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Old December 2, 2009, 01:34 PM   #1
gregjc9
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Question about Lee Rifle Dies for .223

Reloading newb and trying to learn about reloading for .223 in my AR. I will be starting off reloading for 9mm (XDm & Sigs) and .45 (Kimber), already have the loads and powder figured out (I think), and have the primers, bullets, and cases cleaned and waiting to reload for the pistols. Just need to get the Lee Classic Turret press kit and dies out from under the tree and set up on the bench.

I have read and and read and read (and searched and searched), and still not very clear on the appropriate Lee rifle dies. I will be reloading for an AR (.223), and I'll probably start out with 55gr plated or jacketed bullets w/o cannelure, so I dont think a roll crimp will be needed. Most all the brass will be new ammo previously shot from this rifle. Since this is a semi, FL sizing seems to be the common recommendation.

So should I go with the Lee Deluxe Rifle Die set, or the Pace Setter Die set? I believe I understand the benefits of the Collet neck sizing die, but their web site is not very clear on all the components supplied with the kit. The Pace Setter die kits come with FL sizer, seater/roll crimper, and factory crimp die.

I will primarily be punching holes in paper, maybe an occassional groundhog. TIA
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Old December 2, 2009, 02:03 PM   #2
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Greg

For an AR you will need to FL size every time. In order for the weapon to operate flawlessly, the cases must be smaller than the chamber.

Neck sizing is only an alternative with bolt rifles.

I do not use Factory Crimp dies in any of my weapons, because proper case sizing and buller seating are what needs to be done. Many use the FC dies, but they are used to correct problems from improper sizing/seating.

Good Shooting!
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Old December 2, 2009, 03:17 PM   #3
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Shoney is right about the need to full length,(FL), size ammo meant for any semi-auto rifle. So get the pacesetter die set. The option of using the built in roll crimper in the seater die, OR using the FCD to put a factory crimp on your seated bullets, is a good one.

The lee factory crimp die for rifles is different from the FCD for handgun rounds. It uses a collet to squeeze the neck into a bullet to firmly hold it. It will even crimp bullets that DON'T have a cannelure. Some say doing so will deform a bullet, making it less accurate. Maybe so, but those that do so have not noticed less accuracy, many have noticed INCREASED accuracy! As for me, I haven't tried the FCD for my .223 AR reloads enough to say one way or another.
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Old December 2, 2009, 04:37 PM   #4
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I use RCBS dies for my .223, but I use Lee dies on several pistol rounds. That said, I believe either one of those dies will work for you.

Just want to reinforce the need to full-length resize every time. I own a .223 single shot (NEF) as well as an AR. I always neck-sized for the NEF. Tried some of those rounds in the AR ans it choked every time. With rounds I have FL resized for the AR, it has been flawless.
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Old December 2, 2009, 04:54 PM   #5
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Agree with the above. The factory crimp die is something you can try with your bullets to see how it affects them in your gun? The main benefits will be increased start pressure that improves burn consistency for some powder and bullet combinations, and better immunity to rough handling. The downsides are bullet distortion that will likely detract from extreme long range accuracy by decreasing the ballistic coefficient, and more brass stressing at each load cycle which will shorten case life if you don't anneal the necks periodically.
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Old December 2, 2009, 05:05 PM   #6
gregjc9
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Thanks guys. I understand all this, but still not clear as to the differences on the two die sets. The Deluxe die set has the neck resizing die with the collet, and per their web site:

* No case lubrication required
* Reduced or eliminates case trimming
* A ten times increased case life
* Unmatched speed and convenience
* Minimum bullet runout
* Most uniform neck tension

Exactly what other dies are included in this set? (I assume the same as the Pacesetter). It sounds like this would be the better set to get?
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Old December 2, 2009, 05:50 PM   #7
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There is a bit of a learning curve on the Lee FCD, but it can be used very effectively to enhance accuracy. For use with the .223 rem in an AR --remember less is more--especially if using non-cannelured bullets..........I believe a lot of the features mentioned to advertise the deluxe die set have to do with the neck die- which you will not be using when loading for the AR.

To FL size you will still need to lubricate the cases--Imperial sizing wax is, IMHO, the very best OUTER case lube --white graphite (ground mica) the best INNER caseneck lube. You will be trimming cases--oh yes. Proper lubing will minimize "runout" I hate that misnomer. Better to say that lubing the case outside and the neck in and outside will decrease axial distortion. Well, maybe we need another term for bent neck...........Unannealed cases that are always FL sized don't last so very long.

I load for .223 and 5.56mm--there is a bit of difference--in the chambers--- I have the Lee setup you mention and never use the neck die-- I also have the Forster die set. Now, if your press is a Forster co-ax or a Corbin S series--you'd see some benefit by buying the Forster dies, or the Redding version. Otherwise why waste the money, buy the Lee dies. Just remember to always wipe your finger acid off the Lee equipment and it will give you years of great service.
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Old December 2, 2009, 06:15 PM   #8
gregjc9
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I downloaded Lee's catalog, and found what I was looking for. Below is an excerpt from the catalog description of the Deluxe die set, emphasis mine:

Quote:
Maximum accuracy is usually achieved
by seating the bullet out far enough to touch
or almost touch the rifling. This provides the
shot start pressure normally supplied by the
crimp. That’s why a dead length bullet seater is
included to complete the most accurate reloading
system ever made. These dies size only the neck
to preserve the perfect fit of fire forming. Only
reload cases that have been fired in your gun.
Not recommended for autoloaders, slide or lever
action guns.
See list of sizes on pages 10—11.
Lee Collet Die for neck sizing only 37.98

Die sets include: Collet neck sizing die, dead length bullet seating die,
shell holder, powder measure, charge table and storage box
.
So, looks like I'll be ordering the Pacesetter dies soon. Thanks all.
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Old December 2, 2009, 07:00 PM   #9
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You may find the attached link useful in loading for the AR:

http://www.exteriorballistics.com/re...sgunreload.cfm

You will want all the neck tension you can get for holding the bullet in place while being chambered. As it feeds from the magazine and hits the feed ramps, it will tend to drive the bullet into the case. As the cartridge stops it's forward movement in the chamber, the bullet can move forward in the case - just like an inertia bullet puller.

Check for both in your rifle before you decide if you need to crimp or not.
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Old December 2, 2009, 08:12 PM   #10
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That looks like great reading, I will have to read it when I'm not so tired. Thanks for the link.
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Old December 2, 2009, 08:24 PM   #11
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Take the Pace Setter Die set. As stated above, you really won't need the neck die for an auto but, things being as they are, you may very well want to try crimping later.

You could get the RGB set for just the sizer and seater but, since the Pace Setters include a shell holder (the RGB set does not) AND the crimper for very little more, why not go that route?

Lee's dies, all of them, are quite good regardless of the lower than usual price. Ammo is made inside so shiney externals and neat knurling adds no value at all but it does add cost.
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Old December 2, 2009, 08:37 PM   #12
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Lee sizer

I have never had any luck with the Lee sizer depriming used .223 brass.

I went with the RGB with replaceable pins.

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Old December 2, 2009, 09:21 PM   #13
totemkopf
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gregjc9

Pacesetter
FL Sizing Die
Bullet Seating Die
Factory Crimp Die
Shell Holder
Powder Dipper


Deluxe
FL Sizing Die
Neck Sizing Die
Bullet Seating Die
Shell Holder
Powder Dipper

Go with the pacesetter for your application
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Old December 3, 2009, 12:10 PM   #14
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Rdmallory,

Were you trying to decap military cases with crimped primers? Those can be tough because of how far you have to push the primers out to cut them loose, sometimes. I use the $10 Lee universal decapping die for those. Once that has been done and the primer pockets are swaged or reamed to clear the original crimp, regular uncrimped primers should not be an issue if the expander/decapper height is set correctly.

To set the die up, take a case that is already decapped and deburr the flash hole or pick one that has no visible flash hole burr. Lube it and put it in the press and run it up into the die like you were sizing it again. Loosen the decapper/expander stem collet on the die. Let the stem fall all the way down into contact with the case. Raise it back up a sixteenth of an inch and tighten the collet nut again. You should be good to go.
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