The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Skunkworks > Handloading, Reloading, and Bullet Casting

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old February 14, 2013, 02:15 PM   #1
Senior Member
Join Date: November 12, 2012
Posts: 154
Using a multi stage press?

I do not know anyone who has success using a mult-stage press for reloading bottle neck cartridges like 308, 223, 30-06 and 300 Win Mag. Several of my range buddies don't use them either for bottle necks and have experienced similar problems that I list below.

I am hoping that someone out there may have experienced better results than I and have found a way to efficiently accomplish bottle neck reloading.
I have an older Dillon 4 stage press that works very well for 9mm thru 45 ACP. However, this older Dillon doesn't have a device to warn me of a potential squib loads, and I have experienced several 38s that didn't fill. These failures were mostly due to my error at not catching the unfilled cases after a primer jammed and I had to stop my process and make repairs. 38s are difficult to visually inspect into the long cartridge case for small powder charges. With the other cases, I can see the powder inside the case as it passes to the next stage.

My Dillon's ram is huge, but I cannot seem to square the dies enough for small base resizing applications and minimize run-out. 308s SB require more ram force than .223 and as a result, the volatility tends to pack the powder inside the Dillon powder dispenser and I get uneven charges. Even with ball powders, I sometimes get a full grain variant. This is unacceptable. I tired resizing via a single stage RCBS press and then completing the remaining processes using the Dillon stages: new primer, auto powder fill, and seating the bullet. This worked ok but run-out was poor, and I still couldn't get the Dillon powder dispenser to achieve its advertised + or - .1 grains. That is simply BS if you use the progressive loaded as advertised. Reloading 223s became a mess due to case neck burs causing the powder dispenser to malfunction. Dillon always stands behind their equipment and has sent me several replacements. Regardless, the new parts have not made bottle neck case reloading easier.

The best practice so far for bottlenecks has been to batch processes with different equipment. I use an RSCB press to trim(Dillon trim cutter attachment) and resize using RCBS dies. Then I switch to the Dillon press to re-prime. After batch priming, I then used a Redding match powder dispenser to load powder into cases and temporarily store the cases into a loading block for later seating bullets with the RCBS equipment. Redding will give me +-.1 grain with ball powder and +- .2 with H4895 small stick powder. Obviously, the volatility in not present with this process.

If anyone out there has experienced better multistage presses or processes for re-loading bottle-neck cartridges, please advise.
tank1949 is offline  
Old February 14, 2013, 04:01 PM   #2
F. Guffey
Senior Member
Join Date: July 18, 2008
Posts: 5,583
4 position, 5 position? Progressive” Single stage” 4 position tool head” 5 position shell plate?

There are not many presses I do not have, I will not load on a progressive press without a lock out die, again, the Dillon 550B has 4 position tool head and shell plate, means nothing to me but is is recommended seating should be done on one position and crimping on the next. In that procedure I do not have a position for the powder lock out die, solution, I do not seat on one position and crimp on the next. I still have the RCBS Piggy Back presses, advantage? the RCBS Piggy Back 11 press’ have 5 positions, back to seating on one and crimping on the next with room for the powder lock out die.

Powder die, I do not get into mortal combat with reloading, I have time to check the powder die (called CUP by some) when loading bottle neck cases. Before I let the press get the best of my I will size cases that have more resentencing to sizing than the press can overcome with one of my go-rillo press, I have presses that were guaranteed not to flex, spring or spread, nothing wrong with the presses, problem? No one left to cover the warranty.

There are not many scales I do not have, design and or manufacturer, most in one way or the other are connected to Ohaus, it would cost me $1.000.00 to replace my check weight, the most handy scale IO have is the RCBS electronic scale that docks to the powder dispenser. It is nothing for me to determine the weigh of each component when loading ammo, when I finish finding a squib is a matter of weighing. I match case weight first. I use my scales, I do not talk about using them, weighing loaded rounds on a beam scale is slow and acquired.

F. Guffey

Progressive presses and cantilever shell plates: Outside of reloading there is a profession that deals in measurements. Building a press stronger because the user is hard headed will only require the press manufacturer to make presses stronger. Deterring the ability of a press to overcome resistance to case sizing is possible but first the reloader has to understand a cases ability to resist sizing. There is nothing like starting with new cases, next come once fired. Then there is the ability of a reloader to determine if press has sized the case before lowering the ram.
F. Guffey is online now  
Old February 14, 2013, 04:11 PM   #3
Join Date: March 4, 2005
Location: Ohio
Posts: 13,741
For .38 Special (or any other round) you have the option to put a powder check die in station 3, then seat bullets at station 4, using the built-in crimp shoulder in the seating die.

For cartridge runout, I have made almost perfectly straight .30-06 on an old Lyman Spar-T turret press. If it can be done there, it can be done anywhere. Failure in this area is primarily caused by two things:
1. The sizing die's expander pulling the neck of the case off-axis.

2. The seating die failing to press the bullet in straight.
For 1., above, there are several strategies.
a.) Take a single stage press and use the Lee Collet die for the case neck sizing (follow that link to see why and to see how much an expander can pull a neck off-axis) and decapping, then use a Redding body die to resize the case body. These are available in regular and small base configurations.

b.) Get a small base Full Length Redding type S die and choose a bushing that just takes your necks down the right amount in diameter so you don't need an expander.

c.), Use a spherical carbide expander, but lube the inside of the neck well, despite the carbide, to minimize pull on the bullet.

d.) Use a standard small base die with the expander removed or ground too small to work, then separately use one of Sinclair's mandrel die bodies with the right size mandrel to do the expanding down into the case rather than pulling the neck out.
To eliminate the seater die runout, get a full-length (Redding or Forster) sliding sleeve competition type bullet seating die; not a half length sleeve type (e.g., Hornady). The Redding adds the feature that the seater stem floats to self-align. I've heard good things about the Forster and it is available in a less expensive form with no micrometer adjustment. However, I have only used the Redding and know it works as advertised.

In principle, by holding the case in alignment, the full length sliding sleeve removes any press alignment issues from the equation.

For the powder measure, I can't say I've ever found my Dillon measures to be reliable to 0.1 grains, but you don't normally need that with rifle loads if you have your load averaging in the center of a charge range that has the same point of impact accurate across that range (see Dan Newberry's OCW method of load development). For minimizing the effect of vibration you can add supplemental powder baffles. If that still doesn't cut it for you, continue sizing single-stage. Since sizing is what causes final growth in the case neck, you can trim more accurately if you do that anyway. Otherwise you have to pre-trim, and because the cases don't all grow the same amount, that's never exact.

Recently board member Bart B. pointed out you can turn an EZ-Out stuck screw remover clockwise (against its tapered left-hand extraction screw) inside the mouth of a trimmed case to burnish the sharp edges to prevent them scraping jacket metal off bullets. This is good for the bullet and may help reduce metal fouling. As a result, you want the opportunity to do it before passing the sizing stage of the loading cycle.

Personally, I have an inexpensive Lee Challenger press set up that I decap on before cleaning cases. This keep primer crud out from under Dillon's shell plate or off any other press I'm using. It also lets me clean cases before dirt on them can score a sizing die. I then size carefully to omit neck runout. The rest of the loading process may then be done progressively without issues.

That said, if you want to run in the other direction, you can get an RCBS X-die that takes over case length control so you don't have to trim after the first time. You may be able to use a carbide expander kit with that die. This will keep your operation truly progressive.

If your sizing is as difficult as you suggest, look at trying some other case lubes. Original STP oil treatment isn't bad. $1.50 at Wallyworld.
Gunsite Orange Hat Family Member
CMP Certified GSM Master Instructor
NRA Certified Rifle Instructor
NRA Benefactor Member
Unclenick is offline  
Old February 14, 2013, 04:16 PM   #4
F. Guffey
Senior Member
Join Date: July 18, 2008
Posts: 5,583
“My Dillon's ram is huge, but I cannot seem to square the dies enough for small base resizing applications and minimize run-out. 308s SB require more ram force than .223....”

I have small base dies, I have neck sizer dies, I have case forming dies, I never said I did have these dies, I said outside of the forming dies I do not need the dies. I would not choose to use the Dillon Progressive press to size cases for small base and or forming cases. Screwing the die down further as in an additional fraction turn or degree converted to .000” (thousandths) will increase press deviation if the case is whipping the press. I know, the instructions when memorizes etc., etc..

F. Guffey
F. Guffey is online now  
Old February 14, 2013, 07:59 PM   #5
Senior Member
Join Date: February 23, 2005
Posts: 12,897
Talk to Dillon first - and get their input ....but I have buddies with the Dillon 650 press ...and they aren't having any issues loading .308 , 30-06, etc.../ and of course then you have the 5 station toolhead you can install the powder check die - and keep your seating and crimping in separate stations, which I think is the smartest way to go.

I'm assuming you realize using lube will make the press run a lot smoother ...I even use Dillons spray lube on my handgun cases in my 650 press with carbide dies.

I have a couple of buddies that use the Dillon 550 as well ...with .308, .30-06, .223, etc..../ and although it doesn't have the powder check, they aren't having any issues with runout, etc either....
BigJimP is offline  
Old February 16, 2013, 08:30 AM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: February 9, 2005
Location: Owego, NY
Posts: 1,826
I don't know if you are looking to add a press but I load bottleneck cases on my Lee Classic Turret without any problems. I load 221 Fireball, 223, 25-06 on a regular basis. Have also done 243, 30-30 and 7mm Rem Mag.
,,, stupidity comes to some people very easily. 8/22/2017 Pat Lengyel (my wife) in a discussion about Liberals.
flashhole is offline  
Old February 16, 2013, 04:53 PM   #7
Senior Member
Join Date: February 1, 2009
Location: Iowa
Posts: 415
I had no problems loading 7.62x51 on my 550B, but had HUGE problems loading smaller bottleneck rounds on it. My solution after many talks with Dillon CS was to switch to a Hornady AP. No worries since.
"Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most." A. Brilliant
bbqncigars is offline  
Old February 16, 2013, 10:57 PM   #8
Senior Member
Join Date: August 31, 2009
Location: New Mexico
Posts: 1,032
Are you using a Dillon 450, one of the older models? I have five of them dedicated to individual calibers, and I use the following procedure to get very consistent bottleneck ammo:

1. Deprime on a Rockchucker with RCBS Universal Depriming Die. Fast and easy, no broken depriming pins.
2. Size and trim on another Rockchucker with the Dillon 1200 trimmer mounted.
3. Tumble clean cases, and this accomplishes a good deburring of the case mouth, both inside and out. Good enough for plinking, and I hand deburr and chamfer for match ammo.
4. Reprime on my benchmounted RCBS Autoprime to get accurate seating depth by feel.
5. Go to the Dillon to charge, seat, and some times crimp the bullet.

Yes this is a lot of work, but in reloading something over 150,000 rounds of ammo I have yet to load a squib and I don't use a powder check die. I just try to be careful with each step, and concentrate on what I'm doing.
medalguy is offline  
Old February 23, 2013, 10:13 AM   #9
Senior Member
Join Date: November 12, 2012
Posts: 154
Thx to all who have replied. Other forum members have experienced and expressed similar problems and some of the fixes that this forum offers has merit.
My Dillon is a four stage press. I think a 500 series. I use Lee factory crimp (LFC) dies on ALL rimless cases. Traditional roll on rimed cases...
I always clean bottleneck rifle primer pockets. Some members never clean pockets, and I really don't know if not cleaning them adversely affects accuracy. I clean.
I have added baffles inside the Dillon powder dispenser and it has decreased deviation somewhat. But, If I add the resizing step to reloading 308s, the volatility is just too much and overcomes any extra baffles.
I have made numerous attempts to use the Dillon powder thrower to reload 223s, but periodically the cases hang up and spill powder. I suspect, but cannot prove, that the angle of the powder thrower's cone is not designed with the best angle. I first suspected case mouth burrs but closer inspection ruled this out.
Since I LFC all rimless bottleneck cartridges, my four stage press would require a 5th stage , if I added a powder sensor. Not an option unless I batch... I do.
The only pistol cases that I have problem is the 38. On 38s I could possibly add powder sensor, but I don't believe it would sense low charges below 5 grains. Dillon does not list the min and max ranges it will sense. Perhaps it would??? I will contact.
The collets application would decrease run-out and I am planning on adding these dies. However, the current flexibility of the Dillon ram and using SB 308 dies does not achieve proper resizing and the volatility created resizing tends to pack powder, regardless of adding baffles.
In addition, since I resize and trim bottlenecks using the Dillon case trimmer (which also resizes) and then deprime ( resize again using RCBS by default) and clean pockets, I honestly don't see how I could accomplish trim, deprime, clean pockets, load powder, test for powder, seat bullet and crimp on just four stages. Therefore, I batch the trim and resizing/deprimer and clean pockets using RCBS single stage.
I next use Dillon to re-prime cases.
I use loading blocks to stack and inspect cases. Then I throw powder via Redding using and keep cases in loading block AND examine for squib loads before taking cases to the next batch.

Thx to all!!!!
tank1949 is offline  
Old February 23, 2013, 07:03 PM   #10
Senior Member
Join Date: November 22, 2006
Posts: 2,693
I don't use any "U" dies as I don't own any firearms that won't run ammo resized to factory specs. The lube you use has a lot to do with how "sticky" rounds are. I load rifle on 4,5 and 8 station progressives for match ammo all of the time.

The cone in the powder hopper doesn't matter as much as the powder you are using. Neither the Hornady or Dillon powder measures like extruded powders much but both do very well with ball powders, IMO.

Bottle neck rifle cases must be done in at least two steps even on the best of progressives. Size/deprime and trim in pass 1 then load on the 2nd pass.

Doing much more than that defeats their usefulness.

Oh and with the correct size mandrill the Dillon PC die will alert to even slightly high or low charges down to 2.5g, the smallest I throw.
jmorris is offline  
Old February 23, 2013, 09:36 PM   #11
Join Date: December 16, 2012
Location: Blue Ridge Mtns of NC
Posts: 45
I load 223's and 308's on my Dillon XL 650 without any issues. I use RCBS SB Dies.
308Prepper is offline  
Old February 24, 2013, 08:18 PM   #12
Senior Member
Join Date: November 12, 2012
Posts: 154
good infor and thx!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
tank1949 is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:02 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2017 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.09209 seconds with 9 queries