Re: adjusting head space
"How does one adjust headspace on standard RCBS dies (I know, I need to upgrade), I'm using the stony point headspace gauges and I just want to bump the shoulder back .002". Do I set it up so the die is no longer camming on the shell holder and keep backing it out till I get the desired bump?"
Okay, first you have no need to "up-grade" anything, your dies are fine.
Most people FL size the "right way", as the die insructions say and that is by screwing the die down to firm contact with the shell holder. Many, if not most, are actually over sizing and creating excess headspace that way when none need exist. Over resizing is the major reason many "experts" suggest we only load our brass five times before tossing it. Sized correctly, my cases last three to five times that many loadings, sometimes more. And I mean fulll pressure rifle loads.
To properly adjust the FL sizer you need to accurately know the head to shoulder length of your fired cases. Use the Stoney Point tool to find that. Then, I believe it's simplier to back the sizer off a bit and work down toward the target length.
Put your sizer die in the press and adust it so it touches the raised shell holder. Then back the die out a quarter turn, that moving the die about 16 thousanths of an inch up. Size a case then measure it's head to shoulder length. It will likely be longer than it was before sizing. Adjust the die down about 1/16 of a turn, that being about 4.5 thousants, and test it again. Keep this up until you get the case shoulder where you want it, 2 thou below fired length is a good target. It won't be totally consistant because brass isn't that consistant an alloy so some cases will spring back at the shoulder a little more than others. Secure the die's lock ring to save the adustment.
Normal head space tolerance is about 8-9 thou, total range. If you move the die any more than 1/16 turn per adjustment you can cover more than the full range tolerance range quite easily. Go slow here.
A Wilson type case gage (a "go-no go" type gage, or "stop and go") has a chamber precisely cut into a solid cylinder of steel. The cylinder shows both ends of the case and has a small step cut at each end. The mouth end is a case length gage, we trim if the case is higher than the step. The other end is a headspace gage and the head should be between the two levels to make the case meet SAMMI specs.
SAMMI specs don't mean at thing to a competent hand loader working with his own rifle. The actual headspace length means nothing if a case properly fits the chamber in which it's fired. By adjusting your sizer as described above, your cases WILL fit your chamber, period. I no longer use my Wilson SAAMI case gages for anything except those rare occasions I load for someone else.