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Author Topic: Heel Base loading Tutorial  (Read 16115 times)

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Offline Hoof Hearted

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Heel Base loading Tutorial
« on: December 03, 2011, 09:54:24 AM »
This is so much easier than most people think, so don't panic  {_K

There is a growing contingent of shooters exploring the Cartridge Conversion Revolver. The 44 "Army" sized pistols support the use of 45 calibre Center Fire ammunition as well as 44 Colt in either Heel Base or Hollow Base. The 36 "Navy" sized pistols need 38 Colt ammunition loaded with either Heel Base or Hollow Base bullets (I have pioneered 41 Colt also in these utilizing .386 inside lubed bullets).

I recommend the Kirst Cartridge Konverter (but I'm predjudiced): http://www.kirstkonverter.com/

If you are one of this "new" contingent, this tutorial will help you understand how to feed your need.

While this shows 38 caliber (.380) projectiles for the 36 caliber cap and ball conversion the method is the same for 44 heel base loading (which actually uses .452 to .454 sized bullets).

I'm sure most of you know that a 36 cap and ball revolver has a bore of between .375 and.380 (measured OD at the widest point of rifling). Originally conversions used the supplied cylinder, which was bored through at the nipple end, (chambers of .380) and the case OD was designed to fit in that (this same OD is still used today in 38 special and 357 magnum). But modern cartridges use inside lubed bullets because the bore size is the inside dimension of the 38 case (approx. .356 to .358). Seeing that the first designs had to work around the existing cylinder and barrel dimensions they used outside lubed bullets of the same OD as the case.

While many people try to work around using heel base bullets by loading hollow base ones I choose to shoot the heel base and here is why:

#1. In my experience hollow base grouping is not adequate. There are a number of reasons why but mostly the store bought Speer wadcutters have too shallow of a hollow cavity causing erratic expansion which leads to flyers (holes way outside the rest of the group). This is because the long, non hollow, section of the bullet can (and does) "yaw" in the bore. The home cast ones like the Rapine, Lyman ond others have a longer hollow base and can be better but pressure is the key to expansion and many do not load them to high enough pressure or use too hard of an alloy. They are also tedious to cast (one at a time), the cull rate is very high (mould too hot or base plug too cold) and they really dont shoot any better than the Speers.

#2. Heel base is "correct", PERIOD CORRECT and accurate (which is correct) and they look really cool when eyeballed by your peers............

This is really pretty simple if you have a modicum of reloading experience and Old West Moulds is a one stop source for all the things you need (if you already cast and own reloading tools) so here goes:

Brass preparation is pretty straight forward:

First- Clean (I prefer tumbling)

Second- Resize This is easy as any correct sizer for the contemporary version of your case will work fine (44 special/mag for 44 Russian/Colt) and (38/357 for 38 long/short Colt). I have found that the 9mm carbide sizer is a tad tighter and works well.

Third- Bell case mouth. This can be tricky and may require some adjustment for case length, also you want a very MINIMUM flare (in fact you may be able to skip this step completely depending on the mould).

Fourth- Powder charge. Remember, no air space for black powder and always consult current loading data from prudent sources.

Fifth- Seat bullet. I find that most bullet types will seat by finger pressure. Meaning no die necessary. As mentioned above shortening or adjusting of dies here can be tricky (depends on die manfacturer). 9mm seater works well for problematic 38 short.

~If you dedicate a set of dies to the caliber you are loading, you may want to belt sand the expander and seater die shorter by the difference in case length. Then rechamfer the opening.~



This is a pic of Bernie's (Old West Moulds) crimp arrangement. This is very important. There is no better way to crimp a heel base bullet, period! He uses a modified Lee Collet Crimp die and a specially designed adjustable shell holder. It is inexpensive and worth ten times as much (just don't tell him)!

Sixth- Crimp as above.



This is a pic of Bernie's ingenious way to lube your "outside lubed" 19th century recreation!
It is so simple it makes you say, "wow, why didn't I think of that".
He uses the same Cherry that he cut your mould with to grind a new "ejector pin" for your lube sizer die that matches the ogive of the bullet. Along with a shell holder that replaces the "top punch" and you size and lube the loaded round upside down...........

Seventh- Lube and size.



Set up right you CAN load heelbased bullets almost (maybe just) as fast as "regular" or inside lubed bullets ;D

As a resource link:
www.oldwestbulletmoulds.com

New source of cast bullets (from Old West Moulds):
This should make some of yall's life easier (if you don't cast)

http://www.alphabravobullets.com/products/shop.php?exp=&cat=4

The above link is for cast, sized and lubed heel base bullets for the 38 Colt which is what you need for your Navy Conversions. He can provide bullets lubed for Smokeless or Black Powder and he also carries 44 Colt Heel Base Bullets. Just call and ask for John if you don't see it on their pages.

Goodluck on ya ;)
HH
« Last Edit: March 04, 2012, 09:31:05 PM by Hoof Hearted »
Participating in a gun buyback program because you believe the criminals have too many guns is like having yourself castrated because you believe the neighbors have too many kids

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Offline MuzzleMarc

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Re: Heel Base loading Tutorial
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2011, 09:25:20 PM »
Hello Hoof Hearted

Thank you very much for this Tutorial as well as the pictures.

MuzzleMarc
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Offline Mad Dog Stafford

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Re: Heel Base loading Tutorial
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2011, 08:50:47 AM »
Hoof, Thanks for this.  ;)
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Offline Hawg

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Re: Heel Base loading Tutorial
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2011, 09:07:38 AM »
Now that's good to know.
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Offline Tom-ADC

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Re: Heel Base loading Tutorial
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2011, 10:43:51 AM »
Hoof the more I look at this I think I'm going to pass on the 38 spl conversion kits for my 36 cal 1858's and just pick up another 45 lc kit for my other 44 cal 1858.
Info was helpful for sure and after much thought I know it isn't for me.
Thanks
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Offline Bill

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Re: Heel Base loading Tutorial
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2011, 02:43:35 PM »
Good post. ])M
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Offline Hawg

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Re: Heel Base loading Tutorial
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2011, 03:26:27 PM »
Maybe I'm just weird but it makes me want one for my .36 Colt that much worse. (^h
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Offline Tom-ADC

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Re: Heel Base loading Tutorial
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2011, 03:33:21 PM »
I do 99.9% of my reloading on a Dillon 550B this add's a step that my press won't support.
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Offline Hawg

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Re: Heel Base loading Tutorial
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2011, 06:59:21 PM »
Won't bother me. I still use the Lee single stage I bought 30 some odd years ago.
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Offline Hoof Hearted

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Re: Heel Base loading Tutorial
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2011, 07:21:33 PM »
I do 99.9% of my reloading on a Dillon 550B this add's a step that my press won't support.
You only have one press :'(
Participating in a gun buyback program because you believe the criminals have too many guns is like having yourself castrated because you believe the neighbors have too many kids

30 Years of experience personalizing firearms for enthusiasts, I can make your dreams come true!
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Offline Hawg

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Re: Heel Base loading Tutorial
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2011, 07:23:23 PM »
I do 99.9% of my reloading on a Dillon 550B this add's a step that my press won't support.
You only have one press :'(

One is all I have too and a single stage at that.
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Offline Hoof Hearted

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Re: Heel Base loading Tutorial
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2011, 08:07:42 AM »
Recently I have had two customers with 36 caliber Conversions and one with a 41 Conversion have issues with ammunition they bought from GAD Custom Ammo.

On the 38 Long Colts the bullets were not sized after loading and measured (diameter) as large as .395. Also some of the bullets from the box of ammo were seated crooked in the cases. A proper 38 Long Colt should be sized to no larger than .380.

The 41 Colt ammunition was heel based and NOT sized (ran as large as .406) but the Kirst 41 Colt cylinders will not shoot heel base ammo. They are designed for 41 Colt INSIDE LUBED with a nominal bullet diameter of .386

Here is what a sized round looks like (bullet is the same diameter as the case)

« Last Edit: December 14, 2011, 04:03:59 PM by Hoof Hearted »
Participating in a gun buyback program because you believe the criminals have too many guns is like having yourself castrated because you believe the neighbors have too many kids

30 Years of experience personalizing firearms for enthusiasts, I can make your dreams come true!
http://heelbasebullet.com http://cartridgeconversion.com

Offline Tom-ADC

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Re: Heel Base loading Tutorial
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2011, 11:10:52 AM »
I do 99.9% of my reloading on a Dillon 550B this add's a step that my press won't support.
You only have one press :'(

No if I count them all I have 6 but 4 are for shotshells. Do have a single stage press but my Dillon has me spoiled.
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Offline Hoof Hearted

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Re: Heel Base loading Tutorial
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2011, 02:28:39 PM »
I do 99.9% of my reloading on a Dillon 550B this add's a step that my press won't support.
You only have one press :'(

No if I count them all I have 6 but 4 are for shotshells. Do have a single stage press but my Dillon has me spoiled.

I figured you had to have started with a single stage....most of us did.

Eventually (if you buy more guns) you will realize that the Dillon doesn't do everything. I have two 450's and a 650 but I also have two single stage presses, a Turret press and 5 or 6 shotshell loaders.

I do not do much progressive reloading for the odd calibers or for much of my BP metallic reloading.

The Heel Base loading is treated just like most Rifle cartridge loading.......loading block and one stage at a time. There is just more control over the finished product. Also the volume loaded is much less than for SASS calibers or semi auto firearms.

HH
Participating in a gun buyback program because you believe the criminals have too many guns is like having yourself castrated because you believe the neighbors have too many kids

30 Years of experience personalizing firearms for enthusiasts, I can make your dreams come true!
http://heelbasebullet.com http://cartridgeconversion.com

Offline Hoof Hearted

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Re: Heel Base loading Tutorial
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2011, 03:57:21 PM »
« Last Edit: December 14, 2011, 04:04:31 PM by Hoof Hearted »
Participating in a gun buyback program because you believe the criminals have too many guns is like having yourself castrated because you believe the neighbors have too many kids

30 Years of experience personalizing firearms for enthusiasts, I can make your dreams come true!
http://heelbasebullet.com http://cartridgeconversion.com