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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    325

    Default Had a case rupture today.....

    Took my No.4 enfield to the range earlier today for a little informal target shooting. I was firing some reloads I had made months ago. I fired maybe 15 rounds when the next round went off fine, but when I went to extract the cartridge, it was a little tight. It took a little more force than normal to open the bolt. The bolt opened and to my surprise, out comes the last 3/8ths of an inch of the case. The case must have ruptured near the rim, then let go completely when I tried to extract it. I immediately got out the cleaning rod and put a patch on it and ran it from the muzzle. The rest of the case fortunately came out with no trouble. I pulled the bolt and inspected the chamber as best I could and didn't see anything unusual. I shot about ten more rounds just to see if anything was wrong with the gun, and luckily there were no more problems. I checked the empty cases and several of them show signs of impending rupture. I never had headspace problems with this gun and since these cartridge cases have been reloaded several times I am attributing this to metal fatigue. Still, this is the first time in all the years I have been reloading/shooting that this has ever happened....

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
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    USA
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    3,599

    Default

    Who manufactured the cases?
    "If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen." --- Samuel Adams

  3. #3
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    Sep 2007
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    325

    Default Case rupture...

    Federal.....

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
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    USA
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    3,599

    Default

    I don't have much experience with Federal rifle brass, but had some quality issues with their .38 Spl brass some years ago. If you've never had headspace issues before, no reason to figure that you've developed them now, unless you've been working that rifle awfully hard.

    Are you full-length resizing? LEs are known for having "generous" chambers, and segregating your brass by rifle and neck sizing only can greatly increase case life.
    "If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen." --- Samuel Adams

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
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    Pennsyltucky USA
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    Default

    Headspace discussions give some people a bad case of heartburn, what some people do not understand is that commercial cases are not designed as robustly as military cases and that commercial cases have a different set of built-in limitations. The American commercial cases are on the small side dimensionally and a little thinner than their military brothers, I have written to a person in Britain who had Military Greek HXP cases and has gotten over 30 reloads from them, my Winchester cases gave me 3 reloads.

    Headspace is governed by the type cases you shoot and NOT the rifle if you reload.

    In 1948 Jim Sweet the Australian shooting champ recommended setting your headspace between .064 and .067

    In 2005 Ian Skennerton in his book “Accurizing the Lee Enfield” recommends setting your headspace .003 (three thousandths) over your rim thickness.

    In the 2002 Canadian No.4 manuals the headspace is listed as:
    Min .064
    Max .074
    Base Max .070

    It is my understanding the Canadian Rangers are now shooting commercial ammunition in their No.4s now that military .303 ammunition is no longer manufactured. The “Base Max” figure is what the headspace is adjusted to when the rifle returns back to the Ranger Base and these figures are for once fired commercial ammunition not reloads.

    Please note that if you reload your commercial cases they can end up banana shaped in rifles with the longer military headspace settings, the thinner American commercial cases can expand more on one side than the other in a military chamber and when they spring back after firing the very base of the case is no longer 90 degrees to the axis of the bore (banana shaped) and your reloading accuracy goes to hell.

    The attached photo is a Winchester case fired three times, please notice the crack is at an angle and the stretching and contraction of the case has pushed the base of the case off center with the axis of the bore. American commercial cases do not like being fired in long fat military chambers.



    The red line axis is the of the bore and the black line is how the reloaded case aligns with the bore when the base of the case is pushed off center.



    From the 1948 book of Jim Sweet (American rim thickness is .059-.058)


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
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    Pennsyltucky USA
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    1,737

    Default

    A very smart Canadian came up with this idea for fire forming your commercial cases and preventing case stretching in the web area (no duct tape required)

    A rubber o-ring pushes the case to the rear and against the bolt face, a proper sized o-ring also helps center the base of the case with the chamber

    When the bolt closes on our smallish American cases the extractor moves to the right and the unsupported case lays at the bottom of the chamber and bulges at the top when fired. When the o-ring is compressed it flows or expands into the rear of the chamber centering the case, minimizing bulging cases and banana shaped cases.

    O-ring size will depend on actual headspace, chamber diameter and rim thickness for fire forming, but it will reduce stretching and thinning a great deal in the web area on the first initial firing. The o-ring eliminates the head gap clearance or the distance from the rear of the case and the bolt face (Zero headspace)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    12

    Default

    Case seperation in a 303 must be reasonably common because there is a tool made to extract the rest of the case.
    The only time it happened to me and a few members of the club I shoot in was when we were using Sellior and Bellot ( Czech republic) ammuntion. Shoots well and you can probably reload it once or twice if you want to risk it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    325

    Default Case rupture

    Quote Originally Posted by jrhead75 View Post
    I don't have much experience with Federal rifle brass, but had some quality issues with their .38 Spl brass some years ago. If you've never had headspace issues before, no reason to figure that you've developed them now, unless you've been working that rifle awfully hard.

    Are you full-length resizing? LEs are known for having "generous" chambers, and segregating your brass by rifle and neck sizing only can greatly increase case life.

    Yes, I full length resize...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    325

    Default Case rupture

    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Horton View Post
    Headspace discussions give some people a bad case of heartburn, what some people do not understand is that commercial cases are not designed as robustly as military cases and that commercial cases have a different set of built-in limitations. The American commercial cases are on the small side dimensionally and a little thinner than their military brothers, I have written to a person in Britain who had Military Greek HXP cases and has gotten over 30 reloads from them, my Winchester cases gave me 3 reloads.

    Headspace is governed by the type cases you shoot and NOT the rifle if you reload.

    In 1948 Jim Sweet the Australian shooting champ recommended setting your headspace between .064 and .067

    In 2005 Ian Skennerton in his book “Accurizing the Lee Enfield” recommends setting your headspace .003 (three thousandths) over your rim thickness.

    In the 2002 Canadian No.4 manuals the headspace is listed as:
    Min .064
    Max .074
    Base Max .070

    It is my understanding the Canadian Rangers are now shooting commercial ammunition in their No.4s now that military .303 ammunition is no longer manufactured. The “Base Max” figure is what the headspace is adjusted to when the rifle returns back to the Ranger Base and these figures are for once fired commercial ammunition not reloads.

    Please note that if you reload your commercial cases they can end up banana shaped in rifles with the longer military headspace settings, the thinner American commercial cases can expand more on one side than the other in a military chamber and when they spring back after firing the very base of the case is no longer 90 degrees to the axis of the bore (banana shaped) and your reloading accuracy goes to hell.

    The attached photo is a Winchester case fired three times, please notice the crack is at an angle and the stretching and contraction of the case has pushed the base of the case off center with the axis of the bore. American commercial cases do not like being fired in long fat military chambers.



    The red line axis is the of the bore and the black line is how the reloaded case aligns with the bore when the base of the case is pushed off center.



    From the 1948 book of Jim Sweet (American rim thickness is .059-.058)

    Edward;

    Thanks for this information. Very helpful. As to your photo, I don't recall my case cracking in such a way, although it did crack in that exact area. The crack is more uniform around the circumference than at the angle shown.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Posts
    110

    Default

    I have experienced a case rupture or two over the years. It comes with full length forming and pressing your luck with case life. No worries though, the Enfield is great at venting gas. As you have noticed, the case rupture often goes undetected until the bolt is opened.

    As has been explained, neck sizing is the way to go for preserving cases, but in my case, I would go mad trying to keep brass all sorted out for each of my rifles. I don't reload that much these days because I am too busy and I am too involved with military competitions. I just take the loss of the cases not lasting very long. If you compete at all with the rifle, take this as a lesson and make sure your match ammo is once fired. Stay away from S&B brass too. It does not last more than one reloading sometimes.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Portland Oregon
    Posts
    15

    Default

    Head head space oh boy. Lets face Lee Enfields have big chambers and most not all are running on max. headspace. So how to solve the problem for reloader. One is take your Lee Enfield in to a gun smith and have the barrel set back recut the chamber. Or what I do is the o-ring trick, it works. This week or next week I am going load up my portable reloading stuff and head out to the gun club and find out how many reloads I can get from new R.P. Brass with just the O-ring and Lee Collet neck sizing Dies I am thinking around 7 or 8. So I will post my results

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Location
    Hampshire, England
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    1,716

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by carl1124 View Post
    This week or next week I am going load up my portable reloading stuff and head out to the gun club and find out how many reloads I can get from new R.P. Brass with just the O-ring and Lee Collet neck sizing Dies
    I have just had a Lee collet die set delivered and am extremely disappointed. I am sure that I set the collet die up correctly but there is almost no grip on the bullet to the extent that it would be dangerous to fire the round. (Danger of the bullet seating itself deeper.)

    Brass was HXP 71 and PPU. Any comments?
    "a rifle should be kept in every cottage in the land."

  13. #13
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    Sep 2007
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    1,462

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Beerhunter View Post
    I have just had a Lee collet die set delivered and am extremely disappointed. I am sure that I set the collet die up correctly but there is almost no grip on the bullet to the extent that it would be dangerous to fire the round. (Danger of the bullet seating itself deeper.)

    Brass was HXP 71 and PPU. Any comments?
    Take all the bits out of the die wash in solvent replace and reset. I have this issue infrequently. The main piece sticks up in the die. Also there is a certain amount of pressure to make it work. The best die since sliced bread.

  14. #14
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    Dec 1969
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    Hampshire, England
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    Default

    Do I take the collett out too? If so from the top or the bottom?

    By reset, I assume that you mean set it in the press. I can't see any other settings.
    "a rifle should be kept in every cottage in the land."

  15. #15
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    Sep 2007
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    1,462

    Default

    Unscrew the top of the die remove the 2 pieces inside from the top, clean replace screw top back on.Reset die in press to be sure it is right then try again.

  16. #16
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    Dec 1969
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    Hampshire, England
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    Default

    Thanks for that. I had already removed the collet as well. It seems to me that the machining of the upper conical section of the collet is very rough indeed with quit deep circular tool marks. As the insert has to slide over that it just doesn't seem right. Or are they all like that?
    "a rifle should be kept in every cottage in the land."

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    East tn
    Posts
    709

    Default

    beerhunter , i have several of the collet dies. they need to be cleaned and lubed. the collet itself is high carbon steel so any tool marks will work themselves out. it takes allot of pressure to size the neck with these dies 25lbs i think is what the instructions say. if your neck is not tight then your setup is wrong, rinse repeat
    God say, You can do what you want Abe, but
    The next time you see me comin you better run
    Well Abe says, Where do you want this killin done?
    God says, Out on Highway 61

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    57

    Default

    Hi Beerhunter,

    I use the same brass HXP 71 in my collet set, neck sized hundreds, and have never had a problem, make sure you apply enough pressure to the press handle when its at the bottom of the downward stroke this is what closes the neck approx 25lbs pressure needed. Do as others have said keep the die clean and lubed.

    Did you screw in the die until it touched the shell holder then "1 more turn in"? that's important the extra turn.

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