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Reloading Basics: Its stuck!

Reloading Basics: Its stuck!

Fortunately, there are not too many things that can go wrong when you are reloading, provided of course that you follow the proper procedures. However, getting a case stuck in a full-length sizing die is a fairly common issue. Removing the case can be tricky but with care, you can still save your die.

Getting stuck

Cases can become stuck in the sizing die for a number of reasons. The most common cause is the failure to lubricate the brass before resizing. If you have applied too little lubricant, or none at all, you will feel considerably more resistance when you are pushing the case into the die and you should stop immediately. If you ignore the warning signs and continue to force the case into the die, then it is going to get stuck. Getting a feel for how much pressure is normally required to resize cases is therefore really important.

First attempt

If you do manage to get a case stuck, the first thing most reloaders do is attempt to pull it out by trying to lower the ram. This relies on the shell holder gripping the rim of the case adequately and being able to apply sufficient force through the press. If the case has been partially lubricated or the case is not all the way in the die, it might be released using this method. In practice, this is rarely successful and usually results in the rim being torn off the case, leaving it stuck in the die and no longer held by the shell holder.

Round two

Gripping what is left of the case head with pliers and trying to pull it free is unlikely to work because you will not be able to apply enough force. All you will do is damage the case head even more.

Pushing from inside

If you can disconnect the depriming rod from the die body, you can then attempt to drive the case out of the die by hammering the top of the depriming rod. Excessive force will damage the rod but by using a wooden mallet and a reasonable amount of force, you can sometimes free the case. Once the case is freed, the die will need to be reassembled.

Stuck case removers

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If none of the methods described above work, then purpose-made tools that are designed specifically for the task are the next option. There are several different brands of stuck case removers available and they all generally work on the same principle, which is to pull the case out of the die rather than push it.

The Hornady Stuck Case Remover contains almost everything you need to get the job done. The only other tools required are a power drill and an Allen key of the appropriate size.

Before starting the case removal process, you must release the depriming rod and back it out as far as possible or remove it entirely. The next step is to drill out the primer pocket all the way through the web with the supplied drill bit, then tap the hole using the ¼” x 20 tap that is also included in the kit. Finally, you place the case puller body over the head of the case, insert the Allen screw through the hole in the bottom of the case puller body, and then screw it into the thread that you just tapped. As you tighten the screw further into the case puller body, it will apply a pulling force to the case and start to draw it from the die. The amount of force required will vary and it is usually necessary to hold the die in either a vice or an adjustable spanner while turning the screw with an Allen key.

The instructions that come with the Hornady Stuck Case Remover actually describe a different method of removing the case, using the reloading press to apply the pulling force. In practice, however, it actually proved unworkable and less practical than the method described above.

Once the case is freed, now damaged and unusable, it may still have the Expander/Depriming rod inside it (unless you were able to remove it completely before removing the case from the die). The expander ball that resizes the inside of the case neck will make it hard to get out by hand and you need to take great care to avoid damaging it when attempting to free the rod. If the case rim has not been too badly damaged or torn away, you may be able to lubricate the case, raise it into the die, reattach the top of the rod to the die, and then pull it out by lowering the ram of the press. If this is not possible, then you may have to cut through the neck in order to release the rod from the case.


If you reload a lot of rifle ammunition, then chances are you will get a case stuck at some point, and if the case cannot be removed then the die is a write-off and you will need a new one. Overall, a proper stuck case remover is a good investment, as you only need to use it once and it has paid for itself, by saving your full-length resizing die from the bin. Trying to pull a stuck case with the press or with pliers is rarely successful, and only results in a damaged case and a lot of frustration. Drilling and tapping the case obviously renders it useless, but it does save your die. The simplest solution is, of course, to always remember to lubricate your cases.


  • Name: Hornady Stuck Case Remover
  • Contact: Edgar Brothers - www.edgarbrothers.com