Easy Ways to Save Yourself Headaches at the Range (Part 2)

Written by Sierra Bullets Media Relations Manager Carroll Pilant

The tips below continue Easy Ways to Save Yourself Headaches at the Range (Part 1)

Five: Check Your Crimps

Overcrimped_Case_NeckRifle and handgun cartridges that are crimped with a roll crimp are often not trimmed to the same length as they should be. The short cases don’t get any crimp, the correct length cases crimp perfect and the long cases has a bulge right below the crimp that either keeps them from chambering or makes them really hard to chamber, depending on how much bulge there is. You can get some really erratic velocities also. Having the body of your seating die too low will also cause bulges either on the shoulder or neck. On taper crimp dies, the reloader sometimes doesn’t even get the case mouth bell smoothed out of the case and you can feel it actually still flare out. This does nothing to help hold the bullet firmly and will not feed smoothly into the chamber. Others will put the crimp so tight that it actually damages the bullet. The case mouth walls should feel smooth when you run your finger alongside of it. One way I like to check my crimp on a center fire pistol is to load about 3 rounds, measure the first one I put in the magazine, fire the first 2 letting the 3rd round chamber. Then I eject it and measure it to make sure it is the same length that it was when I measured it originally. If it isn’t, I adjust my crimp slightly more and repeat the process until the bullet stays the same length.

Six: Be Sure to Chamfer/Debur All New and Trimmed Cases

Not chamfering the inside/outside of the case mouth on bottleneck cartridges often causes problems also. When the case mouths are left square, there is often a tiny ring of copper gets shaved off the base or top of the boat tail on the bullet. Sooner or later one of those little rings will find their way into a chamber and will keep a round from chambering completely. Guess where they beat the gun at again.

Seven: Use the Correct Tool to Remove Crimped In Primers

Beveled_Primer_PocketA lot of surplus military cases available have crimped in primers. Besides being a little rough on decapping pins, they sometimes cause problems removing the crimp. Several companies make tools for removing the crimp such as the one that Dillon Precision makes that swages the primer pocket and leaves smooth rounded edges. Some others like Lyman, actually cut it out and faintly put a rounded edge on the mouth. A problem arises though when the reloader tries to use a case mouth chamfering tool to bevel the crimp out. They get to much bevel on it and the primer has a lot of unsupported area that stands a chance to rupture. (See the left side of the photo.) This not only spews gas and etches the bolt face, it can also get gas and metal particles into your eyes. If you are going to process crimped in primers, be sure to use the correct tool.

I could go on and on but hopefully this will help some of you that are having these problems cure them. As I was rummaging around making cases for these photos or looking thru junk ammo, I thought of several other problems. We will cover them another time. See you on the range. Hopefully you aren’t having to beat your rifle open!

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13 Responses to Easy Ways to Save Yourself Headaches at the Range (Part 2)

  1. Pingback: Easy Ways to Save Yourself Headaches at the Range (Part 2) | Rifleman III Journal

  2. Pingback: Easy Ways to Save Yourself Headaches at the Range (Part 1) | Sierra Bullets

  3. firstriverbend says:

    Love the photos!

    The second one did give me an idea though. Think I will do that with a few of the modified brass I use for shooting wax bullets and see how it works.
    Now I rely on bright red markings and a great deal of care with them to keep them separated. Beveling the pockets would be one more safety feature I could use to help insure they are not mixed in with my regular brass. Pressures are extremely low, as only a primer is used to move the wax bullets out of the bore.


    • Carroll Pilant says:

      Try drilling your flash holes out larger for those wax bullets.


      • firstriverbend says:

        I do have the flash holes drilled out, which is why I mark that brass and keep them very segregated from my other brass. Once the flash holes are drilled it is not safe to put the magnum loads into them any longer. I would question even using them for more modest loads, as the larger flash holes create earlier pressure spikes in the powder burning process.
        The reason I might like the idea of beveling the primer pocket for my wax bullet brass is to give me one more cue which brass it is. I am just not too sure how well the primer will stay in the pocket with a pronounced bevel. Doesn’t really matter much though, as it is only used for close range, extremely quiet target shooting. Those paper and steel targets are not too dangerous. đŸ™‚
        One cannot be too safe with reloading.


  4. Carroll Pilant says:

    Yes, when you drill the flash holes out, only use them for your wax bullets. They would not be safe to use with regular loads at all.


  5. Chatles Fuller says:

    I much prefer to swage crimped primer pockets, over reaming them.


  6. For more years than I can remember I’ve I’ve single loaded all my ammo and trimmed as needed, chamfered and used a M-die with a modified button to prevent over sizing the neck just enough for the bullet to start in the neck and not scrape any of the jacket material. On occasion I’ve had to pull the bullets and they look like their just out of the box with no marks on them. When chamfering only the bullet jacket will have serious scratches .


  7. Ed Balch says:

    Who can supply Chamber Gages?


  8. David Cook says:

    Great article. Just wanted to shoutout to Carroll and let everyone know a little story about him. I was in Missouri on an out of state turkey hunt. Not knowing anywhere to hunt I was driving around asking permission and pulled into a bar nlot and talked to Carroll. Not only did he give me a place to hunt he offered to go with me. That same day Sierra called him about a job. Shows what kind of person he is to go out of his way to help a complete stranger. We didn’t kill a turkey but had a great hunt. Thanks again Carroll.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Scott Sample says:

    Used an RCBS cutter to remove my primer crimps. Went through two of the cutters before FINALLY getting a Dillon Super Swager 600. Spend about $50 on the cutters before spending $100 on the Dillon swager. Don’t repeat my mistake.


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