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Old August 26, 2020, 06:53 PM   #1
5whiskey
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Funny thing with 303 Brit neck tension

So I have never had an issue with lee dies, but loading my first .303 Brit cartridges I loaded I had a problem with too little neck tension. I could pull some of the projectiles out by hand. Brass is new prvi, and (despite never following lees FL sizing die instructions) even bottoming out the die (and then some) per the instructions still yields case necks with an inner diameter of .310/.311. My caliper mics the expander ball out at .3105 (though I don’t trust its 1/2 increments).

I’m loading Speer hot core .311 projectiles. I am thinking about chucking the expander ball in a drill and spinning it on a cloth embedded with valve compound. I think I would have fewer issues if ID of necks was down to .309. Anyone else have any advice or opinion on this? Anyone experienced anything similar?
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Old August 26, 2020, 07:32 PM   #2
mikejonestkd
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I load for a few No4 MK1 enfields and also use lee dies. My best guess is similar to yours- the expanded ball might oversized. Be very careful to only reduce the diameter a tiny bit.
Personally I use .312" diameter bullets in my enfields, and use the lee neck sizing die to prolong case life.
Enfields tend to have generous chamber dimensions, and neck only resizing works the brass less than full length resizing.
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Old August 27, 2020, 12:23 AM   #3
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I don't like, and rarely use Lee dies, and my first instinct is to blame them if things aren't right, but in this case, I think the problem isn't the dies as much as it is the brass, and the fit relationship between them.

"new pivi" brass means privi-partisan, which comes from eastern Europe, doesn't it? Any chance you can accurately measure the neck thickness of the new brass and compare it to some other brand of brass that doesn't have the same issues??

IF the new brass has case necks just slightly thinner than what the die was made for, you'll get the kind of result you're seeing, loose bullets.

Turning down your expander ball a little bit can fix the fit issue, BUT then you have an undersize expander if/when you get brass with a standard neck thickness.

Get another expander button. and turn THAT one down. Or get one in a reduced diameter (for example .309") from the maker, and try that.

I don't use privi brass so I can't say from personal experience, but thinner than usual case necks would be my first guess. I've got a supply or Remington .303 brass and it works just fine with my RCBS dies, and I would expect the same if I were using Lee dies.

Get some other brass and see if you still have loose fit with them. If no, the problem is the privi brass, if yes, its the die not sizing the neck small enough to begin with.
OR get another brand of dies and see if you've still got an issue, or not.

Know anyone else who loads .303 Brit? Borrow their dies, or have them load some of your privi brass, that will tell you something about where the fit problem originates

Also check and see if its the bullets you're using. Sometimes .311" needs to be .312"

Good Luck!
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Old August 27, 2020, 06:18 AM   #4
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I’m with 44 AMP on the idea maybe your die isn’t sizing the neck small enough. Try sizing some cases without the expander ball and measure them.
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Old August 27, 2020, 06:46 AM   #5
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I’m with 44 AMP on the idea maybe your die isn’t sizing the neck small enough. Try sizing some cases without the expander ball and measure them.
I actually tried taking the expander out and the die body does size the neck plenty small enough. Runout is an issue when not using the expander ball. A obvious issue that doesn’t require a dial gauge to detect.

44amp I think generally your advice is on point. I’ve used prvi brass in plenty of other calibers without issue, but I won’t pretend it’s as good as most American manufactured brass (save federal I’m through with federal rifle brass). At any rate prvi is all I have at this point. And the expander measuring at .3105 seemed a little... large to me.

Mike I used to be a big fan of neck only sizing, but I went away from it as you must FL size anyway after the 2nd or 3rd firing. I may get a collet for some of my milsurp calibers with generous chamber sizes to prolong my brass life some, as you said.

I work on the expander last night. 2000 grit wet or dry is mild enough to do it safely I found. It even took a lot longer than I thought. After polishing the expander down to .309 I have much better neck tension. The bullet puller test gives me confidence that the rounds are good to go now.
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Old August 27, 2020, 07:48 AM   #6
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I also forgot to add that the first thing I checked was the projectiles. They measured a true .311. Yes I would prefer a .312 projectile but these were purchased at a price I couldn’t turn down. Like all of us I do what I can. I have 3 kids at home and reloading components aren’t a priority line item in the budget. It’s why I make do with cheap dies and cheap brass most of the time. Not knocking anyone at all that uses better equipment and components. I don’t blame them*

*to be fair Lee stuff isn’t perfect, but they aren’t that bad either. I don’t use their dies exclusively, but I personally believe their dies and presses are a good value. Some of the garbage they throw in with their kits... yeah no
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Old August 27, 2020, 08:12 AM   #7
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I am glad that turning down the expander worked for you.

After reading 44 AMP'S post, I do agree with his analysis, you most likely have thin brass necks.
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Old August 27, 2020, 09:03 AM   #8
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Does the case neck thickness really affect the finished inside diameter of the case neck? The case neck diameter is formed by the button size and brass spring back.
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Old August 27, 2020, 11:26 AM   #9
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Not much, but a thousandth is possible from differing brass elasticity (how much spring-back you get). The whole reason for expanders in rifle dies is so the die can be made small enough to resize the thinnest neck walls the maker expects you to encounter and then the expander compensates for the over-resizing a thick neck wall then results in. Avoiding overworking the brass is why some folks drop the expander altogether and use either a neck bushing die or get their solid die honed out in the neck to work with their brass, or use the Lee Collet Die to size the neck and a Redding Body Die to size the rest of the case (it doesn't touch the neck). As long as your case mouths aren't dented, that works. If they are dented, then, often the next smaller caliber expander can straighten them enough to resize properly. This eliminated the whole make-it-too-small-and-then-expand-it routine. Another approach, though it doesn't save any brass working, is to remove the expander and use a separate operation with a Lyman M-die to expand the neck.

In this case, one would suppose the expander was designed in anticipation of 0.312" bullets being seated. However, the fact 0.311" bullets actually slip in the case neck means there would have been less than 0.001" interference fit between the case and a 0.312" bullet, when normally you would expect between 0.001"-0.002" in a commercial die. So that expander was really best matched to bullets made to the original Enfield groove diameter of 0.313"-0.314". Fine for cast bullets that size.


5Whiskey,

In your shoes I would slug the bore and see what size it really is. Cast bullet shooting is a good option for a budget. The one expenditure I would recommend putting on your horizon is a 1" O.D. thimble micrometer.
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Old August 27, 2020, 07:12 PM   #10
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Uncle nick I do plan on shooting cast at some point. I already cast for pistol, and many milsurps are a good match for cast as you really don’t lose a whole heck of a lot of energy over original loadings if you load heavy for caliber. I do intend to slug the bore. I know my arisaka slugs at .313, and I would need a cast projectile in the .314 range. I assume the .303 would be the same. Maybe I made a bit much about budget I am not broke and destitute. But I do have limited funds for my hobby so I tend to make stuff work a lot. That’s also just part of who I am.

I am sincerely considering a collet neck only die for .303 if my rifle has the typical large chamber. Also for my k31. My 7.5 brass I know will be overworked...
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Old August 27, 2020, 09:01 PM   #11
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Back when I had a No4 Mk1 Enfield I used .312 bullets. Maybe that will help you?
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Old August 28, 2020, 10:07 AM   #12
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Quote:
I am sincerely considering a collet neck only die for .303 if my rifle has the typical large chamber
If your rifle is a Lee enfield then you are almost guaranteed to have a generous chamber.
I use the Lee collet die for 5 loads, then FL resize, then the Lee collet die for 5 loads, then repeat.
I am easily getting 20 loads out of my PPU and Remington brass before I pitch them. I tend to load them mild, which is also easy on the brass.

Note, I still check every piece of brass every time with a paper clip to check for potential case head separation.
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Old August 28, 2020, 07:06 PM   #13
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If your rifle is a Lee enfield then you are almost guaranteed to have a generous chamber.
Yeah I know. I hold at a small glimmer of hope that it isn’t that bad. It’s a Fazakerly FTR rifle that probably hasn’t been fired more than a smattering since it was reconditioned. The bore is quite bright and the rifling is crisp. It had to be rebarreled. Or little used during the war one.
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Old August 28, 2020, 09:55 PM   #14
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interestingly enough, if you ever get you hands on a commercial hunting rifle in .303 British that ISN'T a sporterized military rifle, you'll probably find the chamber nice and tight to case body specs.

The "generous" (aka "oversize") chamber is a military thing, like the oversize chambers in many machineguns, the intent is to be big enough that ammo will go in, ONCE even with "combat debris" (dirt, crud, etc) in the chamber.

Remember the priority is that ammo chamber, fire, and extract ONCE. Reloadability or life of fired cases is of no concern to the military.
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Old September 21, 2020, 08:45 PM   #15
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Just to bring this back with an update. “Turning” the expander ball to .309 solved my neck tension issues and the dies make excellent ammo! This first load in the work up, just a test load, shoots so well I wouldn’t change anything. This rifle rivals my k31 for my most accurate milsurp rifle. No one would believe my 100 yard groups if I told, especially coming from an Enfield.
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Old September 22, 2020, 06:09 PM   #16
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No one would believe my 100 yard groups if I told, especially coming from an Enfield.
I might. The Enfield I bought years ago was one of those "sporterized" versions from Century Arms. Basically all they did was reblue it with a strange looking matte blue/black, and drop it in a wooden sporter stock. They looked nice in their own way. The bore on mine was dark, real dark. It shot 5 inch groups at 100 yards with Mil Surp ammo. I spent many hours cleaning the bore. Lots of Hoppes and 5 or 6 bronze brushes later and the bore actually looked fairly good. With my reloads I got it to shoot just under 2 inch groups at 100 yards. If I would have experimented with more bullet and powder makes I'm sure I could have done better. Plenty accurate to take deer, which is what I used it for. If memory serves me I used BLC2 powder and Berger 125 grain SP bullets.
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Old September 22, 2020, 09:15 PM   #17
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Mike I would have been quite pleased with 2” groups. That’s usually what my eyes are good for with iron sights these days anyway, at least until I get glasses. Alas the enfield’s tall slender front sight post is astigmatism compliant, and back to back groups were closer to 1” than 2” at 100 yds. If I hunt with a rifle other than muzzleloader this year this will be the one. Better yet recoil is manageable enough for my oldest daughter to use.
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Old September 23, 2020, 11:28 AM   #18
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A .3105 Expander Ball ought to give a 0.309-0.310” inner neck diameter with proper outside sizing and proper neck ductility.

Pull the expander....what do the dies size to on the inside?
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Old September 23, 2020, 08:55 PM   #19
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Nathan it sized to about .308 ID without the expander, but runout was terrible.
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Old September 24, 2020, 06:49 AM   #20
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Bullet or neck run out?
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Old September 26, 2020, 11:25 PM   #21
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Bullet or neck run out?
Sorry I’m just answering, but it was bullet runout. Quite obviously too. I was quite frustrated at that point and did not investigate the cause of the runout. It was only one round I sized and loaded with the expander ball removed. I did, however, save that round as I was curious. I went out tonight to set my dies up to reload the rest of my .303 brass and I inspected that brass. What I found was a wrinkle at the base of the neck next to the shoulder on one side. This personally tells me that the neck was sized plenty, and then some, and sized too much. The expander stem is definitely needed, as that wrinkle and crooked neck was a telltale sign that that I seated a bullet too large in diameter for that size of neck. Turning the expander to .309 solved my issues entirely and I could not be more pleased with how that rifle and my ammo shoots.
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Old September 27, 2020, 06:50 PM   #22
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Sounds like they were overworking the neck and kinking the case somehow. You fixed it partially. Seems like the neck needs honed out to about 0.004” under tour loaded round neck diameter.
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