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Old December 16, 2018, 08:27 AM   #1
locknloader
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40cal case gauge issues

I just reloaded some 40 and had an issue with them not fitting the case gauge when finished and QCing my rounds. I am not a very experienced reloader and last time I made 40was probably a year ago since I shoot 9mm most of the time and almost never reload anything else so I can’t remember If I ran into this before or not.

I know about ‘glocked brass’ and I do not believe that was my issue. Of 100 rounds probably 20 or so failed the case gauge around the very top of the case (not towards the bottom where the ‘glocked brass’ bulge would be). I did not feel any obvious lip around the case where the bullet sits. I just ended up running them through the lee bulge buster kit and then they all passed the sizer except one which seemed to have an expanded ring on the bottom of the case where the primer goes. I ran it though the bulge buster like 4 times and it would not resize that part of the case, would make it 99% into the sizer and then hang up on the rim.


Mixed range brass
180gr Berry’s plated flat tip
4.8gr HP-38
1.125-1.130 OAL


Is there an issue with my resizing die or the way I am seating the bullets? I barely flare the top so I don’t think it’s the expander.
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Old December 16, 2018, 10:14 AM   #2
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Could be your 40 brass is like my 9mm brass and has bee shot to many times. It is work hardened and is spring back instead of holding it's form.
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Old December 16, 2018, 10:23 AM   #3
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Is the mouth being returned to the right diameter when running through the seat/crimp die. This will vary with case length and cause the case gage to reject some.
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Old December 16, 2018, 10:35 AM   #4
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This brass was included when i bought a whole bunch of stuff to start my reloading setup from a guy a while back, so its likely they have been reloaded before, maybe many times. I guess i will toss these and just use my once fired range brass that i personally collect/know the source of.

I did not check the case dimensions with a caliper when they came out of the dies, i just checked OAL and powder weight in my QC process.
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Old December 16, 2018, 10:51 AM   #5
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I wouldnt toss them, i would want to know whats wrong. Take a sharpie and turn them black, You said you had lots that didnt fit. Make sure they all dont fit for the same reason, or at least most of them.
Run them through the case gauge again to see where the problem is. You'll see a rub where they are oversized.

With my 9mm brass, I just keep shooting it. My case gauge tells me when they are perfect. My barrel isn't near as fussy and I use it for my 9mm instead of the gauge.
If you have more than one .40 pistol then use the tightest chamber in place of the gauge if the cases proves that it's just hard brass.
If they start sticking in it, then pitch the ones that are sticking. If you find any that are splitting, then pitch them all, being they are unknown to you.
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Old December 16, 2018, 12:38 PM   #6
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I have had negative experiences with the two cartridge gauges I own, so they now reside in a drawer somewhere in my shop. The gauges are made to smaller SAAMI dimensions so perfectly good ammo sometimes won't gauge. Just use the barrel of your gun as a gauge and "Plunk Test" them. If your handloads won't plunk, then measure. Measure the cartridge (diameter in a few places, measure OAL, and make sure the bullets aren't too big.).
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Old December 16, 2018, 01:10 PM   #7
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I just did another batch of 100 and ran into the same issue on many of the cases. However, even the most F'ed up ones plunk just fine in my barrel so i think I'm just being too picky and the gauge is too tight of tolerance.

I religiously use my 9mm case gauge because if it does not pass that, it usually jams in my guns. I also tend to share my ammo with people that come to range with me so i don't want to tailor make rounds to my gun, i want them to work in anything.

The thing is with 9mm, i run into maybe 1-2 per 100 that don't pass the gauge, just seems weird i am getting so many rejects with 40. I am just going to load the rest of this questionable brass up with cheap plated bulletrs, run it through the bulge buster and leave this brass at the range after its shot. Will stick with my known once-fired brass from now on and see if that fixes it.

I just got a bunch of nice bonded hollow points that i want to reload and do not want to run into these issue and ruin a bunch of them.
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Old December 17, 2018, 12:39 AM   #8
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I didn’t see you mention which die set you’re using. I had a months long saga with cases that wouldn’t pass my Lyman Loading Block after sizing with my Redding Carbide Die set. Advised to get a Redding Grx die, which had no impact whatsoever. Tried to seat bullets anyway...they pushed right through to the case bottom with finger pressure...no neck tension at all. Finally sent them off to Redding to discover that my resizing die had no sizing ring.
New Redding die is working just fine now, but I bought a new set of Hornady dies anyway. Will pass on the Redding set to my brother and keep the Hornady 40 S&W dies for myself.
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Old December 17, 2018, 12:57 AM   #9
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  • What dies are you using? 3-die or 4-die setup?
  • What case gauge are you using? It is a "case" gauge, or a loaded cartridge gauge?
  • If you use a caliper or micrometer on the mouth of the loaded rounds that won't gauge -- what do they measure? What do some new, factory rounds measure?
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Old December 17, 2018, 07:53 AM   #10
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I am using Hornady dies, a decap and resize, powder fill, powder cop, expander, seat/crimp in that order. The gauge is a ‘Lyman Pistol Max Cartridge Gauge.‘

I am thinking these cases may be ‘work hardened’ like someone mentioned but I need to test that theory on new brass with a known history, if not it’s gota be the dies. Even after passing some of these through the bulge buster die they still had some spots that didn’t want to smooth out and seemed to retain their original shape.

I thought perhaps I had too much crimp on the die, but found out I had no crimp. Didn’t see any obvious crap in the die when looking for debris. The seating stem was for a round nose bullet but I was doing flat point. Not sure if that matters the tips of the bullets did not look like they deformed at all so figured that was not the problem. Adjusted die back where I wanted it and had a slight crimp this time, still had most of them fail case gauge.

Most of the issues seem to be around the top of the case where the bullet goes in. Seems to be deformed and not a perfect circle around the bullet, bulge buster cleans them right up. I also was able to chamber all these failure rounds so at least I know my gun will not have an issue running them.
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Old December 17, 2018, 08:26 AM   #11
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The first question I would have is if the cases on the cartridges causing the problem all have the same headstamp? Some brass is thicker than others, and I've had that cause a chambering problem with 45 Auto one time. If so, I would just toss that headstamp.

If they are not the same headstamp or if they are, but a lot of other cases with that same headstamp fit OK, just take a small file and file a little notch in the rims of all the offending cases and toss them before reloading them again.

For anyone having trouble with cases springing back to shape due to work hardening, I've found Dillon dies are a little tighter than average and will often resize cases my standard dies did not. I don't own any Hornady dies for pistol cartridges, so I can't say how they compare.
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Old December 17, 2018, 09:25 AM   #12
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Have you gauged any cases after resizing but before expanding? If you normally get 20 failures out of 100 finished cartridges, try resizing and gauging 100 cases to see if the failure rates are similar.
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Old December 17, 2018, 10:05 AM   #13
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Just my opinion, the barrel of the gun, or cylinder in a revolver you will be shooting your reloads out of is the best case gauge money can by.
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Old December 17, 2018, 10:19 AM   #14
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Where did you get the brass? Do you know what firearm it was fired in?

If it was a gun without a fully supported chamber, like a Glock, it will bulge near the extractor groove. This cannot really be sized out with any conventional pistol die. Glocks are also known for large chambers so even without removing the bulge, it still may chamber fine.

I have a couple .40's and a couple 10mm's. One of the 10mm's happens to be a glock. If i use the Glock barrel, I have to use my Redding GRx Die to remove the bulge. Especially if I am going to then shoot it in the tighter Alpha Wolf barrel or my Ruger SR1911 10mm which both have tighter fully supported chambers.

If a .40 or 10mm has been fired from a Glock barrel, with a fairly stout load, there is a good chance it will not fit in a chamber checker after being sized and loaded. The GRx die will fix this. But, if it is going back into a cavernous glock chamber, it will likely cycle fine anyhow.

This seems to be mostly isolated to 10mm's and 40's but there may be others.

I hope this helps
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Old December 17, 2018, 10:31 AM   #15
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Failing the gauge near the bullet end is usually too much crimp causing the case to buckle while the bullet is still being seated.

I agree with the idea of sorting head stamps. You should also run 100% of unsized brass through the Bulge Buster. Do not force it, because the head may be oversize and will jam badly. But do that knowing which head stamp you are running.
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Old December 17, 2018, 11:22 AM   #16
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Quote:
Failing the gauge near the bullet end is usually too much crimp causing the case to buckle while the bullet is still being seated.
I have said it is impossible to bump or move the shoulder back with a die that has case body support. The seating die dies not have case body support; what does that mean?

I built a 1911, it loves anything new, from the factory and over the counter, it does not like my reloads. I am not sensitive even when friends tell me I do not know how to load for 'THE' 45 ACP 1911. A very disciplined reloader and builder of magnificent rifles suggested I had to try his 45ACP reloads so I agreed. I no sooner got started when I had failure to chamber rounds; some chambered and fired while others did not. I did not have trouble dealing with the complication but he did. He offered every shooter at the rang his 45 ACP loads, the shooters loved his ammo because it flew through their 1911s and it was free.

I do not live that far from the range so I left the range, went home and sized his 45 ACP reloads and then returned. I filled three magazines and fired all of his resized ammo, his sized ammo flew through my 1911 build. He did say something nice about the accuracy,

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Old December 17, 2018, 01:27 PM   #17
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If your ammo won't gauge, measure, and visibly inspect, closely, for any damage. Find out where it's too big and that will lead you to why it won't gauge. Whether it's one out of 5 or one out of 50, measure. Most anything else is a WAG...

I don't supply reloads for anyone else's guns, whether I shoot them or they do. I have 3 9mm pistols and 2, 45 ACP pistols. None have tight chambers and I'm the only one to shoot the guns (if the gun is loaned, I specify factory ammo be used). Plunk testing has always worked for me (if a round fails, I measure the OD in a few paces, measure the OAL, double check the case head/rim for damage. This has never failed to lead me to the problem and an easily found remedy)...
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Old December 17, 2018, 02:48 PM   #18
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The Lyman gauge referred to is a cartridge gauge, not a case gauge. Its purpose is checking loaded ammunition against the SAAMI maximum cartridge dimensions. If your loaded rounds won't fit into the Lyman gauge, they are not within industry standards, regardless of whether or not they'll chamber in some (or even all) of your firearms.

Here's a link to the SAAMI specifications for centerfire handgun ammunition. .40 S&W is found on page 60. I would suggest that the next step would be to take several of your loaded rounds and check the dimensions against the SAAMI dimensions. Note that the dimensions shown for the cartridges are the maximum -- the tolerance is the stated dimension minus .008".

https://saami.org/wp-content/uploads...dR.pdf#page=60

Especially since you suspect that your cartridges may be out of round, take each measurement at three points around the perimeter to see if there is an out-of-round problem (possibly in combination with an oversize problem).
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Old January 11, 2019, 04:29 PM   #19
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Not sure if the OP ever resolved this, but I thought I would offer some advice. I have loaded thousands of rounds of .40 with mixed range brass. Every round goes through a cartridge gauge and gets inspected because I load them quick on a Dillon 650 and I want to make sure I catch the occasional sideways primer that happens, or pull anything that just looks real ugly. As far as rounds not gauging....rarely. The last batch of 1200 rounds I loaded with Xtreme 180 FP at 1.135 had about 1% that would not gauge. Why? It's all about brass prep.

1.) Get the Lee Bulge Buster and run your .40 brass through it. I know, its extra work, and nobody likes brass prep, but you should do it because it will make a difference.

2.) Full length resize your brass, prime charge and load. Make sure your case mouth is expanded enough to take the bullet easily....these things should seat like butter, but don't expand the case too much...you don't want that brass scraping on the seating die.

3.) Crimp in a separate stage. I know everyone has their opinion, and I'll give you mine. I ALWAYS crimp at a separate station. Why? I think it gives more uniform results by allowing you to fine tune each setting individually. I like this.

4.) I use a Lee Carbide Factory Crimp Die for all of my handgun ammunition. Why? Because it post sizes the round and gives me that extra peace of mind that the cartridge will gauge out. I swear by these crimp dies and have one in the toolhead of every caliber I load for.

5.) Make sure you are not over crimping these cartridges. Either look at the SAAMI drawing in your load book and measure off of that, or measure some factory ammo and match your case mouth taper crimp to that. Too much crimp can cause all sorts of problems from accuracy to headspace safety issues.

I fire my .40 ammo from a Gen. 2 Glock 22...all stock, with who knows how many rounds through it. It was a used police trade-in when I bought it.
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Old January 11, 2019, 08:40 PM   #20
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Will they fit into the gun barrel removed from the frame?

Per below, that was my experience, I got a 9mm gauge, most head stamps did not work. One head stamp did.

All fit fine in the barrel.

I could tell if they would fit by how the mis-fit (up 1/4 inch or so) in the gauge, more than that and they did not fit in the barrel.

Life is too short to figure it out, find a fix, go on and shoot!

The gauges lays in a drawer gathering dust.

Quote:
I have had negative experiences with the two cartridge gauges I own, so they now reside in a drawer somewhere in my shop. The gauges are made to smaller SAAMI dimensions so perfectly good ammo sometimes won't gauge. Just use the barrel of your gun as a gauge and "Plunk Test" them. If your handloads won't plunk, then measure. Measure the cartridge (diameter in a few places, measure OAL, and make sure the bullets aren't too big.).
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