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Thread: Making 42 Russian Berdan Brass?

  1. #1
    Boolit Bub
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    Making 42 Russian Berdan Brass?

    Howdy folks, my Russian Berdan in the 4.2 Line cartridge has been give me some trouble.

    Iíve been told to fire form with .348 Winchester brass, however it wonít chamber, at all, the base of the cartridge and part of the body is to big. Does anyone have any other suggestions? I donít have a set of dies currently so fire forming is my best bet.

    Iíve ordered some 43 Spanish to see if that will work, Iíll give an update when they arrive.

    Iíll also post some pictures of the rifle when I get home in the Military Rifles section.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    I'm looking forward to hearing your results. I believe that the first step of using 348 brass is full length sizing down.

    Sent from my Pixel 5 using Tapatalk

  3. #3
    Boolit Bub
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    Quote Originally Posted by cwtebay View Post
    I'm looking forward to hearing your results. I believe that the first step of using 348 brass is full length sizing down.

    Sent from my Pixel 5 using Tapatalk
    I’d think so as well, with the expander ball removed. However I want to try this project with out spending the $150 on CH4D dies. A whole set is almost $300! I’ll get them only if I have to.

  4. #4
    Boolit Bub
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    My 43 Spanish brass came in, I sized the neck down in my 41 Swiss dies and they fit in the chamber!!! time to get them loaded up with Black powder. Me thinks i should start with 70gr (VOL) of goex 2F, 315gr cast bullet and a 0.040 waxed wax. Not going to mess with a grease cookie yet.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    I suggest you wrap the base with a bit of tape to get the firing pin centered up. I think you have a diff in base dia of about 0.050". They will look very lopsided if formed that way.

  6. #6
    Boolit Bub
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    Quote Originally Posted by ascast View Post
    I suggest you wrap the base with a bit of tape to get the firing pin centered up. I think you have a diff in base dia of about 0.050". They will look very lopsided if formed that way.
    They didn’t look like they had that much play, it was a very nice fit. I’ll double check in a bit.

  7. #7
    Boolit Bub
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    Alright so on examining the base of the round in the chamber I had plenty of room. Definitely not 50 thou, I’m fairly confident I can eyeball that (with clean glasses). I may note that the chamber is oddly tight on this piece, most use 348 brass and the base of it was way too fat to fit my chamber.

  8. #8
    Boolit Bub
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    Not sure why everyone is saying to use .348 Winchester brass when that has a base diameter of .553" and .42 Berdan has a base diameter of .518". It's not going to work without a lathe or a set of purpose built dies to swage the base down. And swaging the base down will then tighten the primer pocket requiring that to be recut. The .43 Spanish brass should work just fine.
    Last edited by wyowillys46; 04-30-2022 at 12:00 PM.

  9. #9
    Boolit Bub
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    Yep, I got some rounds made up now, they required a crimp to chamber which was kind of neat. I reckon the chamber on these is really tight. Also original cases had really thin necks.

  10. #10
    Boolit Bub
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    Alright folks, first 3 rounds were fired at 25 yards off hand, they all hit the target so that’s a plus. I resized those cases and am having a little bit of trouble, the last 3/8” of the case doesn’t want to chamber very easily. Only thing I did different was seat the bullets a touch longer, they don’t show any rifling marks so they’re not too long.

    I think the base of the case has expanded and is causing the tight fit, luckily I scored a set of 43 Spanish Dies for less than $30 I think I can full length size with it W/O the expander mandrill, to see if I can squeeze the body down a tad.

  11. #11
    Boolit Bub
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    You need to buy a set of calipers.

  12. #12
    Boolit Bub
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    I’ve been machining for 4 years, I have some calipers.
    Last edited by Dhall_37; 05-06-2022 at 04:10 PM.

  13. #13
    Boolit Bub
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    Alright fellas I had a case head separate at the range yesterday, had to use a mallet on the bolt handle and it ripped it right off, me thinks I need to FL size the brass. Too bad there isn’t much info on what I’m doing so everything is a shot in the dark, I hope some of y’all are getting some entertainment out of this Back to the drawing board!

  14. #14
    Boolit Bub
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    Who made the brass you are using? A case head separation with new brass and black powder suggests a significant issue with either brass or chamber/headspace.

    And have you pulled it from the stock and looked it over carefully, inside and out? I've seen postings that the chambers on some of these Berdans that went through Canada were demilled in various ways.

  15. #15
    Boolit Bub
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dhall_37 View Post
    I’ve been machining for 4 years, I have some calipers.
    That's good. Have you made a chamber casting?

  16. #16
    Boolit Bub
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    Quote Originally Posted by BP Dave View Post
    Who made the brass you are using? A case head separation with new brass and black powder suggests a significant issue with either brass or chamber/headspace.

    And have you pulled it from the stock and looked it over carefully, inside and out? I've seen postings that the chambers on some of these Berdans that went through Canada were demilled in various ways.
    The case didn’t split upon firing, it actually split when I had to whack the bolt back. The brass is made By track of the wolf and I believe it’s lathe turned, the case walls are super thin. This Berdan never made it to Canada, it was straight from Ethiopia. I looked at the chamber in a bore scope and it’s pretty rusty, maybe my smith can polish it a tad.

  17. #17
    Boolit Bub
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    Quote Originally Posted by wyowillys46 View Post
    That's good. Have you made a chamber casting?
    Not yet, I will soon though.

  18. #18
    Boolit Bub
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    Ok guys, I fired 2 more shots and got no stuck cases. Also my 43 Spanish dies came in. After some shimming of the shell holder I sized the shoulder a tad. The shoulder on the 43 Spanish has more of a taper while the 42 Russian is more rounded, the round did slip in the chamber very easily while a neck sized case required more force. Also the body on the 43 Spanish is skinnier than the 42 Russian so it was sized down as well.

    I’m thinking that the shoulder needs to be sized for the brass to fit with out any issues.

  19. #19
    Boolit Bub
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    2 most recent shots went off well and came out just fine. I’m going to keep trying to neck size, the 43 Spanish is significantly skinnier than the 42 Russian and I can feel where it’s sized down, on the portion that doesn’t get sized there at the case head is a slight bump and can feel it with my finger nail. It fire forms out upon firing.

  20. #20
    Boolit Buddy
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    I've fired thousands of rounds thru Russian Berdans in the last 25 years. When I first started, I fire formed 43 Spanish brass without any further steps, and reloaded those cases with 44 cal pistol dies, for neck sizing and seating. I would suggest that you anneal the necks of your 43 Spanish after fireforming to help prevent neck splits...Although I do have a NDFS .42 Russian Berdan die set, I rarely use it unless cases are really tight in the chamber.
    Nowadays I reload brass that I buy already formed from Buffalo Arms; those cases used to be swaged from .348 Win brass, but lately they are made from Starline 50-110 brass. Quality is excellent, too.

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