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TN Mongo, SASS #61450

1873 Rifle and Old Brass

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About a year ago both my wife's .357 1873 rifle and mine would occasionally experience a piece of sticky brass that was very hard to lever out.  I purchased a Slix Chamber Scraper and was a little more diligent with my cleaning regiment and the problems went away.  Recently, however, about once a match, I get an empty that requires extreme effort to eject. I'm not as young as I once was, but I'm still a former college wrestler and linebacker.  Nothing ruins a good rifle string like having to fight with a rifle lever.

 

I was stumped.  The chamber was clean; no trace of a carbon ring from shooting .38s in a .357.  After experiencing another sticky piece of brass in yesterday's match, I took all the empty rifle brass from yesterday's match and dropped each one into a .357 chamber checker.  Approximately 6 of the 120 pieces had trouble dropping into the chamber checker.  I was unable to push one piece into the chamber checker, even with considerable force.  I had found the culprit!  Each of these pieces of brass seemed to be slightly bulged near the bottom of the case, near the rims.  

 

I admit to being a brass "hoarder" I have a full 5 gallon bucket of mixed brass .38s and at least a 2 gallon bucket of nickle plated .38s.  The nickle stuff seems to split more easily so I only use those in revolvers.  I started testing other brass from the big bucket and I started finding more brass that wouldn't fit in the chamber checker.  I know a number of shooters who only shoot one brand of brass (normally Starline) and get rid of it after a certain number of reloads.  I don't know if I'll go to that extreme, but I will start checking all my brass with the chamber checker, before, and after, I load it.  I haven't had problems with loaded rounds (probably because I run it all through a Lee Factory Crimp Die).  I'm assuming that some of the older brass is getting weaker and the resizing die and the Lee Factory crimp don't resize the last bit of the case near the rim.

 

I've done this for a couple of years with my shotgun shells for my SKBs and sticky hulls are no longer a problem.  My doubles prefer Remington STS and Nitro hulls.  I'm sure I'll discover which brass functions the best in the rifles also.    

 

I just mention this in case any of you have experienced a similar problem.  Just when I think I have pretty much everything figured out some other "gremlin" appears.   

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Mine does that when the brass splits. That is the only time.

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Posted (edited)

" Just when I think I have pretty much everything figured out some other "gremlin" appears." 

 

Amen!

 

So, just thinking and it's up to you, but if I had that much brass, and I was concerned about it, I'd sort it down to 1 or 2 five gal. buckets, take the rest to the scrap metal and use the money to buy some new brass.

 

Edited by Marshal Chance Morgun
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I just this month started getting rid of all my non starline brass.

 

This was mainly because I find my Dillon SDB feels different when loading different brands of brass and some it doesnt like at all.

 

So to make it easier to "feel" when something has gone wrong I am sticking to one brand and thats starline for me (I have the most of it).

 

Like many I throw it away when it splits (generally only noticed after I have put in a new primer<_<)

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Mongo.  Like you I hate letting brass go.  Brand name, off brand, it didn't matter.  Then I started to have too many split casings hanging up in the rifle's chamber.  My hand shakes and my mind thinks "perhaps one more reload" as I drop off brand and suspect brass into the...........brass to the junk yard jug. 

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You might want to check your sizing die to make sure you are sizing the whole case. As long as they pass your case checker after they are loaded you should be good to go.  Sometimes if you get in s hurry, you can “short stroke” the loader so you don’t get the full activity you need. 

Just my $.02. Good luck. 

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TNM-How do you clean your brass?

You sure the rifle is not firing out-of-battery?

OLG

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I too thought that sticking brass is because of dirty chambers.  I scrubbed the 73 chamber with bore gel and got it spotless. At least the part 

I can see with a flashlight.

 

I am somewhat convinced that after 8-10 reloadings brass gets work hardened and does not spring back like it did 

when it was new.  I know rifle brass is annealed at the factory and figure they do it to pistol brass too.

 Just my observation of .44-40 brass with 10+ loadings of BP sticking in the chamber and getting sooty.  

That does not happen with new .44-40 brass , it is nice and clean after firing with BP.

 

When I get some new brass I will have to measure the fired brass after each reloading to see if it gets a mite larger over time.

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Posted (edited)

Lumpy,

 

I'm a wet tumbler guy.

 

The rifle is an older Codymatic. At the time I bought it new, most smiths were disabling the lever safety.  Both of my newer Cody's have functional lever safeties.  I don't think I am firing out-of-battery, because I don't put my finger on the trigger until after I close the lever. 

 

It could be a possibility, but I don't think so.  My wife has the identical rifle, with the lever safety, and it was experiencing the same problem before we used the chamber scraper. 

 

I do receive regular lectures from my friend and local cowboy gunsmith about the lever safety.  If this issue continues, I will, begrudgingly, re-install the lever safety that my gunsmith friend gave me, or, I'll buy a new 1866 so he stops nagging me.   

Edited by TN Mongo, SASS #61450
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I hoarded brass for over ten years before I started reloading. When I did I searched here on The Wire (or maybe there was a thread going on at the time, don’t quite recall) regarding which headstamps were considered good and which were not. I made a list of positive and negative references to individual headstamps. I culled out all the “nots” and then sorted, cleaned and bagged the “goods” by headstamp, and I load , box and label by headstamp. I like to think this benefits me in some way but if it does I haven’t yet detected it. It does however appeal to my sense of order so there is that. I haven’t detected any behavior issues by headstamp yet, they all seem to miss the targets pretty consistently.

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6 minutes ago, Lead Friend, SASS #53635 said:

I hoarded brass for over ten years before I started reloading. When I did I searched here on The Wire (or maybe there was a thread going on at the time, don’t quite recall) regarding which headstamps were considered good and which were not. I made a list of positive and negative references to individual headstamps. I culled out all the “nots” and then sorted, cleaned and bagged the “goods” by headstamp, and I load , box and label by headstamp. I like to think this benefits me in some way but if it does I haven’t yet detected it. It does however appeal to my sense of order so there is that. I haven’t detected any behavior issues by headstamp yet, they all seem to miss the targets pretty consistently.

Now that you have that 32 inch rifle misses should be history!

 

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43 minutes ago, TN Mongo, SASS #61450 said:

Lumpy,

 

I'm a wet tumbler guy.

 

The rifle is an older Codymatic. At the time I bought it new, most smiths were disabling the lever safety.  Both of my newer Cody's have functional lever safeties.  I don't think I am firing out-of-battery, because I don't put my finger on the trigger until after I close the lever. 

 

It could be a possibility, but I don't think so.  My wife has the identical rifle, with the lever safety, and it was experiencing the same problem before we used the chamber scraper. 

 

I do receive regular lectures from my friend and local cowboy gunsmith about the lever safety.  If this issue continues, I will, begrudgingly, re-install the lever safety that my gunsmith friend gave me, or, I'll buy a new 1866 so he stops nagging me.   

Put the safety back in to remove one possibility.

When was the last time you had the headspace checked on both rifles?

OLG

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I have reused brass to the point that it splits.  If it is split or beginning to have an ugly case mouth is goes. But i have brass that I am certain that it has been reloaded many times. First place i would check is the resizing die. Make sure it resizes the entire case. If it does not pass a checker, the problem is most likely not the gun, it is the reloading.

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If you have a carbide sizing die - make sure the carbide ring is not cracked/broken.

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, Chuckaroo #13080 Regulator said:

I have reused brass to the point that it splits.  If it is split or beginning to have an ugly case mouth is goes. But i have brass that I am certain that it has been reloaded many times. First place i would check is the resizing die. Make sure it resizes the entire case. If it does not pass a checker, the problem is most likely not the gun, it is the reloading.

That's my thoughts ae well. I use the brass until it splits and it's all mixed brass. I cull make sure I check them well before & after they are loaded. I think if they are cleaned well and not cracked it should be fine for any 73 rifle. 

 

If the rifle can't run on mixed brass it's probably not set up correctly which makes it's less forgiving to ammo. The head space, timing, carrier position, spring tensions, extractor tension and all work as one and the faster you can run the rifle the more critical they become. 

 

Don't get me wrong a tube load of new Starline brass is a pretty thing and a great idea for a important match but mixed brass should be fine as well. I'd start looking closer at the rifle rather than trying to find brass it uses better. 

 

 

Edited by Cowboy Junky
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I haven't had issues with extracting any brass in my guns except for ones that had a cannelure. I've had the brass separate at that juncture which ruined my day. I used to case check rounds with a case gauge or revolver cylinder, but have dropped the practice since using a factory crimp die. Bulged or split brass get tossed when I spot them.

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Thank's guys!  Some very good information and thank's for the detailed PMs.

 

Lumpy, I just talked to my friend and top-notch cowboy gunsmith earlier today.  The lever safety is going back in the rifle.  A few years ago, he developed (or learned from someone else) a way to make the lever actually gently spring closed when it gets about a 1/4" from being totally closed.  I have his system on two rifles he has worked on and it works flawlessly.  I'm going to have him put this system in my current "problem child".   

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I don't think that checking brass after it's been fired is worthy of the time invested. The resize stage should take care of any issues if working properly. Checking this after reloading should be sufficient. After the shot, anything could happen to the case. A mismatched  case will react differently in the same gun. I think this has the greatest bearing on the problem from using mixed brass. I would sort your brass and if you find a batch that has consistent problems, chuck them in the recycle can (or don't use them in the rifle. I have considered this as well, but have not had problems so far that warrants it.

 

The head stamp thickness could be an issue with your particular head space. Kind of like a slightly high primer makes things hard to close. This I have noticed in mixed batch cases.

 

It may be time for a new, or different resize die. Your problem gun may be a little tight on tolerance with the one your using.

 

I have not shot on the same posse with you, but your loading recipe has effect on your brass as well. At any rate, the random issues your finding seems most likely the brand of brass as this is the biggest inconsistency in the scenario.   

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Posted (edited)
On 4/14/2019 at 2:03 PM, TN Mongo, SASS #61450 said:

The chamber was clean; no trace of a carbon ring from shooting .38s in a .357.  After experiencing another sticky piece of brass in yesterday's match, I took all the empty rifle brass from yesterday's match and dropped each one into a .357 chamber checker Approximately 6 of the 120 pieces had trouble dropping into the chamber checker.  I was unable to push one piece into the chamber checker, even with considerable force.  I had found the culprit! 

Recall waaaaay back, when you started reloading, what the books and tapes all said about keeping brass lots separate, and keeping a record book of how and how many times the lots are used?  

I bet few of us do that today, partially because you can never be sure that it is your brass being picked up, during matches.  But if everybody marked/identified their brass, and followed those initial guides on reloading, I bet we would all experience fewer jambs or ammo related problems. 

 

I do keep track, insomuch as possible, and I try not to reload brass more than four times without annealing.  Usually I toss the brass, rather than anneal, just because I love getting and opening a new box of beautiful Starline product.  

Edited by Dusty Devil Dale

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sometimes you gotta let go of really old brass that is not worth reloading anymore - i get the struggle , i experience it myself and i hate getting back 8 or 9 cases on a stage , but chit happens and one must be practicle as well as frugal these days 

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16 hours ago, TN Mongo, SASS #61450 said:

Thank's guys!  Some very good information and thank's for the detailed PMs.

 

Lumpy, I just talked to my friend and top-notch cowboy gunsmith earlier today.  The lever safety is going back in the rifle.  A few years ago, he developed (or learned from someone else) a way to make the lever actually gently spring closed when it gets about a 1/4" from being totally closed.  I have his system on two rifles he has worked on and it works flawlessly.  I'm going to have him put this system in my current "problem child".   

Have the 'Smith check your headspace while he has it.

OLG

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Lumpy, he will check the head space.  We had both our main match rifles checked last year when we had new bolt assemblies installed, but you never know, things may be out of wack now.

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I had a problem with some of my brass that I had obtained from various sources, both new and used.  It turned out that some of it was bulged and my dies do not resize all the way to the base.  The round would either chamber and extract hard, or not chamber at all and I'd jack it out.

 

I had not been fully checking the rounds (357).  I had always checked for splits and cracks, but not all the way down to the base for bulges, and it bit me hard in a couple of matches.

 

I now 100 % check all the brass after it has been cleaned and discard any with splits, cracks, or anything that looks suspicious.  After it's loaded, I 100% check the rounds with a chamber guage and put them on a flat plate to find any high primers.  Since I've been doing that, all the ammo problems have gone away.

 

I'm not sure any 357 die can get all the way to the base.  Someone may have some suggestions.   I'm OK now, but there may be some other help out there.

 

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My similar problem was solved with a new sizing die.

 

It turns out that the used 38 Special dies I got in a trade 30 years ago finally wore out.  (Even though the loaded rounds would go into the chamber checker.)

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, TN Mongo, SASS #61450 said:

Lumpy, he will check the head space.  We had both our main match rifles checked last year when we had new bolt assemblies installed, but you never know, things may be out of wack now.

If you still have the bulged brass. Give'em to the 'smith to ck over.

Are the bulged cases the same head stamp?

OLG

Edited by The Original Lumpy Gritz

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I'm running Dillon dies in the 650 followed by Lee factory crimp die in the last station.  The dies are about 6 years old.  At first I was running RCBS dies in the 650.

 

Lumpy, they weren't all the same head stamp, but almost all were uncommon brands.  The first couple of years I sorted all brass by head stamps, but I started shooting more matches each month and my wife started shooting, I quit sorting brass. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, TN Mongo, SASS #61450 said:

I'm running Dillon dies in the 650 followed by Lee factory crimp die in the last station.  The dies are about 6 years old.  At first I was running RCBS dies in the 650.

 

Lumpy, they weren't all the same head stamp, but almost all were uncommon brands.  The first couple of years I sorted all brass by head stamps, but I started shooting more matches each month and my wife started shooting, I quit sorting brass. 

Make sure the base sizer ring on that FCD is going all the way to the case rim when cycling the press with a full shell carrier load.

You might need to remove any die body material over hang, below the carbide ring.

 

OLG

Edited by The Original Lumpy Gritz

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