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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 Rimmed and Belted Cases

Very often when reloading rimmed and/or belted cases, extremely short case life becomes a problem. The answer to short case life, for any rifle, is to ONLY RESIZE JUST ENOUGH TO HOLD THE BULLET AND INSURE EASY CHAMBERING.

When cases are fired, the case expands in all dimensions to fill the chamber, resulting in a nearly perfect fit of the cases to the chamber. When firing RIMLESS cases, case expansion is limited, in a rifle in good condition, due to the need to limit chamber size in order to control headspace.

BUT, by design, the chamber dimensions of a chamber designed for RIMMED/BELTED cases have NO RELATION TO HEADSPACE. In other words, the chamber of a rifle designed for RIMMED/BELTED can allow the case to expand an unlimited amount.

Look closely at the fired case on the right and examine the shoulder/neck areas. Notice that the shoulder is moved ahead and the angle of the shoulder has changed. If this fired case were to be sized back to "factory" dimensions and then fired again, the extreme "working" of the brass will lead to early failure, cracks and splits in the worked/reworked areas. The solution to short case life is to only resize the neck a sufficient amount to hold the bullet, and DO NOTHING to the rest of the brass. BUT, this means that the brass must be segregated by rifle, as it may not chamber in another rifle.

There is another way to look at this. If the case were to headspace off of the shoulder, rather than the rim, expansion would be held to a minimum. How to do this? Just fire and neck size only, same as above! You can consider each rifle and case as a wildcat! The one shown above would be a "Wagner M-44 Improved" or some such nonsense.

This idea is well recognized by Wilson, the case gauge (among many other things) manufacturer.

The Wilson people make a line of case gauges, made with extreme accuracy to the dimensions set by the Small Arms Ammunition Manufacturing Institute. But if these are STANDARDS, what the hell is an ADJUSTABLE STANDARD? (Sort of like "Military Intelligence?) Well, they recognize that while the Ammunition Manufacturers have standards the CHAMBER manufacturers abide by few or no standards!

This is a link to a copy of the instructions accompanying the Wilson Adjustable Standards. Pay particular attention to the RED Italicized (added by me - the color, not the text) text.

Wilson uses some terms that are not commonly encountered, "cone-to-head" is usually referred to as "case head to shoulder", but you get the idea. Rimmed or Belted, DON'T set back the shoulder!

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