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Headspace gauge/resizing die question

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Old 02-11-2011, 06:06 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Northwest Ohio
Posts: 223
Headspace gauge/resizing die question

I have been reloading my own ammo for about 6 years now. I was taught that when setting up the full length sizing die bring the ram up with shell holder to full stroke. Also having a fired cartridge of that caliber I am reloading in the shell holder, thread the die down until it just kisses the shell. Lock down the die.

I purchased some Precision Mics from RCBS that contains the headspace gauge. I never really paid to much attention to this gauges until recently when I was reading how to set up resizing dies and I started to play with them.

I was reloading for my 243 win when I got to thinking about the resizing die. So I took a look at what was going on. According to the instructions with the gauge, a 243 gauge is set at zero for a measurment of 1.6300 inches. When I put a fired unprimed cartridge in the gauge it says that it is between .001 to .0025 under the minimum length. When I run it through the resizing die, the cartridge grows. I measured the case before and after the die and it grows about .002 to .003 inches in length.

I thought the shoulder would be pushed back. But the case gets longer.

Is there something wrong with what I am doing? Do I need to just start over with the resizing die?

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Old 02-11-2011, 06:15 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 250
Re: Headspace gauge/resizing die question

The instructions you gave sound more like a bullet seater not a FL sizer. A FL sizer should be set to touch the die and even a 1/4 turn more in some instances. The shoulder is not being touched and the expander is catching the inside neck therefore pulling the brass longer. What dies are you using?
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Old 02-11-2011, 06:24 PM
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Location: Northwest Ohio
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Re: Headspace gauge/resizing die question

7 loader, I am using Lyman resizing dies. After you said the die is suppose to touch the shell holder, I got to thinking if it is touching. I will have to check that out. Aren't full length dies suppose to push the shoulder back too?

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Old 02-11-2011, 07:43 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Northwest Ohio
Posts: 223
Re: Headspace gauge/resizing die question

7 loader, I have another question. You said the expander might be catching the inside of the neck which could be make the case longer. Should I use more lube in the necks. I do use Hornady's aerosol case lube.

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Old 02-11-2011, 10:41 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Camp Casey, Korea
Posts: 9
Re: Headspace gauge/resizing die question

Here is Sinclair's take on the subject: How to set up a full length sizing die.

Now, bear i n mind that Sinclair wants to sell you all their neat and wonderful products; still, their method works.

IMHO, setting the sizing die so that it contacts the shell holder may or may not be the correct thing to do for any given rifle. When you switch rifles, brass, or shell holders, you may or may not need to readjust your FL sizing die.

Sic Semper Tyrannis! Molon Labe!

My Blog: http://nicholst55.bravejournal.com/
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Old 02-12-2011, 06:46 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: PA
Posts: 1,073
Re: Headspace gauge/resizing die question

Pulling a neck over a unlubricated expander ball will lengthen the brass. Keep your brass trimmed back about .010" under SAMMI specs. And do not seat bullets out so far that they are jammed into the bore.

The instructions for F/L sizing are correct. After sizing, try to chamber a unloaded, empty case in your rifle. If the bolt goes down hard, it means the shoulder is too tight a fit in the chamber. Take that case out, re-lube the entire case and inside the neck, turn your sizer die down another quarter turn, size the case and try it again. When turning the bolt down, you should feel just very slight resistance. At that point, the headspace is perfect, and you can now full length size all your brass at that setting. If still too tight, turn it down another quarter until you have a snug fit. If the bolt just flops down, you have gone too far and increased headspace to a point of danger. Throw that case away, raise the die slightly and try again.
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Old 02-12-2011, 07:17 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 77
Re: Headspace gauge/resizing die question

Skip that touchy-feely-turney approach.

"IMHO, setting the sizing die so that it contacts the shell holder may or may not be the correct thing to do for any given rifle."

Your honest opinion is 100% perfect. "May or may not" is not only the best answer, it is the RIGHT answer. My first reloading die purchase and 4-5 reloads later could have cost me some ill will. I followed exactly per manufacturer instructions which is wrong and had close call with incipient head separation. The Sinclair page is very good but being an engineer, I hate it when someone says "go by feel"! For many people that approach is so relative and most cannot feel .001 - .002. and even if they do, every single rifle is totally unique so one has to not only be able to feel but also feel for each rifle's characteristics. I am not saying some reloaders don't have some success doing this by feel or by manufacturer's instructions, but I have my paycheck betting the large vast amount of reloaders doing it that way and think they are just fine aren't in that .001 - .002 headspace range and those are the numbers to really shoot for (period).

There are a good number of tools that one can appreciate in your concern. Here are mine.

IMHO this tool cannot be beat but it does cost a few more dollars than some tools but it is so so worth it. Larry Willis's Digital Headspace Gauge.
Innovative Technologies - Reloading Equipment I researched over and over and this tool just works, and works too good to now be without it.

Once you understand how to use the tool, (3 -4 shells possibly) you will question how anyone in this world can go by the "feel approach" or the "turn 1/4 approach". Not trying to be disrespectful to all but you will see that turning the die down even 1/16 - 1/24 of a turn (depending on die) makes the difference between .001 and .005.

This tool also works just TOO PERFECTLY for bullet seating depth in conjunction with Hornady's L&L OAL gauge and comparator. There are some considerations using this tool and Hornady's custom modified case in your OAL measurement but using this tool and Digital Headspace Gauge I think is super easy, fast and very accurate. (Having seen the homemade modified case approach fail because some bullets move when removing this case - Hornady's product or similar products are much better and much more accurate)

P.S. - A member on here - WOODS (he is in my opinion an experienced expert) - has different tool(s) to perform OAL and bullet seating and is very good too.
Call Larry Willis and talk to him. It will be 10 minutes of your time extremely well spent. (and no I do not work or personally know Larry except for this product sale)

Please guys - some of your instructions are setting people up for incipient head separation issues.

Again - Skip that touchy-feely-turney approach.

Last edited by 338winmag; 02-12-2011 at 07:27 AM.
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