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Thread: Pulling soft lead bullets from .25-20 WCF

  1. #1

    Pulling soft lead bullets from .25-20 WCF

    I have been shooting a Savage 23B in .25-20 and have loaded several with 5.0grains of Unique under an 86 grain bullet. I have at least fifteen where the primer did not detonate even after several tries. I am guessing the CCI small rifle primer might be too hard so I have purchased some Winchester primers to try next.

    My issue is that I do not want to lose the valuable .25-20 cases and I cannot get the bullets pulled for the life of me. They are too small for a kinetic puller and my RCBS collet puller just mangles the relatively soft lead bullet and leaves them intact. If I could find someone with another .25-20 in the area, I would see if the rounds would fire from their weapon and solve my problem but .25-20 shooters are rare in my circle of friends.

    Any ideas?


  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Run the cartridge up through the die opening and grab the bullet with side cutters or pliers. If it's too short, you may be able to reach in with pliers from above, just mind the threads.

  3. #3

    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Land of 10,000 Lakes
    Yep, as Roadie said...A sidecutter (dykes) to grab the boolit as you put the cartridge through the die opening of a reloading press, lower the ram...and done.
    “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.”
    ― The Dalai Lama, Seattle Times, May 2001

  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master

    Wayne Smith's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Hampton Roads, Virginia
    And if the round is too short put a short piece of PVC pipe over the ram and use that.
    Wayne the Shrink

    There is no 'right' that requires me to work for you or you to work for me!

  5. #5
    Boolit Master RU shooter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    SW Pa.
    Quote Originally Posted by roadie View Post
    Run the cartridge up through the die opening and grab the bullet with side cutters or pliers. If it's too short, you may be able to reach in with pliers from above, just mind the threads.
    Cheap set of wire strippers works very well also
    If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck!

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

    frkelly74's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    You will have good luck with the wire strippers and a short piece of 1 1/2 " PVC pipe

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    Pulling a 45 acp boolit with strippers and pipe .
    Quis Quis Quis, Quis Liberat Canes

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  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master

    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    The PVC pipe idea with pliers works great for bullets that a puller can't get a grip on. It does trash the bullet, but those can go back into the next melt.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    OKC , Oklahoma
    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Smith View Post
    And if the round is too short put a short piece of PVC pipe over the ram and use that.
    Great idea ! I do like a simple solution.

  9. #9
    Moderator Emeritus / Trusted loob groove dealer

    waksupi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Somers, Montana, a quaint little drinking village,with a severe hunting and fishing problem.
    CCI primers are hard, with a very sharp mouth. I'd asked the company about it years ago. They said when you get FTF, it usually means you didn't seat the primer deep enough. After I made sure I was fully seating the primers, the problem went away. You might try re-seating the primers.
    The solid soft lead bullet is undoubtably the best and most satisfactory expanding bullet that has ever been designed. It invariably mushrooms perfectly, and never breaks up. With the metal base that is essential for velocities of 2000 f.s. and upwards to protect the naked base, these metal-based soft lead bullets are splendid.
    John Taylor - "African Rifles and Cartridges"

    Forget everything you know about loading jacketed bullets. This is a whole new ball game!

  10. #10
    Thanks to you all for the information. I ran the bullets up and was only able to barely grab the tip with the side cutters which sheared the nose of the bullet off. The PVC pipe idea sounds perfect and I will try it next. I also have the wire stripper ready to go even if it mangles a bullet.

    As an aside, I was told on another forum that the firing pin in the Savage 23B might be gunked up and delivering light strikes. I sprayed it down with carb. cleaner and let it dry before lubing it well. I was able to get about three of the previously unfired rounds to fire so that is three less to try and pull.


  11. #11
    I am done with this experiment as I have had success pulling all but four bullets. I used a 2" tall piece of 1" pvc placed over the loaded round on the shell holder. Then I raised the ram and grabbed it with the teeth on the wire stripper and lowered the ram. I had to re-grip one or two but in the end I got them out. Those 85 grain bullets sure do have a long shank stuffed down in the .25-20 case. I deprimed those cases and they are ready to go again. The bullets are trashed of course but lead is cheap.

    I also worked over the bolt assembly and did some test firing with great success. I have not gotten it totally apart but I will keep working towards that goal.

    I appreciate all the learned advice from the forum members.


  12. #12
    Boolit Master

    Winger Ed.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Just outside Gun Barrel City, Texas
    If you have a kinetic puller, use the shell holder from a single stage press instead of that collet thing that comes with it.

    Be bold when ya bang it on the floor, the last few should come on out.
    It wasn't playing the blame game, finding fault, and complaining about every little thing that made America great.
    It was God, guns, and guts.

    Never pick a fight with old people.
    If they don't think they can win it: They'll just kill you.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Eureka MT
    I have yet to see a bullet that I couldn't pull with a kinetic puller. The hardest are the light 22cals but with a light grip on the handle and a very high speed rap against an anvil they will come out.

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master popper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    You can also run then through a sizing die (pin removed) or taper crimp die to shrink the alloy - case will spring back. Reduces neck tension.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master

    Bent Ramrod's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Southern Arizona
    I got the crimped-in lead bullets out of 50 blackpowder .25-20SS rounds with my Quinetics kinetic bullet puller. Took a certain amount of determination, and a lot of hard smacking, but the cases were more valuable than the bullet puller (which had already amortized its cost over 20 years of service), so I went ahead and used it.

    It did finally break six months later, in the course of another, less vigorous job. The upper end broke off at the handle. I still wonder if it wasn’t due to my using a shell holder rather than the much lighter aluminum chuck to hold the cartridge. There has to be more side momentum with the heavier steel piece when the hammer is swatted through its arc and hits the floor.

    I sent in a picture of the broken puller to Quinetics and got a rate on a new one, with an improved aluminum chuck. As mentioned, the old one didn’t owe me anything. I filled the head of the old one with epoxy and lead shot and use it as a “persuader” to get pieces set down in my milling machine vise.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master WRideout's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Butler, PA
    When I have had boolits that just won't come out, it has always helped to tap lightly around the brass case mouth with a small hammer. It loosens the grip enough to get the tight boolits out.

    What doesn't kill you makes you stronger - or else it gives you a bad rash.
    Venison is free-range, organic, non-GMO and gluten-free

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check