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Newbie - Collapsing Cases

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by george_co, Sep 9, 2003.

  1. george_co

    george_co Well-Known Member

    Just finished trying to reload my first 100 rounds. But, I collapsed about 15 cases. I suspect that this is not a normal amount.

    I am reloading 41 mag using Hornady HP/XTP 210 grain bullets. I have sized and used the expanding die. In fact, when I started having the problems I ran the cases back through and set the expanding die to go much deeper in the case, probably full bullet depth.

    What appears to be happening is the copper gilding around the bullet is catching on the rim of the case and being partially skimmed from the bullet, while at the same time the casing is collapsing. At 15 cents or so per case this is not something I want to continue.

    I was using once fired remington and pmc cases, the problem existed with both cases.

    I bought the reloading dies used at a gun show. Is it possible that the dies are just so worn that they are failing to expand the cases enough?

    Is it a problem with not having the bullets fully vertical in the case, causing one side to catch?

    I have ordered new RCBS Carbide dies and they should be here in a couple of days. So if it is a problem with the dies I will be able to figure that out.

    Is there a known problem with some lots of the XTP bullet not being to spec? and being too large in dia.?

    Any suggestions as to something I am doing wrong?

  2. BigG

    BigG Well-Known Member

    Your expander should make a noticeable bell to the mouth of the case. Doesn't mean huge but you should be able to feel it with your fingers and see it with your eyes. Second, a case mouth should be reamed with something to take the burrs off the first time you use it. Can be as simple as turning a jackknife blade within the mouth of the case just to break the edge of the brass.
  3. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Moderator Emeritus

    Big G's thoughts are good. Also, any chance you have .429" bullets instead? How about the wrong die? Check what's written on it.
  4. george_co

    george_co Well-Known Member


    Didn't think that reaming would be necessary with once fired cases. As they had been previously loaded at the factory. I would think that they would have been reamed at the factory.

    Not trying to be argumentative, just trying to understand.:)

  5. george_co

    george_co Well-Known Member


    Yes, I did check the dies. All three say 41 Mag on them.

    Also, I did use calipers to check a couple of the bullets before I started and they checked out okay.

    Thanks for your comments.
  6. Bacchus

    Bacchus Well-Known Member

    I don't think that the problem is with the dies being defective, I just wonder if you have adjusted them. I always smash several cases when adjusting the dies for the first time and then it doesn't happen as long as you don't change the adjustment knob. Did your dies come with instructions? If not, check the web site of the manufacturer for instructions.
  7. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Moderator Emeritus

    Any chance you're using old Lee dies in a tall press?
  8. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    I use the smallest possible bell to extend case life. I've found it helps to guide the bullet with your finger tips as the cartridge case is pushed into the seating die. The trick—learned the hard way, of course—is to steady the bullet without pinching your finger tips.
  9. george_co

    george_co Well-Known Member


    Steve, No I have just now double checked and all of the dies say RCBS right on them.

    Bacchus, I do have the instructions and I followed them the best that I could.

    The collapsed cases were scattered throughout the loading process. Sometimes I would do 10 cartridges without any problems and the next two would collapse.

    Thanks again for all the comments. Even though I may have given a response to each of the suggestions, I will keep everything in mind the next time I sit down to load some cartridges.

    Anybody else?

  10. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Moderator Emeritus

    No, check that they all say .41 Mag.
  11. dodgestdshift

    dodgestdshift Well-Known Member


    You can use your bullet as a guage before seating. After you size the case the bullet should not balance on the mouth of the case, it should tip. After belling the bullet should balance on the mouth of the case. When it balances it should seat ok. You should be barely able to see the belling on the case.

    Another thought, maybe the cases need a quick twist with your deburring tool on the inside.
  12. SDC

    SDC Well-Known Member

    It sounds like your expander isn't turned down far enough inside the die to bell it; if your cases are from different manufacturers (different brass thicknesses), or they're not seated exactly the same inside the shellholder each time, this would explain why you're getting only some crushed.
  13. ed dixon

    ed dixon Well-Known Member

    I had problems with badly dented straight-wall rifle cases in the beginning (last year). The resolution turned out to be easing up on the case lube. From the more experienced folks here, I've read this is less of a problem with pistol calibers, but I thought I'd throw it out there since it sounds like you're not using a carbide sizer yet.

    (A note of encouragement: I was extremely frustrated during my first few attempts but the "mistakes" turned out to be good object lessons that I couldn't really appreciate just reading about it. Things smoothed out. Good luck. Ed)
  14. forquidder

    forquidder Well-Known Member

    crished cases

    If you're using a seater/crimp die on the last stage, it may be turned down too far such that you are crimping the case before the bullet is seated sufficiently. Hold the seater knob motionless with one hand while simultaneously backing the die out of the press a little at a time until the die crimps at the correct stage in the stroke.
  15. george_co

    george_co Well-Known Member

    I wish I had kept one of the damaged cartridges with the bullet it in it, that way I could take a picture and possibly show you what is happening.

    From reading the posts I get the feeling that you believe that the bullet is maybe a quarter of the way into the case before the case collapses. That is not the situation. The bullet is catching on the top of the case and not getting started into the case. As the bullet trys to go into the case, the case catches a thin layer of copper and pushes it up along the bullet, this then either collapses that side of the case, or in some cases actually rips an 1/8 inch hole in the case from the case rim down.

    In a lot of cases, that actually did end up with the bullet sliding into the case, there is a thick hairs width half moon sliver of copper that is removed from the base of the bullet and falls to the table.

    As far as how deep the expander die goes into the case, I started with it going in about an 1/8 inch and then switched to a depth of 1/4-3/8 inches deep. Figured that had to be more than enough.

    forquidder - I will check the crimping depth again. However, it this was the problem, I would expect it to happen more of the cases. Again, not arguing, just trying to learn and understand.

    And, Steve I did check and all of the dies read RCBS and 41 Mag.

    And yet again thanks for all your comments.

  16. george_co

    george_co Well-Known Member

    I think I figured it out.

    See emoticon - egg slowlyyyy dripping down face. (There really should be one of those you know)

    I decided that I had spent good money buying a caliper, I should use it.

    The RCBS expander die I have is also a decapping die. So starting at the decapping pin, you then have the nut that secures the decapping pin, then a short run of small shaft, then the die flares out for about a half inch before flaring out again, and then you have the threads for screwing it into the die body.

    I "assumed" :banghead: that this first flare is where the case mouth was flared out to accomadate the bullet. But, the calipers show that this is only .405 - .407" in dia. No way that this could flare the case for the bullet. Also, I don't care how many bullets have run through it, it would not be worn that much.

    I figured out that the flaring or belling is done with the second flared area of the die:uhoh: , with the die (not including the pin) almost a full inch inside the case. Some of what I had read seem to indicate that that much of the die should not be in the case, but this is the only way it will work.

    I appreciate everyones patience and efforts to educate and help me.

    On the bright side I did take forty rounds out the to the range this afternoon and they all went bang, and none of them went boom or pfft.

    Obviously, if I am like the bird dog chasing off after a rabbit please call me back in and set me straight.

    Thank you!

  17. labgrade

    labgrade Member In Memoriam

    "The RCBS expander die I have is also a decapping die.

    That seems very strange, unless I'm reading you wrong. The decapping die should be the resizing die - both at once. That's die #1.

    The expander die (#2) also does the belling operation & the belling operation depends on how far down you extend the die for the proper belling.

    I'll back up a minute.

    1st die set should be decapping/sizing (inward). This die pops out the old primer & resizes the brass to "nominal" (but we can forget "nominal" for now).

    Second die resizes the case (in an outward dimension) to allow the bullet to be accomodated AND bells the case mouth. Crucial in that you don't want to rework the case moiuth "too much," but still want to allow the bullet to enter without too much interference.

    3rd die = seats the bullet to depth AND (what I suspect you're running into) crimps the case mouth over the bullet.

    Everything can go perfectly, but if you are crimping too hard, your case will collapse just due to the intensity of your crimp.

    BTW, a caliper isn't going to do you any good in any of these operatioons (other than knowing a consistant over-all length of brass).

    Still having some problems? drop me a PM. I'll give you my phone # & we'll walk through the process as you do it.

    Sounds like a combination of too light belling (= shaving of bullet material) & likely too hard a crimp (= collapsing cases).
  18. Hutch

    Hutch Well-Known Member

    Some of the old RCBS dies had a resizer with no decapper as #1, and the expander/decapper as #2. I have a set like that in .38Spl. Pro'ly 40 years old.

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