RCBS DeCap Die Constantly Breaking Tip on Military .223


August 10, 2010, 10:09 AM
.223 is a new caliber for me to reload and I got a bunch of brass from the cops' practice range. It has crimped primer pockets and I soon broke the decap pin on my lee die set and didn't have another. I decided to buy a supposedly heavy duty decap die from RCBS since these suckers were so hard to get out. I have been breaking it even more! I bet I can't get through 5 cases without smashing the tip on the thing.

Am I missing something here? How do you guys decap military brass???


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August 10, 2010, 10:31 AM
I don't reload, but personally, I wouldn't reload someone else's rounds. (I feel like a parent telling their kid not to put something in their mouth....) But you don't know where they've been or how many times they have been fired. Use your own fired brass or buy new IMO...

I know that doesn't really help you or answer your question...but I figured I would chime in anyways. I have also heard reloaders comment about how they do not use 'random' brass.

August 10, 2010, 10:42 AM
If the primer is still crimped, it's once fired brass. I know of no department that uses reloaded ammo for quals, especially rifhe rounds.

RCBS has two sizes of depriming pins. Make sure you have the correct one. Also make sure the case is centered in the case holder. It may take centering it by hand.

Lastly, I've found some cases have the primer hole off center a bit causing these problems. It could be a Berdan case. Not that common but they are out there. Try shining a light inside the case and checking the primer hole.

You might want to use a dedicated depriming die. they fit all calibers and are cheap.

August 10, 2010, 11:05 AM
JoeMal, Thanks for the input. Yes, since it was police I knew it was once fired brass.

rscalzo, I will look into the pin size. Maybe that's it. It is a dedicated depriming die. It's made by RCBS. They only have two sizes and this is the correct one for doing .223. Maybe the replacement pins I bought are wrong though. The cases are def boxer primed.

Thanks guys.

August 10, 2010, 11:22 AM
There's something wrong somewhere... I've de-primed thousands of military primers and I've never broken a pin. Sounds like something is out of alignment somewhere.

August 10, 2010, 11:59 AM
My solution: Buy the 50 pack of decapping replacement pins from RCBS! I break one every couple of hundred as some of the crimps are Really Crimped on there. You could have also bent the part that holds the decapping pin. Do check the alignment to see if the shaft is EXACTLY in the middle. Sometimes I have had to slightly adjust the centering. I take the die out, loosen the nut, and try to get it as centered as possible and WATCH OUT for berdan primers. If you see two flash holes, they are berdan while boxer primers only have a single larger hole in the center.

I buy all kinds of range brass from other people, just inspect it and junk anything questionable. Save the brass that has throat or shoulder issues to convert to 7.62x25 too!

Good Luck!


August 10, 2010, 12:24 PM
Thanks everyone.

Ian Sean
August 10, 2010, 01:03 PM
For all my military brass I like the Lee depriming die. Mine came with spare pins, but I have yet to break the original.

I have de-capped thousands, .223 and .308 crimped have been no problem, but I had a batch of PS headstamp .30-06 that was a bear to remove the primers from. I swore that pin would break considering how much force I was using but it never did.

My technique is to go easy on the handle at first, check alignment when contact is made and slowly increase force until the primer pops out.

August 10, 2010, 01:32 PM
You need to center the de-capping pin in the flash hole when setting up the die the first time.

To do so, loosen both the die and stem lock-nuts.
Then fish around with the loose stem until you find the flash hole and go ahead and de-prime the case.

Now, with the ram still up, and the pin still in the flash hole, wiggle the die and stem around to center the thread slop and tighten all the lock-nuts.

That centers the threaads in the press and die and will insure the pin is not hitting off-center and breaking on the case head.

I have the same pin in my .223 dies I bought in 1970 something.
They have de-primed untold thousands of .223, 308, and 30-06 GI cases and so far, I have never broken a pin on crimped GI primers.

BTW: You might want to take the stem out of the die and check to make sure it didn't get bent while breaking those pins.


August 10, 2010, 03:03 PM
I too have found the Lee Universal Decapper die to be virtually indestructable. And Lee's method of holding the decap stem pretty well insures the rod will be concentric with the die body.

August 10, 2010, 06:40 PM
I'm not plugging 'the Blue' without good reason here - I use several brands of dies - Lee, RCBS, Pacific/Hornady, and, Dillon. I have a set of Dillon .223 dies for my volume reloader.

The Dillon die sets have a one piece expander + pin. It seems to be a little stronger being that it is one piece. I found this out beause I'd come into a batch of pre-primed Remington brass, and needed to resize it and not deprime it. The only way to do this according to Dillon, was to grind the pin off the end of the stem, sacrificing the decapping portion of it. Luckily, they include an extra decapping/expanding ball in their sets. I don't know if it would help, but at some point it may be more cost effective to replace the dies, versus replacing the pins every 10-20 rounds or so, especially if you have several thousand cases to process. Hope it helps.


August 10, 2010, 07:22 PM
I hate to mention it, but do you look inside the cases first with a flashlight to make sure they're not Berdan primed? It amazes me how many Berdan primed cases I find.

August 10, 2010, 07:54 PM
Good case lube helps with the feel on .223.

I let a nephew use my press - not easy on decapping pins. Kind of heavy handed.

Some .223 boxer (german) has flash holes that are too small and some have flash holes way off center. Fiocchi maybe on the off center ones.

Set the decapping pin so it is just deep enough to decap consistently.

Jesse Heywood
August 10, 2010, 08:56 PM
RCBS will send you replacement pins for free if you contact their customer service. But....

I too have found the Lee Universal Decapper die to be virtually indestructable. And Lee's method of holding the decap stem pretty well insures the rod will be concentric with the die body.

I gave up on the RCBS decapper and bought the Lee. Haven't broken a pin since. It will even punch out a berdan primer if you can pull the handle hard enough!

August 10, 2010, 11:01 PM
I gotta generally agree with Jesse and Ranger335 but have no experience with the die. I have found that the Lee military decapping rod that fits down inside the case has been batting 1000. Used one for years on military crimped primers and have yet to break one. It's simple to use and you can feel when the pin drops into the flash hole. Just my .02.

August 11, 2010, 12:05 AM
Are you using the RCBS Universal Depriming die? They make two different sizes, and I have probably deprimed 3-4K of 223 and 308 brass without breaking a pin. I did break one early on when I first got the dies, but after resetting the pin and making sure it was exactly centered, it's been great.

With this die you will deprime separately, not in the sizing die. Then swage the primer pocket and you're ready to go.

August 11, 2010, 01:13 PM
My RCBS 223 decapping pin cup and/or shaft was manufactured wrong. I spotted this by removing the whole shaft assembly out of the die body and rolling it on a table top. The wobbling decapping pin then stood out like a sore thumb. RCBS gladly sent me an entire replacement shaft and several replacement pins.

No issues since then. RCBS CS was very eager to help correct the situation.

August 11, 2010, 01:22 PM
I think you guys have hit the nail on the head with the flash holes being off centered. Most of the cases are Fiocchi and I think I must have smashed the pin into the head of the case a couple times, bending the rod. It continued to break pins because the rod is off center now. I will be calling RCBS after I am done typing this. (yea it's the RCBS dedicated de-priming die for that caliber range0

I think part of my problem was that I was trying to de-prime by running cases through a case feeder into a Hornady LNL with the RCBS de-priming die in station 1. I had 1000's to do and figured I would run through all of them as fast as I could pull the handle having the press deposit the decapped cases into a bucket. There was no finding the flash hole about it. Just started punching them out. I am finding that rifle cartridge reloading is a lot different than pistol!

I think I will give it a whirl on the single stage now and see what kind of luck I have after I get the parts in the mail for my broken dies.

Thanks to everyone for all your help.

August 11, 2010, 01:52 PM
Check those flash holes if primmer is red in color, may need a smaller diameter pin. Some foreign military boxer primed ammo has a very small hole and broken or stuck depriming pins are the norm. Don't ask how I KNOW.

Carl N. Brown
August 11, 2010, 03:30 PM
I use the manual Lee Loader decapping pin and base with a mallet. It is slow, but even if the hole is made off-center, you find it by feel and can decap even very heavily crimped primers. Without risking a "normal" decapping pin made for a press or automated loader.

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