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Neck expanding for .223, Bullet not pre-seating by hand, small based resizing die. Expander Needed?

301 Views 16 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  dangerranger
okay, please be gentle. New to loading rifle (.223) I am loading my second batch of .223 rounds, I am using a new resizing die, (RCBS small base die). My older die, (hornady), has a stuck shell, so needed to get a replacement die. Since I was having issues with chambering my test loads in my bolt action, I figured it was the shells and purchased a small based resizer.

I have swagged, resized and primed 650 shells and I am not sure how to proceed. When I was setting up the seating die, (hornady seating die) I noticed the bullet would not seat inside the shell and I was not sure if this would crush the shell, so I stopped at this point.

I have done a bit of research and found out about expanders of the .223. Not sure if this is a good option. Or is just becaused I used a small base resizer? I did not have the same issue on the last batch of rounds I loaded with the hornady resizing die.

I am using a 55gr. FMJ-BT with Cannelure by Hornady.

Any guidance?
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I reload mostly mil brass for my .223s and have yet to see the need for smallbase sizing dies. There is no telling what guns fired the Mil brass, but a regular RCBS resizing die has always worked fine in both my bolt action and AR.
The 55 grain BT should easily fit into the resized case neck. You did use the expander ball for the resizing, right?
 
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Small base dies are generally used for semi-autos. You don't need them for bolt actions, you can just neck size with good results.
Even so, you should bell the case mouths to prevent you from shaving the bullet. If you do it right, you should be able to start your bullets in the case and then press them in using just neck tension.

If you are using small base dies for your bolt action, you are unnecessarily working the brass. You might notice that using once-fired cases and just neck sizing yields better accuracy because the case is an exact match for the chamber, and the clearance and runout is reduced. When you use a small base die, you are basically starting over. The idea of small base dies are to use for semi-autos that don't have the camming power of a bolt action.
 

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Sounds like your expander ball on the de-priming stem is wrong size for the bullets. Did you buy the RCBS die new? Small base dies have nothing to do with the bullet fitting the case neck. SB dies simply take the sizing operation all the way down to the web of the base, back to factory specs. Regular dies stop a little further up the case. FYI, the Hornady sizer with the stuck case is fixed with a stuck case removal tool or you mail die to the factory after you contact it for instructions. Someone near you probably already has the stuck case removal tools. If you were closer to me I would do it. FIRST however, I would go ahead and push a bullet into the case you started to when you got anxious about crushing the "shell". It is one used 223 brass case and one 223 FMJ bullet. So what if it crushes? It may be that one case or one out of spec bullet. SECOND, contact RCBS and ask tech what is wrong. THIRD, do you have a caliper? Measure the inside case neck, the bullet at its widest point, the neck expander ball. Expander ball and inside case neck should be same or less than .001 different. Bullet should be .002 to .005 greater than inside a resized case neck. You need to locate another loader near you, business or individual, who can see what you have, assist with my recommended measuring routine, and probably tell you what is wrong with your bullet-case-die-expander ball match. It will turn out to be simple fix.
 

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As others have said, chamfer the inside of the case mouth, you may have burrs that are interfering. BT bullets usually seat rather easily in 223 cases for me, and I've been using nothing but a SB resizer due to using semi-autos for most of my rifle shooting. (Probably not needed from what I understand, but I did that when I first got started and now they just keep working, so whatevs.)
 

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You should never have to flare the mouth of a bottlenecked case to seat a bullet.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Small base dies are generally used for semi-autos. You don't need them for bolt actions, you can just neck size with good results.
Even so, you should bell the case mouths to prevent you from shaving the bullet. If you do it right, you should be able to start your bullets in the case and then press them in using just neck tension.

If you are using small base dies for your bolt action, you are unnecessarily working the brass. You might notice that using once-fired cases and just neck sizing yields better accuracy because the case is an exact match for the chamber, and the clearance and runout is reduced. When you use a small base die, you are basically starting over. The idea of small base dies are to use for semi-autos that don't have the camming power of a bolt action.
Obviously, I understand it all wrong. I read a posting and a few video on the aspect of reloaded round not fully seating in the chamber for bolt action and understood (mistakenly) that it was the resize of the shell that needed to be down to FACTORY spec, as I have mostly only shot factory .223 round through the HOWA bolt action. Thanks for the explanation, I do not have any issues with the TEST loads I made for my two AR, round feeded with no issues. Since I have already re-sized and primed these shell, I will leave as they are and load them.


I did look at the shells a second time, I the bullet does somewhat sit in the shell, but not as deep as the previous batch I loaded. I have been super busy with school this past week, (mid-terms), but I will looking at everything over again on Sunday.


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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Sounds like your expander ball on the de-priming stem is wrong size for the bullets. Did you buy the RCBS die new? Small base dies have nothing to do with the bullet fitting the case neck. SB dies simply take the sizing operation all the way down to the web of the base, back to factory specs. Regular dies stop a little further up the case. FYI, the Hornady sizer with the stuck case is fixed with a stuck case removal tool or you mail die to the factory after you contact it for instructions. Someone near you probably already has the stuck case removal tools. If you were closer to me I would do it. FIRST however, I would go ahead and push a bullet into the case you started to when you got anxious about crushing the "shell". It is one used 223 brass case and one 223 FMJ bullet. So what if it crushes? It may be that one case or one out of spec bullet. SECOND, contact RCBS and ask tech what is wrong. THIRD, do you have a caliper? Measure the inside case neck, the bullet at its widest point, the neck expander ball. Expander ball and inside case neck should be same or less than .001 different. Bullet should be .002 to .005 greater than inside a resized case neck. You need to locate another loader near you, business or individual, who can see what you have, assist with my recommended measuring routine, and probably tell you what is wrong with your bullet-case-die-expander ball match. It will turn out to be simple fix.
I will look at the shells and do the measurements. I agreed, one bullet, one shell, but I guess, I just hate to waste. Please review the photo on last post of bullet and shells.

Thanks for the advise on Hornady. I see you can send it in with $15 for removal

I reload mostly mil brass for my .223s and have yet to see the need for smallbase sizing dies. There is no telling what guns fired the Mil brass, but a regular RCBS resizing die has always worked fine in both my bolt action and AR.
The 55 grain BT should easily fit into the resized case neck. You did use the expander ball for the resizing, right?


Yes I did use a expander ball with the resizer. I will be purchasing another RCBS Full Length Sizing Die for the next batch and just hold on to this one.

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Small base dies are generally used for semi-autos. You don't need them for bolt actions, you can just neck size with good results.
Even so, you should bell the case mouths to prevent you from shaving the bullet. If you do it right, you should be able to start your bullets in the case and then press them in using just neck tension.

If you are using small base dies for your bolt action, you are unnecessarily working the brass. You might notice that using once-fired cases and just neck sizing yields better accuracy because the case is an exact match for the chamber, and the clearance and runout is reduced. When you use a small base die, you are basically starting over. The idea of small base dies are to use for semi-autos that don't have the camming power of a bolt action.

I have started to save my once fired brass from the bolt action separately, as I have read that, now that I am looking more and more, and getting more details about loading for rifles. I have heard about only neck size, both positive and negative, but I will experiment with the bolt action brass and see which method works best. I am beginning to learn more and more and rifle loading is much more different then pistol loading.
 

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I recommend watching a couple YT videos on "shoulder bumping" resizing. Definitely separate your AR cases from your bolter cases.
 

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Looking at the picture of the two bullets sitting on top of the cases and I can't see what the problem is. WHat happens when you seat the buller?
 
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I will look at the shells and do the measurements. I agreed, one bullet, one shell, but I guess, I just hate to waste. Please review the photo on last post of bullet and shells.

Thanks for the advise on Hornady. I see you can send it in with $15 for removal





Yes I did use a expander ball with the resizer. I will be purchasing another RCBS Full Length Sizing Die for the next batch and just hold on to this one.

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Those bullets are sitting in the case just fine. You shouldn’t have any issues seating them.

also, full length size all your brass, for two reasons. 1- it’s easier than messing with sorting brass for different guns and having sizing does for each. 2- there is no benefit to just neck sizing, and that brass will probably eventually need to be full length sized again anyway if you get enough shots out of it.
 
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Erik Cortina did an impromptu interview of a bunch of F-Class shooters, asking if any neck sized. None did, most all shoulder bumping only. I started shoulder bumping with my 6mm Mongoose AR, and there hasn't been any "sizing" issues. When someone challenged Erik that shoulder bumping wasn't "full-length resizing," He resized a fired case by shoulder bumping and then measured it, showing that it indeed fell within SAAMI specs.
 
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Cases fired in an in-spec chamber, only need a tiny amount of sizing to bring them back to the correct size. And make them easily cycle through that gun again.
Where I got in trouble with neck sizing and shoulder bumping was when I was loading for several guns of the same caliber. Each gun has a slightly different chamber. In calibers like 30-30 we have 7 of them that range in age from new to over 100 years old. I set my resizing die to just fit the shortest chamber. That gives me ammo that I can reliably use in all 7 guns without working the brass back to factory each time.
30-30 head spaces on its rim so it is more of an extreme case than the OP's 223. But it is a good example.
I would bet the OP could measure a brass sample from each gun and find which gun has the shortest chamber. Then set his dies to that gun and end up with ammo that can be shared in all his guns, without having to keep brass from each gun separate.
But that is not going to fix his problem of the bullets not seating without extra force. Let's deal with just one problem at a time. Unlike pistol brass my rifle brass gets trimmed and chamfered each time. After the first trim, the cutter may only just touch the case mouth, but it makes every case uniform, and just a touch of chamfer gets every bullet started exactly the same in every case. and what he is really looking for is to make uniform ammo that will shoot well in all his guns. DR
 
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