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Failure to eject when hand cycling reloads [AR-15]


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After reloading some 223 for my AR-15 [my first large batch] I noticed issues when hand cycling the rifle. In specific, when hand cycling reloads through my AR a failure to extract malfunction occurs. It's as if the extractor is slipping off the round as it is being extracted. At no point is the round sticking in the chamber, and it seems to be solely an extractor issue.

[Note: when hand cycling factory ammo, no extraction issues occur.]

To make things more confusing, when firing this ammo the malfunction rate drops drastically. Maybe one failure to eject per 50-100 rounds.

So, what am I doing wrong?!

Other details:

All brass has been trimmed to 1.760" or shorter.

All brass has been resized using Redding full length .223 dies

All brass was tumbled/cleaned after being lubed and resized

COAL is short enough to fit inside a STANAG magazine

The reloaded cartidge's bullet is not even close to touching rifling

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Dan Sierpina- Can dies resize too much? And, I hadn't thought about the seating die pushing the shoulder back. I'd have to look closer at my dies to see it that's even possible.

Vlad- I checked and this does not happen with factory ammo.

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Ok, so .. how stuck is the round? Does it fall freely out of the chamber if you retract the bolt and tip the gun muzzle up or do you have to mortar it out of the gun? If you mark up the rim of a case and get the case back out, can you see if the extractor marked the rim at all?

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Question, do you have any case gauges?

Failures to extract on semi-auto rifles is normally do to the case not releasing its grip from the chamber walls. Meaning you are not resizing the cases properly so you may need to bump the shoulder of the cases more. BUT without a case gauge you have no way of knowing your fired length from your resized length.

Below a fired 5.56 Lake City case in my Hornady cartridge case headspace gauge.


Below the same case after full length resizing and .003 shoulder bump.


I also use the J P Enterprises case gauge to give the cases the final plop test, this gauge is like a Wilson case gauge but it also checks the case diameter and its headspace length.


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Vlad- The case falls freely from the chamber regardless if the extractor grabs it or not. The extractor does not seem to be marking the rim of the casing at all.

Rigger JJ- How do I give the shoulder a "deeper bump"? I am simply following the instructions included with my dies for non-crimp bullet seating.

bigedp51- I don't have any case gauges yet. I almost ordered some with my Dillon 550... but didn't due to funds. Maybe I'm a little slow, but I'm not understanding the difference between full length resizing and "bumping the shoulder". Could you elaborate how you did both of those steps? Is it possible that I bumped the shoulder back too far inadvertently causing the cartridges rim to sit too deep for the extractor to get at it?

Dan Sierpina- You might be on to something. Do you think this has anything to do with running a 5.56 chamber and .223 full length dies?

Also, once the cartridge has been fired it seems to be extracting well. I bet it's sitting too far in the chamber and is being pushed back into the ejector upon firing, then being extracted properly. Is there a good way to compare the location of the shoulder of a fired piece of brass and a resized piece?

Is it possible that switching dies may remedy the problem? I just purchased a set of Hornady dies; maybe they'll help the issue.

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Steve AR- I tried that but it looked too close to tell. I'll give it another shot tonight in some better lighting and report back. The idea of a shortened shoulder makes the most sense so far.

Can anyone chime in and say if they can adjust the shoulder height of their dies? I thought it was set by the design of the dies and was unadjustable.

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You can cheat and make your own chamber gauge, but you need vernier calipers for measuring.

Take one of your full length resized cases and measure its length, and write it down.

Now just using your fingers start a fired spent primer into the primer pocket.




Now chamber this case and let the bolt face seat the primer making sure the bolt is fully closed'

Now remove the case and measure the case again and write it down.

Now subtract the first case measurement from the second and this will be your head clearance.

This head clearance is the same amount your die pushed the shoulder back and you

want .003 to .006 for your AR15 rifle.



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bigedp51- THANKS!!! I'll check that out when I get home. And if head clearance is over .006 I'll know that I've pushed the neck back too far, right?

Correct, if you have more than .006 you are over resizing and this is very easy to do when you follow the manufacturer's setup instructions.

I have a standard full length Lee .223 die that sizes the base diameter more than my small base dies do. And pushes the case shoulder back .009 more than a GO gauge. Meaning the case would have .011 head clearance if the die is setup per the instructions.

The setup instructions with the dies are to make sure the resized case will fit in "ANY" chamber. And when just loading for "YOUR" chamber you adjust the die to fit your rifle with the correct clearance to extend case life.

We live in a plus and minus manufacturing world and no two reloading dies and chambers are exactly the same.

Gauging Success - Minimum Headspace and Maximum COL


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bigedp51- Wow, I learn something new every day. I can't believe that a manufacturer offer such imprecise instructions! I put money on it that we've found the issue. Thank you again for the primer trick!

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  • 1 month later...

A quick follow up to this post:

Since then I have purchased a Hornady headspace gauge and verified the problem by setting my headspace similar to other factory loads when resizing. Now cycling when shooting or hand cycling is 100%. I can only imagine that accuracy may improve as well as the round is no longer rattling around in the chamber.

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