Ultimate Reloader: When Reloading Goes Wrong

From Ultimate Reloader : by Gavin Gear

When Reloading Goes Wrong: Hornady Cam Lock Bullet Puller

I’m going to load a bunch of 9mm today! That was my plan, and I couldn’t wait to go shoot a bunch of the ammo with my Glock 17. Everything was going “great” until I noticed the powder level seemed to be getting higher as I was loading. “That just doesn’t look right” I thought. I took a charged case off the press, and soon determined I was 2.2 grains over my 9mm load- way too far over to risk shooting. I won’t repeat what I said right then: something like @$#&. In disgust, I put the ammo aside in a tub with a sheet of paper laid inside with a Sharpie scrawl that read “Over, not safe”. I didn’t even want to think about breaking down 500 rounds of ammunition with my impact puller. That would probably take (:30 per cartridge X 500 cartridges = 250 minutes = ~4 hours and 15 minutes!). Later I decided it would be a good time to get a press-mounted collet puller. Hopefully that would save some time! Fast-forward a year later and I’m finally getting around to fixing this 9mm ammo. Feels good to take care of this pile of unsafe ammo.

As you saw in the video, this tool is pretty simple, but it’s magic when you need to pull a large quantity of bullets. I wouldn’t attempt this kind of job without such a tool! Here’s a look inside the die opening where the collet sits:

pulled down ammo using hornady cam lock bullet puller
The stages and components of pulled-down ammo.

Also pictured above: a “bad” cartridge before the bullet was pulled, the case, powder, and bullet after pulling (note the slightest ring from the taper crimp previously applied). I feel great about reusing these bullets for anything but a bullseye match- I don’t think the crimp groove or any of the “scratches” will affect the re-reloaded ammunition’s performance for most types of pistol shooting.

Here’s the parts and pieces for a typical Hornady Cam Lock Bullet Puller setup:

The components of the Hornady Cam Lock bullet puller
The components of the Hornady Cam Lock bullet puller

Pictured here:

  1. Cam Lock die body
  2. Cam lever
  3. Stem
  4. #9 collet – .338″ – .358″ range (9mm jacketed bullets measure .355″)

In order to use this tool, you’ll need the appropriate collet for each diameter range of bullets you intend to pull. From the Hornady Accessories Catalog:

cam lock bullet puller chart

You can find the Hornady Cam Lock Bullet Puller HERE at Midsouth Shooters Supply (click here for collets).

This puller worked great for me for the ~500 9mm cartridges that I had to tear-down and re-reload. I’m going to order more collets as the need arises, because I really like the way this tool works. Almost makes the process fun! If you’re looking to pull bulk bullets, check out this tool!


7 thoughts on “Ultimate Reloader: When Reloading Goes Wrong”

  1. I use a collet puller from CH4D when doing rounds from my 50 BMG. Once in awhile, I will load a batch too hot so I will pull the tips, dump the powder and reduce the grain load in the rest of the batch. Never had a double charge as it would overflow the case and much of the double charge would still be in the funnel anyway.
    With an RCBS Chargemaster, setting the grains is easy but I am always mindful to keep an eye on it anyway.

  2. As I said in my product review when I bought this gizmo from Midway, if you reload, sooner or later you’re going to need this tool. Best reloading accessory you can have.

  3. Did you not check the powder weight of any of the other cartridges you disassembled? If you had them in sequence of loading, and the problem was progressive, maybe you didn’t need to take them all apart.
    Of course, if the were all mixed together, so that you couldn’t reliably tell which was loaded 1st in sequence and which loaded 351st in sequence, you HAVE to take them all apart.

  4. Get a powder checker to put in the next station after your powder drop. I use a Dillon powder checker and its nice to speed up production and know that my variance is very low. You still need to watch the checker and not just trust an audio alarm.

    As for having too much in the powder drop, having a quality powder drop is important. I had a poor quality one when I first started and I noticed the variances sometimes visually. When I upgraded to a higher quality powder drop I noticed it didn’t vary more than 0.1gn +/-. My first change over was a fixed volumetric capacity disk which worked decently but didn’t let me fully tailor the load as it skipped about 0.4-0.6 gn per different cavity depending on powder type it. Later I got better quality powder drops that had good friction locking threads so it didn’t vary. I have done 1000’s of rounds without any wobble in powder drop and its checked by my powder checker on the next position for peace of mind and retaining consistent results when shooting.

    That all being said, sometimes having a cam lock bullet puller is wise if for nothing else if you find a problem in the batch you can tear it down fairly quickly compared to a kinetic puller. The best things are to make a small batch test how your firearm likes it and then proceed to make a 1000 or more batch, its just easier that way. The other times to use the bullet cam lock puller and it being ideal is if you buy used ammo from an estate sale, old mil ammo, and or you just don’t know the source. My rule of thumb is to break down all of the ammo as you don’t know the powder type. Then check the bullets and verify they are the correct diameter. I saved a friends barrel or potentially his rifle and body, by doing that as he bought some ammo at a gun swap for his 308 except the bullets diameters were 311 but one couldn’t tell until they were pulled and measured. We resized the batch and while doing such I looked at the powder and recommended he toss it as there was stick, ball, and flake all mixed together. Luckily he followed my suggestion. All in all having a quality bullet puller especially a cam lock is good especially if you break apart old military rnds.

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