Hard time closing bolt on 35 Whelen. Why?

atl5029

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Here is what I think is likely a very simple problem I am having. I'm a fairly experienced reloader, but hopefully the real gurus here can help me out.

I have a 35 Whelen built on a 1903-A3 action. It was not a rebarrel, but a rebore by Dan Pendersen at Classic Barrel & Gunworks in AZ. I am having trouble closing the bolt on my handloads. It chambers and extracts factory (Hornady Superformance 200 grain soft points) just fine. I've realoaded that brass with 225 grain Barnes TSX seated to the first groove in the bullet, which is approximately mag length and way off the lands. They feed forward fine, but on some, closing the bolt handle downward takes some significant force. After firing they extract fine. If I eject an unfired round, the bolt lift is similarly sticky. This is concerning if I would have to take a follow up shot on an animal.

The peculiar thing is it is not always consistent round to round. Some rounds are tougher to chamber than others, and a handful are fine. I figure it is probably a brass or resizing problem.

Intuitively, I figure either the neck section of my chamber is pretty tight, and when i close the bolt the neck of the round is really being squeezed, or there is something wrong with the headspacing or shoulder of my resized cases. I'm FL resizing on RCBS dies. Or is it possible my fired brass is too long? Am I not resizing enough? Neck turn? Trim brass?

I haven't run into this kind of problem before. Can you guys shed some light on possible causes or flesh out how to systematically eliminate possible causes? Unfortunately I don't have any experience with other loads in this gun other than the factory Hornady and these handloads. I do plan to try the 225 SGK and 220 Hammer Hunter in the future.

Thanks!
 

CaptnC

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Because you ask...is the brass too long?

I'd say some are...why do I say that? Because you ask the above question. I had issues with my 300WSM being very hard to close on my Model 16 Savage...I don't normally trim once fired brass, so I don't normally check them. I checked these and some did and some didn't.

BUT...I still had an issue, so I bought another brand of die. Boom problem solved.

I have had some hard closes on another custom build 6.5-05 that I make my own brass and it did solve the problem with that gun to trim after every firing.
 

dok7mm

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Fastest way to find where it's binding is to mark up one of your reloads with a magic marker from ogive to base. Let it dry and chamber it, working the bolt handle up and down several times. The marks will show you where it's touching.

This will show if case is too long, neck is too tight, shoulder is not set back enough, or your die is not reducing case diameter enough.
 

RT2506

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If you are not checking the length of your sized case there is where to start. I have been loading for over 40 years and learned to ALWAYS check case length and keep my cases trimmed to the trim to length. If this does not solve the problem then it may be that you need to set your press up for sizing by having it "cam over". By this I mean screw you sizing die down until it touches your shell holder with the ram raised all the way up. Then back the ram away and screw the sizing die down another 1/4 to 1/2 turn and slowly raise the ram up and when the shell holder hits the die apply more presser on your handle and it should go some more with a cam over feel. This will take any slop our of your press and allow a real full length sizing of the case. The above mention coloring of the case with the marker will let you know where the case is binding. Also one other thought just came to me. Check out your extractor on the bolt. There could be a little piece of brass or something stick in there that will cause your problem sometimes.
 

Varmint Hunter

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Just a reminder but always measure your case length AFTER resizing. FL sizing can add measurably to case length.

You may also want to use a headspace gauge to ensure that the shoulders of the sized case are actually being moved back.
 

atl5029

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Thanks guys! I do have my dies set up to cam over, but I admit I've been lax on measuring cases. I might need to get a headspace gauge as well for this round.
 

Dr. Vette

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Thanks guys! I do have my dies set up to cam over, but I admit I've been lax on measuring cases. I might need to get a headspace gauge as well for this round.
I had the same issue with one of Dad's rifles. Even though the brass had always been used in his rifle, all of the batch the same number of times, some of the brass grew (a lot) and some didn't. I ended up pulling apart several loads, trimming, and then putting them back together to use for shooting at targets rather than game.
 

Hotolds442

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Your seating die may also be causing a slight amount of deformation at the case/shoulder junction if it is adjusted down too low, some of the cases are too long, or you are compressing powder. The sharpie trick suggested above will reveal your issue most likely.
 

243winxb

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extracts factory (Hornady Superformance 200 grain soft points) just fine.
Will this fired brass go back into the chamber?

Put an index mark on the case head, to show its position in the chamber. Fire. It should go back in with the index mark at the same location.

Next, rotate the index mark 90 or 180 degrees, will the fired brass still chamber?

If no, the bolt face may not be square to the chamber.
 

243winxb

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Bulged shoulder when the seating die is adjusted to low.

Over crimping may bulge the shoulder. Happens more if brass trim length has a large variation.
 

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