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Bolt hard to open 243 WSSM

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by BGD, May 4, 2014.

  1. BGD

    BGD Well-Known Member

    I have an A-bolt in 243 WSSM. The first rounds I Loaded for it with 40grains IMR 4350 with 100 grain Sierra game kings caused the bolt to be stiff to open. 40 grains is a starting load. The brass is Winchester loaded once from the factory. I wish I had chronograph, but I don't think they were over pressure. what would cause the bolt to be hard to open? Do you think the brass could be soft?

    Forgot to mention I neck sized the brass only. I did not full length resize.

    Last edited: May 4, 2014
  2. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    Not to nit pick, but it's called a bolt, as in bolt action.

    Regarding your issue, considering this is presenting on the first reloading of once fired brass, it's very likely a high pressure related issue. But just to rule out other possibles, I would make sure the chamber is clean and free of any build up or rough spots. Also clean the lug recess's, and the lugs.

    Here is a way to help diagnose whats going on. Take a fired case that caused significant resistance when opening the bolt, don't resize it. Smoke the case head, shoulders, body, and the neck with a candle. Then chamber it, extract it and look for the areas where the soot has been rubbed off, that will be the problem area, or areas. Once you've identified where it's tight, it will then be easier to identify the cause.

  3. BGD

    BGD Well-Known Member

    It's a typo, trying to type on this ipad:) I will try the candle thing, but I already neck sized the brass.

  4. 243winxb

    243winxb Well-Known Member

    Is your data for a Sierra game kings or other bullet brand? The difference in bullet construction and bearing surface has a direct effect on pressure. [​IMG]
  5. BGD

    BGD Well-Known Member

    The starting load from Sierra is 40.5. In the hodgdon data it is 40 with a Speer bullet.
  6. 243winxb

    243winxb Well-Known Member

    243 wssm

    I looked at the Hodgdon data too. Maybe check the web diameter of a fired case to SAAMI? http://www.saami.org/specifications_and_information/index.cfm?page=CC Loaded round maximum over the web is .555" Chamber is .5583" max. So if your fired case web is .556" to .558" your up there in pressure. Its possible neck sizing is a problem with such a high pressure cartridge? FL size and bump the should back .002" see it it makes a difference on the next loading.
  7. witchhunter

    witchhunter Well-Known Member

    As everyone has said already, it sounds like a pressure problem. Could it be that you are seated into the lands? Make a dummy, mark it with a sharpie and chamber it. As Gamestalker said, it will show where it is too big. Load one at 39 grains and see if that helps.
  8. BGD

    BGD Well-Known Member

    I am not sure what the web is but the fattest part of the case is .556. I measured some factory loads after firing and they are .556 also. This was a spot about 3/16 of an inch up from the top of the rim. I may be close to the lands I need to check this. The cases chamber without any problems.
  9. 243winxb

    243winxb Well-Known Member

    Try full length sizing to see if the web measurement gets smaller. Then shoot a few with the same load, see what happens.
  10. steve4102

    steve4102 Well-Known Member

    I'm going to agree with this.

    I have a 25 WSSM and it has a very short throat. Seat your bullets 30K deeper with the same powder charge and watch the stiff bolt lift go away.
    Last edited: May 6, 2014
  11. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    Good catch Witchhunter, I completely forgot to mention the oal possibilities that can drive pressures up. So as WH said, if you are close to the lands, or into them, pressures can be driven up very significantly. I've seen already developed loads that were operating at very normal pressures, and then suddenly jump to red line pressures, simply because the oal was increased to .010" off the lands without reworking the charge.

  12. BGD

    BGD Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the help. I am going to seat one .030 deeper and see what happens. Hope to try it this weekend. Do you think i damaged any brass with high pressure?
    thanks again:)
  13. 9X23WIN

    9X23WIN Well-Known Member

    I had a Winchester 70 Stealth in 243 WSSM and had a hard time opening the bolt too. In my instance, the cases had to be full length sized in order to solve the problem.
  14. steve4102

    steve4102 Well-Known Member

    I doubt it, if the primer pockets are still tight, then no, if they are loose, then yes.
  15. ironworkerwill

    ironworkerwill Well-Known Member

    I've done a good bit of work with the wssm family. The above answer is most likely your problem. The brass, being shorter than the wsm family, is difficult to resize. If your brass is nickel plated it will be more difficult still. If the shoulder does not bump back enough after sizing the subsequent load will make for stiff extraction.

    You have stated that you've started at the correct starting point. I do have a caution: This brass has a thick head and you will be over pressure before the pockets loosen up. Do not go beyond the max charge without being very cautious in your approach. The factory wssm ammo is loaded close to the edge of max pressure. There is a small case volume and not much room for error.
  16. spitballer

    spitballer Well-Known Member

    I'm inclined to agree that the cases should be started with a full-length resize before being used in a different chamber. Try ejecting the round before firing it to see if it's still snug.
  17. scottishkat

    scottishkat Well-Known Member

    I'm inclined to agree that the cases should be started with a full-length resize before being used in a different chamber. Try ejecting the round before firing it to see if it's still snug.

    Agreed totally. If the brass was fired in a different firearm I always full length resize. If you have any of the once fired try to chamber it. You're at minimum for 100 gr. My 257 WBY will get stiff bolt lifts on light loads.

    Good luck and shoot straight

  18. BGD

    BGD Well-Known Member

    I loaded 1round tonight at 40 grains imr4350 100 g GameKing neck sized. Seated bullet .030 deeper. Chambered the round and it fit very snugly. I am using these in the same rifle they were fired in. Looks like with the 243 WSSM the shoulder will need bumped back. Tomorrow night I will fire this round and see how stiff the bolt is and start bumping the shoulder back a bit. Just to clarify that the bullet is not against the lands. The snugness appears to be from the case itself.

    With full length resizing what was your case life like in the 243 WSSM?

    thanks for the advice:)
    Last edited: May 6, 2014
  19. ironworkerwill

    ironworkerwill Well-Known Member

    I got some busted necks on the 2nd loading of the non plated and new 50ct bag of .25wssm brass. After annealing the rest, they are still good at 6 full length resizings.

    The nickel plated never cracked. I did try to anneal some of them but I can't really see whats going on as the nickel hides the heated area. I scrapped the lot because I'd be guessing at what was going on. I don't really care for plated rifle brass but others do. YMMV
  20. klausman

    klausman Well-Known Member

    2 additional items to check are case trim to length - are the cases stretching?
    and is the neck getting so thick that that there is not enough clearance to release the bullet? I know - run-on sentence and bad punctuation. Take a fired case and see if a bullet will slip into the neck before resizing.

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