Case lubrication
Lubricating necks in straight-line dies assists

Case lubrication: avoiding stuck cases (and other tips)

There seems to be a continual thread on the internet about stuck cases in reloading dies. The main problem appears to be spray-on lubricants. 

In the normal course of events, lubrication is required every time we insert a case into a de-capping die. If the lubrication is of insufficient viscosity the case will jam in the die.

Case lubrication
You will eventually need a stuck case removal kit!

It is removed with a stuck-case removal kit, which every reloader should own; you will eventually need it!

Because of the high forces involved, a high-viscosity lubricant is required; not any old oil will do! 

As one who has had his fair share of stuck cases over many years, I’ve experimented with other lubricants. Some have worked and some have not. 

It has been suggested that when using spray lubricants, the cases should be placed in a sealable plastic bag, sprayed adequately, sealed, and the cases rolled around in the lubricant. 

I have used this method plus simply using the old pad, and both seem to work. It appears that you just have to be thorough with the lubrication distribution.

I still use the old pad method, which is yet to fail me despite using different lubricants. 

Around 1990, a correspondent in Precision Shooting Magazine suggested that STP oil treatment was a good lubricant for anything to do with reloading and cases, and I agree. It’s about as thin as glue but it works every time. I have never had a stuck case while using it. 

Case lubrication
STP oil treatment and Imperial sizing wax are both suitable lubricants

It’s available at discount automotive stores. If you are processing a large number of cases you will have to reapply more lubricant to the pad at some stage and be guided by what is on the case. 

I have also used Imperial Sizing Wax for both normal cases sizing and when forming cases, and again have never had a stuck case using it. 

A little wax goes a long way. The easiest way to apply is with the fingers. 

Another I was forced to try out after running out of lubricant one weekend was common medicinal-grade lanolin. The recommended ratio is 90% pure isopropyl alcohol and 10% lanolin, shake well, and disperse via spray bottle. 

Case lubrication
Alcohol and lanolin should be mixed in a spray bottle

So far, I have used it for over a year without any problems. It appears that the main issue is to shake the spray bottle with some vigour before attempting to spray the cases. If the lanolin is not dispersed evenly over the case, it will stick.  

Other than using an inadequate lubricant, the next problem seems to be not using enough.  

Do not neglect the case necks, particularly when forming cases. During this process, it is also helpful to re-lubricate the case about halfway through the process. 

Although rarely recommended it helps if you rub the case necks with a trace of lubricant before inserting the case into a bushing die as used in a straight-line sizing die — it makes things much easier.

With the cases finally formed it is probably a good idea to anneal them, let them dry and then tumble them with some automotive polish to get them nice and clean again. 

I admit to being anal about clean brass. It allows me to see defects and does not wear out other components such as rifle chambers.




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Ron James