How to remove a stuck case from a sizing die

There are two types of reloaders, those who’ve had a case stuck in a die, and those who haven’t yet.  While the pistol reloaders may not experience it as much as the rifle guys, invariably, at the worst possible time (think week before the big hunt..), the rim will rip off a case during the sizing process, and you’ll have to find a way to remove it.

Over the years, I’ve found using a stuck case removal kit is the easiest method to remove a case from a sizing die.  I’ve been using the same RCBS stuck case remover for the past 20 years and it works great.

RCBS case remover file

Unfortunately, the other night I was resizing some 338-06 A-Square brass and ripped the rim right off of it.  The die shown in this post is a Redding full length sizing die, however, the process is very similar for other brands of dies.  This is how I removed it.

Disclaimer: The contents of are produced for informational purposes only and should be performed by competent gunsmiths only. and its authors, do not assume any responsibility, directly or indirectly for the safety of the readers attempting to follow any instructions or perform any of the tasks shown, or the use or misuse of any information contained herein, on this website.

case is held by shell plate

In the photo above, note how the cartridge case is secured in the press with a shell holder.  The shell holder on a reloading press guides and extracts the case from the die.  This press is the excellent Forster Co-Ax, note the universal shell holder jaws.

case stuck in die

If the rim of the cartridge case becomes damaged, like the one shown above, the shell holder can’t extract the case from the die.

rcbs stuck case removal kit

Various die companies sell simple case removal kits, like the one from RCBS shown above.  I bought this kit twenty years ago from Brownells and it has worked every time.  The kit is simple, consisting of a #7 drill, 1/4″-20 tap, 1/4″-20 screw and a spacer block.  It can be purchased for less than twenty bucks.

remove stem from die

First step is to remove the die from the press.  I’ve seen a couple of posts on the internet where the guys leave the die attached to the press, or part of the press.  I am unsure why they do this.  Removing the die makes the process easier. Once the die is out, unscrew the top (above) of the decapping assembly (the expander die should unscrew when this is removed).

drilling caseSecure the die in a padded vise, like the Multi-Vise shown above.  Use the #7 drill to make a hole in the bottom of the case through the primer pocket.  Be careful , brass is sharp and will cut you if you aren’t careful.  Take appropriate safety precautions and wear safety glasses.

tapping case

The tap provided in the kit is used to thread the hole.  Brass is a soft metal and easy to tap.

spacing block and screw

Place the spacer block included in the kit over the back of the die.  Thread the screw through the top of the block into the hole tapped into the back of the case and tighten it.

case is out

The screw, pressing against the spacer block, extracts the case.  When the case pops out it is always a satisfying feeling.

recover expanding die

The expander still needs to be recovered.  Easiest way I’ve found to do this is to cut the case in half with a hacksaw.  Look inside the case to determine where the expander is, and try to make your cut in a place you won’t hit it.

die is recovered

The recovered expander is shown above, on the right.  This is a tapered expander for a 338-06 A-Square, it is used to neck a standard 30-06 cartridge up from .308″ to .338″.

Now, I just have to reassemble my die and I am back in business.  If you reload, or are new to reloading, you might want to pick up a stuck case removal kit just to be safe.