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Old September 15, 2010, 10:10 AM   #1
Ike666
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Lee Collet Neck Sizing Die .308

I just got a new Lee Collet neck sizing die for .308. Haven't set it up yet, but plan to tomorrow. Any tips or tricks for setting this die up in a Rock Chucker? Any "whatever you do DON'T DO THIS" warnings?
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Old September 15, 2010, 10:18 AM   #2
Unclenick
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I like to run the ram up, lower it, rotate the case 180° in the shell holder, then run it up in again. You have to push fairly hard with this die. If I'm having trouble getting enough case mouth grip on the bullet, I leave the ram in the up position for a count of 5 each time to let the brass relax and spring back less.

Go to Lee Precisions site and watch their video on how to set this die up. It's the only sizing die made that has a learning curve. Once you get the feel on your press, though, you'll be good to go. It leaves the necks straighter on the case body than any other neck sizer and its mandrel prevents formation of the dreaded donut. It works great.
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Last edited by Unclenick; September 15, 2010 at 12:29 PM.
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Old September 15, 2010, 11:31 AM   #3
Ike666
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Thanks Unclenick, that video made great sense. I watched the ammosmith video too but found the Lee one (short & sweet) easier to understand. I'll probably go back and re-watch the 2-part ammosmith video after I tred it out with a few cases.
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Old September 15, 2010, 05:13 PM   #4
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Take it completely apart and clean it good. They have been known to have metal and crap left in them after the machining process. Give it a light lube as well. Do not let the press cam over with this die. If you feel you are not getting enough neck tension don't force it or apply more pressure to the handle, you will only break something. You cannot increase neck tension with more force. Your need to reduce the size of the mandrel. Two ways to do this, order a "reduced" mandrel from Lee, $5, or chuck it into a drill and polish it down to your desired size with some fine emery paper.
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Old September 16, 2010, 07:31 AM   #5
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Ike666:

The way the die works, as you probably already know, is that a collet with a tapered surface is closed down on the neck of the brass case as the collet pushes against a tapered surface in the body of the die. In another great Lee's materials choice (at least on my Lee Collet Die purchased years ago) used the same steel alloy for both parts. That can lead to galling of the surfaces and mine suffered from that. Some lube there would help and you have to occasionally take the die apart and maybe smooth out the galled surfaces with a stone.

I'll admit that a new one might have had the problem solved by a better choice of steel alloys (different for each piece) but I have no info or usage of a new one. It is just something to be aware of and inspect the die for. Other than that the die works fine.

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Old September 16, 2010, 08:07 AM   #6
Sevens
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I think (but am not sure, so HELP!) that when using this die in a Rock Chucker, it's important to have the die screwed down enough that you don't let the press toggle-over at the end of it's stroke.

My Lee Classic Cast doesn't toggle-over, it's got a definite end and that's it. The Rock Chucker is a bit different.
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Old September 16, 2010, 10:39 AM   #7
Ike666
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First, thanks for all the suggestions and guidance - it was most helpful. I cleaned it and set it up this morning and tested some fireformed LC cases in it. They were all fired out of my Rem 700 PSS.

The first thing I noticed is that when I tested a bullet (168 gn Hndy HPBT Match) in the casemouth - it was still a tight fit. In fact so tight I couldn't force it in by hand - or when I did it couldn't get it back out without a puller. I think this is a good thing. I'm assuming it means the chamber on the weapon is real tight. This is still before neck sizing. Both the video tutorials I watched showed the bullet slipping in and out of the case easily. Is it a problem that these cases are so tight? Is it because of the thicker wall on the LC brass?

I tried it on a piece of RP brass and the bullet slipped more easily in and out.

For both pieces, the OD of the casemouth was 0.335 (not 0.343) after sizing. I realize this is only .008" but wanted check that it is within tolerances.

Both seated the bullet without shaving copper off. They both fit is a case gauge and appear to be spot-on.

Is it really this easy to neck size? I have the uneasy feeling that I'm missing something. It takes very little pressure on the rock chucker and I stroke to the vertical, just before cam over. Went too far once but there were no apparent ill consequences to the brass or the die.

I don't have the equipment yet to check runout but that's next.
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Old September 16, 2010, 11:04 AM   #8
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IKE666
Is it really this easy to neck size? I have the uneasy feeling that I'm missing something. It takes very little pressure on the rock chucker and I stroke to the vertical, just before cam over. Went too far once but there were no apparent ill consequences to the brass or the die.

It really is that easy, yes, and I predict that when you actually pull the trigger on those rounds you will be in "shock and awe".

I don't know about that particular press but it may be best to set it up so that you're at the "stop". That way you know that you have always applied the same force to every case. The "cam over" might present a problem to that, I'm not sure.
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Old September 16, 2010, 11:39 AM   #9
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Ike666,

It is not uncommon for the end of the case mouth to be curled slightly inward and prevent a bullet being pushed in. This happens because case necks expand from the shoulder forward during firing, with the mouth letting go last. Gas starts leaking past it before pressure can expand the last little bit, equalizing the pressure. How tight the mouth remains depends on how thick or springy the brass is (number of reloads since last annealing).

SAAMI .308 drawing specifies the loaded round's neck over the bullet to be 0.3435" +0.0000/-0.008", so 0.3355" to 0.3435" would be the manufacturing limits. Lot's of folks turn another little bit off for better neck concentricity. It makes the bullet grip lighter but more consistent and centers better in a tight chamber. It has the drawback of working the brass more on each re-firing in a standard chamber, so it needs annealing more frequently to avoid neck splitting. Most benchrest shooters get special chambers with narrow necks cut for those extra thin case necks, and a standard case often can't even fit into one. That narrow chamber neck limits the brass neck expansion with each shot so it then doesn't get overworked on reloading.

Bottom line is that the SAAMI minimum is not really a safety or function requirement. A thinner neck may be more vulnerable to bending slightly off-axis running up a loading ramp, but that's mainly a concern in self-loaders or rapid fire pace bolt gun operation. You've got nothing to worry about.
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Old September 17, 2010, 03:34 PM   #10
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I use the .308 Lee Collet with my Rockchucker and have found it outstanding ( 5 shot groups @ 100 yds I can cover with a postage stamp), also have them in 223 Rem, 22 Hornet.

If you're going to use it in your Rockchucker, just make sure you screw it in far enough so the press doesn't "cam over".

Make sure not to press the collet closed with the shell holder prior to inserting the case, the collet can stick in the up position and you will ruin the case as it will buckle badly, a good cleaning and inspection of the die before use is a good idea. I like to use a LITTLE anti seize compund on the cone surfaces of the die just to insure they slide with out galling, the portion that presses against the case neck needs to be and stay dry. No othe lube is needed.



I screw the die in, while the ram has the shell holder pressed against the die mouth, and turn the die in far enough so the ram handle comes parallel with the floor, then lock the die. Then really set down on the handle,( I have my press mounted to the end of an old dresser drawers, and put enough pressure on the handle to lift the opposite end off the floor!),then I release the pressure and turn the shell approx' 1/2 turn and sock it down again.

This seems to give me me the most consistent bullet "grip,pull", if you don't think you get enough grip you can chuck the mandrel from the die in a drill press and use emery cloth to remove a few 0.000th's.

You can get a better feel for "grip' while seating the bullet if you dust the case mouths with powder mica, I dust it inside the mouths with a small brush (some dip), by doing this you will eventually get a "feel" of how the bullets seat.

I have used the Dead Length seating die that comes with the Deluxe Collet set, but found my .308 rifle shoots tighter groups with another die, but it works wonder controlling bullet to case runout with my 22 Hornet, you may try one to see if your .308 responds to it.

In all you will probably see some of your best groups using this die once you get every thing set up to your standards.
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