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Thread: Minimizing Case Stretch - .338 Federal

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    Default Minimizing Case Stretch - .338 Federal

    Fairly new to reloading; I just resized a bunch of Federal brass, primed it, and noticed I'm too long in case overall length. I think I've shot this brass maybe 5 times. I full length resize every time & want to continue to do so to avoid any jams. This is my backup bear safety gun, so reliabilty is of upmost concern.

    Please, let's not debate the adequacy of this round for brown bears. I'm well aware I'm undergunned, but it's what I have & I'm using premium bullets. If I knew I was going to be charged I would have a 416 Remington Magnum, great for the situation, but not for hunting.

    I understand you can just neck size & get more firings before trimming. But, I really don't want to do that for the aforementioned reasons. Is there anything else I can do to increase the number of firings before I have to trim? I don't even have the tools to trim, yet; Suggestions?

    And since I primed those ones that are too long, do I just shoot them off without powder and bullet?

    And lastly, what cartridges do you have experience that go a long time between trimmings? Thanks in advance for your experienced answers.
    Oh, The rifle is a Sako Finnlight bolt action.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kushtekaa View Post
    Fairly new to reloading; I just resized a bunch of Federal brass, primed it, and noticed I'm too long in case overall length. I think I've shot this brass maybe 5 times. I full length resize every time & want to continue to do so to avoid any jams. This is my backup bear safety gun, so reliabilty is of upmost concern.

    Please, let's not debate the adequacy of this round for brown bears. I'm well aware I'm undergunned, but it's what I have & I'm using premium bullets. If I knew I was going to be charged I would have a 416 Remington Magnum, great for the situation, but not for hunting.

    I understand you can just neck size & get more firings before trimming. But, I really don't want to do that for the aforementioned reasons. Is there anything else I can do to increase the number of firings before I have to trim? I don't even have the tools to trim, yet; Suggestions?

    And since I primed those ones that are too long, do I just shoot them off without powder and bullet?

    And lastly, what cartridges do you have experience that go a long time between trimmings? Thanks in advance for your experienced answers.
    Oh, The rifle is a Sako Finnlight bolt action.
    I load for several rifle cartridges, and they ALL grow in length, Every Time. Some, only a little, and others a lot. I can only speculate why the difference.

    I've often HEARD that cases that are designed with sharper shoulders grow less, but I can't verify that from experience.

    You could trim those cases that are already primed, depending on what kind of trimmer you have. You can shoot the off the live primers without powder and bullets, OR you can de-prime them, just be a little careful doin it or you might get a scare.

    I doubt that neck-only sizing will give you a noticeable increase in case life over full length sizing. I do both FL and NO sizing depending on which is easiest, or the need for FL sizing.

    Trimming, chamfering, and smoothing the ends, is just part of case prep, and should be done Each Time IMO, and IME.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kushtekaa View Post
    Fairly new to reloading; I just resized a bunch of Federal brass, primed it, and noticed I'm too long in case overall length. I think I've shot this brass maybe 5 times. I full length resize every time & want to continue to do so to avoid any jams. This is my backup bear safety gun, so reliabilty is of upmost concern.

    Please, let's not debate the adequacy of this round for brown bears. I'm well aware I'm undergunned, but it's what I have & I'm using premium bullets. If I knew I was going to be charged I would have a 416 Remington Magnum, great for the situation, but not for hunting.

    I understand you can just neck size & get more firings before trimming. But, I really don't want to do that for the aforementioned reasons. Is there anything else I can do to increase the number of firings before I have to trim? I don't even have the tools to trim, yet; Suggestions?

    And since I primed those ones that are too long, do I just shoot them off without powder and bullet?

    And lastly, what cartridges do you have experience that go a long time between trimmings? Thanks in advance for your experienced answers.
    Oh, The rifle is a Sako Finnlight bolt action.
    Straight wall cartridges hardly ever need trimming in my experience. I've some .44 mag brass that's been fired 20+ times and has never been trimmed.

    There are a lot of variables in how much cases will stretch during resizing, but using quality case lube will help reduce it as much as possible. I've long been a fan of Imperial Sizing Wax for the exterior of the case and dry graphite for inside the case neck. I've tried that a couple different ways, but now use a film canister filled with tiny ceramic balls coated in graphite. I normally dip every neck into the canister and I'd say that cuts case stretch in half or more. I'd also recommend resizing only as much as necessary to provide proper chambering. More than that only contributes to stretching and other case maladies, while not adding anything to your reliability.

    There are a lot of different trimmers available, but at least some of them will trim primed cases safely. I'd certainly not load cases that are too long, though it is the rare factory chamber that is cut on the tight side of OAL.
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    5 reloads and they've grown a fair amount? Completely normal.

    RCBS x-dies help keep growth down, but I'm not sure if they make them for 338 Federal.

    When resizing, set your dies to bump the shoulder back .002-.003. Use a comparator to measure this dimension. This will minimize brass working.
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    As others said only bump the shoulder back enough to chamber well, donít blindly resize as much as the die is capable of . . . unless this ammo is for more than one rifle. Drag your rifle out, size one a tad and see if it will chamber. If not run the die down 1/8 turn and repeat till bolt closes easy then run your batch.

    I agree 5 firings of 338wm full length sized needing a trim is par for the game. Trim and before you get another 5 youíll start seeing some signs of thinning walls and case head separation on the way. Only way around that is to work the brass as little as possible, just size enough to chamber which is called ďneck sizedĒ BTW.


    My rule for field ammo however it was loaded or by who (including a factory) it to test it all before the critter is running at me or getting away, lots of little stuff other than how the case was sized can gum up the works on ya! I test chamber every round going to the woods with me before I head out, then I'm positive they will fit, feed, and chamber when I need them too.

    Wise ole Smitty bought the tool to remove the firing pin assembles from his bolts for ammo test fitting at home, itís a great idea I never thought of even though being a gunsmith I have the tools. A pare of channel-locks with padded jaws that wonít mar works well on most bolts to hold the striker back while you spin the bolt off it.
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    Not meaning to hi jack the thread, but I was suprised to find out the finnlight was chambered in a 338 federal.
    I have this in a Ruger 77. What kind of accuracy are you getting and what load/bullet are you using?

    I have only been using the factory trophy copper 200 grain, and it groups about 1 MOA. The partitions have been stringing vertically on me and therefore have been considering reloading for this gun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ADfields View Post
    As others said only bump the shoulder back enough to chamber well, donít blindly resize as much as the die is capable of . . . unless this ammo is for more than one rifle. Drag your rifle out, size one a tad and see if it will chamber. If not run the die down 1/8 turn and repeat till bolt closes easy then run your batch.

    I agree 5 firings of 338wm full length sized needing a trim is par for the game. Trim and before you get another 5 youíll start seeing some signs of thinning walls and case head separation on the way. Only way around that is to work the brass as little as possible, just size enough to chamber which is called ďneck sizedĒ BTW.


    My rule for field ammo however it was loaded or by who (including a factory) it to test it all before the critter is running at me or getting away, lots of little stuff other than how the case was sized can gum up the works on ya! I test chamber every round going to the woods with me before I head out, then I'm positive they will fit, feed, and chamber when I need them too.

    Wise ole Smitty bought the tool to remove the firing pin assembles from his bolts for ammo test fitting at home, itís a great idea I never thought of even though being a gunsmith I have the tools. A pare of channel-locks with padded jaws that wonít mar works well on most bolts to hold the striker back while you spin the bolt off it.
    Oh 338fed, I was thinking 338wm Federal brass. Same stuff still applies mostly though, itís a high pressure bottleneck and will grow. However itís not a belted case so far less likely to get the thinning walls near the head that cause case head separation, the walls thin more evenly on non-belted cases.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Akheloce View Post
    5 reloads and they've grown a fair amount? Completely normal.

    RCBS x-dies help keep growth down, but I'm not sure if they make them for 338 Federal.

    When resizing, set your dies to bump the shoulder back .002-.003. Use a comparator to measure this dimension. This will minimize brass working.
    Did not think of doing this & I do have a bullet comparator. I'll give this a try & check out how they load. It is the only rifle that I have in this caliber, so I should be OK.

    Thanks everyone. Of all the forums I like this one the best. It just seems like folks here have more hands-on experience, instead of opinions based on whatever way the wind blows, and the atmosphere here is great. Cheers

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    Quote Originally Posted by peaceman View Post
    Not meaning to hi jack the thread, but I was suprised to find out the finnlight was chambered in a 338 federal.
    I have this in a Ruger 77. What kind of accuracy are you getting and what load/bullet are you using?

    I have only been using the factory trophy copper 200 grain, and it groups about 1 MOA. The partitions have been stringing vertically on me and therefore have been considering reloading for this gun.
    I'm strictly using the 160 grain Barnes TTSX. I like the bullet. I'm getting right around 1 MOA on sandbags. If I had a vice it would be doing better. Using 40.5 grains of RL7. The rifle also shoots well at a variety of higher powder volumes, but this is about all the recoil I want. It is a light rifle.

    Eventually, I will get a load developed for bear protection using a Swift A-frame 225 gr. & AA 2230 powder. And for kicks & giggles maybe a 338 Lapua bullet at subsonic speeds to make a 338 Blackout. Although I will need a chronograph, which is on the wish list & the reason I've sighted no velocities. The more I shoot this cartridge, the more I like it. All the Best!

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    Quote Originally Posted by peaceman View Post
    Not meaning to hi jack the thread, but I was suprised to find out the finnlight was chambered in a 338 federal.
    I have this in a Ruger 77. What kind of accuracy are you getting and what load/bullet are you using?

    I have only been using the factory trophy copper 200 grain, and it groups about 1 MOA. The partitions have been stringing vertically on me and therefore have been considering reloading for this gun.
    I'm strictly using the 160 grain Barnes TTSX. I like the bullet. I'm getting right around 1 MOA on sandbags. If I had a vice it would be doing better. Using 40.5 grains of RL7. The rifle also shoots well at a variety of higher powder volumes, but this is about all the recoil I want. It is a light rifle.

    Eventually, I will get a load developed for bear protection using a Swift A-frame 225 gr. & AA 2230 powder. And for kicks & giggles maybe a 338 Lapua bullet at subsonic speeds to make a 338 Blackout. Although I will need a chronograph, which is on the wish list & the reason I've sighted no velocities. The more I shoot this cartridge, the more I like it. All the Best!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ADfields View Post
    Wise ole Smitty bought the tool to remove the firing pin assembles from his bolts for ammo test fitting at home.
    Happen to have a link to this tool? Extremely interested.

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    I bought a 1000 piece order of de-milled 7.62 NATO from one of the companies back east and find the LC headstamp brass lasts quite a bit better for me than the federal stuff with the .338Fed stamp in the head. I just find the LC brass doesn't stretch -as much- as the federal brass does.

    Otherwise I agree with all of the above.

    If you go this route, be advised of a few things.

    1. You will want the "long" neck sizing ball from RCBS if you are using RCBS dies. I use the "long" neck ball when neck sizing in one step from .308 to .338. After the brass is up to .338, I use the regular neck ball on subsequent sizings. When i called RCBS for a long ball, gosh, more than three years ago the nice lady on the phone sent it to me for free. If you use the regular ball on .308 mouths you'll crack quite a few of them.

    2. A/The current 7.62 Nato machine gun in the US arsenal can be very hard on brass. I dunno if it is an open bolt design or what exactly, but you want to watch out for case/head separation rather than blithely assuming the brass is good to go.

    3. When I got my 1000 pieces i sorted everything by headstamp first, I ended up with about 400 pieces headstamped "LC07", another 250 headstamped "LC08" and the rest "other", some going back to the 1960s. I gave the LC08s to one of my hunting buddies when he bought a new .308 rifle and have been working with the LC07s. If you go this route, my buddy and I will be happy to take all of your 07s and 08s if you go with "LC11" or whatever.

    4. Once neck sized to .338, the LC headstamped brass is gonna be a few thou shorter than the Federal headstamps you are working with. Maybe .005 or so. If you already have a Lee factory Crimp die set up for the federal headstamped brass, it may not work with the slightly shorter LC brass.

    FWIW my Sako really really likes the flat based 200gr Speer bullet at 2500-2600fps. Noticeably under 1 MOA off sandbags at 100 yards with a sensible charge of Varget. With bullets at 210-215 grains I am under 2MOA at 200 meters, about 4", but well inside angle of moose in premium hunting bullets.

    Best of luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shimano 33 View Post
    Happen to have a link to this tool? Extremely interested.
    This is the one I have. I got it from Sinclair International,

    http://www.sinclairintl.com/gun-part...prod35019.aspx

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    Quote Originally Posted by shimano 33 View Post
    Happen to have a link to this tool? Extremely interested.
    Lots of them out there but it think this one does the most models and is the one I copied when I made mine.


    http://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-to...650-19189.aspx
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    I'm with SWMN, using LC .308 (non-machine gun) brass necked up to .338 Fed. I have a couple thousand but I used it for .260 and .243 also. The LC brass is a tad thicker and on .243 I need to turn the neck some. I have a couple .243AI's and they don't seem to grow but I don't shoot them that much so it's hard to say the sharper shoulder of the AI is better. One .260AI target gun goes 10 or more loads without any appreciable growth the I just throw them away. It does not seem to grow on brass with 6 or 7 loadings in my Tikka .338 Fed. I'm shooting 200 gr SST for black bear and have played with other bullets but my gun likes the SST's but I don't have any that I've used on game yet.

    Overall, I've found that neck sizing is all you need as long as you are shooting it in the same gun...no need to overwork the brass but keep an eye on the length.
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    Kushtekaa just so ya know LC stands for ďLake CityĒ brass.
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    Minimize stretch - make it an Ackley Improved... One of the benefits of the case design is stabilized brass. If I shot the .338 Fed more I might consider it myself.

    I've found some stretch comes from firing and some comes from the sizing process. If I full length size without the expander (shoulder bump die would do the same) and then use a Lee collet die or a mandrel (Sinclair, 21st Century) to get my neck to the right final size I get a lot less stretch. Could do it with a shoulder bump die and a neck sizing die too I believe. Doing it with the Lee Collet die - the mandrel in it needs to be worked on so it has a bit more radius possibly - depends on your die. My .223 Lee die did, my .308 Win die did not. Pretty easy to get the mandrel from Sinclair or 21st Century - same ones sold for expanding the case neck for neck turning.

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