The Universal Decap Die
A universal decapping die is a tool that is used in the process of reloading ammunition. The main function of a decap die is to remove the spent (or fired) primer from a cartridge case. The primer is the small cap at the base of the cartridge that, when struck by the firearm's firing pin, ignites the gunpowder and propels the bullet.
The universal decap/depriming die can be used on all or most caliber shells. It's not, however, the only way to remove primers from shells. Hand operated deprimers are also an option. Many sizing dies come with a decap pin. Some reloaders simply use these to remove the old primer as part of their sizing operation. Others prefer to have more control over each stage and remove primers as a single operation, and perform sizing as a separate operation.
The author prefers to remove primers from our brass in a separate operation. Depending on what kind of brass we're processing, this allow us to move on to primer pocket swaging for brass that requires it, or move straight on to cleaning our brass. In our process, we stock up on cleaned brass, and when ready to reload, work through the rest of our process starting with sizing.
When reloading ammunition, the first step is typically to deprime, or decap, the spent case. This can be done using a decap/depriming die. After decapping, the case can be cleaned, resized, and prepared for a new primer, powder, and bullet.
There are specific decapping dies for different calibers of ammunition. However, a universal decap/depriming die is designed to work with a broad range of cartridge sizes. This makes it a versatile tool for people who reload multiple types of ammunition.
The pin that pushes out the primer is typically replaceable. These can get bent or break, especially if the user tries to work the press too quickly or with too much force. Primers typically do not require a heavy hand to remove. Fortunately, almost all of the manufacturers offer replacement pins at a cost far less than replacing the entire decap/depriming die. The RCBS universal decapping die replacement pin costs about $8.95. The Lee decapping tool replacement is about half that. Replacement pins are usually available for other dies that have decap pins too. Having an extra pin or two on hand can save a reloading or case preparation session. Some manufacturers size their pins and are less universal.
Using a universal decapping die has several benefits:
- Versatility: A universal decapping die can handle a variety of cartridge sizes, eliminating the need to switch between different dies for different calibers.
- Cost-efficiency: Instead of purchasing multiple decap dies for different calibers, a universal decapping die can handle all, thus saving money.
- Time efficiency: It saves time as you do not need to frequently change dies if you're working with various calibers.
- Primer preservation: Since the decap die only removes the spent primer, it can allow for better preservation of the case, extending its longevity for reloads.
Remember, safety is paramount when reloading ammunition. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for all reloading equipment and adhere to safe reloading practices.
If you'd like to discuss reloading, here are several forums:
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