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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First attempt at reloading here. I have a Lee 50th anniv. Breech Lock Challenger Kit, along with a set of Lee 7.62x54r pacesetter dies.

First even after lubing the cases, the depriming was VERY hard. I'm talking about pulling the lever down with all my strength and holding the bench & my press with the other one to avoid tipping the whole thing over.

The priming & charging steps were easy - no problems there.

Now, I'm assuming that I should be able to place my bullet at the case neck at this time and it should hold somewhat steady in order to raise to the seating die. Which as you can see below is not the case. The bullet never goes in and attempts to seat it results in what you see in the left & middle cases. I've put an "unharmed" case on the right hand side for comparison but it's your average run of the mill Prvi 7.62x54r brass.

Just to mess around, I've used the chamfer tool by hand on one of the cases' neck and this time I was able to seat my bullet and raise it to mount it. I believe the chamfer tool took a few splinters off of the case's neck, but it still measures longer than "minimum case length" and also the finished cartridge is within spec for overall length.

So I'm pretty sure these 2 cases I've messed up can't be revived.

My main question is why is the .308 bullet not fitting in the case even though I'm pretty sure the brass originally held a .311 or .312 size bullet when I was firing it.

Of course at this point I'll take any advice :)

FYI, my recipe is straight from Lee's pamphlet and also cross-referenced from Hodgdon's web site.

Prvi partizan 7.62x54r brass - shot once by myself
Federal large rifle primer
Hodgdon varget powder - 51 grains
Hornady 110 Grain .308 SP bullets


 

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OK, let's see what we got here....

How many dies in the kit you are using? If only two, then the decapping die also resizes the case also expands the case mouth. If three, the middle die should be the expander die.

1. Decapping and sizing is usually a tight job, since you are forcing the case back to the normal (i.e., factory) diameters. If excessive force is needed, is it when the case is in the die or when the primer is pushed out? Sometimes milsurp ammo will have a primer held in with a factory crimp, called a "military primer crimp", and this makes pushing out the spent primers difficult indeed, and there is nothing that can be done about that. If the binding occurs at any other time (aside from immediately before the primer is pushed out), consider perhaps using a different lube (I use the Hornady Case Lube aerosol). But really, sizing and decapping are always the most physical of steps.

2. You mention case lengths. If the cases are over the minimum, are they over or under the maximum? If over max, they need to be trimmed. If not, disregard.

3. Case mouths should also be lubricated prior to sizing. This is usually done with a small bristle brush with lube on in, run in and out of the cases to lube to mouth. If you already do this, disregard.

4. Case mouths should be expanded or "belled" slightly, to allow the bullet to insert smoothly before crimping. In a 2-die kit, the decapper/sizer/expander does this. Follow the instructions in detail as to the adjustment of the center pin in the die, the combination decapping pin and expander rod. In a 3-die kit, the second die is the expander die, and again, check the directions carefully on adjusting this. No bell results in improper bullet seating.

5. From the pic, the two damaged cases look to me like the seater/crimper is adjusted too low into the die. Especially the center case in the pic, note how the seater/crimper tried to crimp the mouth past the shoulder of the case? The actual seater/crimper is adjustable independently of the die body, so there are two adjustments: the depth of the die (that controls the extent of the crimp) and the depth of the bullet seater (which will protrude inside the die below the point of the case shoulder).

For rifle ammunition, I always use a chamfer/deburring tool. It is good practice to do so, especially if you have needed to trim the case.

Remember, clearances and dimensions are on the order of thousands of an inch!

I hope this helps.

Cheers!
 

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Dies don't look like they're adjusted properly. Also, what kind of lube are you using on the cases. While rifle cases will require more effort they still shouldn't be as hard as you're describing to resize if they're lubed properly. I've been using the Lee Lube mixed in some rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle for years and years and never had any trouble sizing a rifle case.
I would also double check your dies and make sure Lee didn't mix up a 7.62x39mm sizing die into thier set, probably not but ya' never know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Happy & TNF - thanks for the help.

My kit came with 3 dies. It's this one right here: http://leeprecision.com/pacesetter-dies-7.62-x-54-russian.html. And I re-checked it to make sure everything is really 7.62x54r - not 7.62x39.

1- The largest force exerting stage was right up until the primer falls off. Should I continue on applying more pressure at this point to further the expanding, or the 2nd die is the actual expander?

2- My cases measures between 2.1055 to 2.1065". Since they've only been fired once so far, I'm under the impression that they are not in need of trimming yet.

3- Case neck lubing. I admit I omitted this. I'm using the stock Lee lube one. I think it's time for using some q-tips...



 

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OK, according to Lee's book, max COAL is 3.037" with min COAL as low as 2.715" with 110gr FMJs on top of between 51.0 to 55.0gr of Varget.

So it looks like the case lengths are OK. If you experience feed or accuracy issues with your ammo, try seating the bullet a little lower but in no case should the COAL be less than 2.715".

Does the ram cam over when you are decapping/sizing? It should. And if the the pressure required ease off when the primer pops out, it is the resistance of the primer in the pocket that is giving you most of your headaches in decapping/sizing pressure.

Looking at the link, the second die is the seater die and the third is just a crimping die.

How do the instructions for adjusting bullet depth look? I still think it is an adjustment issue with the seater die. My $0.02...
 

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Oh, and simply as a recommendation, don't use q-tips to lube the case necks. Aside from possibly applying too much lube, there is the risk of cotton fibers getting left in or on the case.

Ideally, one should use a case neck brush that looks like this:


(looks like a bore brush, but has white plastic/nylon bristles)

or even better, use a kit like this:


or a case prep kit like this:


which includes a set of case neck brushes, a handle, a chamfering/deburring tool, and a primer pocket reamer (excellent for removing military primer crimps!).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Happy thanks again for both your replies. It didn't even occur to me about the qtip. Thanks a lot for warning me. I'll reattempt everything either today or tomorrow and be mindful about when & where the pressure stops during depriming...

Really crossing my fingers :)
 

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Yep, sounds like you got the Lee die set with the Factory Crimp Die in it. When you set up your sizing/depriming die you put the shell holder in the press and run the ram all the way up, then you adjust the sizing die until it just touches the shell holder then back it off just a very little bit so the two parts won't touch. I'd say maybe .010" if even that much. That way when you pull the lever on the press all the way to the bottom you'll not have the shell holder hit the die and you'll fully resize the case.
Also, if you're using the Lee Case lube(the white pasty stuff in a tube) get a small spray bottle from the store and some rubbing alcohol. Put the alcohol into the spray bottle(say a 12 oz bottle) and squeeze out about a 3" long "worm" of lube into the bottle. Shake that stuff up real good until the lube mixes with the alcohol then you can stand up all the cases on a piece of paper and spray em' down good. That'll get lube not only on the outside of the case but in the inside of the neck area as well.
I've tried the RCBS Lube Pads where you apply the lube to the pad then roll the cases onto it and it was nothing but a sticky mess. The Lee Lube in a spray bottle with alcohol is a much faster and cleaner way to apply the lube and you can let the cases sit for just a bit and let the alcohol evaporate so you'll just have a thin fill of lube left. Just make sure to use the 90% alcohol since it'll have less water then the 70% stuff.
[ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uZbTZCsIGQ[/ame]
 

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About adjusting the sizer die, this is what I do, for rifle cases (not using tungsten-carbide dies):

As per the recommendation of RCBS in the documentation:

1. install shellholder on to ram.

2. run ram all the way up, until it "cams over" (when the handle still goes down but the ram will not go any further)

3. screw the decap/sizer die all the way in until it touches the shellholder

4. lower the ram

5. screw in the die another 1/4 turn, and then tighten.


Lee dies should come with similar instructions.
 
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