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Old September 19, 2010, 12:12 PM   #1
Skunk Ape
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How do I neck-size only?

I just bought a set of Lee dies for 30-06 Springfield. How do I neck size the cases with the full-length resizing die? I assumed that it could be done, but now I can't figure it out! Do I need to buy a neck-sizing-only die (such as the lee collet neck sizing die) or can I make due with the Full Length die I currently have?

Keep in mind that I'm trying to achieve the most consistent/accurate groups as possible. If I have to buy a neck sizing die, I'll do it. Thanks,
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Old September 19, 2010, 01:46 PM   #2
dagger dog
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I assume you are shooting a bolt or non-auto loader, if so this is the way it works

Put your case in the shell holder, make sure the die is backed all the way out where it just makes contact with the case mouth, raise the handle, screw the die in 1/2 turn and run the case into the die then raise the handle again and inspect the case, you will see a "ring" where the die has made contact with and sized the case neck, keep repeating and you will se the "ring" move down the neck toward the shoulder, make sure to stop before the ring makes contact with the shoulder and lock the die down. You may have to adjust the decap ,sizer stem, to make sure it sizes the inside of the neck on the stroke, and you may want to decap on a seperate step.

A better name for this procedure is partial full length resizing. As you shoot these cases they may get hard to close the bolt, and you will have to give them a full size go round if this happens
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Old September 19, 2010, 02:26 PM   #3
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Get a Lee collet die.
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Old September 19, 2010, 02:54 PM   #4
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If you use a candle flame to lightly put smoke marks on the neck & shoulder of the case it's much easier to see the die working down the neck BTW (This used to be known as "smudging a case").
It gives the advantage of being able to BOTH neck size & full length resize with the same die as you'll eventually need to do a full length resize as the case will swell a tad every time & will get tight to chamber. When this happens just set the die to F/L resize, resize & back off again for more neck sizing.
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Old September 19, 2010, 04:10 PM   #5
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I've taken the easy route. I put the edge of a nickel between the die and shell holder. Works like a charm.
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Old September 19, 2010, 04:45 PM   #6
Lost Sheep
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Use both?

Originally Posted by GeauxTide
I've taken the easy route. I put the edge of a nickel between the die and shell holder. Works like a charm.
Given the uniformity of American coinage, using a nickle as a feeler gauge is convenient, and lucky. How much change did you go through before you discovered you got satisfactory results? Did you go for foreign coinage, also?

Can different makes (or production runs) of dies have a different clearance spec?

Seems to me that dagger dog and wogpotter's suggestions will yield more certain results.

Skunk Ape, using full-length sizing dies, backed off a bit, to neck-size has been done since there were bottle-necked cartridges to reload. The neck-sizing-only dies are either 1) a marketing scheme to sell more dies or 2) somewhat easier to use/set up, a trifle more accurate, or both.

If you are after supreme accuracy, I see no reason not to go for the neck-sizing die, along with a concentricity gauge and any of the other reloading tools that make each case and each loaded round more consistent.

As far as a definitive answer, you will not get one. Some reloaders go one way, some another way.

You would do best to ask each one WHY they chose one way over the other. But best to ask the reloader who occasionally uses BOTH methods, which he chooses, when, and why. Good luck on finding him, though. He is probably out at the range or the bench.

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Old September 19, 2010, 04:47 PM   #7
Skunk Ape
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Thanks everybody. That confirms how I thought to do it. I think where I got confused was with regard to the actual operation of the die. I thought that the case would automatically be resized when the ram forced it into the die body--thereby making it impossible to resize the neck without simultaneously resizing the body of the case. I'm a novice at this so I'll just keep experimenting until it's second nature. All that being said, I'll probably get a Lee Collet die eventually.
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Old September 19, 2010, 05:13 PM   #8
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Using any of these methods above, you are resizing the sides of the case somewhat (depending on your particular chamber dimensions). This may squeeze the shoulder forward a little. So make sure the partially-resized cases will still chamber and the bolt will close before loading them up.

82.47% of the time you will be fine.
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Old September 19, 2010, 05:33 PM   #9
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You can partial neck size with a FL die by
  • raise the ram
  • thread the die in until it contacts the shell holder
  • lower the ram
  • UNTHREAD the die back up 3/4 turn

this will size about 3/4 of the neck and leave 1/4 of it fire-formed size. If you thread the die in any more it will begin to contact the case at the pressure ring close to the case head. That will squeeze the case and push the shoulder forward, sorta like squeezing a baloon. The more you thread the die in the more of the case body it will size until you get to the setting where it will size all of the neck, all of the case body and begin to push the shoulder back.

A neck sizing die will (or at least can) size all the neck without contacting the case body.

Good advice to get a Lee Collet. If you need to push the shoulder back then you can get a Redding Body Die for a companion to the Lee Collet.
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Old September 19, 2010, 08:31 PM   #10
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With a neck sizing die !
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Old September 19, 2010, 09:27 PM   #11
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Given the uniformity of American coinage, using a nickle as a feeler gauge is convenient, and lucky.
New coins are painfully consistent.

Wear starts to affect them after that.
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Old September 19, 2010, 11:25 PM   #12
Dave R
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I've taken the easy route. I put the edge of a nickel between the die and shell holder. Works like a charm.
I read in Speer #13 (I believe) to use a matchbook cover instead of a nickel. That would probably bring the die closer to the holder than a nickel would.

When I was resizing .223 brass for my single shot NEF, I used that method and it worked well.

But when I got an AR and tried to use brass I had neck sized for the NEF, in the AR, I found out why you must always full length resize brass going into a semi. I thought my AR was a lemon until I figured out I was using neck-sized brass. Once I full-length resized it, my AR fed perfectly.
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Old September 19, 2010, 11:53 PM   #13
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A middle option between neck sizing only and full length sizing is to get a RCBS or Hornady case gauge and set up your die to resize just enough to fit the chamber. You will completely size the neck, size the body a little, and hold the shoulder right where you want it. This way every batch you make is exactly the same. None will get tight in the chamber and you won't have a batch every now and then that is fully resized that needs to be re-fireformed.

Test a batch of each in your rifle and see what gives the best results.

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Old September 19, 2010, 11:59 PM   #14
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Get a Lee collet die.
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Old September 20, 2010, 12:59 AM   #15
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This is one of the terminology debates.The short answer:you cannot neck size only with a full length resize die.
Lets use a .308 for example.Suppose you back the die up .050 from the shellholder.That is .050 of neck tension,so I don't think we need more.
Case dia at the head is .470.At the shoulder,454.We have .016 taper over1.560 case body length.May we fudge a bit and say it is about .001 thousandth on the dia per .100 thousandths length?So you are making a .0005,or 1/2 of one thousanth change on the dia of the case body.In a short necked 308,you have lost .050 of effective neck.
Now,take a half a bananna,hold it like a handgun in a two handed grip,supported with the weak hand from beneath.Squeeze the bananna.Note the bananna squeezing out the top of your hand.this is what is happening to your headspace at the shoulder.The material has to go somewhere.If the die is backed off,this extrusion is happening in an uncontrolled manner.That introduces variability.The bolt may not close.
I have heard the Lee collet necksizer is very good.The other die mfg's also make neck size only dies.
I do advocate having the means to measure the amount of bump back on the shoulder,and I do advocate setting back a known amount,such as .002 on a bolt gun.
Just thumping over center with the shellholder against the die,too much is unknown,we likely over shorten the brass,and shorten the life of the brass.
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