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Do Colt revolvers typically have tight chambers compared to other brands? I only have two Colt revolvers, a '64 Python and a '80 Detective Special. I reloaded about 800 rounds of .38 Special, and noticed that about 200 of them wouldn't chamber well in either of these guns. I chamber checked all of the rounds I reloaded in these guns and roughly 600 of the rounds dropped in easily. So I initially thought I was a little sloppy with my reloading.

I then tried the same offending rounds in my Ruger Blackhawk and they all dropped in no problem. I also tried them in a Winchester 94 lever action chambered in .357 and they dropped right in also. Not a hint of hesitation. But in the Colts, you can only seat them if you push real hard, but I am not comfortable with this.

I cleaned both the Colts real well and tried again -- same thing. I don't have a .38 cartridge gauge, but my guess is my rounds would drop in it no problem. Factory rounds drop in the Colts no problem. So I know it is something with my reload tolerances, but man I can't find enough variation with my dial calipers to point out any serious problems.

Any thoughts?

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Byron Simpson
 

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To answer your query directly, yes, Colt revolvers generally do have chambers near minimum size, but only very, very rarely are they below SAAMI specification.

I'd not be surprised if your handloads did not pass inspection in a good case gauge (L. E. Wilson makes some of the best on the market).

Standard full length sizing dies sizing dies simply can't restore the size of the cartridge case near the head of the case to factory original dimensions (a roll type resizer will, but these are quite costly). The shellholder generally covers about the first 1/8" of the case, most sizing dies have a generous lead in radius, this can range from 1/16 to 1/4" depending on the design of the die.

Since the die can't resize this portion of the cartridge case it's not an uncommon situation to find that brass that has been fired in a generous chamber won't fit into a tightly chambered arm.

One solution is to keep the brass that you use for your Colt seperate from that used in your Ruger and your Winchester.

Bob
 

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You should measure as close to the rim as possible. Also a micrometer will give you a more accurate reading than the dial caliber. Depending on the quality of the dial caliber and how you handle it the frame can flex giving erroneous readings.
 

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I had the same problem with a Army Special. Two boxes of my .38 special reloads did not chamber in it and I thought I had a problem with the gun because these same rounds chambered in my King Cobra. I reloaded again and there was no problem. In my case it was sloppy reloading! When I made sure to resize all the way, there was no problem chambering them in my Army Special.

[This message has been edited by McClure (edited 05-28-2004).]
 

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I have experienced the same problem when reloading for my 2nd issue Officer's Model. The problem was caused by exactly what bfoster said. It was sloppy reloading on my part, because I wasn't careful to run the sizing die all the way down efter the primer popped out.
 

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"Just in case" here's how to adjust the sizing die:

First find "top-dead-center" of the loading press ram.
Some presses have a ram that actually "over centers" when the handle is operated. In other words, when the handle is lowered, the shell head raises, then actually "over centers" and DROPS slightly.

Most newer designs don't do this, and when the handle is operated the ram continues upward until the handle stops moving.

In any event, check to insure the ram is at the top of it's movement, and hold it there.
Screw the sizing die in until it actually touches the shell head.

Then back it off 1/3 to 1/2 turn. This slight clearance prevents over stressing the loader linkage AND prevents chipping or breaking carbide die inserts.
DO NOT TIGHTEN THE DIE LOCK RING.

Next, put a fired case in the shell holder and raise the ram all the way up.
THEN tighten the die's locking ring, while the case is still in the die, and the ram is all the way up.

This not only insures the die is full length resizing the case, it also centers the die to the shell holder.

This prevents cases from being sized with an off set, which is why you sometimes see cases with a "lump" on one side.

When adjusting ALL the dies in the press, always keep the locking rings loose so the die will self-center to the shell head, and only tighten with a case in the die.
 
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