Oh the woes of reloading...

neutron619

Well-Known Member
Ok chaps.

Let's say that a friend of mine - a not very experienced reloader like myself - has just stumbled across a rather embarrassing potential problem with his reloads and faced the prospect of having to deconstruct and rebuild most, if not all, of the rounds he's got stored in the cabinet.

A sensible person in this position would turn to the experts on the Stalking Directory to see if there was any way of avoiding the onerous work this involves, or whether the rounds could perhaps be used anyway.
So we'll assume that that's what my friend has asked me to do on his behalf... ;)

The embarrassing problem in question is that my "friend" appears to have worked up a good number of reloads with the sizing die incorrectly set. He's discovered this problem whilst working on his latest reload: all of the rounds constructed with brass he has sized show some degree of resistance to bolt closure - some of it significant.

Conversely, a couple of dummy rounds loaded using unfired factory brass taken from deconstructed rounds, with the same bullet / OAL as the new reload, give very little to no resistance more than closing the bolt on an empty chamber. This makes me think it's something to do with the brass, and not resistance from the bullet entering the lands, for example. The absence of rifling markings on the bullet jacket supports this theory.

In all cases, the bolt will close on the rounds made from the resized cases, but the resistance to closure is more than it should be. The degree of resistance is consistent within a single lot of brass - for example, using RWS brass makes it very difficult to close the bolt, but Sako brass gives very little resistance at all. Other case lots sized by the die give resistances in between.

These symptoms leads me to suspect that the sizing die used was set such that the shoulders of the brass were not pushed back sufficiently far to fit into the chamber, and that when the (dummy) round is chambered, the chamber itself is resizing the brass to fit as the bolt is closed.

My questions:

1) Is the diagnosis above plausible? I have identified a source of error in the sizing die set up which appears to have left it too far "out" of the press: when it said "turn it a ¼ turn further" in the instructions, I believe I've been turning it in the wrong direction, bringing it "out" of the press, rather than "in".

To add some more information: Unfortunately, I don't know when the sizing die was first set incorrectly. Although I have now reset it properly, it is likely that it's been in the press since it was last cleaned, which was some months ago. This potentially means that all reloads constructed during that time suffer the same case resizing issue.

2) Is there any way I can get away without unloading, decapping, resizing and reloading all of these rounds (70-100 probably)? To avoid re-weighing all the powder charges, they'll all have to be done one by one which is slow. Apart from anything else, that's a lot of live primers to remove and re-insert.

3) Could I get away with resizing the cases with the decapping pin / mandrel removed from the die? I suspect I know the answer to this one, but I thought I'd ask.

4) Would not sizing the case shoulders far back enough cause any safety / pressure issues? I'm wondering if this has been a long-term error and has caused difficulty with reaching published maximum loads? (I have managed this in only one of my four worked up rounds.)

5) Helpfully, there's a thread I started elsewhere which may illustrate this issue - see here:
http://www.thestalkingdirectory.co.uk/showthread.php/79153-Effect-of-OAL-on-Pressure?p=727810&viewfull=1#post727810
I don't know if that picture shows what I'm describing, but it does look rather like the sized, unfired case in the image has its shoulders further forward than the fired case...

Of course, the friend in question was actually me as you're all no doubt aware. My only excuse is that no-one's ever shown me how to reload - I had to learn it from the usual books. I think I've been an idiot, but I'd rather admit that and find out what to do to fix it than carry on regardless and blow myself up next time I fire the gun.

Many thanks for any advice you experts can give,

Adam.
 
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takbok

Well-Known Member
Hi, If you can chamber the rounds and close the bolt I would just fire them as usual. You can always adjust the die for the next set of reloads.
 

jcampbellsmith

Well-Known Member
Adam.

One option is to unload the lot. A lot depends on what your risk appetite is and what degree of precision you are going for. Then de-prime the brass. Separate out each brand of brass and start again. Work up a load for each brand of brass.

Regards JCS
 

bewsher500

Well-Known Member
Hi, If you can chamber the rounds and close the bolt I would just fire them as usual. You can always adjust the die for the next set of reloads.
depends what you call "resistance"
have you shot any of them?
Otherwise if just a light squeeze on closing I would be tempted to shoot them in a controlled environment to see if anything untoward happens (unlikely)

1) Is the diagnosis above plausible? Yes

2) Is there any way I can get away without unloading, decapping, resizing and reloading all of these rounds (70-100 probably)? Pull one by one, use a kinetic and you will have perfect bullets.
keep powder seperate in scale pan, resize without decaping pin, reload powder charge.


3) Could I get away with resizing the cases with the decapping pin / mandrel removed from the die? I suspect I know the answer to this one, but I thought I'd ask. Yes as above depending on make of die

4) Would not sizing the case shoulders far back enough cause any safety / pressure issues? Possible but unlikely IMO

5) Helpfully, there's a thread I started elsewhere which may illustrate this issue - see here:
http://www.thestalkingdirectory.co.uk/showthread.php/79153-Effect-of-OAL-on-Pressure?p=727810&viewfull=1#post727810
I don't know if that picture shows what I'm describing, but it does look rather like the sized, unfired case in the image has its shoulders further forward than the fired case...

I think I've been an idiot,
You haven't as you asked the questions
no such thing as stupid questions, just stupid answers

if in doubt pull them
only issue with FL sizing with primed brass is you potentially have lube in case neck from the die and ball
not ideal but unlikely to present a massive problem

to be honest get a kinetic hammer
whizz through a 100 in 10-15 mins
keep all the bullets and powder
deprime everything and resize properly, clean and do all the case prep again

you loss is a box of primers, a few hours of your time and some face

but you won't do it again......:D
 

Whitebeard

Well-Known Member
The big question here is did you use once fired brass from another source because it sure sounds like it!
Cases fired in the chamber you are reloading for cannot upon fireing expand more then the chamber will allow in fact they brass contracts slightly due to springback.
Fired cases from the same chamber should load with little or no resistance on bolt closure.
Now to your original problem, you have no choice but to pull all the bullets, dump the powder, de-cap and resize with the die set correctly, trying to size a loaded round is extremely dangerous and must not be attempted.
You asked about removing the de-capping pin and sizing without, even though the risk of a primer detonating is very slim it is again a practice that should be avoided.
De-capping live primers is not a problem as long as you don't go at it like a bull in a china shop, if you feel a little uneasy about this then you will have to neutralise the priming compound, this can be done with WD40 or plusgas.
Basically from a safety point of veiw you need to start allover again.

Ian.
 

neutron619

Well-Known Member
Work up a load for each brand of brass.
Sorry - just need to come back on this. Only one kind of brass for the load itself. The rounds using other brass were dummy rounds constructed just to see if it was one kind of brass or whether the problem was across all the different lots I use. Since the latter turned out to be the case, I then looked to the sizing die for the source of the error.

Apologies for not being clear.
 

NigelM

Well-Known Member
I think trying to diagnose your problem over the forum has got cock up written all over it. You could have a horrible accident!!!

Reloading is a very precise science in my experience and you have to check every stage very carefully before you go on to the next. I wouldn't have any hesitation to unload and start again.

You need to answer the brass question first. Is it trimmed correctly to size before you start worrying about the set up of the press. If it is trimmed to the right length then you need to work with the die to get the depth spot on. When you have all that sorted then make up one round and check it fits in the chamber correctly and if so fire it.

Fire formed brass will feel stiffer in the chamber than new brass as the dimensions are identical, but has the neck stretched and needs trimming afterwards?

When you're confident in one, then you can replicate 6 and see how they group. Then you are into bullet seating and distance from lands/into lands to fine tune. When you know the formula is correct and you have the groups spot on then measure everything twice, write it down in 3 places and go about replicating it.

I wouldn't be going about just firing them and hoping - even if it works it sounds like you have no consistency across all the loads so point of aim could be very different for each one.
 

timbrayford

Well-Known Member
Adam.

One option is to unload the lot. A lot depends on what your risk appetite is and what degree of precision you are going for. Then de-prime the brass. Separate out each brand of brass and start again. Work up a load for each brand of brass.

Regards JCS
This is just what I had to do when I started reloading, my Blaser R93 would not function with oversized brass. Although time consuming there is no particular problem with deconstructing live rounds and starting again. A die mounted bullet puller is much quicker than a kinetic hammer, if you take care not to contaminate it the powder is re-useable but needs to be weighed again from scratch. Take care pushing out the primers which should also be re-usable, gloves & eye protection are sensible precautions. Then resize cases as per normal.

atb Tim
 

neutron619

Well-Known Member
bewsher,

depends what you call "resistance"
have you shot any of them?
Otherwise if just a light squeeze on closing I would be tempted to shoot them in a controlled environment to see if anything untoward happens (unlikely)
The resistance for some of the dummy rounds loaded with brass sized a long time ago (i.e. within the period that I believe the die to have been incorrectly set) was substantial. Akin to firing a load hot enough to bleed brass into the extractor and then opening the bolt, except that in this case, it was closing rather than opening that caused resistance. Same degree of resistance though.

After suspecting the sizer to be the cause of the issue, I cleaned and reset it yesterday, and found that the resistance became what I would call "nominal". To explain: I could tell the difference between closing the bolt on an empty chamber and on a dummy round, but I wasn't having to use heavy force to close it.

It is possible that I've shot rounds loaded with the sizer set as it was, but I'm not sure at this point. I may be able to give a definitive answer when I get home and look at my reloading notebook, but I believe I used them on my last stalk in November. I noticed no particular problems with them then, but I believe a nominal resistance (see above) is normal for my rifle.

if in doubt pull them
only issue with FL sizing with primed brass is you potentially have lube in case neck from the die and ball
not ideal but unlikely to present a massive problem

to be honest get a kinetic hammer
whizz through a 100 in 10-15 mins
keep all the bullets and powder
deprime everything and resize properly, clean and do all the case prep again

you loss is a box of primers, a few hours of your time and some face

but you won't do it again......:D
Considering your answer and some others here, I think I might do this just to be on the safe side. I don't mind the loss of face or the time really - the only trouble is trying to avoid making the wife feel she's being ignored when I spend the next week in the garage sorting it all out!

This will no doubt be another novice question, but I've removed primers before and they've usually come out intact. Can I re-use them?

Thanks to all of you for your replies - much appreciated.

Adam.
 

neutron619

Well-Known Member
You need to answer the brass question first. Is it trimmed correctly to size before you start worrying about the set up of the press?
Yes, but I full-length resize before I trim. Perhaps that's the wrong way round, but I think (without having it to hand) that that's what's in the manual.

If it is trimmed to the right length then you need to work with the die to get the depth spot on. When you have all that sorted then make up one round and check it fits in the chamber correctly and if so fire it.
Are we still talking about the sizing die here? Respectfully, it sounds like you're talking about seating bullets, which isn't my issue. Rather, I believe that my FL sizing die has been set incorrectly, leading to the case shoulders being too far forward, in turn giving resistance to bolt closure.
 

Whitebeard

Well-Known Member
I've removed primers before and they've usually come out intact. Can I re-use them?

Adam.
For the sake of a few pence i would not take the risk of reusing the primers, the anvil is going to be deformed to a certain degree when decapping, do you really want to hear that death click when your crosshair is on the prize stag??

Ian.
 

neutron619

Well-Known Member
Fair point. I might save them for target practice rounds rather than field use - then it doesn't matter so much if I have a misfire. Either that or I'll put them in a pot for the yearly bonfire night "fun with sledgehammer" / disposal of damaged and wasted primers session...
 

Whitebeard

Well-Known Member
neutron,
Are you loading once fired brass from another source?
The reason i ask is that the solution may be a lot simpler if you are.

Ian.
 

dodgyrog

Well-Known Member
If they are 308 or 223 brass (or similar case head size 30-06 etc) try pushing them through a Lee bulge buster (45 ACP or 9mm)
 

neutron619

Well-Known Member
neutron,
Are you loading once fired brass from another source?
The reason i ask is that the solution may be a lot simpler if you are.

Ian.
I'm not sure what you mean by "another source". I've got a stock of about 200 RWS cases which I use for all my reloads and have done basically since I started (c. 18 months). They were once fired when I got them and are all now either 0, 1 or 2 times fired since I got them, so once, twice or thrice fired overall. I work through them all in batches and I'm currently try to "catch-up" all of them to be twice fired (i.e. once before I got them, once since).

Does that help? I can't infer what might be significant about that, so hopefully I've given you what you need.
 

african jack

Well-Known Member
has the once fired brass been fired in your rifle or is it from another source if its from your rifle and you have not set the die fully down it will have just sized the neck and should not be a problem have you used the OAL in the loading manual if not do it with one round and try to chamber it good luck
 

Whitebeard

Well-Known Member
Sorry for the confision neutron, by another source i mean shot in another rifle, not yours.
Being once fired brass is most likely where your problem lies, brass expands around the web area of the case which is just above the extractor groove and does not get sized when F/L sizing, this the cause of 90% of resistance on closing the bolt, the other is the length of the chamber of the rifle where the brass was originally fired in.
Correctly set dies will cure the latter but the use of samll base dies is the cure for the former.
You can test for a oversize web area by bluing the area with a marker pen and chambering it to see if the bluing gets scuffed,

Ian.
 

neutron619

Well-Known Member
has the once fired brass been fired in your rifle or is it from another source if its from your rifle and you have not set the die fully down it will have just sized the neck and should not be a problem have you used the OAL in the loading manual if not do it with one round and try to chamber it good luck
As above - some cases have been fired in my rifle, some haven't. The ones I used yesterday had been fired in my rifle, but had since been resized, so I take your point about the neck sizing.

Regarding OAL, I have used an OAL of 2.800". Just to reiterate, in an unfired factory case taken from a deconstructed round, this OAL and bullet chambered without any problems. In the cases that have gone through my sizing die, I encountered various degrees of resistance.
 

neutron619

Well-Known Member
Sorry for the confision neutron, by another source i mean shot in another rifle, not yours.
Being once fired brass is most likely where your problem lies, brass expands around the web area of the case which is just above the extractor groove and does not get sized when F/L sizing, this the cause of 90% of resistance on closing the bolt, the other is the length of the chamber of the rifle where the brass was originally fired in.
Correctly set dies will cure the latter but the use of samll base dies is the cure for the former.
You can test for a oversize web area by bluing the area with a marker pen and chambering it to see if the bluing gets scuffed,

Ian.
Ian - thanks for the tip - I'll try this.

When I suspected that it was the bullet being too long, I did the same with candle soot and looked for an impression of the rifling but didn't see anything. If I'd have know I could have used a marker pen, it would have been a lot easier! Everywhere I looked said "use soot" so I did!

In fact, this ties up with the other evidence - the resistance is for the last part of the bolt travel / putting the bolt handle down. That was what made me think it was the bullet being engraved by the lands initially, but then when I took the bullet out of the case, and tried chambering the case(s) by itself (giving heavy resistance as before) I realised it couldn't be (I think!).
 
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