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Bushmaster XM15 stuck cartridges

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by xsquidgator, Jan 21, 2008.

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  1. xsquidgator

    xsquidgator Member

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    Bushmaster XM-15 stuck cartridges (brass)

    I have a slightly different issue than the usual "AR15 stuck case" thread, and I have done some searching w/o seeing this issue.

    I have a Bushmaster XM-15 (556 chamber) that I bought lightly used a month or two ago. It's had a total of maybe 500 rounds fired through it, of which I've fired maybe 300 or so. The problem I have intermittently is this:

    Once in a while when I'm shooting, for some reason I'll stop shooting before the magazine is emptied. No problem, eject magazine, use charging handle to pull bolt to rear and eject unfired cartridge, right? Most of the time this works ok. But now twice on two different days I've had an unfired cartridge get good and stuck in the chamber, the charging handle just WOULD NOT pull back, perhaps a fraction of an inch if I really gronked on it using my hands. I could tell it moved a little because the forward assist would then move forward a little bit.

    I tried working it back and forth with the charging handle and the forward assist, to no avail. Since I was at the range, I solved the problem both times it's happened by firing the round. Each time I did this, the ejector removed the round like there was no problem, chamber was totally empty and no damage to the case rim that I could see. It was just so tight I couldn't budge it by hand. So far the most I've shot in a single range session is 100 rounds or so, usually less, and I clean the rifle after every session even though it's probably not necessary. The first stuck cartridge experience happened a few weeks ago, so I bought a 223 chamber brush and used it the last time I cleaned the rifle. Yesterday I had another stuck case.

    This rifle has never had steel case ammo in it as long as I've had it, and I doubt it's ever had it. (It came with 300 rounds of S&B brass cased ammo that the previous owner hadn't used). I've fired 100 rounds of this, and maybe 200 rounds total of reloads I've made from range pickup brass. Now that I think of it, I don't recall exactly what kind of brass it was that got stuck, or if it was the same kind both times. After my first couple of experiments loading range pickup brass to make sure I could do it ok with 223, I segregated what I had by headstamp and for now I'm using either "R-P 223" or "S&B 223" brass.

    My resizing die is a standard Lee decapping/sizing die in a Lee 3-die set. I don't recall having any issues when resizing these, but a case not properly resized is the only thing I can think of. I'm concerned about this because I don't want to sometime in the future chamber a round and not be able to get it out (I may not be at a range where I can just shoot it, and there's something not right if that's the only answer).

    My questions for the board are:
    1) what do you think the problem is (resizing problem?) and what would you do about it?
    2) if you experienced a stuck unfired cartridge like this, how would you get it out? The bolt and bolt carrier are stuck forward when this happens, and so I don't feel comfortable getting a rod and pushing it out the breech like I would for a stuck fired case.

    This rifle is a nice one I think, I can shoot 1.5 MOA with it with mediocre skills and I'm looking forward to improving with it. But, this is causing me some concern. I also reload several pistol calibers as well as 7.62x39, 7.62x54R, and 8mm Mauser, all using the same kind of Lee die sets, and have never had this problem with any of those loads.
     
  2. hqmhqm

    hqmhqm Member

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    When I had fired shells get stuck in my 870 Remington, someone recommended polishing the chamber with some fine steel wool. That seemed to help in that case, I don't know if it might help in your case.

    I guess the question to ask is, does this only ever happen with your reloads, or does it happen with factory ammunition?
     
  3. xsquidgator

    xsquidgator Member

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    Yes, I forgot to clarify: it has only happened with my reloads. The first day I had the rifle I shot about 100 factory S&B rounds through it, and after that my dies and components arrived so I've shot only reloads since then.

    This problem is only occasionally; I tried to reproduce it yesterday using a mix of different headstamped brass reloads and couldn't get it to get stuck again.

    I'll think about the steel wool thing, but won't do it for a while if I do do it. My chamber is chrome-lined and I'd hate to mess it up. I'll use a chamber brush again. And this time, I'm going to collect the brass that gets stuck and extracted to see if there's a common thing. Thinking about it, I'd expect to see the stuck cases be larger in diameter.


    There is one other possible explanation, a stretch but possible, now that I think about it yet again. I may have done some of my case preparation steps out of order. For some of my case prep, I deprimed, resized, and then trimmed the cases using a Lee case length gauge and case trimmer. I later discovered that when done in this order (rather than trimming, THEN resizing as per my reloading guide) the neck of the case gauge opened up the case neck a little bit, sometimes causing problems with "loose" bullets when I later seated the bullets. The Lee case length gauge and trimmer is a bit "snug" when it goes into a resized 223 case. I'd forgotten this little detail until just now.

    I wonder if it's possible some of these rounds that I made like this have slightly oversized necks and that's where the cases are sticking? Could the order of case preparation steps have made this much of a difference?
     
  4. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    use a case gauge.
     
  5. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    Sounds like a reloading issue given your description and I am not qualified to comment on that.

    Keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, slam the butt of the rifle on the deck as you simultaneously pull on the charging handle. This will clear most stuck cases of the type you are describing.
     
  6. Chris Rhines

    Chris Rhines Member

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    It sounds to me like you need to bump the shoulder on your brass back a little farther, and/or trim your cases a little shorter.

    - Chris
     
  7. xsquidgator

    xsquidgator Member

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    Cool beans, that doesn't sound too unreasonable. I take it that "it would be bad" if I were to beat on the charging handle while applying the latch?
     
  8. strat81

    strat81 Member

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    !
    Ima have to look into that. Some of my M43 loads haven't had good neck tension, but it was intermittent.
     
  9. JonB

    JonB Member

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    There was a thread recently in the Reloading forum on the order to deprime, size, trim. Both of my manuals have the same steps (deprime/resize then trim) but apparently there is another manual that has a different order.

    Link to Thread here.
     
  10. HJ857

    HJ857 Member

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    Are you using the Lee factory crimp as your final step? If you're getting a flared case neck, the crimp die ought to take care of it. If that's not the problem, I'd guess the sizer die needs to be screwed down a quarter or half turn.
     
  11. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    It sounds like a collapsed case shoulder during the bullet seating or crimping operation.

    This can be so slight you can't even see it, but it will stick a round in an AR so tight it won't fully lock, and it won't come back out either!

    Even if you are not crimping, then make sure you lightly lube the inside of the case-necks before sizing.
    Sometimes, the dry expander button can chatter & drag hard enough to pull the shoulder back forward with it.

    If you are not chamfering the inside of the case-necks, do so.
    Sometimes a bullet base will put up a fight going in an un-chamfered case and collapse the shoulder slightly.

    If you are crimping, get a Lee .223 FCD crimp die.
    Unlike the seating/crimping die, there is positively no way you can buckle a case shoulder with it, because all the crimping pressure is supplied by the shell holder, not the case itself.

    You might get an L. E. Wilson or Dillon .223 case guage and drop-check every finished round. You can be sure they will all work then.

    I'm betting one of these things is your problem!

    1224.jpg
    rcmodel
     
  12. xsquidgator

    xsquidgator Member

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    RCmodel,
    Hmm, I'll re-visit this, sounds like a potential cause for my problem.
    I do crimp using the Lee FCD, and I chamfer the outside and the inside of my case necks. I did have some issues with not lubing the inside of the case necks (got several cases stuck in my sizer die with the rims torn off when the expander bell got stuck), I hope I have fixed them.

    I'm also going to re-read my loading guide, I could swear my Lee guide said to trim, then resize the cases. I had been trimming last since I figured the resizing operation would possibly lengthen at least some of the cases.

    Gotta think this over. But I'm glad to hear this kind of thing probably isn't a TOTAL mystery like it was to me when it happened.
     
  13. Float Pilot

    Float Pilot Member

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    Remember your rifle was made to fire military spec 5.56mm ammo and not really commerical .223 Remington. Mil spec 5.56mm in sized a tiny bit smaller. They do that for reliabilty, particularly in a hot, dirty rifle.
    I'll bet the rifle is still fairly warm when this problem occurs. It sounds like you have already been given the proper advise regarding your handloads.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2008
  14. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    It has nothing to do with 5.56 vis .223 chamber or case dimensions.

    You use the exact same .223 sizing die & headspace for both of them when you reload them.

    Partial case shoulder collapse for some reason is about the only logical reason this can be happening.

    I have shot a Colt SP-1 without a forward assist since 1970 or there abouts.

    I can assure you, both .223 & 5.56 sized in a standard .223 reloading die will both work slicker then owl dodo in a 5.56 chambered gun.

    Until you get one stuck with a tiny, invisible, partially collapsed shoulder!

    I don't know what it says, but you always have to trim after sizing.

    Normal case trimmer pilots are made to perfectly fit a sized case neck. They are loose and wobble on unsized case necks.

    The cases get shorter when you fire them, and grow longer when you resize them.

    1224.jpg
    rcmodel
     
  15. jonboynumba1

    jonboynumba1 Member

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    Like other have said check your die and make sure it's really bottoming out on shell holder (if lee or similar dies used) I'resize and deprime...then I usually tumble/clean...I do it once in treated polishing compound media and once in dry mostly clean media to final polish and get any remaining junk off...then I do case prep (sort and cull...clean primer pockets (ream primer crimps if called for)...uniform flash holes, trim cases and campher inside and out lightly. Then prime (Use the lee hand priming setup...only thing I ever use...it's cheap but it works great and has total feel/feedback) charge seat and crimp with a Lee factory crimp die. When in doub get out the lee book and some mics and check you case dimensions with the diagram in the book. The usually list max sammi specs and use close to max demensions in their dies. Could be you need a light polishing in your chamber but that would be the LAST thing I'd try. If it shoots M855 and WWB/Rem/Fed ball ammo fine you know it's your reloads. If it gets picky with M855 or ss109 you might have a tight chamber. If all else fails get another set of dies and try them...I've had good luck with lee dies. I've seen some odd variances in some of the "better brands" in a few calibers. First thing is make sure all the slop is out of your stroke and tighten down the FLS die a 1/4-1/2 turn.

    If you're l crimping with the seating die then my money is on that...get the lee FCD for $10 and follow the directions for setup. You can use a little less or a little more crimp than what it shows but don't get too crazy screwing it in a lot farther. It's a gotta have it though...I never taper crimp anything anymore...too easy to have issues if you aren't paying attention or have some weeker brass...I never get as good an accuracy out of the old sty;e crimp as I have with the lee FCD. Sometimes changing that one factor alone has made huge accuracy gains reguardless of seating. (even start presure...I'm a believer)
     
  16. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Take calipers to your reloaded ammo. Check with the SAAMI chart to see if they're within spec.
     
  17. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    I would say that your brass is oversized for the chamber. The fact that some of them work and that others do not is an indication that your sizing die is not sizing all of the cases enough.

    So, you feed in this oversized case into your chamber, your bolt carrier has enough energy to swage the thing into the chamber, and all you can do is shoot the thing out. In some instances I have seen oversized cases stay in the chamber. The rim goes, but the case stays.

    Brass has springback. You can size a huge balloon cases, but the sucker will expand a bit back. Your standard sizing die is squeezing some down enough, but not all of them. You ought to see what commercial reloaders use to size brass. They have these parallel plates that totally swage cartridges, they can roll a telephone pole down to a pencil. Your equipment is much more limited.

    The solution: Get a small based die and set the sizing die up with a cartridge headspace gage. Size to gage minimum.

    Do not ruin your chamber in anyway by polishing the thing. EEK!
     
  18. lamazza

    lamazza Member

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    I was getting this problem when I used a Lee progressive press to resize.
    I think that the progressive was not robust enough for resizing rifle cases.

    Also, Lake city brass seems to expand a bit more than other brass-in my experience.
     
  19. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Before you get all excited and buy a small-base die you don't need:

    Smoke a case with a candle flame and figure out exactly where it is tight & sticking in the chamber.

    Dollars to donuts is a partial shoulder collapse you can't see without a case guage to find it first!

    1224.jpg
    rcmodel
     
  20. another okie

    another okie Member

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    I agree that you should get a case gage.
     
  21. xsquidgator

    xsquidgator Member

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    Thanks for sharing your opinions, I have some things to think about now and to try out. I guess I'll have to re-read the instructions on my Lee dies also... just to be sure I have the sizing die adjusted properly.

    Is this kind of case gauge you mean?
     
  22. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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  23. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I'd go with the L.E. Wilson over the Lyman, if it was me.
     
  24. another okie

    another okie Member

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  25. xsquidgator

    xsquidgator Member

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    Another question about this issue - is my problem with the shoulder that the case/shoulder is too long? Or is it that the diameter of the case at the shoulder is too big? Or is it possibly that the sizer die isn't reaching all the way down to the base of the case, so that the part of the case right above the rim is oversize in diameter?

    And, does a cartridge gauge provide some sort of length AND outside diameter check?
     
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