- March 25, 2016 at 3:49 pm #26345HarterParticipant
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I’m a blank page here with just a couple minor nits ,I also lack the tooling to go beyond 3 places consistently , the bullets that hit the rifling seem to do so in a uniform way and the rest of them wander through the “free bore” like a hot dog down a hallway with jacketed cast seems to swell up or start of fat enough in most cases to work out.
I beg the machinists and tool makers forgiveness now as I’m just a lowly wrench bender and tend more toward lay terms than physics.
The thing is that sometimes a seater die has to be “adjusted” to suit a need and some sizer dies just aren’t well suited for even minor case changes .
I tend to think that the sizing die is the most important die in the set regardless of whether it is a $6 Lee or a $100 -.00025 chamber revision with a -.0005 shoulder bump with 3 shell holders and a zero step setup shell holder blank (or some other extreme accuracy +0 -.001% arrangement) and separate expanding and flair tools.
Next is seating operations some say that they require equally extreme measures to poke a bullet in to its case . Here I’ve had a case or 2 that have required special treatment but the biggest offender was a 7.62 x39 that would hard slip fit a 323 cast chamber a 318 nose at mag length and has a .3165 groove and a gas port that swallowed a # 30 drill with wiggle room.
At this point we diverge into flairing, belling, expanding, bullet base cooperation, cast vs jacketed,”M” dies assorted bushing dies , crimps ,how much, what kind ,where any or all of the above as separate or combined operations and my favorite the bullet that doesn’t fit in the die throat because it is .007 over standard for a mildcat or .01 over for a sloppy shot a lot Yugo wonder .
Let’s face it the contest over the FCD will never go away . You love or hate it ,use for its intended use ,toss it or use for something else somewhere between paper weight/art supplies and a sizer for the super fat Rossi chamber. (The 45 ACP on Colts is good here.)
This morning I read that current era dies are cut with such consistent repeatable that there is little difference between Lee ,CH and Redding. ……. um ok I’ll leave it at my first real nit, tolerance stacking and QC . Just because it does the job doesn’t make it the best tool .
I have 40+ yr of tools for the hobby I dies from CH , Lee, Pacific tool and gauge , Pacific/Hornady, a couple of vintages of Lyman, a Herter’s and RCBS.
What I can tell from the layman’s point of view is that of them all there are reasons why I have some of the sets I have .
Let’s take just the ACP class . I’ll buy Lee if I buy another that I don’t have dies for not because the Lyman doesn’t make sound 45 ACP or the RCBS set let me down on 9mm but because a set of 380 from Lee was $35 and the store shelf has the over $50 for RCBS and nearly $70 for Hornady, really how bad can a set be off for a case that is under 3/4 in long .
The mag length pistols . This is a toss when I bought the 38/357 and Colts dies there was $5 difference between Lee and RCBS and RCBS was on the shelf at the local guys place so it came home with me . 2nd nit , like most of us I can’t leave an orphan set of dies at a sale especially if there’s other gun stuff and I can get it for the $5 for the whole box thing. So I use the Lee 45 ACP FCD to size the body on the Rossi 92′ Colts brass mostly because the RCBS sizer “coke bottles” the brass from the RBH even with jacketed,but it’s a fine neck sizer so it works for me . Some day a steel sizer will find me .
Rifle dies ….. this is rough and filled with hypocrisy from/for me . Yes I have several Lee sets ,yes they work . So do the others and I guess in the end it really comes down to availability and cost but not always. Enter the 7×6.8 and 280 AI that wasn’t. The 7×6.8 mildcat is interesting in that all it needs is an expander oversized for 284 instead of 278 and since a straight 6.8 SPCII has arrived the relieved seater is sloppy . At the time Lee was all that was available so it is the set for the 7×6.8 while a new set of RCBS is doing duty for the 6.8 SPCII. I would have paid the extra for the RCBS set but struggled as I hogged out the seating die to accept the. 286 paper patch which didn’t bother me to do to the Lee set…… It also didn’t bother me to hack .09 off the 280 AI Lee set for the wildcat that wasn’t a full shoulder length but rather a long necked 280 AI mostly. The $28 for that adventure was somehow easier to wash than if it had been a $35 set .
3rd nit if you neck up or the FL duties aren’t extreme ,see the 7.62 x39 example Lee is ok but I’ll take almost any of the others if I have to neck down or move a shoulder. The Lee vent on the 222 and a couple of others gouge the neck and drag all the way on the shoulder and still you get lube dents . The Lyman 7×57 isn’t any better but it is a 1970 all American set so whatever. I’m yet to get a perfect specimen out of it when moving from 8×57 I will find its happy place if I have to buy 10 more lubes , it doesn’t vent well I guess and neck/shoulder creases are the biggest problem. Probably an operator error. It seems odd that I can lube 3/4 of the 8×57 body and run it in a 257 Roberts FL RCBS and only 1 in 6-7 get dents . I bought the CH 32 Remington dies because they were $40 shipped 2nd hand but unused and Huntingtons wants 125 for the NOS RCBS (contrary to popular myth they are not a rimless twin of the Winchester) . I will admit at this point that I would spend the full amount for the CH for an obsolete/obscure cartridge die set because they are nice tools and will make 35-30 derimed into 32 Remington in 1 smooth pass and not be fussy about where the lube is or how much is too much .
I guess I would be more fussy ,having written this all down, if I had more top shelf rifles that I could see a measurable difference or shot far enough out for measurable differences to be seen in every load but alas I’m just a hunter only too pleased when I get honest 1″ groups with full case hunting loads .
My cases run from 380/9×17 to 264 WM and 222 to 45 Colts and or 358 Win in 17 cal and 30 or so cartridges plus 4 gauges so I’ve been through the mud and formed a few cases along the way .
So where do you stand are the mega bucks dies worth every penny every time or is there a personal limit upper or lower that makes your choices. There’s way to many derailments above so take it wherever it goes .
- March 25, 2016 at 4:42 pm #26351GoodsteelKeymaster
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In my experience the FL die is not as important because it doesn’t have to follow anything in particular. The FL die merely establishes your datum lines and CL of your cartridge body.
The Seating die however, is an entirely different matter. The seating die must create a cartridge that maintains the CL established by your rifles chamber and the FL die, and is paramount to the creation of precise ammo. The difference between an excellent die and a POS is just a few thousandths of an inch here or there.
Now, I feel it is important to mention that the overall precision of your rifle is only as strong as the weakest link. You could have the most accurate ammo in the world, and the cases are still going to be thicker on one side than they are on the other, and if you fire them in an oversize chamber, they will bulge toward the thin side and effectively make it appear that you are shooting warped ammunition. Subsequent sizing will not fully correct this bulge, but establish a CL that is a compromise between the unfired brass and the brass that was slightly bulged in your chamber. Thus, perfect precision is a pipe dream.
In order to make use of ultra precise dies, you have to have a chamber that is parallel to your barrel and perfectly perpendicular to your bolt face, and the fact is, this is rarely the case (pun intended).
My point is, there is no sense getting too lost in space with this unless you have a very tight chamber that is only a few thousandths of an inch larger than your new brass and the brass that is produced by your sizing die. This makes the normal gyrations the case goes through a fairly accurate and predictable thing.
If you’re loading for pistols and lever action rifles, they are the absolute worst for this. Reasonable diligence will yield measurable results down range, but there’s a very real point of diminishing returns here.
Now, if you’re talking about bottle necked cartridges being fired in a bolt action rifle, the fact is, that manufacturers know that people expect a higher level of precision from these guns and they build them accordingly.
If you take the care to make sure your brass is fireformed with the base controlled in the center of your chamber (God willing you have a chamber that is not too far out of parrellel with the bore) you can set your brass up for a much more accurate situation because while it still bulges toward the thin side of the case, it cannot move the base of the cartridge as well, which forces the bulge to be less. Once this is established, you can hone your FL die a little so that it doesn’t over work your brass, and then if you take the care to use a seating die that makes concentric ammo, you really will realize a noticeable and measurable improvement in precision.
The flip side to this is a custom rifle that has a chamber that was reamed absolutely perfectly square, parallel and tight, brass that is of very good quality (Lapua is about the only game in town if you like to measure things), Sizing dies that bump the external dimensions of the brass only .002 or so, seating dies that take advantage of this precision and do not find themselves to be the weak link in the chain of precision, and premium bullets that also take advantage of these globally restricted tolerances.
It’s actually my opinion that any system will shoot like a laser if these simple things are implemented in a barrel of excellent quality, but there is just too much wrong with certain rifles to easily correct this.
Mark my words though, all of these things I just mention make only a slight difference in the precision of a rifle (1MOA vs. .3MOA maybe?) and pale in comparison with the single most important component to rifle precision:
Barrel Quality. The barrel itself is often the weak link that overshadows all of these other issues like an elephant in the room. We don’t talk about it, nor do most people spend much time considering it, because there’s simply nothing that they can do about it. Or is there? I am conducting experiments right now, and looking for ways that an average fellow can follow my instructions and change the equation in his rifle so that the rest of his effort is better served. There are a few tricks that are not talked about much, that could make the difference in lever action rifles, pump action rifles, single shots and even bolt actions of all different calibers. I will bring this to the forum once I’m completely sure I am right and that I can explain it effectively and thoroughly.
- March 25, 2016 at 6:04 pm #26355ArtfulParticipant
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At one point I was RCBS Green all the way – I have a lot of green boxes – but I have some Lyman, Redding, Dillon and Lee – for the money Lee works just fine and in cases works better than their competition. As far as seating dies – if you have a particular bullet or Boolit one of things you can do is buy an extra seating stem and with a little JB weld make a custom seater – it will help with alignment as does getting started in the case correctly which is where I have several M dies.
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