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Old October 10, 2013, 06:05 PM   #1
pathdoc
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Lee Loader problem - can any fans of it help?

So I was busy loading up some .303 British the other night, getting rid of the last couple dozen of a projectile I won't be needing any more as plinking ammo, and a curious thing happened. I was pretty sure all the case necks were good - and I had one more look at each one as I dumped the powder charge in - but when I seated the bullets, I had two of them get caught up by the base of the bullet. A little bit of the case neck got turned in.

I haven't had this happen before and I've loaded about eighty rounds with the Loader so far, including flat-base bullets. (I've also loaded quite a few hundred with standard dies and a single-stage press, FWIW, and no issues.) Is this something I can expect to happen with flat-base projectiles from time to time, or was I doing something wrong, or did I just happen to miss the case-mouth irregularities?

The cases in question had all been FL resized because I'd previously fired them in a different rifle. They had not yet been fired in my current .303 British chamber. I had loaded several rounds already before the incidents occurred, and had set things up to seat to the cannelure.

Needless to say, the inertia bullet puller came out and the dodgy rounds were disassembled as soon as the screwups happened. It took quite a bit of effort to get the bullets out, which perhaps was an indicator as to what might have happened if I'd tried to fire them. The damaged cases will be loaded and fired at the range to discharge the primers, and then put in the pile of shame as learning experiences.
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Old October 10, 2013, 07:17 PM   #2
tangolima
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Assuming you used expander ball in resizing, there are 2 possible causes I can think of.

1. The bullets were too much lopsided when the seating started.

2. There is burr at the casing mouth.

Similar thing happened to me a few times. Very rarely nevertheless.

I'm also big fans of .303 British, and I own one SMLE #1 MK III and one SMLE #4. All in original military configurations, and shoot well. I'd love to have a #5 if the missus allows.

-TL
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Old October 10, 2013, 11:27 PM   #3
Lost Sheep
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An inexpensive chamfering tool might help.

When you insert (start) the bullet base into the case mouth, carefully ensuring the case mouth is not catching anywhere on the bullet base will help tremendously.

If you have not used the case mouth bellng mandrel well enough, you can do it more thoroughly (check the bullet base to case mouth fit to tell you when this is appropriate).

If the mandrel is worn, you can get another from Lee.

If your bullets are oversized (get a set of calipers) you might consider an oversized mandrel. But oversized bullets can lead to pressure problems.

Good luck.

Lost Sheep

P.S. Your comment about full-length resizing confuses me. The Lee Loader does not full-length resize. The mallet powered tool set is not intended for full-length work.
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Old October 11, 2013, 06:21 PM   #4
pathdoc
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Lost Sheep, I ran all the cases through a standard Lee full length resizing die and bench-mounted press before reloading them in order to eliminate the "set" from the previous rifle's chamber.

Your point about chamfering is well taken - I will pay more attention in this regard next time around. Both the chamfering tool and the primer pocket cleaning tool will fit into the box the Lee Loader comes in, which is handy!

The bullets I was using were .312 factory 150gn from Hornady. If they're oversize, that would seem to be Hornady's problem.

As for orientation, how does one ensure this with the Lee Loader, given that you are dropping them "blind" base-first into the loader?

All stuff to bear in mind for next time. Thanks for the hints, people.
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Old October 12, 2013, 08:25 AM   #5
Old 454
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I to reload for the .303 Brit I have a Malby #4 But I don't use my loadmaster for it. I use an old Lee whack-a-mo, its the original Lee loader.

I can make a about 50 rounds an hour with it. what's nice is it only sizes the case neck extending the life of your 303 brass.
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Old October 12, 2013, 04:18 PM   #6
pathdoc
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Yep, Old 454, that's what I'm using. My RCBS press has been languishing ever since, and is these days used only for full-length resizing brass that was previously shot in a different chamber.
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Old October 13, 2013, 07:51 AM   #7
wogpotter
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I'd suggest 2 things, assuming you're using the old whack a mole lee loader, not a reloading press made by Lee.
Chamfer/deburr, with flat-base bullets it really does help.
Use a dry case neck lube. I use moly or graphite.
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Old October 13, 2013, 04:55 PM   #8
pathdoc
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Wogpotter, that's correct - the bullet seating is being done in a whackamole. For the cases that have already been fired in THIS rifle, all the rest is being done in the whackamole also.

To my embarrassment, I managed to throw a squib load in the last batch; it sounded like a complete misfire but the primer had clearly been struck and the bullet had been started into the throat far enough that driving it out deformed the exposed lead. Lesson learned. I won't be trying to set any more speed records.

I also encountered quite a bit of vertical stringing with my scoop-only loads, so I'll be weighing everything from now on unless the zombies are closing in. Minimum loads shoot OK group-wise, but now that I've found my handloading feet again, it's time to put a bit more "oomph" behind things and see what happens.
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Old October 14, 2013, 08:41 AM   #9
wogpotter
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There is definitely a technique with a scoop!
Here's how I learned to do it as its more subtle than "Ram the spoon through the sugar bowl".

I pass the scoop fully & deeply into the powder turning it so its facing up when it breaks the surface. Then I gently tap the piled-high scoop vertically on the edge of the powder container til the scoop end up level. I find that a smallish (4~5 oz.) cap of some kind is much better than the original powder container as well. Something short & fat works best for me.

I practiced by scooping & then dumping into a powder scale till I got a working technique for consistent charge weights. If you're nervous about doing this with live powder as a friend of mine was we did it with corncob tumbler media till we got it down, then switched to powder for real to fine tune the trick of the trade.
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Old October 14, 2013, 06:09 PM   #10
pathdoc
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Already with you, Wogpotter! I have a series of Tupperware containers marked out with the various powders I use, and I dump enough powder to immerse the scoop into them at the start & then return it to the primary container when I'm done. Saves reaching down into the tin of whatever-it-is, and if I do something dimwitted and knock something over, I haven't lost my entire stock of [insert powder name here].

Have decided to go, if not for broke, at least for higher loads than scoop-provided minimum. So the scoop will now be there to get the bulk of the charge onto the scale, and then I'll be following on with the powder trickler. Nevertheless, rapidly-produced practice ammo will still be called for at some point, so I'll keep your technique in mind and try it out. Cheers.
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