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Some of my resized brass are hard to chamber?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by domyalex, Aug 3, 2010.

  1. domyalex

    domyalex New Member

    Nov 29, 2006
    Hello to all,

    new reloader here; I'm facing some issues with some (~30%) of my resized *brass* being hard(er) to chamber. I have tried playing with the FL-sizer die (backing it up/down in increments), but nothing has worked so far.

    My Data:
    Caliber: .308
    Press: Lee Breechlock single stage
    Die: Lee FL-sizer
    Brass: Mainly Federal, but also tried Remington and Winchester, same issue. All once fired in the same gun
    Cases where lubed on the body, and inside the neck.
    Die was initially adjusted per instruction (contact with shell holder, plus 1/4-1/3 turn). Tried taking it out (in 1/8 increments) 1/2 turn, as well seating it deeper (up to +1 turn).
    Cases trimmed to 2.010 (max specified case length is 2.015).

    Before resizing, the brass chambers very easily; after resizing, some of it doesn't (bolt is harder to close).

    I have tried measuring everything I could think about, compared to factory ammo and SAAMI specs; nothing that I can see stands out.

    Federal/Winchester/Remington factory ammo chambers just fine.

    I know about neck Vs full length sizing: I'd like to FL-size this brass.

    I'm lost... any ideas?

  2. dmazur

    dmazur Senior Member

    Apr 28, 2007
    Pacific NW
    Cartridge headspace gauges are recommended to help set up a resizing die correctly. They are relatively cheap, and help prevent dangerous excessive headspace.

    The difference between GO and NOGO for .308 is only 0.004", I believe. For 1 turn of a 14tpi die, that changes headspace by 0.071" (!). Even 1/4 turn changes it by 0.018". The adjustment between correct and excessive resizing can be on the order of 1/32 turn.

    I simply don't understand the "until it touches and then 1/4 turn more" instruction, unless it is based on average take-up in a press.

    1. How were you able to adjust a resizing die 1 full turn past contact and are still able to fully stroke the ram?

    2. Even though the case necks were lubricated, was withdrawing the case from the die easy or difficult?

    Without seeing the setup, I just can't picture what's going wrong, either.
  3. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Senior Member

    Nov 25, 2006
    Northeast PA, USA
    It sounds like the shoulder is too far forward from what little information available. Is your sizing die new or used? If it's new I would call Lee and explain what's happening because you just might have a defective sizing die. It's rare but it can happen...

    dmazur is correct on how little changes to your die can translate into big differences in your brass...
  4. 243winxb

    243winxb Senior Member

    Jul 7, 2004
    Hopewell Big Woods
    Full Length die adjustment

    When using our full length sizing dies for rifle cartridges, the die should be turned in to touch the shell holder and then enough more that there is no daylight between the top of the shell holder and the bottom of the die during the sizing process. This is the preferred method because the act of sizing sometimes results in flex that prevents the shell holder from touching the bottom of the die.

    Lee dies are designed so that the shoulder of the case is not sized until the very top of the die has been reached. This is done for two reasons; first, we do not want the die to overwork your brass and second and more importantly, we do not want to invite headspace problems. Pushing the shoulder back too soon can create a situation that can eventually cause case separation and a dangerous situation.

    If you notice that your Lee Die does not appear to push the shoulder of your case back, ensure that you are adjusting the die so that there is no daylight between the top of the shell holder and the bottom of the die during the sizing process. If you see daylight at the top of the stroke, readjust the die downward and repeat sizing until it disappears. If your case is still difficult to chamber, you can send the die back to us with a sized case and we can modify the die to minimum SAAMI specifications.

    Lee Precision, Inc.
    4275 Highway U
    Hartford, WI 53027
  5. ranger335v

    ranger335v Senior Member

    Dec 3, 2006
    "I simply don't understand the "until it touches and then 1/4 turn more" instruction, unless it is based on average take-up in a press."

    It is an "average" press instruction and isn't meant to be a final setting, it's just a place to start. Each user will then have to adjust in small increments until he gets it right for his own rig.

    If an FL sized bottle neck case is difficult to chamber it's almost a certainty the shoulder is too far forward. The obvious correction is to set it further back and that means to screw the die down and then to actually push the case in, not stop short of shell holder to die contact.

    Lee's dies are not unique, no brand of sizer can possibly touch a shoulder until the case is in about as far as possible.
  6. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Nov 20, 2006
    In the first part of FL sizing, as the body starts being sized, the shoulder is actually pushed forward until the point where the die shoulder contacts the case shoulder and begins to push it back as well.

    I agree with the others that your shoulder is not pushed back enough. If the die is screwed down against the shell holder and the brass won't chamber, you need a new die. You could mod it yourself by removing some off the bottom, but I wouldn't bother, I would just call Lee. They will replace it.

    Keep adjusting the die down until it fits a case gauge, or chambers easily, or it touches the shell holder and still won't chamber. You will either solve your problem, or run out of adjustment. Call Lee if you run out of adjustment.

    Welcome to THR
  7. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Senior Member

    Jan 29, 2005
    Ava, Missouri
    Make sure you are measuring the case length AFTER resizing. You may need to trim a few to insure that the case mouth is not too long. This will cause hard chambering and high pressure spikes.
  8. fguffey

    fguffey Senior Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    I have strain gages that measure pressure applied, I have deviation gages and most have dial indicators that can be use to determine deviation, flex, yield bend etc all of which determines if the case is 'tuffer' than the press.

    Lost in all of this step sequence of adjusting the press die and shell holder is the only purpose for the instructions is to full length size a case to minimum length which is the length of a commercial-store bought new in the box fully sized and loaded round, to accomplish this feat the case can not have more resistance to sizing than the presses ability to overcome resistance to sizing, The additional turn of 1/4 becomes 1/2 then goes to 1 full turn when the full length size case will not chamber. Back to resistance to sizing, if the case has more resistance to sizing than the press has to overcome sizing the case will be sticking out somewhere, that somewhere is between the shell holder and bottom of the die, with the companion to the press the feeler gage the reloader can measure in thousands the amount of the case that is not getting sized by measuring the gap between the shell holder and die before lowering the ram, some make a guesstimate by using a light on the back etc., visible light between the shell holder and bottom of the die before lowering the ram means the case is tuffer than the press. Again, I collect presses and I am sure I have flexy presses, owning one does not mean I have to use them, full length sizing is a work out for a press, to full length size a case the press must jam/cam over, I determine head space first then transfer that measurement to the press, this sames me a trip to the range for fire forming, I form first then fire.

    and, I use the companion to the press tool, the feeler gage.

    F. Guffey
  9. fguffey

    fguffey Senior Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    when the length of the case is a consideration when determining a problem trim half of it off or remove the expander/sizer ball assembly. Then there is a way to form cases to determine the length of the chamber from the face of the bolt to the throat of the chamber, I have chambers that allow me to add .010 to the length of the case because of the chamber, knowing where to add the .010 is the difference between full length sizing and creating a .015 thousands head space problem and sizing a case with .000 head space and fits the chamber although the case on the 30/06 is 2.506, not 2.496.

    F. Guffey
  10. JimKirk

    JimKirk Senior Member

    Nov 23, 2008
    Nicholls,GA South Georgia
    Use a Magic Marker(black) to competely color the front half of the brass and bullet if you have seated one. Chamber the round carefully, extract the brass and see what is shiney brass colored(on the case), that it what needs to be corrected. If you see the shoulder is shining then you case needs more sizing.

    There is no more simple or cheaper test than the Marker or smutting a case, that will tell you any more about your brass fitting the chamber than this.

    Magic Markers <$2 ... a Candle <$1 ... knowing how your brass fits your chamber ... Priceless!

    Jimmy K
  11. fguffey

    fguffey Senior Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    Firing first to determine the effect the chamber has on the case when fired by some is called 'fire forming', then with a hand full of tools they do not need they determine head space? In about 5 years from now someone will decide it is possible to determine head space first, form first then fire, and they will call the fired formed case once fired, then from what they learned about determining head space first they will be able to adjust the die to the shell holder in the press and size a case that fits the chamber and be able to measure a case before chambering to determine if it will chamber.

    Even if the case is soot-ed or marker-ed up the reloader still has to adjust the die to the shell holder in the press, maybe in 5 years it will dawn on someone like an epiphany, until then reloaders will continue to grind the top of the shell holder to lower the deck height and or grind the bottom of the die without knowing if that is the answer to the problem OR if there is an alternative method, like the companion tool to the press the feeler gage.

    F. Guffey

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