.318 WR loads with RL19, Bertram cases - issues

Tom Leoni

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This week I've tried a new handload for the .318 WR - used 57gr of R19, as per the Woodleigh loading manual. It lists it as a mid-range load. Used WLR primers.

In my Bertram cases, it gave me two issues: first, it filled the case up to the neck, almost requiring a compressed load with the 250gr bullet. Second, upon shooting--although quite accurate--it gave me signs of low pressures with a backed-up primer.

Anybody else have issues with something similar?
 

112Savage

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Are your cases new? It could be that the shoulder, ie the headspace was not at the correct length for your chamber. This would explain the backed out primer, overfull case, and pressure signs. If you have old cases use a comparator to check the base to datum length and you may have to put a false shoulder on your virgin cases. If these weren’t virgin cases, then either disregard the above, or recheck how you are setting your dies.
 

IvW

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Never ever start at mid range loads always start at the bottom and work up.

What rifle is it?
 

rookhawk

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This week I've tried a new handload for the .318 WR - used 57gr of R19, as per the Woodleigh loading manual. It lists it as a mid-range load. Used WLR primers.

In my Bertram cases, it gave me two issues: first, it filled the case up to the neck, almost requiring a compressed load with the 250gr bullet. Second, upon shooting--although quite accurate--it gave me signs of low pressures with a backed-up primer.

Anybody else have issues with something similar?

Hi @Tom Leoni that sounds like my load, brass, and rifle you have over there?

If so, that load was regulated and approved by both NECG and Ken Owen. The key is to not full length size by setting back the die to barely bump the shoulder. This is so the rifle headspaces off the shoulder. You must give the RL19 a bit of a shake to get it to stack correctly and avoid crushing a few pieces of powder. I believe its not a compressed load, but rather about 98% load.

I am not a handloading expert but I paid a fortune to have the world’s best experts regulate a load for the takedown 318. This one came with the regulation target from NECG when they set up the mounts and optic. I believe it was 1 MOA or better.
 

Tom Leoni

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Hi, Rookhawk--what a helpful answer!

I was indeed quite puzzled by the behavior of that load; first, the filling up of the cases, then the primers backing out... it was, however, quite an accurate load. At 100 yards, my Cogswell & Harrison grouped right where I placed the front sight, although I had to use the 200 yard leaf.

I will follow your advice and only neck size the next time around.
 

rookhawk

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Hi, Rookhawk--what a helpful answer!

I was indeed quite puzzled by the behavior of that load; first, the filling up of the cases, then the primers backing out... it was, however, quite an accurate load. At 100 yards, my Cogswell & Harrison grouped right where I placed the front sight, although I had to use the 200 yard leaf.

I will follow your advice and only neck size the next time around.

Neck size, and not with the shellholder all the way touching the die. Ken Owen told me he wanted either a dime or a penny of gap between die and shellholder. He only wanted to bump the neck back so it would press fit lightly upon closing the bolt to assure you're headspacing on the rim. This will increase accuracy, brass life, and will prevent the primer from pushing out.
 

rookhawk

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Neck size, and not with the shellholder all the way touching the die. Ken Owen told me he wanted either a dime or a penny of gap between die and shellholder. He only wanted to bump the neck back so it would press fit lightly upon closing the bolt to assure you're headspacing on the rim. This will increase accuracy, brass life, and will prevent the primer from pushing out.

I said headspacing on the rim, i meant head spacing on the shoulder that was bumped.
 

fourfive8

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Sur sounds like excess headspace with a mismatch between case and chamber. Your initial load may not be high enough pressure to re-seat primer after backing out from primer impulse. To help prevent excess stretching of brass, might consider sizing only enough to allow chambering the first fire forming shot.

What seems unusual about your result with backed out primer is the load you listed should have produced enough pressure to re-seat the backed out primer caused by excess headspace. It usually takes about 35-40 kpsi to stretch the case body, force the head back against the bolt face and re- seat the primer. Your 57 gr load should easily exceed 35-40 kpsi.

One way to fire form new brass to prevent subsequent excessive case stretching, thus extending case life. is to force the case head against the bolt face on the first full pressure firing. Then setting your sizing die to just barely kiss the shoulder for each subsequent re-sizing. To force the case head against the bolt face on the fire forming shot… seat a fairly hard cast bullet well out (long) so it jams firmly into the lands when chambered.

Still curious how a 57 gr load of Rel19 under a normal bullet could leave backed out primer?
 

rookhawk

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A few facts. The CIP specifications for the .318 Accelerated Express do not match the ICI/Kynoch dimensions of their original brass.

I know this having spent a fortune on the journey to get vintage .318s back into service on safari successfully.

I had no shortage of similar troubles with modern loads in several guns. However, I slipped in vintage kynoch ammo a century old and they fired and extracted flawlessly.

Add to all of this, the Westley and Cogswell chamber reamers were different, and no one was going to argue with Westley doing their own thing with their own cartridge in that era.

Today, Quality cartridge makes .318 brass, but god help you if you run it through an RCBS full length or neck sizing die all the way. The vintage brass from Kynoch is not reloadable, berdan primed. Many people use 35 whelen brass and fireform after sizing it down in a custom collet. Same issues and you end up with the wrong headstamp.

Between NECG and Ken Owen, you can spend a few thousand and get these details sorted out directly with them for your particular gun. Or, you can do as I suggested to save money by not neck sizing past the slightest bump back to headspace on the shoulder. Then, its all smooth sailing.

Failing to headspace on the shoulder, tested by removing the firing pin and feeling that subtle resistance during feed, results in a dangerous condition. I've tested the web on many handloaded and once fired .318 cartridges. Incipient case head separation in the web will occur on first or second firing.

Add to all of this, most of these guns were take-downs where some looseness has occurred, and cordite corrosion of the neck and shoulder could have occurred in the chamber, not just the lands, and its a recipe for disaster without expert advice. (I'm not an expert, I'm a parrot of experts I hired)

In my example, I got a take-down Westley with no rifling (metford actually) and a box of handloads based on 30.06 that had web issues and head separation immediately, plus pushed out primers. I started clean as prescribed with RL19, Qual-Cart, RCBS, and simply bumping the neck. First-time handloads were 1 MOA. Never tried fire-formed 2nd loads but they might have been sub-MOA.

Any SAAMI / American handloading fundamentals that we'd use for any "normal" caliber with "normal" brass will tend to send a .318 loader down a difficult path that may result in injury to gun or person. If in doubt, get an expert to work with you on the solution. Suggest Ken Owen gets a nice Christmas basket every year so he'll take your calls. :)
 

fourfive8

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These possible excessive headspace issues are always problematic. Excess headspace plus repeated over resizing will usually lead to premature case failure. Case head separation is nothing to blow off… no pun intended.

A quick, easy and safe way to possibly shed some light on what is going on is to fire a “blank”. Treat and size a case exactly like the one(s) that had the backed out primer. Seat a primer and fire it without powder or bullet. That usually reveals if there is excess headspace or not.
 

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