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Old March 20, 2013, 07:21 AM   #1
SVTCobra306
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223 dies for AR15 and Mini 14

I'm looking at ordering dies for reloading for my rifles, my .223 rifles are an Armalite AR15 and a Ruger Mini 14. I see there is an RCBS AR series die set, and a normal small base die set, and an X series small base die set, which do you guys think would be better for use with both rifles? Both are 5.56 chambered but I hunt with them so I primarily shoot .223, so that's what most of my reloadable brass is.

My press is an RCBS Rockchucker, I was looking at RCBS's dies, any other recommendations? I know a lot of people like the factory crimp die..

Thanks in advance!
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Old March 20, 2013, 10:37 AM   #2
Superhornet
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I like Lee Dies--have never had a problem with them. I load for AR-15 and 10FP Savage. I do use a lot of MiL bullets with cannalure so I do crimp using the Lee...
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Old March 20, 2013, 11:14 AM   #3
oldpapps
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My view:
Don't care if it is a .223 Rem or a 5.56 NATO chamber. I load all of my stuff (.22RF and shotgun excluded) and load for the weapon. As both of your listed weapons are 5.56 chambered, you have a little more leeway. Pick the weapon that you hunt with (the most) and build a load that is 100% functional and gives the best on-target results. Try that loading in the second weapon and I'll bet that it is acceptable in all counts.

I seldom 'crimp'. I see three reasons, to crimp; the selected powder needs greater start-up pressures, neck tension is too weak to hold and the recoil from your double rifle dislodges the second barrels round while hunting rhino.

I like and use LEE factory/taper crimp die for business loads just as an additional safe guard. I have stopped putting a 'crimp' on my heavy .44 lead loads, they don't move. Crimping .223/5.56 is, in my view, a loosing option. Not needed and only gives more things to screw up.

DIE brands all do the same job, sometimes a little better or worse and in differing orders. You are using a single stage, so they all will work. Pick the one that you are comfortable with.

Enjoy,

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Old March 20, 2013, 12:21 PM   #4
schmellba99
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I've recently become a fan of the Hornady dies, but RCBS, Lee also make good dies. Redding does as well, but they are on the high end.

I guess it all depends on your budget and how high you are on the quality scale in terms of reloaded ammo.
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Old March 20, 2013, 01:35 PM   #5
hammie
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I think part of the original poster's question was: does he need small base dies? I think the conventional wisdom is that you may need small base dies for autoloaders, pumps and lever actions because they lack a camming action for chambering and extraction.

I have pumps, autoloaders and lever actions, and I bought a regular set of dies and then an extra small base die on the side, in case I needed it. Well, I've never needed the small base dies - even when resizing some very stretched military .308 for my rem 7400. If it was me, I would just buy a regular die set and only buy the small base sizer later, if I needed it. The small base die works the brass a lot. There's no point doing that if you don't have to.

As for brands: everyone has their favorites. But my preferences from most preferred to least is, Redding, RCBS, Hornady, Lyman, and Lee. I have a set of lee dies for a 7.62x54 R mosin nagent. I bought the Lee because I didn't want to pay more for the dies than the cost of the rifle, and at the time, Lee was all I could find. The Lee dies reload just fine. One thing I don't like about Lee is the aluminum and rubber O-ring locking nut on the die body. But if that bothers you, it is easily fixed. Just order some Hornady die locking rings from midwayusa.com and replace the lee lock rings.

I agree with oldpaps about crimping but if you have to crimp, then the Lee factory crimp is the way to go. I crimp my tube fed guns, and my revolvers. I have had revolver bullets jump the crimp and the lee crimp die is magic for very thin brass cartridges like the 44-40.
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Old March 20, 2013, 09:52 PM   #6
SVTCobra306
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hammie you are correct, the question was mostly about needing the small base dies. I already have a set of standard RCBS .223 dies, I found some H335 powder and a brick of Small Rifle Primers today so I am going to load up some rounds and give it a test. I did seat a few bullets into resized brass and fed them through the magazine on the AR with no problems.

Non crimp with the mini-14 worries me a bit, there is no real buffer on them to speak of. I fight with the scope on it moving around more than I do on my .308 thanks to the entire bolt/piston assembly slamming into the sear. The bullets I have for it are 50 grain Hornady SP's with cannelure, so I think I'll do a very light taper crimp and mark the bottom rounds in the mag to see if anything moves. If I have too much trouble I may just use it for plinking and use surplus military ball ammo. I would like to play with some 45 or 40 grain loads though and see if I can get any accuracy out of the short 1:10 twist barrel on it..
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Old March 21, 2013, 02:06 PM   #7
hammie
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@SVTcobra: See, you're ahead of us. Your plan of using your existing .223 dies and then seeing what happens, is a good one. If if doesn't work out, then just order a single small base die. But I'm betting you will be OK. My regular hornady .223's work just fine for my mini-14.

You're right about the bolt and operating rod velocities on the mini-14. Things do get slammed around. I know you can buy aftermarket gas nozzles with smaller ports, which will slow things down, but I've never bothered because mine is un-scoped and I don't mind chasing the brass.

I do occasionally use un-cannelured 55 grain softpoints and the sierra 63 grain semi-pointed. I don't crimp them and I've never had a problem with the bullet moving in the case. I crimp 55 grain FMJ's but my only reason for doing that is the same as Sir Edmund Hillary's concerning Mt. Everest: "because it's there". Although looking now at the 55 gr FMJ's, they have a shorter bearing surface below the cannelure because of the boat tail. Maybe they should be crimped. Anyway have fun and let us know what happens.
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Old March 22, 2013, 06:46 AM   #8
Nathan
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I would get the std Hornady 223 die set and run with it.

Small base are for auto's, but if you can avoid, your brass should last longer and you will trim less.
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Old March 23, 2013, 08:34 AM   #9
steve4102
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Your AR and Mini are 5.56, use standard FL dies as SB are not needed. This is from Sierra.

"Despite the oft-repeated advice that autoloaders, pumpguns and lever-actions require small base dies, the Service Rifles may be the exception that proves the rule. While it’s true that all of these action types lack the powerful camming forces of a bolt-action, the more generous chamber dimensions common to most Service Rifles are normally compatible with standard dies."
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Old March 23, 2013, 08:41 AM   #10
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I agree that SB dies are not necessary.
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Old March 24, 2013, 04:09 PM   #11
SVTCobra306
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Cool deal, I'l post back up with what I find out for future searchers.

Hammie, I have some questions about loads for a Mini 14 but I'll pm them so the thread stays on topic, thanks guys!
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Old March 24, 2013, 11:03 PM   #12
GWS
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Quote:
Your AR and Mini are 5.56, use standard FL dies as SB are not needed. This is from Sierra.

"Despite the oft-repeated advice that autoloaders, pumpguns and lever-actions require small base dies, the Service Rifles may be the exception that proves the rule. While it’s true that all of these action types lack the powerful camming forces of a bolt-action, the more generous chamber dimensions common to most Service Rifles are normally compatible with standard dies."
Steve, what you and Sierra say is true......most of the time. The Mini 14 to be sure has a generous chamber. Not all AR's do. Especially some of those made for high power competitions and long range varmint hunting. My advice used to always be...to by a regular set, then if you need it add a small-base sizer.

I changed my mind the last year or so. I believe in being prepared. That means I am loading a lot of .223 and .308 for future needs....especially for bad times. That being the case, I can't guarantee that reloads that are not small-base sized, will feed in ANY rifle I might be using a few years from now that I do NOT own now. Therefore, I think RCBS's new "AR" series dies with the S.B. sizer and a taper crimping seater is a very worthwhile purchase, to build up stores of ammo that will shoot in anything. The "hard on brass" argument is weak, seeing that AR's are damned hard on brass anyway. That reality, and bumping shoulders back, are the limiting factors in brass life, not squeezing the base 1 or 2 thousandths.

Look at the reality right now in acquiring a new AR! If your favorite rifle is stolen tomorrow, replacing it with the same model may be a bit iffy. And you have how many thousands of rounds made for it?
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Old March 31, 2013, 10:15 PM   #13
SVTCobra306
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Results are in from the ArmaLite.. success! Everything fed just fine from slow grouping shots to plinking off the last few. POI pretty much the same as factory Remington loads. Hornady's starting load was pretty soft though with H335 and 55 Gr. FMJ's. They cycled the action fine but it felt like shooting a hot rimfire LOL. I'm switching to Sierra's data, my hunting round with be using Sierra SP's anyway.

I also noticed that the jackets show rifling marks if I load them then eject without firing the round. I guess ArmaLite's 5.56 throat isn't all that long, My rifle is an M15 with the 16" midlength gas block 1:9 non LE barrel (no step down for "police" accessories), Chambered in 5.56 NATO, not Wylde. This is at a COAL of 2.200 (per Hornady's data). The new rounds are loaded at 2.250 per Sierra's book, with Sierra 55 grain SP's, I guess I'll take my calipers and check for setback too before I send them downrange.
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Old April 1, 2013, 02:26 AM   #14
thump_rrr
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I wouldn't worry about getting a small base die unless you run into problems chambering your own brass.
I don't run into stretched brass from full auto weapons up here.

As for the following comment if your scope is moving around you either have bad scope rings, poorly fitting unlapped scope rings, or improperly torqued scope rings.
Quote:
I fight with the scope on it moving around more than I do on my .308 thanks to the entire bolt/piston assembly slamming into the sear
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Old April 1, 2013, 08:49 AM   #15
SVTCobra306
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I actually did finally nail down the moving scope problem.. I had to change scopes, almost had it nailed down, it didn't slide back and forth but it started to rotate from ejected casings striking the windage turret. Now it's rotated 90 degrees to keep them out of the line of fire LOL.. I just have to remember that up is left, down is right, right is up, and left is down. Confused yet?

Back on topic I haven't tried any of my stuff in the Mini yet, If it doesn't work or if I can't improve on its accuracy with handloads, I may simply relegate that rifle to plinking with cheap (maybe?) steel case stuff. I hate chasing brass from it anyway, it throws them halfway across the pasture and the ejector on it chips the rim of the brass.
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Old April 1, 2013, 11:26 AM   #16
mohr308
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I use the RCBS AR series die set, works great never any feed problems. I also use the L.E. Wilson case gage to setup my die. I never crimp my rounds for my AR, also most of what I load doesn't have a cannelure anyways.
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