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Reloading for the PT1911B

1044 Views 5 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  greener
I've just started reloading and have been having problems with some of my .45 ACP reloads fitting in my PT1911B. I'm using a Lee Pro 1000. I started with Speer 230gr lrn bullets. I believe I've followed Lee's instructions and videos correctly. When I match a commercial round (Blazer Brass 230gr FMJ) for length and crimp, the bullets do not fit the chamber. I've used the barrel as a gauge, but will end up with bullets that do not chamber properly (too long?) when it cycles through the pistol. I've ended up having to shorten the bullet and increase the crimp to get them to work. I've also been loading a magazine and cycling the reloads just to make sure they will chamber before I consider them suitable for the pistol. I've ended up with a shorter round and more crimp than the factory bullets or those from commercial reloaders. I'm also shaving a little lead off the bullet on a lot of these reloads.

I don't seem to have a problem with 200 gr lswc rounds or the lead round nose reloads for my M&P 9mm. I have not checked the ones that don't seat properly in the pistol in another 1911.

Any suggestions on things to look for with this problem. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the reloader (me not Lee), but I haven't been able to come up with a fix.
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Case length - .45 ACP head spaces on the front lip of the case. Believe the spec calls for a case length of 0.898 inches. Longer will result in too much case protruding from the receiver and you won't be able to lock up the pistol action.

Case width - Should be taken care of by the resizing die which will reshape and resize the case to spec.

Too much case mouth flare - should be taken care of by the loading die which will slightly roll taper the case mouth in addition to setting the bullet to the desired OAL.

If you don't already have one, I suggest you get a .45 ACP cartridge check gauge. It looks like a fat stainless steel cylinder with a hole on the cylinder axis into which you drop a finished cartridge. If all cartridge dimensions are inside the max spec the cartridge will fit and drop out easily and should work in your pistol. If the cartridge is out of spec for head space, case width or overall length it won't fit properly into the gauge.

Suggest also getting a factory crimp die which will let you fine tune the taper crimp of the case mouth. Has the added benefit of doing a final resize to assure width is right along the whole length of the case.

Hope this helps.
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In an auto, you need to be using the Lee factory crimp die. You don't wanna roll crimp as the round head spaces on the case mouth. If you used the factory crimp die, it will eliminate bulges caused by over-flaring the case mouth which is probably the problem. HOWEVER, you will not be able to use that die with the pro 1000 press as it requires four stages and the press is 3 stage. I don't use it, just back the flare die out to give the minimum flare possible when I do the flare/powder charge step. I don't roll crimp, just adjust the seating die down to re-close the flare. If you put too much flare on it, you won't be able to close all of the flare up. There'll be a case bulge behind the case mouth.

My Lee .45 dies fit the bullet under plenty of tension without the factory crimp process. However, you could chuck a factory crimp die up in a C press to add that last step if you really need it. This is a problem with the pro 1000 press, though, the fact that it's 3 stage only. It works for me for .45, but my .380 dies don't have enough bullet tension without a factory crimp. I couldn't load .380 on the pro 1000 without adding the crimp step with another single stage press. My Dillon is a 4 stage press and works much better with auto pistol rounds. The Pro 1000 is fine where you can roll crimp, such as revolver rounds.
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Oh, far as checking case length and OAL for fit, I used to just pull the barrel out of my 1911 and drop the round in the barrel chamber. If the rim of the cartridge was flush with the barrel hood extension, I knew it was a good fit/head space was proper. I don't really do that anymore, have it set up permanent in the Pro 1000 removable turret, just swap turrets with a caliber change, the GOOD part about the Lee press. :D
Thanks for the tips. Gives me some ideas on things to check. My last set all seem to work, the slide closes completely.
Is there something about the fit of speer 230gr lrn and the PT1911B? I can't get the darned things to fit consistently using the Pro-1000. I bought a factory crimp die and a reloader press. I've used the barrel as a gauge to start. I've played with bullet seating depth. I can get the first few to cycle in the pistol, but if I load any more without checking each bullet, they stand a darned high probability of not working.

I can load speer 158gr lrn .38 special without a problem. Yeah, I know, it's a revolver and not subject to the exacting tolerances of a semiauto. I can load 9mm for my M&P without problem just following the Lee instructions. I can load .45 200g lswc without problem in the Taurus. The speer 230gr lrn's are giving me fits. I've noticed the bullets are blunter than the factory 230gr fmj's.

I've fired factory reload 230grl lrn's without fail. If I check bullet dimensions on the speers, they look the same as those that work. I get a higher success rate, but not much higher if I set the OAL darned near minimum. I'm stumped.
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