die setting mistakes can lead to problems that plague handloaders. After all,
there’s nothing worse than having the same problem consistently but have no
idea why it keeps happening. In these two-part series, we are going to examine
five common die setting mistakes and how to fix them.
Dimples in Case Shoulders
Shoulder dimples in bottle neck cartridges are unsightly but relatively benign
issues that can be easily remedied. The problem is caused by using excess case
lubrication during the resizing process which hydraulically forms dents.
the problem is simple. Clean out the die with a swab, reassemble and then
use less lubrication during the sizing step. The dimples will blow out
during firing, returning the case to its original configuration.
enough lube to ensure the case will easily enter the resizing die. If the case
seems sticky going in, stop and re-lube. Dimples aren’t much of a problem, but
removing a case stuck in a resizing die is a different story all together.
Crushed Cartridge Shoulder
Crushed or set-back shoulders are very common and caused by a couple of
mistakes. Crushed shoulders can cause problems with chambering as well as
accuracy because the issue may affect headspace. Glancing at the problem, the
resizing process would seem like a likely culprit, but it is usually associated
with bullet seating.
problem occurs when enough downward force is applied to the case neck
during seating or crimping that it forces the shoulder to bulge within the
seating die. There are two main causes for this problem. The first is neck
part of the sizing process, a button is passed through the case neck, leaving
it several thousandths smaller than the bullet diameter. This neck tension is
what holds a bullet in place. If the neck tension is too great (meaning the
sizer button is too small) the force needed to insert a bullet can crush the
cartridge shoulder. Replacing the sizing button may be necessary.
more common reason for shoulder set-back is excessive crimping. Seating dies
are designed to crimp the case neck into the bullet to increase neck tension.
The deeper a cartridge is pushed into the die, the more pronounced the crimp
becomes. Setting a die to crimp heavily, or having cases with over-long necks,
can crush the shoulder.
best way to avoid crushed shoulders is to trim cartridges to the same length so
they receive the same crimping force within the die. The other options are to
reduce crimp pressure, or in the case of most bottleneck cartridges, forgo it
completely and rely on neck tension to hold the bullet in place.
Here is a simple rule: Crimping
can be a good thing, especially in magnum pistol cartridges.
is another simple rule: Too much
crimp is always a bad thing.
damages the bullet, even if it has a cannelure. This will affect
accuracy. Extreme over-crimping will damage the case body, collapsing the
case body (or shoulder if present) to the point that it will not chamber.
over-crimp requires a simple adjustment to the seater die. Back the die out and
then re-set it on another charged case. Once the bullet is set to the correct
depth, adjust the seater die body down until the proper crimp is set. Finally, set the seater down onto the seated bullet and return to loading.
very good option is to crimp using another die after the bullet has been set to
the correct depth. This adds another step, but it is the
best method for producing high quality handloads.
does it for part 1 of this series. In part two, we will examine Belling Issues
and Bullet seating to deep.