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Thread: Question about reloads for a .338

  1. #1

    Default Question about reloads for a .338

    a friend loaded up some 250 grain bullets for my 338. he used once shot brass. when i chamber one of the reloads on my ruger m77 the bolt closes tightly. i'm not a reloader and wonder what causes this and how this issue could be fixed?
    thanks for any input.

  2. #2


    Well, if it closes tight, but not with too much pressure, you're most likely just fine. Factory ammo, say .338 for reference, all factory .338 ammo has to fit into every .338 chamber out there, so its made a little small, but just a little. Once it is fired in a chamber, it is expanded to fit that chamber. even though a chamber is suppose to be made at dimension "X" the cutting bit could be brand new, or it could have already cut 30 chambers and it a little worn. One manufacture could be a fraction of a thousandths of an inch larger or smaller than the next manufacture. But all of these things are "within specs", but there are still very small differences.

    You problem is most likely his chamber is very slightly larger than yours. Once the bullets were fired in his chamber and expanded to fit, they are a little tight in yours. If you can close your bolt without "forcing" it, it should be alright. My buddy and I load the same round for both of our .338s and when we mix fired brass, we sometimes encounter that as well.

  3. #3

    Default forgot to mention....

    Thank you for the information. All the brass that was reloaded has been previously fired through my gun only (forgot to mention that). i'm going to feed some of the reloads through and try to get a feel for whether i need to force the bolt closed or if it's just a bit tight.

  4. #4

    Default .338 reloads

    You might want to check the length of the cases, to be sure they are under maximum allowable length. If this is the problem, then you could face an excessive pressure problem from the mouths of the cases being compressed by the chamber. You might also check with your buddy to see if he neck sized or full length sized the cases. Then too, maybe the bullets are seated out a little too far. Kind of like diagnosing a car problem over the phone.

  5. #5
    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    May 2007
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    When you chamber them and pull them out again, look at the bullet. does it have marks from the rifleing on it? if so, he may have seated the bullets a bit farther out of the case than normal and than MAY cause some pressure issues if he went with near max charges. also look at the case were it crimps to the bullet, is the case slightly bulged? if so, he did not have the crip die adjusted correctly, and these, if they chamber are generaly ok to shoot. And lastly, he may have just partially resized your cases, that would be the best senario, and they would chamber a little harder than normal, but not much different.
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  6. #6


    Along with looking at the bullets, see if the shoulder is marked up. If so, these need to be properly resized, and not just neck sized. Also, check the overall case length, as sometimes the case will stretch excessively and must be trimmed before being reloaded. If this is the case, you will need to pull them and start over. The neck is too long for the chamber and if you fire it, there will be an excessive pressure build-up and possible problems. The Ruger is one strong and tough hombre, so to blow one up would be a minute chance.

    2 guns from the same manufacturer can have very different chamber dimensions, so it is imperative you resize back to specs or to the exact dimensions of your particular chamber.

    A few years back, I ran into this with a couple of different guns of the same caliber. The rounds would chamber just fine in mine, but my buddy had an identical rifle and these same loads would not chamber in his. I also loaded some .338's for 2 friends that have Browning BAR's in that caliber. Same thing. One would chamber and fire all day long and were accurate as hades, but the very same ammo in the other would not cycle or shoot for beans, and when they DID go off, they had a mind of their own. It was more of a pattern at 100 yards than a group..... I had to test fire some factory ammo through his, get the actual dimensions of his chamber, and with this, I loaded him some good ammo that hasn't missed a beat in his rifle. I have loaded over 300 rounds for him now and haven't had one misfire or cycling issue since. The OAL is the same, but the shoulder set-back is totally different in these rifles.
    Strange, but not an uncommon thing with assembly line rifles.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larch View Post
    a friend loaded up some 250 grain bullets for my 338. he used once shot brass. when i chamber one of the reloads on my ruger m77 the bolt closes tightly. i'm not a reloader and wonder what causes this and how this issue could be fixed?
    thanks for any input.
    There are a number of possibilities.

    Since, you say these cases were fired in your rifle's chamber, presumably the fired cases would fit your chamber.

    If after they were reloaded, they fit too tight, they weren't reloaded properly, for your rifle.

    If the cases were Full Length resized properly, trimmed properly, and the bullets seated properly for the throat of YOUR rifle, they would fit.

    IMO, the most likely cause is that they weren't sized enough. You could try a sized case in your rifle before charging it with powder and seating the bullet. The die should be adjusted to take into consideration the match of the particular die with the particular rifle chamber.

    Next, again, IMO, it is possible that he had the seating die adjusted wrongly, and the crimp shoulder is pushing the neck down and the shoulder out, causing a tight fit at the shoulder. If so, you can see the expansion there.

    Two more questions are, were the bullets seated too far out, and were the necks too long.

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  8. #8
    Member alaska bush man's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Thumbs up set back shoulder

    Turn your sizing die down just a hair and try another round. Do this until they chamber smooth!


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