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Headspace/Chambering woes

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by nofishbob, Feb 18, 2013.

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  1. nofishbob

    nofishbob Member

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    Hi Guys-

    I had a frustrating weekend out in the garage. New rifle, new single stage press, new dies, once fired brass, and no rush to get shooting as I am waiting for a scope to arrive. I am not new to rifle reloading. I am new to bolt action rifle reloading. My plan was to full length re size the cases this time, and then neck size them as many times as feasible.

    Brand/caliber info: Lee Classic Cast press, Lee dies, Savage 111 338 Lapua rifle, Norma brass.

    I start by installing sizing die as I always do, shellholder hard up against the bottom of the die at the top of the ram stroke. I happily size a case, Trim it to length, and attempt to chamber it in the rifle. The bolt will not close at all. Bummer.

    I rechecked the die adjustment with another case in it and the press frame loaded. Still have die/shellholder contact. This case will not chamber either.

    Sharpie rub marks show that it is hitting on the shoulder.

    I check one more time to make sure the chamber does not have something stuck in it. Nope.

    So now in desperation, I take an unfired, factory fresh case and attempt to chamber it. It is better, but the bolt will still not close all the way. What the?

    So now the rifle is suspect. I spent hours trying to see into the chamber, with out ever seeing anything that looked out of place.

    It turns out that the screws that the factory installed to hold the scope base are a little too long, so that the bolt will operate normally without a case in the chamber, but will stop about 30 degrees from fully closed with a case.

    On a side note, the rifle will fire with the bolt in this position, so maybe that is how it was test fired at the factory.

    So now the factory case chambers and ejects without drama, back to the dies. I started grinding the bottom of the die to allow more shoulder setback.

    I ground a little at a time over and over until the bolt will close with just slight resistance. At this setting, the bolt opens easily, but the case is stuck in the chamber too tightly to eject by hand. A light tap with a mallet frees the cartridge, but I don't like it. It still shows a rub mark at the shoulder.

    No Case gages or head space gages are listed for this caliber in Brownell's or Sinclair.

    I ground a LOT off of the bottom of the die, maybe as much as 0.100 inches. I really do not want to grind it any more. I worry that it may be more out of spec than just the location of the shoulder, and that I will ruin a lot of costly brass screwing with it.

    So after all of this, here are my questions:

    1.- Do you think that cases will eject easier after firing?

    2.-I am thinking that I should get a new sizing die from another manufacturer and see what happens. If I can find one!


    Thanks!

    Bob
     
  2. RainDodger

    RainDodger Member

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    Holy crap. I would never, ever recommend grinding the face of a sizing die. I've been reloading a long time and never run into what you're running into.

    I think the first thing I would do is get the rifle to a gunsmith and have him check the chamber dimensions and headspace. I would not shoot the rifle until you verify the rifle is within factory specs.
     
  3. JohnM

    JohnM Member

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    Yow! You ground a 100 thou off the base of a die? Well, I'd say that die is junked.
    You knew the scope base screws were into the chamber and that didn't ring some bells?
    Sounds like you need to find a competent gunsmith to get that rifle fixed.
     
  4. Jesse Heywood

    Jesse Heywood Member

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  5. Centurian22

    Centurian22 Member

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    Definitely sounds like a job at least for a bore scope if not a gun smith. I would never modify dies to try and fix a problem with the rifle, especially if you know of an issue (which it sounds like you do). Might be too late now with so much done to the dies but If you're waiting for the scope, why not back out or totally remove the scope ring screw to see if that fixes the issue? If it does fix the issue and if you are so determined to grind something why not grind some off the screw (after putting a nut on it to straighten out the threads when you're done)?

    Good luck.
     
  6. jr_roosa

    jr_roosa Member

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    No reason the die should be junked, but you now have to use a case gauge like the Hornady one to set it rather than bottoming it out.

    Definitely need to send the rifle back to savage first. Then fire some factory ammo to measure how much you need to resize for your chamber and adjust your die accordingly. It probably won't hit the shell holder anymore.

    J.
     
  7. nofishbob

    nofishbob Member

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    Thanks for all the replies!

    Some clarifications:

    1.-The scope base screw was not drilled into the chamber. it was interfering with the bolt lug in the bolt lug recess. Grinding the end of the screw eliminated this problem. It just muddied the water on the resizing issue.

    2.- The rifle was test fired by Savage, and correctly chambers and ejects a factory case. I see no reason to suspect at this time that the chamber or headspace is out of spec.

    3.- I ground the die rather than return it to Lee because they were cheap, I could not find other dies available, and I needed that darn shellholder! If I returned the Lee dies, another set of dies would not help me as I could not find another shell holder in stock.


    I will be out all week, so my plan is to keep searching for another sizing die and see how that works before doing anything else. Once the sizing die is confirmed to either be or not be the problem, I will know whether to send the rifle back or get my head examined.

    Bob
     
  8. david_r

    david_r Member

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    Bob,
    It sounds like you already dealt with the offending screw. It also sounds like you have the extractor removed when testing chambering. Is that correct?

    Manson Reamers lists headspace gauges. Sinclair has a case gauge. You should find out where the problem is before you bust out the angle grinder. :eek:

    BTW, I'd be :cuss: if I bought a new factory rifle that had a screw intruding where it shouldn't be.
     
  9. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

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    Stop! Do not proceed to try and correct the problem by bumping the shoulders back. It is not all that unusual to find that a suspect chamber issue to be caused by the WRONG screws having been placed in the wrong areas of the bases. I can't even begin to tell you how many customers and friends I have helped to solve this perplexing problem. Trying to mount their own bases and not realizing that base screws will quite often have specific corresponding lengths, and that when placed in the wrong base screw hole they will make contact with either the case, or the bolt lug.

    Grinding the die down, thus bumping shoulders back further than necessary is going to create a very bad situation and could very likely cause excessive head space, resulting in severe case head separations, or worse?

    GS
     
  10. nofishbob

    nofishbob Member

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    I just ordered a RCBS full length re sizing die, so by the weekend, I should know if the problem was just a defective Lee die.

    I will update this when I know.

    Bob
     
  11. murf

    murf Member

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    a wilson case gauge couldn't hurt in this situation, especially with the chambering issues you are having.

    murf
     
  12. ranger335v

    ranger335v Member

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    I SUSPECT your Lee sizer was fine ... until you fixed it. :what:
     
  13. nofishbob

    nofishbob Member

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    Murf:
    I wanted to go this route but the Sinclair/Brownell's catalogs I have did not list case gages as being available for this chambering. Not out of stock-not offered. I could not find them online, either, but a reply above states that they are available.

    ranger 335v:

    What makes you say this? Can you show me where I might have done something besides what I did? Or is this just snark?
     
  14. murf

    murf Member

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    lewilson.com

    murf
     
  15. JohnM

    JohnM Member

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    Are you trying to say a factory would pass a rifle that would only fire out of battery?
    You knew a screw was interfering with proper operation of the bolt and you still tried to modify a sizing die to be able to get a round in?
     
  16. nofishbob

    nofishbob Member

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    JohnM:
    No. I was relating that the rifle WOULD fire out of battery. It will also fire while in battery. Savage either tested the rifle before installing the scope base, or fired it while it was out of battery after the scope base was installed with the too long screw.

    JohnM:
    No. Please re-read my posts. I shortened the screw and confirmed proper chambering and extraction of a factory case before going to work on the die.

    Bob
     
  17. fguffey

    fguffey Member

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    Your rifle was not test fired with the scope, mount and rings installed. The mount was installed after test firing,

    Grinding the bottom of the die, I have always insisted grinding the bottom of the die and or top of the shell holder is not necessary. Now that you have ‘fixed the die’ there is hope. I am forming cases for a wildcat that requires shortening a 300 Win Mag forming die .156”. All I have to keep up with is the .156” I removed, I can adjust the die off the shell holder .156” and continue using the die for 300 Win Mag.

    Back to my favorite forming dies, the 308 W, 7MM08 and the 243 Winchester, all I have to keep up with is the distance I adjust the dies off the shell holder like the 7.7 Japanese from 30/06, I adjust the die off the shell holder .076” or the 8mm57 from 30/06, I adjust the die off the shell holder .121, and yes, I have an 8mm57 forming die.

    F. Guffey
     
  18. JohnM

    JohnM Member

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    I'll be curious to hear what a different die does.
    I've been buying dies for about 50 years and never got a bad one.
    But, I've been buying guns even longer and just last week bought a brand new one that was bad and is now back at the factory.
    There's a first for everything.
     
  19. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    once fired brass- Not From your Rifle? Might be the problem

    Change to Lapua brass? Google brings up problems of soft Norma brass needing dies that size more into the web area. :confused: http://www.sniperforums.com/forum/cartridges-calibers/27703-338-lm-norma-brass-vs-lapua.html From Lee >
    SAAMI doesnt have a standard for the 338 Lapua Magnum.(PENDING) I have to wonder what the web should measure on new brass when compared to chambers??
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2013
  20. nofishbob

    nofishbob Member

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    243winxb:

    Thanks for that information.

    As far as reading marks on the sharpied test cases, it seemed that all contact with the chamber was happening right at the shoulder-body transition area of the case. There was no apparent contact on the body of the case. That is why I thought that I could solve the problem by pushing the shoulder back....

    One of the surprising/unexpected things about this whole situation was how easily the once-fired cases resized. They required less force than .223 (as far as my calibrated right arm could tell).

    And remember, after all my grinding, I was shoving them way up in the die!

    I am really looking forward to seeing if the RCBS die makes a difference.

    Bob
     
  21. nofishbob

    nofishbob Member

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    One more small piece of data:

    The re-sized, once fired cases are about 0.004" bigger at the case web area than an unfired case.

    The primer pockets are still tight as I test-primed a few and the insertion force seemed normal.

    Bob
     
  22. chris in va

    chris in va Member

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    Well, I guess there's the chance the Lee die was defective. We'll find out when you get your new one.
     
  23. padd54

    padd54 Member

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    Do you know what rifle the once fired brass came out of? It sounds like your brass came from a chamber with very generous dimensions and the new rifle is perhaps set to near min SAMI specs.
     
  24. david_r

    david_r Member

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    bob,
    You would think that if you set back the shoulder a tenth of an inch, you would be able to see that by holding your case up against an unsized one. Have you tried to measure up in the die to see where the shoulder starts?

    Wouldn't it make more sense to have a gauge you could use to see what is up with what is up? If you get a Wilson case gauge, you will know exactly how far back you are setting your shoulder to get where you need to be. Buying a different problem, I mean, die without identifying that it is defective seems counter intuitive. It seems unlikely that Lee would ream their die a full 0.1 too deep. If you had a gauge, you could say, This die is not setting the shoulder back. At the moment, all you have is, "this isn't working."

    Here is a Wilson case gauge from Sinclair, in stock. It will tell you if you're at specification. And if not, how far off. It will also tell you if your neck length is at specification, over or over the trim length. Quite a useful tool.
    http://www.sinclairintl.com/reloadi...dspace-tools/wilson-case-gauge-prod33287.aspx

    Here is your GO gauge at Brownells (out of stock of course but listed) http://lmgtfy.com/?q=338+Lapua+headspace+gauge&l=1 or you could just head over to Grizzly Industrial and pick one up. I can't believe that grizzly sells GO gauges but they are made by Pacific Tool.
     
  25. nofishbob

    nofishbob Member

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    Thanks, David. I ordered a case gage from your link just now.

    It is strange that my Sinclair catalog from 2012 showed a n/a in the space where the part number for this gage was supposed to go. I thought that they did not make them and looked no further.

    I am really looking forward to getting this gage and getting some real information on what is going on!

    Thanks again.

    Bob
     
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