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Loaded My First Rounds

We’ll surely talk about this some more in Episode 78 (which we’ll be recording Monday night), but I thought I’d add some thoughts on reloading my first rounds today.

.380ACP Casings Suck
Whoever decided to fire the one .380ACP casing on the range where I picked it up is a jerk. I tossed it in the shell plate, punched out the old primer, and seated a new one. I then dropped powder, and thought that the case looked really full, so I dumped it out onto the scale, and it came it at the 4.8 grains I was expecting. Odd. Charged it again, and this time when I lowered the ram down it tipped over, spilling powder all over. I did it again, and it spilled powder again. Then I pulled it out and looked at it, saw what it was, and threw it across the garage.

Props to Lucky 13 Cast Bullets in Kernersville, NC
Ive been looking for some pistol powder for a couple weeks and I ended up calling these guys to see if they had any. They were nice enough to put a few pounds of Unique on hold for me while I drove out from Raleigh. Nice little operation they have.

Primer Feed Systems:
When I announced that I was going to be buying a Lee reloading press I got a lot of criticism from the Dillon people telling me to buy a Dillon press. Almost everyone had good things to say about Lee’s safety prime system, and after loading 100 rounds today, I’m surprised by that.

I spent a lot of time getting the primer arm adjusted just right so it aligned perfectly with the cup. Even so, I found that it takes a very specific touch to get the safety prime system to drop the primer right into the cup. After some work I got it down to about a 90% success rate on the first try, and most of the rest went in on the second try. I did end up somehow getting one primer pressed into a case sideways, and a couple others fell out onto the floor.

I’m surprised to hear the praise for the Lee Safety Prime. If this is so good, the other systems out there must really suck.

The Press isn’t Slow, Everything Else is:
I found that I could load ammo on the turret as fast as I’m comfortable with, but I ended up spending the most time measuring cartridges and weighing charges. I measured OAL and neck size on every finished round, and weighed the charge on every fifth throw that came off the press. I’m pretty comfortable now that I could probably back off to measuring every fifth round in addition to weighing every fifth charge. That’s probably where I’ll go the next time I load.

Lawyers Make Reloading Hard:
Seems like every load manual has different numbers, and it’s hard to make heads or tails of it. For the powder I’m using, the different starting and max loads from different manuals varied as much as a full grain or more. Since I’m using coated bullets that don’t really have a lot of load data published already, deciding on a place to start with these was rough given the wide range of published loads for this weight bullet. I basically ended up taking all of the published minimums and averaging them out, and starting there.

I haven’t shot any of these yet, so I’m going to take them along to the Wake Action Pistol match Monday night and see how they do. Hopefully I won’t be disassembling 99 rounds tomorrow night…

About Lucas

Editor/Head Honcho at Triangle Tactical. Lucas is a life long shooter and outdoorsman, avid concealed carrier and competitive shooter, and a lover of pork fat.


  1. I have a Lee turret and a Dillon and like and use both. Keep playing with the Lee safety prime. Mine never messes up, but it did takesome tinkering at first.
    Unique has a wide load data range so starting in the middle will be just fine. Although unique is dirty, it’s a great powder for a beginner reloaded.

  2. Lucas,in retrospect, how did the blue bullets from Luck 13 work? Would you buy them again? Did you buy a 2nd batch even?

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