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Thread: 44 Special 310 kit problems

  1. #1
    Boolit Grand Master

    mdi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    So. Orygun

    44 Special 310 kit problems

    I was digging around in my cabinet and under my Lee dipper set, under my Pacific Pistol Powder Measure, under my cigar box of home made dippers, I found my 310 44 Special loader. I purchased the set sometime between 1990 and 2000, I think. As far as I can determine it is complete with all necessary dies. Of course I grabbed some fired brass and tried to reload them. The box has a few "extra" dies, unmarked and one marked 44-40. I managed to find the right 44 Special size/decap die and after 30 cases had the die set so it deprimed and sized about 3/8" of the case. Closing the handles, pushing a lubed case into the die wasn't a smooth operation, felt like the case was getting stuck somewhere, jerky (die was cleaned before use). Got 20 sized and decapped OK then tried to flare the mouth to accept some 429421s. Adjusting the flaring die was a real pain and I screwed up a few cases trying to get it set right. After about 45 minutes squeezing cases into the die, and having to use pliers to remove some that were stuck in the "sleeve" in the handle, I quit. I only have the simplified instructions and the pamphlet and not really sure if there is a more complete instruction sheet showing more in depth instructions. Also wondering about crimping. I saw nothing in any written directions, or on line "how to" videos. I've been reloading for a very long time and never had this much trouble with any reloading system. I started with Lee Loaders in '69, advanced to a hand press and progressed through single stage presses and turret presses, to my current Co-Ax. If the 310 is this much trouble to get smooth reloading, it may just go back in the cabinet, or sold/traded and when I feel "retro" I'll get out one of my Lee Loaders...

    Are there more detailed instructions available?
    Last edited by mdi; 08-04-2022 at 01:15 PM.
    My Anchor is holding fast!

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master
    Mk42gunner's Avatar
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    Aug 2005
    Butler, MO
    I don't know if it is still there or not, but a decent set of instructions used to be on the castpics website.

    I started a few years after you with a Lee Loader for 3" .410's, followed a year later by one for 2 3/4" 20 ga. Aa few more years and I started loading rifles on a rock chucker.

    I have fully loaded one box of .22 Hornet with the 310, and while it will never be my favorite way to load, it is a viable method.

    Where I do like the 310 is for decapping. Either at the range for BP, or when doing grungy surplus brass that needed an oil soak.


  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master Char-Gar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Deep South Texas
    To much case flare will prevent the case from moving back out through the handles. All of us that used the 310 tool have to learn that lesson the hard way. When adjusting the dies, we have to go a smidge, then another smidge and still a few more smidges. The tong tool has zero leverage and to much sizing or expanding will cause problems. Slow and easy does it.
    Disclaimer: The above is not holy writ. It is just my opinion based on my experience and knowledge. Your mileage may vary.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
    Bent Ramrod's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Southern Arizona
    If your set was new in the 90s, it may have been made by the Leisure Group, which at the time owned Lyman and was milking it as a cash cow.

    As Elmer Keith groused in the Thirties, all this blather about “accuracy” and “precision” in the loading tool ads, and the tools themselves often showed the “precision” that tinsmiths use to make downspouts.

    I have a set of .38-55 310 dies that I had high hopes for, that badly oversizes the necks on the cases to the point that they’re hard to get out. They’re not overly concentric when they come out, either. One of these days, I’ll need to do some slugging, measuring, honing and lapping to make usable tools out of them.

    On the other hand, I have a half-dozen other sets in other calibers that work just fine. Luck of the draw. In the 90s the stuff could be picked up cheep as castoffs, but now they’re quasi collector’s items. I like to use them sometimes, for range portability or nostalgia, but likely you could get your money out of yours and more, if they’re impossible to use. They can still be “displayed with pride,” after all.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Central VA
    As someone who has had the problem of newly flared cases not being able to come back through the adaptor sleeve, I feel your pain. You have to tread very lightly here and put in just enough flare to be able to start a bullet without shaving lead. In extreme situations I have gone so far as to remove the adaptor ring altogether. With a 44 Mag or Spl, the case is long enough that you really don't need the adaptor to maintain alignment.
    As for your other observations, you should make extra sure the hinge is well lubed (light oil) and the dies are clean and polished inside. Remember, you are only neck sizing, don't try to go too deep. Also, doing sizing and decapping as separate steps removes some stress. If you have the CMR die that does both at once, it might behoove you to seek out a Universal Decapping Die and pull the decap stem out of the CMR so it just has to neck size.

    In spite of all the idiosyncrasies I still regard the 310 tool as a good way to learn (or get back to) the basics. What you see is what you get!

    "It aint easy being green!"

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

    Walks's Avatar
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    Jun 2016
    I never had instructions of any kind for the Tong Tools that I used to reload .38Spl & .45Auto with. I had used a large tool to load .30-06 with and I just "winged it".
    Was told by OLD Gunny that I bought the surplus Colt .38 from to Fully LUBE the cases. Gave me a tube of vasoline to use. I was young and dumber then, and a heck of a lot stronger. Bought the 7X14 adapters for my Spartan press when I got home from the Service, a whole lot easier then the "pliers". Good for priming though.
    I HATE auto-correct

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  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master uscra112's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Switzerland of Ohio
    My 1960's edition of the Lyman reloading handbook has instructions in it.

    The muzzle resizer has to be followed by the expander die if you're loading cast bullets.
    Cognitive Dissident

  8. #8
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    MI (summer) - AZ (winter)
    I don't load 44s - but I do have 310 sets for 38 Colt Short, #8 Colt Long. 38 Spl., 357 and 45 Colt as well as 30-30, 5,5 Japanese and 8mm Muser.

    Somer of my sets are "assembled" and some are "purchased sets" (i.e. as from factory).

    On straight wall pistol cartridges, I (and this is just me) learned to do each step individually. I use the 310 "universal de-priming" dies - I believe they were made in two different sizes. I then size the case mouth to the seating depth - then expand and flare slightly. Just as I do with standard dies, I seat and crimp in two different operations. If you over-flare, you will have issues retracting the case as mentioned.

    You might try going to two different steps as far as de-priming and sizing. I have 310 "neck sizing dies only" - it took me a few years to accumulate them, but they work slick.

    You don't mention if you are using the aluminum tongs with cartridge adapter inserts or if you have steel tongs. Years ago when I got the "310 bug" - I had the aluminum tongs - and I HATE them (another personal thing). It has taken a long time, but I now have steel tongs for the calibers I load and I find them much easier to use, especially when I get a casing that causes a problem.

    Don't get discouraged with the 310 - the more you work with them the more you learn little tricks to make things easier.

    What really frustrates some is when they try to use a 310 die that was designed to be used in the Ideal Je press in a set of tongs. The die I am thinking of is one designed for bottleneck cartridge (rifle) that is a combination depriving/neck sizing die with the neck expander on the stem. Try that with a set of tongs and you'll quickly learn some new swear words!

    Good luck - you'll get it figured out and a lot of it is just "tuning" your die set-ups to do the job, but not "over-do" the job - if that makes any sense/

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
    Eddie Southgate's Avatar
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    Dec 2016
    Southern Middle Tennessee/ Hillsboro Alabama
    The basic directions are all I have ever seen for 310 dies . I have not had any issues using any of mine but they are what I started with and I had been using them for 20 or so years before I bought my first set of modern dies. I started in the 60's with the 310 sets and after several years got a Tru Line Jr press . After about 20 years I found a NIB All American press and bought it and inserts for the 5/8" dies so I could use both sizes. I have no more trouble setting up 310 dies than I would a set of 7/8" RCBS dies. One thing about them and all steel dies is they have to be absolutely clean inside and you should use a good case lube outside and I get a bit on my finger or use a q tip and sparingly lube the case mouth. The 310 tool will never be as easy and smooth to use as a bench press but they work just fine once you get used to them which you will only do by using them. Like said above it takes a little time so go slow and make adjustments a very little at a time and you will have them working for you in no time. I have a set for about 95% of the cartridges I load, the other 5% were never made in 310 or Tru Line dies or I would own them too.
    Grumpy Old Man With A Gun....... Do Not Touch !!

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
    tward's Avatar
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    Oct 2009
    Rochester, NY
    The older Lyman manuals had instructions for the various tools in the first part of the book. Tim

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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