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Old September 22, 2009, 01:00 AM   #1
Tuzo
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RCBS and Lee neck sizing for .223

Until my last reloading batch I have used an RCBS neck sizing die for .223. With this last batch of 100 reloads I tried the Lee collet die in the quest for greater accuracy. While seating after using the RCBS neck sizer I always felt a bit of resistance when operating the lever on my Rock Chucker press. The Lee collet die prepared cases offered much less resistance during seating - very smooth feeling and easy effort.

I assume the mandrel in the Lee die is a bit larger diameter than the RCBS mandrel. Is that the difference that allows low effort seating and does the increased neck diameter pose any problem? Lee suggests a light touch with a fine abrasive to reduce mandrel diameter - has this approach been successful with Lee collet users? Another assumption is that the Lee die reduces case neck runout to the point of greater alignment of the case within the seating die resulting in easier seating of the bullet. I use an RCBS seating die.
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Old September 22, 2009, 05:45 AM   #2
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Have you done a run out comparison between the Lee and the RCBS neck dies? I am having a run out problem with a RCBS neck sizer in .204 ruger.
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Old September 24, 2009, 09:24 AM   #3
Tuzo
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Problem solved

Thanks for the reply Bpratl. Compared the RCBS neck sizer to the Lee collet die and discovered that the RCBS expander is 0.223" diameter and the Lee is 0.222." Then I read the Lee instructions.

Turns out that I was not pushing the collet enough to completely compress the neck against the expander. This resulted in a relatively loose neck and little neck tension against the bullet while seating. Next step is to remove a few bullets with an inertial puller and, depending on the effort required to pull bullets, either fire my reloads as-is or pull all bullets and resize.
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Old September 26, 2009, 12:00 PM   #4
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Depending on what you want to use the bullets for, and what type of gun you are shooting them in, there a couple of problems and solutions you might consider.

If you are shooting these in an AR, I would not recommend shooting them as-is. If the bullets are loose in the cartridge, they can be seated deeper from recoil while in the magazine, or during the feeding operation, and this could cause dangerously high pressures when fired.

If these are plinking rounds, and you have a lot of them, you might want to run them though a Lee collet-type Factory Crimp Die to tighten them up. Normally crimping should not be used to correct grossly insufficient neck tension, but these dies are a little different than traditional crimp dies. The resulting accuracy may not be the best (not due to the crimp, but due to the neck problems in the first place), but they will go bang, and safely too.

Another option to pulling the bullets with an inertial puller (expecially with light weight 223 bullets) is a press-mounted puller. I recommend the Hornady cam-lock puller, with the appropriate size collet. It is easy to set up, and even easier to use.

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Old September 26, 2009, 12:21 PM   #5
Tuzo
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Shooting these .223s with a Savage 12 bolt action so there is little danger of backing out the bullet. I'll give it a try with the bullet seating as is and consider this a learning opportunity. I dislike making mistakes in woodworking (measure once cut many times results in measure many times and cut once) and reloading. Normal procedure in reloading is to check every aspect many times to ensure no potentially dire mistakes. This time I should have experimented with an unknown Lee die that does not operate as any other sizing die.

Thanks for the suggestions and replies. Currently concentrating on getting time to visit the range and shoot my new Kimber Custom Stainless II .45 acp.
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Old September 26, 2009, 04:19 PM   #6
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Taking your questions in turn:

"I assume the mandrel in the Lee die is a bit larger diameter than the RCBS mandrel."

Not really but that's the effect the Collet sizer has. You can mike it and will likely find the Lee mandrel to be smaller than convenitonal expander buttons but case spring back after sizeing leaves the neck inside diameters a bit larger than "normal."


"Is that the difference that allows low effort seating"

Yes.


"and does the increased neck diameter pose any problem? "

No, not really.


"Lee suggests a light touch with a fine abrasive to reduce mandrel diameter - has this approach been successful with Lee collet users?"

Such "grinding down" of the mandrell can be done and I've done a few myself, but later wished I hadn't. If the case neck "tension" is too low it's more likely due to excessive brass hardening and that can/should be fixed by annealing not dicking with the mandrel.


"Another assumption is that the Lee die reduces case neck runout..."

That's true. They are, IMHO, the best necks dies for factory rifles on the market, at any price.


"...to the point of greater alignment of the case within the seating die resulting in easier seating of the bullet."

The moderately light bullet tension is a BIG part of the easier seating, it's really not due to better "alignment" of the sized cases in the seater, as such. The high bullet tension/seating force that appeals to some reloaders actually insures a good deal of runout during seating in most dies. I've found best runout, and accuracy, with necks .001" to no more than twice that under bullet diameter.


"I use an RCBS seating die."

Well, they're better than nothing.
Forster/Redding BR/Comp seaters are significantly better - statistically anyway.

Last edited by wncchester; September 26, 2009 at 04:36 PM.
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Old September 26, 2009, 06:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
While seating after using the RCBS neck sizer I always felt a bit of resistance when operating the lever on my Rock Chucker press. The Lee collet die prepared cases offered much less resistance during seating - very smooth feeling and easy effort.
That is because the dies work by different methods. The RCBS is basically a FL die that only sizes the neck. The LEE uses a collet that squeezes the case neck as the ram is raised and comes into contact with the collet.

It took a little practice, but I now like the LEE FAR better for Neck sizing.
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Old September 27, 2009, 07:58 AM   #8
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Ever since I started using the Lee Collet die for .223 my Forster neck die has been retired! Some impressive accuracy results.

With the ease of seating bullets I thought they would be easy to remove with my inertia bullet puller. Nope! I simply gave up and will order the above mentioned Hornady.
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Old September 27, 2009, 08:10 AM   #9
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I have had two Lee collet dies that I have "turned" If you do this just remember you can't go back. once the metal is gone, it's gone. I used really fine emery cloth and spin the mandrel in a cordless drill so I can maintain the the mandrel concentric. Polish a little then measure, I knew I wanted to remove .002 to get where I wanted to go and it worked well.

Using the Collet die with the Lee seating die works very well as the seating die "floats" the bullet into the neck.
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Old September 27, 2009, 08:13 AM   #10
steve4102
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I have several Lee Collet dies. A few of them required a reduced mandrel. I have gone both ways with this, I have chucked them into a drill and polished them down to my desired size and I have also purchased a reduced sized mandrel from Lee for $5. If you purchase a reduced mandrel you will still have the original to use if needed.

Most of my Lee Collet dies produce .001 neck tension. I like a little more than that, .002+ is what I set mine up for.
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Old September 28, 2009, 05:54 PM   #11
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Lee collet .308

I also use a lee collet die and wouldn't trade it for anything. Great die, does take a little bit of getting used to but it works very well. I can't complain at all about the results. I do suggest buying a replacement mandrel from lee that is of the size you want rather than sanding down the original mandrel. Reasons being:
If you buy a new one rather than sand you can always switch them out and see what happens to accuracy, but if you sand then you are stuck with it.
If you don't sand the entire length to be the same dimension (or possibly slightly smaller) the entire length down then you have basically created a very long expander that will re-open the case neck as you remove the case.
If you don't sand that baby perfectly round you can really mess things up accuracy wise (been there, done that). Better than sanding would probably be chucking it into a mini lathe and taking .0005" off at a time.
All this plus they only cost $5, that's still much cheaper than buying a bushing for a bushing neck sizer.
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