I think I already mentioned that I reload the majority of my own ammunition. It is something I enjoy. Occasionally, I will allow friends to provide brass and reimburse me for the cost of materials. In return, I will furnish them reloaded ammunition that cost them much less than retail.
Last night, I loaded a little over four hundred rounds of 45 ACP for such an occasion. It took me about an hour and a half to do. Before I got started in earnest, I had to wipe down and lubricate my press. Then, I had to make some minor die adjustments, and verify the powder charge. Total setup time, approximately twenty minutes. This is normal for when I am changing calibers, or haven’t loaded in a while.
This reloading session was less fun than normal. I got started, and about the time I settled into a groove, a primer wouldn’t seat. Shit! OK, that happens sometimes. Toss the case aside, and continue.
Except continuing interrupts the sequence of things. I can’t just remove the case and insert another one and re-rock the handle. That would double-charge the round at the powder measure, which would NOT be a good thing. I had to remove it, index the shellplate, which leaves me with an empty position on the shellplate, then insert another case and cycle the handle.
My normal near-automatic routine: Index the shellplate, place a projectile into the mouth of the case now at the seating station, and slide another unsized case under the size/decap die, then work the handle. To someone who has never reloaded, it seems complicated and slow, but the entire sequence is a fluid motion that takes only seconds once you get on a roll.
The problem is when the empty place on the shellplate indexes to the bullet seating station. As part of my routine, I already have a projectile between the finger and thumb of my left hand. My reaction is to drop it into the case and get my fingers out of the way before my right hand cycles the handle far enough to catch my hand between the case or shellplate and the toolhead. (I’ve done that before, and it is most painful.) But there is no case at that location. So, I have to pick up the damn bullet off the bench where it dropped after I put it where it should have gone before realizing that there was no case.
To avoid this, I simply come out of autopilot mode, and wait until the shellplate is again full before resuming. This slows me down. What slows me down even more is when so many primers won’t seat that it is nearly impossible to keep the shellplate full.
After getting ten or so cases in the pile of “failed to seat primer” in less than fifty rounds, I stopped. What the fuck is going on? I noticed that every case I picked up to inspect was a Federal. Then I eyeballed the primer pocket. Hmmm, that looks small.
Google ‘splained it all to me. Well, they directed me to a variety of forums dating back to late 2010 where people complained about it. In case you hadn’t heard, Federal has gone to small pistol primers for at least some lines of their 45 ACP ammunition.
Worst of all, the sorry shits failed to contact me before doing so.
One of my major brass sources buys a lot of the offending Federal ammo. I don’t sort my pistol brass, so it all ended up together. Rumor has it that other budget-minded ammo manufacturers are planning to do the same. It seems that they can save a penny or two per million rounds by using small primers.
Now I understand, but unfortunately, I have probably hundreds of errors waiting to happen, spread through both my ammo boxes of fired brass. Until I get it all sorted out, it looks like I’m going to have to eyeball the head of every case before sliding it onto the shellplate. That’s going to kill my production average.
I still enjoy the reloading process, but this sorting the different primer size thing is going to make loading 45 a lot less therapeutic for me.