Headspace/Chambering woes


PDA






nofishbob
February 18, 2013, 10:12 AM
Hi Guys-

I had a frustrating weekend out in the garage. New rifle, new single stage press, new dies, once fired brass, and no rush to get shooting as I am waiting for a scope to arrive. I am not new to rifle reloading. I am new to bolt action rifle reloading. My plan was to full length re size the cases this time, and then neck size them as many times as feasible.

Brand/caliber info: Lee Classic Cast press, Lee dies, Savage 111 338 Lapua rifle, Norma brass.

I start by installing sizing die as I always do, shellholder hard up against the bottom of the die at the top of the ram stroke. I happily size a case, Trim it to length, and attempt to chamber it in the rifle. The bolt will not close at all. Bummer.

I rechecked the die adjustment with another case in it and the press frame loaded. Still have die/shellholder contact. This case will not chamber either.

Sharpie rub marks show that it is hitting on the shoulder.

I check one more time to make sure the chamber does not have something stuck in it. Nope.

So now in desperation, I take an unfired, factory fresh case and attempt to chamber it. It is better, but the bolt will still not close all the way. What the?

So now the rifle is suspect. I spent hours trying to see into the chamber, with out ever seeing anything that looked out of place.

It turns out that the screws that the factory installed to hold the scope base are a little too long, so that the bolt will operate normally without a case in the chamber, but will stop about 30 degrees from fully closed with a case.

On a side note, the rifle will fire with the bolt in this position, so maybe that is how it was test fired at the factory.

So now the factory case chambers and ejects without drama, back to the dies. I started grinding the bottom of the die to allow more shoulder setback.

I ground a little at a time over and over until the bolt will close with just slight resistance. At this setting, the bolt opens easily, but the case is stuck in the chamber too tightly to eject by hand. A light tap with a mallet frees the cartridge, but I don't like it. It still shows a rub mark at the shoulder.

No Case gages or head space gages are listed for this caliber in Brownell's or Sinclair.

I ground a LOT off of the bottom of the die, maybe as much as 0.100 inches. I really do not want to grind it any more. I worry that it may be more out of spec than just the location of the shoulder, and that I will ruin a lot of costly brass screwing with it.

So after all of this, here are my questions:

1.- Do you think that cases will eject easier after firing?

2.-I am thinking that I should get a new sizing die from another manufacturer and see what happens. If I can find one!


Thanks!

Bob

If you enjoyed reading about "Headspace/Chambering woes" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
RainDodger
February 18, 2013, 10:37 AM
Holy crap. I would never, ever recommend grinding the face of a sizing die. I've been reloading a long time and never run into what you're running into.

I think the first thing I would do is get the rifle to a gunsmith and have him check the chamber dimensions and headspace. I would not shoot the rifle until you verify the rifle is within factory specs.

JohnM
February 18, 2013, 10:56 AM
Yow! You ground a 100 thou off the base of a die? Well, I'd say that die is junked.
You knew the scope base screws were into the chamber and that didn't ring some bells?
Sounds like you need to find a competent gunsmith to get that rifle fixed.

Jesse Heywood
February 18, 2013, 11:07 AM
Since it is a new rifle call the techs at Savage.
www.savagearms.com/customerservice/contact/

Centurian22
February 18, 2013, 11:32 AM
Definitely sounds like a job at least for a bore scope if not a gun smith. I would never modify dies to try and fix a problem with the rifle, especially if you know of an issue (which it sounds like you do). Might be too late now with so much done to the dies but If you're waiting for the scope, why not back out or totally remove the scope ring screw to see if that fixes the issue? If it does fix the issue and if you are so determined to grind something why not grind some off the screw (after putting a nut on it to straighten out the threads when you're done)?

Good luck.

jr_roosa
February 18, 2013, 11:49 AM
No reason the die should be junked, but you now have to use a case gauge like the Hornady one to set it rather than bottoming it out.

Definitely need to send the rifle back to savage first. Then fire some factory ammo to measure how much you need to resize for your chamber and adjust your die accordingly. It probably won't hit the shell holder anymore.

J.

nofishbob
February 18, 2013, 12:24 PM
Thanks for all the replies!

Some clarifications:

1.-The scope base screw was not drilled into the chamber. it was interfering with the bolt lug in the bolt lug recess. Grinding the end of the screw eliminated this problem. It just muddied the water on the resizing issue.

2.- The rifle was test fired by Savage, and correctly chambers and ejects a factory case. I see no reason to suspect at this time that the chamber or headspace is out of spec.

3.- I ground the die rather than return it to Lee because they were cheap, I could not find other dies available, and I needed that darn shellholder! If I returned the Lee dies, another set of dies would not help me as I could not find another shell holder in stock.


I will be out all week, so my plan is to keep searching for another sizing die and see how that works before doing anything else. Once the sizing die is confirmed to either be or not be the problem, I will know whether to send the rifle back or get my head examined.

Bob

david_r
February 18, 2013, 12:42 PM
Bob,
It sounds like you already dealt with the offending screw. It also sounds like you have the extractor removed when testing chambering. Is that correct?

Manson Reamers lists headspace gauges. Sinclair has a case gauge. You should find out where the problem is before you bust out the angle grinder. :eek:

BTW, I'd be :cuss: if I bought a new factory rifle that had a screw intruding where it shouldn't be.

gamestalker
February 18, 2013, 01:00 PM
Stop! Do not proceed to try and correct the problem by bumping the shoulders back. It is not all that unusual to find that a suspect chamber issue to be caused by the WRONG screws having been placed in the wrong areas of the bases. I can't even begin to tell you how many customers and friends I have helped to solve this perplexing problem. Trying to mount their own bases and not realizing that base screws will quite often have specific corresponding lengths, and that when placed in the wrong base screw hole they will make contact with either the case, or the bolt lug.

Grinding the die down, thus bumping shoulders back further than necessary is going to create a very bad situation and could very likely cause excessive head space, resulting in severe case head separations, or worse?

GS

nofishbob
February 18, 2013, 04:44 PM
I just ordered a RCBS full length re sizing die, so by the weekend, I should know if the problem was just a defective Lee die.

I will update this when I know.

Bob

murf
February 18, 2013, 04:51 PM
a wilson case gauge couldn't hurt in this situation, especially with the chambering issues you are having.

murf

ranger335v
February 18, 2013, 04:56 PM
I SUSPECT your Lee sizer was fine ... until you fixed it. :what:

nofishbob
February 18, 2013, 05:33 PM
Murf:
a wilson case gauge couldn't hurt in this situation, especially with the chambering issues you are having.

I wanted to go this route but the Sinclair/Brownell's catalogs I have did not list case gages as being available for this chambering. Not out of stock-not offered. I could not find them online, either, but a reply above states that they are available.

ranger 335v:

I SUSPECT your Lee sizer was fine ... until you fixed it.

What makes you say this? Can you show me where I might have done something besides what I did? Or is this just snark?

murf
February 18, 2013, 06:13 PM
lewilson.com

murf

JohnM
February 18, 2013, 06:21 PM
It turns out that the screws that the factory installed to hold the scope base are a little too long, so that the bolt will operate normally without a case in the chamber, but will stop about 30 degrees from fully closed with a case.

On a side note, the rifle will fire with the bolt in this position, so maybe that is how it was test fired at the factory.

Are you trying to say a factory would pass a rifle that would only fire out of battery?
You knew a screw was interfering with proper operation of the bolt and you still tried to modify a sizing die to be able to get a round in?

nofishbob
February 18, 2013, 06:38 PM
JohnM:
Are you trying to say a factory would pass a rifle that would only fire out of battery?

No. I was relating that the rifle WOULD fire out of battery. It will also fire while in battery. Savage either tested the rifle before installing the scope base, or fired it while it was out of battery after the scope base was installed with the too long screw.

JohnM:
You knew a screw was interfering with proper operation of the bolt and you still tried to modify a sizing die to be able to get a round in

No. Please re-read my posts. I shortened the screw and confirmed proper chambering and extraction of a factory case before going to work on the die.

Bob

fguffey
February 18, 2013, 06:50 PM
Your rifle was not test fired with the scope, mount and rings installed. The mount was installed after test firing,

Grinding the bottom of the die, I have always insisted grinding the bottom of the die and or top of the shell holder is not necessary. Now that you have ‘fixed the die’ there is hope. I am forming cases for a wildcat that requires shortening a 300 Win Mag forming die .156”. All I have to keep up with is the .156” I removed, I can adjust the die off the shell holder .156” and continue using the die for 300 Win Mag.

Back to my favorite forming dies, the 308 W, 7MM08 and the 243 Winchester, all I have to keep up with is the distance I adjust the dies off the shell holder like the 7.7 Japanese from 30/06, I adjust the die off the shell holder .076” or the 8mm57 from 30/06, I adjust the die off the shell holder .121, and yes, I have an 8mm57 forming die.

F. Guffey

JohnM
February 18, 2013, 06:55 PM
I'll be curious to hear what a different die does.
I've been buying dies for about 50 years and never got a bad one.
But, I've been buying guns even longer and just last week bought a brand new one that was bad and is now back at the factory.
There's a first for everything.

243winxb
February 18, 2013, 07:02 PM
Change to Lapua brass? Google brings up problems of soft Norma brass needing dies that size more into the web area. :confused: http://www.sniperforums.com/forum/cartridges-calibers/27703-338-lm-norma-brass-vs-lapua.html From Lee > If a case resized in this manner will not chamber, return the die, 3 fired cases, and one resized case to the factory. We will modify the die to minimum head space for you. SAAMI doesnt have a standard for the 338 Lapua Magnum.(PENDING) I have to wonder what the web should measure on new brass when compared to chambers??

nofishbob
February 18, 2013, 08:05 PM
243winxb:

Thanks for that information.

As far as reading marks on the sharpied test cases, it seemed that all contact with the chamber was happening right at the shoulder-body transition area of the case. There was no apparent contact on the body of the case. That is why I thought that I could solve the problem by pushing the shoulder back....

One of the surprising/unexpected things about this whole situation was how easily the once-fired cases resized. They required less force than .223 (as far as my calibrated right arm could tell).

And remember, after all my grinding, I was shoving them way up in the die!

I am really looking forward to seeing if the RCBS die makes a difference.

Bob

nofishbob
February 18, 2013, 08:38 PM
One more small piece of data:

The re-sized, once fired cases are about 0.004" bigger at the case web area than an unfired case.

The primer pockets are still tight as I test-primed a few and the insertion force seemed normal.

Bob

chris in va
February 18, 2013, 10:14 PM
Well, I guess there's the chance the Lee die was defective. We'll find out when you get your new one.

padd54
February 18, 2013, 11:00 PM
Do you know what rifle the once fired brass came out of? It sounds like your brass came from a chamber with very generous dimensions and the new rifle is perhaps set to near min SAMI specs.

david_r
February 18, 2013, 11:29 PM
bob,
You would think that if you set back the shoulder a tenth of an inch, you would be able to see that by holding your case up against an unsized one. Have you tried to measure up in the die to see where the shoulder starts?

Wouldn't it make more sense to have a gauge you could use to see what is up with what is up? If you get a Wilson case gauge, you will know exactly how far back you are setting your shoulder to get where you need to be. Buying a different problem, I mean, die without identifying that it is defective seems counter intuitive. It seems unlikely that Lee would ream their die a full 0.1 too deep. If you had a gauge, you could say, This die is not setting the shoulder back. At the moment, all you have is, "this isn't working."

Here is a Wilson case gauge from Sinclair, in stock. It will tell you if you're at specification. And if not, how far off. It will also tell you if your neck length is at specification, over or over the trim length. Quite a useful tool.
http://www.sinclairintl.com/reloading-equipment/measuring-tools/case-gauges-headspace-tools/wilson-case-gauge-prod33287.aspx

Here is your GO gauge at Brownells (out of stock of course but listed) http://lmgtfy.com/?q=338+Lapua+headspace+gauge&l=1 or you could just head over to Grizzly Industrial and pick one up. I can't believe that grizzly sells GO gauges but they are made by Pacific Tool.

nofishbob
February 19, 2013, 07:30 AM
Thanks, David. I ordered a case gage from your link just now.

It is strange that my Sinclair catalog from 2012 showed a n/a in the space where the part number for this gage was supposed to go. I thought that they did not make them and looked no further.

I am really looking forward to getting this gage and getting some real information on what is going on!

Thanks again.

Bob

243winxb
February 19, 2013, 07:50 AM
Is the extractor sliding over the case rim correctly on loading.

fguffey
February 19, 2013, 08:59 AM
Yesterday, 09:38 PM #21
nofishbob
Member


Join Date: April 16, 2008
Location: Copper Canyon, TX
Posts: 372 One more small piece of data:

The re-sized, once fired cases are about 0.004" bigger at the case web area than an unfired case.

The primer pockets are still tight as I test-primed a few and the insertion force seemed normal.

Bob
__________________



The re-sized, once fired case is larger?

#17
fguffey
Member


Join Date: August 28, 2008
Posts: 1,404 Your rifle was not test fired with the scope, mount and rings installed. The mount was installed after test firing,

Grinding the bottom of the die, I have always insisted grinding the bottom of the die and or top of the shell holder is not necessary. Now that you have ‘fixed the die’ there is hope. I am forming cases for a wildcat that requires shortening a 300 Win Mag forming die .156”. All I have to keep up with is the .156” I removed, I can adjust the die off the shell holder .156” and continue using the die for 300 Win Mag.

Back to my favorite forming dies, the 308 W, 7MM08 and the 243 Winchester, all I have to keep up with is the distance I adjust the dies off the shell holder like the 7.7 Japanese from 30/06, I adjust the die off the shell holder .076” or the 8mm57 from 30/06, I adjust the die off the shell holder .121, and yes, I have an 8mm57 forming die.

F. Guffey




When sizing a case the case has case support, except, when the die is shortened, when the top of the case is being sized the unsupported bottom of the case is allowed to bulge/squat.

Back to ‘no one measures’ without knowing the diameter of the case above the web before firing measuring the diameter afterwards is of little value. A .004” upset at the web would be all the warning a reloader would get.

F. Guffey

nofishbob
February 22, 2013, 04:41 PM
Well, I got the Wilson case gage this afternoon and have a better idea of what is happening.

First, a factory, unfired, case fits the case gage perfectly, and chambers and extracts from the rifle with no problem. No surprises here, but nice to confirm.

A case over-re-sized with my ground re-sizing die falls way too far into the case gage, by about the same amount I ground off the bottom of the die. I guess that this is no coincidence.

These cases will chamber with some difficulty, and then require a solid rap on the bolt handle to extract. Using finger pressure, they also stick in the gage.

Somehow, the re-sized cases are just the wrong shape.

With the fear that the over re-sized cases were distorted by pushing them too far into the die, or that the expander pulled the neck back, I re-sized a few with the die screwed back as close as I could to the original position, and with the expander removed.

These cases also fit in the case gage, and stuck there when pushed, and would not chamber in the rifle.

It seems reasonable to think that the internal shape of my re-sizing die is wrong. If it is I sure learned a lesson about needing case gages.

I expect to receive another re-sizer Monday, but it may not be until Friday that I can test it.

An interesting thing I learned with the case gage is that the once-fired brass I have been using is darn close to fitting in the gage without sizing. It looks like about 0.002" average beyond max. With no experience I thought that they would be worse.

Bob

savanahsdad
February 22, 2013, 05:50 PM
glade too see your getting the whole sizeing thing down, but FYI on the scope base screws , scope ring bases for Savage's come with longer screws for the rear base and shorter screws for the front , so no grinding needed just put them in the right holes, , :)

nofishbob
February 22, 2013, 06:02 PM
savanahsdad-

These were installed by Savage. The required grinding was about 0.010".

I won't give them the benefit of the doubt again, it will be the first thing I check.

Bob

savanahsdad
February 22, 2013, 06:08 PM
I helped out in a sports shop years back , and the gunsmith there did the same thing more than time or two , that's where I learned that from ,

nofishbob
February 22, 2013, 08:08 PM
Well that was easy.

I unexpectedly received the new RCBS sizing die a little while ago. So much for USPS tracking info.

Cleaned the die, installed it in the press, ran a lubed case into it. Now to test it!

Case gage: Perfect.

Rifle: Perfect.

No further drama, my problem was just an out of spec sizing die. I have had great luck with Lee dies and accessories in the past, and I will still buy from them, with just a little less enthusiasm.

Thanks to all who helped me with this problem! Now I can try to get back to where I thought I was last week!

Bob

david_r
February 23, 2013, 12:06 AM
Glad to hear you got it sorted out. There is a take away from this somewhere about finding where the cases are dragging. You had mentioned that it appeared it was the shoulder but clearly that isn't the case. So I wonder where it might be and how best to find it?

BTW, I would have no reservations about sending that die back to Lee. Even if you hadn't ground on it, they couldn't have put back the metal wherever they had removed too much.

dmazur
February 23, 2013, 09:42 AM
...It seems reasonable to think that the internal shape of my re-sizing die is wrong. If it is I sure learned a lesson about needing case gages.

Caution: Many, if not most, case gauges are cut to measure head to shoulder datum dimension only, not diameters. In fact, the LE Wilson instructions note that they use oversized reamers on purpose, so that there is no interference with measuring that dimension.

It is possible to get a "reamer-cut" case gauge, made to imitate a rifle's chamber.

But most case gauges aren't cut the same as a chamber, so use them for their intended purpose and nothing more... :)

nofishbob
February 23, 2013, 10:14 AM
Thanks dmazur-

What you say is certainly correct in this case-the SHAPE of the re-sized case was not verified by the case gage.

All the gage told me was whether or not the case head to shoulder distance was correct or not.

On my over re-sized cases this dimension was way under spec, yet the case still would not chamber correctly.

If I had to guess, I would say that the radius of the shoulder to case body transition is too large on the Lee die. The factory and RCBS-sized cases have a much more sharply defined transition than the Lee re-sized cases.

Oh well- I learned a lot and only ruined about 12 cases in this exercise.

Bob

jerkface11
February 23, 2013, 11:05 AM
A Lee die made wrong? Wow never saw that one coming. If you're willing to pay shipping and deal with their rude customer service they'll fix it for you.

JohnM
February 23, 2013, 11:09 AM
Lee has rude customer service?
I haven't had need to call them very often, but on the rare occasions I have, they've been excellent.

jerkface11
February 23, 2013, 11:21 AM
When the carbide shattered in my sizing die on the first use they acted like I was lying about it and wanted me to pay shipping to get it repaired.

Centurian22
February 23, 2013, 01:04 PM
I second JohnM, I have lots of Lee Equipment and have only needed to call them a couple of times but they have been absolutely great. Guess you just caught someone on a bad day or something.

david_r
February 23, 2013, 07:47 PM
Not sure those cases are ruined just yet. A little cream of wheat, a little fast powder and a little reading and you should be able to fire form them back to your chamber.

If you enjoyed reading about "Headspace/Chambering woes" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!