You need to read the manual coming with the die set. It differs. Some you need lower the press arm (ram in up position) and then you turn the die until it touches the shell holder. Others you lower the ram and turn it in another 1/4 turn (RCBS Rockchucker Press). NB also that you use the same shell holder brand as the die set since different brands produce shell holders with different hights thereby giving you different settings on Full Length Resizing.
I also wanted to become a smart reloader and sold all my Hornady, Lyman and RCBS dies sets. I then baught the Redding Deluxe sets. Very good dies, but their lock rings is crap. I had them all replace with Foster lock rings. Another disadvantage is that the sizer die does not have a vent hole like all the other brands. Why I do not know? So you must be extremely sparingly on lubing the necks since dented shoulder is eminent. Furthermore I used to dip the case neck in the Imperial Wax and thereby lubing the inside of the case neck as well as the outside. This has worked well with Lyman, Hornady and RCBS. But with the Redding die, there was a terrible sqeak when you extract the case from the die through the expander ball. I was advised that I should use a brush to lube the insides of the neck - another additional step in my reloading process. In the end I got the carbide expander balls from redding at nearly half the price of a die set. It works well now. Then I had a few nickle plated cases which I did not want to throw away and which I still wanted to use one more time. I decided not to use my expensive Redding die sets for this. So I bought a Foster FL die in .222Rem and .270Win. The Foster die had a vent hole on the shoulder of the sizer die and the expander ball worked extremely smooth using my dip and size method above. Even sizing the nickle plated cases which is generally regarded as hard to size, was extremely easy. So if you ask me today what is good value for money, I can say the Foster is a good option which I would definitely explore more in the future. RCBS will definitely see me again, but the Reddings I got will be the only Reddings for the future. With Redding the add-on's is making it too expensive (lock rings, carbide expander balls etc) and there is too many hickups with the lube process.
Forster sells a .308 national match die set for the same price as the other dies they catalog. This would be the route I'd go. That way down the road, and you decide to do a barrel setback and rechamber, your ahead of the game. Plus there is no better seater, unless your using something like Wilson dies with an arbor press. I really like the micrometer head they use better than any of the others I've used. Seem to have less backlash, but still have some. I've always felt that the higher location of the sizing ball on the stem makes for slightly more concentric brass. Plus they sell the sizing balls in all kinds of sizes.
thanks 222, rockchucker supreme is what i have with rcbs dies. screw in till it touches and then a quarter turn.
I use this same press, and I screw mine till it touches, then I tighten it up till the press arm has a VERY slight resistance when it breaks-over. Then while it's broke-over and pressed tightly against the shellholder, I tighten down the lock-ring. That's what works good for me.
"I'm just a peckerwood who lives in the hills with too many guns..." - Bob Lee Swagger
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Ignore everything I say, because I have a reading comprehension and memory problem...
Originally Posted by WildRose
The 284 is to the STW what a tricycle is to a Ninja.
Die instructions are sufficent to (usually) allow a noob to assemble ammo that will chamber and go BANG; it's sure not going to produce the best possible chamber fit. Chambers vary, dies and shell holdersvary AND press spring back varies not only by brand but individually. Cases are work hardened a bit each cycle so its spring-back varies each time it's reused. Trying to accomidate all of that variation with a simplistic "touch and stop" or "touch plus a turn", etc, is doomed to produce mediocer hand loads forever.
All brands of dies and shell holders are held to the same SAAMI tolerances specifically to make them interchangable so there's no automatic difference to mixing brands any way you wish. The target deck height for shell holders is 1/8", or .125", and they don't miss it by more than a very few thousants but add that tolerance to the tolerances of a die and you can see that no formula for die adjustment can possibly be precise.
We just learn what we need to do by experimentation and checking the end results with whatever tools we're using -- so there isn't any difference at all in set up between die brands for proper use in any press.
When properly chosen for the tasks they are to be used for, every American press made is excellant. Any of the middle ground presses by Lyman, Lee, Hornady, RCBS, Redding are much stronger and long lasting than any common reloading tasks require; if they look the same they will work and perform the same. (That's basically true for die brands too; any differences are user features, not "quality" as such.)