help, too much pressure!


December 6, 2009, 12:07 AM
I am a beginner in terms of reloading experience. I handload for the .222rem using H335. I have tried loads from 21grains up to 23.5grains of powder using 50gr bullets. I have been seeing flattened primers and mild cratering around the firing pin indent no matter what load I have used. I have been using an OAL of 2.125" and a case length of about 1.69" (Lee Trimmers aren't exactly precise)
I have not seen any soot around the primer pocket and my cases aren't bulging or showing any signs of expansion around the case head. Should I be seating my bullets deeper since I am not using max loads? Should I trim my cases more? I have noticed that factory .222 ammo has a case length of 1.68" Going to try shooting factory ammo again to see if I notice any cratering in the primers. Any suggestions? My next step is to try some BLC(2), but I just developed a really accurate load for my gun and would rather resolve the issue by not changing powders.


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fireman 9731
December 6, 2009, 01:17 AM
What brand of primers are you using? Soft Winchesters by any chance?

December 6, 2009, 01:36 AM
Welcome to THR !!

Primers can be a source of over-pressure signs, but they are not the only provider of over-pressure signals, nor are they even one of the better signals. When you see flattened or cratered primers it is a sign, but it is a sign to look for more definitive signs and maybe do some testing.

As far a the primers themselves, what brand are you using? Some brands are just a hair thinner and crater easier than others. You might bum 5 of a different brand from a reloading buddy and try them under the same loads.

Hodgdon gives 23.6gr of H335 as max for 50gr bullets, so your powder loading looks OK.

On case length you'll want to be at the dimension mentioned in your RLM +000"/-.010". In other words, after sizing and trimming the case should be no longer than the dimension shown in the book, and possibly shorter.

As for OAL, although your number looks good the fear is that the bullet might be engaging the rifling on being chambered. So you might try 3 rounds at 21gr with the bullets seated .010" deeper (2.115"), and see if the primers look the same. This just as a precaution. Your OAL is already .005" under.

IMHO you've taken so many precautions already that all will come to naught. That is, you'll simply prove to yourself that you have a run of soft primers. But that's how we play it safe. And that's how we learn.

Hope this helps!

December 6, 2009, 03:01 AM
What kind of rifle are you shooting? Any chance there could be oil in the chamber? Sometimes guys shooting ARs get a little too happy with the CLP.

The primer signs look like high pressure, but it's really caused by the case thrusting back against the bolt face because it can't get a proper grip on the chamber due to the oil.

Can happen on any type of action, it's just more common with semi-autos, cuz people so often run them too wet. Always make sure your chamber is dry, dry, dry, before you shoot.

The ska band Selecter wrote a song about it in 1980:

Ol` Joe
December 6, 2009, 03:26 PM
What bullet are you useing?
Speer in their #13 recommend 24.0 gr of H335 as max, Hodgdon uses a Hornady bullet and stops at 23.6gr, but Hornady themself load H335 up to 25.4gr in their #7 manual. Lyman show a Sierra Blitz with 25.5gr.

This is a 1.5gr variation in max or over 5% of the 25.5 max charge. Bullets and seating can make a difference.
I doubt though the load is as hot as it appears, and think you have more of a sizing problem then pressure. If the shoulder of the cartridge is set back too much the striker will drive the case foreward when it hits and the primer will back out from ignition. The case then moves back to bolt face under pressure from the powder charge and reseats the primer. The face of the primer will flatten some before it is fully seated and can be mistaken for a pressure sign. The lower the pressures produced the more flattening that seems to occure. Cratering can be a overly large fireing pin hole or a burr on the pin itself. Do ejector marks show? Is extraction normal? Have you tried measuring caseheads? (a good estimator but don`t take the reading as cut-in-stone proof of safe or normal pressures.)
There have been numerous posts on the proper way to set your die to resize your brass, a quick search should show some. Try

December 6, 2009, 07:36 PM
Thanks for the response. I am using CCI small rifle primers. My rifle is a Savage 340d, so there may be some oil in the chamber as I have to use a large side mount for the optic and its just a weird rifle so it is kinda hard to clean and oil, well more so than a normal rifle. Some of the cases have extractor marks, but the extractor kinda sucks, it is shaped like the pointed end of a nail, I thought about replacing the bolt head with one from a different year model 340. I am going to get a RCBS precision micrometer to determine where I should seat my bullets in reference to the rifling, again thanks.

December 7, 2009, 03:24 AM
The current data on the Hodgdon site lists the Max charge of H335 with a 50gr Hornady SP bullet at 23.6gr. They used an COAL of 2.130" and report pressures of 45,700 CUP. Your charge and OAL are right at the Hodgdon numbers so IMO if you are correctly weighing your charges and the only signs of pressure you are seeing are the primers I would say you are not going over the pressure limits and will be fine with that load. (especially if it's an accurate load lol) The current Lyman #49 manual lists a Max charge of 25.5gr so 23.5gr doesn't worry me at all.

December 7, 2009, 06:51 AM
Just as a side thought, have you verified that your scale is accurate?

December 7, 2009, 10:25 AM
I don't know how many miles you have on your .222 not .223 Savage 340D rifle. It may be time to look closely at the firing pin and see if there is still a good fit with the bolt. On the other hand, as was pointed out you may just have some soft primer cups. Keeping oil out of the chamber is a good idea. The brass needs to grip the chamber walls during peak pressure, to prevent excessive bolt face load.

.222 comm'l ammo may be hard to come by. If you have any, you might want to shoot a few rounds and decide if the cratering is still there.

December 7, 2009, 11:11 AM
Oil is the chamber they say that is like firing a proof round. The British use to use oil in the chamber is place of a proof round to test the gun for safety,


December 7, 2009, 09:28 PM
actually, I run a Gun Store on a military base so I can order all the commercial .222 ammo I like, thanks though counterclockwise. I just got some new remington brass and gonna test some of your theories/suggestions (all) I may try to sell the rifle and get a CZ 527 in .222 while I still can, I have a TC Encore, so that is always an option, I just love bolt guns though.

December 7, 2009, 09:41 PM
one other thing, I know some people are having difficulty finding ammo. I work in a store that needs help with sales to keep going. It is located on Ft Drum and NY really isnt a big state for firearm related sales. I dont want to see it get closed, especially because some of my friends will be pissed when they get back from Dirka-Dirkastan. If any one needs ammo, send a request and I will put it on at buy now for the store sell price (no profit for me) I will also take Paypal directly to me, rather than making people try and get to gunbroker in time. Buyer will have to pay shipping. Some examples of our prices are $18.99 Winchester FMJ 230gr .45acp 50rds, Win Super X silver tip $19.99 (not ballistic tip supreme) Rem UMC 9mm FMJ 15.99 50rds. Just ask if you want a price on something.

Doug b
December 7, 2009, 10:02 PM
Lopezni,been following this thread from day one but been hesitant to post advice that is outside the box.If you want to stay with this rifle/load combination, before giving up I would say try starting over at suggested start and use a mag primer.Been my experiance H335 likes it.

December 8, 2009, 12:20 AM
I don't mind any opinion. I would have to look into that more, I am not sure what magnum primers would do to affect pressure levels. It is a pretty old gun I'm talking about here. The action uses one locking lug and the bolt handle cuts through the side of the receiver for added strength. Still I appreciate any response/suggestion.

Doug b
December 8, 2009, 12:49 AM
My personal feeling on this ball powder/mag primer issue in a small rifle in particular is,how much more pazazz can they put in such a small pellet.But with one lug you are right to be leary.I load .22 hornet with ball powder and a mag prime but it's in a 77/22.It touches bullet holes at 75 yrds.

December 8, 2009, 11:02 AM
I would be cautious and not exceed the starting load for any powder that you use. The Savage is fine with factory loads but the 222 is a under 50,000 psi saami spec round. The Savage action does not have the strength of a M700 Rem. Common sense dictates that you respect the limits of the Savage. I'm aware that Savage did chamber the 223 in this rifle and it has a saami spec of 55,000 psi.
Follow the proper cleaning regimen and make sure your chamber is devoid of oil.
If you want to push the envelope when reloading, then perhaps you should get another rifle, as you mentioned.


December 8, 2009, 06:53 PM
actually, I made sure the chamber was dry and I noticed a big difference. The only problem I saw was in a few rounds the primer back out a little, but there was still hardly any cratering and no flattening of the primer. I chalk the primer backing out to either a primer pocket that was too big and/or poor ram priming technique. I got new brass and I bought some BLC(2) which generates less pressure. I just want to stay under 1MOA, I dont expect to make this rifle a bench rest queen, I just want to make sure I can get good accuracy around 200yds when I am pelt hunting.

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