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.223 reloads jamming

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by DukkButt, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. DukkButt

    DukkButt St. Maries, Idaho Active Member

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    I have a problem that I can't figure out. I'm reloading .223 once fired brass, mixed head stamp. I reloaded and shot several hundred rounds with no problems (that may just be coincidence). Then I started getting cartridges that wouldn't chamber (the bolt wouldn't close) , or would chamber just barely with heavy effort, then be impossible to eject with the charging handle on my ar-15 (stuck tight). My ar is 5.56 chamber.

    I have checked the chamber with 5.56 go, no go gauges and they say it's in spec (would that make a difference reloading .223?). I have tried two different full length reloading dies (Lee and Redding .223). I thought it might be case length, but have trimmed cases that still stuck. Also tried Lee factory crimp die to make sure the case mouth wasn't flared at all. Also loading to spec overall length according to Lee and Hornady manuals. Have tried resizing cases that stuck when I checked them, in case I hadn't fully closed the press the first time (using a Lee single stage press). The ones that stick don't seem to have any visible defects and a micrometer check of dimensions looks ok. The only other thing I can think of is that the rim that the ejector catches might not be perfectly flat, but I don't see any visible indication of that. About the only thing I haven't tried is checking the rounds in another rifle to see if they still jam.

    I'm to the point of chambering each reload to see if it fits, then setting aside the ones that don't. There must be something that I'm missing. I would appreciate any comments or suggestions for what else to try or what else to check. I'm hoping someone else has had this problem and figured out what is causing it. Thanks in advance for any help.
     
  2. levi333

    levi333 Albany, OR Active Member

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    Sounds like your sizing die needs adjusted. Spending $20 on a case gage should help you confirm whether or not they'll chamber.
     
  3. mortre

    mortre Yelm, WA Active Member

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    Are you using standard dies or small base sizing dies? I've heard of some AR's requiring small base dies, but I've never seen it personally.
     
  4. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    Is there a pattern with the problem brass as opposed to the stuff that chambers ok such as the tight brass being 5.56 Nato? Do you know where the 'sticking' is occurring? Try blacking a case with a sharpie, chamber it and see where the ink is getting scraped off the most (not a conclusive test but it may show you something) Case necks can vary on military brass and sometimes a thick case neck can cause this. I used to reform 7.62 Nato to .243 Winchester and once in a while I would get the same problem - a tight case on bolt closing and it was always a 7.62 case. You didn't mention it but I assume along with trimming you are deburring the case necks correct?
     
  5. no1gman

    no1gman Hoquiam, WA New Member

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    Are you crimping your finished rounds? I have a friend that was crimping his. Turns out he was applying too much crimp, and in the process was causing the shoulder to be pushed back just enough to cause a few of his rounds to not chamber. Don't know if this is your problem, but may be worth checking.
     
  6. bmgm37

    bmgm37 Coos Bay Active Member

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    Agree, sounds like you are not resizing th case to the proper dimension and that can only be properly checked with a case gage. Did your die loosen up? That may be why they started put working ok at first. I have a gage for every caliber I load.
     
  7. DukkButt

    DukkButt St. Maries, Idaho Active Member

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    Thanks, all. Didn't know sizing dies could be adjusted. Also didn't know you could get small base dies. That one sounds like a real possibility. Yes, I did deburr the trimmed cases. No pattern that I could see as far as military cases vs. .223 cases. Sticking started when I wasn't crimping at all, but good to know that is a possibility. Is a case gauge a profile checker? Have to look that one up. Don't know where the sticking is occurring. I'll try the sharpie test and see what I get. Was thinking along those lines but didn't know what to use for the marker. Thanks for that suggestion.
     
  8. bmgm37

    bmgm37 Coos Bay Active Member

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    A case gage in a go/no-go for ammo. It checks the headspace of your reloads. This simple gage is a must IMO for every calober you load and is cheap insurance your ammo will chamber. I load .223 on a Dillon 1050 and even still drop a round in the gage about every 100 rnds justto make sure everything is GTG.

    L.E. Wilson Inc.
     
  9. DukkButt

    DukkButt St. Maries, Idaho Active Member

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    Sharpie test was inconclusive. Might have scraped a tiny bit off the case right at the edge of the ejector groove, but I'm not sure.

    However, that and your comments got me to looking at the problem again and I realized that I wasn't describing the symptoms correctly. What is happening is that the round doesn't seat deeply enough for the locking lugs to rotate, or if it does seat, it puts so much back pressure on the lugs that I can't manually pull the charging handle hard enough to get the lugs to rotate. If I separate the upper and lower then beat on the bolt carrier (don't cringe too much when you read that) I can get the lugs to rotate and then the shell comes out easily. So, that makes it some sort of length issue, apparently. Looks like I really need that case gauge to see what is going on.

    Thank you all again for your input. It really helped me look at the problem and identify what was actually happening.
     
  10. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    Two areas that are the most frequent causes of this problem are crimping and failure to clean the CHAMBER area of the barrel. I had a few problems with this several years ago and heard all the solutions. Small based dies, too much crimp, etc. Turned out to be a very slight buildup of crud in the chamber. Frequent application of a good old fashioned Chamber/Locling lug cleaning brush solved the problem. I got one on a short handle and keep it close by when shooting. Bore Snakes and cleaning rods are great for cleaning the bore but the chamber of the AR is critical. If you don't mind shooting a "Wet" weapon, you can also alleviate this problem by giving the chamber a good squirt of aerosol CLP. This is the practice now in Basic Training. My grandson shared his experience recently from Basic. When approaching the firing line their weapons get a good shot of CLP through the ejection port and their first shots can really oil up their "eyepro". I just prefer the chamber brush.

    These are $17 at Midway

    423606.jpg

    As for clearing one of these "jam's" don't separate the upper and lower. Put the selector on SAFE, Grasp the charging handle and pull back hard while striking the butt vertically against a sandbag or something firm that won't harm the buttstock. The round will pop right out due to the inertia of the bolt from this action. BTW, this method is outlined in the Military Instruction Manual for an M-16. No screwdrivers, punches, hammers, or other tools of mass destruction, just a firm Thump to add a little more effort than you can apply by hand.
     
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  11. bmgm37

    bmgm37 Coos Bay Active Member

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    When you size a case, you not only size the diameter of it but you also set the shoulder of the neck back to specs. If the die is not adjusted correctly, then the shoulder does not get set back to its proper dimension and that is where the gage comes in t check to see if it will chamber as the .223 headpaces on the shoulder of the casing. What you are describing, I am 99% sure your reload as not sized to the correct length......only a gage will tell you.
     
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  12. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    I'm a big supporter of using case gauges but unfortunately, most don't offer a gauge that will spot a case with a slight bulge. Most gauges merely measure headspace from the datum point on the shoulder to the head. They also will show a long or short case. But unless you have one that was cut with a chamber reamer you won't identify cases with bulges from over crimping (unless it's huge), Cartridges that have too long an OAL and the Ogive is jamming in the lands before the bolt goes into battery, etc.

    For AR shooters, here's a great gauge that will quickly weed out those rounds that will be more likely to stop your rifle.

    7-Hole Ammo Chamber Checkers: Evolution Gun Works Inc.

    Their info only mentions the 7 hole unit on top. Don't know if they offer the one on the bottom.
     
  13. DukkButt

    DukkButt St. Maries, Idaho Active Member

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    Thanks for the tip on clearing the jam, Deadshot2.

    Recapping: I've checked the chamber with go, no go gauges (checks ok), but those only check the shoulder position as far as I understand. I have two different .223 full length resizing dies (Lee and Hornady) and have run the cases that jam through both of them without improvement. Since there is no way to adjust the dies, other than to make sure ram fully contacts the die, I think the shoulder position isn't the culprit. That leaves case/chamber diameter. A thorough cleaning with a chamber brush didn't change anything, so that pretty much leaves the small base die idea. Have to go back and do some more careful diameter measurements on the cases, especially since the dies don't resize the last 1/8" to 1/4" of the case, at least partially because some of the case has to be in the shell holder.

    Thanks again to all who have responded. You have been very helpful.
     
  14. mjbskwim

    mjbskwim Salmon,Idaho Well-Known Member

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    My eyes are tired so didn't read all the post.
    Did anyone mention LOA? Are you seating the bullet in far enough?
     
  15. DukkButt

    DukkButt St. Maries, Idaho Active Member

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    LOA I'm sure of because I measured it and because I have unloaded cases that do the same thing. Definitely something that needs to be mentioned as a possibility for anyone else looking here for help, though.
     
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  16. toolfan

    toolfan North Portland Member

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    Have you checked to see if the brass chambers before you put a bullet in?

    Are you sure that the crimping portion of your seating die is backed off?

    I had a problem similar to what no1gman describes above, I was over crimping and distorting the shoulder - backed off the crimper and have been good to go ever since.
     
  17. Nwcid

    Nwcid Yakima and N of Spokane Well-Known Member

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    At the risk of sounding rude do you have a reloading book? Have you read it? This is basic information that is covered in them and is critical information in reloading. If you dont have one it is where I suggest you start.
     
  18. sprocket3

    sprocket3 Oregon - Wet Side Member

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    I had the same problem with one batch of once fired range brass I got from a vender. Even after full length resizing the cases didn't get down to spec. It was like one batch had been shot through a gun that was way out of spec or something. I have about 200 loaded high quality varmint rounds that I can't use. It really turned me off to once fired brass. I purchased a case gauge after this and check it all before moving it down the line.

    Get the case gauge and compare the subject brass to good brass and you will see the problem. I bet the cases are too long at the shoulder, so trimming them doesn't help. Also when you mic them they might look fine, but the shoulder is pushed forward too far.
     
  19. Dutchy556

    Dutchy556 Bend, OR Member

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    Adjusting your sizing die so you have a slight amount of cam-over may alleviate the issue. Starting with about a quarter turn or so past contact with the shell plate and then moving up from there. I once had similar issues (shoulders were not being set back far enough) but between using a small base die and a bit of cam-over my reloads are good to go in all my ARs.

    ETA: A chamber checker would be useful. I use a Hornady LNL Heaspace kit to measure my cases and ensure that they are back within spec after resizing.
     
  20. Kevatc

    Kevatc Oregon Well-Known Member

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    So if your reloading dies are all locked in, you've properly trimmed, and sized your brass what is the likelihood that you would have some rounds that would be no-go's?