Old Tools, Old Memories


by Paco Kelly

photography by Paco Kelly

December 23, 2004



The pitted and verdigris covered nickel coated reloading tool, dates back to circa 1899, made by the old Ideal company out of New Haven Conn. It was made for reloading 45 Colt rounds.  The tool is complete... the forward end has a mold for the 255gr/45 bullet that drops in pure lead at .456 caliber.

The longer rod sticking out of the right side handle in the photo, was for pushing that bullet thru the sizing hole in the opposite handle. Bringing it down to .4535.  Also you could push a case partially into this opening, about 3/16ths and it resized enough to hold the bullet tight. The smaller rod sticking out slightly, (above the bottom long one), was for re-priming the brass... you de-primed with a de-priming rod not part of the tool....

And just above that, the long cone like part extending from the right side handle in the picture, itís the bullet seating chamber. The outside of the cone was used to bell the case mouth slightly. It seated the bullet and put a roll crimp over the top lube ring of the bullet. And even has a spring (flat spring) loaded extractor to pull the loaded round out of the chamber...

This tool went with me to Africa, (1957-1960) along with the 45 Colt SA revolver that I write about often.  I have no idea how many reloads went thru that gun from this tool... but they took a lot of thin-skinned game, some well above our elk in size. And I even took a zebra with it, at a watering hole late one afternoon, because my grandfather said he once killed a horse with a 45 Colt in 1928. Just wanted to see for myself....

Tools such as these today are probably worth more than they are sold for at gun shows, though I have not seen these types sold in decades. Personally, mine is priceless, because of the memories. I used two loads in those days: 6 grains of Bullseye for simple stuff and 20 grains of 2400 for any real hunting.  When I was short on powder and primers there was always plenty of 45 ACP ammo around to break down to use the powder and primers... But in those days your family could ship you powder and primers thru the mail and the APO addresses without anyone thinking it was a terrorist act.

The small black tool is a very simple little thing made for 32-20 rounds. Principally it was for re-priming brass. The funny looking tip on the round end handle was a re-sizing die for the 32-20 case mouth. The companion tool I had with this tool did the resizing, but a little tight, so the handle end on this tool pushed thru the neck of a sized case made it perfect for bullet seating the Ideal 115 grain semi-wadcutter.  The companion tong tool seated and crimped the bullet, but it has been lost many years ago.  These were the two little tools I re-loaded 32-20s with, when I started at the tender age of nine.... thatís 57 years ago!

Paco Kelly


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Paco's trusty old Ideal .45 Colt bullet mold / reloading tool.



.32-20 re-priming tool, part of a set Paco used in his youth.