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Old June 2, 2011, 08:32 AM   #1
cwsanfor
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"Squaring" dies in press

I need to revisit my die setup, and I noticed some information about "squaring" dies in the press, that is, adjusting them, then applying pressure from the shellplate before locking them down:

http://www.exteriorballistics.com/re...ics/resize.cfm
http://www.sierrabullets.com/techser...ve/vol1no1.pdf
http://www.redding-reloading.com/com...lholder-change

exteriorballistics says "This procedure applies to both sizing and seating dies, but should not be used with either carbide sizing dies or benchrest/competition seating dies."

So I wonder:
1) Do you pistol reloaders bother with this, and
2) Why not in carbide or competition dies?
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Old June 2, 2011, 09:31 AM   #2
CPTMurdoc30
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Never done it but from what Sierra is saying it sounds like it would work.

Because of the carbid being more brittle yet harder and smoother than steel I believe that is the reason why they say not to do it on them. Not sure why they would say that on a comp die
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Old June 2, 2011, 09:32 AM   #3
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As a practical matter, you can sometimes squeeze a half moa out of getting proper cartridge coaxiality in a rifle. I can think of one published example where a whole moa came out at 600 yards, but I think that's unusual. Mostly, if you don't worry about it, bolt rifles can still be got down to 1 moa, and not infrequently to 1/2 moa without sweating it. That's assuming the crown, bedding, bolt lug contact, stock screw torque are good. Also the scope mount has to be properly engaged and set and in and unstressed position. Also the chamber needs to be coaxial with the bore (you'd be surprised how often commercial chambers are not perfectly centered).

Worrying about cartridge straightness is pointless for most handguns, where the normal grouping error completely masks any advantage. The exception can be the single-shots that chamber and shoot like a short rifle.

The carbide die is explained in the Sierra post. They are worried about damaging the die. They apparently want you to turn them in only far enough to resize the portion of the case that grasps the bullet, and nothing further down. Starline recommends you treat all their brass that way except .454 Casull, which apparently expands enough near the head to require full length resizing.

The competition seater die is made by Redding. It has a sliding sleeve that aligns the case with the bullet and guides the case up as the bullet seats, so alignment happens automatically inside the die. Aligning the die itself is therefore pointless, and hard contact after the guide sleeve is driven all the way up risks damaging the die. The same would apply to Forster Benchrest and Ultra Micrometer seater dies.

Forster actually invented the sliding sleeve in the late sixties, then Redding improved on it by adding a floating seater ram (stem) in the late eighties after the Forster patent expired. Both are good dies. I suppose I'd give the edge to the Redding for the floating stem which will adapt to the bullet shape a little more easily, but either has some bullets it doesn't like to work with as well as others. Forster says 90% work with their fixed stem and will customize a stem if you load with one of the remaining 10%. There are also at least one half-sleeve design by Hornady, but I understand they don't work as well as the Redding and Forster versions. I don't own one to compare, though, so that's hearsay coming from me.

Alignment is handled by several strategies. The one Sierra describes applies to conventional dies with solid lock rings in a press with a conventional threaded top end or die holding plate. I don't know how well that would work out using the Hornady LNL or the Lee Breechlock quick change collars.

Other strategies include sandwiching a rubber o-ring between the lock washer and press so the die can wiggle a little to self-align. Some find it works; some don't. I've concluded you need to lap the threads in the press while pulling up on the lap, then polish them and later keep them lubed to get enough lateral slip for that to work to best effect.

The Forster Co-ax press floats the die in a slot for self-alignment. That's an inherent aspect of their quick-change system. It seems to work really well. My copy turns out some very straight ammunition.
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Old June 2, 2011, 05:33 PM   #4
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I doubt many people who try to "align" a seating die by jamming it onto the shell holder will do it that way more than once. Slow learners may need a couple more efforts tho.
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Old June 3, 2011, 08:32 AM   #5
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If you read through the Sierra post that's not quite what they're doing. They set the die depth the usual way, then slip a hardened and ground flat washer between the shell holder and the die and let that press up on the die just hard enough to keep it from slipping while they tighten the lock ring. The idea is to square the die mouth to the shell holder surface then tighten the jam nut (locking ring/nut).

I'm not really sanguine about how well that will work in practice. Too many potential cumulative tolerance errors in the press machining operations with regard to thread and ram alignment and squareness of the top of the frame that the lock ring bears against. Not to mention the lock ring threads and surfaces have to be perfectly square so they don't pull the die to the side. Also, the shell holder itself has to have it's slot dead parallel to its top surface; there can't be any surface upset where the shell holder number is stamped in, and it can't have been warped even slightly during heat treatment. In the cases of the lock ring and shell holder, it's asking a lot from inexpensive parts.
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Old June 3, 2011, 08:59 AM   #6
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Yep. I do that.
Also, just as important is the shellholder...
I read in Glen Zediker's 'reloading for competition...' where he recommends removing the shellholder spring and replacing it with an o-ring to retain the shellholder.
I've tested this and some other guys on another forum tested it as well, and it does reduce runout considerably if everything else is relatively straight.
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Old June 3, 2011, 03:15 PM   #7
F. Guffey
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I suggested a tool to be made that checks the alignment of the die to the shell holder, years ago, problem? Keeping up with more than two thoughts at one time, me? I use the companion tool to the press, the feeler gage, I adjust the die to the shell holder with the companion tool to the press, the feeler gage then increase the thickness of the feeler gage, after raising the ram I remove the slack between the threads of the die and press, then secure the lock nut, and if the die is square with the press I can measure the height of the die above the press, reloaders struggle with phantom indexes and make wild guesstimates of turns like 1/4, 1/2. After securing the die to the press I go back and measure the gap again.

As to the sliver of light, I use the companion tool to the press, the feeler gage, a cheap tool when measuring a gap a sliver of sight could pass through, I can not imagine the cost of a gage that measures light passing between between the shell holder and bottom of the die. I do know the feeler gage can measure the gap between the top of the shell holder and bottom of the die, but as to being square, if the bottom of the die is not square and or the top of the shell h9older is not square of it the press is tweaked or if the press changes configuration under a load etc., etc, then if I want to determine if the bottom of the die is square with the shell holder I use the sliver of light gage, the feeler gage, not complicated, use the guesstimate of a turn as in 0/0-zero degree, 1/4-90 degree, 1/2-180 degree, and 3/4-270 degree, if the gap is the same at 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock 6 o'clock and 9 o'clock, it can be said the die is aligned with the shell holder??? then there is the floating problem, I have presses that do not allow the case to float, but, I find advantages to that type press/shell, my favorite shell holders are the trashy ones, with a trashy ol shell holder I can form cases that are .012 thousands shorter than the minim,um length/full length sized case OR cases that are longer from the head of the case to it's shoulder by .016 thousands, or anything in between, with the companion tool to the press, the feeler gage.

F. Guffey

Again, there are those that believe they have a cam-over press, most presses jam, cram, bind or lock up before they cam, my cam over presses bump twice as in bump/bump , my non-camming presses go jam, or cram, bind or jam of lock-up, I an not a fan of abusing my presses and that is the reason I got out of the bad habit of making wild guesstimates of a turn like 1/2 turn.

And I put a preload on my die to remove the slack between the threads of the press and threads of the die
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Old June 3, 2011, 08:32 PM   #8
lll Otto lll
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Quote:
I doubt many people who try to "align" a seating die by jamming it onto the shell holder will do it that way more than once. Slow learners may need a couple more efforts tho.
Yeah, I don't think I'll be doing that with my $100 Redding Competition seating die.
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Old June 3, 2011, 09:09 PM   #9
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Just Get the lee die rings with the O-ring & the dies semi float !!
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Old June 3, 2011, 09:21 PM   #10
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I just don't know how much accuracy "square ammo" provides in a hand held weapn.

I tried floating dies and Lee O rings, heck if I know if it makes a difference.

I do know the last I checked some of my small based sized Garand brass I was having case neck run outs less than .003". I also checked my base concentricity with the neck and that was less than .003". This was to test Bart Bobbit's claim that case heads are cocked after firing in a Garand. Did not happen to my ammo.

My ammo shoots sub MOA when I am holding hard. I check cartridge headspace when setting up the die and that is about it.

I think Boots Oberymer had a post somewhere where he followed all the bench rest stuff, culled a bunch of lots, and shot the best he had ever done at long range. He was about to brag on how he discovered the magic trick to high scores, when he discovered he had shot a box of cull ammunition.

Maybe that stuff means something in bench rest, but with a hand held weapon, sight alignment, trigger pull, and your position, are far more important.
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Old June 4, 2011, 05:26 AM   #11
Sidewinder72
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I can understand this helping in a rifle, but in a hand held weapon its crap to notice any differance.
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Old June 4, 2011, 06:14 AM   #12
cwsanfor
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I am using Hornady Lock N Load Die Bushings, and I had never noticed there is a rubber O-ring under them, which provides some flex to the die position, like a Lee die clamp ring. I'm guessing that will obviate the usefulness of squaring the dies, and that with the Hornady bushings you rely on the sort of Lee/Arbor/Wilson approach of having some flex in the dies. I may try to sort of square them with a machined washer just in case.
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Old June 4, 2011, 06:34 AM   #13
engineermike
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You guys know they make medication for this. Its called Prozac... This reloading is a sick mans game.
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Old June 4, 2011, 10:11 AM   #14
brickeyee
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Yeah, I don't think I'll be doing that with my $100 Redding Competition seating die.
It does not need it anyway.

For handgun rounds it is not likely to produce any noticeable improvement.

In an otherwise accurate rifle using regular dies it can help.

Dies with a sliding sleeve will not benefit.

Last edited by brickeyee; June 5, 2011 at 04:14 PM.
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Old June 4, 2011, 05:43 PM   #15
zeke
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Having been "squaring" dies up for quite some time, and for me it has worked. Am also squaring up the compettiton seating dies, as am not of believe they "self" adjust to a horizontal plane. It does not take alot of pressure to square the die, but i quess you could damage a die if ya went whole hog on it. For sizing dies i occasionally use a fired or new case, instead of the ram or washer.

You can also align the expanding plug in a sizing die but not tightening it down till it "self aligns" in the neck.

Not a new procedure by any means.
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Old June 5, 2011, 01:01 PM   #16
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The sleeved dies line the brass up inside the sleeve, regardless of whether they are square to the shell holder or not. If they didn't, they'd serve no purpose. Even in my old Lyman Spar-T turret press, which has a lot of turret tilt, the competition seater will seat bullets straight. That's how I found out how good those dies are.
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Old June 7, 2011, 09:51 PM   #17
F. Guffey
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Unclenick, "That's how I found out how good those dies are". I have two RCBS competition type dies, one Gold Medal with the rubber friction ring, the other has the mechanical detente, I have enough small parts for one die to seat 308W, 8mm57/06 and 30/06, worth the money when aligning the case with the bullet.



Then I made a bullet guide that works as good with case neck/shoulder support without a die body, the first time I used it I used an aluminum can crusher for a press. I also have a Lyman Universal hand seater that uses the side window and sliding guide.



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Old June 7, 2011, 10:23 PM   #18
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I may have read this in RCBS die instructions ? Well anyway I back out the lock ring and screw down the sizing die until there is a bit of pressure between the die and the shell holder, then I snug down the lock ring and tighten set screw. There is a fair amount slop between the coarse threads and this procedure helps with alignment.

As for the other dies I have used Teflon tape to correct the slop between the threads of the die stems to shell body and dies to the press.
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Old January 21, 2012, 07:18 AM   #19
cwsanfor
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This turns out to an unnecessary and probably bad idea on a LNL AP. You can, as I did, shear the lug off your hub, as I did.
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Old January 21, 2012, 05:02 PM   #20
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This turns out to an unnecessary and probably bad idea on a LNL AP. You can, as I did, shear the lug off your hub, as I did.
Yea... you don't want that much pressure.
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Old January 21, 2012, 09:31 PM   #21
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"exteriorballistics says "This procedure applies to both sizing and seating dies, but should not be used with either carbide sizing dies or benchrest/competition seating dies."

I think the squaring "procedure" is wishful thinking with any dies at all.
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Old January 21, 2012, 10:42 PM   #22
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I've done it by adding a stack of dimes on the shellholder and gently putting pressure on the die before tightening lockring. I did this for several calibers and noticed no difference in run out. The case actually centers itself inside the die to some degree. For proof of this wiggle the top of a rifle case sitting in the shellholder. It wabbles which allows it to feed into the dies freely whether they're aligned perfectly with the ram or not.

IMO this trick is just one of the many things people do to complicate loading which has no positive impact whatsoever.
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