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gmerkt

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When reloading bottle neck rifle brass. I went to resize some .223 Rem. cases and here is what I noticed about my sizing die:

P4210831.JPG


The decapping pin and sizing ball were missing. Uh oh. I've never had this occur before. My first wonder is, where could those have gone off to? Uh oh. Maybe they came loose while inside a cartridge case. Which is a potentially dangerous situation. Which you'd think would be minimally possible with a cartridge as small as .223 Rem. I don't load max. loads but usually my powder selection is such that the case is close to 100% full with bullet seated. So it would be difficult to imagine getting a case filled with powder while the pin and sizing ball were still inside.

After physically looking inside about 500 cases sized previously without finding the missing parts, my next search phase was the floor of my work area. On hands and knees, I first found the decapping pin. The sizing ball was nowhere around. But I figured I could've gotten kicked farther afield. Sure enough, I found it about ten feet away. Finding the pin was proof that these parts hadn't gotten loaded into any ammo. I think what happened was, last time I used the die, the ball (which holds the pin in place) must've been loose, then when I spun the die out (I still use the threads), that also spun the ball and pin off.

I take the rod out from time to time for cleaning. You'd be surprised how dirty these can get. My advice: Make sure they are tight on the rod before use.


P4210833.JPG
 

gmerkt

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I'm thinking it is possible to load some (larger) centerfire cartridges with these parts remaining in the case using less than 100% fill charges. I load single stage and look into every case after charging. Just to make sure everything is Kosher. But it might be possible to miss such a thing, and maybe not everyone looks into every charge thrown.

So if this did happen that the parts were left inside a case, unnoticed. I weighed the parts for .223 Rem, they were about 24 gr. Larger caliber would weigh more. My imagination is able to see multiple possibilities, none positive. Or maybe the dynamics of internal ballistics might offer possibilites that didn't include expulsion of the contaminating parts. My vision of the results is such that the parts would be expelled in one manner or another. The contact surface of the sizing ball is slight, may not be as dangerous as it seems. Or maybe the parts mixed in with the powder wouldn't allow it to burn right and escape in the normal manner down the bore, causing a blow-up. I really don't want to find out.
 

The Heretic

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Yeah, those neck sizing balls are often hard tungsten steel of some sort, so not the kind of thing you want going down your barrel, especially if they got sideways (usually longer than they are wide). If it didn't get stuck in the barrel it wouldn't do the barrel any good.
 
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Another argument in favor of removing them ;). I decap either by hand for small batches, or with a Lee Universal decapping die, and I expand case necks with a mandrel. As to what would happen, at the very least, you're almost certainly going to see a significant pressure spike due to reduced case capacity, as to bore damage/blockage, I'd say that depends on how much Murphy loves ya :rolleyes:. Glad you found the pieces, and a good heads up for the rest of us to keep in mind. Later.

Dave
 
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I’ve always disliked the design of the expander.

They can only be hand tightened, even with lock tight, they come loose. PITA.

I’m curious why no wrench flats have ever been designed into the bottom portion, or some sort of design where they can be properly tightened and removed/replaced a bit easier.
 
It seems like I've been bending/breaking a lot of decapping rods lately. I have mostly RCBS dies but have also had it happen to Lyman and Hornady dies. I now keep spare rods handy. Just got in two more .223 rods.

I do worry about leaving a chunk in a case but so far there has been a "clunk" noise and it's been difficult extracting. I have just tossed those cases.
 
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It seems like I've been bending/breaking a lot of decapping rods lately. I have mostly RCBS dies but have also had it happen to Lyman and Hornady dies. I now keep spare rods handy. Just got in two more .223 rods.

I do worry about leaving a chunk in a case but so far there has been a "clunk" noise and it's been difficult extracting. I have just tossed those cases.
If you are breaking and bending the decapper, I’d recommend decapping on a separate step. Crimped primers in 223/556 are much harder on die sets.

If you are bending the arm the expander and decapper reside in, your die is set up incorrectly.
 
If you are breaking and bending the decapper, I’d recommend decapping on a separate step. Crimped primers in 223/556 are much harder on die sets.

If you are bending the arm the expander and decapper reside in, your die is set up incorrectly.
I think you're right.

With all the rods I've broken and replaced lately, my dies are probably out of adjustment and I got too lazy to check.

Loaded 700 rds this month and just burned 400 rat shooting. I'll check my die adjustment before I crank out more. Good reminder. I appreciate it.
 

gmerkt

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Another argument in favor of removing them ;). I decap either by hand for small batches, or with a Lee Universal decapping die, and I expand case necks with a mandrel. As to what would happen, at the very least, you're almost certainly going to see a significant pressure spike due to reduced case capacity, as to bore damage/blockage, I'd say that depends on how much Murphy loves ya

Yes, there is a school of thought that some people follow whereby they leave them off altogether. I was reading a very interesting article online all about this subject. Here it is: https://www.uniquetek.com/store/696296/uploaded/Expander_Ball_Tips_and_Information.pdf. Pros and cons and tech tips. Leaving the ball off will size the case mouth down overly but will give a tighter bullet fit. It also says research indicates that anything .003 smaller than bullet size will be expanded out again by seating the bullet so much of the undersize achieved by leaving the ball out goes away. Using the expander makes it easier to seat flat based bullets.

I often decap first before resizing. To allow me to chemically clean the cases.

replaced them with Lee dies because they have a one piece decapping & neck expanding rod.

Yes, this is so. I think the reason some brands have a multi-piece design is to allow for changing the diameter of the ball. But for ordinary stuff, the Lee one piece design is fine and I have some like that.

I’ve always disliked the design of the expander.

They can only be hand tightened, even with lock tight, they come loose

If you grip the narrow part of the RCBS ball with a tool, it can be tightened that way. The part that doesn't contact the case. I don't know why they won't put a hex head on there, maybe they think some users will ham-fist it and over-tighten.

So what is recommended for a robust decapping tool that would work with crimped primers?

I've used the Lee decapping tool for a couple of decades, in that time I've only broken the decapping pin once. It will punch out crimped primers.
 

Mark W.

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I do all my decanting with a punch and anvil from Lee. Like comes in a Lee loader set. I have it mounted in the end of a tube set to bench height. The long tube catches the spent cap.
 
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