns past the the feed area in the bottom of the measure. Any experience with that?

  3. The hitch in the powder measure could be the size of the powder (Varget). The rotor seems to kind of catch just as it turns past the the feed area in the bottom of the measure. Any experience with that?

    1. John,

      I had the same problem with Varget or any other stick powder…for 223 and .308 I now use ball powder 728, it measures great and the powder station works smooth as pie…for loading 45 acp I use Titegroup….hope this helps.

      1. I’m new to reloading and my gun store recommended Winchester 748, from what they had in stock, to reload my .45 ACP. I cant find any info on this powder being used for .45. Any experience with it. If so, how much powder to use?? THX.

  4. So you have crushed some cases trying to seat a bullet…Can you recover that primer? If so how do you do that safely? “Enquiring minds want to know.”

  5. If you try and extract the primer intact, you risk primer detonation.

    Personally, I only trust pristine brand new primers in any of my reloaded rounds.

    I know, it feels like throwing away gold in this day and age… 🙂

  6. All,

    In talking with the guys over at XDTalk the crushed case thing is not uncommon to them using the Hornady seater die with the micrometer depth adjuster. The reason for this is very simple. The original die that arrives has the seater adjuster that screws into the top just like any other. It also has a hole in the top of it too. This hole allows for the air to escape from the die as the ram is raised and compresses the bullet into the case. When using the micrometer depth adjustment there is no hole for the air to escape the die body and thus leaves an “airlock” on the seating sleeve. This is nice to know that the tolerances are that close even though it causes the sleeve to stay in the up position. If the seating sleeve does not come to the lowered position the bullet will have a higher probability of being canted and crushing the case.

    The resolution is to drill a 1/16″ hole in the knurled section of the die body to allow for the air lock to be broken. Problem solved.

  7. Reloading for the XD must be done with RN ammo. the XD will NOT feed SWC ammo Because of the angle of the cartridges in the magazine the extracted round will bump into the ledge of the SWC in the top of the magazine. You can load LRN or what I cal Truncated Cone, some call them RNFP. The bullet can not have a nice ledge that cuts a clean hole in the target.

  8. You didn’t say at what stage you were crushing the cases. Starting the bullet or final seating. I’ve crushed a few in my day, almost always because I did not have enough bell in the mouth of a case and the bullet catches the lip of the case. Make sure when adjusting the expansion die that you get just enough bell so that a new bullet will just sit inside the very edge of the case. Doesn’t take much and then lock down the adjusment on the die. A properly adjusted seating/crimp die finishes it all up.

  9. I’ve had an issue when loading 44 mag with Hornady dies on my LNL AP. The problem I’m facing is with the expander die. Every few cases the mouth of the case will be slightly out of align with the expander post inside the die and the flat of the tip of the expander will catch the mouth of the case and will deform the mouth of the case to the point where the case is not able to be fixed. I use Hornady dies for 4 other pistol calibers without this issue. Have you come across this issue with an expander die? Right now I’m not using the expander die at all, although when I seat lead case bullets it often will shave a sliver of lead off since the case is not expanded. I’d like to be able to use the expander die in order to not shave lead when seating, but it has caused me to scrap too many pieces of brass. I haven’t had this issue with any of the other pistol calibers I load. It almost seems like the expander die should have a chamfer on edge of the expanding post in order to help alignment. I’ve checked the timing of the press and it seems perfect. The shell plate ball bearings are clicking into their home on each cycle, so I’m certain the timing is good.

  10. Jon…With regard to the expander die messing up the occasional case, I’ve had this happen and it’s been because the case wasn’t completely inserted into the shellholder and, therefore, off-center. You can usually feel when something’s not right and adjust before it’s too late. I agree that it would also be nice for the plug to be chanfered a bit more…some are, some aren’t, but it’s a job that can be done easily with a bench grinder or a file if you’re more patient.

    This is more important with cast lead bullets, since the more you shave off while seating the bullet, the greater chance that the bullet will be under-size for your bore, causing more leading and possible accuracy problems. Not using the expander die can also increase the risk of crushed cases if the bullet is slightly off-center when seating it.

  11. I just got the rifle bullet feeder for Christmas. I set everything up last night and adjusted the bullet seating die. After adjusting the bullet seating die I attached the bullet feeder to the die. Prior to attaching the bullet feeder the die was seating bullets perfectly, after attaching the feeder to the die I am crushing the brass and creating a mushroom just below the neck…help please

  12. Is the hornady ap large enough for .338 norma mags to work with the case feeder and bullet drop ? I now reload with a single stage press and I can get the powder down to +or- 1/10th of a grain and I don’t want to lose accuracy but it would be great to reload faster. Thank you.

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