Head space

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by Rumanji, Feb 13, 2010.

  1. Rumanji

    Rumanji New Member

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    Several years ago I purchased a bunch of once fired .223 brass. I am just getting back into reloading after a period of about 15 years. I tried some of these today in an L.E. Wilson cartridge head space gauge. Right away I discover the cartridge head sticking out beyond the maximum. Upon reading the instructions carefully that come with the gauge, it tells me to adjust the sizing die to force the brass farther up into the die. Little by little (and rechecking each time), I adjusted and pressed the case farther into the die until it could not be inserted any further. The cartridge is still beyond the maximum. My dies are from a very old RCBS, two die set. I have not tried chambering the brass in the intended for use rifle yet, but assume it will chamber hard. If is does not chamber hard, would there be any undesirable consequences to using this brass? Would you recommend different dies, discarding the brass, etc. ? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  2. gdmoody

    gdmoody Moderator Supporting Member

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    If it is just brass, then I would think that you should invest in a trimmer and trim it to the recommended case trim length. Your reloading manual should tell you what that is. My manuals tell me that the case trim length for a .223 rem is 1.750 and that the Maximum Case Length is 1.760

    I have never used a cartridge head space gauge but isn't that for gauging the head space of LOADED ammo and not the empty piece of brass??
  3. madmantrapper

    madmantrapper New Member

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    I think you are very confused and should buy a reloading handbook and read it well.
  4. 312shooter

    312shooter Active Member

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    +1

    Why does headspace matter..........? If this is once fired brass you purchased then it was fired from another chamber. You must full length resize your brass and trim those pieces which exceed the maximum length stated in your data books. There is no other way around this, period.

    Thread your sizing die down until it lightly touches the shellholder at top of ram stroke. Run lubricated casings throught the die to properly resize.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2010
  5. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    + another. read up. itll start to make sense;)
  6. jdon72

    jdon72 New Member

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    After you read your books...go to rcbs website and watch their videos on case trimming and others on how to reload. Make sure you absolutely know what you are doing before you start this process.


    J
  7. Rumanji

    Rumanji New Member

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    I have books, and will do some more reading. I think that I may not have been clear on what I am asking. I do have a full length resizing die, I have ran the brass as far into the die as possible, the Wilson cartridge case gauge is for empty brass and it checks both ends of the cartridge case. I do have a case trimmer - however the end that one trims, is not the end causing the problem - the problem is the head of the cartridge case rises above the top "step" of the guage, even after full length resizing. To quote the L.E. Wilson info sheet, " This is a one-piece non-adjustable, cylinder type guage for checking resized cartridge cases for cone-to-head and over-all length". If I have clarified my question, perhaps someone can help. If so, thank you. If not, I will call the Wilson Company. Thanks Again.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2010
  8. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    If the cartridges are intended to go only into one gun then the cases only have to fit that one gun's chamber. When cases are made they are sized to fit any gun made to the industry standards specification. When such a cartridge is fired in your rifle, the case expands (in length too) to fit into that chamber. "Neck Sizing Only" only reshapes the neck of the case whereas "Full Length" sizing moves the case shoulder back to the industry standard specs. This works the brass moving it back and forth and limits its life somewhat.

    The point is the Wilson gage is made to those industry standards, not to the sizing of your chamber and every rifle's chamber is different, even between two identical guns. What matters is that the cartridge fits the gun or guns it was intended for. If you move the shoulder back with the full length sizing die then the ammo will fit any gun. If you keep the shoulder where it ended up after shooting the cartridge it will work again in you rifle but perhaps in no one else's gun. So you get to choose.

    The Wilson gage could be made wrong (highly unlikely but possible) or the RCBS dies you have are really neck size only dies or the dies may be made wrong. Decide how you want to make your ammo (neck or full length sized?) and I suggest full length sizing to start. I think you need to:

    1. Determine if all the fired brass fits your chamber. Did it get fired in your chamber or someone elses? If the latter then it needs to be full length resized at least once and then fired in your gun.

    2. Replace the RCBS sizing die if it appears it sizes incorrectly. Check to see if the die set you have is a neck size only die set. If so, you may want to use it in the future.

    Failure of the case heads to correctly fit in the Wilson gage is not the end of the world if the brass will fit into your gun's chamber But if this ammo is for a semi-auto gun it is best that every case be full length resized every time, for safety reasons.

    LDBennett
  9. accident

    accident Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Rumanji,I haven't been reloading but about a year and know from my experience that all the guys that answered your thread are premier reloaders and won't steer you wrong.They have all helped me.Follow what they said and you should remedy your problems. Joe
  10. Rumanji

    Rumanji New Member

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    I have tried chambering the brass into my rifle now and it will not chamber properly. The brass was purchased many years back from a supply business that shall remain nameless, so it was fired in someone elses gun. I feel that the gauge is correct and that my problem is apparently the full length resizing die. I shall purchase a different die and try that. If I can correct the situation, I will fire the ammo in my rifle and then neck size only. Thanks so much for the replies.
  11. accident

    accident Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Can you just borrow one from someone you know? Good Luck.Keep in touch with what you find. Joe
  12. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    Rumanji:

    Do inspect your RCBS die and see if it is not a neck size only die. If you intend to use the brass in one gun and it is not a semi-auto, you may still find it useful after a full length sizing and a firing of the brass in your gun.

    If the die is a full length sizing die the caliber designation engraved on the top of the die body will probably say 223 FL. It may have a cat. number of 11129 for full length sizer die or 11130 if it is a neck size only die. An inspection of the die internally with a bright light MIGHT reveal a clearance area in the die for the case shoulder of the neck size only die.

    LDBennett
  13. medalguy

    medalguy Member

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    Also check the wording on the top of the die. "FL" means full length resizing and "NECK" means it will resize the neck only, not move the shoulder back.
  14. Rumanji

    Rumanji New Member

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    OK, Sorry this is so late, but I was involved in a serious accident. I just yesterday was able to try my new Redding full length, resizing die. Bingo! The cartridge fits the Wilson guage perfectly and chambers correctly in the rifle. I did need to trim the overall length slightly. My RCBS die was a full length resizing die. I don't know why it would not properly resize the brass. The RCBS set was part of a trade I made many years ago. It shall be relegated to a junk pile! All is well now. Thanks for all of the replies to my post!
  15. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    Rumanji:

    God knows how old you RCBS die set really is and over the years the specification for cartridges has gotten to be better controlled. You are doing well to discard the old RCBS dies and start using the new dies set you bought. Who knows what the old RCBS dies set has been subjected to.... the "Previous Owner" problem.

    Sometimes old reloading stuff is just not worth the little money it normally goes for. It can be more frustrating than just buying the correct new stuff!

    LDBennett
    Last edited: May 5, 2010
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