I've been doing a little reloading but have always FL sized my cases each and every time. What other options do I have and what are the advantages/disadvantages of each? I've seen neck sizing dies, collet type, bushing type....there's just so many options I'm not sure which way is the best to go.
I'm currently loading for a .25-06 with decent results but case life is very short. Maybe 5 loads before the neck begins to split. Wouldn't think I'd have to anneal before then but apparently I need be. Would a different sizing process help this issue? The loads I'm running are quite mild. So does this mean I'm work hardening my cases and should just anneal them?
But I above all I want the most accurate process possible. Meaning whatever it may take accuracy is of the upmost importance to me.
I ask these questions for my own education obviously and for improvement. But I'm also planning a .338 Edge build soon and want to start out right.
Thanks for ya'lls help.
The case neck splits aren't a result of full length sizing, and going to neck sizing with the same neck dimensions in dies and expanders wouldn't solve that one. You're overworking your necks, and that's what causes them to split. Overworking your brass by pushing the shoulder back too far during full length sizing will cause head separations if it's done too often or too severely, but that's another issue entirely.
You might want to take a look at Forster or Redding bushing dies. This may solve the problem, assuming you select a bushing the sizes the necks just enough to provide the tension you're after, and no more. As it is right now, I'd hazard a guess that your die is sizing the neck down far tighter than it needs to be, and then opening it back up with an expander ball that's overworking the necks. The correct bushing size will take the necks down, while providing virtually no resistance to the expander ball if you even choose to continue using it. Don't have to, and many simply dispense with the expander altogether. Assuming the chamber neck isn't too large, and allows the necks to expand too badly upon firing, this should extend your case life considerably. Personally, I'd recommend that you continue to F/L size, but that's a personal choice. It prevents a number of problems, and so long as you're using a gage and not bumping the shoulders back more than .001"-.002" at most, your case life should still be very good. Hope that helps.
You were right on point when you said my die F/L sizes then opens the neck up with the expander ball. The dies I use are a simple set of Lee's. So when you talk about F/L sizing, barely, bumping the shoulder and checking with a gage...what exactly are you checking? What kind of gage?
So far all I do is F/L size, trim with the supplied case length rod and a cutter, then chamfer, and load. I know there is a few more things that I could be doing and could/should be using better equipment. However I'm on a fairly tight budget.
Also you mentioned you would recommend to continue F/L sizing as there are advantages and keeps away from potential issues. Can you elaborate on this a bit more?
Can you guys give me a list of operations that you perform to get your most accurate loads? Start with a once fired case and work me through your process.
The Wilson chamber gages, the RCBS Precision Mic, the Sinclair bump gage or the Redding Instant Indicator all allow you to see the same thing; how much you're moving the shoulder back. For a bolt gun, even moving back .001" should be enough to allow free and easy chambering. Going as far as .002" gives a little more insurance of this and still won't overwork the brass. And that's what you're looking for here.
That's not your problem at the moment though. It sounds like it's the expander overworking the necks, and that's why you're losing cases to cracking. You want to minimize this to just what's needed to provide good neck tension, and no more.
I like the bushing dies, as I've mentioned. I also full length size, almost religiously. Very rarely use neck sizing as I see no real advantage to it, and it has an inherent potential for problems. My process may vary a bit from one application to the next but basically it goes;
Decap the cases and inspect. Clean them at this time, whichever method you chose to use. I've used tumblers forever, and recently dabbled with sonic cleaners (not terribly impressed thus far). May try the pin media next.
I resize using any of several lubes (Imperial is my favorite) with a F/L bushing die. The bushing size is normally .002" under whatever the O.D. of a loaded round is at the neck. Measure, subtract .002" and that's probably the bushing you want to start with. I do use an expander for much of my resizing, but with this method, you'll just barely feel the inside of the neck kiss the button as it passes. I like carbide buttons, but even there a little lube is a good thing. Use one of the gages mentioned to seet the sizing die up to assure you aren't bumping the shoulder more than what's needed, and you're set.
Remove the lube (may even tumble briefly again) and you're in business. Trimming is a variable, and it will depend on what I'm loading as to how it gets done. Just monitor the case length, and trim as needed.
This is a basic overview, and gets modified a bit depending on what sort of loading I'm doing. A bit different for gas guns, hunting rifles, target rifles (bolt guns), etc.. The main thing to solving your issue though, is to not overwork that neck.
Sorry, forgot to elaborate on the N/S problem issues you'd asked about. I'm a competitive shooter, primarily Service Rifles. For that application, N/S isn't am option, they have to be F/L sized, period, end of story. You've got some wiggle room with bolt guns, but virtually all competitive shooters (XC and LR Prone, anyway) will F/L size there, too. We shoot rapid fire at 200 and 300 yards, and the rounds need to chamber absolutely freely, no resistance on teh bolt whatsoever. When you N/S, you'll feel some resistance to the bolt closing, and that's unacceptable for us. With each subsequent firing, that resistance will increase just a bit. At some point, they won't chamber correctly and you'll find yourself fighting to close the bolt. Opening the bolt, whether you've fired or not, also beocmes more difficult. Bottom line is, even if you do choose to N/S for most of your shooting (and many do), you'll still need to F/L resize after every so many firings to prevent this from becoming a problem.
You don't necessarily need to spend a fortune on equipment to load accurate ammo, but you do need good equipment. Choose wisely and consider what you really need before whipping out the plastic and you'll do just fine. Just take the time to ask around and get some opinions of those who are using various equipment (as you're doing here), and that'll save you time, money and aggravation.
Not too far! I get out that way quite often. I've shot bullseye pistol, NRA Action pistol and USPSA matches out at Pioneer quite often. Also shoot Benchrest (rarely) Highpower sometimes (they do a reduced course) and some smallbore Silhouette Rifle. My "home" range would be Bucksnort, just outside Marshall. That's for HP, Long Range, Smallbore Prone. There's also Columbia Green Valley, and we shoot an indoor offhand rifle league there during the week (headed there tonight) using rimfire conversion uppers on our Service Rifles. Also shoot a lot out at SLBRC; Smallbore Silhouette, HP Silhouette, High power XC, Long range, and an occasional 600 yard BR match. There's a couple others (Mill Creek, KS, Van Meter, IA, Paris, etc.) but those are my main "local" haunts.