Author Topic: VERY beginner questions, 32 Winchester Special cast bullet reloads  (Read 1854 times)

Offline Flatlander55

  • Active citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 36
Good evening,

So I just got into reloading a few years ago, but only casually. Mostly to pass the long winters. The low costs and more consistency is just an added bonus. I started with .223, seemed pretty straight forward and I had great success. Then came the 30-40 Krag and some Trail Boss, that worked out great too. The next step was the Winchester 94 in 32 Special.

I researched and researched, purchased 500 cast 170 grain RNFP bullets for the 32-40. From what I read, it seemed people were getting the best results with .323 bullets, so that is what I ordered. I foolishly loaded up 100 rounds without even making one dummy. Live and learn. They wouldn't chamber without significant, curse inducing force. Each cartridge did fire fine, I loaded them with 7 grains of Unique and it actually shot great but darn I think the bullets are just too big. I quit after five shots.

My question is, is there a way to resize pre lubed cast bullets I already bought without ruining them? All I use to load is a single stage Lee "classic" challenger press. For dies in this caliber, I use the RCBS "Cowboy" full length set. I don't see anything made by Lee to resize to .321, which I am now thinking is what I probably need. Would I be better of just cutting my losses and selling them really cheap to get half of the right sized bullets? Sorry for the dumb questions. I just want to make sure I know my options and learn what I can from those who have been doing this for a while.

Thanks in advance for any and all input.

Offline Sagebrush Burns

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 624
Re: VERY beginner questions, 32 Winchester Special cast bullet reloads
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2019, 10:06:40 pm »
What you need is a specific tool for sizing/lubing cast bullets.  Lyman and RCBS (among others) make them along with dies for the correct size you need.  The Magma Star is the best, but expensive unless you do a lot of casting.  A reduction of .002 is no problem.

Offline Coal Creek Griff

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 1652
Re: VERY beginner questions, 32 Winchester Special cast bullet reloads
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2019, 12:05:05 am »
It is possible to take a Lee push-through sizing die that is slightly smaller and lap it out to the size you want. I haven't looked to see if Lee offers anything of a suitable size, but it might be worth investigating. I seem to remember that Lee will also make custom sizing dies, which could be an option. Since you're not casting (yet), you don't really need a lube/sizer.

Just some thoughts.

CC Griff
Manager, WT Ranch--Coal Creek Division

BOLD #921
BOSS #196
1860 Henry Rifle Shooter #173
SSS #573

Offline Cholla Hill Tirador

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 538
Re: VERY beginner questions, 32 Winchester Special cast bullet reloads
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2019, 01:22:37 am »
 It's possible that the larger bullets are causing problems, but I don't think it's likely. A .32 WS barrel should have a nominal groove diameter of .321" so a .323" bullet wouldn't at all be unreasonable, heck I've sized some cast bullets for my 1903 and 1903A3 (30-06's) and their .308" groove diameters as large as .311" and they chambered fine. I would make sure you don't have a crimp problem first.

 When I started reloading 30-30 with jacketed years ago I had the same problem. Turns out that I had the seating die set too low for crimping which would cause one of two problems; either a slight bulge at the crimp or most often an almost imperceptible bulge at the juncture of the case body and the shoulder from the case beginning collapsed from too much pressure when crimping. Either problem caused difficult chambering and foul language.

 So, try your operation again, first measuring all the cases and making sure they're all the same length so you get a consistent crimp from round to round, then start with a light crimp, increasing if and as needed.

 CHT
« Last Edit: January 08, 2019, 01:26:34 am by Cholla Hill Tirador »

Offline Coffinmaker

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 5365
Re: VERY beginner questions, 32 Winchester Special cast bullet reloads
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2019, 04:37:24 pm »

WHAT CHOLLA SAID!!  First eliminate your loading tech-ni-que as the problem.  If it turns out the bullets are the cause, investigate having them melted back down and re-cast.  The cost of a luber/sizer for a single run of bullets is a bit 'spencive.  Maybe someone you know has one??  I would be more inclined to think the problem is your finished product.

Offline pony express

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 3361
Re: VERY beginner questions, 32 Winchester Special cast bullet reloads
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2019, 07:05:03 pm »
FLatlander, you might try blacking out one or two of your loaded rounds with a magic marker, try to chamber them and look for rub marks in the black ink indicating what exactly is oversize. As was already mentioned, crimping can be tricky and can cause a slight bulge. If the bulge is small, you can try and "iron it out" by removing the decapping pin and run in the loaded round just a few thousandths into the resizing die. Don't over do it, a stuck loaded round in sizing die would be a real mess! Were the cases previously fired in your rifle, or new brass?

Offline AntiqueSledMan

  • Active citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 32
Re: VERY beginner questions, 32 Winchester Special cast bullet reloads
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2019, 04:47:08 am »
Hello Flatlander,

You should check with LEE, the do custom stuff.

AntiqueSledMan.

Offline Crow Choker

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 872
  • River Banker Extraordinaire
Re: VERY beginner questions, 32 Winchester Special cast bullet reloads
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2019, 08:34:06 am »
What Cholla, Coffin, and pony said. Back in the day when I started reloading ('76), I roll crimped some .357 fodder to much and they were a problem, wouldn't fully seat in the cylinder. Was going by the theory that a round, esp in a magnum caliber, needed a heavy roll crimp. They didn't look that bad. Fortunately I had only crimped around a dozen and checked them in my Colt revolver to see the error of my ways. I assume you are roll crimping your 32 Special reloads. Excessive roll crimp in a round in revolver or rifle wouldn't matter.

 I also had a problem with some cast lead .451 bullets I purchased for reloading 45 acp. after careful reloading and shooting several magazine's full, the slide on my 1911 pistol wouldn't fully close. Found the problem to be lube from the bullets building up in the forward area chamber of the 1911 and since a 1911 45 acp headspaces on the rim of the brass, the excess lube was preventing the slide from fully going into battery. Cleaned the rest of the 80 some reloads and no further problem, didn't reload any more of the .451's for my 1911. The lead store bought bullets did have excessive lube on them IMO as the entire bullet was covered, not just lube in the lube grooves. I've never had a problem with other purchased lead bullets for 45 acp, the ones I cast and lube myself, or FMJ 230 grain RN in my 1911's.

One other possibility if your .323 bullets diameter is excessive and I as the others posters think they aren't (.002 "shouldn't" make a problem unless your Winchester chamber is really tight) is to maybe go with a Lee Factory Crimp die. I used to use them on a lot of calibers I reloaded for as they really gave a nice crimp, minor case length differences didn't matter as much as in roll crimping, and it was faster and easier adjusting a Lee FCD than doing so with the regular bullet seater/crimp die. I quit using them, esp for cast bullet loads (which are the majority of my revolver and lever rifle loads) as several of the members/posters on this forum brought out a interesting and factual thing about the Lee's.

When you proceed to crimp a round with the Lee FCD (factory crimp die) after you seat your bullet, it not only crimps the bullet, but there is a carbide sizer ring that resizes the case as you work your press handle. This sizer ring also will resize what ever lead bullet you've seated into the brass case and if you've resized your cast bullet or have bought them a specific diameter that works best in your rifle/revolver, if that diameter is more than what the Lee FCD is, the bullet will be swaged to the diameter that the carbide ring is set at. Made sense to me, so I quit using them and went back to my two stage process of seating the bullet in one step and then roll crimping on another using the seater/crimper die in whatever die set for the caliber I'm reloading for.

It's been pointed out by some shooters/reloaders that the carbide resizer ring in a Lee FCD can be knocked out and then the die used for crimping. I haven't got around to doing this yet. Flatlander, buying a Lee FCD may work for ya as they aren't very pricey if going back to your reloading procedure (crimping) doesn't work for ya. Buy a small 100 round box of .321 bullets and see if they solve your problem. You could possibly resize your .323 bullets, but that would be an expense unless you get into casting that would maybe be for a one time run of bullets that you may never use the sizer again (as Coffinmaker said).  A RCBS or Lyman sizer die would nessisitate buying a sizer press, more expense than your remaining 400 bullets are worth unless you get into casting. Lee does make some sort of die that I believe fit's in a standard press for sizing bullets for bullet sizing, but then again will you ever need it again. If you're friends with a caster/sizer and they have a .321 sizer die they may do it for ya. If you attend Gunshows, you may be able to sell the remainder of your bullets there, recouping your cost or near so. Might be just as cost effective rather than buying a die to resize. I'd first go back as has been posted and reload some, readjusting the roll crimp and see how that goes. WOW, I was only gonna submitt a couple of sentences and got windy. Good luck in your endeavour. CC
Darksider-1911 Shooter-BOLD Chambers-RATS-SCORRS-STORM-1860 Henry(1866)-Colt Handgun Lover an' Fan-NRA-"RiverRat"-Conservative American Patriot and Former Keeper & Enforcer of the Law an' Proud of Being Both! >oo

Offline pony express

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 3361
Re: VERY beginner questions, 32 Winchester Special cast bullet reloads
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2019, 07:24:17 pm »
Crow Choker, the Lee FCD die for bottleneck rifles works differently then the straight wall FCD die. The bottleneck ones don't have the carbide sizer, they are a collet type sizer. It doesn't roll crimp, but has spring fingers that squeeze the case neck.

Offline Flatlander55

  • Active citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 36
Re: VERY beginner questions, 32 Winchester Special cast bullet reloads
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2019, 08:35:44 pm »
Thanks all for the plethora of responses. My quest will be on hold for a few days. I started from scratch, re-set all of the dies and checked as I went. Things were going great until I got to the seating and crimping die. I managed to get the bullet seating depth perfect after tightening the die locking ring once it was in the right spot. According to the manual that came with the dies I was then to loosen the locking ring again and turn the die body 1/8 of a turn until I got the crimp I wanted.

The problem I had was the little allen screw holding the locking ring became stripped. I couldn't get the darned thing out no matter what I did so I had to end up carefully drilling it out. No damage to the die body but the brass ring is toast. I made a few attempts at eyeballing and making dummy rounds but that turned out to be more frustrating than anything. The cartridges ended up basically pointing straight up when I worked the action, not chambering unless I put them in by hand. Rather than make more of a mess I decided to throw in the towel for the day. I'll be ordering another one and giving this a third try. I'm glad that the bullets are 99% likely good to go and it is operator error. I'm not too proud to admit when i'm wrong and I appreciate all the help I can get. I'll update when I get the new ring and get back at it.

Offline Cholla Hill Tirador

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 538
Re: VERY beginner questions, 32 Winchester Special cast bullet reloads
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2019, 08:37:48 pm »
Thanks all for the plethora of responses. My quest will be on hold for a few days. I started from scratch, re-set all of the dies and checked as I went. Things were going great until I got to the seating and crimping die. I managed to get the bullet seating depth perfect after tightening the die locking ring once it was in the right spot. According to the manual that came with the dies I was then to loosen the locking ring again and turn the die body 1/8 of a turn until I got the crimp I wanted.

The problem I had was the little allen screw holding the locking ring became stripped. I couldn't get the darned thing out no matter what I did so I had to end up carefully drilling it out. No damage to the die body but the brass ring is toast. I made a few attempts at eyeballing and making dummy rounds but that turned out to be more frustrating than anything. The cartridges ended up basically pointing straight up when I worked the action, not chambering unless I put them in by hand. Rather than make more of a mess I decided to throw in the towel for the day. I'll be ordering another one and giving this a third try. I'm glad that the bullets are 99% likely good to go and it is operator error. I'm not too proud to admit when i'm wrong and I appreciate all the help I can get. I'll update when I get the new ring and get back at it.

 You'll learn a lot from this. Please keep us posted!
 CHT

Offline Crow Choker

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 872
  • River Banker Extraordinaire
Re: VERY beginner questions, 32 Winchester Special cast bullet reloads
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2019, 08:34:01 am »
Crow Choker, the Lee FCD die for bottleneck rifles works differently then the straight wall FCD die. The bottleneck ones don't have the carbide sizer, they are a collet type sizer. It doesn't roll crimp, but has spring fingers that squeeze the case neck.
 

You are right 'pony'---I was having a brain seizure for a moment mixing up the 32 Special (32-40) style with straight wall 32 straight wall forms of cartridges. That what comes with not reading a post as is and thinking beyond it. I believe the straight wall cartridge  versions of the Lee FCD also do the same with the collet squeeze, but as you pointed out the bottleneck versions have no carbide sizer ring as the straight wall versions do.

Flatlander-You mentioned ordering "another one". Are you referring to just the lock ring or another die. RCBS does sell parts and wouldn't doubt if you'd call them and explain your situation especially since you're a new reloader they'd send you a new ring with lock screw at no charge. RCBS  has a great customer service (as do all of the major reloading companies I've found out). Case in point was the plastic hopper on my 1976 purchased RCBS Uniflow powder measure. A few years ago, it accidently fell over breaking at where the hopper screws into the metal base. Called RCBS to see if they had any available for sale, the guy I talked to said "Yep-give me your address and I'll have one out for you today"! Didn't plan on getting it at no charge as it was my fault-he wouldn't allow me to pay for it. That's taking care of your customers. I've had a couple of issues before with my RCBS products over the last 43 years and they've always sent back replacements for them. The lock ring on the dies doesn't need to be 'gorilla' torqued. When you do get back to reloading, as you seat and crimp, just check the die once in a while to make sure it is still seated firmly on your press and the lock ring hasn't loosened up on ya.
 
Darksider-1911 Shooter-BOLD Chambers-RATS-SCORRS-STORM-1860 Henry(1866)-Colt Handgun Lover an' Fan-NRA-"RiverRat"-Conservative American Patriot and Former Keeper & Enforcer of the Law an' Proud of Being Both! >oo

Offline Bunk

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 130
Re: VERY beginner questions, 32 Winchester Special cast bullet reloads
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2019, 02:31:46 pm »
not exactly on this thread, but a #7 1/2 or #9 shot under the set screw of the ring, will give a very firm grip, and not do damage to the die thread.
Bunk

Offline Coffinmaker

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 5365
Re: VERY beginner questions, 32 Winchester Special cast bullet reloads
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2019, 07:03:52 pm »

Additionally.  If you bugger up the set screw.  If you get the set screw out.  If you have another cup of coffee  ;D  Count to 10 and then just throw the darn die at the wall (NO NO, not really, even though I know someone who did that) hope is not lost.

A pair of Slip Joint Pliers are your bestest friend.  Just turn the die down where you want it.  Then turn the lock ring down tight on the die and die plate with the slip joint.  It'll stay there just fine.  Many dies don't include a set screw and once used as a "Jam Nut" your gold.  In fact I have swapped out ALL my lock rings for Dillon lock nuts and a Dillion wrench.  Yes, I load on a Dillon but most ALL dies use the exact same thread.  Oh, you may also have to hold the die body with a second set of pliers (maybe not).

The tip from Bunk is also considered Gold  ;D

Offline Flatlander55

  • Active citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 36
Re: VERY beginner questions, 32 Winchester Special cast bullet reloads
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2019, 09:02:53 pm »
Whelp, I got it figured out. Much appreciation to all. Since I use the basic Lee single stage loader that has the quick change bushings, the locking rings with the RCBS dies don't even really need to be tightened once it is adjusted firmly against that bushing. For good measure though, I swapped the locking ring with the one on the sizing die so I could *lightly* lock down the seater and crimper.

I'm so used to having a separate die for each step in the process that I tend to forget the last critical step. I must have not crimped the prior cartridges much, or at all. I loaded up ten dummy cartridges with varying degrees of crimp until I found the one that would cycle the first time with the least resistance, then made five more dummy's with that same crimp to be sure. It cycles through great now.

I sure feel foolish now but I will take this as a lesson learned. Again, thanks to all who have helped me here.

Offline Coal Creek Griff

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 1652
Re: VERY beginner questions, 32 Winchester Special cast bullet reloads
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2019, 09:16:49 pm »
I'd say that there's no need to feel foolish. I have a few stories to top that of times that I was foolish, but.... well.... I can't bring myself to publicly admit to those mistakes... ::)

I'm glad that all is well.

CC Griff
Manager, WT Ranch--Coal Creek Division

BOLD #921
BOSS #196
1860 Henry Rifle Shooter #173
SSS #573