220 Swift Issue/ Question

elkchaserreturns

Active Member
Messages
310
I recently picked up a left hand Sako M591 barreled action chambered in 220 Swift. It is not an original SAKO Barrel. It was from an estate sale and had not been fired. I had a custom stock from a previous project, and it seemed like a match made in heaven!
Long story short, I finally got it all fitted together, loaded up some test loads, and took her out for a test run.
My normal routine on a "new" gun is to sight it in with factory loads, clean it, and then start in with the test loads to really see what it can do.
I never made it past the factory loads!
Upon firing, the factory loads were visibly swelled just forward of the web area. .010 larger than an unfired case! Some of them were so bad that they were difficult to re-chamber. This is usually a sign of extremely high pressure.
The factory loads were Hornady Varmint Express with a 55 gr. V-Max Bullet.
My assumption is/was that factory loads are usually safe!
At first, I thought the chamber was cut oversize. Now, I'm wondering if the factories were just far too hot for this gun. I hate to ruin a bunch of cases firing test loads if the chamber is oversize.
I have been handloading since 1972 and I have never had anything like this happen.
Any thoughts, suggestions, similar experiences out there?
Thank you in advance for any feedback.

Elkchaser
 
Messages
66
Take it to a gunsmith and have the chamber measured. If you haven't/can't do it yourself.
Check for other signs of pressure. Were the primers bulged?
Did you use a chronograph? Did the velocities seem within reason?
 

Zeke

Long Time Member
Messages
9,506
You can buy a chamber casting kit (I forget the name) and you can cast your chamber and measure it yourself.
Sounds like a generous chamber and a warm load.
Resize some brass that you've shot and see how snug the primer pockets still are. That seems to be the first to go south with a hot load.

Zeke
 

Captain_coues

Active Member
Messages
993
It could be the reason it never made it to a complete rifle and instead remained as a barreled action once the chamber problem was identified with the non Sako barrel. Maybe it was drilled off center or wobbly and the owner gave up. I don’t have the capability to check to see if that’s right, so I would recommend going to a good gunsmith and have him check it and replace it if it’s junk. I would keep the action for sure. That chamber casting sounds like it would work too.
 

elkchaserreturns

Active Member
Messages
310
Thanks for the responses.
1) Primers:
The primers were "flattened" as bad as I have ever seen. I did partial resize the fired cases but have not seated new primers to verify primer pocket expansion. Note, the "bulge" in front of the web was even more pronounced after sizing. You can actually feel a step, or ridge. It is so bad that I would NOT reload these cases with even a mild load for fear of complete case separation.
2) Chronograph:
No, I didn't shoot over my chronograph. I usually don't when just sighting in.
3) Chamber Cast:
Before I retired, I would have just brought the stuff home from work to cast the chamber and then brought the cast into work to our inspection dept. & verify all of the chamber dimensions on an optical comparator. But now I am retired so that option is out.

To be honest, I have never been a big fan of the 220 Swift. But that was what it was chambered for so I figured "why not"? I was far more interested in the short, left hand, SAKO Action. Turns out, the 220 Swift is known for short case life when loaded to maximum potential velocities. Most of the loading manuals recommend loading on the mild side to extend case life and improve accuracy.
My logic has always been that, why buy a 300 Win Mag and load mild? If I want to shoot 30-06 velocities, I will buy a 30-06! I now understand why this caliber has never really been very popular.

I think I will load some "mild" loads and see what she does. If there are any case problems, or mediocre accuracy, she is going to re-chambered into a 22-250 or a 22-250 AI, , , , or completely re-barreled!

Thanks again for the responses. I do appreciate it.

Elkchaser
 

Bluehair

Long Time Member
Messages
3,828
A mild swift is pretty fast. I have brass that’s been shot several times and haven’t noticed anything unusual in terms of wear.

What did it look like on paper? Sure sounds like a headspace issue.
 

RookieWYhntr

Active Member
Messages
338
Put a piece of scotch tape on the base of a round and see if you can chamber it. If you can then it's a headspace issue. If you can't then it's fine. Not the best method unless you have go/no go gauges.
 

Cahunter805

Long Time Member
Messages
3,165
Definitely sounds like a headspace issue. Could even be it’s a very short throat also. How did the factory ammo chamber?
I would have a gunsmith look at it and possibly just set the barrel back a turn and rechamber it.
 

elkchaserreturns

Active Member
Messages
310
Many thanks to all responders! I agree, it is starting to sound more like a headspace issue than anything else. I hadn't thought of wrapping a piece of scotch tape around the base of an unfired round to check headspace. Not the preferred method but, as you suggested RookieWYhntr, this would tell you if it is chambered too deep, or oversize. If it chambers an unfired virgin case, with tape on the base, it is:
1. chambered too deep and/or
2. chambered oversize.
The unfired factory loads chambered with no issues.

The groups were not good! 1.0-1.25 at best. The wind was gusting bad that day & I hoped that was the reason for the mediocre grouping. Of course, it couldn't have been me :unsure: !
Looks like I need to take it to a competent gunsmith for a checkup before I do anything else. I've heard Magnum Mike is good, and local. Any other recommendations for a good gunsmith in the Phoenix area?
Again, thanks for the thoughts & suggestions. It never hurts to get another opinion.

Elkchaser
 

Zeke

Long Time Member
Messages
9,506
now that they fit the chamber....neck size and try again.....
That would work!
Basically he'd be treating it like a wildcat round and he'd be okay IF he didn't keep pushing the shoulder back when subsequently resizing.
Zeke

PS: one of the issues is that the original 'smith might not have centered off the bore but rather the barrel OD. That can mess up an otherwise good chamber.... but it sounds like the consensus is headspace but that doesn't account for the swelling in front of the web.
 

Cahunter805

Long Time Member
Messages
3,165
Just reread the OP post. Could be whoever cut the chamber cut the counterbore incorrectly or way to big due to the SAKO extractor and that’s what’s causing the swelling at the web.
Take it to Todd and I’m sure he will get you fixed up.
 

elkchaserreturns

Active Member
Messages
310
A mild swift is pretty fast. I have brass that’s been shot several times and haven’t noticed anything unusual in terms of wear.

What did it look like on paper? Sure sounds like a headspace issue.
Hello Bluehair,
I have been wondering what brand rifle your 220 Swift is? I know two people that have the early Ruger Model 77 Varmint in this caliber and they have never experienced any problems like this. They both stated that, when they loaded near max book, their cases suffered but , as long as they stayed on the mild side, the cases were fine, and accuracy was very good. They both claim .500 groups were not uncommon and would never part with their Swifts.
That is what I am trying to achieve with this project.

I pulled the SAAMI specs on this caliber and did some more measuring.
The area that has swelled so noticeably on my cases, checks .4502-.4504 dia.
The SAAMI spec for chamber dimensions in this area should be .4458 +/-.0020. After firing, my cases are .0024-.0066 over SAAMI high limit! Clearly, the chamber is oversize!
I measured the overall length of the fired cases.
They averaged 2.198-2.200. Max is 2.205. They are near, but do not exceed, max case length.
I tried the "scotch tape test" by wrapping 2 layers of scotch tape around an unfired virgin case. It measured .440 dia. before tape, and dia. .448 after tape. It chambered with no resistance at all.

I think Zeke nailed it!
It appears to me that (assuming the chamber reamer was within spec) the bore was not "running true" when the chamber was cut. This caused the chamber to be cut oversize. It does appear to be too deep, just oversize.
I will be taking it to a local gunsmith to figure out my next move.

I really appreciate all the ideas and feedback from all you guys.
Thank you all.

Elkchaser
 

Bluehair

Long Time Member
Messages
3,828
Hello Bluehair,
I have been wondering what brand rifle your 220 Swift is? I know two people that have the early Ruger Model 77 Varmint in this caliber and they have never experienced any problems like this. They both stated that, when they loaded near max book, their cases suffered but , as long as they stayed on the mild side, the cases were fine, and accuracy was very good. They both claim .500 groups were not uncommon and would never part with their Swifts.
That is what I am trying to achieve with this project.

I pulled the SAAMI specs on this caliber and did some more measuring.
The area that has swelled so noticeably on my cases, checks .4502-.4504 dia.
The SAAMI spec for chamber dimensions in this area should be .4458 +/-.0020. After firing, my cases are .0024-.0066 over SAAMI high limit! Clearly, the chamber is oversize!
I measured the overall length of the fired cases.
They averaged 2.198-2.200. Max is 2.205. They are near, but do not exceed, max case length.
I tried the "scotch tape test" by wrapping 2 layers of scotch tape around an unfired virgin case. It measured .440 dia. before tape, and dia. .448 after tape. It chambered with no resistance at all.

I think Zeke nailed it!
It appears to me that (assuming the chamber reamer was within spec) the bore was not "running true" when the chamber was cut. This caused the chamber to be cut oversize. It does appear to be too deep, just oversize.
I will be taking it to a local gunsmith to figure out my next move.

I really appreciate all the ideas and feedback from all you guys.
Thank you all.

Elkchaser
It sounds like I’m one of the guys you know. :) It’s a Ruger 77v that I’ve owned for 35 years. I rarely shoot it anymore, but it’s vaporized a lot of prarie dogs over the years.

Mine shoots pretty good. I remember it was easy to get satisfactory loads with. I can’t remember what I finally settled on. I’ll check later.

94C5F031-FDE7-4E3C-838E-6992B71B418C.jpeg
Good luck getting yours to shoot.
 

elkchaserreturns

Active Member
Messages
310
Thanks Bluehair! Your rifle is the perfect example of how they are supposed to perform. Has it ever had any feeding problems? The other two Rugers I referred to earlier do not.
It was not until I bought this rifle that I started to really do some research into the caliber. Turns out, it has a reputation for being hard on cases, as well as barrels, when loaded hot. That is not uncommon with many calibers!
Reliable feeding is also a little known, but not uncommon, problem with the 220 Swift. The rimmed case can catch the round below it and tries to drag it along during chambering. Some brands (like Ruger) have overcome this. Others (like Remington and Sako) have not! I do not intend to hunt with mine so I was willing to accept the feeding issue.
What I did not expect was for a factory load to render the case unreloadable. With cases being virtually impossible to come by, that is unacceptable.
That was the reason for my original question.
Do any of the other 220 Swift owners out there have a problem with abnormal case wear?
You have answered that question. Thank you.
A factory load fired in my gun swells the case to .0024-.0066 over maximum chamber diameter, but does not stretch the case to exceed maximum case length. I would assume that excess headspace would do both!
I now believe that my chamber was cut oversize. I.E. the chamber reamer was either off center to the bore, or not in line with the bore, or both!
If I can have the barrel set back, and the chamber correctly re-cut, I will give the Swift another chance. If not, she is going to become a 22-250.
As you said earlier, a mild load (3800 fps) out of the 220 Swift is still pretty fast!

Elkchaser
 

elkchaserreturns

Active Member
Messages
310
Sounds like a candidate for a new barrel.
I hope it was gotten at a good deal.
Hello Millsworks,
When you consider what quality firearms are going for these days, it was a smokin deal!
$600 for the barreled action.
Then the fun starts!
$ 40 to ship here
$ 40 for FFL transfer fees
$320 for complete bluing (action & barrel were in the white)
$1000 so far!
Add another $1000 for a new barrel with threading & chambering!

There is a lesson in here somewhere about "going custom"!
 

Millsworks

Active Member
Messages
482
A new barrel should run around 4-600 bucks installed and in either stainless or blued. That is the lower end of the scale, but shop around.
Call the guys in West Virginia for the best price possible and quality work in my opinion.
 

Millsworks

Active Member
Messages
482
Douglass barrels aren't as talked about, but they do make and have installed barrels for some of the best shooters in the country for years.
I believe their prices cannot be beaten.
Maybe ask a local Smith about a cut and rechamber job to compare prices.
 

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