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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
.223 Case Length Gauge

I was feeling pretty good about my reloads. Every round went bang and accuracy was much better than the factory stuff I'm used to shooting. That is until I picked up a Dillon Case length gauge. It looks like I have been pushing the shoulder back slightly too far. I set my RCBS FL dies just as instructed. Decapping pin set 3/16" proud. Screwed sizing die down until it touched the shell holder and then tightened 1/8-1/4 turn. I felt the "Camming action". I'll probably continue to use them, but will be backing off die.
 

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the instructions for cranking down are not a good way to set sizing die length. thats why case cages are important. properly sized cases will last much longer than bumping the shoulder that far back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It seems I learn best the hard way. I'm sure I've shortened the life of about 400 brass, but its too scarce to dump right now.

Learn from my mistake and get a case length gauge! $30.00.
 

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Hey Guys,
Got my interest up - reloaded for years (off and on) and back into it pretty good the last 5 years. Just got my first progressive and lovin it!
I usually check case length with digital calipers.
I can see the gauge being easier but could use a little more help on advantages.
Currently load for .380, 9mm, 38/357, .40, .45, starting 44 Mag, .223, 22 Hornet , 204, 308, 30-06 and looking into 32/20.
So, pretty experienced with the press but new to the gauge.
Your thoughts appreciated.
dalv
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I'm new to reloading but here is what I've been told/ read. Straight wall cartridges can be measured with digital calipers, but bottle neck cartridges require a case length gauge or case micrometer. What you are measuring is headspace, which essentially is where you are setting the shoulder of the cartridge. If the shoulder is not set back far enough, you run the risk of firing out of battery in semi autos. This is obviously very dangerous. If the shoulder is set back too far, as in my case it is hard on the brass and can cause excessive pressure in the chamber. You may want to look into a case mic, since you reload so many different cartridges. If I'm wrong someone will surely be around to correct me.
 

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I'm new to reloading but here is what I've been told/ read. Straight wall cartridges can be measured with digital calipers, but bottle neck cartridges require a case length gauge or case micrometer. What you are measuring is headspace, which essentially is where you are setting the shoulder of the cartridge. If the shoulder is not set back far enough, you run the risk of firing out of battery in semi autos. This is obviously very dangerous. If the shoulder is set back too far, as in my case it is hard on the brass and can cause excessive pressure in the chamber. You may want to look into a case mic, since you reload so many different cartridges. If I'm wrong someone will surely be around to correct me.
The above is 100% correct. I learned early on not to follow the instructions that come with the die set for proper adjustment. I smoke a lubed case that has been checked in a case length gauge and screw down the die about 3/8" from the shell plate/holder. Then see where the smoke has be pushed back to and repeat until the die resizes to the neck/shoulder junction. Then recheck in the case length gauge. This procedure has never failed me in 40 years of reloading.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
samnev said:
The above is 100% correct. I learned early on not to follow the instructions that come with the die set for proper adjustment. I smoke a lubed case that has been checked in a case length gauge and screw down the die about 3/8" from the shell plate/holder. Then see where the smoke has be pushed back to and repeat until the die resizes to the neck/shoulder junction. Then recheck in the case length gauge. This procedure has never failed me in 40 years of reloading.
Not sure what you mean by smoke a case. Please expand on this.

I took once fired brass from my chamber and slowly adjusted my dies out until my sized cases reach the top mark on my case length gauge. As long as my gun remains reliable this should prolong the life of my brass, right?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
This was still bothering me so I took a few more measurements.

The difference between my rifles spent cases and my resized cases(per die instructions) is between .009 and .010". I assume the difference being how much Camming action I applied when making the batch(whether 1/8 turn or 1/4 turn after touching shell holder). The difference between max length and min length on dillon case gauge seems to measure .008". When a spent case is inserted in the gauge it is about .001" proud of max. My resizing was taking a case from .001 over max to .001-.002" under min. I measured all factory rounds on hand. Of the 5 types I tried most were in the middle and one was on the minimum (Hornady steel match).

These measurements were taken using the depth gauge on my calipers(the slide portion that protrudes from the end)and the Dillon case gauge as a reference.

I've read the ABC's and understand the concepts and risks. Are there any experienced reloader's out there that feel strongly one way or another about the safety, life span, etc of this brass? I ask since I find it hard to believe I'm the only newbie to follow the directions on the box and push the shoulder back too far.
 

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About 22 years ago when I started reloading bottle neck .223 rounds, I did the same thing that you have done. Did I shoot those rounds "NO". I demilled all of them and scraped the brass. But I only had about 100 of them. The choice is yours. I would imagine a lot of FTE's, maybe FTF's.


This was still bothering me so I took a few more measurements.

The difference between my rifles spent cases and my resized cases(per die instructions) is between .009 and .010". I assume the difference being how much Camming action I applied when making the batch(whether 1/8 turn or 1/4 turn after touching shell holder). The difference between max length and min length on dillon case gauge seems to measure .008". When a spent case is inserted in the gauge it is about .001" proud of max. My resizing was taking a case from .001 over max to .001-.002" under min. I measured all factory rounds on hand. Of the 5 types I tried most were in the middle and one was on the minimum (Hornady steel match).

These measurements were taken using the depth gauge on my calipers(the slide portion that protrudes from the end)and the Dillon case gauge as a reference.

I've read the ABC's and understand the concepts and risks. Are there any experienced reloader's out there that feel strongly one way or another about the safety, life span, etc of this brass? I ask since I find it hard to believe I'm the only newbie to follow the directions on the box and push the shoulder back too far.
 

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I think by "smoked" he means he held the case over a flame so carbon coats the case, so when he puts it in a gauge, he can see where the gage rubs on the case, causing a line in the carbon......
 

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Not sure what you mean by smoke a case. Please expand on this.

I took once fired brass from my chamber and slowly adjusted my dies out until my sized cases reach the top mark on my case length gauge. As long as my gun remains reliable this should prolong the life of my brass, right?
Sorry I left out the part to smoke the case with the carbon from a match then as you screw down the die in small increments you will be able to see where the die has rubbed off the carbon. When it gets to the neck shoulder junction you should be at the correct place to set your dies. The case should check out at the top of the case length gauge which checks the OAL but just as importantly at the bottom of he gauge which checks the shoulder set back. If not enough the case will stick out over the upper most grove. If to short under the bottom most groove. Yes if it checks out in the CLG it should prolong the case life unless you shoot hot loads which constantly stretch the brass. The more the brass stretches the shorter the case life. I hope this helps.
 
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