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30-30 Brass Expansion


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I was gifted a grocery bag full of Winchester-stamped 30-30 brass a few months ago. At the time I only had a Lee Classic handloader for that caliber. I loaded 10 rounds and went to the range, only to find that the cases were expanded just enough that they wouldn't chamber completely. Since then, I've purchased a single stage press to learn on, along with 30-30 dies and . before I expend the primers, should I even try to size and reload these cases? Is the integrity of the case wall compromised once they expand? They are not visibly bulged, but obviously enough that they won't chamber more than 3/4 of the way in. The micrometer reads .422 on the case and the reload spec is .420. Resize or toss them out?  

Edited by DesertRanger
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Toss them!  Toss them my way!  

Just kidding of course. Garufa is spot on, the whole reason we resize our brass is that it has expanded during firing and the bullet won't be tightly gripped by the case neck. And when you have brass fired in a different rifle, or stuff collected at the range, you can be pretty sure it won't chamber properly. You can resize brass many times before it fails, depending upon a number of factors that you'll figure out as you reload. Just be sure to inspect your brass before reloading. Keep an eye open for cracks in the neck and for signs of overpressure. (You can look that up, others have explained it better than I can.)

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The .30-30 is a very old case design and the brass is thin. They're real bad about bulging the shoulder slightly when seating the bullet. When this happens they won't chamber properly. Quite frankly, getting the seating die set up correctly is a real PITA. You have to get enough crimp on the bullet to hold it firmly when loaded in a tube magazine, but just a tad too much will bulge the shoulder. 

You might try taking out the decapping pin and running the loaded ammo through the sizing die again. 

Edited by Grayfox54
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Thank you both for the assistance. Since 30-30 seems to be nearly impossible to buy, I was hoping to reload these. My lever rifles are my favorites at the range, but one is 30-30 and the other 44-40, so I’ve limited myself to a few rounds every few weeks for the last couple of years. In any case, thanks for the help-I appreciate it.

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I use a Lee Factory Crimp Die (FCD) for 30/30 because it crimps by forcing the mouth of the case against the side of the bullet instead of pushing down to some extent like a roll crimp die does.  That avoids the problem Grayfox54 described of bulging the case either at the shoulder or at the case mouth.  The FCD is open at the top so it's easy to see how much crimp you are applying.  They are cartridge-specific; the crimper is activated by the shellholder pushing on the bottom of the crimper.  It's not complicated as it may sound.

You can pull the bullets on your loaded rounds by running the cartridge up into the hole in the press where the die normally goes, lightly grip the bullet with side-cutter pliers, and pull the case off of the bullet.  Then resize the cases with the decapping pin removed from the die and start over.  

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