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Goldilocks of Case Belling, what is “Just Right”?


salemsm
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I have been reviewing some U-Tube Reloading videos and many of them indicate you have to get the belling of the case “just right”. Only one video that I have seen (by johniac7078) indicated to measure your case after it went through the sizing die (his example was a 40 S&W, diameter: .419). His “correct” bell size would be to increase the diameter by .002”. Does this sound reasonable to everyone? If not, how do you measure “just right”?

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My rule of thumb is to bell it so that the outside of the bell is 0.030" over bullet diameter. So, a .40 would have the outer diameter of the bell .430, and a .45 would be .481". You can get by with less, but I find it increases the possibility of seating the bullets crooked.

Edited by six-gun shooter
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I've never measured it; I adjust and "just right" is just enough so seating the bullet is not difficult (this may vary depending on the design of the bullet base). The less belling you have to use, the better, in my opinion...because the less you work the brass, and the more reloads you'll get before you start to see cracks at the top of your brass.

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I increase the bell until I can set a bullet on top and it stays in place without wanting to fall off. This means that a case using boat-tails has a lot less bell than one using flat base. The one using a boat-tail has enough that it does not want to scrape the bullet as it enters the case. That is really all the belling is doing is making it so that the case does not scrape/scratch the bullet as it enters the case.

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I increase the bell until I can set a bullet on top and it stays in place without wanting to fall off. This means that a case using boat-tails has a lot less bell than one using flat base. The one using a boat-tail has enough that it does not want to scrape the bullet as it enters the case. That is really all the belling is doing is making it so that the case does not scrape/scratch the bullet as it enters the case.

This makes the most sense of anything that I've heard or read. Thanks for the tip! Now I just need to find the magic website that has all of the reloading supplies that I need. Everybody is out of everything!!!

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I increase the bell until I can set a bullet on top and it stays in place without wanting to fall off. This means that a case using boat-tails has a lot less bell than one using flat base. The one using a boat-tail has enough that it does not want to scrape the bullet as it enters the case. That is really all the belling is doing is making it so that the case does not scrape/scratch the bullet as it enters the case.

This.

Nothing is more aggravating than having the bullet fall off the upright position and crush the case, bringing everything to a jarring stop, so I will be more rather than less generous with the bell for the sake of smooth and consistent rhythm to the reloading. I probably lose the cases well before I get a lot of case mouth splits from over belling them.

If you use range brass of mixed heritage and venerablity, you may find varying case lengths. A minimal bell set up on a fairly long case may not adequately bell a short one, leading the aggro described above. I tend to turn down the belling die a bit more on such brass. Single HS brass that is all new/once fired, especially from a single source, tends to be much more consistent with less chance of underbelling a short case.

Edited by kevin c
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