Oops - Cases deforming


November 23, 2008, 09:04 PM
I am stumped. Somehow during reloading I deformed several of my .223 brass cases. The trouble is, I'm not sure how it happened. Out of 70 cartridges I found at least 10 to have been damaged. I don't know if there were more because I shot about 30 of those before the one in the photos below jammed. So if you could help this relative newcomer out by telling me what went wrong, I would appreciate it. I don't need criticism though. I've already been beating myself up over this for not catching it as it is.

Also, is this correctable or do I toss those cases?



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November 23, 2008, 09:24 PM
What type of dies are you using? and the cases?

Looking at those pics, would indicate that the sizing die is adjusted too low, if it's a neck size die.

It's pushed on the case shoulder too much and caused the case body to start to collapse inward. Which may now give them excessive headspacing.

November 23, 2008, 09:42 PM
It appears that your seating die is adjusted way to low. Were you trying to get a good crimp? I would wager every reloader has started out their career doing this.

You do not need to put a heavy crimp on the case, as the neck tenstion from the resizing is usually enough to hold the bullet securely.


If it were a sizing die problem, the case would be stuck, and need extraction from the die via a stuck case remover.

November 23, 2008, 10:01 PM
I've had that happen to me with the crimp die set wrong. Loading LC 223 brass and crimping a little too much. Back out the crimp die a little.

November 23, 2008, 11:17 PM
It's the crimping die. Back if off and the problem will go away.

The reason only some of your cases buckled is they aren't all the same length, so you need to trim them.

Hope this helps.


November 23, 2008, 11:20 PM
Not so Fast, this happens when seating, the seater die is too low, first, the bullet must seat, then crimp, a (little) crimp is OK, but squatting the case when seating is too much.

F. Guffey

November 24, 2008, 12:14 AM
I've done this when seating 223 bullets. Oops! Reset the die.

November 24, 2008, 03:29 AM
Remo-99 - I'm using full length sizing dies. But I didn't see any damage when I resized them. I have about 150 more cases that I have resized and I don't see that damage in any of them.

Shoney, bullseye308, ReloaderFred, fguffey, jpwilly - Is it the seating die or the crimping die? I'm using both because I thought I had to with a semi-auto rifle.

ReloaderFred - I thought I had trimmed all the cases to the same length but maybe not. I know I did with the 150 follow-on cases I've prepped. I'll be checking those as well though.

Thanks guys. I will be resetting both the seating and the crimping die tomorrow. Or maybe eliminating the factory crimp die altogether. What do you think?

35 Whelen
November 24, 2008, 04:17 AM
I'd bet the farm your crimp die is set too low. If you're seating and crimping in two seperate operations, then back your seating die off a bit. It doesn't need to be screwed way down into the press. When the ram on the press is fully extended, I like to see daylight between the base of the seating die and the top of the shellholder equivalent to the thickness of a nickel.
If I may ask, why are you crimping your bullets? I know alot of people do it claiming it's all but required in semi-auto's. I load for a Garand and an SKS and never have crimped either and have never had problems. I think many people believe the semi-auto is hard on bullets, but I don't think it's any worse than a frantic hunter hastily chambering that second round afrter missing a shot at a game animal. I've shot High-Power matches off and on for years, and I don't recall any of those guys crimping their handloads. The only cartridges I crimp are those that are fed from tubular magazines, namely the 30-30, 375 Win., and 45-70. They indeed require crimping and I have damaged 30-30 cases in exactly the same way you damaged your cases. As a rule, the damage occured because I was either trying to apply too much crimp or I hadn't properly trimmed the cases.
I know Richard Lee (Lee Precision) condones and even urges crimping, but he also makes lots of money selling crimp dies. I'd suggest you fire a few loads with no crimp just to see what happens. If it works out, you've saved a step in the reloading process. If it doesn't, I'd sure like to know what happened!

Oh, and by the way, don't beat yourself up. When it come to reloading, you never stop learning!

November 24, 2008, 04:32 AM
If you are using a factory crimp die, then it is the bullet seating die that is turned in too much and attempting to apply a crimp.

November 24, 2008, 04:59 AM
I'm using full length sizing dies. But I didn't see any damage when I resized them.

Yeah, ya mostly likely wouldn't get crushed cases like that with FL dies.

I didn't see any crimp marks, at the casemouth from the seater tho. But that don't mean it weren't the problem.

Another thought, loading flatbased bullets or boattails?
If you trimmed the cases and didn't chamfer the mouth enough, flatbased bullets may catch when seating.

November 24, 2008, 07:04 AM
Your die is likely set way to low. Try doing it this way. Put an empty case in your press and run the ram up. Than screw your die down until it just touches the case. If you do want to crimp do it as a separate step for now. It'll be easier for you.
And yes, darn near every one of us has done the exact same thing at one time or other. That's why you got so many answers so fast. :D

November 24, 2008, 06:00 PM
qajaq59 - At least I don't feel like the only one to ever have done this. :eek: :P Thanks for the instructions. I'll do that.

November 24, 2008, 07:42 PM
I just came in from the shed setting up to load 223 for the first time, I was just messing around, I set a case in the shell plate and gave it a spin around the Honady LNL and as it came out of the seating die it looked exactly like that, back the seating die out all the way and put a factory loaded shell in and run the ram all the way up and VERY SLOWLY screw the die back in just until you get a little resistance then back it out a 1/2 turn or so and start your final seating measurements from there.

I have put off reloading the 223 until I get a Hornady Quick Change powder die as too not screw up the 9mm I load a sh*t load of for USPSA.

PS Denver in the wintertime, the shed can get awfully cold, anyone think I should load as much as possible and bring the LNL in for the winter? The only thing stored out there is the LNL and bullets Montana Gold and CB Bullets 125 grain lead. Powder and primers are in the house.

evan price
November 25, 2008, 12:56 AM
I can't see the photos, but I assume the shoulder is bulged out from too much pressure applied to the case during bullet seating? As others said, too tight on the seater die. Those cases should resize just fine but you will need to check length and trim if too long. Been there, done that.

November 25, 2008, 01:33 AM
Can I resize these cases and reuse them?

Or would I be better off depriming them and recycling them?

I'd rather be safe than sorry but I'd also like to use them if it is safe.


November 25, 2008, 04:45 AM
If it was me I'd recycle them as they may have stress points.

November 25, 2008, 07:49 AM
I did the same thing using a Lee Loader. It happened when I crimped. Turns out out I was tapping way too hard on the crimp and crushing the case down into itself.

I keep them around as a reminder to carefully check and measure each case before and after I ...

November 25, 2008, 09:04 AM
Not so Fast, this is not an easy place to discuss crimping. I will try to explain where the crimp part of the die is located and how to adjust when a crimp is desired, but, I feel why and when is as important as how.

If your cases are not the same length, forget about it, crimping a rifle (bottle neck) case is nothing but the very last step in seating (or after seating) and only requires a touch an the end of the ram travel. Again and Again, when seating, the case is not supported, this creates a problem when the case is forced to squat (bulge) because of excessive crimping. To check the height of cases (tall), make a limbo bar with one end higher than the other, if you are in charge, make it .010 thousands height difference from one end to the other, aids: feeler gage, book of 'sticky notes' (3M), once the bar is set up, mark the area under the bar in numbers from R to L, or L to R, you are in charge. To use the bar pass a case underneath, if the case passes under, slide it across to the low side until the case makes contact, then seperate your cases by height, for the purpose of crimping because crimping starts at contact, if the cases are not the same length, some cases will not be crimped and others will have more, MORE, is the problem, there is no place for the (unsupported) case to go but out in the form of of a wrinkle and or bulge, the case will start to collapse.

Roll Crimp, the bottle neck seater die has a roll crimp at the end of the neck portion of the die, it requires 'no effort' to crimp, it is less than the weight of the handle. The crimp, if used, must be at the very end of the end travel, the only way to obtain this is to adjust the die down until it contacts the crimp portion of the seater die with the ram up (MAXIMUM UP), again if the cases are not the same length, forget about it.

When to adjust: after seating for the desired over all length, raise the seater plug, with the ram up adjust the die down until the roll crimp portion contacts the roll crimp contacts the mouth of the case, that is it, secure the lock nut, NOW, with the ram still up and the cartridge still in the press, lower the seater plug down to the bullet, then tighten the small locking nut, both the seater plug and roll crimp is adjusted to end at the same in travel, if a different length case is to be used, a small adjustment must be made, seating first, then adjust the crimp, then adjust the seater plug down to make contact with the bullet, with practice and a feeler gage, the process is repeatable.

F. Guffey

F. Guffey

November 25, 2008, 02:19 PM
Ok newbie question...

Are crimping dies special dies or do the regular dies crimp as well.

I dont think I have knowingly crimped any of my loads.

November 25, 2008, 03:26 PM
Are crimping dies special dies or do the regular dies crimp as well. Afy, Standard die sets have a crimper in the bullet seating die. Rifle and pistol. RCBS gives you an exact clearance between the shell holder and the seating die to avoid crimping. A thickness of a nickle coin will do. If you want to crimp, you turn the die down some. The there are special taper crimp dies mostly used for autos like 9mm, 40s&w, 45Acp. Roll crimp for revolvers, taper for autos. Roll criimp for bullets with a cannelure. NO cannelure, no roll crimp, maybe a little taper crimp.

November 25, 2008, 03:45 PM
For very accurate target rifles, set your crimper in the bullet seating die to just kiss the LONGEST CASE MOUTH, in the lot of 20 or 50 your loading. This supports the case mouth when the bullet starts to enter. Much needed for flat base bullets, boatails, not so much. The case and bullet are in better alignment, better accuracy.

November 25, 2008, 05:50 PM
Here is a summary of what I found wrong and what I was doing right.

What was wrong was that I had the seating die set too low and not only was the bullet seating but the die was crushing the case at the shoulder. I have backed out the die according to RCBS instructions and have locked the die in place. I also readjusted the seating to be a hair longer than the recommended 2.220". In fact I have the length set at 2.223" which is working fine in my Mini-14.

What I was doing right was 1) verifying the trim the case lengths to identical lengths. All were as close as the Hornady trimmer can make it. 2) I tossed the damaged cases so there is no possibility of early failure in the future. 3) I removed the factory crimp die from the turret.

Thanks for pointing out my errors guys and happy reloading.

November 25, 2008, 06:00 PM
Glad you got it figgered out, but I was sure it was the crimp die. :banghead: I have had that exact thing happen to me crimping, but it appears you werent at that stage when it happened. Guess we can all learn something new.:D

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