Author Topic: Cases Stuck in the Chamber  (Read 7016 times)

Offline bcksknr

  • Survival Demonstrator
  • *******
  • Posts: 2148
  • Karma: 313
  • Child of the Cold War
Cases Stuck in the Chamber
« on: December 05, 2016, 07:54:36 AM »
     This deer season my son and I came upon a chambering problem. One was with .270 and the other was with .30-06. I pretty much shoot handloads, although these two calibers usually use up much less than a box each, during the season. I'll admit that I "scrounge" for spent brass at the local range. I tumble, full length resize with RCBS dies, trim for case length and reload; been doing this for years. Problem is that for both calibers, a few rounds will chamber, the bolt closes fully, but the action won't rotate into cocked and locked position. The rounds will extract with normal effort and there are no markings on either the bullet or case. Of course,  both case length and overall length check out below the max, with a dial caliper.
     I've been told that brass fired in actions other than mine may have fire formed the body of the cases to a size larger than my chamber. Apparently full length resizing only affects the neck and shoulder of the case, not the entire body of the case. I had a similar problem with a new S&W M&P 15 and the solution was to use "small base dies". Haven't had a problem with that gun since. My Mini-14 will happily digest my reloads, but the S&W will not, unless I use the small base dies.
     This may be a solution for cases that haven't been processed, but I have literally hundreds of these calibers reloaded already. The same gunsmith told me that his advice would be to safely chamber every loaded round and discard any that won't allow the action to close; pull the bullets and recycle them and the powder and toss the brass. Then he said what he does is to tumble, resize and trim found brass. Then he chambers each one, discarding any that are "tight". He then reloads and again checks for proper chambering before boxing them up.
     Reliability is a big issue and in my situation this seems to be a solution. I'm also considering "small base dies" in these calibers, but I am a little fuzzy on whether or not they completely resize the entire case. One other thing. My handloads function flawlessly in two military actions I have; a Springfield 03-A3 and a Garand. My understanding is that military chambers spec a little "loose", which could lend some credence to the idea that brass fire formed in another gun might not work in my hunting bolt actions. Any ideas would be appreciated.

Offline Carl

  • Mr HamTastic!
  • Forum Veteran
  • *********
  • Posts: 13105
  • Karma: 714
  • COW?...No ,I haven't seen your cow.
Re: Cases Stuck in the Chamber
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2016, 08:41:37 AM »
Do you crimp to a visible roll crimp or just to remove the slight funnel for bullet insertion?

Offline armymars

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 814
  • Karma: 23
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Cases Stuck in the Chamber
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2016, 09:08:40 AM »
I've never had this happen with found brass, but a small base resizer die could help. Of course you never know how the other guys head space is on his guns.

Offline bcksknr

  • Survival Demonstrator
  • *******
  • Posts: 2148
  • Karma: 313
  • Child of the Cold War
Re: Cases Stuck in the Chamber
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2016, 03:35:35 PM »
     I don't crimp any of these rounds. I only use Hornady boat tail soft point bullets. 165 grain in .30-06 and 130 grain in .270. Since there is no cannelure on these bullets, they should not be crimped (as I understand it). I do slightly chamfer the case mouth after length trimming, more to remove any burr. The boat tail bullets seat easily yet snugly in the case. I have never had any bullets move once seated.
     Small base die sets are about $50 each and I figure pretesting the brass before reloading is cheaper than buying those sets for my two hunting calibers. I have the time to check all of my already loaded rounds anyway (I need to inventory a little bit too).
     My first concern was some kind of malfunction with the rifles, but I don't think that is the cause. I'm careful about cleaning and I scrubbed the chambers with a chamber brush, so that's not a problem. I use Hoppe's Copper Solvent and let a patch sit over night in the chambers before wiping them squeaky clean. There shouldn't be any copper fouling in them anyway.
     What concerns me most is really needing that round to chamber and function at some critical moment. I guess with the small amount we shoot during hunting season I could use factory loads, but I want to have an affordable stockpile in case things go "south". Besides, we do spend time at the range with these rifles, not just to sight in before opening day.
     If nothing else, perhaps this is a cautionary tale for other reloaders, who are as cheap as me and have reloaded found brass for bolt action guns.

Offline machinisttx

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 845
  • Karma: 48
  • yay
Re: Cases Stuck in the Chamber
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2016, 05:41:05 PM »
     
     I've been told that brass fired in actions other than mine may have fire formed the body of the cases to a size larger than my chamber.

Yes.

  Apparently full length resizing only affects the neck and shoulder of the case, not the entire body of the case. I had a similar problem with a new S&W M&P 15 and the solution was to use "small base dies". Haven't had a problem with that gun since. My Mini-14 will happily digest my reloads, but the S&W will not, unless I use the small base dies.

Full length dies resize the entire case, except for a small area at the base. Neck sizing only resizes the neck of the case and possibly pushes the shoulder back, depending on the die and how it is set up. Small base dies are usually made to size farther down the case, and to a smaller size than standard dies. Some brands of dies are typically made to tighter tolerances and resize the case more than others. There is also no need whatsoever to buy a "small base set". Only the sizer die is small base, the seat/crimp die is identical to the one in the standard set.

I have bought once fired brass, military and commercial, properly sized it with a standard full length size die and had no issues whatsoever with it. I have had issues with brass fired in one rifle, minimally resized(.003" shoulder setback, measured), reloaded, and then put into a different rifle. That simply does not work. One die setting is not necessarily correct for all rifles, and one resizing die does not necessarily work for all rifles. Another issue I have found is case lube. I had problems with getting a particular .308 die to properly resize some of that military machinegun brass(which have very loose chambers)....the problem was mostly solved by switching to a good case lube. Hornady one shot is garbage and was the source of many problems for me. I use either Dillon spray lube or Imperial size die wax now and have not had any more resizing issues.

My recommendation would be to buy a shoulder to base measurement tool. I suspect you'll find that the rounds that don't chamber properly have not had the shoulder pushed back as much as the rounds that do chamber. Another possible issue that just occurred to me is that the neck expander ball could be improperly adjusted, or there isn't enough lube in the case neck. Either can cause the ball to drag through the neck and pull the shoulder forward when the case is withdrawn from the die.

Offline armymars

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 814
  • Karma: 23
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Cases Stuck in the Chamber
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2016, 12:16:15 PM »
I forgot about the neck expander ball. +1

Offline Davew223

  • Survivor
  • ***
  • Posts: 100
  • Karma: 12
Re: Cases Stuck in the Chamber
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2016, 06:08:36 PM »
If your dies are RCBS full length sizing dies and the rifles have clean factory chambers, you don't have your dies set correctly to full length size. 

First, run the ram to the top of the reloading press stroke with the proper shell holder installed. Second, screw the resizing die into the press until it stops against the elevated shell holder. Third, all play must be removed from the system. To do this, lower the ram and turn the die 1/8 to 1/4 turn farther into the press. Check the adjustment by returning the shell holder to the top of its stroke--you should feel the press cam over center. Now set the large lock ring and your die is adjusted to properly full length resize cases.


Offline Carl

  • Mr HamTastic!
  • Forum Veteran
  • *********
  • Posts: 13105
  • Karma: 714
  • COW?...No ,I haven't seen your cow.
Re: Cases Stuck in the Chamber
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2016, 06:22:02 PM »
Why don't you select a casing that fits your rifle,
Put it through the size die and recheck,
If OK seat a bullet (no powder,no primer) Recheck
Look for changes in casing dimensions each step (write the down)

Measure for length and neck diameter and base diameter just at bottom of size die ( usually 3/8 above case head)

Do again with random sample,or pick one that does not quite chamber in the gun.

Offline res45

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 73
  • Karma: 10
Re: Cases Stuck in the Chamber
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2016, 07:01:16 AM »
It's really hard to make assumption on what might be causing the issue but I would say improper die setup in that particular press as some have the cam over feature an some do not.   I say this will no ill intent towards the OP as to his loading technique.

 I've handloaded for over 40 years using multiple  presses with probably 90% of all my brass being once fire or range pickup in more calibers an action types than I can remember,all were sized with standard FL resizing dies an none ever required a small base die.  I also do several caliber conversion one being making 300 Sav. brass from once fired 308 Win. as well as  7.62 NATO brass that was fired from a MG,these cases a well over expanded but are easily resized and converted to 300 Sav. once reformed and trimmed to proper length.  I reserve these for cast bullet loads with .311" dia. bullets.

Not all reloading dies / presses / shell holders are made the same although they are suppose to be within certain specifications any loose tolerances can cause issues especially when setting up the dies.  I would check to see if my expander ball or rod which ever applies is tight an not loose,the case neck is size on the down stroke as the expander exits the case,this can also pull the shoulder back out if the expander is to large,rough or the inside of the case neck is rough or dirty.  Is there any excess slop where the case head fits into the shell holder if so even if the die body fully contacts the shell holder the case can be pressed down due to the looser tolerance and not allow the case to be fully resized and the shoulder not bumped back properly.  a couple of thousands may make a big difference.  If the case seem loose in the shell hold change brands,Lee shell holder seem to be more loose while my Lyman an RCBS are tight. The Lees have never given my problems though as they are generally used in military surplus rifle cartridges.   While the Lyman / RCBS are for my modern caliber chamber rifles.

Some other things I do is I always tumble any new to me once fired or range brass before resizing,I also keep a copper bore brush one cal larger than the bottle neck rifle cartridge I'm resizing screwed into the side of my reloading table and run it through the case neck before sizing.  I've only ever used two brands of case lube Lee and Imperial sizing wax,not sure if that has any bearing on sizing issues or not.  I do prefer the Lee case lube when doing case conversion as it is a die makers wax and work much better than the imperial for that purpose.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2016, 07:09:34 AM by res45 »

Offline Carl

  • Mr HamTastic!
  • Forum Veteran
  • *********
  • Posts: 13105
  • Karma: 714
  • COW?...No ,I haven't seen your cow.
Re: Cases Stuck in the Chamber
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2016, 07:11:04 AM »
Great input Res45 I have loaded a lot on high speed (5000 per hour machines but you added more detail from a 'hand on' viewpoint.

Have some KARMA.

Offline bcksknr

  • Survival Demonstrator
  • *******
  • Posts: 2148
  • Karma: 313
  • Child of the Cold War
Re: Cases Stuck in the Chamber
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2016, 08:04:46 AM »
     Thanks for the tip on running a bronze brush through the case neck before resizing. I haven't been doing that, although I do tumble with ground walnut shell before resizing. I'll clean those case necks from now on. I've been chambering (carefully and safely) my already reloaded rounds through my Remington 700 BDL. a very small percentage will "hang up". I mark the boxes of OK ones and disassemble the "no-go's". I intend to do this with my Steyr also (.270) as I've had the same issues.
     Since the problem seems to be pretty sporadic, I don't think the expander ball is the issue; more likely crud inside the neck. I use RCBS case lube, very sparingly, and don't seem to have trouble with undo resistance needed in resizing. I wipe off the cases to remove any lube residue after sizing. It does seem a little "sticky" and I don't want to have "bits" stick on them. Someone mentioned lubing inside the case neck. I thought this was a bad idea? I didn't think powder should come into contact with the case lube and, after all, it's friction that holds the bullet in. 

Offline Carl

  • Mr HamTastic!
  • Forum Veteran
  • *********
  • Posts: 13105
  • Karma: 714
  • COW?...No ,I haven't seen your cow.
Re: Cases Stuck in the Chamber
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2016, 08:13:44 AM »
Add a slosh (teaspoon) of mineral spirits to your tumbling media for better internal and external case cleaning,the bronze neck brush is also a great idea.
Mineral spirits is paint thinner ,easy to find and you use very little,it is not lubricating or intrusive to powder.
This is a cleaning tip though and not a cure for the inconsistency you are having.

Offline machinisttx

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 845
  • Karma: 48
  • yay
Re: Cases Stuck in the Chamber
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2016, 11:39:39 AM »
Someone mentioned lubing inside the case neck. I thought this was a bad idea? I didn't think powder should come into contact with the case lube and, after all, it's friction that holds the bullet in.

I tumble my cases twice. Once before sizing to clean then, and then a second time after sizing(and with different media) to remove any lube. Even when I haven't done this, I've never had an issue. If you're really worried about it, you can use a dry mica lube for the case neck.

Offline McBob

  • Fledgling Prepper
  • *
  • Posts: 7
  • Karma: 0
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Cases Stuck in the Chamber
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2017, 09:26:41 AM »
Ran into this with some reloaded 7.62 military brass in my Ruger American... inspection showed that the cases were actually slightly too long and needed to be trimmed back a few small hundredths of an inch.  Get our your micrometer or a factory load to compare

Offline bcksknr

  • Survival Demonstrator
  • *******
  • Posts: 2148
  • Karma: 313
  • Child of the Cold War
Re: Cases Stuck in the Chamber
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2017, 11:42:11 AM »
     I'm slowly going through all of my rifle ammunition. I didn't have the "cam-over" set correctly on my press. I'm now using a sizing die that has the "throat" opened up so that I can resize the loaded cartridges correctly without crushing the seated bullet back into the case. I check with a William's "go-no-go" gauge before and after resizing. Almost all of my rounds are just a few thousands long. The resizing, with the proper cam-over moves the shoulder back just that amount and they then gauge correctly. No more stuck cases. Took a while to figure out what was the problem.

Offline Davew223

  • Survivor
  • ***
  • Posts: 100
  • Karma: 12
Re: Cases Stuck in the Chamber
« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2017, 02:20:17 PM »
STOP

At least pull the bullets and dump the powder before you resize.  Resizing a primed case is dangerous enough, but a loaded round?

Offline bcksknr

  • Survival Demonstrator
  • *******
  • Posts: 2148
  • Karma: 313
  • Child of the Cold War
Re: Cases Stuck in the Chamber
« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2017, 03:33:53 PM »
    Thanks for the concern. I'm not resizing loaded rounds, at least as in full length resizing. I'm using a modified die that does nothing more than move the case shoulder back two thousandths of an inch. The die base touches only the case rim, nowhere close to the primer. There is no contact between the bullet and the die wall. I've cycled through over a thousand rounds with no problems.
     The loaded round is completely enclosed within the die body, which is open at the upper end and slightly larger in diameter than .224 plus the case thickness. The die body is steel and has thicker walls than the chamber of my gun. If a round would go off within the die there would be no buildup of pressure and the bullet and gases would be directed straight up, out of the die. Of course I wear safety glasses.
     Everything has it's risks, but I'm comfortable with this procedure, but thanks again for your concern.

Offline machinisttx

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 845
  • Karma: 48
  • yay
Re: Cases Stuck in the Chamber
« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2017, 09:13:31 PM »
I don't know what alloy is used to make reloading dies, but it's likely not to be the same as what's used to make rifle barrels. "Steel" is a generic term used to describe a huge number of vastly different iron based alloys. "Steel" that works really well for prybars won't work all that well for knives, just like the "steel" in really good knife blades doesn't work all that well as a prybar.


Just because it's thicker doesn't mean it's any stronger, or more suitable to contain the 50,000+ psi that a typical rifle cartridge generates upon firing. There would be some buildup of pressure if a cartridge were to fire, perhaps enough to give the bullet lethal velocity, and certainly enough to rupture the brass case. Remember, you're shoving a loaded cartridge into a chamber(the die) with a press ram(the bolt). Unlike your rifle though, there are no locking lugs to keep the bolt(press ram) from opening, and the toggle linkage isn't strong enough to resist that much force. Also unlike your rifle, a shellholder doesn't support and enclose the case head, and the primer isn't captured.

It's not how many times that you've successfully completed a task, it's the one time there is a disastrous failure that matters. A toolmaker I used to work with nearly lost his life through no fault of his own, doing something he'd done a thousand times before. A grinding wheel let go and the chunk that hit him missed his jugular by, according to the surgeon, a literal millimeter.

Offline Carl

  • Mr HamTastic!
  • Forum Veteran
  • *********
  • Posts: 13105
  • Karma: 714
  • COW?...No ,I haven't seen your cow.
Re: Cases Stuck in the Chamber
« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2017, 09:51:58 PM »
I don't know what alloy is used to make reloading dies, but it's likely not to be the same as what's used to make rifle barrels. "Steel" is a generic term used to describe a huge number of vastly different iron based alloys. "Steel" that works really well for prybars won't work all that well for knives, just like the "steel" in really good knife blades doesn't work all that well as a prybar.


Just because it's thicker doesn't mean it's any stronger, or more suitable to contain the 50,000+ psi that a typical rifle cartridge generates upon firing. There would be some buildup of pressure if a cartridge were to fire, perhaps enough to give the bullet lethal velocity, and certainly enough to rupture the brass case. Remember, you're shoving a loaded cartridge into a chamber(the die) with a press ram(the bolt). Unlike your rifle though, there are no locking lugs to keep the bolt(press ram) from opening, and the toggle linkage isn't strong enough to resist that much force. Also unlike your rifle, a shellholder doesn't support and enclose the case head, and the primer isn't captured.

It's not how many times that you've successfully completed a task, it's the one time there is a disastrous failure that matters. A toolmaker I used to work with nearly lost his life through no fault of his own, doing something he'd done a thousand times before. A grinding wheel let go and the chunk that hit him missed his jugular by, according to the surgeon, a literal millimeter.

I also find this as bad practise as the lead can often be swaged in this process and lead does not spring back as brass will so while it can be done with a properly opened die ,I find it not worth the effort or safety factor. I would properly set the dies for next time and use the ammo for practice in the weapon it chambers best in and call it a learning misteak.