Separating brass

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by upsguy, Feb 27, 2011.

  1. upsguy

    upsguy New Member

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    Now I know why it's a good idea to do this. I started working up loads for .38 spl using once-fired Winchester brass and as I went to seat a bullet, it dropped half way down the case. Not having ANY expierence reloading, I figured the case was bad. I took a good look at it and simply set it aside not knowing why the bullet wouldn't stay in like the others had? As I went on, again, I got another one, then another one... What the heck! As I dumped the powder back into the hopper, I noticed it was Remington brass. Of course!!! The light bulb went on upstairs and realized what was goin on. Just that slight difference between the two really shows how much the tolerance seperates them.

    All this time collecting my brass, my kids thought I was nuts seperating them wasting my time, they'd say. Now I can tell them WHY I do it and it really needs to be done.

    Has anyone else had this happen to them? I've read alot on here where people say they don't bother. Is this being too anal, or simply the right way to keep things orderly?
  2. todd51

    todd51 Well-Known Member

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    Something is not right here. A .38 spl. bullet should not drop down in to a brass case whether is is new case, a just fired case, a just sized case, a case that has been expanded using the expander die and even after it has had the mouth flared, whether it is a .357 lead or .356 jacket bullet. Can you tell us what you have done to those cases in preparation for their loading. A bullet should just barely enter a sized, expanded, and flared case not drop half way down. :confused:
  3. upsguy

    upsguy New Member

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    The only thing Ive done was tumble them, thats it. That's exactly what I was thinking, something's not right. Like I said, I ran everything (Rem and Win brass) the same way, Decap-resizeing die, flared-powder dump die, then getting ready to seat the bullet, the Win. brass were the same. Those held the bullet snug enough not to shave anything, btw, these bullets are Winchester 130gr. fmj. then seating die and crimped and inspected. All good till I tried the Rem. brass. I figured, maybe the cases are made different meaning, the Win. brass are thicker? and the Rem. brass got streched a hair wider, hence, the bullet sliding down, not seating properly? I don't know what the heck's going on with this, because this is the first time for me loading .38's. Anyone else got any ideas?
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2011
  4. BobMcG

    BobMcG Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Todd's correct.

    Just for the heck of it and to prove a point, I took some fired and some ready to load .38 cases from both Winchester and Remington and none would let any of the seven different lead and jacketed bullets (.358 & .357) I chose to use, drop into them or even close to it for that matter, as should be the case.
    I can't picture off the top of my head what you've run into.
  5. carver

    carver Moderator

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    Nor can I! I don't seperate my cases unless I'm trying to work up a load for a specific gun. I have all kinds of brass, as like you, I scrounge the ranges every time I go to one. I will say, though I have never run into this situation, it is possible to have undersized bullets, and over flared cases, this could cause a small bullet to drop down half way in the case. But half way is still probably not to the crimp ring, or is it? I suspect that you are putting a flare on your cases that is very excessive. I flare to the point that a bullet will only just start enough to sit there untill I press it into the brass.
  6. BobMcG

    BobMcG Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Exactly, same here. Is this how you (upsguy) are doing it?
  7. upsguy

    upsguy New Member

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    Yea... I'm stumped as well. When I flared the cases, it's just enough to seat the bullet. The bullets themselves are Winchester 130gr. fmj, (no marking on the bag) but i used my caliper and it's .357. Everything Im using is brand spankin' new except the brass. This brass is at least 10-15 years old and I know that shouldn't make a difference. I'm gonna investigate later, gotta go to a gun show then to the range and try out my reloads.
  8. mikld

    mikld Active Member

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    Try measuring a case before it it flared. The primer punch enters the case first and goes down to punch out the primer. The carbide ring (or ID of a steel die) swages the outside diameter of the case back to spec. As it is being withdrawn, the expander button, on the primer punch, opens up the ID of the case back to spec. Somewhere in this operation something is making the ID too big, or not sizing the OD down...

    MHO
  9. BobMcG

    BobMcG Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    You'd think that was the case, but wasn't the problem only with the Remington brass and not the Winchester. Is this correct upsguy? Or if not, could you please clarify this point?
  10. 312shooter

    312shooter Active Member

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    Are you using a 357 die, 38/357, or a 38 die......?
  11. noylj

    noylj Member

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    The bullet sounds like a 0.356" bullet for .38 Super. Is box labeled 0.357"?
    I have NEVER had a sized and properly expanded case be too large for the bullet. However, if you combine R.P. cases with thin walls and a slightly too-large expander with a .38 Super .356" bullet, you could possibly have these problems.
    I load L-HBWCs in .38 Special for my S&W M52 and found best accuracy was with unsized cases. Due to the very low pressure, the cases are not really expanded. However, unless I was to special order a larger expander, a sized and expanded case will swage down the bullets during the seating step enough to destroy accuracy. Unsized gives me good bullet tension and no damage to the bullet.
    Of course, when I read a post like this, I want to know:
    What is the case ID after sizing and after expansion for the "good" and "bad" cases? What are the case wall thinknesses of the "good" and "bad" cases? What is the bullet diameter? Why are measurements not taken to determine what and where the problem is?
  12. upsguy

    upsguy New Member

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    Yes Bob, that was the original problem.
  13. upsguy

    upsguy New Member

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    It's a Lee .38spl (says it can do .357 mag).
  14. upsguy

    upsguy New Member

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    Like I posted before, the Winchester package (bag) does not have the bullet size printed on it, I measured it at .357. Range report to follow...
  15. upsguy

    upsguy New Member

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    I went to the range today and fired off my first ever reloads, man o man does it feel good to do that! I think I know what happened with these .38 loads. When it was time to fire these, I chose to use my Winchester 1892 lever-action. Still bothered by the bullet sinking in problem, I decided to load five rounds instead of ten and visually checked the OAL before chambering the round. The first three rounds went BANG, then I got a jam in the action, I had a hard time getting the stuck round out. Pulled the sucker out and the dang bullet slid down below the case mouth from the pressure inside the feed tube, just like the Remington rounds. That was the end of shooting those rounds out of that gun so I brought out my snubby. The rest of them went off with no problems as did all of my other loads in .45 Colt and .45ACP.

    I'm pretty sure the problem is the Powder through expanding die, Im almost positive I set the die too deep inside the brass. When I got home I loaded a dummy round and noticed if I pressed the bullet in the case before seating it with the die, (just pushing with my fingers) I could almost seat it myself. For some reason those Remington cases were looser than the Winchesters, I don't know how else to describe it. So, tomorrow I'll get back on the press and adjust the die and go from there.

    Thank you all for giving me your opinions and ideas.
  16. woolleyworm

    woolleyworm Active Member

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    I always like to double/triple check everything if I run into a problem like this. Measure all ID and OD of the case to get comparison wall thickness and check the trim lenths; then check the bullets against each other too.

    Hope you can narrow it down, there IS a specific reason that is causing this. A difference in case length can cause your expanding die to overflare the longer cases, this still shouldn't cause the bullet to drop in the case. ( I would think, but stranger things have happened. )
  17. jdon72

    jdon72 New Member

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    you did size the cases, right?
  18. noylj

    noylj Member

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    If you are shooting wadcutters that extend beyond the case mouth, you need a roll crimp to help hold the bullet.
    I really don't know if carbines are made to feed full wadcutters. Full wadcutters are really made for revolvers (where you should seat the bullet so it extends a little into the cylinder throat) and special auto pistols (S&W M52 and custom 1911).
    Going back to the original post, you didn't reference wadcutters, just that you have sized and expanded cases the allow bullets to drop to the bottom of the case.
    The sizing die is designed to bring the case ID to well below bullet diameter. This way, no matter how thin or thick the case walls are, the expander will bring the case ID up to 0.001-0.002" below bullet diameter.
    This means the the expander should bring the case ID up to 0.355-0.356. For lead bullets, a slightly larger expander is needed otherwise the lead bullet will be swaged down and accuracy will be poorer and you might get leading.
    It shouldn't matter how far down the expander goes, other than you have to get to the case mouth flare/bell part of the expander die.
    This is why measurements would be so useful--to determine if the sizing die or the expander die is the cause of the problem.
  19. DGG!

    DGG! New Member

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    You need to spend $20 and get a cartridge gauge for your size cartridge. If your rounds don't easily drop in and fall out of it then your specs are off.

    Every cartridge I reload goes through this test.

    Also, it seems like your crimp may be a little weak if the bullets are falling into the case because of recoil forces.
  20. upsguy

    upsguy New Member

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    Now I'm really stumped. I've re-tried to figure this out and I'm not sure what's goin on. I took a once-fired case, resized/deprimed, re-adjusted the powder-thru expanding die so the bullet just sits on there. Not even going to the bullet seater, I can push the dang bullet into the case and watch it go down the brass. Ugh! These bullets are Winchester 130 gr. FMJ that were in the Winchester plastic bag 100ct.

    Can anyone suggest what my next step should be to figure this out? The brass seems too big to accept the bullet. I have to resize to get rid of the old crimp, then it seems like the bullet is too small... What gives?
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