Reloading the .50 rabbit hole!

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by sniper-66, Dec 3, 2007.

  1. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Well, as he have discussed before, reloading the .50 is definitely for those addicted to the .50. After getting set up, I have to say that you are truely a junkie if you drop the money to reload this brute.
    I bought a RCBS Ammo Master press kit. I have always been impressed with RCBS and this press is no different. You notice the real heft when you yank it out of the box and hoist it up onto your bench. I had to chisel out some wood for the articulated ram to fit and then bolted it down tightly. Next, I took the 16 oz. beer can dies out and put them on the press, rather impressive what it takes.
    Then came the ordering of the componenets. When it arrives, make sure the neighbor kid is home and pay him a small fortune to carry it all down to your den of iniquity. For those of you that live in stick built homes or flimsy apartments, you may not want to try this. I was astounded by the weight of 1000 rounds of components. I also found that my electronic scales cant even weigh the bullets, so I have to get a new scale, powder comes close to locking it up.
    Decapping and sizing is as normal, but now you use half a bottle of lube to do a couple rounds. Primers don't just tinkle into the cup, they make an audible clank. Trim operations is by a trim die and a metal file, I may have to invest in a powered rotary trimmer. Primer pocket cleaning is easier, you can use a small brush on a drill. Swaging the primer pocket is a absolute must. I used a cutting tool and cut the crimp out, but after two casings, I got online and bought a press swage.
    CCI primers suck, they are not concentric, so seating the primer can be a task. The first case set with a little coercion, the second one, I hadn't removed enough crimp. You could feel the thunk as the primer set, but on the second one, I kept rotating the case but it wasn't having any part of it. I should have removed it then and took a little more crimp out, but I thought I would muscle it a little more. Finally, I felt the thunk but saw a chunk of brass fall out the press and it was the entire wall of the primer. I pulled the round out and there was a primer in there, but about 1/8" to far in, so I had to re-size again to get the primer out. Lesson learned there. I shaved some more off the crimp and this time, the second primer went in smooth, need that swaging die.
    The Redding powder drop I have won't drop 235 gr. of powder, so I have to hand dip the powder and then trickle the last bit. My powder funnel won't fit over a .50 case, so a new powder funnel is on the list of buy items. I can make the powder funnel work as it's outside diameter is exactly 1/2", so I have to hold it in place and drop the powder in.
    The seating beer can was set and when I went to put the brass and bullet in to load, it wouldn't fit so I had to put the brass in and then run the bullet tip into the die and then set the bullet in and run it in and seated the round. Once seated, it would come out fine.
    Here is the final product, my first round. I did find that a 12 guage shell holder fits the casings well and makes a great .50 holder.


    Here it is resting on top the muzzle brake of the rifle that will digest it soon!

  2. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    Awesome, Sniper! I never thought about the logistics of reloading .50 BMG. I'll bet the Dies were a chunk of change. When I was a kid, we used to pick strawberries on the halfs; one for us and one for the farmer. This actually had a slightly different ratio since we would eat three or four berries for every one that went into the basket. You'd thing .gov would come up with a ammunition sharing plan based on that where you get to keep a round for every one you throw down-range at the enemy.
  3. Evenglischatiest

    Evenglischatiest Monkey+++

    The scale of that thing just doesn't register for those of us who've never seen a .50 in person. I see a bullet. I know about how big a bullet is. Ho-hum. Big deal. It's a .308, just a little bigger.

    Then you say you're using a 12 gauge shell holder. :shock:

    Have you done enough yet to know how much you're saving per round?
  4. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Wow. :shock:

    Figured out your cost per round yet? You my friend are definitely die-hard!
  5. Nomad 2nd

    Nomad 2nd Monkey+++

    Nice, Keep us updated. I've got about 750 rounds and I think that's all the factory ammo I'll be buying.

    Once a couple holes, and classes are covered the .50 reloading set up is gonna be coming my way.
  6. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Gulp. I'm relatively insensitive to recoil, but that sucker might make me flinch at the mere thought of pulling the trigger. Owwie!! Would GRIN all the same --
  7. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Well, obviously I need to put this into perspective, so I got a beer can to give a size relation.


    Here they are against the press. That miniscule gold thing in the middle, get a magnifying glass if you need, is a .308 round.


    It looks like the beer can analogy worked well, I had to use something y'all could recognize
    Evenglischatiest and EL: Yes, I took the receipts and split the price down so that I can track what it is going to cost. My cost will be between $1.60 to $2.00, but once I start recycling brass, the price will drop $.65. God forbid we ever run out of Milsurp powder, that is what is keeping the price down for now. The case prep is where the personal time is going to run cost up. Nothing is quick in this process.

    Nomad: I have no experience with any other press, but I would avoid the Lee, the Ryobi of reloading. I like this press, it is very sturdy. If they ever take my guns away, I will use this thing as my weapon for clubbing people.

    Ghrit: You would be amazed, the AR-50 is my only experience and I will equate the recoil to that of a 16 guage shotgun. The muzzle brake on the thing is so efficient at reducing recoil that during the recoil process, it will actually pull the gun forward! You should have seen me shooting it for the first time, I didn't have anyone with experience to help me, so I just did it. I took a video camera with me to film my demise, but I didn't die!

    Right now, bullets are ranging from $.28 for API to almost $.50 for re-sized polished ball. Oh, that is one other thing, when bullets are pulled, they have to be resized before you can load them. You need a re-sizing die for the bullets as well as the brass!
  8. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Sniper, I wish you lived closer, I would like to watch that in person.
  9. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Hey, it's just a fortune in gas and time away from the kids! Man has to have his priorities you know!
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