January 8th, 2019

Reloading Rescue — How to Remove a Case Stuck in a Die

stuck72

Western powders, ramshot, norma, accurate

To err is human… Sooner or later you’ll probably get a case stuck in a die. This “fix-it” article, which originally appeared in the Western Powders Blog, explains the procedure for removing a firmly stuck cartridge case using an RCBS kit. This isn’t rocket science, but you do want to follow the directions carefully, step-by-step. Visit the Western Powders Blog for other helpful Tech Tips.

Curing the Stuck Case Blues

decapstem72Sticking a case in the sizer die is a rite of passage for the beginning handloader. If you haven’t done it yet, that’s great, but it probably will eventually happen. When it does, fixing the problem requires a bit of ingenuity or a nice little kit like the one we got from RCBS.

The first step is to clear the de-capping pin from the flash hole. Just unscrew the de-capping assembly to move it as far as possible from the primer pocket and flash hole (photo at right). Don’t try to pull it all the way out. It won’t come. Just unscrew it and open as much space as possible inside the case.

Place the die upside down in the padded jaws of a vise and clamp it firmly into place. Using the supplied #7 bit, drill through the primer pocket. Be careful not to go too deeply inside the cartridge once the hole has opened up. It is important to be aware that the de-capping pin and expander ball are still in there and can be damaged by the bit.

Drill and Tap the Stuck Case
taping72drilling72

Once the cartridge head has been drilled, a ¼ – 20 is tap is used to cut threads into the pocket. Brass is relatively soft compared to a hardened tap, so no lube is needed for the tapping process. RCBS says that a drill can be used for this step, but it seems like a bit of overkill in a project of this nature. A wrench (photo above right) makes short work of the project.

RCBS supplies a part they call the “Stuck Case Remover Body” for the next step. If you are a do-it-yourselfer and have the bit and tap, this piece is easily replicated by a length of electrical conduit of the proper diameter and some washers. In either case, this tool provides a standoff for the screw that will do the actual pulling.

pulling72fingers72

With an Allen Wrench, Finish the Job
Run the screw through the standoff and into the tapped case head. With a wrench, tighten the screw which hopefully pulls the case free. Once the case is free, clamp the case in a vice and pull it free of the de-capping pin. There is tension here because the sizing ball is oversized to the neck dimension as part of the sizing process. It doesn’t take much force, but be aware there is still this last little hurdle to clear before you get back to loading. Don’t feel bad, everyone does this. Just use more lube next time!

wholekit72unstuck72

Article find by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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October 6th, 2018

Case Prep Tips from Western Powders

Western Powders Case Preparation prep inspection flash holes primer pockets reloading

Western Powders (which sells Accurate, Ramshot, and Norma powders) has published an article on case inspection and preparation. There are many tips in this article that can be useful to precision hand-loaders. For example, every time you open a new box of cartridge brass (particularly from domestic makers), you should inspect each case for flaws.

TIP ONE: Visual Inspection — Finding Flaws
Cases are mass-produced items and malformed ones are relatively common. Inspect each case carefully looking for obvious defects. A bench-mounted magnifying glass with light is a real help for the over-40 crowd. The main defects will be cracks in the neck or case body, crushed shoulders or deep creases in the neck. Next check the primer pocket. It is also fairly common to find flash holes that are damaged or, more rarely, not concentric to the primer pocket.

Western Powders Case Preparation prep inspection flash holes primer pockets reloading

Imperfections like small dings in the case body, or necks that are not completely symmetrical do not have to be eliminated at this step. Damage of this sort is usually from loose packaging and usually has not seriously damaged the brass. [Running an expander mandrel in the neck] and fire-forming will iron out these largely cosmetic issues.

The Western Powder article also talks about primer pocket uniforming. We do NOT normally uniform the pockets for Lapua or RWS brass from the start. However, pocket uniforming can be beneficial with some other brands of brass, including Lake City, Remington, and Winchester. If you shoot milsurp brass, set time aside for pocket uniforming.

TIP TWO: Primer Pocket Uniforming
Western Powders Case Preparation inspection flash holes primer pockets reloadingLike flash holes, primer pockets are mass-produced and prone to small dimensional changes. A uniforming tool is used to make the depth of each primer pocket consistent. In turn this allows similar firing pin strike depths on the primer which creates more consistent ignition characteristics.

A good uniforming tool should have a shoulder, or another positive stop, that sets the cutter’s depth. Its use is pretty straightforward. The cutter is inserted into the pocket and turned clockwise several times until the stop in flush with the case head and no more brass is removed from the juncture of the pocket’s base and sidewall. This a job best done by hand. You will feel when the cutting is finished by a change in how smoothly the cutter turns in the pocket. Very little material is actually removed; usually just enough to square the radius at the bottom of the pocket.


READ Full Case Prep Article in Western Powders Blog »

Western Powders Blog Case Prep Neck turning

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May 15th, 2018

New Ramshot Long Range Tactical (LRT) Powder

Ramshot LRT Long Range Tactical powder propellant spherical load data

Western Powders has introduced a new spherical powder designed for large magnum cartridges such as the .338 Lapua Magnum. This new powder, Ramshot LRT, has an extremely slow burn rate. Being a spherical (ball) powder it meters well. It also offers very good velocities. The manufacturer states:

“As one of the slowest spherical powders ever developed, Ramshot LRT (Long Range Tactical) was created for high performance at extreme ranges. Designed specifically for the .338 Lapua Magnum using heavy, high ballistic coefficient bullets, LRT offers high load densities and low standard deviations for superior accuracy. Hunters who prefer the advantages of overbore magnums like the .257 Weatherby or 30 Nosler will find that LTR meters more easily and produces flatter trajectories than rival propellants.”

Though Ramshot LRT has just started to ship to retailers, Western Powders has compiled some initial load data for a variety of cartridges. Shown below is official load data for four large cartridge types (this is a partial list). Additional load data for Ramshot powders is found on the Ramshot Load Data Page. As with all load data, start conservatively, and stick to the exact components listed:

Ramshot LRT Long Range Tactical powder propellant spherical load data

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April 10th, 2017

Long-Term Powder Storage — What You Need to Know

Western Powders Blog SAAMI Storage

Ever wondered about the stability of the propellants in your reloading room? There are some important things you should know about powder storage, to ensure consistent powder performance and safety. On its website, Western Powders (vendors of Accurate, Norma, and Ramshot powders) published an informative Q & A series entitled Dear Labby: Questions for our Ballistics Lab. Here are some excerpts that pertain to powder storage and shelf life. Worried that your powder may be too old? Western’s experts explain how to check your propellants for warning signs.

Proper Powder Storage

Q: I live in southern Arizona where it is very hot. I am told powders will become unstable if stored in an area not air-conditioned. My wife says no powder or primers in the house. Can powder be stored in a refrigerator? What about using a fireproof safe? I would appreciate your ideas. — M.C.

Lab Answer: SAAMI guidelines are pretty clear on issues of storage. They recommend storing smokeless powder in containers that will not allow pressure to build if the powder is ignited — ruling out gun safes and refrigerators.

CLICK HERE to Read SAAMI Guidelines for Powder Storage (PDF)

In their original containers smokeless powder’s lifespan is quite long, even in your hot, arid climate, typically longer than the average handloader would need to store them. Stored safely in a garage or outbuilding, your powder should last years. If you see the powder developing a reddish tint, or giving off a foul odor, it is time to discard it.

Clumps in Powder Container

Q: I ordered some of your Accurate 1680 powder back about in December. I just now opened it … and it is full of clumps. My knowledge tells me that means moisture. Am I wrong? I just now broke the seal and it has been stored in a ammo can with desiccant packs around it and a dehumidifier running 14-16 hours a day. I can’t imagine this being my fault, if this does indicate moisture. I don’t know if the pink part on the label is suppose to be red or not, but it is definitely pink, so if it was red I am wondering if I was shipped an old container? I hope that this isn’t bad and I am stuck with it…

Lab Answer: All powder contains a certain amount of moisture. When the powder is stored or during shipping, it can go through temperature cycles. During the cycling, the moisture can be pulled to the surface and cause clumping. Clumping can also be caused by static electricity if too dry or the powder has limited graphite content. You can break up the clumps before metering and they shouldn’t be a problem. This will not affect the powder performance, so your product is fine. Accurate 1680 labels are designed in Pink. As a side note, specification for testing powder is at 70° F and 60% humidity.

Shelf Life and Packaging Dates

Q: Does powder ever get to old to use and what identifying marks does your company put on the canister for when it is made, You have helped me out a while ago when I asked about keeping my cowboy shooting under 950 fps and it works great less stress on the hand and the recoil is very minimum. — R.B.

Lab Answer: On one pound bottles, the number is on the corner in a silver box. If the powder was poured today, it would read 012815 followed by a lot number. The whole number would look something like 012815749. Eight pound bottles have a sticker on the bottom with an obvious date code. The lot number appears above the date.

Western Powders Blog SAAMI Storage

SUMMARY: Powder can have a very long shelf life. You need to watch for changes in smell and color. A reddish tinge, almost like rust on the powder, is a bad sign, as is a foul odor, not to be confused with a normal chemical smell. Either of these signs indicate it is time to dispose of your powder by means other than shooting.

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January 19th, 2014

Western Powders Offers Updated Reloading Guide Edition 5.0

Western Powder Accurate Ramshot Reloading GuideAccurate makes some outstanding propellants, including LT-32, a favorite among short-range benchrest shooters. Ramshot X-Terminator is also a great powder for a many applications. You’ll find up-to-date load data for these and other Accurate, Ramshot, and Blackhorn propellants in the new Western Powders Reloading Guide Edition 5.0. This printed resource guide includes the most current handgun and rifle Load Data for Accurate and Ramshot powders. The Guide offers a variety of helpful articles on subjects from Reloading Basics to Gun Cleaning.

Western Powder Accurate Ramshot Reloading Guide

Western Powder Accurate Ramshot Reloading Guide

Western’s print-format Reloading Guide is offered for $2.99 delivered. (The guide itself is free — the $2.99 covers shipping and handling.) It’s nice to have a “hard-copy” guide to keep in the loading room. However, if you want immediate access to load data for Accurate propellants and Ramshot powders, there are online reloading resources for both brands. Click the links below:

Western Powder Accurate Ramshot Reloading Guide

Accurate Powder
Online Load Data


Ramshot Powder
Online Load Data

Western Powder Accurate Ramshot Reloading Guide

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December 15th, 2012

New Accurate LT-32 Powder Coming in January

Midsouth Shooters Supply is now taking advance orders for the new Accurate LT-32 Powder, with initial deliveries expected in January 2013. Price for a 1-lb container is $25.12, while an 8-lb jug runs $190.50. Produced by Western Powders, LT-32 is an extruded powder with extremely small kernels (roughly .0275″). This powder is designed to perform like the legendary “T-322″ powders which worked brilliantly in short-range benchrest cartridges, especially the 6mm PPC. Early testers report that Accurate LT-32 meters superbly and is easy to tune. Western claims LT-32 exhibits very low standard deviation. (Photos below by Speedy Gonzalez).

Accurate lt32 powder Western

Speedy Says Accurate LT-32 is Very Promising
Benchrest Hall-of-Famer and noted gunsmith Thomas ‘Speedy’ Gonzalez tested the prototype LT-32 powder from Western Powder earlier this year. Speedy stated: “It pains me to say it, but the new LT-32 out-shot my best lots of [the original] IMR 8208 (T-322)”.

Accurate lt32 powder Western

Speedy reports: “I must say that I was quite surprised by the results of my initial testing of the new Western Powder LT-32. Shooting this morning over my Oehler 35P triple screen chronograph yielded some very unexpected results. My best lot of ‘T’ powder continues to exhibit its age as it continues to lose velocity (as it ages). While the new Western LT-32 demonstrated this morning velocities equal to what my old ‘T’ powder used to shoot like 30 years ago.

This new powder goes through the measure like a ball powder. (Note: I have always felt that one of the reasons ‘T’ powder shot so well was due to the fact it measured so well as compared to other powders. This is a definite advantage for us that rely on consistent volume instead of weight.) I will have to shoot it over a season to see if it is as temperature and humidity insensitive as ‘T’, but it looks very promising from what I saw today.

It has yet to be seen if the new LT-32 proves to not be affected by temperature and humidity like the old T-322. But from these short tests it very much mimics my T-322 of old. My ‘T’ powder was always a blessing to me in the fact that when I went to a match I did not have the same problems everyone else was having [i.e. having] to tune up and down over the course of a weekend or week. I got to shoot and concentrate on the conditions instead of making it a tuning competition. It was always kind of funny watching everybody going up and down on their powders trying to accommodate the changes in weather as the days went on. Hopefully this will allow all to become better shooters by being able to concentrate on shooting and not re-turning every time one comes back from the bench.”

Statement from Western Powders

The Accurate LT-32 is an exact copy of the original T-32 manufactured in the same plant and on the same machinery as the original. Lou Murdica has been extensively testing it and he tells us it is the easiest powder to tune that he has seen in 40 years.

Accurate lt32 powder WesternAccording to Lou, the chamber that everybody was using in the 80s will work with this powder. The bullets do not need to be seated way out in order to get more powder in the case. In testing the powder in our Bond Universal receiver against the original “T” powder, SDs were about 30% lower with the new powder versus the “T” powder. Lou and Don Nielson donated 16 lbs. of the original T-32 lot of powder for our quality control and that is what the new powder is shot against.

All of our powders are allowed to deviate +3% to -5% in pressure from the quality control lot except LT-32 which we cut the deviation percentages in half in order to have the best lot to lot consistency in the industry for this powder[.] We developed this powder specifically for the 6mm PPC and it is QC’d in the 6mm PPC.

Keith Anderson
Western Powders Ballistic Lab

NOTE: Accurate LT-32 should also be available from PowderValleyInc.com in mid-to-late January 2013. Listed Prices are: $24.10 for 1 pound and $182.00 for 8 pounds.

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