7.62x39 steel case and die life?


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Roodles
June 23, 2011, 02:24 PM
I have stack loads of steel 7.62x39 cases here which I want to reload ONCE and then chuck. I have seen people mention that the steel will wear out the dies. I'm sure I'm not the first person to have attempted this, so can anyone actually tell me, how quickly will the dies wear out?

The main reason is cost, 7.62x39 brass is 33/100 here (I think that's about $53 at the moment).

Anyone got actual documented information on this?

Thanks

Roodles

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parker51
June 23, 2011, 03:01 PM
Not saying I would do this, but if I just couldn't get any brass cases and had to use steel I would probably use carbide dies like the ones at the following link with a good lube:

http://compare.ebay.com/like/160600468782?var=lv&ltyp=AllFixedPriceItemTypes&var=sbar&_lwgsi=y

(no connection with the seller of these dies, but only carbide I could find with a quick Google search).

Our biggest problem is that most of these are Berdan primed and it is virtually impossible to find any Berdan primers in the United States.

I did find a few postings where folks have reloaded steel cases and some claimed to have problems that you might want to research (rusting).

rcmodel
June 23, 2011, 03:06 PM
+1

Almost without exception, steel case Russian ammo is Berdan primed.
And you can't get new Berdan primers here anyway.
Maybe you can in the U.K.?

The other thing is, there are about a gazillion different Berdan primer sizes, so you have to figure out what exact size to look for.

It is very labor intensive to deprime them, as the sizing die can't do it.
Here is a depriming tool that punctures and pry's them out.
http://www.midwayusa.com/viewproduct/?productnumber=245983
RCBS does not recommend using this with crimped-in primers (military crimp).


Another way is to make a slip-fit steel punch that fits the case neck.
Then fill the case with water.
Set it on a steel plate with a primer clearance hole in it.
And smack the rod with a hammer.
Hydraulic pressure will pop the primer out.

I'd sell them to the scrap yard and get some Boxer primed brass.

rc

Roodles
June 23, 2011, 03:15 PM
Thanks for the replies.

I've bought 1500 Berdan primers, but as I understand it, once they are gone that's it. I de-prime with a water press (you know, where you fill the case with water and hit the mandrel with a hammer) and it is slow and messy... But the savings are IMO worth it.

I have lee dies, and just wondered if anyone knew how many rounds it would be before the die was 'worn out'?

Thanks again

Roodles

Walkalong
June 23, 2011, 03:27 PM
Since the dies are protected with lube between them and the cases, I suspect they would last a great long time, not to mention that the cases are very mild steel........

rcmodel
June 23, 2011, 03:33 PM
+1

I can't imagine loading enough steel case ammo for the mild steel cases with case lube on them would wear out a hardennded steel sizing die.

I suppose the Russian ammo factorys wear out case forming dies quite often.
But not a hobby reloader.

rc

Roodles
June 23, 2011, 04:40 PM
Thanks guys.

I'll load up the 1,500 then, and then once the primers have run out I will go over to brass.

Roodles

kingmt
June 23, 2011, 05:44 PM
I've never messed with the Berdan primed cases but have done a few thousand boxer primed Tula & Wolf in .223. My FL die shows no ware but the decaping rod in my NS die is worn. i have loaded them enough to pay for the dies. I think the reason the NS die was worn so fast was I would FL size without the mandrel because it was easy to stick a case with it in then expand the neck with the NS die. I tumbled them with wax polish & have no problem with rust. I still use them & will until they ware out or get lost but I wont FL any more. For a auto if it's all you can get the will pay for there self but Is it worth all the trouble to you. Since you already have the primers you should give it a try.

I would also suggest a bore brush to clean the inside of the neck before sizing. I found this to be the reason I had problems. If I hadn't accumulated a fraction of a ton of .223 brass for little & no cost I my still pick up the steel but with my stock of brass now I don't pick up steel anymore.

ranger335v
June 23, 2011, 06:32 PM
"so can anyone actually tell me, how quickly will the dies wear out?"

No. We can't even tell you how quickly brass cases will "wear out" a sizer and we have lots of experience with that. Either way, the dies will last MUCH longer than you may assume and they aren't terribly costly to replace when they do get worn. I've been reloading since '65 and have never even heard of a worn out die. Yet.

Seedtick
June 23, 2011, 11:02 PM
Not saying I would do this, but if I just couldn't get any brass cases and had to use steel I would probably use carbide dies like the ones at the following link with a good lube:

http://compare.ebay.com/like/160600468782?var=lv&ltyp=AllFixedPriceItemTypes&var=sbar&_lwgsi=y

(no connection with the seller of these dies, but only carbide I could find with a quick Google search).

Our biggest problem is that most of these are Berdan primed and it is virtually impossible to find any Berdan primers in the United States.

I did find a few postings where folks have reloaded steel cases and some claimed to have problems that you might want to research (rusting).

CARBIDE??

It does say carbide but something smells a little fishy to me. :scrutiny: I believe Dillon makes bottle-neck rifle carbide sizing dies in a couple of calibers but you ain't gonna get em for no $50.

Here is Lee's description of their SKU 90565 dies. (http://leeprecision.com/xcart/PACESETTER-DIES-7.62-X-39-Russian.html)

Seedtick

:)

parker51, I mean no disrespect toward you in any way whatsoever. Good catch!

:)

SlamFire1
June 24, 2011, 04:51 PM
Please tell us what happens. I don't know anyone reloading steel cases and I am curious to know what steel cases do to standard sizing dies.

I wonder how many times steel cases can be reloaded?

tango2echo
June 25, 2011, 12:24 AM
I played around with reloading some steel case X39 a few years ago just for fun. I could get 1-2 reloads from a case before the neck split, and never more than three. With lube they didn't "feel" any different on the press than brass. The steel cases do not strech much at all, if any, compared to brass. I used standard Lee dies with no issues, and a homemade "water press" with a piece of .311 steel rod. It was a PITA, but shows that its posssible. The loads were very accurate.

T2E

Roodles
July 1, 2011, 07:06 AM
I'll load them up and let you know how it goes. I'm only going to reload the cases once, as I have hundreds of them.

The load will be a cast 155 grain bullet, and a charge of approx 17gr of IMR-4227.

Roodles

frankge
July 1, 2011, 08:17 AM
why not use the yugo brass case surplus?

xsquidgator
July 1, 2011, 08:34 AM
It is also possible, maybe not a good idea, but possible, to convert berdan-primed cases to boxer. I got a few boxes of some from a guy who had a machine shop and worked it out- remove the berdan primer, use an end mill to cut out the anvil in the case, counter bore to the correct pocket depth, and then drill a small flash hole in the middle. I haven't used the cases yet. Provided the primer pocket diameter is correct to accept a boxer primer, it should work.

If one had the tooling for it, it should be possible to do this on a simple drill press or even with a hand drill. Lots of work, but on the other hand, there are a great many berdan-primed steel and brass cases out there that no one wants.

The other clever idea I heard from someone is to convert brass blank cases into loadable brass by trimming the ends to the correct length. I don't know if the brass cases of blanks are up to the same wall thickness and strength of cartridge cases, though. I also have a bag of these converted blank things I got from a different guy, but haven't been desperate enough to load just yet. It may seem kind of silly, but if it works, well, loaded blank 308 or 7.62x39. or whatever, ammo is only a few pennies per round, about 90% less expensive than buying brass for reloading.

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