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Old May 1, 2013, 01:39 PM   #1
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Match grade dies?

I think I know the answer but I will ask the knowers.
Is it worth spending the extra money on match grade dies (223)? For right now I will be just short range but I will eventually going for longer distances as I improve on reloading and shooting.

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Old May 1, 2013, 02:11 PM   #2
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If you're shooting an AR, I wouldn't bother.

If you're shooting a heavy barrel bolt-action target rifle than maybe. More than likely you can realize accuracy as good as you're capable of with the REDDING 3 die set for around $90.
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Old May 7, 2013, 07:12 PM   #3
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Thanks, that's what figured. And yes it is for an AR-15.
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Old May 7, 2013, 09:28 PM   #4
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I've shot test groups at longer ranges with cases full length sized in standard dies with necks lapped out to 2 thousandths less than loaded round neck diameter and bullets seated in the same die types equal to or better than current benchrest records. Go figure.

Redding and RCBS full length bushing dies are probably the best commercially available ones. One die with a set of bushings of different diameters will accomodate a range of neck wall thicknesses. They don't size fired case necks all the way to the case shoulder and may not center the sized case neck as perfectly centered on the case shoulder like a lapped out standard full length sizing die does, but the results with them, when properly set up and used without decapping stems, are hard to beat.

Die type's about 60th on my list of the 100 things needed for best accuracy. But they must not use expander balls and size the fired case neck all the way back to the shoulder setting the shoulder back a couple thousandths for overall best results.
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Last edited by Bart B.; May 8, 2013 at 06:23 AM.
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Old May 8, 2013, 09:50 AM   #5
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Nothing is automatic. As a rule of thumb, "match grade" dies (Forster and Redding) may help match grade shooters with match grade rifles using match grade loading methods with match grade components. Few people do.
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Old May 8, 2013, 10:44 AM   #6
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Both of the above are correct, IME. Bart is describing sizing dies set up so they let you size without using an expander. Expanders are known to pull necks off axis which is the biggest and most common cause of cartridge runout. Such runout can cause some chambers to let groups open up as much as an moa, while other chambers seem almost immune to it. That's an example of what Wncchester meant by nothing being automatic. We don't know whether your particular chamber cares about this or not. You have to learn that.

Runout is also one of those things where there are several ways to skin the cat. An economy approach is to use the Lee Collet die to size the necks and a Redding Body Die to size the rest of the case separately. That makes it a two-step process, but the cost of the dies, by the time you've bought several different neck bushings to cover different makes of brass, is about half. The Collet Die sizes all brass neck thickness to the same ID without adjustment, plus it won't ever allow an internal donut to form.

This video shows the Collet Die compared to a die with an expander, and you can see the difference in neck runout produced. The same will be true for the Redding dies Bart describes when used without an expander (usually you just put a next smaller expander in its place or lap down the OD of the built-in one). The collet die takes getting used to, and I like to lap mine lightly for smoother operation. They will not work in a progressive press, though, where the Redding and Forster bushing dies will.

Once you've got a case with a straight neck, there are two things you can do to insure the bullet goes in straight. The expensive one is to use the Redding Competition Seater Die (comparison to a few others here). Forster also makes a sliding sleeve type seater. Forster has a less expensive version of theirs, but Redding's has a floating seater stem while the Forster does not, and which some feel helps keep things straighter in some instances.

The cheaper thing you can do to keep bullets straight is to buy a Lyman M die and flare the case neck just enough to get the little step in the neck that it makes to let you start the bullet in straight with a standard seating die. In this instance I would use the RCBS standard seating die as the long skinny rod that holds it's seating stem ram has enough flex that it acts like a floating seating stem, and it has a crimp shoulder. You would set that shoulder just far enough down to iron the Lyman step back out. Or you could use a separate .223 taper crimp die to iron the step out a little more gracefully and to make the exact case lengths less critical. Otherwise, I would use the Lee Dead Length Seater, which actually has a floating ram, followed by a .223 taper crimp die. I expect you might be able to set the Lee factory crimp die up to just iron the step out, too, but I've never tried it. Beyond the minimum crimp needed to iron the step out of the case mouth, I would not crimp an accuracy load further. Be aware this approach will shorten brass life if you don't anneal the case necks regularly.

One thing that's bound to occur to you along the way is that when a bullet feeds in a self-loader, that's going to tent to bend bullets off-axis. So why would all this straightening matter anyway? It turns out in experiments by A. A. Abbatiello and Harold Vaughn, that if the same amount of off-axis tilt is always oriented in the same direction in the chamber, it shoots as tightly as if there were no tilt. So you are relying on that loading ramp to bend them all the same way and for the direction to end up the same in the chamber each time. The downside is that if you have to eject a live round for a cease-fire at a match, you don't want to chamber it again, as you may now have two different tilts combined in an unpredictable way. You need to set such rounds aside for practice unless you know your gun doesn't care about this.
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Last edited by Unclenick; May 8, 2013 at 10:50 AM. Reason: typo fixes
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