GUNS Magazine June 2013 Digital Edition - Page 24

reloadinG die VersaTiliTy understanding ammo dimensions Can ProVe eConomiCal to beginning reloaders. These groupings of cartridge help illustrate why some reloading die sets offer versatility. The three rounds at left are .38 Long Colt, .38 Special and .357 Magnum. Three rounds in the middle are .44 Russian, .44 Special and .44 Magnum. Two rounds at right are .45 S&W Schofield and .45 Colt. W Mike “dUke” ventUrino Photos: yvonne ventUrino hile in the process of helping a friend’s widow sell his reloading gear a potential buyer said this, “I want a set of dies that will only load .38 Specials because I already have .357 Magnum dies.” That’s not exactly how things work. A set of dies for loading a shorter straight walled case will always work for loading a longer straight walled case of the same dimensions. the shorter rounds. Why? Because a seating/crimping die marked for .357 Magnum can’t be turned far enough into the reloading press to crimp on shorter .38 Specials. The die bottom hits the shell holder before In addition to loading the .308 (left cartridge), a .308 Winchester neck-sizing die can also be used for neck sizing .30-40 Krag (middle) and .30-06 (right). For example, a set of .38 Long Colt dies can be adjusted to load .38 Specials and .357 Magnums. A set of .38 Special dies can also load .357 Magnums but a set of dies marked only .357 Magnum will not serve for The Redding die set (top) is marked .44 Spl/Mag so it can’t be used to reload the shorter .44 Russian. The RCBS die set (bottom) is marked .44 Russ/.44 Spl. However its dies can also be adjusted to reload .44 Magnum. the crimping shelf in the die will contact .38 Special case mouths. The same may possibly be true for case mouth belling dies marked only “.357 Magnum.” Resizing dies so marked do work just fine for the shorter cases. Just for information here are the case lengths for .38 Long Colt, .38 Special, and .357 Magnum in the same order: 1.03 inches, 1.16 inches and 1.29 inches. Shell holders and bullet diameters are the same for all three. Here are three more examples: .44 Russian, .44 Special and .44 Magnum in the same order are 0.97 inch, 1.16 inches and 1.29 inches. Again dies marked for the shortest case will work for all three, dies marked .44 Special will work for .44 Magnum but ones marked for the magnum length cases will only be suitable for it. And repeating myself again, shell holders and bullet diameters are the same. Sometimes there are minor details, which must be addressed. Take .45 S&W “Schofield” and .45 Colt for example. Dies for the former round can be used for loading the latter with proper adjustment and both cartridges can use the same bullets. However, shell holders for the two cartridges are different because .45 S&W case rims are about 0.010 inch wider than .45 Colt rims. The same is true of straight walled rifle cases. When jumping into blackpowder cartridge reloading I already had .45-70 reloading dies. So when a .45-90 was acquired all that was necessary was to turn my .45-70 dies 0.30 inch up in the press, which instantly transformed them into .45-90 dies. Case lengths for those two cartridges are 2.10 and 2.40 inches and case head dimensions are exactly the same. Then I bought a rifle chambered for .45-100, which has a 2.60-inch case and same case head. Thinking I had it made with the .45-70 dies they were turned up in the press and I ran into trouble. The die bodies were too short so their 24 W W W. G U N S M AG A Z I N E . C O M • J U N E 2 0 1 3

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