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Old December 9, 2007, 06:12 PM   #1
Hole Shooter
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Help! 357 mags won't chamber...what did I do?

I've got several boxes of 357 mags that I reloaded that will not chamber. The cases are mostly Winchester with some Starline cases. When the cartridge enters the chamber it gets tight when the cartridge is about half way chambered and the harder I push it the tighter it gets. These cases were full length sized using RCBS carbide dies and Rock Chunker single stage press. This is the first or second load for all these cases.

Can someone please tell me what I could have done wrong because I don't want to have to chamber test every round I reload in the future.

Also, any idea what I should do with the rounds I have now that will not chamber? Many thanks for all ideas!
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Old December 9, 2007, 06:20 PM   #2
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From your descriptiion, and the fact that you successfully loaded the cases once, it sounds as if the die has backed out a bit. Have you reinstalled the die following the manufacturer's exact instructions?
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Old December 9, 2007, 06:21 PM   #3
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check to see if you didn't bulge the case a little bit when you crimped in the bullets. you might have to use a caliper to check for the bulge because it doesn't take much at all to stop a round going into the chamber
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Old December 9, 2007, 06:22 PM   #4
amamnn
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sizing die, that is
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Old December 9, 2007, 06:26 PM   #5
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Have you shot any 38 special through the gun? That would potentially cause what you're describing.
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Old December 9, 2007, 08:28 PM   #6
Sport45
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Will a new cartridge chamber? If not, you need to clean the chambers. If it does, you could run the offending rounds through a Lee factory crimp die. I don't think you can just pull the decapping pin from a normal sizing die as it will squeeze the bullet too much and you'll loose neck tension. Anyway the FCD would be much faster than pulling several boxes of bullets.
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Old December 9, 2007, 10:39 PM   #7
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Some good suggestions.

I use Wilson case gauges. If I have a problem like this at least I can eliminate the firearm as a cause.
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Old December 10, 2007, 09:18 AM   #8
Hole Shooter
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Good morning fellas and thanks for all the replies.

I forgot to add that all bullets are jacketed bullets (Winchester JHP and Hornady XTPJHP) and that the gun is new with only having shot 357's through it (no 38's).

Will a Lee Carbide Factory Crimp die fit into a RCBS press? If so, can I use a RCBS shellholder with the Lee CFC die? I think this may prevent future problems.

As always, many thanks to all,
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Old December 10, 2007, 10:43 AM   #9
Sport45
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Yes, the FCD will fit any press and no special shell holder is needed. I think all Lee dies come with shellholders anyway. Good luck with it!
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Old December 10, 2007, 12:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Will a Lee Carbide Factory Crimp die fit into a RCBS press? If so, can I use a RCBS shellholder with the Lee CFC die? I think this may prevent future problems.
I don't think the Crimp die will prevent future problems.
You first have to identify the reason the rounds won't chamber. As asked in a response above, will a factory round chamber? If it will the most likely problem was also listed in a earlier response.
Your die was probably not adjusted correctly. The shell holder should almost touch the die at the limit of the press stroke in order for the case to be sized properly. Set your die up this way, size a case and try it in the chamber. If it fits, set a bullet and crimp using your normal crimp procedure and again try it in your gun. If it works, carefully record your die settings and load away.
As to the bad rounds, I think you are going to have to pull your bullets from the rounds using an impact puller or whatever you have. Remove the decapping pin from your sizing die and resize the bad cases.
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Old December 10, 2007, 06:27 PM   #11
Hole Shooter
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Based on all the test I’ve done and more importantly based on the excellent advice all you good people were so kind to offer, I think I must have bulged the case in the crimping process. However, some of the cartridges that will not chamber well in my new SP101 will chamber just fine in my old Security Six….go figure.

Throughout this process I have learned a very important lesson………..I will be ordering a Lee carbide factory crimp die on my next Midway order in both .357/.38 and .44 special/magnum calibers. And I will test-chamber random rounds before loading up several boxes of ammo.

Anyway I plan to shoot as many of the cartridges as I can through the Security Six and either try running the remaining rounds into the Lee carbide factory crimp die to correct or start pulling bullets.

Either way guess I’ll just have to spend some more time at the range and/or bench.

Many thanks to all of you who responded. I really value your advice!

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Old December 10, 2007, 08:12 PM   #12
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I check every reload I make with a case gague ( drop the round in and out easily ) and if it drops in and out easily and is flush on the top and not extending over the bottom its fine. A case gague will quickly tell you if you have a problem on your setup or if a cartridge sticks going in or out - it may be from a hairline crack in a case that you missed. Its the last check I do before I box everything up.
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Old December 10, 2007, 08:49 PM   #13
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Before I started trimming my revolver brass I would get some rounds that would not chamber do to excessive crimp from my RCBS seat/crimp die. I ironed out the bulged cases with the sizer/decapper die minus the decapper, I ran the cartridge into the sizer die about 3/64". The problem was some of the once fired cases(from factory ammo) varied in length up to .010"
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Old December 10, 2007, 09:29 PM   #14
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Check the bore of the cylinder to make sure it's the same size end-to-end. If the cylinder is tapered slightly toward the exit end, it will cause the problem you're describing. I have a Security-Six and if I shoot a lot of wadcutters, I get a deposit that forms in the bottom of the cylinder due to the shorter case length, which makes it tough to chamber .357's. It's just something you might look at.
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Old December 10, 2007, 10:04 PM   #15
Sport45
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The Lee Factory Crimp Die has a carbide sizing ring at the base. It will post size the brass after you have seated and crimped the bullet (the brass has to come back down through the carbide ring after crimping. This carbide ring is slightly larger than the ring in my Lee sizing die and probably doesn't even touch most of the brass I load. But if the cartridge will pass through the crimp die it will chamber in your handgun. (Unless it is just too long, the FCD can't do anything about that.) The FCD is installed in the press touching the shell holder at the top of the stroke, same as the sizing die. There's and adjustable mandrel on top to set the amount of crimp desired. I use mine to roll crimp revolver cartridges, and barely touch my .45acp and 9mm cartridges. I allow the seating die to take care of the taper crimp in those and really only use the FCD as a final sizing check.

The above refers to FCD for pistol cartridges. The FCD for bottleneck rifle cartridges is a completely different animal.

A case gauge is a good suggestion. For auto pistol I just us a barrel removed from the gun for drop-in testing. For revolver, your cylinder makes a great gauge as you have discovered.
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Old December 11, 2007, 12:12 AM   #16
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bullet too wide?

I loaded a few 180gr's serveral years ago, they where slightly wider, and when seated in the shell you could see a slight bulge that they caused. check your slugs to see if they are the correct diameter
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Old December 13, 2007, 02:33 AM   #17
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Quote:
I loaded a few 180gr's serveral years ago, they where slightly wider, and when seated in the shell you could see a slight bulge that they caused.
Your 180gr bullets were most likely seated to a thicker part of the case, there is a slight internal taper, the farther down the bullet goes the bulge is more pronounced.
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