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Old February 15, 2012, 03:39 PM   #1
Anarchist21
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Info on adjusting dies properly?

I just started reloading .308 ammo and im having problems with headspace on my bolt action rifles. Im looking for suggestions on a new die and info on how to get the case to specs.
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Old February 15, 2012, 04:32 PM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
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A Lee collet neck sizing die and Redding body/shoulder die would be your answer.

You rarely need to size anything but the neck on ammo for a single bolt gun. Eventually, the case will get tight in the chamber and you'd use the Redding body/shoulder die to size the body and bump the shoulder .001
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Old February 15, 2012, 04:59 PM   #3
F. Guffey
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it, ‘the problem’ is never about purchasing one more tool, there is no substitute for knowledge, skill and methods and techniques. I do not have a lee anything, or a Redding anything, I have the versatile full length sizer dies in various colors of boxes and presses of all colors, I am the fan of transfers and standards, and I am the fan of verifying. When sizing a 308 W case the absolute minimum length is full length sizing to minimum length, the die and or the shell holder can not be compressed, the case can whip the die, press and shell holder by being too tough for your combination (die, press and shell holder) even the knowledge reloader should be able to determine if the case won or if the press, die and shell holder won.

And measuring, the reloader must be able to measure and understand comparing as in measuring the case before firing and again after firing. and that is not easy to teach, reloaders want to fire, then size with no clue where they are headed.

And I use the companion tool top the press, the feeler gage, it is a choice, purchase a pile of tools are learn to use the ones you have.

F. Guffey

Last edited by F. Guffey; February 15, 2012 at 05:01 PM. Reason: add an o to to
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Old February 15, 2012, 06:12 PM   #4
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You did not indicate what type of die you are using. As a general rule you first rasie the handle until the piston and shell holder are at the top of the stroke. You then screw the sizing die all of the way down until it touches the shell holder. You then lower the shell holder and screw the die in 1/4 to 1/2 more turn. This will full length re-size the case.

Note: You may have to adjust the de-priming rod. If you hold the shell holder on the die, the de-priming rod should just stick out a little from the shell holder cutout. If the rod extends out to long it will bottom out inside the case and not allow the die to go all of the way down.

How are you lubing the cases. That may be another issue. You need just a little along the body of the case and I will wipe the lube from the neck of the case before sizing. I also lightly lube inside the case neck.

In some cases with tight chambers and using mixed sheel holders I have noticed cases where the case was not fully resized. Big issue with the WSMs. As a general rule in this case shifting the the die makers shell holder will fix the problem.
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Old February 15, 2012, 08:36 PM   #5
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Quote:
You then screw the sizing die all of the way down until it touches the shell holder. You then lower the shell holder and screw the die in 1/4 to 1/2 more turn. This will full length re-size the case.
This probably will allow the case to chamber in your rifle. It also may result in the shoulder being set back excessively and cause the case to suffer a case head separation after a few loadings. I don't know about you, but getting a face full of brass particles driven by 50,000 psi isn't my idea of something I want to experience.

For a bolt action rifle you want to move the shoulder 0.002" when you size the case. 1/4 turn on a reloading die is over 0.020". So are you going to turn it 1/4 or 1/2 turn? What you really need to do is measure the shoulder prior to sizing and adjust your die until you get the correct setting.

If you can't afford the proper tools to measure, at least use your chamber as a gage and adjust the die down in very small increments until the bolt closes slightly easier. Either a Wilson case gage or the Hornady Lock-n-Load headspace gage are examples of tools that allow you to measure.
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Old February 15, 2012, 09:47 PM   #6
Zach W.
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Do a search here for shoulder bump.
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Old February 15, 2012, 10:05 PM   #7
wncchester
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"im having problems with headspace on my bolt action rifles. Im looking for suggestions on a new die ..."

Dies are dies; they all work fine or they wouldn't be on the market for long.
Without a clue what "problems with headspace" you're having we can't help but it's highly unlikely getting a "new die" will make any difference.
We can't properly adjust any dies by rote, it's done for effect - if you need a different effect, adjust each die until it does what you want it to do.
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Old February 15, 2012, 11:28 PM   #8
davery25
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anarchist - how do you know they're headspace problems?

I adjust my dies to lee's settings but im getting extractor claw marks and the like on my cases irrespective of whether theyre loaded to min or max and i reckon Lee's instructions are wrong.

Jepp - one the case is fired once, isn't it pretty much expanded to the right chamber dimensions and as long as you're neck sizing after that first firing, headspace should be correct for that chamber?
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Old February 15, 2012, 11:54 PM   #9
dmazur
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If only cases never grew, you could neck size forever and there wouldn't be a need for FL or bump dies...

But they do grow. Eventually.

The key is to resize the case "just enough" to establish fairly easy chambering. Too much resizing sets up excessive case stretch near the head, which leads to case head separation. (Dangerous)

And then you can resume neck sizing.

Until the necks split.

My understanding is you can generally get quite a few reloadings out of a case, like perhaps 20, if you don't use maximum loads and if you take care to not overwork the brass.

Some guys believe in annealing the necks, to prolong case life.

(If this stuff was simple, it wouldn't be as much fun... )
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Old February 16, 2012, 06:29 AM   #10
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While the advise to set for bump off the shellholder is typically in the die instructions,it is poor advise.It does overwork the brass.

Every decent gunsmith uses a set of headspace gages when he chambers the rifle.Its one of the critical dimensions,that has to be right.We expect that,correct?

Every time we set up our reloading dies,we are establishing exactly the same mating dimension in our ammo.It is a good practice the take the same care "headspacing" our ammo.

As a kid of about 17,I would candle smoke the shoulders of fired cases,very slowly creep the die down till the smoke showed contact,then use feeler gages to determine the shellholder to die clearance.Then a feeler gage and that shellholder went in the die box.And,it was time to clean the soot out of the die.It is not a great method,but I was rocking my 7 mag and needed to control it.That was 42 yrs ago.

Today,OP,you might consider an RCBS Precision mic.You use it to measure a fired case,and set back the shoulder a measured amount,such as .002 in a bolt gun.

A bushing gage lets you size to a hi-lo limit,and make SAAMI length cases.That can be narrowed by using a measuring tool,such as an indicator withn the bushing.

I also have a setup with a granite comparator stand and a travel indicator.A datum id bushing is attached to the threaded indicator spindle.Same idea as the Hornady Lock-n-load,I'm just using a comparator stand and indicator rather than clamping it on calipers.

OP,you have the right idea.See if you can find Precision Shooting Guide to Reloading for Competition.
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Old February 16, 2012, 07:51 AM   #11
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Directions with the die?

Please don't take this the wrong way. You have been given some pretty complex answers to your question. Not sure of how long you have been reloading, but the dies typically come with pretty clear directions on how to set them up. Whenever I have something that doesn't fit right, I go back and re-read the directions that came with the dies first. Invariably, I have found that I have done something not the same as last time, going from memory instead of actually reading them while I am doing it, and this has always corrected my problems. As stated, most dies work if you set them up correctly. Keep it simple and start there, then try some of these more complex answers. Most of these guys have been loading longer than me, I have only been loading for four years, but the directions with the dies are there for a reason.
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Old February 16, 2012, 06:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Jepp - one the case is fired once, isn't it pretty much expanded to the right chamber dimensions and as long as you're neck sizing after that first firing, headspace should be correct for that chamber?
The simple answer to your question is yes. But if you are seriously over pressure with the load, it might not fit the chamber without being tight. Also depending upon how you neck size, it can cause the shoulder to move forward or not so much. A Lee collet die will not cause the shoulder to move forward, a dedicated neck sizing die that doesn't touch the body also doesn't move the shoulder forward, using a FL die backed off a bit to neck size will move the shoulder forward.

Quote:
Not sure of how long you have been reloading, but the dies typically come with pretty clear directions on how to set them up.
It varies by manufacturer, but the ones that state screw the die down 1/4 to 1/2 turns past contact with the shell holder will normally resize your brass so it will fit in the chamber of your rifle. But just because it fits, doesn't mean it was done correctly. That is what everyone is offering, suggestions on how to size your brass correctly and provide the greatest number of loadings and the least chance of causing a catastrophic failure of the brass due to excessive headspace. We are all just trying to help.
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Old February 18, 2012, 07:25 AM   #13
davery25
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HiBC - just had a look at the RCBS precision MIC. they're expensive. Is it worth the cost or is there another way i can adjust my dies without needing special tools like this one? Going off the die touching shellholder plus another 1/4 to 1/2 turn doesnt seem to work well as suggested by Lee.
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Old February 18, 2012, 08:32 AM   #14
F. Guffey
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Davery 25, yes there is, there are two types of selling, one, most practiced on a reloading forum is the literal scene of selling, as in, you gotta have a neck sizer, you gotta have a bushing die, you gotta have a RCBs precision gage. Then there is the other ‘selling’, that is the concept of selling an ideal, method or technique, before someone buys into the ideal they must add words to their vocabulary and understand their meaning.

First words, transfer, minimum length, full length sized, transfers, standard and verify, the problem with learning to reload on the Internet is all the need to know information that is skipped, new reoloaders are led to believe fire forming is about chambering a round, pulling the trigger, opening the bolt, and wa-la, a fire formed case is extracted. I go through the same procedure and then extract a once fired case. or a case I can compare the length of the case from the head of the case to the shoulder with the dimensions of the case before it was fired, the difference in the two measurements determines the effect the chamber had on the case when fired. Again, pop back, jump back, snap back and spring back does not lock me up, nor does memory or recovery, I have 257 Roberts cases that were 30/06 cases that have no recall, memory or ability to recover from having been formed and fired, I guess it can be said their memory was hammered out of them when they were hit with 45,000 + psi.

The problem? when the bolt closes, the light goes out and the chamber gets dark, same for the case sizing process, the ram goes up, the case is shoved into the die shutting the light out, shutting the light out gives the illusion it is a mystery as to what happens in the chamber when fired and inside the die when a case is sized.

This thread is about adjusting a die, I do that, I adjust the die every time I install a die, I adjust the die to, beyond or off the shell holder, I understand adjusting the die below the shell holder (1/4 addition turn after contact) to full length size a case, full length sizing a case restores the case to minimum length, minimum length is the length of the case when it was purchased, new, over the counter, unfired, factory made. I never loose sight of the fact the new, factory minimum length ammo chambered and fired, the difference??????, I measured the minimum length case for length before I fired it, others take the short cut and fire form first with no clue as to how to adjust the die for sizing for length.

Minimum length? is not a guestimate, it is standard, the difference between minimum length and the length of a go-gage length chamber is not a guestimate, it is a standard. When reloaders size a case to minimum length for a go-gage chamber it should not be considered an accident if the sized case chambers, back to the two concepts of selling, the question is not always with the answer “purchase another tool”.

The light that goes out is the one in the brain.

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Old February 18, 2012, 08:39 AM   #15
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First- you need to get a headspace gauge (I like the Hornady) so you know what you're dealing with.

Then, do what PAJoe suggested.

I had the identical problem when I first got my Hornady LNL. I could not get the shoulder bumped back .002 from the fire-formed dimension. Everyone else was suggesting to send the die back to Hornady and have them grind the base (and even Hornady said that).

Then someone else suggested going past "contact" with the shellplate- so that the press cams over hard- and that took all the "slack" out of the press and solved the problem. No grinding required...

Remember, we're only talking about a few thou here, and it doesn't take much.
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Old February 18, 2012, 09:47 AM   #16
PA-Joe
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You can make your own headspace gauge by purchasing a 1 inch long bushing that has an ID about 1/2 the diameter of the case and neck. All you need is a cosistent diameter to make your comparison. It must pass the case neck and should sit 1/2 way up the shoulder.
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Old February 18, 2012, 12:19 PM   #17
primerman
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My first stop for info is "Youtube"...
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Old February 18, 2012, 09:13 PM   #18
HiBC
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You can go to youtube but I will tell there is nothing about being able to upload a video to youtube that makes the information any more credible than what you will find here.
Most of what I have seen on you tube regarding firearms,ammo,and reloading has run from mediocre,to poor,to downright stupid.

Do yourself a favor.If you want to load good,match grade .308 ammo,find and buy a really good tool(despite the advice against spending money) a book that has a title close to "Precision Shooting's Guide to Reloading for Competition"

It will teach you how to set up your dies not only for head clearance,but for concentricity.

It will also teach you brass prep from the standpoint of most return on the time invested.

It does not serve you to get involved in a whizzing contest.

If you are getting serious about trying to develop your rifle/ammo combination,sooner or later you will become interested in making your accurate,prepped brass last longer.You may even buy Lapua or some other expensive brass.Buying brass and the time to prep it is expensive.A $35 tool that makes your brass last longer is cheap.

I do not know if it is still there,but if you search a bit,you may find a site named Varmint Al's.On that site,you may find an old article on "Finite Element Analysis of Chamber Finish and Bolt Thrust" or something similar.

Aside from the point of the article,is some very good information ,illustrated,showing how .308 brass stretches and thins back at the classic stretch ring location ahead of the case head.It will show % of case wall reduction at .006 or .004 head clearance,iirc,Which may well be where you end up at minimums.

The RCBS mic lets you measure a fired case,and adjust for xxx setback.It also lets you compare to a master round,if you create such a thing.

The bushing die is about $20,and gives you a drop in master chamber,of sorts.

It is the simplest way to dimensional confirm correct ammo.If the necks ar long,they stick out.If it is long (headspace) it will stick up out of the die.If it is short,it will be sub-flush the ground step.If you want,you can measure over the bushing /brass to see just what you have using calipers,mic,or indicator.

If you manage to collapse a shoulder or load very eccentric ammo,the bushing will reject it.

To the bump /crunchers,you can do that.

What is the mfgr of your shellholder?Your dies?Are your dies at maximum or minimum material condition?What about your shellholder?Does Lyman or Lee tolerance their shellholders exactly the same as Redding or RCBS?What are the max/min tolerances on dies and shellholders?

I do not know,but it does not matter,because I do not assume.

With the die at on setting,will you get different results with WW brass,Lake City brass,Rem brass,etc?Yes you will,as they spring back differently.

OP,there is plenty of info here to answer your question,more than once.

Now you get to pan it down to what is Gold keepings,and what is mud leavings.Good Luck!
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Old February 18, 2012, 10:02 PM   #19
JTJones
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You might want to check out this website www.larrywillis.com .He has made a pretty cool tool for measuring head space. You just use a fired case then measure it then subtract .002 from that. I'm planning to add it to my reloading shopping list.
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Old February 20, 2012, 12:31 AM   #20
davery25
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that larrywillis tool looks brilliant. is that pretty much how the RCBS precision mic works as well anyone or am i better off going with the larry willis tool?
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Old February 20, 2012, 09:55 AM   #21
PA-Joe
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The Hornady Tool is very easy to use. Give it a look.
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Old February 20, 2012, 09:56 AM   #22
HiBC
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I made myself a similar setup.It uses an inexpensive Enco or similar granite comparator stand with a travel indicator.Mine uses a datum bushing that attaches to the indicator stem ,so its a Hornady lock n load type bushing.

The setup on the link has an intetesting adjustable 3 point plate to register on the datum.Looks fine to me.

For the price,you get on tool that will handle eveything.And,its efficient to check a number of samples.

The RCBS Precision mic measures the same thing,but a different way.Its a mic head with sort of a chamber inside.You take it apart,put in your fired brass,get a reference measurement,take it apart,size,put it back in,check the amount of change.

I think one RCBS mic will cover a family of cartridges,like perhaps 308,7-08,.260 or 30-06,270,but they are $35+ each...so,I would vote for the comparator stand.

The Hornady lock-n-load setup is workable.It accomplishes the same thing as the comparator stand,but it is a clamp on accessory for calipers.I think,while it is workable,it is a little more clumsy/variable than the stand.

Once again,back to the bushing gage,if you have the indicator/comparator stand setup of some kind you can drop your brass into the bushing,and put the bushing on the comparator stand case head up.The indicator reads on the case head.I would call this the best setup(though,beware,your brass must be trimmed shorter than max or it will protrude from the bushing gage on the neck end)

There are any number of ways to accomplish this,depending on the tools available.

See if this link works http://www.use-enco.com/CGI/INSRIT?P...&PARTPG=INLMK3


It is a granite comparator stand for $29.Can you see how you could slide a bushing type case gage under it?Go to the catalogue page and there are options.An SPI stand with an SPI indicator is just over $100.
SPI stands for Swiss Precision Instruments,its a pretty good line of tools.I would expect a Chinese,Harbor freight grade tool for $29,and better quality from SPI.The $29 stand will work for reloading.

More than one way to do it.

I have used a similar high precision setup to measure very close tolerances in industry.Its commonly called a Swede gage,the indicator measures in ranges of millionths of an inch,and is calibrated with Johannsen gage blocks.When parts must be held to tolerances in the tenth of a thousanth range,it is the tool to use.

Last edited by HiBC; February 20, 2012 at 10:23 AM.
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Old February 20, 2012, 11:16 PM   #23
primerman
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Makes you wonder how people have reloaded this ammo for years with out these special tools without blowing themselves up...
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Old February 21, 2012, 01:45 AM   #24
dmazur
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My understanding is that the dangers of excessive headspace have been known by the military for years. The Mauser was a masterpiece in overdesign for strength as well as for diverting the gasses that a case head failure would generate, so that they didn't severely injure the soldier.

The military had armorers and gauges, and the idea was to either repair or remove from service a rifle which had unsafe headspace.

Note that this was assuming the use of military brass (typically thicker than a lot of brass we now use) with military loads (sometimes a little milder than today's loads). It was also using brass that might not have been as consistent in manufacture as can be done today.

Enter the modern enthusiasm for reloading. Now we are concerned about brass life, not just safely firing a cartridge once.

As I understand how things progressed, we now have some fairly well accepted practices for extending brass life, due in large part to experimentation and documentation by reloaders.

If you segregate brass by rifle, and if you shoot a bolt-action, you can use the chamber as a gauge.

If you are setting up to reload for a gas gun, you'd probably better invest in a gauge or two...

I'm not sure everyone who reloaded without tools or knowledge of induced excess headspace avoided case head separations. If they were lucky, they might have had enough knowledge to recognize the signs of incipient head separation and got away with decreased brass life rather than injury.

I think I read about someone who found a guy having trouble with loads for his Garand, and when he dropped them in a case gauge, there was something like 0.016" of cartridge headspace! The Garand is a tough old beast, so all he was doing was wearing out a broken case extractor and testing his eye protection, until someone gave him a hint.
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Old February 21, 2012, 04:40 AM   #25
HiBC
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That is written in an informative and tactful way,Well done!!I didn't say anything because I was not coming up with quite the same style.Good job! Thanks.
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