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New reloader-9mm bullet seating question

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by PNwolf, Oct 19, 2012.

  1. PNwolf

    PNwolf Beaverton New Member

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    I am getting ready to try my hand at reloading for the first time. I am starting out by loading up some 9mm. So far, I have loaded up about 8 dummy rounds (no primers or powder) for practice. I have been experimenting with the dies(Lee) - adjusting them in and out and seeing what works. I have cycled each round through a gun with out a problem.

    I have noticed that each round bulges at the case mouth. It looks like the bullet is actually forming the case as it is seating. I have tried flaring the mouth of the case at different depths but they all come out the same. The OD diameter of at the case mouth with the bullet seated is usually -.001 smaller than both what is listed in my reloading manual and a factory test cartridge(Rem UMC). Where the bullet is seated at it's deepest point, the OD drops about .004 and then begins to tapper back out (normal for 9mm).

    Questions:

    1: What am I doing wrong? Is it something in the flaring operation or in the initial resizing/decapping operation?

    2: Is this something to worry about? Will this build up to much pressure in the case?

    I tried taking some pics but they don't show what I am talking about.

    Case: once fired Rem UMC
    Bullet: Berry's 124gr 9mm

    Thanks in advance for any feed back
     
  2. Greenbug

    Greenbug Bend Well-Known Member

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    What you are experiencing is completely normal with a straight wall pistol case like your 9mm. In order to seat the bullet you first have to expand the case mouth with your expander die, this lets the heel of the bullet start into the straightwalled case. As you seat the bullet the case expands around the shank of the bullet causing the deformed look. Make sure to finish with a taper crimp so your loaded round feeds correctly. No worries, sounds like you are doing everything correctly so far.
     
  3. Uberdillo

    Uberdillo Oregon Active Member

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    Most likely. My .45 reloads often look like that too. The die is fully sizing the case down so the bullet pushes it back out. That's a sign of decent bullet tension at least. If they really are wasp-waisted, try backing your sizing die out a tiny bit. Should be able to make them a little more aesthetically pleasing, but don't want to sacrifice bullet tension for fear of bullets setting back.

    I'd still consider myself a new reloader, and an anal retentive, ocd one at that, and 0.001" differences on case size and loaded ammo don't bother me. If you're brass were the same UMC brass, it implies that the berry's bullet diameter is 0.001" less than it's FMJ counterpart which seems very likely.
     
  4. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    Now you know what you are experiencing is normal go easy on the case mouth flare. No more than is needed for the bullet to clear and enter the case mouth- and that is a lot less than what you might think. Excessive flaring can really shorten case life.
     
    evltwn and (deleted member) like this.
  5. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    Like those before me said, this is normal. I would not back off on the sizing die though as it's important to get as much of the case wall sized as possible. Some pistols will form a slight bulge (some more than others) near the case head and you want to make sure this is pushed back in place.

    With 9mm, where you have to flare the case to start the bullet, but the case headspaces on the case mouth, I'd highly recommend you invest in a Lee Factory Crimp Die. Adjust it so it merely pushes the case back against the bullet and when measured with a set of calipers right at the end of the case it shows .376". The Lee Factory Crimp Die will also run a carbide ring the full length of the cartridge and make sure there are no bulges caused by the bullet seating process anywhere else along the case other than the one at the base of the bullet. If you use this Die as a finish, and don't bother setting the seater die to crimp while seating, chambering problems with reloads will be almost non existent.
     
  6. lamrith

    lamrith tacoma Active Member

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    Yes, I am also a new relaoder an the hourglass shape had me un-nerved at 1st as well. Everyone here has great info for you. I am hoping to get a factory crimp die in time, but for now I am checking measurements every few rounds as I go and verify powder drops as well. I have loaded around 200 9mm and am gradually starting to ease off my sample rate as I get used to my press and am zeroing in on the load I like the best.

    It is really important to start with small batches. Use the load data and do batches of about 5 rounds with minor variations in length or powder charge, staying within the load data. Go to the range and warm up with a box of factory ammo. Then put your new target up and start with your "lightest" loaded rounds. Take slow shots focusing on placement and paying attention to how the gun cycles, how did the rounds eject? Safe your weapon after each shot and pick up the brass just fired, get it a quick check for signs of overpressure etc.. If you do not do that every round, at least do it after each batch of 5. The last thing you want if for a batch to be borderline to hot and then load up and fire the next batch without knowing.

    I did it that way and actually the 1st trip was a complete bust. The charges were to light and could not fully cycle the gun, I had to manually rack after each round. Frustrating, but at the same tie I took it as a chance to practice clearing a jam from my weapon quickly and continue to fire. My second trip the rounds all fired, but the majority were ejecting rounds forward and felt very very soft shooting. The last trip the spent casing were ejecting like factory, but they still felt "soft" on the hand, yet the rounds were on target just like factory ammo. Now I am stepping up my bullet weight so I get to start all over again! :p

    Keep a log too! Write down your loads, mark the cases somehow and note it in your log and take that to the range, you can then make notes as to how each load worked. There is so much info you are looking at each load that you will forget and mix specs up between when you load and shoot.

    Welcome the the wild world of reloading! It adds a whole extra dimension to the shooting habit we all have..
     
  7. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    Ditto this. My first experience with the Lee crimp die is when I started reloading 30-30 (again after many years) and the used set of dies I traded for had one in the package. I wish I had known about it the first time around! I will be getting one for all my calibers that need crimping.
     
  8. PNwolf

    PNwolf Beaverton New Member

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    Thanks for the responses guys. I think I was being a little overly anal retentive. After reading some of your post I went ahead and loaded up 50 rounds. They all fired and cycled the gun just fine. Was just a little nervous. I wanted to make sure that my first reloads went boom in my gun in a positive way.
     
  9. noylj

    noylj high desert Active Member

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    Are you expanding the case or only flaring the case mouth? It really sounds like all you are doing is flaring the case mouth.
    The case ID should be expanded such that the case ID, over the length the bullet is seated, should be 0.001-0.002" less than bullet diameter.
    The only concern is whether the round will chamber easily in the barrel. The problem with not expanding the case sufficiently is the bullet will be seated crooked or, in the case of lead or thin plated bullets, the bullet diameter will be swaged down. If crooked, the bullet will bulge the case where the wall is thinnest and this makes not only inaccurate ammo but can make rounds that will not chamber.
    I would NOT load 50 or more rounds until a visit to the range. Did you make up a couple of inert "dummy" rounds and hand cycle them to give your confidence that your loads will work at the range? You may find yourself coming back home and breaking down 40 rounds and re-doing things.
     
  10. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    This only holds true when loading rifle rounds. Pistol, specifically 9mm. sizing only reforms the case and there is no expander ball used. The only "expander" for this case is in the powder die and all it does is form a slight flare on the case mouth so a bullet will sit there and start into the case with relative ease when seated.

    Pistol loading and rifle loading have entirely different processes other than the common, insert primer, add powder, seat bullet.
     
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  11. PNwolf

    PNwolf Beaverton New Member

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    I am resizing the cases using the instructions given with the die. I believe the ID was .001 smaller than the bullet. I am only flaring the mouth just enough so that I can place a bullet into the mouth, turn the case upside down, and the bullet will stay in place.

    I did my first 50 rounds last weekend and they cycled just fine through two different guns. I am getting ready to try my next 50 for today and will pay a bit more attention to the diameter of the bullet compared to the ID of the case.

    I am also going to try reloading my first set of 45acp rounds today. I will be using a different bullet(Hornaday) and will see if I get the same bulging.
     
  12. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    Correct me if I am wrong but are you doing this to see if the bullet will stay in place? If so you need a more conclusive test such as pressing the bullet against the edge of your bench. The bullet should hold against a firm press with your hand. Not very scientific but if the bullet pushes back into the case it is not tight enough. No need to test every one but a random sampling is enough.
     
  13. Mikej

    Mikej Portland Gold Supporter Gold Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Thinking he means before seating. What I do, i'll set a bullet on top of a freshly sized shell then adjust my expander juusst untill the bullet will set barely in the expanded shell without falling of easily. I don't want to over expand if it's not needed.

    Mike
     
  14. PNwolf

    PNwolf Beaverton New Member

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    I am doing this to try and gauge if I have enough of a flare on the mouth to start the bullet before I seat it. I am not pressing it up against anything. I am simply putting the bullet into the flared mouth, no pressure (or very little pressure), turning it upside down and if it sticks, I am figuring I have enough flare to start the bullet. I can remove the bullet with my fingers.

    Are you saying I may be flaring it too much? I incrementally drop the expander/powder die until I get the above results. I am trying not to over flare the mouth. I will try pressing on one this afternoon and see if the bullet is actually going in deeper than that. I think the problem I am seeing though is with the ID of the case being to small for the bullet. I will double check that to this afternoon.
     
  15. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    No, not at all. I incorrectly read into what you were doing. I was referring to after your bullets are seated and testing for case mouth tension.
     
  16. noylj

    noylj high desert Active Member

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    Deadshot2: And we come up with exactly what I was talking about. I feel sometimes that my reloading dies are some how very different from every one else's.
    Attached is a picture of some RCBS expander plugs.
    The sizing die will size the case well below the bullet OD so that even the thinnest wall cases will have an ID less than the bullet OD. Then, the expander plug brings the case ID, over at least most of the length of a seated bullet, up to 0.001-0.002" under bullet OD. Thus, if loading .355" bullets, the case ID, over most of the length the bullet will be seated, should be 0.353-0.354".
    I have no idea where the idea that straight wall cases do not need to be expanded came from, but it only works to some extent with hard jacketed bullets.
    If the case ID is not expanded sufficiently, you get two results:
    The bullet will seat crooked and bulge the case out where the wall is thinnest
    or
    The bullet will be swaged down in OD trying to get stuffed into an overly small case.

    RCBS expander plugs SN851746.jpg
     
  17. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    I believe you are correct in your observation.

    Here's a pic of one of the more commonly used expander plugs, one from a Lee "Powder through expander" die.

    t-2202.jpg

    Please note that any "expander" portion of the plug is minimal. It's primary purpose is to flare the case so the bullet can be seated.
    In this die, and others that provide for powder to be added through the expander die, as is done on progressive presses, only compress the case a minimal amount. For those that use expander dies like yours, it isn't suited to progressive presses unless you have one with extra stations.

    t-2202.jpg
     
  18. PNwolf

    PNwolf Beaverton New Member

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    This is exactly what I just finished doing. I was getting .377 as the dia. around the crimp. These are Remington cases so they might have a case wall that is slightly thicker. This week I had a check block. I noticed that when I did not use the crimping die, they would either not fit in the check block when I put a large flare on them, or, when I put a small flare, would seat but stick. Last weekend I used the barrel from a G19. I had no problems cycling the un-crimped rounds last weekend but was disappointed in the accuracy.

    Am I correct in thinking that 9mm is not a straight walled case but a tapered case? They have a lager OD at the base than at the mouth of the case. My Lyman manual print of the 9mm bullet shows it as .391 at the base and .380 at the mouth (I think it is different in my Lee manual-I don't have it on me at the moment). I think these are max dimensions as every 9mm case I have checked is usually about -.003 to -.004 below this. Checking the case at the mouth after re-sizing shows that it is about .006 smaller then the bullet. This is the dimension I was trying to get .001 smaller then the bullet. I tried adjusting the re-sizing die in and out but always got the same dimension. I did not noticed any swagging of the bullet (they are plated) and I think they all went in straight. Am I over re-sizing the case - tapering them down to much at the mouth?

    I am obviously not going to get a chance to fire these round this weekend, but I am expecting them to function fine.
     
  19. Greenbug

    Greenbug Bend Well-Known Member

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    You should probably quit driving yourself crazy..... Put the calipers down and go shoot something.:cool:
     
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  20. PNwolf

    PNwolf Beaverton New Member

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    Best advice I have heard so far!