First, I would like to introduce myself and thank the moderators and old-timers on this board for the opportunity to participate and benefit from your expertise. With me, please assume no knowledge--when I ask for advice, I do not shoot the messenger!
I reloaded, in a very basic way, for a number of years, up until about 1985. Then, about 5 years ago, while I still made pretty good money prior to retirement, I had two custom hunting rifles built, both on 700 actions, blueprinted, with Lilja barrels, and the whole nine yards. The first rifle is a 5 1/2 pound little Mountain rifle, in 300 Winnie, with 23 inch barrel and muzzle brake and a Swarovski 3-10x42 with the BR reticle. So far, I have only used this rifle with factory ammo on dog-sized Texas whitetails. The second, its big brother, so to speak, weighs about 10 pounds without a scope, and is chambered in 300 RUM, with a 27 inch medium heavy barrel, muzzle brake, and Swarovski 3-12X50 with TDS Plex reticle.
At the same time, I bought all the stuff for reloading, someday, with Rockchucker press and mainly Sinclair and Wilson tools--including pretty much all the tools to ensure maximum accuracy. At the time, (genius that I am), I figured I would be able to obtain 300 Winchester brass anytime
so I only bought 100 rounds and I recently found 5 pounds of RL22. For the big rifle, I had the foresight to stock up on 600 rounds of Remington brass, several thousand primers (for both rifles), and 15 pounds of RL25.
I am now working my way through the research and reloading process. I would like to discuss only the 300 RUM at this point and pose some questions: To date, I have inspected and weighed 100 rounds of the RUM brass, de-burred the flash holes, and uniformed primer pockets. I was pleasantly surprised that all 100 cases came within .6 percent plus/minus of the average weight of 268.8 grains. Although I have read you should be closer than that for BR, I am thinking for even long-range big game hunting, I should be OK.
I have ordered some factory ammo so I can fire several rounds to get an idea of what the chamber looks like as far as headspace goes. (I have the RCBS Precision Mic tools for both rifles.) My plan is to wait until I can measure these before setting up my die for resizing. This rifle was chambered somewhat tight, (which I understand is not uncommon with custom 300 RUM rifles). So the builder recommended I purchase the small-based Redding resizing die. I did and plan to use that. I also plan to turn necks, using the Sinclair tool preceded by use of the corresponding expander body/arbor.
Question # 1
: My thinking is that I should FIRST, run the cases through the expander body/arbor, followed by turning the necks, and THEN do the full-length resizing in the small based die, having removed the expander ball (in order to avoid over-working the neck). Do you agree with this order of battle?
Question # 2: IF the answer to the above question is "yes", will the expansion due to the expander die be sufficient to seat a bullet with proper neck tension without benefit of having had the expander on the sizing die run through the neck?
Question # 3: (Think like a hunter here), would you recommend continuing to use the full-length, small based sizing die on each subsequent reload of the case OR will it be likely enough just to neck size and then run each round into the chamber to make sure it will fit?
I assure you, I will have other questions in the future and thank you in advance for you help.