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Shrinking brass

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by CrackerJim, Jun 11, 2012.

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  1. CrackerJim

    CrackerJim Member

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    I've reloaded both rifle and pistol cases over the years but have not come across this particular situation before.

    I've worked up loads in 45 colt for my new rifle. I bought unprimed Starline brass, measured and trimmed all to length. I have a Dillon 550 press with Dillon four die set. I've settled on 19.5 gr 2400 using Oregon Trails 250 gr hardcast bullet with a Remington primer (2 1/2 as I recall) for a muzzle velocity at just over 1500 fps with a 20 fps spread in a five shot string. Accuracy is good as expected from the tight spread.

    After sizing, priming the brass, the brass measures .011 over the trimmed dimension showing that the resizing is drawing the brass out a bit. The balance of the dies are set accordingly so the loads are consistent. I figure with these changes in length, I'll just load all the brass the first time before I start any reloads so that I'll only have one more die adjustment.

    Now to the part I'm not understanding:

    In looking the brass over that has been once fired, the length changed again from the reloading operation......it got shorter. The brass lengths very but generally are .004 shorter that the original trim so total shrinkage of +- .015 from the loaded rounds. I'm having a hard time understanding why the cases get shorter from being fired?!

    I like to keep my brass length consistent for decent accuracy etc and will have a few more weeks before having to decide what my new trim length will be after I've once fired all my cases.

    I'm assuming that the lengthening due to the resizing draw out should be substantially complete. The shortening due to firing is not as consistent as the lengthening due to the resizing and if it happens every time, it will less than ideal. I'm hoping to have several reloadings of each case as pressure signs don't indicate I'm pushing the brass.

    Thanks for any insight you can give me.

    Jim
     
  2. kingmt

    kingmt Member

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    When it expands to the walls of the chamber that brass has to come from somewhere. batter then getting thinner.
     
  3. CrackerJim

    CrackerJim Member

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    From what you're suggesting, since I haven't seen this on other cases I've worked on (357 mag, 44 mag), am I to believe my chamber is over size?

    I'm not noticing anything unusual near the head but may have to keep an eye on it to catch future case separation at the head..........

    Jim
     
  4. Josh45

    Josh45 Member

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    If I am reading correctly, Are you trimming the brass before sizing the brass?
    Or are you trimming after you size because the way I am reading your OP, It sounds like the first option to me?
     
  5. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

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    1. .45 Colts always have oversized chambers. .357's and .44's don't.
    2. Try measuring the brass length *after* you resize them.
     
  6. kingmt

    kingmt Member

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    No. Maybe it has more room in the camber then the others or your stretching the case more from pressure. The larger case will show it more.

    I FL my rifle brass then trim it. I get like 20 firings before the trimmer will even reach it again.
     
  7. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Cases can only be measured or trimmed after sizing.

    It makes no difference if you measure or trim before sizing, as it will be wrong after you size it.

    rc
     
  8. CrackerJim

    CrackerJim Member

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    In this case, I trimmed before sizing to get a standard size. In checking case length after sizing, the increase in case length is very consistent. I understand I could resize first, then trim. Either way, as long as I come out with consistent case length, I'm a happy camper (shooter :)).

    So cartridges are going into the rifle at consistent length but are coming out shorter and with some variation in their final length. From the comment regarding the 45 colt chamber being typically oversize, I take it that this will occur every time the cartridges are fired? :(

    I guess I'm not used to having to trim every time cases are reloaded. Learn something new every day (maybe I should have bought the 44 mag version of this rifle instead of the 45 colt....)

    Thanks,

    Jim
     
  9. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

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    Resize them and trim them once. You'll probably never have to trim them again.
     
  10. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    There is really no need to be that OCD about it.

    I can't remember ever trimming a .45 Colt case in my life.
    The only thing it effects is the amount of roll-crimp, if there is a wide length differance.
    I don't crimp them hard enough to matter.

    rc
     
  11. highlander 5

    highlander 5 Member

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    If you look closely 45 Colt cases look like Pilsner beer glasses after firing. The 45 Colt chamber dimensions are .005 -.010 larger than the same gun in say 44 Mag. Could never get an answer to why so I'm guessing it was to allow easier eextraction after firing a fair volume of black powder loads. Depending on the manufacturer chamber mouths vary alot as well. My first Ruger SA was a Bisley and the chamber throats were .450-.4515,not good when you try to get a .452 diamter bullet to shoot decently. Had a Colt Anaconda whose mouths were .455,I liked the pistol but could never get it to shoot well because of the oversized chamber mouths.
     
  12. CrackerJim

    CrackerJim Member

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    Bob,

    I'm hoping that's true regarding the trimming.


    I'll work up a batch sizing first then trimming. Although with the couple of dozen cases I measured after trimming, then sizing were remarkably consistent in the final length (all with in .001 length), there will be virtually zero difference in length by trimming second.

    I'm more concerned of the un-even shrinking which then puts the cases at various lengths (.004-5 range of lengths measured so far). I'm curious as to why the case length changes are so consistent with sizing (good brass I assume) but so inconsistent when fired (especially considering the low fps spread). However, perhaps that much variation will not affect accuracy too much, with the amount of crimp I use, to be a real factor and it all becomes a moot point.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Jim
     
  13. CrackerJim

    CrackerJim Member

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    rcmodel,

    You folks type faster than I do. :)

    As I don't use any more crimp than necessary to hold under recoil, I'll probably be fine.

    And of course, I'm not shooting long range so these variations are probably not worth the bandwidth we're using to discuss them......:rolleyes:

    (and we're not even mentioning the fact that I probably can't shoot that well anyway! :eek: :eek:)

    However, I do appreciate the discussion if for nothing else than to help with my education and curiosity!

    Thanks again,

    Jim
     
  14. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

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    RC nailed it, you must resize prior to trimming or the result will be inconsistency.

    I always resize and trim my new brass before loading it. Once this has been done, I'll usually not see more than .001" - .002" variance afte that. But I'm really OCD about how well maintained my brass length is. So it's probably safe to say that your brass will not grow much, if at all, after the first couple reloadings.

    GS
     
  15. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Because you only have one sizing die with a hole in it.

    But you have six different chambers with six different holes in them in your gun.
    It would be very unlikely they are all exactly identical.

    rc
     
  16. CrackerJim

    CrackerJim Member

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    rcmodel,

    Good point to keep in mind when I load for my pistols but I'm loading for a rifle (see first post).

    gamestalker,

    In this particular instance, trimming first worked out but I agree, in general, sizing first then trimming is the way to go.

    I was looking at my notes, after getting home from work, and the once fired brass has a case length variation of the .004-5 as mentioned earlier with a few outliers.

    I think I'll take 25 cases with the variations and load them (without any trimming). I'll take the chrony to the range one more time and see what kind of variance in fps I'm getting as well as group size.

    I'll take a second group of once fired, resize, trim to same length and check them. Then I can get a good feel for how critical the case length is in this cartridge.

    Jim
     
  17. Steve C

    Steve C Member

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    Handgun brass almost always get shorter in length over subsequent reloadings while rifle brass stretches and gets longer with use.
     
  18. jim243

    jim243 Member

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    CrackerJim, you beat me to the comment that you are reloading for a rifle. You do type that fast. (LOL)

    Yes, trim AFTER resizing, but the 45 Colt case indexes on the rim and not the case mouth. Triming should not be necessary unless you are looking for a consistant crimp on all the cases.

    My 243's have been doing the same (shorter after firing) and at first gave me concern about excessive headspace on my reloads. But it was so small a variance that it was still well within SAAMI specs and still shot consistant small groups, that it really is a non-issue.

    Good luck and happy shooting.
    Jim
     
  19. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    I am betting that you will not be able to tell the difference in velocity between the groups. I see none to speak of with my 45 Colt ammo.;)
     
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