This will take you to the Reloading Index

Steve's Rifle Cartridge Reloading

These are the techniques and equipment that I use to produce reloaded cartridges for bolt and semi-automatic rifles. Other techniques and equipment may be: better/worse, cheaper/costlier, safer/more dangerous or whatever. Read this stuff and use it or not, at your own risk!

Resizing (and decapping)

Resizing is one of the most complicated and important of any of the reloading steps. This step sets the headspace of the rifle that will fire the reloaded ammunition! (for rimless cases) Think about that last statement. Headspace is the difference in length between the chamber and the ammunition in the chamber, measured from the bolt face (end of case) to the shoulders (of the chamber and case). If the case is sized until too short, the headspace will become excessive. And, just as you should have a "head space gauge" for the rifle, YOU SHOULD HAVE A "HEAD SPACE GAUGE" FOR THE AMMUNITION!

The installation of the sizing die into the press, and the amount of case lubrication, determine the final case length, headspace-wise.

Lets start with case lubrication. Lubrication is important for two reasons; first, it results in less wear on the inside of the resizing die, and second, if prevents the case for becoming "stuck" inside the die. If you don't lube correctly, study this link, as you will need to use the info. I use a stamp pad like thing dampened with a water-soluble lubricant. (RCBS Case Lube-2) In addition to the pad, a barrel "swab", mounted to a handle, is dampened with lube.

The cases are rolled across the pad, then the inside of the case mouth is lightly lubed using the swab.

The following applies to rimless case Full Length resizing, neck sizing is similar. BUT, rimmed/belted cases ARE MUCH DIFFERENT, see this link!

The decapping stem is adjusted so the decapping pin sticks out of the bottom of the die about one-half inch.

The resize die is screwed into the press, with the locking ring loose. I don't like to lock the ring using the provided setscrew, rather I prefer to set-up the die each time.

The proper shell holder is inserted into the slotted ram. Note the holder is rotated to the side for easy insertion and removal of the cases.

WITHOUT a case in the shell holder, the ram is fully extended (raised), and the die is screwed into the press until it touches the holder, AND THEN UNSCREWED ABOUT A HALF TURN, and the lock nut snugged up.

A polished case is inserted into the shell holder and the ram is raised to the fullest position, and lowered. As the ram is raised, the case enters the die and the decapping stem enters the mouth of the case. As the ram approaches it's top-most position, the decap pin forces the primer out, next the neck and body of the case are squeezed to a smaller diameter. When the ram is in its highest position; the shoulder of the casing is forced downward, setting the headspace. On the downward stroke, as the decapping stem is withdrawn, the expander ball expands the inside of the case mouth to the proper diameter.

The case is removed from the shell holder and the headspace dimension is measured using a case micrometer. The reading shows that the shoulder to base dimension is 0.007 inches too much. The die is set too high and must be lowered (screwed downward) until a resized case yields a -zero- reading.

The above photo shows the results of a sizing die set to produce "factory" dimensioned ammunition.

If cases are always sized back to factory dimensions as discussed above, the life of the case may be very short. In order to maximize case life and reduce the odds of case rupture, cases should be segregated by rifle, and only enough resizing or squeezing or setting back of the shoulder required to make the case suitable for THAT rifle should be done.

If the shoulder of the resized case shows small dents in the shoulder area, it is an indication of too much lubricant. The excess lube is trapped in the shoulder area with nowhere to go, and forces the case to dent inward so as to afford the lube a home. These cases can be loaded and fired safely, but try to adjust back on the lube.

The resized cases have a fair amount of lube inside and out, but it's water soluble, SO, back into the colander and a rinse with hot water.

After washing in hot water, the cases are spread on a towel. Now, with about 24 inches of snow outside, these become cat toys, to be spread around the room by a bored cat.

 This will take you to the Reloading Index

Wagner Home Page