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Tech Line & Tips (FAQs)

Scratched Cases: Causes And Cures
A problem that customers occasionally encounter while reloading, is that of cases being scratched in the reloading dies. There can be many reasons for this condition to occur, but they are usually traceable to the level of cleanliness of both the dies and the cases. Generally speaking, almost all instances of case scratching can be traced to foreign material that becomes imbedded in/or adheres to the inside surfaces of the die itself.

As a part of factory final processing, Dies are cleaned with an ultrasonic cleaner to remove any foreign material which may remain from the manufacturing process. This is the same procedure used to super-clean aerospace parts, hydraulic valve bodies, and the like.

Case scratching problems can usually be traced to the reloading area and some of the equipment that may be in or near it. A few guidelines that will help are listed below:

  1. Keep the abrasive dust and particles from spent primers cleaned up and away from all equipment.
  2. If you have a small bench grinder, it should be kept away from the reloading bench, preferably in another room.
  3. Loading on the range, especially in windy or dusty conditions, can introduce cleanliness problems that can be hard to manage.
  4. Case tumblers are another potential source of problems. While the cases may come out shiny, they will actually have a thin film of abrasive residue on them. Cases should be thoroughly cleaned and/or washed before going into the dies.
  5. Nickel plated cases are often associated with die scratching problems. Small particles of the hard nickel plating may be present from trimming and/or deburring operations and can find their way inside the dies.
  6. It is important to understand that foreign material does not have to be hard to cause problems. Brass chips from trimming and deburring can find their way inside the resizing die, where they can literally be welded to the inside of the die under the extreme pressures generated by full-length resizing. When this happens, the "brass against brass" action will gall the cases, leaving an apparent scratch. The condition will rapidly worsen as brass continues to build up.

Cleaning Your Dies

We are often asked, "How should I clean my dies?" The answer is to use the same procedures, with the same equipment and solvents, that you use to clean the bore of your rifle or handgun. Use the same diligence and effort as well, since the brushing and copper solvents will work well on any brass deposits that may have accumulated inside the die.

Another question that comes up is, "Can I do any internal polishing?" Again, the answer is, "Yes, with care!" The best arrangement is to chuck the die in a lathe, after stripping it down and removing the internal parts. Use #400 or #600 wet/dry auto body paper wrapped around a small wooden dowel. Keep the paper wet with a thin petroleum product with the consistency of WD-40 or kerosene. Using this method, you will easily be able to remove any foreign material or brass build-up from the inside of the die.

Since our dies are heat-treated to approximately 62 Rockwell C, you can polish for a long time without changing the internal dimensions. Do not use ordinary sandpaper or anything coarser than #400, as you will scratch the interior of the die surface and void the lifetime warranty.

It is very important to give the dies a thorough cleaning, after the polishing operation. They should be thoroughly washed, flushed, and wiped several times. Again, just as when cleaning your rifle, check the dies for cleanliness with several wet patches and then lube and dry patch them.

In summary, the name of the game when it comes to avoiding scratched cases is cleanliness! A little attention paid to keeping your reloading area clean, and periodically cleaning your dies, will insure that they give you years of trouble-free service.


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