Bulge in case when reloading -- Why?


March 1, 2008, 08:04 AM
I'm getting some bulged cases when loading 38 Special and 45ACP. I'm using Berry Plated bullets and Horady swaged for the 38. Both bullets are 148 grain HB wad cutters.
The 45's are lead 185 grain semi wad cutters.

Some rounds are just fine and a small percentage are bulged.
What causes this and how can I eliminate it?

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Ol` Joe
March 1, 2008, 08:28 AM
Where is the bulge located on the case? The brass can be over crimped causing it to bulge just back of the mouth. lightening the crimp a hair will take care of it if this is the problem.
The bullet, as it is seated, will expand the case wall also. This gives the case a "wasp waist" look and is normal. The bullet expansion is acctually a good thing as it is proof the case has a good grip on the bullet.

March 1, 2008, 11:21 AM
The bulge is in the middle of the case.

March 1, 2008, 11:46 AM
Mixed brass?
Some of it is thicker then others?

See if the bulged ones are all the same headstamp.
If they are, you can bet they have thicker sidewalls then the ones that didn't bulge.

Over-size bullets?
I have seen a wide range of variation in Berry bullets out of the same box.
Measure a bunch of them and see if they are all the right size.

Seating the bullets crooked?
If you don't have enough case mouth flair, the bullets can start in the case crooked and end up making a bulge on one side at the base of the bullet.
You can also shave off little lead shards and they get stuck between the bullet and case causing a bulge.

Rims not all the way in the shell holder sometimes?
This causes the case to contact the mouth of the seating die and put a divit in the case partway down on one side.


March 1, 2008, 12:10 PM
I have been reloading for 34 years, and have never bulged a case to my recollection. I have screwed up in the ways already noted, and caved in plenty, but never bulged any out. I am mystified.

March 1, 2008, 12:20 PM
I'm going to go with rcmodel's tentative diagnosis--i.e., mixed brass, with varying thickness in the case walls.

Do these bulge rounds chamber? How much bulge? What's the caliper / micrometer show, in comparison to the non-bulged ones?

A picture would sure be helpful.

Is the bulge correlating in general shape to the bullet--e.g., is the bulge about where the DEWC base is? Related to that--what dies are you using? What crimper setup?

I have some once-fired DEWC factory-load brass that was so thin I could not reload it--mine crushed, but arguably, it could bulge, I think--

Jim H.

March 1, 2008, 01:29 PM
The bulged ones I'm concerned with do not chamber. They all seem to have a slight bulge.
I'll try to get some more info relative to measurements later.
Thanks for the help gentlemen!!!

Double Naught Spy
March 1, 2008, 04:35 PM
The bulge is in the middle of the case.

Too much powder.

March 1, 2008, 04:56 PM
Well, after having never seen this before--it just happened to me.

NEW Starline 357 cases. Meistercast 158-.358 LRN bullets. Lee 4-die set, set up correctly for light bell at PTED, #3 to seat only, FCD does moderate-to-heavy crimp on the cannelure. Loading on the standard Lee turret, with updates for 4-die, Safety Prime.

New Startline cases have some resistance / stickiness going into / out of the Lee PTED. As this case hit full rise to put a slight bell on it, I felt some "give"--and on lowering the ram, I found fairly a short bulge-"ring" about midway. Not quite equilateral--i.e., it bulges more in one-to-two quadrants than on the opposite two.

It will slide into my max cart gauge with some push; normally, these rounds drop in freely.

This has happened on no others in this (200-round) load development session. My best guess for now is that the brass has a "weak spot" perhaps poorly annealed. Other than some rinse water discoloration, there are no apparent finish defects in this batch of brass (bought within last six months).

I'll try to get a picture up later--I have an appointment shortly.

Jim H.

March 1, 2008, 05:21 PM
I asked the same question on the :
and got similar answers. You guys might want to look there and see what was posted. As I think back to when I was loading, I think the problem comes for the most part from two of the things listed above.
1. Thin wall cases
2. Seating the bullet crooked

I sure appreciate the help!!!!!!!!!

March 1, 2008, 07:42 PM
Just a suggestion. Try expanding the case a little more and see if you still "bulge" the case when seating. "Hard starting" when seating can result in bulges.

March 1, 2008, 07:45 PM
Forgot to mention. Sometimes a die resizes smaller that the diameter of the bullet and case appears to be bulged down to where the bullet is seated. This will not cause a problem.

March 1, 2008, 09:01 PM
I was loading some once fired R-P cases with H110 and 158 gr. Hornady HP's and a couple of Federal cases got mixed in also. The R-P cases loaded just fine but the Federal had a buldge in the middle of the case.

Come to find out the once fired Federals were longer that the R-P and I didn't catch them when I was sorting the brass.

Brass length could have been the problem.

March 1, 2008, 09:36 PM
Brass Length?!?!?!?!?
Another great suggestion!!!
I never thought to measure the case length before loading........

March 4, 2008, 01:41 AM
I ran into the same problem and found that I was over-belling the case and then it would bulge while crimping. I was getting frustrated trying to modify my crimp both more and less until I finally came across the problem. I lessened the belling process and Schizam!

March 4, 2008, 04:20 AM
I had the same problem as above the first time I loaded .45 ACP - I was expanding / belling the case mouth way too much (which actually didn't seem like much at the time) and correspondingly, had to crimp like mad to get the cartridges to slide into a gauge. All the ones I did like this look bulged, and were a bit harder to chamber.

Ran back the expanding plug to where it *just* flared the case enough to start a bullet (barely visible) and no more bulge issues.

One of those problems from learning to do something out of a book, and the resulting trial and error, I guess...(for me, anyway)

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