Help with reloading setup upgrade

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by petenz, Nov 28, 2008.

  1. petenz

    petenz Well-Known Member

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    I'm looking at upgrading my reloading setup to get the best possible accuracy from my loads, with my current equipment I can get around 1/2MOA consistently from my factory rifles but I am getting a couple of custom rifles soon and want to get the best out of them

    Currently I am using:

    Lee Turret press
    lee case trimmers
    Hornady balance beam scales
    an assortment of dies from different manufacturers, lyman, lee, redding, hornady.

    I am thinking of:

    new press - RCBS rockchucker?
    proper case trimmer - suggestions?
    Do I need new scales? My hornady ones seem consistent
    I think I need a comparator and a concentricity gauge - any other measuring tools I should get?

    I am also thinking of buying redding competition seating dies and bushing dies for everything

    Using lapua brass in my .243 but everything else is Federal/RP/WW so I guess I should uniform flash holes/primer pockets. What should I get to do that?

    Any other suggestions for helping to improve my loads? I'm a student so my budget isn't huge but I don't mind paying for quality either

    Edit: Calibres are .223 .220 swift .243 7mm08 .280AI
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2008
  2. britz

    britz Well-Known Member

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    Lee case trimmers work fine, but are time consumeing.. they all get you to where you should be.

    Rockchucker is a good press (I just retired my Lee Challenger for a RochChucker IV) but I would get the Redding Big BossII if I was going to do it again.

    If your chambers are makeing the neck turing a consideration then consider bushing dies for resizing. sinclair or K&M are the two neck turners I'd get. DON"T GET RCBS!!!

    I have one compatition seating die for a 22-250 and love it.... but the biggest thing is the ease to set seating depth to the exact same from batch to batch (you can do it with a standard seater but it is harder to manage) not sure it was worth the 95 bucks I spend on it.

    I'd guess your scale is accurate enough.

    I beleive measuring off of the ogive is key, but you can do it with other means (for a long time I was using a seating plunger cut off and placing it on the bullet tip to measure but it was very time consuming). The Hornady comparator set is very handy. I also like the headspace guages.

    I also have a home made consentricity guage (wood blocks and a calaper jerry rigged to it lol!) that I use often enough.

    honestly, I can't tell you where the big differences come in accuracy, I simply run into a problem and read and brainstorm spend money for another toy and find another problem lol!

    It's a vicious cycle!
    good luck.
     

  3. Jared06

    Jared06 Active Member

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    Jan 22, 2008
    If your getting consistant 1/2 moa from your factory rifles then your loading routines are working fine. I would use the money to buy ammo components.
     
  4. Forester

    Forester Well-Known Member

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    Mar 23, 2008

    Whats the budget?

    In order of what I would replace first:

    1. Get the straight line seater dies, Redding or Forster. Bushing dies would not hurt either. I am partial to the Forster bushing dies over the Redding myself.

    2. Pick up a concentricity gauge, Hornady has a new one coming out that looks good.

    3. Upgrade the brass to Lapua/Norma/Nosler. And get the Sinclair primer pocket uniformer and flash hole tools, also get a VLD chamfering tool.

    See where you are at regarding straight ammo, if it is straight there is no reason to buy a new press.

    If it is not straight then take a look at either a Lee classic cast press on the inexpensive end. Or go for a Forster Co-Ax if you don't mind the $$$

    If you do all of the above and still want more then take a look at the LE Wilson case trimmer and Sinclair base.

    ***If you are able to regularly get 1/2 min from your factory rifles you might consider not going too overboard until you see how the customs shoot with your loads. You might be making darn good ammo with what you have...then you can spend the money on ammo and new barrelsgun)
     
  5. boomtube

    boomtube Well-Known Member

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    Oct 8, 2007
    "I am thinking of:

    new press - RCBS rockchucker?
    proper case trimmer - suggestions?
    Do I need new scales? My hornady ones seem consistent
    I think I need a comparator and a concentricity gauge - any other measuring tools I should get?

    I am also thinking of buying redding competition seating dies and bushing dies for everything

    Using lapua brass in my .243 but everything else is Federal/RP/WW so I guess I should uniform flash holes/primer pockets. What should I get to do that?"
    ------------------------------
    The Rock Chucker is an ok press I guess, I like mine but not nearly as much as some seem to. And it for sure won't make your ammo any more accurate than it is now. If I had to buy a new press tomorrow it would be either the Lee Classic Cast (iron) model or the much more espensive Forster Co-Ax.

    The Lee case trimmer is as good as any EXCEPT the Wilson and I really doubt you would see any accuracy improvement even with it.

    NO change in scales is called for. A new one won't make your ammo any better. Since your present targets show a quarter square inch of hole, you DO have a good one and use it correctly!

    Other measure tools - I think the best concentriciy gage for the buck, perhaps at any price actually, is the Sinclair. Sinclair also has excellant comparitor tools, seating and headspace, assuming you have a dial caliper. Not only will a concentriciy gage tell you about bullet run-out but, used properly, you can learn at what stage in your process any error is comimg from so you can fix it. (Quite often it's bent necks, which usually occur with conventional sizers!)

    For the infrequent uses we put our calipers to, any of the inexpensive Chinese dial calipers work very well. Labels don't matter, all of the house brands seem to come from the same plant. Midway, Lyman, RCBS, Sears. Harbor Freight, etc. are all identical. Harbor Freight sells the Chinese mechanist type tools for the lowest cost. Their 6" calipers are on sale much of the time for $15 or so. And they also sell quite usable and inexpensive dial indicators to use on concentricity gages. Ditto their micrometers for more critical measurements. If you keep the Chink tools clean and don't drop them they will be as accurate as Starret or B&S tools for a long time.

    Dies - The Forster/Redding seater dies are really great, with or without a micrometer head, significantly better than others. That calibrated head does nothing for the concentricity of the ammo but does make it easiy to change seating depths with a minimum of fussing around.

    The option of best FL sizer dies is only Forster, in my opinion. That's because only Forster has expanders that screw up the decapping stem so expanding can begin the moment the case starts being with drawn. That way, the die body will hold the case firmly centered and help neck expanding to at least start straight!

    I have no personal experience with Reddings neck bushing size dies but read that many folks seem to have trouble getting really straight necks out of them.

    I use Lee's Collet Neck Sizers simply because of the quality of necks - straight - I get from them and they work the necks the absolute minimum. My carefully selected and worked-over cases last a long time with the Lee neck sizer.

    Cases - High grade brass is good. I just wonder if it's good enough to justify the high cost? I mean, I can order a large lot of conventional brass, Fed, RP or WW, then select the best by weight and neck consistancy and have some really good cases, with a good number of left overs to be used for casual shooting/hunting. And at a lower total cost than a much smaller lot of the really good brass. Maybe it's a wash which way to go is "better."

    Other tools - Your ammo may benefit from neck turning. There are several good outside neck turners available. For more casual loading I recommend one of those made to work with a standard case trimmer, Forster, RCBS, Lyman, etc. but more critical work can better be done with a hand held turner. Reamers won't do your accuracy any good.

    Those neck turners by K&M, Pumpkin, Sinclair, etc. are really good but expensive and I wonder if they are any better than the inexpensive Forster HOT 100, "Hand Operated Turner 100", I bought from MidwayUSA. It has a carbide cutter with an angle to reduce cutting into the case shoulder and a calibrated adjuster for the depth of cut. I don't love the HOT-100's plastic case holder but it actually works fine. No matter which turner you may get, don't try to take off more than 3-4 thou at a pass. Only remove maybe 2/3s of the circumfrence of the necks, not all the way around, to keep from making the necks too thin.

    Deburring flash holes and uniforming primer pockets may or may not help accuracy but it sure can't hurt. Sinclair sells some good tools for both jobs, not much difference in using any of them.

    A good advacced reloading book can help anyone. The "Precision Shooting Reloading Guide" is the best book I've found, overall. I got mine from Sinclair, International, you can find them on line. Getting a Sinclair catalog is a good idea for anyone interested in accuracy, just to see the best reloading and shooting tools available if nothing else.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2008
  6. Winchester 69

    Winchester 69 Well-Known Member

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    You should be able to determine for yourself if your scale is adequate. A set of check-wights is useful, although I'm told that Sierra bullets are very close to advertised weight. Choose a weight close to that of your powder charge, and see if the scale will repeat the measurement consistently. Cleaning the pivot and damper with alcohol is beneficial, and will reduce the effects of static build-up.

    Redding presses are made to closer tolerances than RCBS.
    .
     
  7. petenz

    petenz Well-Known Member

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    Thanks guys, to start with I think I will get new dies, a runout gauge, comparator, flash hole/primer pocket tools and see how things look from there. My ES/SD figures aren't the best so uniforming flash holes etc might help me there.
     
  8. petenz

    petenz Well-Known Member

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    for reference these are the sort of results I am getting from my .223 (100 yards)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    I get similar groups from my Sako .243 but my loads for it display visible runout when rolled on a flat surface so I'm sure with better equipment I could tighten it up some more
     
  9. BigJakeJ1s

    BigJakeJ1s Well-Known Member

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    Oct 4, 2008
    Forster Co-Ax press and Wilson trimmer.

    All Forster seating dies (with or without the micrometer adjustment) have the sliding alignment sleeve, but only the Competition series of Redding seater die has it (with the micrometer adjustment). If you want the micrometer adjustment, there's not much practical difference, but if you don't, you can save money with the Forster dies.

    And if you use a Forster co-ax press, the Forster dies come with Forster lock rings that work very well with the co-ax press. The Redding lock rings do not work well in a co-ax.

    Andy