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Old May 27, 2007, 07:31 PM   #1
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Do I really need small base dies for 223?

I am about to start reloading for .223 and I am wondering if I need to buy a "small base" die set for using my reloads in a Mini 14 and AR15. I have a regular set of .223 RCBS dies already, that I got used from a friend. I have a bolt action .223 as well, but I will be loading different rounds for it ( I am thinking 53g hollowpoints for the bolt and 55g fmj for the autos) anyway, do I realy need to buy another die set or will mine work?
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Old May 27, 2007, 08:04 PM   #2
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You'll find out. Most people only get small base dies if they encounter feed problems. Usually, you won't. The bolt gun, if you don't use its magazine, but single-load, will probably shoot more accurately for you if you neck size its fireformed cases only. That means keeping its cases separate. You can get special neck sizing dies, like the Redding S dies or the Lee Collet die (a good and economical design). Some people compromize by just not pushing it far enough into the sizing dies to hit the shoulder of the case. This leaves a short stretch of the neck unsized near the shoulder, but that can help center the bullet in the neck portion of the chamber, so many consider it desirable.
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Old May 27, 2007, 08:13 PM   #3
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I do not have a Mini 14. I have match grade AR's. They tend to have tight chambers. I suspect the Mini 14 may have some law suit induced features, such as I found on my Ruger Tactical 308. One of which was a non standard chambering reamer. The chamber neck of my 308 is unusually large. Ruger must have cut an extra large chamber neck to ensure that no one ever had a pinched case neck. It is entirely possible that your semi auto rifle has maybe an extra large neck, maybe an extra large case head section.

What I will say, I use small base dies for as many calibers as I can get dies. The small base dies reduce the case head by .002" (per die manufacturer) more than a standard die. Also my small base dies will shove the shoulder back more than a standard die. Which is fine as it allows me to adjust the die to resize cases fired in balloon size military chambers.

I like small base dies, ammunition sized in these dies have a greater interchangeablity between rifles because the brass is closer to factory dimensions.

Let me recommend a couple of things. Buy whatever die fits your fancy and your wallet. But do buy a Wilson type cartridge headspace gage. Go to this web page to see what I am talking about. .

Size your cartridges to gage minimum and you will not have any chambering problems, or case head seperation problems, assuming your rifle headspace is good. Since your rifle is a factory Ruger, the headspace will be correct.
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Old May 27, 2007, 09:20 PM   #4
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I doubt you will need small base dies and I wouldn't recommend then unless you absolutely need them because they work your brass more that in turn shortens it's life. Whether you decide to go with small base dies or not I highly recommend the RCBS X-Dies. Trim you brass .02" below maxim before you resize it for the first time and you will never need to trim it again for as long as you have it. The design of the mandrel prevents the case from stretching during resizing. Since I have started using X-Dies I I have had to toss brass only because the primer pocket became enlarged not because the neck split.
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Old May 27, 2007, 09:30 PM   #5
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I have a competiton only AR. I have not found I've needed a small base die. I have found I need to completely size my brass in order to have good feeding and the ejection of spent cases.
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Old May 28, 2007, 06:43 AM   #6
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I have been reloading 223 for about 10 years and never "needed" them but have used them on bulk once fired Lake City a few times.
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Old May 28, 2007, 09:05 AM   #7
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if firing semi-auto, small base is recomended, if firing full-auto it is required. I have over 25,000 rounds of 5.56mm/.223 Rem. brass so i am not too concerned about over working my brass, also i have never had a failure to feed properly problem either.
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