Do you size your case or use fire formed?

  • Last Post 18 April 2016
2frogs posted this 15 February 2012

:dude: I am trying to get into this BP Cartridge game and there are so many questions..I have no idea how many books I have read todate... Are you guys sizing your cases or using them fireformed..I know there are a lot of secrets no one will tell....My thought is if not sizing how do you keep the bullets from falling out of the cases....Set them bullet up in the box's.... Can I get some information on this please....John

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R. Dupraz posted this 15 February 2012

I have been competing with the BPC rifle for some time now, a  45 x 2.4 (AKA) 45-90 Shiloh Sharps. Mostly in long range matches. And am of the opinion that there are no secrets, There are some who like to keep this idea alive but it's only because they have found what works in their rifle for them.

So, to your question. I can only tell you what I have found that works for me over the long haul using black powder and soft cast bullets. First I load for 100% reliability. Not knowing what you have and what components you are using, this is what I do.

  1. Full length size the first time and mark the case so it can be chambered the same each time.

 2. Neck size only each time following,untill I feel a slight resistance when chambering the round. This tells me that the base is begining to expand. So full length size again. It will take many reloadings before this occures with black powder. I have turned an oversize expander plug so that the case will allow me to just seat the bullet in the mouth with slight thumb pressure but will not fall out when handled or extacted.The wad column length and neck pressure is such that the bullet just touches the lead of the rifling and no more. This helps to make the neck tension and bullet release more consistant. I think one could do the same thing without a special expander plug buy just using a neck sizing die and backing it out so that it will size with just enough pressure to make this work.

You will just have to spend some time trying different things to find what works in your rifle. Each has it's own personality. And only change one thing at a time. 


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Tom Acheson posted this 15 February 2012


If you go to a couple of BPCR dedicated forums, you'll find that there are quite a few different ways people do it. Some folks like some degree of neck tension, usually 0.001” to 0.002", while others do not.

There are probably too many books on my shelf also on the subject.

I have only one BPC rifle. Its a C. Sharps Model 74 chambered in .40-70 SS. When new it was in .40-65 but I sent it back to the factory last year to be re-barreled. In both loadings using Swiss 1 1/2 powder, after experimenting (I even turned a few necks just to see what happened), I've had the best accuracy with no case treatment after firing. Clean the case, prime the case, drop the powder, add the wad, compress it a bit and then set the bullet on the wad. The bullet slides right in. If it resists, just use a case mouth inside de-burring tool and just lightly remove the inside “ridge” a tad. The longer 22 degree tool probably works best, as it it leaves a more gradual edge. The M-die makes too much of a flare requiring a heavier crimp, even to just chamber the loaded round. So that I don't have a bullet fall out I apply a very slight crimp to the case mouth. The bullet can be rotated while in the case but I can't pull it out. And my ammo box lets me insert the rounds bullet up.

That's one way FWIW.


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2frogs posted this 15 February 2012

I really appreciate your informative replies.. I know there is a lot to learn about it and when I can get more range time I will be able to try some of your methods..Thanks so much for the advice...John:dude:

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JeffinNZ posted this 15 February 2012

I have a .38-303 and no dies at all for it. I shoot with zero neck tension and the bullet engaging the rifling. The powder column dictates the OAL of the round. Shoots like a house on fire. Zero neck tension success will depend to a large extent on how tight your chamber is IMHO.

Cheers from New Zealand

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Black and Blue posted this 07 March 2012

When I first started in BPCR I first FL resized everything then life changed and I found myself back in school training for a 2nd career. That equated to when not in class I had my head in a book. Shooting meant carving time out of studying. Reloading and casting took an even bigger slice. Reducing loading/casting time became necessary.

My main BPCR is a Shiloh 45-70 that I now load using unsized WW cases, 72gr of 2f Goex, Fed 215, a 30:1 Saeco 745 lubed with DGL on top of .025 paper milk carton wad. I compress the powder enough to allow the bullet to just contact the lands when chambered and when the block is raised the bullet is pushed slightly pushed into the lands and snugs it up against the powder column. After seating the bullet I add a enough taper crimp so that the slug requires a firm grip with thumb and finger to turn in the case. I also orient the case and bullet to the same location in the chameber. Over the last couple of years my BCPR silhouette scores have be consistantly higher than any time previously. 5 shots groups are running approx 2 to 2.5 MOA at 200yds with an average MV of 1180.

As Mr. Dupraz mentioned earlier, each rifle is unique unto itself, just like women and cats. Find a load in sized cases, then try it again in unsized cases or vv. My unsized loads shoot just as well as sized, plus I have reduced the number of times each case is handled. If you have progressive press, you can really reduce the number of steps. I do not despense BP with my Dillon, this is done as a completely seperate step. The plastic hopper does create static electricity and using it to drop black powder is a huge NO.

Hope this helps. Michael.

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2frogs posted this 07 March 2012

Mike-----I guess I was not clear on my question..I am refering to using paper patch bullets...John

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runfiverun posted this 07 March 2012

most try to just slide them in the case neck. neck sizing or partial neck sizing then opening the neck for minimum tension on the paper works for most.

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Black and Blue posted this 08 March 2012

Hi John, Not a problem. I have dabbled a little bit with PP bullets in a different rifle. It is pretty much the same process with unsized cases. As Tom mentioned above, just use only a slight taper crimp. When the slugs won't fall out under their own weight when loaded ctg is held nose down, I call it good. Michael.

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Dirtybore posted this 01 November 2014

I may be late getting in on this discussion but I do not resize my BPCartridges.  This includes both 45-70 and 45 2 7/8” sharps.   I predominately use grease groove bullets in my Pedersoli rolling block and the NEI 500 gr paper patch bullet in the Pedersoli Sharps 45-70 and the C Sharps 45 2 7/8” Sharps. Years back I was resizing the cases for the rolling block but that stopped afte one day chambering a 45-70 and after the shot, extracting a 45 colt.  Well really, the case broke in the chamber so I havent resized or crimped one since. JR

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Smedley Up Over posted this 03 November 2014

For black powder I full size, for modern, I neck size. I have to bell the case for case any how, and me BC is really tight.

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Dirtybore posted this 29 January 2015

2Frogs; there were 3 good articles in The Fouling Shot that mentioned this. Look at Journals:

215, page 7, Loading Black Powder Cartridges, For Beginners

216, Page 21, Paper Patch Bullets in Black Powder Cartridges, For Beginners.

225, page 16, Black Powder Cartridge Reloading-Additional Information.

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Bud Hyett posted this 29 January 2015

There are no secrets, at least on this forum. I tried paper-patching many years ago with both .45-70 and .38-55. The paper-patch bullet shot well with no accuracy advantage that I could see. I quit the paper-patch quest due to the time demands; now that I've retired, you have rekindled an interest. Paper-patch in single shots did not require sizing, but I taper-crimped slightly to hold the bullet once loaded. These were soft alloy bullets, 30/1 Pb/SN, and sizing too much on the case pressured and sized the base of the bullet. Paper-patch in lever actions took more taper crimp to hold the bullet while working the action. There were wheelweight bullets, 94/6/2 Pb/Sb/Sn alloy, and resisted case pressure better. In both cases of lever and singe shot, I turned the full-length sizing die out a little to size the case body enough that would assure feeding between several rifles.

Farm boy from Western Illinois, living in the Magical Pacific Northwest

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Dirtybore posted this 23 March 2015

I've fired black powder cartridges in my lever actions but don't do it as a regular diet. Cleaning single shots is a snap but keeping black powder fouling out af a lever actions action while cleaning it can be a real challenge so why bother.

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Dirtybore posted this 18 April 2016

BHyett; have you been shooting any BPCR lately? Your post is dated Jan 29th of this year. I've gotten out to the range for the second time today all due to weather. I don't shoot in the rain and the non-rain and non windy days are rare out hear on the coast, especially during October through April. We call it the “long wet.” Alaska has their “long dark” and we have our “long wet.”

I'm hoping that paper patched bullet interest got kindled and took fire. :) :) :)

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