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Problems with F C headstamp

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by showmebob, May 5, 2012.

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  1. showmebob

    showmebob Member

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    Recently I,ve been having troubles with case tension on F C headstamp brass. Most of these are once fired cases.

    When doing a thumb press check the FMJ bullets press in until the powder stops them. I've not had this before. On other brands of cases I can't push the bullet in regardless of how hard I push.

    So my questions are:
    1. How much pressure do you use to check your cases?
    2. One thumb or 2?
    3. How much resistance should you have before the bullet moves?
    4. Do I just have bionic thumbs?
    5. Is there a temper problem with F C cases?

    I'm making the assumption that since other brands work fine that it's not a problem such as a undersized expander.

    Thoughts?

    Thank You!
     
  2. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Member

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    Is this pistol or rifle brass? It makes a difference.

    Fred
     
  3. showmebob

    showmebob Member

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    Sorry, I should have stated 9mm pistol.
     
  4. IMtheNRA

    IMtheNRA Member

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    I have the same problem with most 9mm brass, except Winchester. In my case it is probably a combination of a Hornady die that is on the large end of the tolerance scale and FC & Speer brass, which is probably a little on the thin side.

    What brand of sizing die do you use?
     
  5. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Member

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    Your thumbs are probably just normal thumbs.

    Many reloaders report that FC brass is thin walled, making the inner diameter of sized cases a bit larger than needed for good neck tension. Some use FC only for lead bullets (which are .001 or .002 larger than jacketed). A few size them with a die made intentionally to undersize by a couple thousandths. Some folks recycle them as scrap.
     
  6. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    My rule of thumb is, you can't push on a bullet with your thumb hard enough to move it without needing an ice pack on the bruse the next day.

    I'd measure your expander.
    It must be at least .002" smaller then bullet dia.
    Or in the case of 9mm, .353" or even .352" smaller.

    Also, make sure the sizing die is screwed down all the way to just kiss the shell holder.
    The 9mm case is tapered, and some brands of dies with tapered inserts won't size the case mouth enough if the die is backed off at all.

    rc
     
  7. showmebob

    showmebob Member

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    IMtheNRA

    I was using Hornady sizing die and the Hornady PTX. I may try using a different expander or measure the ptx as RCModel suggested.

    I guess this would lead to another question. Hmm, before posting it I'll do some measuring tonight.
     
  8. PO2Hammer

    PO2Hammer Member

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    You have a much more accurate tool at your disposal to measure set back - your pistol.

    Make up 3 or 4 dummy rounds (no powder or primer) with the components you are using, load them in the magazine and cycle them into your pistol by pulling the slide back and letting it fly forward to simulate the feed cycle. measure before and after.

    My standard is that my rounds will not set back more than .005" after three cycles through the gun.

    I don't think the slow, steady pressure of your thumb really replicates the impacts the rounds receive during the feed cycle.

    I use FC brass quite a bit in 9mm. It's relatively soft, you can feel the difference in the sizing process compared to Win brass. The key seems to be not over flaring or over expanding the brass before seating the bullet. I stopped using a conventional expand/flare die and use the Lee universal expander, it only flares the case mouth, it does not expand the 'neck' area. That leaves the bullet to do all the expanding, greatly increasing the grip of the case on the bullet.

    On crimping I just bump the case mouth with a taper crimp die to bring the case mouth straight.
     
  9. bubbacrabb

    bubbacrabb Member

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    I load a ton of 9mm with FC brass. It is good brass. I get it by the bucket full. I use a dillion 550, with lee dies. I would do as others say, but the brass should do well for you.
     
  10. kingmt

    kingmt Member

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    Need some measurements. After sizing brass ID, OD, & bullet OD. These need to be actual measurements & not read from the box.

    I like FC brass.
     
  11. showmebob

    showmebob Member

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    Measured my expander. It is .352
     
  12. showmebob

    showmebob Member

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    PO2Hammer

    You have some interesting ideas. I can definately tell the difference while seating the bullets. I never thought about not expanding the cases. How does that work with say Win or RP cases? Do they bulge if not expanded?
     
  13. showmebob

    showmebob Member

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    Kingmt

    Not sure I'll have time tonight to get these measurements but I'll post when I do. My assumption was that sizing would leave the id small enough that the expander would then resize so that all brands would have the same ID therefore there shouldn't be any difference in ID just OD. The last time I measured the bullets they were .355 spot on.
     
  14. PO2Hammer

    PO2Hammer Member

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    I use that method with Win cases as well. Also other calibers such as .40, 10mm and .45acp. I flare only about .003"-.005". I have to hold the bullet as it enters the seating die, so it may frustrate the high speed progressive loaders.

    Cases will end up the same outside diameter weather or not you use the expander die. If you use an expander die then the cases are 'pre-stretched', and some of the grip is lost. If you don't, the case neck is smaller (tighter) and the bullet does all the expanding, maximizing the grip on the bullet.

    The idea of the expander die is to make the interior diameters uniform from one brand of case to another. That's all well and good, but bullet grip (a.k.a. neck tension, bullet tension) is more important IMO because it's a major safety factor. Bullet set back is probably one of the top reasons for kabooms in autoloaders.

    Another factor is the sizing die. The lower on the case you can get the sizer, the smaller the case neck will be because of the taper. When you seat the bullet, you should see a slight bulge in the case at the base of the bullet. It should be uniform all the way around the case. That also helps prevent set back.

    I'm not a huge fan of Lee products, but their 9mm sizer seems to work very well at getting the 9mm cases down tight. The Lee universal expander is also a neat tool. I use it on all my auto pistol loads.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2012
  15. kingmt

    kingmt Member

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    Huh? I bell my cases not expand. Never heard of someone pulling a expander all the way through a straight wall. Maybe I missed that class & have been doing it wrong all this time. I just assumed that when people said expanding they were just putting a bell on them.
     
  16. PO2Hammer

    PO2Hammer Member

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    Maybe you should take a closer look at your expander die stem.
     
  17. kingmt

    kingmt Member

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    Mine are tapered. They don't expanded they just bell.
     
  18. kingmt

    kingmt Member

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    What kind of dies do you use?
     
  19. PO2Hammer

    PO2Hammer Member

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    Lee powder through and Lyman M dies. The Lee version has a .353" expander section then a flare. The Lyman has a much longer .353" expander section, then a short .357" section, then a very abrupt flare. It looks like the Lyman M die was designed for lead bullets in .38 Super, not a very good design for 9mm IMO.

    The Lee universal expander die used a cone shaped tip that can be adjusted for just about any caliber. It should really be called a universal flaring tool.
    http://www.midwayusa.com/product/140461/lee-universal-neck-expanding-die
     
  20. showmebob

    showmebob Member

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    I use RCBS, hornady lee. They all work the same for regular dies.
     
  21. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

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    If you can move those bullets with your bare hands, something is deffinitely not right. And regarding 9mm, those are tappered cases, so it should be darn near impossible to move them with your hands. I've tested some against my reloading bench using everything I can muster, and they don't move at all.

    Make sure you aren't over belling the mouths
    Make sure you aren't over crimping the mouths
    Check expander for too much diameter (RC)

    GS
     
  22. showmebob

    showmebob Member

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    I only bell the case mouth barely enough to start the bullet.
    I'm sure I'm not over crimping or under crimping, I've played with this several times.
    The expander is the correct diameter and works just great with other brands. I can push against the bench with both hands and not have the bullet move with other brands, just the FC cases.
     
  23. bds

    bds Member

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    I use Lee pistol dies and whether I use jacketed/plated/lead bullets, I "flare" the case neck just enough so the inside of flared case neck is slightly larger than the bullet base/diameter to allow the bullet to be set flat for seating.

    Some say they don't flare for rounded base bullets. This works if the case wall is stiff enough to not bulge/collapse during seating. I have bulged once-fired PMC 45ACP cases even when using flared case necks to the point where the finished rounds failed to fully chamber (one case where FCD came in handy). I ended up recycling the entire batch of these once-fired cases.

    I have used FC and Federal headstamp cases in 9/40/45 with jacketed/plated/lead/Moly coated lead bullets and haven't had problems to report.
     
  24. showmebob

    showmebob Member

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    Found the problem!

    Had a little time so I sat down with a bunch of cases and the dial calipers.

    First: The FC cases are springy compared to other brands. Sizing the FC's they would always come out about .002 OD larger than other brands. The wall thickness measured the same as other brands so that makes the ID about .002 larger to start with. They definately took less force to expand than other brands. I think once they are stretched from initial firing they tend to want to return to that size.

    Second: I was using a Hornady PTX expander. Hornady uses a stair step method of expanding the cases. I have heard this is to better accomodate those loading lead bullets. The smaller size is standard for 9mm and the larger step is about .002 larger.

    So: I loaded some FC cases with my old Hornady expander (straight, non stepped). Of the cases I loaded I could only push 2 of the bullets back into the case. This compares with about 80% push back when using the PTX. I was pushing as hard as I could with both thumbs and the effort required was much greater than when I used the PTX.

    Conclusion: The combination of the FC brass and the Hornady PTX caused to much loss of neck tension. The PTX works just fine with other brands of brass so I can't blame Hornady. Use caution if you use FC and the PTX. Test for set back on the bench and avoid troubles at the range.
     
  25. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

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    I load tons of FC brass for 9mm, 38 spcl, .357 mag., and .40 cal. and don't have that problem at all. But once again, I never bell my case mouths, I just give the mouths a nice even internal chamfer to allow the bullets to start straight when seating. My 9mm loads look simular to a coke bottle when finished, and I would probably break my thumb before the bullet would move.

    Since 9mm is a tapered case, as clarified by RC, the bullet should be sightly harder to set back just by simple physics.

    I would try not belling the mouths, and then do an internal mouth chamfer before seating to prevent shaving. All to often poor neck tension on AL handgun brass is the result of one or both, either applying to much crimp, or too much mouth belling. Remember, auto loading cases do not have a canelure because those type cases head spaces on the mouth. This means the crimp only serves as a means of closing the bell. The crimp does not provide neck tension, as with canelured cases, 38 spcl, or other revolver cartridges.

    GS
     
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