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Old October 29, 2011, 06:34 PM   #1
jlhall
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Reloading Die Basics

I am trying to gain perspective as to the function and use of each type of die. Specially, what does a Full Length die do to each part (area) of the case and as a whole? For long range shooting (highly accurate reloading) the consensus seems to be that only neck resizing and bumping the shoulder back 0.001-0.002" should be done with any frequency and then occasionally a full length resizing. So, can I do this with only my full length die or are separate dies performing each stage individually required/desired?

From much reading I understand Mr. Guffey is big on folks learning the function and use of one's dies and hopefully this question can help more than a few of us. (If you're reading Mr. Guffey, I am looking into the "companion tool" you so highly recommend. Thanks )
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Old October 29, 2011, 07:32 PM   #2
Sevens
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I am not that experienced in rifle reloading... but I am first on the scene of this thread!

The f/l die sizes the entire body of the case and also sizes the neck. After f/l sizing, you should be able to use the case as if it were new. HOWEVER, they also sell a "small base" f/l size die that is supposed to size down the case head area even smaller for folks shooting autoloading rifles that have experienced problems when resizing their cases.

Many of the die makers have also sold neck size dies and I'm not sure how those from RCBS and others work. Lee sells an entirely different kind of neck sizing die and they call it the "Collet neck-only size die." I'm a big fan of these dies because it takes no case lube and it takes much less effort to size brass than does f/l and it hardly works the brass case at all, which (theoretically) lengthens the service life of the brass.

You shouldn't use neck-only size dies on brass if:
--it wasn't last fired in your specific rifle
--if you want to make ammo for semi-auto, lever or pump action rifles

And even when you do, you sometimes have to bump back the shoulder if/when it won't chamber.

If I were you (but remember the first line of my post!) I would purchase a Lee Collet neck-only size die as a companion to your full length size die (of any brand.) Unless you are loading for an autoloader, of course.
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Old October 29, 2011, 09:19 PM   #3
Ideal Tool
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Hello, Jlhall. I just finished sizing/expanding some .32WCF (.32-20) cases this morning. These are to be used in a Colt circa 1903 Bisley revolver. I have the RCBS Cowboy die set, as these are more compatable with the cast bullets I use.
While the sizer die in the set is the full-length type, By adjusting die, I am sizing only that portion of case neck that actually holds the bullet.
This takes less efort, and leaves the body of fired cases a nice close fit in chamber.
I do the same with straight revolver cases also.
I have in the past ordered neck sizer dies only & these work fine. However, for the ultimate in neck sizing adjustment..the Redding S-Type Bushing dies are the way to go. I use these for .22 Hornet, .222 Rem.
I have been loading cast bullets for a pre-war (WW1) Mauser sporter in
7X57. The Germans liked deep oversize grooves for pressure safety...Not good for cast bullets! Every commercial bullet I had showed lots of light around, when jammed up into throat.
I had to order custom moulds of .288dia. Of course the regular sizing dies..even neck sizers would have squeezed that neck back to grip a nominal
7mm (.275) bullet.
Thats alot of brass working!
So, I custom ordered from Redding an S Type bushing die in 7X57.
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Old October 29, 2011, 10:53 PM   #4
jepp2
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Quote:
Specially, what does a Full Length die do to each part (area) of the case and as a whole?
I will assume you are asking about a bottle neck cartridge like a 270 Winchester.

The full length resizing die consists of a die body, a decapping rod assembly, and a lock ring.

The die body will return the exterior of the fired case to dimensions defined by the internal dimensions of the die body. This will include reducing the outside diameter of the neck and the body of the cartridge case. It can also move the shoulder of the case toward the head of the case, if it is adjusted so the shoulder contacts the die.

The decapping rod assembly has a decapping pin that will force the fired primer from the case and when it is being withdrawn from the case after the neck has been sized by the die body, it will expand the case neck to a larger diameter than the die body resized it to.

The exterior lock ring is used to provide a reference to return the die to the same position relative to the press when it is removed and reinstalled, and to keep the die from moving during use.

By adjusting a full length die to a higher position relative to the shell holder, you can keep the shoulder from being contacted by the die body. This can result in only sizing the neck and case body. If you raise it even further, it can only size the neck of the case and never contact the case body enough to resize it. So depending upon how you adjust your die, it can full length size with shoulder set back, size the body and neck, and size only the neck of the case.
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Old October 30, 2011, 07:53 AM   #5
flashhole
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Jepp wrote "By adjusting a full length die to a higher position relative to the shell holder, you can keep the shoulder from being contacted by the die body. This can result in only sizing the neck and case body. If you raise it even further, it can only size the neck of the case and never contact the case body enough to resize it. So depending upon how you adjust your die, it can full length size with shoulder set back, size the body and neck, and size only the neck of the case. "

I'm going to add to Jepp's comment - Raising the die such that it does not contact the shoulder can have an undesirable affect, that being - if the body is being sized down the brass must move in some fashion and will usually result in the case getting longer. There is a good chance the shoulder will be moved forward causing the case to not chamber in your gun.

Your best bet is to figure out your guns chamber so you know exaclty how you should adjust your die, regardless of the die used. I find one of these to be very helpful when setting up FL dies. I made one for myself specific to each cartridge.

http://www.midwayusa.com/Product/746...28-30-calibers
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Old October 30, 2011, 09:59 AM   #6
PA-Joe
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Even when you are using a full lenght sizing die you so not want to bump the shoulder back more than 0.001-0.002". This helps extend case life and reduces case float within the chamber. As noted if you do not set the shoulders back enough you might not be able to fully chamber the round.
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Old October 30, 2011, 12:50 PM   #7
jlhall
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Right. I had understood pretty much everything to this point; however, it leaves me questioning what people are doing, or rather how they are doing it, when they post recommendations to perform only a neck resize and to bump the shoulder back. How are they NOT changing the rest of (full length of) the case? Is everyone using a Redding S Type die, or something similar, with the FL die left to collect dust?

Thanks for everyone's input. It's good to hear info discribed in different ways as it really inhances the overall knowledge and understanding of a subject. I hope more add their knowledge to this subject.
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Old October 30, 2011, 02:47 PM   #8
jepp2
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As mentioned by flashhole, the shoulder does move forward when you size the body but not bump the shoulder. My measurements confirm this as I adjust my FL die to the proper position.

It's just my guess, but I would imagine at least 75% of the sizing is done using a full length die. And the dies are adjusted without ever measuring the shoulder to determine how much it is being set back. If you don't use some method of determining how much you are actually moving the shoulder, you just don't know. The directions provided by most die manufacturers are not sufficient to get it set correctly. Lots of ways to do the measurement (RCBS Precision Mic, Wilson Case Length Headspace Gage, Hornady Lock-N-Load Headspace Gage set) or home made.

What am I using? My goal is to maximize case life and minimize case neck runout. So I use a shoulder die to bump the shoulder when necessary, and use a Lee Collet die for my neck sizing. I have Redding S Dies and they are better than full length die sets for minimizing overworking the neck, but per my measurements the runout is greater than with the Collet dies.
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Old October 30, 2011, 03:37 PM   #9
Nathan
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First, let's talk ideals here. Ideally, you want the body of the case to be the fired size minus a very small amount to allow you to put it in the chamber again easily. You want the shoulder pushed back the same way. Next, ideally you want the ID of the neck to be aligned to the OD of the body. That will make the bullet more aligned with the centerline of the barrel. Last, you want the neck wall thickness to be exactly the same all around so it will release the bullet evenly, instead of off to one side.

This is all ideal and cases, chambers and even barrel centerlines may not be perfect. This is where you the reloader work to make it perfect. If your gun is nearly perfect, and your case is perfect, you actually don't need to size at all. This is due to springback. Only extremely precisely built rifles, cases and bullets can be adjusted like this.

A FL die is a 3 n 1 die. It sizes the neck, shoulder and body of the case. To make it 3 in 1, the maker has to guess how much you want resized relative to one another.

A collet neck die is a die where an outer floating collet sizes the neck down onto a fixed mandral. This has the benefit of resizing all or part of the neck to align with the ID of the neck.

A bushing neck die will size your neck like a collet die, but requires neck turning to be concentric since you're working the OD of the neck.

A body die will size only the OD of the body.

A shoulder bump die will just bump the shoulder.

If you push these limits, then you will need to move to a different type of dies and press because a standard press is axially only so accurate!!!
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Old October 30, 2011, 04:58 PM   #10
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"A FL die is a 3 n 1 die. It sizes the neck, shoulder and body of the case. To make it 3 in 1, the maker has to guess how much you want resized relative to one another."

I thought that's what SAMMI was all about, they set the standards the industry (gun and reloading equipment makers) adheres to. There is nothing arbitrary about it. How you set it up and use it will make a difference.

You can make very axial correct ammo using standard equipment but it requires you pay close attention to detail and learn to use your equipment to extract the most from it.
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Old October 30, 2011, 06:37 PM   #11
wncchester
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" it leaves me questioning what people are doing, or rather how they are doing it,.."

Knowing what I do for my rifles would be of little help to most people; load my way and you would simply be reloading for me. If you're just starting you have a lot to learn. I suggest you keep it basic and do things conventionally until you learn not only how but why the conventional methods work. Then you can (as we have done) experiment with variations to find what your rifle prefers. One thing I can assure you is that anyone who tells you to 'do it this way' for best accuracy hasn't been reloading for long nor for very many different rifles.

Anyone trying to 'neck size' for most cases with a FL die will likely be disappointed. Dedicated neck dies are made for a valid reason. Any die that touches the case body isn't neck sizing, it's half-assed FL sizing.

Lee's collet neck sizer is probably the BEST neck die for SAMMI chambered rifles snd it's inexpensive. It has a moving part that seems to throw some people; there is a learning curve but those who take the time/make the effort to learn how to use it correctly usually love it.
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Old October 30, 2011, 06:50 PM   #12
jlhall
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I have been using the Hornady headspace gauge. Not all, but most of my cases (all of the same lot # [Nosler 7mm Rem Mag]) are coming out of the FL die 0.002-3 less than a fire formed reference case I use. Some are a little shorter. Someone mentioned in another post to count to five once the ram arm is fully lowered. Maybe that might result in greater consistency. Anyway, from these more recent posts it sounds like I have some additional research to do on these specialty dies.
I have anticipated that there is enough spring back in a case that it could be chambered with ease for several firings before needing to be FL resized...with the exception of bumping the shoulder back, neck sizing, and checking OAL of the case after each firing. Of course then the question must be answered as to how neck bumping affects the rest of the case body. To me logic says that the lower 3/4 of the case would have to expand (OD) somewhat to accomadate the "displaced" shoulder material. Have I got that straight?

Last edited by jlhall; October 31, 2011 at 12:42 PM.
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Old October 30, 2011, 07:13 PM   #13
Nathan
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"I thought that's what SAMMI was all about, they set the standards the industry (gun and reloading equipment makers) adheres to. There is nothing arbitrary about it. How you set it up and use it will make a difference.

You can make very axial correct ammo using standard equipment but it requires you pay close attention to detail and learn to use your equipment to extract the most from it."

SAMMI sets min and max standards. Those are fairly wide. Ammo makers target SAMMI max specs and rifle makers target min also to maximize tool life. SAMMI specs are all about tool life. As an ammo maker, you cut your dies to min and replace at some point where the ammo is good enough your phones are not ringing off the hook! As a rifle maker, your reamer cuts max spec when new. You let it wear until you think you will have trouble feeding ammo. . .i.e. to keep your phone silent!

This spec range is fairly wide to let these makers use tools for long enough to be affordable and profitable.

When reloading, you don't want to make SAMMI ammo, you want to make ammo specific to your rifle. The closer you get, the better it will shoot, run reliably, etc.


"Lee's collet neck sizer is probably the BEST neck die for SAMMI chambered rifles snd it's inexpensive. It has a moving part that seems to throw some people; there is a learning curve but those who take the time/make the effort to learn how to use it correctly usually love it."

I totally agree. This die makes the ID concentric to the OD without case neck trimming.
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Old October 30, 2011, 10:19 PM   #14
jlhall
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Rats! And I just picked up an RCBS neck turner last month. It was on clearance, so what the heck. I could have spent the money on a die. I'll dust off my Sinclair & Midway catalogs this week and see about those Lee dies.
Could anyone comment on my question about the affect on the "rest" of the case after shoulder bumping?
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Old October 31, 2011, 06:19 AM   #15
flashhole
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Never heard of neck bumping, neck sizing is what I think you meant. The Lee Collet Neck Die does not affect any other part of the case except the neck. The collet/mandrel design is very good and the dies work. The bushing neck dies size only the neck w/o the use of an expander ball that gets pulled up through the neck. The bushing design eliminates the possibility of altering the neck with friction from the expander. Conventional neck dies that use expanders work well but require more case prep, especially on the inside of the neck.
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Old October 31, 2011, 06:24 AM   #16
Brian Pfleuger
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If you use a Lee collet die for the neck, you can use a Redding body die for bumping back the shoulder. It sizes the body of the case and can be adjusted to bump the shoulder back in very small increments.
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