test batch of .223 needs HELP!


July 30, 2007, 09:37 AM
here's the specs on my first test batch of .223 and a few problems...

once fired .223, full length resized, but not trimmed as wilson gauge said it was within specs. using lee dies including factory crimp die.

first five rounds fired fine but on the sixth click ejected the round and picked it up form the ground. bullet was pushed back into case completely and grains of H335 leaking out.

loaded several more rounds into the mag and a series of clicks as the rounds failed to fire and bullets disappeared back into the cases.


tore down the S&W MP15T and cleaned up the powder residue.

i did a search and some say to crimp for .223 and some do not and since i've done a lot of handgun reloading, this is my first rifle batch, i need some help

more crimp to prevent the bullet from being slammed back into the case?

is there such a thing as too much crimp?

excessive pressure if there's too much crimp?

case neck tension from not trimming?

glad i did a small batch to test, mic'd the OAL and it matched the measurements of some factory loads.

i welcome all input...

If you enjoyed reading about "test batch of .223 needs HELP!" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
July 30, 2007, 10:05 AM
Good Morning.
Let's see if we can suggest something to help and maybe ask a few obvious questions.

1st. Always crimp for autoloaders. The round hitting the feed ramp will set back an uncrimped bullet with possible disasterous results.
2nd. Could there be a squib round lodged in the throat of the barrel causing the bullet to be pushed back into the shell?
3rd. I would look to see if the misfires had any pin marking on the primer. I suspect they do not which could indicate to much setback on the shoulder of the case when it is resized. This would allow the shell to go into the chamber so far that the firing pin can't reach the primer.

On the other hand, No kaboom. This is good.

July 30, 2007, 10:20 AM
Sounds like poor neck tension as well as no crimp. Mechdriver is right, it needs a good crimp. Lack of trimming won't affect neck tension. Not enough sizing down of the neck or to big of an expander ball will though. Sometimes thin necked brass can be the culprit as well. Probably OK there though.
If the bullets are pushing all the way back into the case you absolutely don't have enough neck tension/crimp to hold the bullet. You should be able to take a loaded round and push the bullet tip against a hard surface and not be able to move it back in the case.

July 30, 2007, 10:29 AM
For those who are crimping 223 - do you prefer a Lee style that appears to roll crimp or the RCBS that is a tape? I assume the Lee works only for bullets with a cannelure so there's no damage to round.

Here's a link to the Lee and RCBS at Midway.

July 30, 2007, 10:34 AM
I'm using a dillon which may actually be redding. But it is a taper crimp. Works fine.

July 30, 2007, 11:48 AM
Thanks for the response...that Lee had positive reviews on Midway so I assume someone is using it ... I'd not heard of a roll crimp on a 223 round before but I'm a relative newbie to rifle reloading.


July 30, 2007, 11:52 AM
+1 on the taper crimp. Bear in mind that for consistant crimps you must trim to a uniform length.
Polishing the expander ball a few thousandths will usually help with neck tension, and smoothes sizing.

July 30, 2007, 11:57 AM
I use the LEE factory crimp die. Make sure it is screwed far enough down into the press. It goes down far enough to contact the shell holder and then about 2 full turns further - you can watch the collets from the top and without a round inserted, the press ram should be able to close the collets completely.

You can't over-crimp with the LEE Factory Crimp die - a good firm push down on the press handle the collets should close almost completely on the finished round.

You bullet seating die should be set to not apply any crimp if you are using the factory crimp die in a seperate step.

Also you might want to look at how much lube is in the neck of the case after re-sizing.

If you attempt to apply too much crimp with the bullet seating die, it will push the whole neck back, causing the area just below the shoulder to bulge out.

July 30, 2007, 12:21 PM
mechdriver and all... thanks for the replies...

i checked for the squib... nothing.

i will check the failed rounds when i get home, i put them in a "junk" container as they are toast, unless you think an inertia puller would move the bullet from the depth of the case and out.

NavyLT... your quote

"It goes down far enough to contact the shell holder and then about 2 full turns further"

is more than what the directions that came with the Lee dies, but then those directions leave a lot to be desired... i had the die touching the shell holder and a quarter to a half turn more as directed.

i'll make the adjustment.

can anyone walk me through the expander ball polishing?

July 30, 2007, 12:24 PM
The Lee is described as a roll crimp - so are you using it only on bullets w a cannelure?


July 30, 2007, 01:53 PM
I'm far from an expert on an AR-15s, but what you are describing sounds like a magazine problem. So do you have another magazine to try these loads in? I'm one of the bunch that crimps my rounds, but I have had a few failure to extract rounds. As the bolt tries to shove the next round in with the empty case still in the way, the bullet will go back in the case. And that is with factory rounds, much less with uncrimped reloads. I would try another magazine first. Crimping will reduce setback, but won't stop it if something is wrong.

July 30, 2007, 03:00 PM
To polish the expander ball, remove the decapper rod. Put the decapper rod in a hand drill and polish with a Scotchbrite or 600 grit abrasive paper. Measure the ball before polishing. Start with a target of .005 smaller and test with seating a bullet. If you are using a single lot of brass more uniform results will be acheived.
Some people remove the expander ball completely, but this requires a fairly heavy chamfer to get the bullets to start smoothly.
IMHO the Lee factory crimp die distorts the bullet more than my personal preferance. The taper crimp can be controlled for minimum bullet distortion yet still giving a firm grip.

July 30, 2007, 03:41 PM
Maybe I have missed something, but you said you pulled the trigger, nothing happened, and then you ejected the round.

Why did not the primer ignite?

July 30, 2007, 03:54 PM
The Lee is described as a roll crimp - so are you using it only on bullets w a cannelure?


The factory crimp die uses a collet that merely squeezes the brass against the bullet to form the crimp. The roll crimp is the feature of the bullet seating die, and you are correct, if you use the bullet seating die to apply the crimp you do need a cannelure, with the factory crimp die, you do not.

July 30, 2007, 03:58 PM
"It goes down far enough to contact the shell holder and then about 2 full turns further"

is more than what the directions that came with the Lee dies, but then those directions leave a lot to be desired... i had the die touching the shell holder and a quarter to a half turn more as directed.

i'll make the adjustment. --

The amount of crimp applied by the factory crimp die is determined by how far up the base of the die is pushed by the ram w/attached shellholder. I cannot think of any reason not to apply the full crimp with that die. As long as the empty ram w/shellholder pushes the base of the die up far enough for the collets in the die to close all the way, you can't adjust it tighter anymore anyway, but as long as you don't apply excessive force to the press handle - like standing on it - you can have the die screwed all the way into the press and it would be fine..

July 30, 2007, 06:05 PM
Hope I'm not misdirecting this thread too far afield but, further on crimp type...

Your comment above about the Lee taper crimp for 223 was what I would have expected based on their pistol dies but, this is the description from the product for 223.

"Lee Factory Crimp Die 223 Remington

The Lee Factory Crimp Die crimps the bullet firmly in place. It features a collet that squeezes the case mouth into the crimping groove for a firm hold. It is nearly impossible to buckle the case as with regular roll crimp dies. Shellholder sold separately."

Doesn't that sound like it is intended specifically for a bullet w cannelure? Or is that their arcane way of describing the inside of the collet - ie. the groove that crimps the case neck?

I may just try taper crimping with my Hornady seater, as they claim you can, altho I've never cared for doing it all in one station on pistol rounds.


July 30, 2007, 06:38 PM
I have used the FCD on bullets with and without a cannelure and it has worked fine on both types of bullets.

July 30, 2007, 07:52 PM
IME, the Lee FCD will crimp an un-cannellured bullet no problem. The collet makes some serious pressure and will deform the jacket of a smooth bullet and press the neck into it.

Lee claims that this is OK and that accuracy is not affected. Most bullet manufacturers shriek in horror that their bullets are being deformed and cry foul...cease and desist.

My experience with several calibers worth of FCD's is on par with NavyLT's...you cannot over-crimp. More correctly, you cannot adjust the crimp beyond the collet segments touching each other. Binding it more does nothing for the crimp.

Most ammo does not need the maximum amount of crimp. Enough is enough. But, you must experiment to find this level and experience is great to have. But, default over-crimping is superior to under-crimping when you are having bullets driven back into cases.

July 30, 2007, 11:28 PM
I always crimp .223 rounds for my AR-15 with a Lee FCD.

July 31, 2007, 12:46 AM
I always crimp .223 rounds for my AR-15 with a Lee FCD.

I never crimp ANY of my .223 handloads for my AR. A proper sizing die/expander ball "fit" will provide plenty of hold on the bullet IF the magazine and it's lips are holding the shell right.

There are three type of Lee FCD's. Taper, roll and all bottle necked cases use the collet to press the neck into the side of a bullet,whether there's a cannelure there or not.

July 31, 2007, 01:01 AM
I'm fairly new to the reloading game so keep that in mind. My first 150 loads were 100 non-crimped 75 grain Hornady HPBT and 50 non-crimped 77 grain SMK's. I did not experience any setback and all rounds functioned perfectly and most were very accurate.

Today I'll be testing 50 rounds of each bullet that I crimped using the FCD. I wanna test the theory that a crimp will increase accuracy by allowing more uniform pressure.

I am not experienced enough to diagnose your problem but I can say it appears to be much more than merely a lack of crimping.

July 31, 2007, 07:49 AM
I have found LEE documentation to be lacking at best and contradictory at worst. I found it in the LEE Classic Press instructions and I think in the instructions for all their presses:

For best utility and
accuracy, consider the Lee Factory Crimp
Die. You will never crush a case; no crimp groove is required and trim
length is not critical.

July 31, 2007, 08:33 AM
Crimping .223? I suppose you may want to let the highpower shooters know they've been doing it wrong all these years.:uhoh:

You need good neck tension, and this can be accomplished with a bushing die, not some magical mystical red kool aid everyone around here seems to be drinking.

July 31, 2007, 09:32 AM
I use a light taper crimp on my .223's, but snuffy is right, neck tension is where it's at.

halvey is right as well. For target loads I would not crimp, but use consistent neck tension only for holding the bullet.

Even the thought of crimping a carefully prepped 6PPC for my bench gun makes me a little :barf: to my stomach.

July 31, 2007, 08:15 PM
'Pilot, my old friend!!!!!!!

Long time no 'key' to!!!

Welcome to the world of .223!

Questions. . . .

1. What brass are you using?
2. What bullet are you using?
3. What diameter bullet are you using? .223" or .224" (Hopefully, .224" as the older .223 bullets would be used for the .22 Hornet, and would do as you are describing in the opening post and drop into the case.)

4. Before charging the case with powder, can you push a bullet into the casemouth easily???
This would show that the brass is TOO thin and doesn't have enough 'meat' to hold the bullets.

5. When deburring the casemouth, are you just barely cutting the chamfer?
I had a batch of Remington brass that when I de-burred, I got over zealous and the bullet wouldn't stay in place. (Casemouth was too thin to 'grip' the bullet!) :banghead:

What is puzzling me is the 'click' of the hammer fall and the primer not being hit and igniting.

6. Is there a mark from the firing pin touching the primer???

If you are full-length re-sizing, are you pushing the shoulder back too far (which could, emphasize 'could' cause the primer not to ignite.)

Start with a once-fired case. Lube as usual. (NO lube on shoulder!) Back your sizer die out a bit, and size a little at a time and check and re-check (moving die down 1/8 to 1/4 of a turn) and chamber the sized case until it chambers (and bolt closes) reliably.
It sounds as though you are sizing too much.
Again. . . the hammer fall and 'click' concerns me.

As for polishing the expander 'ball'. . . FLITZ!!!!!
Remove the expander stem from the sizer die.
The 'ball' will be visible. It may be funnel shaped instead of a ball.
I've polished them with nothing more than 1000 grit 'wet-or-dry' sandpaper and then follow up with FLITZ on a piece of cotton, then polish off with a paper towel.

As for crimp, I use a crimp on my loads.
I can't tell you how much crimp that I use. . . it is enough to firmly hold the Sierra 69 BTHP and cycle both manually and through shooting in my AR. (No cannelure on bullet.)

If you want shoot me a PM and we'll get together and talk this through!

Take care, my friend!!!


July 31, 2007, 08:29 PM
I'm also not an expert in the .223 world nor for the AR15 (mine is a Bushmaster E2S) but I've never crimped any of my reloads & never had a failure for one to go BOOM. Since I pick up my brass at the local range (off the ground so it's a complete hodge podge of stuff), I use a small base resizer by Redding & their bullet seater. I am using several bullets - Barnes 36 gr grenade, Hornady 40 gr moly V-Max, Hornady 50 gr & 55 gr V-Max. Mostly I use AA2230 & some AA2520 powder with Winchester primers, WSR. Everyone of them fire when I pull the trigger & my groups are averaging 1 to 1.5" for groups at 100 yds & that's with the mixed brass. But crimp the bullets, never done that yet.
So, have I been lucky or am I in for a surprise someday?

July 31, 2007, 08:42 PM
So, have I been lucky or am I in for a surprise someday?

Well. . . in the words of Gomer Pyle, USMC, "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!"

I didn't experience this bullet 'set-back' (what an understatement) until I was in a High Power Match and seated the magazine and closed the bolt.

Huh???????:cuss: The bolt closed with a 'clack'.
I pulled the bolt handle, and the round ejected and powder dumped all over the inside of the bolt lug locking (recess) area.
I was out of the match.

No. . . crimping is not absolutely necessary. But, you may want to re-think that IF you ever experience the powder all over the inside of your AR phenomenon.


July 31, 2007, 10:04 PM
In thousands of .223 rounds I've never needed to crimp for any of my AR's.

August 1, 2007, 08:41 AM
byf43... good to see you here bro, other than the basement :)

i feel your pain about a "powdered" black rifle, but here's an update

i assembled a new but small batch of .223... adjusted the lee factory crimp die as suggested here and went to the range...


i'm new to the ways of the black rifle and all i can imagine is that the same thing which took place with byf43's rifle happened to me...

bullet set back and failure to fire, no primer strike at all :scrutiny:

thanks for all the input all, i'll be crimping more from now on.

If you enjoyed reading about "test batch of .223 needs HELP!" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!