Lee collet dies

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by linksmechanic, Jul 14, 2009.

  1. linksmechanic

    linksmechanic Well-Known Member

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    I've been reloading for quite a few years now with redding bushing and standard dies. I'm using a t7 press and decided to buy some collet dies for the girlfriend's .243. I set them up to there instructions and it doesn't seem right. I'm using the neck sizing die. Anybody set these up that knows the proper way?
     
  2. AJ Peacock

    AJ Peacock Well-Known Member

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    What doesn't seem right?

    I just screw them in until they touch the shell holder, then I turn them in about 2 more turns (this is so the collet will work). As long as I'm getting enough neck tension, then I'm happy.

    AJ
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2009

  3. LewisH

    LewisH Well-Known Member

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    Lee Collet dies? Gee, I didn't even know he was sick! :D
     
  4. 7mmSendaro

    7mmSendaro Well-Known Member

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    I have found that I can't screw them in as far as the instructions recommend without crushing cases. I start at one turn past the shell holder, then bump it in slowly until I get the neck tension I'm looking for. I am using a Rock Crusher press.

    I always install a locking nut (Hornady) so once I find a setting I like, I can lock it down. Once you have that, your good to go the next time.
     
  5. Winchester 69

    Winchester 69 Well-Known Member

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    If the die is used, the collet may be worn.
     
  6. boomtube

    boomtube Well-Known Member

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    The Collet is the best neck die for factory rifles made today, IMHO. It does have a moving part so some folks have difficulty with it. :D

    Disregard the instructions. Put a case in the ram and push it up, repeatedly, while slowly turning the die down a small fraction of a turn at a time. When you get the proper neck tension to hold a bullet, takes about 20# of lever pressure, depending on what press you have, you're done. Further pushing will do nothing more to the neck but you can damage the die by excess pushing and striping the aluminum top cap out. (It's made to do that to prevent the ham-fisted among us from damaging their press!)

    Understand Lee's collet die DOES NOT produce the tight neck-to-bullet fit a conventional size die does. That's to prevent us from bending a straight neck with excessive seating force, which is a common occurance with conventional sizing dies that are frequently excessively smaller than bullet diameter.

    There is only one way to crush a case neck/shoulder in that die. We can go wrong by giving the die a "dry push", with no case, and get the collet sleeve jammed stuck into the upper part of the die. THEN, with the collet fingers jammed shut, necks will get pushed back. If that happens, disassemble the die and free the collet, then all will be well. Just don't push the collet up without a case again! AND, while you have it apart, lightly grease the cone-shaped top of the collet for easier work.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2009
  7. woods

    woods Well-Known Member

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    The Lee Collet is made to work by applying pressure on the lever and not allowing the lever to "toggle over". That means that it should not be adjusted so that the lever stroke bottoms out and you should put approx 25 pounds or a little more on the handle. If the lever toggles over then it could apply too much pressure and all you are doing is putting stress on the die and press. The neck will not be sized any smaller.

    I adjust the die by running the die all the way down and setting the lock nut at the top of the threads which puts the lever at the most horizontal position
    [​IMG]

    this makes gauging the amount of weight you are putting on the handle easier to estimate.

    You can also leave part of the neck fire-formed size
    [​IMG]

    by putting an appropriate sized washer on top of the shell holder around the case
    [​IMG]
     
  8. 3006savage

    3006savage Well-Known Member

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    Follow Woods instructions with the collet dies. Run down the die as far as the threads allows to limit the mechanical advatage the press exerts on the case. I exert approx 25 lbs and then I rotate the case and exert 25lbs again. Done. Set the die up this way and it is bullet proof, always has good neck tension and with minimal runout.
     
  9. LRHWAL

    LRHWAL Well-Known Member

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    There seem to be several ideas as to whether or not you allow the press to toggle over - despite Lee's instructions.

    I've been using mine for only about 6 months now, so I don't claim to be the expert, but after many internet searches and reading several comments regarding the dies mine are set up to allow the press to toggle over.

    I believe that this is more accurate than trying to gauge a consistent 20 or 25 lb pressure which also provides no reliable area to stop.

    I set mine up do that the press only just goes over and I only require very light pressure to do so (although of course with a compound press that could be a lot of pressure).

    So far so good.
     
  10. 3006savage

    3006savage Well-Known Member

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    The beauty of the Lee collets is you do not need a reliable area to stop. Regardless of how much pressure you exert on the handle beyond around 20lbs the collet will not give anymore and neck tension will not change. Truth be told when I try to partial size the necks in order lightly hold a bullet while finding my seating depth I cannot use more than around 5 - 10 lbs of force or the neck will be fully sized and I cannot slide the bullet in. If you use the toggle over method variances in case lengths will actually cause less consistent neck tension because shorter cases will not have as much pressure exerted on the dies.
     
  11. lever-hed

    lever-hed Well-Known Member

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    imo , it doesn’t matter how far you turn the die in, as long as your not toggling over – the mandrel and collet prevent you from doing anything funky, so when you have the lever depressed to the point it gets hard to go further, that’s when the mandrel and collet engage the neck and start sizing it..
    IMO I really have no problem with the instructions, they work just fine, its just a matter of getting a feeling of the pressure – I don’t go gorilla on it, just use firm elbow pressure and you re there.. its really not that hard to repeat. Typically with my rockchucker I set die up to touch, then turn in 1 ¼ to 1 ½ more turns and this works great. No lube, no muss no fuss. My neck diameters are consistent to within under 1/1000th . I usually rotate the case and size again for uniformity.
    If you want firmer neck tension you can send for a custom mandrel, or even buff down the one you have (no more then .001).
     
  12. linksmechanic

    linksmechanic Well-Known Member

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    Woods: wow thanks for the pics, makes since. Thanks to everyone else also. These dies are way different than what I'm used to.
     
  13. woods

    woods Well-Known Member

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    Makes you wonder why no one has a press with a adjustable torque handle. I would be useful for making Lee Collets consistant, gauging bullet pull and even just making the resizing process more consistant.

    Could be done with a dial indicator on the handle or with a let off.
     
  14. Mild Bill

    Mild Bill Well-Known Member

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    I really like the positive aspects of the lee collet dies, but I am having a heck of a time figuring out how to get them set up and how much pressure to put on the handle. All I seem to be able to do is pop the caps off, I don't think I am cranking on them too hard, but apparently I am.

    It ain't easy being an overgrown midwest farm boy.

    I have a forster co-axe press. I been wondering if I would have better luck using them in a rock chucker or a reding boss press