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I reload for all my 38/357 handguns. I am familiar with those cartridges. I picked up a BC 47-70 a few months back and FINALLY got it to the range this week. It was a blast! I didn't have much time so couldn't shoot for tight groups, but I knocked my steel target stand over with the first shot! I had reloaded some Penn 405 grain lead over Trail Boss and 5744 in new Starline brass. Both seemed to shoot fine, but I liked the 5744 better.


Since shooting, I've been trying to research the "proper" way to reload for the 45-70. Sorry for all the newbie questions.....


I have the Lee classic 3 die set. I'm understanding that I probably will not want to full length size the cases with my resizing/decapping die. Do I need to purchase another die for decapping? I see Lee makes a universal decapper. Say I do get the universal decapper, what's the next step? I see that there are neck sizing "plugs" available from TOTW. I'm assuming I could use my original sizing/decapping die and take out the full length plug and replace it with the neck sizer plug? The neck sizer works the same as a full length sizer, but doesn't resize the entire case...only the neck, correct? If I'm thinking correctly to this point, I would then use my expander die and slightly bell my chamfered case mouth to accept my bullet. Then use my seating die to set at desired COL. Do I have these steps correct?


The only difference between reloading 357 mag and 45-70 is that I'm not resizing my whole case? Everything else is practically the same, correct?


Thanks for any help you may have to offer.
 

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You're exactly right. In fact, since you're using a single shot rifle that doesn't have to feed through an action, you don't even have to crimp if you don't want to. Just "crimp" enough to take the bell out of the case mouth. I would say that your next step is to start casting your own if you don't already. And if your rifle is anything like the BC I had and the .45-70 Handi I still have, sizing to .460" solved all my leading problems (y molds cast at .461") instead if .457" like I used to at first.
 

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I full length size with my decapping die. Seems to work just fine.
 

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I forgot. If this is your only .45-70, you can, but don't have to full length resize. If you have several, then FL sizing is a good idea because a case fired in one chamber may or may not fit in another. On the other hand, if you were to get the universal decapping die, it will allow you to make your brass last longer because you aren't working it each time, but this tends to be more of an issue in bottle-neck cartridges than it is in things like the .357 and .45-70 you mentioned. You will need to trim them now and again though. For what it's worth, I FL size my .45-70s cause I have a NEF .45-70 Handi rifle and a Marlin 1895 .45-70, and the unsized brass from the NEF is just a hair bigger than the Marlin chamber so won't fit. It's a reliability thing, and I don't want to risk going hunting and having ammo that won't chamber.
 

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Hunter49 - It's always good to have the Lee universal decapper, you can always use it for other calibers. As far as FL sizing, and neck sizing for the BC Handi, I would FL size it on general principal. I agree with Lonegun1894, it's a reliability thing.

You might find that neck sizing for Handi's unlike bolt guns doesn't always work out. With Handi's you don't have the camming action like a bolt gun that you might need to close (chamber a round) the gun. Why not just FL size the brass, it's a straight wall cartridge, and it's not going to work the brass as much as with a bottleneck cartridge.
 

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Get the Lee Universal Decapper.
Decap, recap, throw powder charge (BTW, you can use up to 100% of Trail Boss behind your bullet of choice; their book load is starting load data)
Now, the critical step!
Use as large a dia. cast bullet as comfortably fits into the fully fire-formed case mouth (you may need to have given the case a smidge of flare, check before hand) and will still chamber up and extract/eject cleanly.
Give only a tiny amount of crimp, if needed, to keep the bullet in place (for target I dont, my bullets fit as described above pull out of the case with reluctance, for hunting/field using a little crimp ensures you have no problems).
Shoot
Repeat as needed
 
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