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Dr.Hess

On 300 Aac Blackout

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So, I've been playing with 300 Blackout. I bought an upper at The Big Gun Show in Tulsa a couple years ago. It was $250, brand new, with a bolt carrier. CHEAP. Well, as we will get to, the reason it was CHEAP was because it was CHEAP. Anyway, this is to further my quest for a cheap to shoot center fire rifle.

 

I dug out all my 30 caliber boolit molds. I had some SKS/AK molds and some other 30 caliber molds, Lee, Senco, etc. I have a set of Lee dies and a Lee case trimmer, the hand crank kind that goes in your press.

 

Making the brass:

I dug through my "unsorted" brass giant coffee can for 223/556 brass. Using my air high speed muffler cut off tool (HF), I held a piece of brass on my vice and cut the neck off right at the start of the shoulder, or the base, leaving a straight wall case. You run that through a standard sizing die and it will size and make a neck down to 30 caliber. Next, run that through the case trimmer to get it to the "trim to" length. Check with calipers.

 

Boolits:

This was very tricky. Most all of the bullet molds I had were the wrong shape. To function properly, the bullet needs to be real long, pointy and skinny at the front. The AK mold was in the 126 GR range and if loaded short, it would kinda half-assed work, but still not right. Most of the bullet profiles would slam up against the feed ramps and gouge the bullet so that it wouldn't chamber. About to give up, I bought the Lee 30 cal 230 Gr boat tail mold. I cast some up. They fed great. I ran a pot's worth of lead through the dies and water dropped them. PROBLEM: Water dropping these long bullets made them curve, like a Samurai's sword. Not all of them, but more than half. After culling out the curved ones, I powder coated the good ones. Put them in a plastic coffee can with some black Airsoft BB's and a couple tablespoons of HF red powder coat. Put the lid on and shake the crap out of it. Pull the lid off and pick them out with some needle nose pliers and put them on a cookie sheet covered in Reynolds Non-Stick aluminum foil (what an invention.) Make sure none are touching and turn the oven on to 400 and come back in a half hour or so. Take them out and let cool. Powder coated boolits. I ran them througe my RCBS Lubamatic with no lube, just sizing them to 309.

 

Powder:

The lighter bullets did OK with 296, but the heavy 230GR bullets didn't handle the 296 well at all. This is a rather new caliber, so loading data is not like loading for 30-06 or 223. I was working up the 296 load, trying to get a load that would lock the slide back on an empty mag, and when I got there, it was WAY over pressure. Like blow the primers out over pressure. OOPS. I was about to give up and buy an adjustable gas block when I thought I would experiment with other powders that I had in stock. I have some IMR4198 left over from the 70's. It doesn't meter for crap, which is why it is left over from the 70's. I worked up to 11.5GR of IMR4198, and that was actually working pretty well, locking the slide back on the last round and no over pressure signs. Unfortunately, it's total lack of metering and actually breaking my Dillon RL550B powder measure in the early 80's is a major drawback, so I started digging around for something else. I have some H335 left over from the 80's. Yeah, I haven't been reloading much. The 90's was my lost decade. Nothing happened then but school. The OO's was mostly recovering from the 90's. Anyway, I started working up the H335. What I came up with was 13.0GR of H335 and that Lee 230Gr (actually 229Gr as loaded) powder coated bullet. No over pressure signs and it functions great in my upper (carbine length gas tube, I think.)

 

 

I load the bullets OAL to 2.24-ish. Max OAL is 2.26, but I had magazine issues with that length. Oh, my test bed magazine is a 20 round Genuine Colt mag.

 

The Cheap Upper:

So, during all this workup, I started having feeding problems, and not because of the bullet shape. Problems like there's an empty shell half in the chamber and now another jammed up against it. In other words, the extractor wasn't. Took the bolt apart. Everything looked OK to me. No gunk under the extractor. You can see the tooling marks from turning the bolt, like a giant spiral all the way down. So I looked into all this "O-Ring the Extractor" stuff. What the latest thing is, apparently, is to to put a small O-Ring around the extractor spring, then put it all back together again. I dug out my Harbor Freight O-Ring kit. Like 50 different sizes of O-rings. Every time I use one, that thing pays for itself. Second from the smallest fit around the extractor spring perfect. Put it back together and no more extraction problems.

 

The magazines would not fit right with the upper locked down. Same thing on a different lower. Some DyChem showed that the part of the upper just over the feed lips of the magazine (tried different mags too) was too shallow. Some light Dremmel time and emery cloth and now the mags fit. Like I said, there's a reason the upper was CHEAP. I suspect the only thing Mil Spec about it was the top 1913 rail. Oh well. The muzzle brake looks cool, stainless barrel, free floated forearm.

 

For a sight, I have cheap red dot. I'll have to admit, these red dots are kinda nice, especially as... a-hem... our eyes ain't what they used to be.

 

As much trouble as making the brass is, I didn't want to loose it. I have several brass catchers. One is a real nice stiff plastic one, but it doesn't fit on a flat top receiver. Only on an original or A1 style receiver. That wouldn't work. I bought a bag type one years ago. Couldn't find it for anything. Screw it, I bought another Caldwell bag type on amazon. With some bending and tweaking, I got it to stay over the mouth of the ejection port. I think it works OK, and I can keep up with my PITA to make brass.

 

Now that I had the right bullet, right powder, a mag that worked (plastic one didn't), I was ready to start chucking out some ammo. I dusted off the RL550B. I haven't loaded a bullet on it in probably over ten years. It was still set up for 7.62x39, actually, from way back when I was messing with my Spanish 93 Mauser in that caliber. I was going to order a set of change caliber stuff for the 300 BO, and on looking, the powder drop is the same as 7.62x39, and of course, the base stuff and buttons are the same as 223, so all I really needed was a tool head and powder die. I took the 7.62x39 dies out of the tool head and used that one. AK ammo is so cheap today there is no point in reloading it. Problem: The powder drop funnel would not flare the mouth for the cast bullet. A call to Dillon tech support and what I needed was a 30 Carbine powder drop funnel. I ordered one. Meanwhile, I set up the rest of the Dillon for 300 BO, making sure the bullet seat depth is where I want it and that the Lee Factory Crimp die is not mashing it too much.

 

With my casting the bullets, I think my per round cost on these is sub 8 cents, or less than the price of a 22LR, if you can find any for sale. It makes a whole lot more BANG than a 22LR for about the same price.

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Here is a spreadsheet of all the loads I could find on 300 BO. There are probably more out there, but that should be plenty to get one started. Uh, guns are dangerous. Reloading is dangerous. There's commies everywhere, we'll all be killed. Start at a reduced load and work up and You're On You're Own. (AMF YOYO).

300BO_Loads.zip

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Here are some pics.

 

Here's the $250 upper.

post-38-0-36680800-1495312475_thumb.jpg

 

And where I had to do some grinding on it so the gold standard (Colt 20 round) would fit:

post-38-0-36440900-1495312528_thumb.jpg

 

Here's a batch of cookies right out of the oven:

post-38-0-14079500-1495312575_thumb.jpg

 

post-38-0-70242200-1495312592_thumb.jpg

 

 

Some boolits that didn't work out:

post-38-0-04346400-1495312620_thumb.jpg

 

Left to Right, 126Gr Lyman mold for AK, a 168-ish grain Lee mold, a 200 grain Lee mold. Wouldn't feed for crap, although the 126Gr Lyman almost would, but was way too short. That 200 grain Lee boolit is fantastic in a 30-30, by the way.

 

Loaded round:

post-38-0-56669200-1495312815_thumb.jpg

 

Can't beat the progressive Dillon RL550B for chucking out rounds:

post-38-0-80198600-1495312853_thumb.jpg

 

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Thanks, Clem. I would like to leave a reference so people can do things like this without scouring the Intr4w3bz, y0 for hours, coming across conflicting data, etc. Some of those failure bullets might work great in a bolt action, if there was one, but they don't feed in an AR. And I was getting the occasional keyhole with them too, shooting at like 25 ft, which was weird but I suspect the very long distance between the seated bullet and the start of the lands in the chamber was the cause of that. They had to be really short (deep in the case) to have some chance of feeding. Just didn't work out.

 

 

So here's the cost breakdown:

 

13gr H335: $22/lb, or $22/7000gr, which comes to about $0.04/13Gr

Primers: $0.03 ea

Lead: Well, I scrounge a lot. I cost that at 0. I still have some I bought at $0.10/lb. 230gr at $0.10/lb is 3 for penny.

Powder coat: https://www.harborfreight.com/16-oz-powder-coat-paint-red-93309.html

One pound is six bucks. That makes a lot of boolits. Not sure how many, but well over a thousand using the shake and bake method. I put a tablespoon in the can every few hundred.

Brass: Leftover/scrounged 223. Free.

 

Add in some electricity and nonstick tin foil and that's about it for consumables. I'm not going to cost out the case lube. At ten bucks for a huge jar of lanolin, it is probably around a hundred for a penny. So, 4 cents powder, 3 cents primer, MAYBE a penny for the bullet and I'm calling it 8 cents a pop in 2017 dollars if one were to source powder and primer at today's prices. I still have leftovers from a long time ago, so I would say that my unadjusted for inflation cost on these is closer to three cents.

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Doc I really enjoyed this post, thanks a bunch for taking the time to do it! I've played with ARs for years but never given the 300 blackout even a second look till now . With the price of parts still falling and the pile I accumulated the last few years I may just have to start in on one.

I've never cast anything out of lead and have read that wheel weights are really poor stuff but I just bought a couple sinker molds last weekend thinking I'd try to make some sinkers out of the buckets of old wheel weights that have been taking up space in my shop for over 20 years lol... What does your experience with pouring bullets tell you I need to do on my sinker making, any advice would be appreciated. I've got the molds and nearly half a pickup bed full of weights (owned a tire shop years ago) but was wondering about how much heat it and what kind of source I could get by with on the cheap. Would a propane fish cooker ever get them hot enough?

Thanks,Jim

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Hey Jim,

I've been casting bullets for 43 years now. I have always used wheel weights, primarily. First because that's what I could scrounge and buy from gas stations when I was a kid, then because I bought a lot at an auction of a tire shop that burned to the ground. I mix in whatever I can scrounge. A woman at work gave me some lead stained glass window joiner stuff that she didn't have anymore use for. That got mixed in with the wheel weights. Bullets I come across from the tree stump that is my target holder or the gun range, a length of lead pipe, whatever I have gets mixed in. Nothing wrong with wheel weights. Be careful not to use the zinc ones. They say they will mess up your whole pot of lead and you'll have to pitch it. My wheel weight collection comes from before they started using zinc.

I have used a small cast iron pot and a coleman camp stove before. Not my preferred method, but it works. I used one of these for decades:

 

https://smile.amazon.com/LEE-90021-Precision-Melter-Grey/dp/B00162UONY

 

until it finally gave out on me. I replaced it with this:https://smile.amazon.com/Lyman-Big-Dipper-Casting-Furnace/dp/B0037NA7ZA which I can't say is any better. I think I actually prefer the Lee, although it holds a little less. My casting dipper fits the Lee better.

 

"On the cheap," you need a small pot, preferably cast iron and not momma's cooking pot, and a heat source. It doesn't take a whole lot of heat, as I mentioned the 1 burner coleman stove worked fine for me for a few years until I could find my old Lee pot again. And something to dip the lead with. Not sure how big your molds are, but the dipper should be bigger than the mold. You might be able to make something out of an old spoon or smaller ladle. Or if your molds are large, something like this to melt a batch in and pour might work:

https://smile.amazon.com/Lodge-LMP3-Melting-Pre-Seasoned-15-Ounce/dp/B0002CX9FE

My dipper is like this: https://smile.amazon.com/RCBS-80015-Lead-Dipper/dp/B000MLAWHS only older.

 

This is what I used to use on the coleman: https://smile.amazon.com/RCBS-80010-Lead-Pot/dp/B004XZGUSE

 

So, quick casting run down: NO WATER ANYWHERE NEAR MOLTEN LEAD. WEAR GLOVES.

If you're not using a dedicated electric lead furnace, be careful not to get it too hot. The Lee and the Lyman have thermostats.

Put your wheel weights in the melter and start the heat. When it is all melted, break off a chunk of candle wax about pea size or 2 pea sized or so. Throw it in the lead. Touch a match to the molten lead to start a fire from the fumes of the melting wax. Stir the lead. All the impurities will float to the top. Skim them off with an old kitchen spoon now dedicated to casting. You're now ready to cast. Take your mold and (optionally) smoke the mold by lighting a match and letting the smoke go in the mold cavity. Put the bottom of the mold in the molten lead to bring it up to temperature. When the lead drops off, it is up to temp. Pour the lead in the mold. Move the mold over to a larger container like a large metal coffee can and knock the sprue off by striking the top plate with your stick (I use an old axe handle piece). You want to knock the sprue into the metal coffee can. Open the mold and hold over a folded in-half towel (not momma's good towel). You might have to strike the mold handle at the hinge to shake the bullets loose out of the mold and onto the towel. Close the mold up, reset the sprue plate and repeat.

 

If you want to come down to NW Arkansas some time, I'll demonstrate the whole process for you.

 

 

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WOW Doc !! What a treasure trove of information! Thank you very much! And thanks for the offer of a demonstration, I'm in your area almost nightly , I just wish it was during the day and I wasn't always racing my log book I would definitely take you up on it. But I think I'm pretty well educated after you rundown. I believe I'll invest in an electric melter and maybe a few handgun cal molds after reading what you've written. What do you do about the steel wheel clip on the weights? Just dip them out after melting ? I'm thinking I might just wire them together where they'd be simple to lift out? Thanks! Jim

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When you put the wax in and it lights off, all the impurities float to the top, including the steel clips. That's part of what you skim off with the old kitchen spoon. No need to wire them together. They'll be on top.


When making bullets, you will probably need a sizing set. I use a RCBS Lubamatic, but the Lee sizers are cheap.

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Here is how I powder coat the bullets. This is on a Lee mould .430" 255gr bullet I cast for 44 mag to use in my Desert Eagle. Note that using cast bullets in a Desert Eagle is supposed to be a big no-no because of the rifling type. However, I have run these through with no problems at all. Well, the only problem I had was that my load was a bit hot and I was getting pressure signs, so I'll have to back that off. Apparently the load data I used was not correct. I think it did say "rifle only," but flat primers are flat primers. So, with a "too hot" load and a cast, powder coated bullet, zero leading in the micro-groove rifling. That's good enough for me.

 

Here's the Airsoft BB's, coffee can and the HF powder coat:

post-38-0-07846100-1497098792_thumb.jpg

 

I put about a half bottle of BB's in the coffee "can" (plastic, actually), and add about 25-30 boolits and periodically add another tablespoon or so of powder coat. I've been using the same set of BB's for, I dunno, maybe 750 bullets already. I don't think you can wear them out.

post-38-0-13041400-1497098915_thumb.jpg

 

Then put the lid on and shake the crap out of it. I use a combination of rolling them along the can sideways and back and forth motion. This is after maybe 20 seconds of shaking:

post-38-0-48047600-1497098893_thumb.jpg

It needs a little more shaking, but not that much. If after lots of shaking, there are still voids, then add a bit more powder. I pick them out of the mix with some needle nose pliers, put them on a cookie sheet lined with the non-stick aluminum foil, put them in the oven, set to 400F and come back in a half hour. Results:

post-38-0-87111400-1497098857_thumb.jpg

 

These 44mag boolits will sit on their base pretty easy. Note that even the bases are fully coated when done. The 230gr 30 cal boolits didn't want to stand up very easily, so I just let them lay down. Any powder coating irregularities doesn't seem to matter in the final product.

 

Here is my casting station:

post-38-0-82506500-1497098867_thumb.jpg

 

Left to right: Wax candle for flux, wet sponge to cool overheated mould, can to hold impurities skimmed off the top, Lyman casting furnace, dipper, spoon, coffee can (metal) to catch sprue as you knock it off, coffee can to hold completed bullets once the towel is "full" and I am not water dropping, bucket with cardboard funnel for water dropping, towel to drop bullets on if I'm not water dropping, gloves, axe handle.

 

Some notes on Lee moulds (molds): As I have said, Lee is like the Harbor Freight of reloading. Some stuff is great, some good, some OK and some a bit iffy. All is a good value for what you pay. Lee moulds are a fraction of the price of other brands and they come with handles. Other brands, you have to buy the handles separately. Lee sells handles for other brand's moulds too, and I've used those. Anyway, the Lee moulds are aluminum. They heat up faster and you can get to casting good bullets sooner with the aluminum moulds. They also can NOT take a beating like a RCBS, Saeco or Lyman mould can. You have to be a lot more careful with them. For example, I'm used to slamming the mould closed and slamming the sprue plate closed with the mallet on a Saeco or Lyman steel mould. With the Lee's, I carefully close the thing with my gloved hand. I had a 7mm Lee mould for my 7x57. There are locating pins in the Lee moulds and a receiver pin to line up the halves. With the 7mm mould I had, the locating pins/receivers were walking out on me and the mould halves weren't joining up properly. I had to pitch (recycle) most of an entire batch of funny looking boolits. I would tap the pins back into location and they would almost immediately walk out again when I started casting. I contacted Lee and their tech support people told me to peen the pin things and offered to do it if I wasn't comfortable peening them myself. I peened them on the 7mm mould and they still walked out. I think after walking out a few times, the holes were now oversized. I returned the mould to Lee and they sent me another for free under their 1 year (I think) warranty. I peened the pins on that one and have had no problems with it. Oh, shipping on sending the thing back to Lee was probably 75% of the cost of a new one on Amazon, but warranty is warranty and 75% of the price is better than 100%.

 

Now, whenever I get a new Lee mould, I peen the pins/receiver pins on it and that, combined with being much more careful with the mould, has been working out for me. Here's the 44 mag mould peened:

post-38-0-22620100-1497098878_thumb.jpg

 

 

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I'm getting a bit off the 300 BO subject, wandering into reloading in general.

 

I was loading up the 44MAG bullets pictured above in my Dillon RL550B. I'm using Lee dies, labeled "44 Special - Also reloads 44 Magnum" or something like that. I actually kinda like the Lee decapping system. I don't know how many RCBS decapping pins I've busted over the last 4+ decades. They should sell them by the dozen, at least. With the Lee dies, all you'll do is push the decapper out the top, stop and reset/torque it down and go on.


I put a fairly decent bell on the mouth of the 44mag cases so the lead bullet won't shave off. When the case went up into the bullet seating die, if the bell was on the large size, it was blocked pretty hard at the mouth of the die. A good hard push on the lever would force it up into the die by shrinking the mouth in some, but it was difficult. 3 other things are going on at the same time, remember. Anyway, looking at the die, the mouth had about a 45 degree bevel on it. I figgered that if the bevel tapered in more, that would make it easier for the oversize bell mouth to transition into the die. So I chucked the die up in my lathe, turned it on and took the Dremel tool with a small stone in it and ground the transition zone to a much more gradual angle, then polished it with some emery cloth. I put it back in the press and reset it. No more problems with that die. Worked fantastic in Dillon, even when a case mouth got way too big.

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Back on the 300BO. I have to admit that I kinda like this caliber, especially because I can make ammo in the 8 cent range, not counting brass. Oh, on brass, I bought 1K for 11 cents each from rockybrass.com off of gun broker.

 

I built a pistol. Anderson lower purchased from the nearest coffee shop to work. No, really, the coffee shop a mile from work sells guns. This is Arkansas. The barrel I used is (was) a 10.5" stainless steel Stoner from Midway. Folding buffer tube. Blade arm brace. UTG 7.5" forearm (from the coffee shop.)

 

Running it with my powder coated cast boolits, I had a few issues with feeding, usually the first round off the mag, regardless of position. It wouldn't go fully into battery. Close examination of the bullet after ejecting it showed that the bullet was getting scratched up in the feeding process. I suspect that the barrel extension feed ramps were not fully optimized for 300BO. I had the same problem with the super cheap carbine upper I bought. I took a small stone in a Dremmel brand moto-tool and lightly touched the end of the feed ramps, rounding off the sharp edge closest to the chamber. That seems to have helped a lot. I think that the barrel extensions are probably the same as used in 556 barrels, and they probably work fine with the tougher jacketed bullets, but with the cast boolits, they were getting gouged up some, just enough to cause distortion and difficulty in the chamber.

 

10.5" was still fairly long, especially with a flash suppressor on the end. Too long. I experimented with shooting at night with and without the flash suppressor, and while it reduced the muzzle flash from about softball size to about golf ball size, running without is not blinding like the 223 14" contender barrel, which is more beach ball size. So a shorter barrel with no flash suppressor is not that bad. I would rather have the extra inch of barrel than a flash suppressor, in other words.

 

I pulled the barrel, chucked it up in the lathe and cut if off to just past the flashlight and Romeo 5 sight (mounted at the end of the rails.) Crowned it with a carriage bolt and automotive valve grinding compound. Put it back together with the now just sub 7" barrel. Gas problems. It has an adjustable gas block, but even fully open, it wouldn't lock the slide back. I upped the charge on the load to 13.7Gr H335 and it almost worked. Back apart again. Teh Intr4w3bz, y0, said that 300 BO gas port barrels from people's observations, run in the 0.076" to 0.120" diameters from the barrel makers. I think I found one reference even to 0.140". This one measured (by drill bit method) 0.100", maybe 0.101". Over on the drill press, I drilled it out to 0.120". Back together again and it works great now.

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I'm still playing with this.  I solve one problem and two more show up.

 

OK, so I got the 13.7Gr H335 charge right to work the bolt.  Then, seating the boolits deep was actually compressing the charge.  To the point that the seating die was causing the bullet to bulge out slightly, like maybe 5 thousands, in front of the case neck.  This caused failure to go into battery.  The bullets were pretty soft under the powder coating.  I water dropped some more, which makes them much harder and I'm experimenting with that.  I also changed from using my RCBS Lubamatic with a 309 die to a Lee sizer pusher-upper-thing with a 308 die.  Initial results with a batch of 20 looked to be promising, with no failure to lock events.  I need to test this further.

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Further testing:  In about 100 rounds, I had one failure to go into battery when using the water dropped (hard) cast boolits sized with the Lee sizer.  I loaded up some of the softer bullets, same powder coating and running them through the Lee sizer, and I had failures to go into battery.  So, I think the water dropping is part of the key here. I had stopped water dropping them earlier because they were bending and breaking in half.  Also, the tips were splitting off on me.  I solved that problem by turning the pot temp down after it is up to temp, and being real sure to keep the mold cooled off on my wet sponge, like hitting the bottom on the sponge every other cast, or even every cast.  The bullets (230 gr 30 cal) are almost as long as the mold.  There's only like MAYBE 1/8" between the tip of the bullet and the bottom of the mold.  Keeping that extra cool gets the bullets more solid when they come out of the mold and drop into the water.  I powdercoated another 150 or so this afternoon too.


The Lee sizer is working out fine.  I can size maybe 2 or 3 times faster, at least 2x, than with my old (bought in the mid 70's) RCBS Lubamatic.  I put the Lee die in my RCBS Jr.  It does complain a bit with some of them.  It is supposed to be used on lubed boolits, with the tumble lube stuff.  I found that if I occasionally run some Break Free down the die, then a patch on a cleaning rod, then catch the next few bullets and wipe them down, that it helps a lot. 

 

Oh, and if you ever have a batch of "oopsies", get one of the Hornady bullet pullers and the caliber specific collet insert.  So much easier than the hammer method.  Lots easier on the wrist. 

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The Lee bullet sizer is working out well.  The case sizer, well...

Having about solved the bullet issue, Ii found I still had some cases that were not going into battery.  But when I ran the purchased brass through, problems were almost non-existent.  The difference being the cases I made myself versus the cases I purchased, made from mil-spec brass.  I bought a bullet chambering guide thing that you drop a bullet in and see if it goes all the way in a SAAMI minimal spec chamber.  If it didn't go in, it likely would not chamber.  If it did go in, it still might not chamber.  The cases I made were mixed headstamps.  Out came the calipers.  It turns out that the brass I bought very closely matched the store-bought SIG ammo I bought.  The brass I made was very slightly larger in diameter at the same points in the taper and in particular at the base.  Only a few thousandths, but measurable, and especially if you just put the calipers at some setting and put the two cases nose down in them.  The ones I made stuck up higher than the store bought cases or the SIG ammo.  The Lee sizing die was slightly larger than the dies used by SIG or Rocky. The die was adjusted properly in the press.  I cut and ran a 223 brass through, forming the shoulder, and it was in the same spot as on the other 2, just the body was slightly fatter.  I drew a couple lines on a piece of brass with a marker and ran it through the Lee die.  As I have seen several references to on teh Intr4w3bz, y0, the lee die did not size the last quarter inch or so down at the base.  Or certainly not tight.  There was virtually no sign of rubbing at the base, where the rest of the case had parts of the lines scrapped.  I do have proper Dye Chem, but I went with the marker. 

I also suspect that my Stoner barrel chamber is tight.  Like really tight, but fine with factory ammo specs. 

So I bought a Forester sizing die off Midway.  It came in yesterday. I ran some home made brass through it and it came out very close to the store-bought/Rocky brass.  A full mag through the pistol didn't have any problems with it.

 

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Doc if you still have trouble chambering your hand loads you might want to consider the Lee Factory Crimp die. The downside though it might put a gentle squeeze on your cast slug reducing the size slightly. Never been a problem for me but I've seen several claims of reduced size on the cast boolit board. The crimp die resolved problems I had with 9MM. 

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I am using the Lee using the Lee Factory Crimp die.  I use those on everything rifle.  I still use a stand-alone taper crimp die on straight wall pistol ammo, like 45, 9mm. 

 

I'm getting real close on this.  Still need more testing.  I've probably put close to a thousand rounds through a couple of 300BO's to get this far.  I think that for forming brass, the Lee die is preferred, and then use the Forester in the Dillon for final sizing. 

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Don't know about 300 BO but for 223 in my 70's Colt AR 15. Using an RCBS small base sizing die and the Hornady carbide tungsten stem made specifically for RCBS sizing die eliminated any problems. Been 30+ years and I can't recall a chambering problem since. Previously I had plenty problems with reloads going about 90+% home. My early Colt AR does not have a forward assist. 

Another problem I had was over crimping the neck causing the cartridge shoulder to swell. I gave up on crimping 223 for years. If neck tension didn't hold the slug snugly, I chucked the brass into the scrap pile. After the Lee FCD was introduced and I began using it. I can't recall a problem since and bullets stay in place. 

I use the FCD on all handgun ammo. Had some problems with 45 ACP and Auto Rim with the slugs moving forward in the cylinder from recoil. The FCD didn't help untill Lee sent me an insert to do a roll crimp on the 45's. I do have to be cautious not to use roll crimped ACP in an auto. I usually put the roll crimped 45's on moon clips ASAP. I could have avoided buying FCD for other pistol calibers after figuring out to do the crimp after the slug is seated. Doing the seating and roll crimp in one step was the problem. Not to much of a problem doing just a slight taper crimp, just enough to close the bell in a single step on 9MM, 380 and 32 ACP. 

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I've had some chambering problems with my 223 reloads from 35 years ago.  They get tight.  Too tight for the varmint AR I built.  That was with regular RCBS 223 dies that they sold 40+ years ago when I bought them.  I haven't loaded any 223 really since.  I had a bunch loaded then, like a 50 cal ammo box stuffed to the top and the box is now almost empty; maybe 30-40 left. They worked fantastic in a 14" Contender.  Sub MOA.  If you could see it in a 9x scope, you could nail it, and that was just cheap 3 cent 55 gr FMJ's, H335, mixed head stamps and all run through the Dillon while drinking beer and listening to the radio.  Since then, I've bought some factory ammo and I've shot a little of it, but kinda put the AR's up for AK's for a while.  I don't remember if I ever bought a FCD for 223.  I might have, but like I said, I haven't loaded it in a long time. 

And regarding those forward assists, I didn't have one either.  I always thought I needed one, because, you know, the military had it added, so it must be important.  I figured that if one of my reloads was tight and wouldn't chamber, I could use the assist.  Then I built a rifle with the assist and found out that it was completely useless.  If the round wouldn't chamber, no amount of pressing on that thing would make it chamber.  Maybe if you took a hammer to it, it might, but an AR is not an AK, and that's not a good idea.  When I built this 300BO pistol, I got a Stoner upper with no forward assist or dust cover.  I figured the forward assist was useless anyway, and the dust cover just added weight for a pistol.  I don't crawl around in the dirt.

I had chambering problems in 45 until I went with the taper crimp dies, especially in a Blackhawk convertible.  And, yes, I agree that crimping all by itself instead of while seating the bullet seems to be important.  With the Dillon, there's a spot for it, so it is no more work than crimping with seating.  I see that Redding makes a taper crimp only die in 300BO.  I may experiment with that.

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My chambering problems in my AR were caused by the crimp swelling the shoulder. Previously shooting in a Mini 14 I didn't have any problems. Guess the Mini's chamber was a bit more generous. Had a gunsmith check the headspace on my AR and he claimed it was as close to being a near perfect minimum. I had a round stuck in the chamber I couldn't get out but not in far enough to shoot. The smith tapped the bolt home with a brass punch and it was easily extracted. This was back in the mid 70's at a then official Colt warranty station. Afterward I was advised I voided my warranty by using reloads having to pay for the service. 

I have the extra station on my Hornady Lock N Load that I used as a separate step for crimping but after some problems I used it with a powder check die before the seating station. I have an extra single stage press on the opposite side of my bench to do the crimping. 

Years ago I had a problem in Dillon's showroom and I refuse to spend my money there. After making a large purchase of powder, bullets etc and even a video. I was in my postal uniform. As I pulled out the cash a couple of uniformed cops jokingly remarked about how much mail did I have open to steal all that cash. I shot back saying I can't take bribes like you guys. Then one cop said to the other something about fixing tickets.

Everything said was a big joke but a flirtatious female sales clerk whose overtures were apparently rejected by the cops. Turned them into their department internal affairs who in turn reported me to Postal Inspectors. I had to deal with an arrogant young punk inspector with a thick Brooklyn accent. He was more concerned about what I was going to do with a 4lb keg of Bullseye and "what are you going to do with all those bullets". I lawyered up, demanded a union rep and walked out of the room after he asked if my guns are registered. I wrote Mike Dillon about it it, never got a response and have only been back once being desperate for some 45AR brass. I would prefer Dillon to to my Hornady but they're not going to see my money. 

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Sorry you had a bad experience with Dillon, Az.  I've had nothing but good experiences with them, albeit all mail order, over the last 35 years.  When I started reloading again recently, I came across busted pieces, mostly powder measure bits from trying to use 4198, in my boxes.  They replaced them all with a phone call back then.  And their sales guys/tech support know their stuff, like recommending the 30 carbine expander for 300 BO.  Anyway, I think you just got stuck in the wrong storm.  The thugs with guns just turned you in because they thought you turned them in.  But I understand grudges. 

I've been thinking about my chambering issues.  I occasionally find a ring of lead, maybe 1MM 'tall", a few thousandths thick and practically exactly .308" OD, in the chamber area, and I think when those show up, I have chambering problems.  I think this is what is happening:  The Lee bullet has driving bands that I size to .308".  The sizing band most forward is right about at the case mouth in my current OAL setting.  I think that the Lee Factory Crimp Die is crimping it just below the end of the driving band and making a weakness at the end.  I think either a taper crimp die or perhaps seating the bullet a tad deeper so the FCD crimps in front of the first driving band instead of just after the start of it might help.  Anyway, I'll try that next before springing another forty bucks on a taper crimp die.

I like the new Avatar.

 

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Doc it wasn't the cops it was the female Dillon employee. I believe they tracked me down after ordering the video Machingun Magic. Gave them name and address to have it mailed to me. Previously I got a verbal reprimand from the Postmaster himself after I wound up on TV news in my uniform. It was the last day before Clinton's ban on extended mags. Local news was doing a story and when I walked in a gun store the cameras and microphones literally charged. It wasn't that long after one of the postal massacres. I turned my back to the cameras and shouted at store owner. The sound didn't make it on TV but the video did as they zoomed in on my USPS shirt patch. I feared getting an ass chewing over the Dillon fiasco after being told by the Postmaster to remove uniform shirt before gong in gun stores. 

I was afraid the cops were in big trouble after hearing internal affairs was involved. They were young guys likely rookies from different municipalities. We were all just joking enjoying a few laughs. I found out later they were not in any trouble. The inspectors went out of their way more or less apologizing for the Brooklyn creep. I was providing car plate numbers of some weirdo gun and Kevlar toting meth manufacturers. All the traffic backed into their drive way so I made excuses to go to their door and jot down plate numbers. After I stopped the inspectors bent over backward to get my cooperation. 

Several years ago I had a Dillon Square Deal set up for 45 ACP I bought used. I really liked using it but the cost of the Square Deal proprietary dies to change calibers was way to costly. I sold it and a Lee Crudmaster on Ebay to cover the cost of my Hornady progressive set up. Friend of mine is sitting on a new in box discontinued Dillon 450. It can be upgraded to the 550 model for less than a buck. He got it dirt cheap as a second from a friend that worked at Dillon. He's never used it and the only thing wrong with it is the paint job looks like the painter was high on fumes when he sprayed it. I've made a couple of offers but so far he doesn't want to part with it. 

I haven't done any serious hand loading for about five years. During the time I was laid up and sickly after the chemo. I spent hours every day for several weeks casting, sizing and hand loading. I cast and loaded up thousands, handgun ammo especially, gave a lot of it away but it's now nearly all gone. After being shocked recently by the price of 41 mag, 45 Colt and the big shock 45 Auto Rim for over 50 bucks a box. I have to straighten out the mess and get busy again. I did some panic buying of components during the Obozo shortages. Now all I need to do is put it together. 

Sorry again guys for rambling away on the key board with another long boring post. 

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I like the avatar too Az ! I for one have never thought any of your post were long or boring and enjoy the hell out of em and appreciate you taking the time.

       Jim

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Well, I think I about have it solved.  With the cast bullet, you have to bell the case mouth or you will shave the bullet when seating, thus the need for the 30 carbine insert thingie for the powder measure.  That belling needs to be un-belled before it gets to the rifle chamber.  The Lee Factory Crimp Die, when set to a point that it would put a crimp on it and un-bell the case to where it would chamber was causing a weakness in the cast bullet.  That weakness was occasionally resulting in a ring of bullet lead separating, probably from the bullet going down the chamber into the barrel throat, and that piece of lead was causing subsequent bullets to not chamber.  If you look at the pics of the bullets above, you can see multiple rings on them where the regularly Lee allox lube stuff would reside.  I think a piece of one of those rings was breaking off, probably the first one.  You wouldn't have this problem with a FMJ bullet.  A taper crimp would probably work out.  Midway is out of stock on the Redding taper crimp 300 BO die.  They'll be back instock in a couple days.  Anyway, what I did was take the now extra Lee full length resizing die and put it in the 4th position of the Dillon, usually where the crimp die goes.  I backed it out and removed the decapping rod.  Now, after the bullet is seated, it goes to the sizing die in #4 position and the last 0.050 or so of the case is sized again to factory specs.  It's not much, but the bell is removed and maybe 3 thousands is pressed in.  Basically, I'm using the sizing die as a crimp die.  Testing the strength of the crimp, I can't pull the bullet out with my hands, can't push it in further with my hands and running it through the magazine into the chamber doesn't move the bullet back.  This is not surprising, as I think the powder is compressed at 13.7gr H335.  When I pulled a test bullet in my new Hornady bullet puller die (man, you guys need one of those...), it pulled very easy compared to one that had been crimped in the Lee FCD.  But, like I said, the bullet doesn't move in chambering, so, I guess it's enough.  A full mag's test showed that functioning was excellent.  No problems at all.  I need to load up more and test further.  I ran out of powder a couple days ago and spent most of my shop time last night looking for more H335.  One of those "surely I bought some of that in the last 30 years... Now where did I put it?" 

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