Reloading the 25 Auto

Discussions covering the components and techniques of reloading for your handgun.

Reloading the 25 Auto

Postby Ranch Dog » 11 Feb 2020 10

How about I open a topic addressing the cartridge and reloading it based on a new member's interest? I thought I had a topic on the subject, but it doesn't seem so. Granted, not many will have an interest in the topic.

Lee never produced a 25 Auto Loader Kit. They have had special runs for case trimmers, Carbide Factory Crimp Dies, and shell plates for the Load-Master. None are currently available.

Powder delivery is not possible with the standard measure kit; the smallest dipper is not tiny enough. Lee's Carbide Three Die set contains a .17cc dipper that will help with some of the loads. That part is available, #PM1829, from Lee, but you will not find it anywhere else. How it works is if you add the part to your cart, it lists for a $1, you will not end up paying for the part; however, you will be charged shipping. To ship the dipper to my address is a few pennies over $6.

Powder delivery, with the Lee product line, always depended on the Micro Charge Bar. The MCB was a special disk with some very small holes. It did okay but had problems with all but very fine powders. For example, the little pistol loves Unique, but there was never a way to meter it into the case. There has been a couple of aftermarket charging disks, but that whole system has aged and never worked well with the small case. The same with the Perfect Powder Measure, it could not be set low enough to deliver the charge. The demise of the Micro Charge bar was when someone dropped the mold, shattering it. When Lee received quotes on replacing the mold, all the sales of the bar over the years did not cover the cost of a new one. The product was discontinued.

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Powder delivery changed with Lee's drum series, the Auto Drum and Deluxe Powder Measure. Both are capable of delivering any charge with any powder that the 25 Auto might need.

I started reloading the 25 Auto on a three-hole turret press, which became a four-hole, and finally a Classic Turret. When Lee offered the #15 shell plate for the Load-Master, I was on it like a rat on a Cheeto! You see, it might be a small case, but the larger presses cause that case to be manipulated less. The more you touch the case, the more work it becomes.

It might seem overkill to some, but I shoot the heck out of my 25 Auto. Over the years, I don't know how many cases I've loaded, but it has more than paid for itself.

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Factory ammo runs from 25 to 30¢, self defense ammo 74 to 88¢ per round. My reloads with a cast bullet of my design run 6¢ and I'm willing to put them up against the 88¢ ammo. You bet I will use it for self defense. My reloads are about 2¢ more than what a rimfire pistol will cost, but I will take a primer in a pocket any day over the rimfire.

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Re: Reloading the 25 Auto

Postby mikld » 11 Feb 2020 14

Thanks for the info. I have considered reloading for my Iver Johnson 25 ACP, but often reject the idea because it's too small a cartridge, physically not power. I have enough trouble handling 32 ACP components and bullets and brass 1/2 the size of the 32s don't sound like fun. For my 32 ACP charges I weigh every charge because many times the difference between minimum and maximum is merely .2 grain as does the charges for 25 ACP. But I've learned to never say never and who knows I may stumble across a Beretta 950...
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Re: Reloading the 25 Auto

Postby Ranch Dog » 12 Feb 2020 06

mikld wrote:Thanks for the info. I have considered reloading for my Iver Johnson 25 ACP, but often reject the idea because it's too small a cartridge, physically not power. I have enough trouble handling 32 ACP components and bullets and brass 1/2 the size of the 32s don't sound like fun. For my 32 ACP charges I weigh every charge because many times the difference between minimum and maximum is merely .2 grain as does the charges for 25 ACP. But I've learned to never say never and who knows I may stumble across a Beretta 950...

Hey, mikld, you are over halfway there with the 32 Auto. Same case length, the only difference is a mear .070" in diameter. I always tell others that if you can load a 22 RF cylinder or tube, you can reload the 25 Auto!

In my tenure with the 25 Auto, the real breakthrough in reloading the cartridge has been Lee's introduction of the Auto Drum. If Lee introduced a mold, a self defense design [1] , along with a bullet sizer for the mold, and stocked the case length gauge, Carbide Factory Crimp Dies, and #15 shell plates for their progressive plates, they would have 25 Auto business and encourage others to reload the cartridge. As it is, it is a chore because you cannot find all the tools. Details matter, good tools matter, just because it is small doesn't mean you can disregard the details of reloading.

[1] At one time, Lee offered a .251", 50-grain round nose bullet mold. I bought the last remaining mold, it was found on a shelf. I cast way under diameter and I could see why it was not accepted.
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Re: Reloading the 25 Auto

Postby Ranch Dog » 12 Feb 2020 07

WVFarmerBoy has expressed an interest in casting for his Raven; my dad has carried one since 1970. At 90 years old, he still takes it everywhere he goes. I went over and got it yesterday to look at it and make some comparisons to my Taurus 25PLY (the greatest pocket pistol ever designed), but had to wait for my dad to get back from town because the P25 was with him.

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I offered, with the design help of Tom Myers and his software, two different bullets. The first had a tangent ogive and did not lend itself to sizing down to meet the needs of a variety of pistols. I decided on a bore-rider with a .251" nose and .255" body. That provided a bit more utility, but it is still up to the caster to meet the needs of his chamber with an appropriate bullet sizer. This detail is the first point where many led the cartridge astray. Like with any cartridge 218 Bee through 480 Ruger, bullet size specific to your firearm matters, and if not addressed, you have added the first step in failure.

Keeping with the lines of "everything matters, just like it does on a big cartridge," look at how complicated the small chamber is. You cannot toss components together and hope it works out. A reasonable bullet design effort leads the way.

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The above is just one of the many efforts of fitting a bullet to the chamber features, typically at least a dozen attempts until you "feel" the magic. At this particular point, I can see that the nose is too short and will lead to failures to feed; hence, the change to the secant ogive. Here is the final design.

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Here is what a spec cartridge looks like and the H2O value of the case with the bullet seated.

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Below is my specific load for the 25PLY, the Auto Drum has no problems delivering the small charge of Unique. What I have found with the Auto Drum is that there is zero variation in the charge when they get this low.

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