Confessions of a N00b


November 23, 2013, 12:45 AM
I have started with my little reloading adventure, and everything has been going well until I started priming cases tonight. Had two problems, and now I'm going to presume on the kindness of you THR reloading ninjas to help me out.

Up front, I'm using the Lee Hand Priming tool.

1) I'm positive all the primers were anvil up in the tray, but it appears one flipped as it moved to the loading position and I didn't catch it. So, now I have one case with a backwards primer. I hate to sacrifice the case... Is the right step to just carefully decap the case again?

2) More disturbingly, I had one primer go into a case that must've been crimped and it bound up about halfway in. The problem is that I can't get the case out of the shellholder because the primer protrudes too far down to allow clearance. I emptied the tray (to avoid compressing two primers) and decided to try some slow, steady pressure to see if it would seat. It did, sorta. But now it's mangled/bent and still stuck in the shellholder. Any thoughts?

FWIW, I definitely have found I'm not really good at recognizing crimped brass and, upon seeing it, doing enough to remove the crimp. I had a half-dozen cases that were immediately clear they weren't going to accept a primer. I've set them aside to go back and will go back and try to trim the crimp again.

I don't have a swage at this point, so any tips on improving how I remove the crimp would also be helpful.

No doubt there will be more posts to come. In the meantime, thanks for all you do to help those of us learning.

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November 23, 2013, 01:47 AM
Wow, I have not encountered this yet as I haven't worked with any crimped brass but I do use the lee ergo hand primer. First make sure you have eye protection and possibly ear protection as well. How much force have you tried, and how close is the primer to being in far enough to clear the shell holder? My first thought (and as I said I have no experience with this) is to just try squeezing harder, maybe try a squirt of penetrating oil to see if it will lube the pocket and help get it in since it won't be advisable to try and fire after being crushed and deformed anyways.

Good luck and hopefully someone else has better tips.

November 23, 2013, 01:53 AM
1) upside down primer... Slowly with safety glasses de cap have done this many times no problem.
2) jammed primer .. If it is sideways use a dental type pick. Other option is extent your decapping rod down as far as it will go put the stuck case and shell holder atop your ram and again safety glasses slowly run the ram up insure the pin has hit the flash hole and no more primer.
3) I do not reccomend this but I have done it until I got the proper tools.. Removing the crimp with a drill bit BY HAND no drill. But really set those aside until you get a swagger.
Also one commercial headstamp per batch take your time and check inspect again and again
This is a really nice hobby until things go bad if you do your due dillegents like you are now asking tons of questions things wont go bad.
Welcome to reloading.

November 23, 2013, 02:22 AM
Like said above, just slowly decap the upside down primer. (eyes and ears are a good idea)

The stuck primer, I agree just squeeze the seating tool until the primer is flat enough to clear the shell holder. (again, eyes and ears)

Until you buy a better tool you can easily remove the occasional crimped primer pocket using a simple and inexpensive chamfer & deburring tool. A few twists in the pocket and you're done.
That one is on sale and in stock but you probably already have one, that's why I mentioned this stop-gap method.

November 23, 2013, 07:33 AM
Yes, you can safely and easily decap on the press. It takes quite a bit of impact to set off a primer and you are not impacting the primer when you recap--consider the difference between the pressure you apply to remove the primer and the impact of a firing pin (which can drive a pencil into your ceiling).
Now, you know to look for crimped primers.
I have no idea why you need a more expensive tool than you chamfer tool for removing the swage in a primer pocket. The load and the gun don't know anything about the slight crimp up around the case head. You can buy easier and nicer tools, but removing the crimp is removing the crimp.

November 23, 2013, 08:33 AM
Some people don't like to remove brass from the primer pocket, so they reform the primer pocket by using a swage.

I swage with the dillon 600 super swage.

November 23, 2013, 08:59 AM
They also make a go/no go gauge for the primer pocket.

Quick way of telling you if it's good, to tight, or to loose.

November 23, 2013, 09:28 AM
2: Stuck primer. Sometimes they can go in sideways and get stuck. Can't get them out of the shell holder. Ya, been there many times. I just keep putting on pressure till it smashes the primer enough to get it out. Then you have to decap it. Another option is a punch small enough to go down the throat of the brass and push it out. I made a punch especially for this. Also got shell holders with a grove the width of the primer in them, instead of flat bottomed ones. that is a big help when you have a problem. Occasionally you may find primers that are popped a bit after firing. My father's old 30-30 always popped the primer a bit. They won't fit into flat bottomed shell holders, but will go into the ones with grooves. When I first started loading all the shell holders had the flat bottom. Now most of them have the grove in them. I have replaced all the old flat bottomed ones.

You would think that you may set one off doing this crap, but in over 50 years of reloading, I have never had one pop working with them. It seems to take a good impact to make them go bang. Still the possibility is there and it is advisable to always wear protection, for eyes especially.

November 23, 2013, 09:38 AM
1. Just decap it, or tap it out carefully ( wearing safety glasses. My home made base ( surrounds the primer in case it goes off.

2. Sometimes I will jam a case in the shell holder either because it flipped sideways or because the crimp wasn't removed completely, jamming the case up in my hand primer. I then have to crush the primer ( in the pocket far enough to get the case out, and then remove the mangled primer. I have never had one go off yet, but wear safety glasses.

...........................No crimp........................................... ring crimp........................................ stab crimp.

There are lots of ways to remove the crimp, or swage the crimp, some pricey and some cheap.

November 23, 2013, 10:05 AM
Might I suggest for safety, Holding it around the corner of a wall or some solid object, and perhaps wearing a thick leather glove when you try to seat it further. Good luck.

November 23, 2013, 10:18 AM
For the stuck to the shellholder one, I just push a pin down into the case, through the flash hole and wiggle it a bit. I use a key like the ones youwould use to unlock INTERIOR doors in your house. I also use a little technique to keep it from happening: squeeze the handle slowly until the primer comes up just under the shellholder. Peek in and make sure it's right side up before you attach the case and ram it home. Works every time. (Well, don't actually ram it)

November 23, 2013, 02:15 PM
Hi, everyone... And thank you so much for the replies. I was pretty sure I knew what to do, but wanted to be safe and check with you illuminated ones before I did something stupid.

re: the upside-down primer: I'm pretty mad about it. I was consistently checking every one as it was staged above the ram... But, they were always staging anvil up, and I couldn't see a mechanical gap where they could get flipped. Lo, and behold, I guess they can. Won't make that mistake again.

re: the smashed primer and crimper primer issue: Special thanks to Walkalong for the image. I do have a chamfer/deburr tool (which I've been using on the case necks after resizing) and I was giving a couple turns in the primer pocket where I thought I saw a crimp.

The problem is that the chamfer/deburr tool is one area where I skimped a little... I wound up getting the Lee tool and, while it works, it's not the most consistent cutter. I think I was too scared re: taking out too much metal and wasn't applying enough turns and/or pressure. This morning, I managed to work the additional cases I had that I couldn't seat a primer in, and got them all to work.

I did smash another primer, but... well, what's life without a little trial?

So, I will upgrade to a better chamfer/deburr tool soon and that will help.

I appreciate everyone's replies. Very helpful. And, I'm sure I'll need that help again soon. :)

November 24, 2013, 04:31 AM
For an upgrade to the Lee I highly recomend this tool:

It's been very useful and comfortable though I have not done high volume reloading.

November 24, 2013, 02:26 PM
On my crimped brass I use a #2 phillips bit in my drill. I was using my Lee chamfer but was having the same problems you are.

November 24, 2013, 07:52 PM
for the stuck primer, the answer is SIMPLE! Disassemble the primer tool as if you were changing the tray. I've had to do that a couple ties, and it is easier and safer than smashing the primer til flush.

November 26, 2013, 03:29 PM
Hey all... Just an update with thanks.

Today, I went to the range and fired the first 15 of my own handloads... Everything functioned properly, and all my limbs and important parts are still attached. Looking at the cases, I don't think there are any signs of excessive pressure - especially given that I decided to load the cases that had the loosest primer pockets during priming. I figured that if something was going to go wrong, that would be the best way to surface the issue.

Shooting 24.8gr (+/-.1gr) of H335 under 55gr FMJBT in a 16" mid-heavy stainless AR15. I'm using the Lee dippers (1.6cc) to dispense the powder.

A couple immediate follow-up questions:

1) What do you all do to manage static when no using a powder throw to dispense powder? I tried wiping the surface of the container that was going to hold powder lightly with a dryer sheet (wild guess), but there was still cling-age. Of course, that may just be the price of cold weather days with hot air heat in New England.

2) When seating bullets, how often do you all measure COAL? I'm loading plinking rounds right now, mainly, with a Lee seater die. So, I'm not worried about dead-on precision from case to case. However, I am curious how often I should check to make sure that there's no "walk" in the die that would lead to a longer-than-max COAL.

Might post more when I get home and have a chance to look at the spent brass a little more closely. Thanks so much for being 'mentors' to people like me!

November 26, 2013, 06:54 PM
Graphite or mica for static. Pencil lead ground up or smeared on the powder measure. Most powder has graphite coating, so you can just cycle the measure with a half pound of powder and that should do it. By cycle, just fill the hopper and run it into another container. Mica you'll have to buy.

Measure every 15 or so. More often in the first 5, until you get a regular length. It helps to keep the group of 15 separate from the next 15. That way you only need to mess with 15 screw ups instead of 30 or more...

Crimped brass is a real PITA. Best bet is to hit 100% of any range pickup with a 60 degree countersink. Just touch the brass to it. You're not digging to China, two small chips. The swage "clowns" don't have a clue as to how to do anything that requires some ability or judgment. That's why they always will tell you it's a $130 tool. The couple of grains of brass you remove, away from the stress of firing, not gonna matter. It's not at the bottom of the primer pocket, it's the top. And it's a one time thing, you don't hog it out again. Just keep you brass segregated from range pickups....

November 27, 2013, 05:31 AM
Originally posted by Ken70
The swage "clowns" don't have a clue as to how to do anything that requires some ability or judgment.

We can only hope for the sake of those near you on the firing line that your own ability exceeds your judgement.

Why start calling people names and casting aspersions upon their abilities simply because they use better tools than you do?

Most of us learned in kindergarten that name calling is generally used only by those too ignorant or unintelligent to formulate a reasonable argument...

And just so you know, when I can't borrow a buddys Dillon Primer Pocket Swager, I use a Wilson chamfer & deburring tool.

November 27, 2013, 10:24 AM
I know your problem is fixed, but a decapping pin can be your friend for upside down / sideways primers as well. If one is stuck in your shellholder, just use the shellholder instead of the base. It likely won't take a whole lot of pressure to get it out. Most of the time I don't even use a hammer. Just push it out by hand. That being said, my hand primer collects dust now. Can't stand the thing so I prime on the press.

For the static issue, I wiped the inside of the hopper out with a used dryer sheet, then ran a few loads of powder through it (cycle the handle a few times to work it through. I dumped the powder back into the container. No waste.) Works like a champ now. As far as measuring the COAL, I set it and forget it.

November 27, 2013, 10:48 AM
LEE says to wash your dippers in soapy water,don't rinse air dry.Maybe that will work on your other containers too

November 27, 2013, 11:12 AM
for the stuck primer, the answer is SIMPLE! Disassemble the primer tool as if you were changing the tray.
Ummm... I'm probably missing something, but I don't think this will work with the tool I have. The shell holder in the priming tool has a groove that accepts the base of the case. Once the 'stuck' primer is halfway inside, I can slide the brass out of the shell holder. And I can't lift vertically because the groove is clamped onto the case's base.

If I'm being a dolt, please tell me. :) I like simpler solutions.

November 27, 2013, 12:49 PM
Just stick a pin down into the case. It will separate the primer from the brass. Just like a decapping rod I guess. (I use an interior door key, about the size of the plastic cylinder in an ink pen that holds the ink). It will pop right out. It is frustrating when that happens, I used to try and use pliers but this way works MUCH better.

November 27, 2013, 01:02 PM
Ummm... I'm probably missing something, but I don't think this will work with the tool I have. The shell holder in the priming tool has a groove that accepts the base of the case. Once the 'stuck' primer is halfway inside, I can slide the brass out of the shell holder. And I can't lift vertically because the groove is clamped onto the case's base.

If I'm being a dolt, please tell me. :) I like simpler solutions.
I have the Lee primer and you are right, it won't work. I get primers stuck every now and then and use the Lee universal decapper to knock them back out after taking the tray out. The whole shellholder and case come out to place on the press. If they stick in the decapper, a tug with a pair of pliers on the shellholder works well.

November 27, 2013, 10:45 PM
If you have the primer up in the case, sideways or whatever. Take the case and shell holder out of the tool and use a dull nail or screwdriver or something like that to dislodge the primer carefully. You can use a deburring tool to remove the primer crimp on the military brass.

December 8, 2013, 12:32 AM
Hi, everyone... not sure where to post this, and it didn't quite seem worthy of its own thread.

One of the problems I was having (which is detailed in this thread) was dealing with crimped brass... I think I've got at least a portion of that problem licked and wanted to share what I'd learned.

First off, I had been trying to remove the crimp with the Lee Chamfer and Deburr tool ( I tried to build my reloading setup on a budget, but that particular tool was my one big misstep. It flat out sucks, IMHO. It 'works', but it isn't comfortable to use and it seems to take a lot of effort to get it to work - whether on the case mouth or the occasional crimped pocket.

I wound up making the choice to upgrade to the Lyman Case Prep Multi Tool ( My thinking was that the chamfer/deburr promised to be better, and the primer pocket uniforming heads would help with the crimped brass. The tool arrived today, so I managed to put it to work against a hundred crimped cases that I had previously resized but didn't continue with at that time.

The chamfer/deburr heads work *much* better than the Lee tool - not worth of being compared, actually. The primer pocket uniformer (small rifle only, so far) is not as big of a thrill. It seems a little slow to cut, though it does ensure that you get a good, uniform size on the pocket.

What I've wound up doing is the following with each crimped case: Chamfer and deburr with the respective heads and (again, for crimped brass) giving the pocket four or so turns with the deburr head before moving onto the next case. Then, once I've dealt with all the case necks, I go back to the pockets and use the uniforming head to finish the job. The net result is a lot cleaner than just using the uniforming 'head' and takes a lot fewer twists.

Oh, FWIW: The primer pocket cleaning head works fine... But it doesn't work any better than the screwdriver I had been using.

So, if you're starting out and reading this... I would strongly advise getting a good, robust chamfer/deburr tool when you buy your set. All the single tools from RCBS, Hornady, Lyman, etc are probably good bets. That single tool will be sufficient to handle your crimps as well. Though, if you want to guard yourself against opening the pocket too much, buying a uniforming tool for the last few rotations (or as a quasi 'gauge') might not be a bad idea.

Good luck! I want to thank all the posters here in the reloading forums. I've fired off about 300 reloads, with 300 more sitting downstairs ready to go. Nothing's broken, no limbs have been lost, and I'm loving every minute. You all, along with your helpful, insightful posts, have a lot to do with all that.

December 8, 2013, 11:54 AM
heavydeluxe, Sinclair sells a tool that holds a deburring tool in a cordless drill. That makes it all better when you have a few hundred cases to do. bzzz. bzzz. done.

December 8, 2013, 01:02 PM
... ...I want to thank all the posters here in the reloading forums. ... ... You all, along with your helpful, insightful posts, have a lot to do with all that.

I've got to agree. The people on this forum have been very helpful to a new reloader. Ask a question and you get a lot of positive feedback.

December 9, 2013, 06:22 PM
This has happenned to me twice now. Both times I removed with my press by backing out my decapping pin to the point where I new it would not contact the primer. Then run the case into the resizing die once fully in the die tighten the decapping pin until the primer came out.

Eye and Hearing protection sure but I have not had one go off.

Goodluck and shoot straight


December 9, 2013, 09:19 PM
Most Lee equipment is inexpensive but still does an excellent job.
Their case chamfer and deburring tool is just flat CHEAP, with all the negative connotations that the word implies.

December 10, 2013, 01:06 AM
Actually, the Lee chamfer tool works fine for me--provided you are chamfering bottleneck case long enough. It is NOT for pistol cartridges and, therefore, is less than totally useful.
Also, you only need a slight chamfer. Some sound like they are honing a razor-edge rather than chamfering.

December 14, 2013, 07:24 AM
Bumping my own thread, since this seems like a question other newbie reloaders would also have.

In today's post in the reloading components for sale thread, there are several sources for .223/5.56 once-fired brass listed. A couple indicate that their lots of cases contain 'no SAW brass".

Now, I know what the SAW is, but I guess it's unclear to me why you wouldn't want once-fired brass from that kind of gun. I have a 'loose' guess, but I'd love to hear someone more seasoned chime in.

December 14, 2013, 08:33 AM
Saw brass normally gets dented really bad, you may be able to clean it up, but it puts a major weak spot in the brass.

Also the saw has a loose chamber that allows for the case to be expanded more than normal. And sometime the extractor will tear up the rim, or bend the rim.

Typically most saw brass is not reusable due to the condition after being fired.

December 14, 2013, 09:03 AM
hi, Weber... Thanks! I had an inkling re: the loose chamber angle, but didn't know about the case deformation.

Elkton, MD, eh? Spent a lot of time in/around there growing up.

December 14, 2013, 05:28 PM
Originally Posted by: Weber
Typically most saw brass is not reusable due to the condition after being fired.

I'd have to say that the statement: "most saw brass is not reusable", is a bit overblown in my experience.

While SAW brass is generally more beat up than the cases fired in most M4's, the vast majority isn't unusable, although it may take more prep time and usually won't last as long.

Occasionally you will get a batch with a high percentage of totally trashed brass, this is probably due to being fired through a barrel that wasn't properly set up and "mated" to that SAW. For this reason, it's a good idea to do the paperclip test on all used brass you acquire, particularly military brass that may have been fired with out of spec headspace.

As for the dents, unless they're so deep as to constitute an actual crease, they're really just a cosmetic issue. The dents will shoot out on the first reloading cycle and you won't even be able to tell where they were.

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