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Cartridge testers... are they worth it?


shane8168
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i got a case gauge with my Dillion 650... i drop EVERY loaded bullet in it .. just to make sure its correct.. i have found a few that would not drop into my case gauge... i would rather find a bad cartridge on my loading bench ... rather than at a match...

Edited by cecil
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I use a Chamber Checker from Evolution Gun Works, and I wouldn't be without it. All of my reloads and all new factory ammo that I shoot in .45ACP goes through this device. They are spendy, the one I use for .45ACP holds 50 rounds and costs nearly $100 (http://www.egwguns.c...amber-checkers/) but it allows you to quickly check 50 rounds for correct size for seating in the chamber,and it also makes it very easy to spot high primers. As a final inspection tool, it is invaluable.

EGW makes Chamber Checkers with capacity less than 50 rounds, for a lot less than $100.

Chris

Edited by cohland
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The only true test is the barrel chamber that the rounds will be used in. All of the case gauges I have are nice to have so it's really a convenience thing but they are not the same. The Wilson case gauge is very tight so if they work in it, I know for sure they will work in my chamber. Of course, if they don't, then I have to pull the barrel and check or normally, I just relegate them to "practice" ammo, provided they appear to be good shape but just a little larger than usual. The Dillon gauge I have is a little more open but it is still tighter then most of my chambers so it works just as well. The one you are referring to is the one probably made by EGW. I heard they have tight tolerances also so again, do you want the convenience or be extra anal and check with the chamber all the time? There are always trade-offs...

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The only true test is the barrel chamber that the rounds will be used in. All of the case gauges I have are nice to have so it's really a convenience thing but they are not the same. The Wilson case gauge is very tight so if they work in it, I know for sure they will work in my chamber. Of course, if they don't, then I have to pull the barrel and check or normally, I just relegate them to "practice" ammo, provided they appear to be good shape but just a little larger than usual. The Dillon gauge I have is a little more open but it is still tighter then most of my chambers so it works just as well. The one you are referring to is the one probably made by EGW. I heard they have tight tolerances also so again, do you want the convenience or be extra anal and check with the chamber all the time? There are always trade-offs...

My experiences also.

Once I get my loads adjusted, it is rare that I have to chamber check all reloads.

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I think they are worth it.

Most chamber checkers will be tighter then your gun's chamber so you may reject some "good" ammo (just use the rejects for practice)....but all the ammo it gauges should fit your chamber. The only area it might not catch, depending on caliber and how your chamber was reamed, is the OAL of the case which if too long for your chamber can cause the slide to hang out of battery by 1/16" inch or so. This is generally caused by old brass that was bulged then resized and is now longer than the nominal SAMMI spec dimension. Another advantage of the multi-hole case checkers is it presents the case head and primers well for inspection. For real match ammo I also check the case OAL after using a 7 hole EGW case checker.

You can certainly use your gun's chamber, but I don't like to disassemble just to check ammo. Plus, if I drop the case checker I don't freak out.

BTW - the EGW 7 hole is about 20 bucks, and the 50 hole is about 100 from several suppliers.

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I've never understood the use of them...when I'm running ammo through the 650, I'll pull a few out and check. Generally, your dimensions aren't going to change, so if it's good, it's good. I use the plunk test in my barrel, if it fits, it's good!

What I also like to do is at the beginning of every reloading session (I leave my 650 full, I don't run the press dry), is double check the first few rounds. Powder, primers, OAL, and crimp. If it's still good, I'm off and running.

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I've never understood the use of them...when I'm running ammo through the 650, I'll pull a few out and check. Generally, your dimensions aren't going to change, so if it's good, it's good. I use the plunk test in my barrel, if it fits, it's good!

For match ammo.. you'll probably still catch one or 2 in a thousand, where the bullet was shaved a little, or the case had a burr in it, etc

The more important the match, the more important it'll be to check all the ammo you'll shoot in it.

If you do the barrel check for all your ammo, that's the same thing. I'd rather have a case gage that's as small or smaller than the tightest chamber of my pistols in that caliber.. pay the $20 once and not have to take the pistol apart.. granted that's not a bug deal.. but it could be if you wanted to check some ammo at the range, during a match.. yes I know - very rare case too, but think if you had to borrow some ammo, etc

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I've never understood the use of them...when I'm running ammo through the 650, I'll pull a few out and check. Generally, your dimensions aren't going to change

They will change when a die works loose and you are cranking them out at 1000 an hour and don't notice it.

I use the barrel when I am doing load development to determine oals. After that I use a gauge that I know is tighter than my chambers to check each and every round that comes off the press. This is how you avoid the death jams in the middle of a stage. To me there is no such thing as major match ammo or practice ammo. There is just my ammo!

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I've never understood the use of them...when I'm running ammo through the 650, I'll pull a few out and check. Generally, your dimensions aren't going to change, so if it's good, it's good. I use the plunk test in my barrel, if it fits, it's good!

What I also like to do is at the beginning of every reloading session (I leave my 650 full, I don't run the press dry), is double check the first few rounds. Powder, primers, OAL, and crimp. If it's still good, I'm off and running.

The rounds that come out of my 550 are very close to my chamber dimensions. .427 will fit, .428 will not, and this dimension is at the base of the case where the sizing die does not touch it. If they do not fit my Wilson gauge I can run them through my bulge buster to size down that area at the base to make it fit my chamber.

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Dang, guess you guys just have more trouble than I have (knock on wood). I generally only load a maximum of a few hundred rounds at a time, and if I stop I re-check the rounds to ensure the dies are still set correctly. I haven't had an issue (yet), other than my de-capping pin working itself loose.

I guess my chamber and being 9mm also might be a factor. I guess I just have more room!

Kevin you have your own unique problems...you know, running 10lbs of powder per case and all. :roflol:

Edited by polizei1
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I've become a little more anal than most reloaders.

For straight wall, pistol cases, I run the brass through a push-through die.

I use a Wilson case gauge, that is tighter than my chambers, and case gauge both directions.If .40 and .45 doesn't drop in backwards, the head is deformed, and I use it at the range for practice ammo. 9mm is a tapered case, but should still drop in backwards about 1/4".

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There's a good reason to gauge check ammo. The reloading process can and will split cases. If you don't check each round, you run the risk of finding a bad one the hard way. Laziness in reloading always ends poorly.

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I gauge every round. With experience I've learned to judge which gun a bulged round will fit. The round has to completely fit in the gauge to chamber in the XD or Walther. If just the extraction groove and rim is showing it fits the FN. More than that needs to be chamber checked in the FN. I'm guessing >95% in the first group, 4% in the second group, <1% in the last group. I try to get more brass at Steel Challenge than USPSA so I'm avoiding 9 major. I load on a square deal so I can't use a U die.

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As others have said I check every round in a case gauge or chamber checker. I have the EGW 7 and 50 rounders for 9, .38Super, .40, and 45 plus the dillon singles. The dillons are more forgiving, especially in .9mm vs. the EGW ones. I get about 10 rejects per 100 with the EGW 50 hole in 9mm and of those almost all pass on the Dillon gauge. I thought the 50 holer might have been out of spec, but after calling EGW I think it probably isn't.

Is it worth it to spend the time to check every round? I guess that depends on how on you are with ANY failures during a match. I have had exactly 4 failures in the last 17,000+ rounds and all were as someone mentioned where the brass stretched out and the gun wouldn't go into battery. I can live with that I guess.

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The only true test is the barrel chamber that the rounds will be used in.

My experiences also.

Once I get my loads adjusted, it is rare that I have to chamber check all reloads.

My experience differs. At the Open Nationals in '03 I was shooting with a law enforcement officer who was also a member at my gun club. He used his barrel to check all his reloaded ammunition assembled on a Dillon 650. He sat in the hotel room the night before the match and went through every single round of .38 Super in his bag to make certain he didn't have any bulged rounds. The following day, on a 28 round stage, he had the "jam from hell" on the 5th shot. The gun would not go into battery and he could not get the round out of the chamber. He even tried beating the slide racker on the edge of a barricade. It would not budge. With the misses and FTE penalties, he zeroed the stage.

The CRO called the MD who called a gunsmith to meet them at the safe area. The gunsmith disassembled the slide from the frame (the slide stop catch had been milled down so it would not lock back on empty and he was able to get it under the edge of the frame) and using a squib rod, pounded the offending round of of the chamber.

When my buddy was using his barrel to case check his ammunition, apparently the bulged round fell in perfectly, with the bulge positioned right above the feed ramp. Later, during the match it fed into the chamber in a different position and locked up the gun.

This taught me to use a case gauge that has a tighter tolerence than my barrel for every round. I find the "questionable" ones. Some won't fit at all and go into the "disassemble box" while the very tight ones go into the practice ammo box.

I own a couple of these from EGW and they do the trick. With all the money we invest in bullets, powder, brass, primers and other equipment, $20 and some time invested can save your match.

70100.jpg

YMMV

BC

Edited by BillChunn
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I understand what BillChunn is saying. If my rounds pass the gauge they will work in my guns. (I had a death jam at a match when I was shooting 9x25, it passed the gauge, jammed the gun... Problem is the gauge was looser than the chamber, so that is the only caliber that I use the barrel for (wildcat).)

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I have good luck with my little Dillon gauge. Everything that passes it fits my chamber. Even some rounds that fail the gauge still chamber fine so I guess I have a loose chamber.

Getting a new barrel in my gun this week. Ate schuemann's pretty tight?

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I have been reloading for about 35 years and never had a problem. until I was at a match a few months back, and had an out of spec round lock up my 1911. It took some time and effort, but I finally got it cleared. No other problems for the rest of the match, or any match since. Then, the other day I was out running some rounds across the chrono when I had the same problem. Fortunately I won a chamber gauge at a local match, and it came in quite handy as I used it to check the remainder of my 9mm reloads. I did find 1 other round that had a nasty split and wouldn't fit the chamber gauge. So my checking did pay off. From now on, I'll be gauging my reloads.

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I did find 1 other round that had a nasty split and wouldn't fit the chamber gauge.

Thats where mine comes in handy. I don't check my brass that close before loading but I check each and every one in the gauge after loading. If I have any problem rounds they are easily broke down and corrected. I'll find some that won't drop easily in the gauge so I mark them for practice. The gun doesn't have any problems with them but I would rather use them for practice than take a chance with a jam during a stage.

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I've been using chamber checkers well over 20 years. Never had one from Dillon that did not coincide with my barrel.

I bought a 4-way, but rarely use it. It does not allow you to individually roll the nose of the bullet at the hole while looking for splits at the neck like I do with a single checker.

If you shoot competition, you need to check one way or the other.

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Well worth the money. I only check the rounds I'm going to shoot in a match, If one hangs up in practice ol well. But when you spend all the money on equipment, travel and match fees, then lose a match cause of 1 bad round, it will haunt you for a long time. That and your "friends" will always remind you of it. SPEND THE MONEY.

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