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Thread: Adventures in loading 25 ACP

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Adventures in loading 25 ACP

    I cast for and reload most of the common (and uncommon) handgun calibers except for the 25 acp. About 7 years ago a friend gifted me a new RCBS 25 acp die set and shell holder he owned but decided to never us. I already had once fired 25 acp brass and was looking forward to the day when this project would come together. I bought and loaded some jacketed bullets but really wanted to load my own cast boolits in this caliber. Why? Just because.

    My search for a suitable mold gave me frustration at the cost of these, both new and used. I even considered buying a used Lyman 257420 mold and having the base reduced in length to reduce the weight but even used these are fought for and pricey. This thought took me to a mold I already had - a Lyman Perfection 25 caliber mold. This is the nose-pour design with an adjustable stem that can be locked into any length for different weight boolits. My mold is old and pitted outside but clean inside, and functional. With a bit of adjustment I set the stem to drop boolits with a RF nose, driving band, loob groove and base band. As cast boolit weight came in at 45 grains and the bases are flat and smooth. With a bit of time I now have around 350 of these new boolits. Casting them was so much fun I couldn't stop. So far so good, but these dropped from the mold at .259" diameter. Now on to sizing and lubing.

    I could not locate a .251" sizing die anywhere and had to consider other means. I started casting many years ago when I bought all of a caster's tools after he decided to get into swaging. Among these tools was a .244 sizing die that I had never used, and never would. This die was was the answer. I used a new 1/4" carbide drill to open up the sizing tunnel to just below the top set of lube vent holes. This was all the depth I needed for this project. Pin gauge (Vermont + set) measurements told the drill work resulted in a new tunnel measuring .248" diameter. Perfect. I used multiple wraps of fine sandpaper to polish this path until stopping at .252" diameter. Now I had a suitable sizer and was ready to reduce the as-cast boolits. Every time I pass a boolit through this die a feel 2 distinct bumps as the bands are reduced. Both bands exit the die round and smooth and the loob groove is even around the base. So far, so good.

    My efforts to lube while sizing were not successful as my sizer is located in an unheated garage shop that stays cool this time of year. The lube simply would not flow into the die or boolit. I resolved to use the sizer only to reduce the diameter of these boolits and will make my first entry into tumble loobing. This will be another "first" for me and another learning experience.

    Dummy round test time (brass and boolit, no primer or powder). I flared 3 pieces of brass and seated sized boolits in these with the top (driving) band barely visible above the case mouth. The COL of these rounds (.880") is shorter than factory FMJ loads (.900") but longer than is listed for the lighter HP loads (.860"). I gathered 2 of my favorite 25 acp pistols and charged the magazines with the dummies. Every time I drew the slides to the rear and released them the rounds fed up from the magazine, also exited the chamber without issue. Smooth feed-up and extraction are encouraging.

    A bit of innovation and effort have brought me satisfaction in this project. Now I will be able to load this caliber ammo with my own boolits. All this reminds me of an old phrase - "Make it work. Wear it out. Make it do, or do without."

  2. #2
    Boolit Master


    MrWolf's Avatar
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    Excellent job making do with what you had. I like doing things like that myself as learning anything new, whether useful or not can help keep dementia away. Have fun with those.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
    rintinglen's Avatar
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    I have nothing but respect for those intrepid souls who undertake loading the tiny 25 cases. I did it once, back in the eighties to help teach a friend to reload for his baby Browning. I nipped my finger between the case and the die and got a magnificent blood blister, but I resolved henceforth to limit my reloading to cartridges I can manipulate without recourse to tweezers.
    _________________________________________________It's not that I can't spell: it is that I can't type.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy


    Butler Ford's Avatar
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    It is cool that the difference between the starting load and the max load is 0.0g with a couple of powders! Fun, ain't it!
    "The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men."--Plato

  5. #5
    Boolit Master JoeJames's Avatar
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    That is very interesting. What powder are you going to use? Bullseye, perhaps? Man, with Bullseye, a regular load would really just dust the pan. I looked up the 25 auto load in Hatcher's Textbook of Pistols and Revolvers (My go to book for early cartridges). With a 50 grain .251" Jacketed boolit he listed three different powders, two of which I assume are long gone - but for Bullseye, he showed 1.4 grains of Bullseye achieving 751 fps out of a 2" barrel.
    You Can Vote Your Way Into Socialism, But You Have To Shoot Your Way Out of it.

  6. #6
    I too reload 25acp

    I await your test fire results.
    I like your approach to making what ever is needed.
    I am the same way.
    Glad to hear from you on here.

  7. #7
    Boolit Mold
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    @Thin Man,

    Reloading 25ACP is a labor of love. Although it is not easy to reload, the high cost of commercial ammo and its hit or miss availability makes reloading attractive. One of the first things I purchased was a custom 25ACP factory crimp die from Lee. It goes a long way towards assuring your reloaded rounds chamber and cycle properly. I hit the 50 gr FMJ bullet lottery several years ago when I picked up 6500 discontinued SPEER bullets at a fire sale price. I have a mold and have reloaded some cast bullets, but with all the FMJs I have it doesn't happen very often. Finding your brass after a shooting session can be a real challenge so you need a lot of backup brass. I lucked up on some demilled primed federal cases about a year ago and quickly bought a couple of 1,000 before they disappeared. The Lee die set I have came with a 0.17cc scoop that is about perfect for this caliber. It measures 1.6 gr Bullseye which works great with a 50 gr FMJ bullet. Another problem is how to store your finished rounds. Putting them in 50 round 22LR boxes and in 4 oz plastic condiment cups works pretty well.

    Years of testing have shown me that there is no way to turn the 25ACP into a good self defense round. However, rounds loaded to maximum SAAMI pressure with FMJ bullets (not HPs!) will get the attention of bad guys. Good shot placement is critical (think eyes, ears and nose) to maximize this caliber effectiveness. I use it as a deep concealment backup, not a primary self defense gun.

    Marshall

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    I have previous handloading experience with this caliber using 50 gr. FMJ bullets. My "itch" was simply to see if I could gather the tools to make and test my own boolits. The only powder I have used in this caliber is Bullseye. I am well satisfied with it. Will be going to a gun show today looking for Lee liquid alox. Even if the local temperatures were higher I doubt my sizing die would allow enough BAC to flow into the tiny single loob groove in these boolits. This will be my first use of the Lee product. Other people have reported success with it. I hope for the same. I don't expect the slightly lighter weight of these boolits to have much if any influence on whether they hit the target at a different elevation than standard weight bullets, but we will see. Initial tests will look for my being able to hit a sheet of printer paper at 10 yards or so, if I do my part of the work. These tiny pistols just don't give the shooter much material to hang on to. And for another twist I will probably acquire a new reloading block just to suit the diameter and length of these cases. Oh, well....

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    There was a group buy of 25 ACP molds earlier.
    Came with HP and FP pins if I remember correctly.
    I first loaded for the 25 in early 70's.
    I also used a 243 sizing lubricating die opened up for sizing lubing.
    Used a Lyman HP mould.
    Have been so intriqued by the cartridge I made a special drum for my Lyman Accumeasure which, with using an accompanying Excel spredsheet, I can adjust down to any needed amount of any powder knowing the VMD of that powder with a drum setting tool.
    Using Bullseye, I can adjust the drum from about .1 to 2.9 grains.
    I sold my Lyman sizing lube presses so will make a sizing die for the Saeco I now have.

  10. #10
    Boolit Bub
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    i want a ruger bearcat in 25acp. i know i am weird i have been gathering stuff to reload for 25acp but have never reloaded for it yet.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master

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    I have reloaded .25ACP for a custom Ruger "Single Eight" with a 10-5/8" barrel.
    I have used 35 Grain HP, 50 grain FMJ, 60 grain resized Hornady 2510 soft flat point, 63 grain Hunter Supply RFP Cast Lead and am planning to try some 65 grain TC255-65-RF from an NOE Mold. Added: I bought 1000 ea 55gr Lead FP-TC Bullets from Rim Rock Bullets to try out. They came lubed and sized to .251" diameter.
    I have used Bullseye, BE-86, 2400 and Black Powder for Propellants.
    most were loaded using WSP primers.
    Stoutest load was 3.0 grains of BE-86 behind a 63 grain Lead bullet at .905" COAL.
    Fastest Choreographed load was 1.89 grains of Bullseye behind a 63 grain Lead RF bullet at 1224fps average Velocity 3 yards from the muzzle. My revolver is definitely fun to shoot.

    Chev. William
    Last edited by Chev. William; 04-29-2020 at 12:38 PM. Reason: zdded another bullet,

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Range test! I loaded 10 rounds to test using my boolits (45 grain sized down from .259 to .252 diameter from a Lyman Perfection mold). W-W small pistol primers and 1.5 grains Bullseye in mixed cases. The test platform was a Pro-Tec 25 (clone copy of the CZ45), range distance 10 yards. By firing offhand the boolits hit the center of a sheet of printer paper and snuggled closely together with slight horizontal spreading (shooter's fault). The Pro-Tec cycled the rounds through with perfect function. Muzzle report and recoil seemed slightly lower than factory ammo. I found 5 empty cases of the ten that were fired as the inside range where I was firing had large amounts of fired brass on the floor. There was no case swelling or distortion which makes me suspect a heavier charge could be applied. Was this mild load appearance due to the load or the Pro-Tec? When I repeat this test I will use a different pistol and compare the results. So far I am extremely satisfied with the progress of this adventure.

  13. #13
    You can corral that brass if you take time to cobble together a brass catcher.
    Using wire coat hanger wire and the plastic mesh they package onions in.
    Bend the wire like the wire flyswatters handle.
    Then bend the leftover wire shaped like an over hang to shade your gun hand, but higher up.
    The mesh bag can be wired or tywrapped to the overhang which will deflect ejected shells to fall straight down.
    The handle can be shaped to be held in gun hand flat against the gun grips, or you could shape the handle as a brace to strap to your forearm.
    Sure beats squatting staring at brass on ground trying to tell a .25 case from a .22 LR before you pick it up.
    Bring a cardboard box to stand over, or make your deflector so the shells fall into an attached bag.
    I load for .25, and .32 and used to also load for .380.
    .25 and .32 will give you eyestrain looking for them and 380 have a habit of falling so you are looking down into the open case and can't see the case, just the thin rim which is invisible from two feet.
    I keep losing the last brass catcher so have to make a new one frequently.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master

    Chev. William's Avatar
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    Comments on three project firearms conversions to .25ACP:

    First is a Stevens 'Favorite originally in .25 Stevens RF. I had a local gunsmith convert it to Center fire and used the original barrel, which was slugged and found to be close to current .25ACP bore and Groove diameters. This is a 21 inch long Barrel on a single shot 'boys' rifle. I believe the original price was between $6 and $9 back at the beginning of the 20th century.
    With about $200 in the Rifle and conversion to date it is shooting about 6" diameter "pattern" at 100 yards with my elbows resting on a bench. Very moderate 'muzzle blast' shooting it. I estimate I am getting about 900fps out of Factory Ammo with its longer barrel.

    Second is a Ruger ".22 Cal." Single Six revolver that I had a local gunsmith convert to Center fire and fit a 10-5/8" long one turn in 9.8 inch twist .25ACP/6,35 Browning Lothar Walther custom derived custom barrel and ream out and chamber an aftermarket 8-shot .22MAG cylinder to .25ACP and fit it to the revolver. About $500 to date in the used revolver and conversion. This is a 'robust' revolver conversion that is Fun to shoot with non-standard hand loads. I have fired it with loads up to 3.1 grains of BE-86 behind 63 grain Lead bullets and it 'patterns' about the same as factory ammo at 15 yards. A friend who is younger and has a better 'hold' can consistently hit a 12 inch 'gong' off handed at 100 yards with it. The revolver does loose some performance due to 'venting' at the cylinder to barrel gap, about 2.1% off factory load stated performance.

    Third is a Ruger Standard Auto MKII pistol (original 4-3/4" barreled .22LR) converted by John Taylor to Center fire, fitted with another one turn in 9.8 inch twist Lothar Walther barrel blank derived barrel of 8-1/8 inch length. I am still working on a .25ACP magazine to fit this one, so it is used as a 'Single Shot Auto Eject' pistol for the time being. Other than ejecting the empties to somewhere i have not found, it is fun to shoot at the local commercial outdoor range. I can hit a 6" bullseye at 50 yards with it if I rest my elbows on a bench. so far I am using the Ruger original standard recoil spring and mostly factory ammo but have fired some of 60 grain Hornady 2510 resized soft nose bullets ahead of 3.0 grains of BE-86 with no faults, but more 'muzzle blast' and more muzzle rise. i hit the bullseye on target at 15 yards with this load off hand.

    My first, hopefully ten round, magazine is partially built by TIG welding two EDM cut-up Beretta 950 8-shot magazine bodies together, to get the length required. Next is to reshape the Feed lips to the Ruger feed angle and make a new base block and follower. This is 'sensitive' as the Ruger magazine is held by its base so overall length is critical to proper feeding.

    Three other Projects in the 'wings' are a Winchester 1890 conversion, a Marlin Model 56 conversion, and a Stevens model 44 'ideal' conversion. All are ;parts built guns so no collectables are involved.
    - The Winchester will be fitted with a 20 inch long lined barrel of about one turn in 14 inch twist.
    - The Marlin will be fitted with a Lothar Walther barrel of about 23 inch length and a repurposed 8 shot magazine.
    - The Stevens Model 44 'Ideal' wil be using a lined Stevens barrel of about 22 incvh length chambered in .25ACP match grade dimensions. I am hoping for some 'serious' accuracy out to over 100 yards with this one, possibly out to 200 or so yards.

    I believe the .25ACP has been 'hobbled' by its standard test barrel length of 6 inches and has a great potential for development if worked up in a 24 inch test barrel length. Further, in Strong Handguns it can be loaded to '+P', and possibly '+P+', levels with improved performance (1200 to 1400fps MV with 50 or 60 grain bullets).

    Best Regards,
    Chev. William
    Last edited by Chev. William; 04-29-2020 at 12:53 PM. Reason: corrected typos, add info.

  15. #15
    Boolit Bub
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    Thin Man—excellent work on creating bullets for your 25ACP! I followed a slightly different path to make suitable bullets for a 25-10 RF (same bullet diameter) Remington #4 Rolling Block I converted to center fire using cases swaged down from 22 hornet brass (thanks to Chev Williams for this process). I milled the bottom band and lube groove off an RCBS 85 grain mold to produce appropriate 65 grain bullets. I then lubrisized them at .259 diameter followed by step sizing in the NOE push-through dies to reach a final desired diameter. I found sizing to .254 worked best for my chamber and brass neck thickness conditions.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

    Chev. William's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fast Asleep View Post
    Thin Man—excellent work on creating bullets for your 25ACP! I followed a slightly different path to make suitable bullets for a 25-10 RF (same bullet diameter) Remington #4 Rolling Block I converted to center fire using cases swaged down from 22 hornet brass (thanks to Chev Williams for this process). I milled the bottom band and lube groove off an RCBS 85 grain mold to produce appropriate 65 grain bullets. I then lubrisized them at .259 diameter followed by step sizing in the NOE push-through dies to reach a final desired diameter. I found sizing to .254 worked best for my chamber and brass neck thickness conditions.
    Note that "25-10 RF" is the alternate name for ".25 Stevens (Long) RF" used by other manufacturers including Winchester, Remington and others probably to avoid putting another manufacturer's name anywhere on their firearms.
    Case length is about 1.124" or 1.125" typical with a 67gr Lead RFN bullet.
    Original Black Powder loadings were listed as about 1000-1100fps, later Smokeless loads were listed at about 990fps.

    Chev. William

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    DECADES AGO - GONRA loaded lottsa .25 ACP with Ideal 252435 cast lead 50 grain, .253 inch diameter boolits.
    Had to make my own lube sizer dies. Still shoots great in a variety of European .25 ACP autos.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check