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Thread: 330 Dakota brass and reloading

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    Member Kay9Cop's Avatar
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    Default 330 Dakota brass and reloading

    I recently purchased a custom 330 Dakota and it came with some commercially handloaded ammo and some NIB brass. The custom ammo is from Superior Ammunition and is loaded with A-Square brass. The NIB brass is from Dakota, but comes with a sticker saying it is Mast brass.

    The original owner of the gun used A-Square brass for his handloads and reported being able to use powder charges that were considered hot by his reloading manuals. I loaded up some rounds using the Mast brass and got sticky bolt lift below max loads according to Barnes #3. My pressure testing loads were 210 grain TSXs over 70, 70.5, 71, 71.5, and 72 grains of Varget.

    The sticky bolt lift came at any charge over 70.5. I thought this was unusual because I've never had any problems working up loads to max charges using TSX bullets in all of my other guns. In fact, some charges in my other guns went over max loads (based on Barnes advice that TSX bullets could handle 1 or 2 more grains of powder over regular X bullets) with no signs of pressure. Does the Mast brass have less case capacity than the A-Square? All of the A-Square brass is loaded so I can't compare volume or weight.

    To complicate things further, Mast is out of business and Dakota brass is now made by another company. Maybe Norma if some internet forums are correct? I only have 20 of the Mast brass and 20 of the loaded ammo with A-Square brass. I like to have 100 brass plus a few spares for the calibers I load for. Anyone have any idea how the new stuff compares to A-Square and Mast brass?
    "Beware the man with only one gun; he may know how to use it."

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    Member shphtr's Avatar
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    One of the 330 Dakotas that I have I have been reloading for 10+ years. When I got it I also purchased 100 rounds of brass - at that time MAST brass was all there was. It is really good brass and I have some cases that have been reloaded 8 to 10 times. I ended up using RL 19 and extrapolated my loads from published 338 WM data from the Nosler manual. I finally ended up with my most accurate load using a 225 gr NP at 3100 fps. - it is a compressed load using a 24" drop tube and was worked up to SLOWLY. It is a great round round that can be very accurate and is perhaps best characterized as a 338 WM on steroids. I would have to review my old records but would estimate for equal weight bullets and barrel length you will on the average gain 100 to 200 fps over a std 338 WM. If your factory Dakota rounds turn out to be very accurate then you might want to contact Ward at Dakota Arms (their chief engineer and the individual that tests/shoots most if not all of the Dakotas before they go out the door) since he can look up for you the specific reloading for your factory round should you want to duplicate the load.

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    Member Kay9Cop's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info, Shphtr.

    It looks like I'm also going to be looking for some new reloading dies, or at least a different shell holder. The gun came with a set of RCBS dies and shell holder (404 Jeffery). I took some of the brass that gave sticky bolt lift and tried to re-chamber it. As expected, it would not chamber easily. I like to partial FL re-size my brass, so I started slowly decreasing the length to the shoulder until it would chamber easily. I got to a very strong cam-over on the press and the brass still needs a slight amount of pressure (i.e. slight crush fit in chamber) to chamber.

    The original owner of the gun mentioned the chamber was cut with a brand new reamer. If my logic is correct, this means the chamber will be on the large side of acceptable tolerances because the reamer had not worn down any.

    I measured the diameter at the case head of unfired brass and got 0.543. I measured once fired brass and got 0.545. Re-sized brass measured the same as once fired brass. This is the correct dimension for the case head, so the chamber seems to be correct width.

    I measured the distance to the shoulder of new brass and got 2.065. Once fired brass (sticky bolt lift) measured 2.070. The best I could re-size the brass was 2.067. Dimensional drawings for the 330 Dakota list the length to shoulder as 2.066. I'm guessing I need to get the shoulder all the way back to 2.065 to get easy to chamber rounds.

    I've heard you can grind down shell holders to push the shoulder back a little farther. How does one go about doing this when you only need .002? Is this something I can do at home or do I need to take it to a machinist?
    "Beware the man with only one gun; he may know how to use it."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kay9Cop View Post
    Thanks for the info, Shphtr.

    It looks like I'm also going to be looking for some new reloading dies, or at least a different shell holder. The gun came with a set of RCBS dies and shell holder (404 Jeffery). I took some of the brass that gave sticky bolt lift and tried to re-chamber it. As expected, it would not chamber easily. I like to partial FL re-size my brass, so I started slowly decreasing the length to the shoulder until it would chamber easily. I got to a very strong cam-over on the press and the brass still needs a slight amount of pressure (i.e. slight crush fit in chamber) to chamber.

    The original owner of the gun mentioned the chamber was cut with a brand new reamer. If my logic is correct, this means the chamber will be on the large side of acceptable tolerances because the reamer had not worn down any.

    I measured the diameter at the case head of unfired brass and got 0.543. I measured once fired brass and got 0.545. Re-sized brass measured the same as once fired brass. This is the correct dimension for the case head, so the chamber seems to be correct width.

    I measured the distance to the shoulder of new brass and got 2.065. Once fired brass (sticky bolt lift) measured 2.070. The best I could re-size the brass was 2.067. Dimensional drawings for the 330 Dakota list the length to shoulder as 2.066. I'm guessing I need to get the shoulder all the way back to 2.065 to get easy to chamber rounds.

    I've heard you can grind down shell holders to push the shoulder back a little farther. How does one go about doing this when you only need .002? Is this something I can do at home or do I need to take it to a machinist?

    I own and load for a 330 Dakota. I've loaded for several of the caliber incuding a few here in Fairbanks. I have made thousands of rounds of ammo for the Dakota series of calibers for myself and others. At the risk of my actual experience being once again cast asunder with speculation and conjecture based on something Chuck Hawks once wrote about, I'll offer any help and support you might need to get you up and running.

    It is quite possible that your rifle was made with a reamer that won't match the exact drawing specs of the 330 Dakota, I ve seen a few of them. They are still very good calibers and could well be in a fine rifle but won't match the exact 330 Dakota caliber drawing specs. I think the Dakota calibers are propriatery (patented/copywrited) and Dakota Arms requires a fee to allow use and stamping of rifles with the name. Lacking that the reamers are boot leggeed, or rather the reamer drawings are. I think I've seen this. But not taking anything away from your rifle or caliber etc, just info. Your dies, or just a sizing die could be custom made from your fired brass. Send three fired cases to RCBS or Redding and wait 16 weks.

    Based on all the info you give the chamber is smaller internally than a standard 330 Dakota. sticky bolt with less than max load, sizer not sizing enough to fit, etc. So you technically have a wildcat there regardless of stamp on the barrel. Just like flying your plane after some structural changes, it is now experimental. No problem. I have some new 330 brass and I think it is made by Jamison, they bought Jim Bell's old B.E.L.L company and moved to Stugis. I think it is good brass but it's not Lapua. It has worked well for me and I could send you a sample of it to try if you think that may be the culprit. It is now about $38 for 20 to buy from Graf & Son now and probably $50 from DA. I think the only maker for it now is Hornady, they are making the 375 and 7mm the last time I checked with them and I have some 375 Dakota in Hornaday also.

    It is very hard to measure a fired case and tell if it matches the drawing. You really need an optical comparator to measure a surface precisely but you can find some basic dims. What is really difficult with a caliper is the case head to shoulder, that curved dimension is hard to measure accurately. I the the body above the head diameter can be measured and it is supposed to be .545" as a max dim for the brass. I don't have drawings with me just from what I remember about the cases. The rim (case head) is maxed at the same .545" so it will naturally be slightly smaller.

    Also it is quite possible that your rifle is just a little shy of headspace. This more likely as you said a new reamer would technically be larger in size and the chamber smaller. When we finish the chamber the last few turns by hand until we can close the bolt on the go gage, then stop. They snith could have made it on the minimum (a good thing) or the gage could have been made slightly shorter than the standard. Again not a bd thing at all, but these things work against a standard set of dies and brass. Of course we could have a factory Dakota with just a tight chamebr or short on headspace, too.

    I never knew A Square made brass for any Dakotas. Some of the calibers are/were made by Norma, some by Lapua, and some by Jamison, some by MAST and now by Hornady. I have used all of those and have no complaints. Jamison made my 404 brass and 330, I don't know if they made any other calibers. They took a huge military contract and didn't thave time for small orders. They quoted me a good price on my 416 but then backed out after the military contract came in. Does your new brass/ammo chamber ok? If so then it is more of a problem of your tight chamber vs your sizing die and that can be fixed.


    I don't think Varget is a good powder for the 330. H4350 has been the best I've found with 225 and 250 grain bullet weights and N550 for the 210 and 225 partition. Varget is too fast and leaves a lot of room in the case, so watch loads carefully. I know how hard powder is to get and we use what we've got but that is pretty fast for that case. It is about the same as H4895 in burn rate. Let me know and if in Fairbanks area stop by and try my dies.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Thanks for the info, Murphy. I was hoping you would chime in, as I have seen you mention the Dakota calibers before.

    The gun was made in the mid-90's by a reputable and well-known smith/company, so I wouldn't think the reamer was a boot leg copy, but I have no proof one way or the other. I haven't spoken to anyone at the company, so I don't want to post their name. I chose to use Varget as a powder because I have it on hand, it is one of the recommended powders in Barnes #3 for 210 grain TSXs, and the gun has a short barrel (18") that I think is suited to a faster powder.

    I'm leaning towards the dies being at fault and not the gun, but I may be relying on faulty logic. The case head diameter of fired brass is correct and new brass chambers without any issues. Slightly re-sized brass would not close easily in the chamber, but as I turned the die farther down in the press the chambering got easier...I just can't get the die any lower. I feel as if I could lower the die a little more (.002) that the re-sized brass would chamber fine. Is this a correct assumption? If I were to try to modify the dies by shaving a little off, would it be better to remove from the die or the shell holder?

    Murphy, I appreciate the offer of help. I was planning on making a trip to Fairbanks this weekend. I'll PM you and see if you're available.
    "Beware the man with only one gun; he may know how to use it."

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    Those shell holders are special and about 15 bucks but they are cheaper than the dies. So, I would file the top of the shell holder with a big flat file and reduce the thickness by about .004" then try again. Headspace is + .006"/-.000" from the established datum on the drawing, so you'd be in good territory with that adjustment. You can always get a new shellholder if needed. Of course you can back the die up slightly if you fiel too much.

    I didn't mean to imply inferior quality or workmanship, but I've had my one reamers made for years and I just make up my own dimensons based on some other case. It is likely just a tight, meaning short chamber and that is good. Brass will not stretch and will last a long time. Originally the 2.500" 404 Jeffery cases were designed by Ken Howell I think the changes were just to avoid confusion and to lock DA in as the provider of brass and ammo. Just like the Hawk and others that are sold only by the designers. I open mine up to the trades, every one can make a Murphy caliber.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Member Kay9Cop's Avatar
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    I'm happy to report that I got re-sized brass to chamber smoothly.

    I went home and measured my shell holder and it was .505 thick. I started working on it with a file, but wasn't having much luck removing noticeable amounts of material. A few minutes later with my power grinder/cut off wheel layed on its side got the shell holder down to .500. I sized some brass and it chambered as easily as new brass.

    Thank you for everyone's help.

    I shot a couple of groups with the sized brass, Varget, and the 210 TSXs and was rewarded with a three shot group of slightly over 1/2". I'm elated to say the least.
    "Beware the man with only one gun; he may know how to use it."

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    Default 330 Dakota accessories for sale

    330 Dakota Accessories for sale:

    Description: the 330 Dakota is based on a 404 Jeffery case and fires a .338” bullet. It has 15% more powder capacity than a 338 Winchester Magnum so it can shoot as flat as a 7mm Remington magnum but has more knock down power than a 338 Win. Mag. It has awesome long range performance and wind resistance with 225 gr. to 250 gr. bullets. I have complete die set for sale as well as the chamber reamer and headspace gauges for building a custom rifle in this caliber. Also included free are an assortment of 330 Dakota brass and sample .338 bullets. More new brass is available from Dakota on their website.


    Description Retail Price: Sale Price:

    RCBS FL die set for .330 Dakota $142.99 $94.00

    Finish reamer for .330 Dakota Clymer $95.99 $85.00

    HS gauges for .330 Dakota $40.95 $30.00

    Assorted 330 Dakota brass, .338 bullets Free Free
    Sample 330 Dakota cartridges



    Total for package deal: $209.00

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    Default Contact information for purchasing

    To arrange purchase of the 330 Dakota Accessories just use the information below. I have arranged to have Nebraska Sports handle the transaction for me and they can accept credit cards for payment. Free shipping anywhere.

    Contact:

    Nebraska Sports
    Dustin Novotny-assistant manager
    866 E. 23rd
    Fremont Mall
    Fremont, NE68025
    Phone: (402) 721-5255
    Fax: (402) 721-6811
    Email: n.sports@qwestoffice.net

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    The 330 Dakota Accessories have all be sold!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gunemp View Post
    330 Dakota Accessories for sale:

    Description: the 330 Dakota is based on a 404 Jeffery case and fires a .338” bullet. It has 15% more powder capacity than a 338 Winchester Magnum so it can shoot as flat as a 7mm Remington magnum but has more knock down power than a 338 Win. Mag. It has awesome long range performance and wind resistance with 225 gr. to 250 gr. bullets. I have complete die set for sale as well as the chamber reamer and headspace gauges for building a custom rifle in this caliber. Also included free are an assortment of 330 Dakota brass and sample .338 bullets. More new brass is available from Dakota on their website.


    Description Retail Price: Sale Price:

    RCBS FL die set for .330 Dakota $142.99 $94.00

    Finish reamer for .330 Dakota Clymer $95.99 $85.00

    HS gauges for .330 Dakota $40.95 $30.00

    Assorted 330 Dakota brass, .338 bullets Free Free
    Sample 330 Dakota cartridges



    Total for package deal: $209.00
    Is this package still available to purchase from you Sir?
    Regards
    Gert Odendaal

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gunemp View Post
    The 330 Dakota Accessories have all be sold!
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^sold in 2010
    Andy
    On the web= C-lazy-F.co
    Email= Andy@C-lazy-F.co
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    Quote Originally Posted by ADfields View Post
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^sold in 2010
    OOOOOOOOOOh.

    I didn't notice that either.

    That just proves that there are folks out there smarter than me. I must be more humble in the future.

    The 2014 Smitty will be much improved, if he makes it.

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    Smitty you’ll make it to 2014, then stay just like ya are cuz it‘s worked so far.


    I only spotted it from habit, I open threads with new posts then scroll through looking at the dates to find the new posts . . . Keeps me from reading the same stuff over and over to find my spot.
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