CRIMPING EXPERIMENTS WITH THE 480 ACHILLES
Crimping the heeled bullet is the tough part of the
reloading process. Since the bullet is the same diameter as the outside of the
cartridge case you cannot use any type of "normal" crimp die.
Reading the oldtimers they had various ways they did it including a
Looking at it I figure the collet-type die that closes
in from the sides has got to be one of the best arrangements. Lee Precision
makes these for some calibers and says on their website that they will
custom-make them for a reasonable price. We called and after discussions
were told that the cartridge is too short for them to be able to make a die
I figured they did not want to mess with it and that
heck, I could make one. So I ordered a .44-40 Lee collet die and went to
work on it.
It was apparent immediately why they could not make it
work ... the slots in the sides of the crimp body are too long and it cannot
be shortened for a cartridge as short as the 480 Achilles. Hmmm ...
well, they were right about that. But I still felt I could come up with
So I ordered a .45-70 Lee collet die.
When it arrived I looked it over for a couple days,
trying to figure how to make it work. Then I hit upon the idea of using
a spacer under the 480 Achilles cartridge to hold the case at the proper place
for the die to crimp it.
pulled the die apart and took the spring off the top of the crimp body.
Since the .45-70 is designed to crimp a larger diameter
bullet than the heel on the 480 Achilles I opened up the slots in the crimp
body with a hacksaw. My work here is crude. It could be made to
look a lot nicer.... but this works.
spacer is made from a shortened 45 Colt cartridge.
From the Left: 480 Achilles / the spacer
how the 480 Achilles cartridge sets on top of the
space insideThe die body
is with the spacer too long. The Achilles cartridge should be down
inside the die body below the bevel. Use an unfired 45-70 cartridge to
show you the approximate depth.
Crimping with the collet die at first the crimp was very
broad, making the cartridge look almost bottle-necked. I was not getting
roll crimp. While it worked, I did get some bullet pull with loads that
produced more recoil.
I figured I could make the 45-70 Lee crimp die work
better.... I mean, what did I have to lose? So I started looking at it
If I made the spacer short enough that it
crimped more of a roll crimp, it crimped into the bullet. See the crimp
marks on the bullet here?
So I got out my portable machine shop
(otherwise called a Dremel Tool) and went to grinding. Cutting and trying, I
soon saw I needed to remove some of the top end of the die and bevel it enough
that it would not hit the bullet when it crimped. I also opened up the
slots in the sides with a small needle file, so that it could close tighter on
The crimp die was made originally to crimp a
.458" - .459" bullet. The heel is .455" so I figured a little
tighter won't hurt anything.
I am sure JohnK could make it look nicer...
The crimp now is much smaller than before and
bites into the bullet heel pretty well. I have all my cases loaded right
now, but will give it a try and see how it works as to bullet pull as soon as I
Left- BEFORE // Right - AFTER
After this I did a little more work on the
crimp die, angling the top some more, and I shortened the spacer a bit
more. A few tries and I had it where I wanted it.
This is now a much more "normal"
crimp. A trip to the range and I will know whether it will hold under
recoil or not. I am pretty sure it will. I loaded several dummy
rounds and then pulled the bullets and it bites into the heel pretty well.
If this works perhaps we can make up some
that would look a little nicer, since we can use the data from this one to
make the others.
I loaded 5 rounds of "heavy"
loaded 480 Achilles - 900 fps loads. I marked the base of a 6th round
with a marking pen and loaded it in the remaining empty chamber.
I then fired the five unmarked rounds,
stopping and checking the marked round after each shot, to see if the bullet
moved. I fired all 5 rounds and the bullet did not move. The crimp
Kelye at Belt Mountain Enterprises modified a die for
me. He came up with a spacer that fits the .45 Colt RCBS #20 shellholder,
making it a lot more convenient to crimp the bullets.
Kelye can do this conversion for you for $25.00 .. you
send him the die. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org