The Los Angeles Handgun, Rifle, Air Pistol, Hunter/Field Pistol Silhouette Club
Return to the index to LASC

A wide range of bullet casting information


The Experiment Every Contender (and Encore) Shooter Should Perform

By: Mike Bellm
     When the Contender (or Encore) is fired, the frame stretches within its limits of elasticity, then relaxes when the pressure drops. This leaves the fired case longer from shoulder to head than it was before it was fired. You will never see this with the extractor installed, but shooting the barrel without the extractor will show you clearly what happens when a round is fired.

     This additional length must be removed when the case is resized, or it will interfere with lockup and cause misfires and accuracy problems.

     DO THIS:

     Take the barrel off the frame.

     Remove the extractor by tapping out the 1/16th roll pin that holds it in.

     Drop one of your sized bottleneck cases into the chamber.

     The case head should be flush with the end of the barrel. If it isn't, you need to adjust your size die down in small increments until the case head is flush with the end of the barrel or protrudes no more than about .002." If the case head falls below the end of the barrel, you have pushed the shoulder back too far and created headspace. You can rely on "feel" as you run your finger across the end of the barrel and case head, or hold the end of the barrel up to eye level and sight across the end of the barrel to determine that the case head is not sticking out of the end of the barrel. .002" is difficult to see... it is not much.

     Now load this case with a full normal load, and shoot it.

     When you open the barrel without the extractor installed, the case head will be in the position it was when fired.

     Take the barrel off the frame and look at the case head again. It will usually be sticking out of the end of the barrel about .010" or more.

     This excess length must be removed. Ie., you have to bump the shoulder back in a full length size die. Neck sizing is out. If you insist on neck sizing or just partially full length sizing and have misfire problems, this is the reason.

     Typical barrel to frame gap is normally from 0 to about .004." Some will be up to about .006" or so. To be more precise, close the barrel on feeler gauges to determine exactly what the gap is.

     Your sized cases should not protrude from the end of the barrel more than the amount of the barrel-to-frame gap.

     Failure to understand the above is one of the two main causes for misfires and accounts for a big percentage of the questions I get.

     So at the first hint of misfires, CHECK YOUR SIZE DIE ADJUSTMENT.

     Cases grow in length when fired in these break open guns. DO NOT TRY TO CRAM THEM BACK IN BY SLAMMING THE BARREL SHUT. It is like trying to drive a square peg into a round hole. Just don't work.

- Mike Bellm

Top of Page

This article reprinted with permission of Mike Bellm and
Warning: All technical data mentioned, especially handloading and bullet casting, reflect the limited experience of individuals using specific tools, products, equipment and components under specific conditions and circumstances not necessarily reported in the article or on this web site and over which The Los Angeles Silhouette Club (LASC), this web site or the author has no control. The above has no control over the condition of your firearms or your methods, components, tools, techniques or circumstances and disclaims all and any responsibility for any person using any data mentioned. Always consult recognized reloading manuals.