lee full length sizer in .223 question

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by thumbs, Jan 11, 2014.

  1. thumbs

    thumbs Well-Known Member

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    Hey you guys that are using the full length sizer for .223 does your die go all the way to the bottom of the brass. This may sound dumb but I followed the directions for setting up the die and my die stops about 1/4" from the bottom of the case causing my brass not to load. In another thread we discussed the use of the RCBS small base die but wondering if I am set up wrong?

    thanks
     
  2. boomtube

    boomtube Well-Known Member

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    Not sure I understand what you mean but Lee's FL dies are like all other FL dis so far as set-up goes. No FL die goes "to the base", they all stop 1/8" (.125") off the base so there's room for the shell holder.

    No die "instructions" can do more than get us in the ball park; correctly adjusing an FL requires tweaking (ditto seaters). Die and shell holders are tightly machined but they all have slight manufactoring tolerances. Chambers do too so getting the best cartridge-to-chamber fit has to be done carefully by trial and error, not by following a formula.

    That said, the best common starting place will have the bottom of the sizing die screwed down to contact the fully raised shell holder plus an additional 1/4 turn to compensate for press deflection under load. If you really have a 1/4" gap between your die and shell holder with the ram full up you clearly don't have the die screwed down far enough.

    If you actually do have the die screwed in correctly and it gets really difficult to push the case in further then you don't have enough case lube applied, especially on the lower, thicker part where it's hard to resize. Use any commercial case sizing lube and follow the maker's instructions, all should go well.
     

  3. thumbs

    thumbs Well-Known Member

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    Thanks
    Ok I'm here and it's there but I am sure I set up the die the way the instructions said. Like you say I thought it said so that the shell holder touched the die plus a quarter turn. I may not be pulling down hard enough on the handle to force the die down far enough. I will have to check. I do know my die is not sizing to the bottom of the case for sure. It's about .002 to .003 larger at the base than factory rounds. I can see where the die stops. This,of course is causing cycling problems in my ar.
    So the die is supposed to touch the shell holder with the case in the shell holder.
     
  4. Kennibear

    Kennibear Well-Known Member

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    AR's with match chambers require a RCBS or Lyman Small Base Die. I don't use anything else in a self-loader or lever action. You should feel the press handle lever over center with the die screwed in. Check a sized case by dropping it into the chamber and, with the upper receiver off the lower and hand held, push the bolt carrier home over the empty sized case and feel for resistance. It should easily snap over the extractor groove.

    Auto's need more sizing period. Always use a Small Base Die.

    KB
     
  5. thumbs

    thumbs Well-Known Member

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    yeah that was the question. I was talking to a guy that said the lee die should work if I pulled the die all the way down. I can't test it now but I am sure i did it right. My cases are hard as the devil to get out if I try to clear the chamber. In fact I was afraid I would get one stuck in there permanently. It would shoot them out but not easy at all by hand. Yeah I gotta get the small base sizer.
     
  6. boomtube

    boomtube Well-Known Member

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    "So the die is supposed to touch the shell holder with the case in the shell holder."

    Yes. It hardly matters how the die is set without a case in it.

    If you're having a difficult time extracting cases you almost certainly aren't applying sufficent lube to the lower case. Lube a case properly and size it to the limit of ram travel. Check under the bottom of the die when the case is fully inserted and the press is under full compression. If there's a visable gap between the die and shell holder, slightly turn the die down and try again until the gap is closed.

    AR chambers aren't unique, they're cut with the same reamers used on other rifles and very few actually require a SB sizer. Clean your chamber, a lot of small base dies are sold to people with dirty AR chambers.

    Now that I think I understand what you're talking about with "the die isn't going down" the last 1/4", it's normal. That last bit of case is the solid head and it doesn't normally expand, you should never see any die rub there.
     
  7. Bullet bumper

    Bullet bumper Well-Known Member

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    That is all WRONG, You don't set up a die that way .
    The die shoudl be set according to how the case chambers back into the gun .
    So start with a hard chambering case where the bolt will not close .
    Clean and lubricate the case .
    Screw the die down a bit at a time while sizing the case in and out .
    Try the case back in the gun and you will see the bolt start to close more and more.
    Once the bolt is close to closing with no resistance only screw the die down by 1/16 of a turn at a time . Eventually the bolt will close with very faint resistance and that is about right for a bolt action . If an auto go 1/16 of a turn more and lock up the die. Chambering a case for fit in an auto can be more difficult and a body die is better for that as you can set it with a new unfired case if you want .
    Below is the approximate amount the die will move when rotating a 7/8 x 14 thread . You can see how a quarter turn is a very large movement .

    Turns 1/16 = .0045 . 1/8 = .0089 . 1/4 = .0178

     
  8. JoshuaBud

    JoshuaBud New Member

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    Great info Bullet Bumper! I'm just getting into reloading and have yet to buy any dies other than a Lee's Universal Decapping/Depriming die. I'm going to be reloading .223 for a AR and am curious what dies you would recommend? I'll be using a Hornady LnL AP press.
     
  9. Bullet bumper

    Bullet bumper Well-Known Member

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    Redding dies are very good . What you buy depends on how you want to reload. Some just can't abide by any complication and want the proess as quick as possible so they tend to use a Full length size dies or bushing type full length dies . For an auto there is some merit in that approach as ammo batch's may be larger than for a bolt action.
    Then you could seperate the neck sizing and the body sizing into two steps.
    This gives some advantages over the single die approach .
    The two dies could be a Lee collet neck size die and a Redding body die.
    However you could also use any neck size only die with the Body die .
    When sizing with the body die far less leverage and hand pressure is required as there is no neck size going on . Smaller lighter press can be used .
    Portable press can be used in the field .
    Also because no neck stretching occurs as is the case with the full length die that does the whole job in one pass , it is far easier to size by very fractional ammounts with no need to over size to strech back to correct size as is the case with the one pass die . The effect varies with case design , case hardness at the neck and shoulder but it is there and most dies have to go too far in order to get the case right .
    This does not happen with a body die to any measurable degree .
    I invented my first body die back in the late 60's as a cure for loaded Military ammo that would not fit well into bolt action rifles . From there I discovered it's other benifits in normal loading .
    Now for an Auto you don't want tight fitting cases like a bolt action can handle so the sizing operation needs to result in an easy chambering fit .
    The body die can do both with better precision , tight fit for bolt or losser fit for auto , it's all in the skill of the operator but much easier to master .
    I used to load for autos years ago but the Government took my auto rifles off me .
    If you are using a five station progressive press then you have to decide if you want less operations or more . Some people like to use the full length dies on a progressive to cut down on opeartions .
    Body dies and collet dies will still work on a progressive but it will take up an extra die space. However the sizing force required will be far less for the body die but the Lee collet will not size as well as it would on a single station press Like an RCBS that goes over centre .
    When I weigh it all up in a progressive press loading the small 223 case for an AR I would tend to go with the Redding national match die set as you get a taper crimp die also . The main problem that people can strike is tight chambers in an AR type rifle. If it's got a standard Military chamber then 90% chance it's on the large side . If it's a custom barrel with a match chamber then it's possible it's tight . So if the sizer you get will not size them down for an easy fit then you have to buy a Redding small base full length sizer die instead , same deal with a body die. You need to do some thinking and planing first to get an idea of what will suit you before you drop any cash.
    I don't know that a progressive is the best way to start reloading for a beginner as they take more skill to set up well . However Americans seem very comfortable with them so maybe no big deal.
     
  10. Garyshome

    Garyshome Well-Known Member

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    Set the die up as the directions that came with the die tell you [?????]lightbulb. The manufacturer knows how to set them up.
     
  11. Bullet bumper

    Bullet bumper Well-Known Member

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    Sorry but that just not right. Most manufacturers instructions are very poorly worded . Lee's instructions for their collet die are rubbish .
    Reddings instructions for their body die is confusing .
    The manufacturer does know how to set them up but that is not always conveyed well in most written instructions because the people that write the instructions may have never loaded a cartridge in their lives .
    It's the reason why so many new reloaders have problems setting up a die in the first place. 90% of reloading issues can be traced to poor die adjustment in the first instance and some of that can be traced to poor instructions .
    As an example a realy good instruction for the Lee collet die would take up most of an A4 page
     
  12. JoshuaBud

    JoshuaBud New Member

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    I'm not too concerned with taking up additional stations to achieve the best possible sizing. My plan is to decap/deprime, size, clean, trim, load until I figure out the best process. From all that I've read thus far I think it best to perform the decap/deprime, and size in one pass, clean then trim, and reload after these actions have been completed. I'm perfectly fine neck and case sizing in a separate step if that is best. I run a Rock River Arms chambered for 5.56 so based on what you wrote its a bit larger than a normal .223 chamber.
     
  13. Bullet bumper

    Bullet bumper Well-Known Member

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    Clean the outside of the case and the inside of the neck before any sizing . It keeps the dies clean and scratch free . After that clean the primer pockets with a pocket cleaner not a primer pocket reamer . The reamer can be misused . If primers don't seat nice and even then uniforming the pockets works good.
    Primer pocket cleaner , Primer pocket reamer , Primer pocket uniformer are three different tools.
     
  14. JoshuaBud

    JoshuaBud New Member

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    I bought Lyman 2 Die set Lyman Products Your Primary Source for Reloading Equipment for .223. I realize now that they are not the ones I thought I was buying but I think I'll hold onto them because they weren't very expensive. Thoughts? Should I return them and get this set Lyman Products Your Primary Source for Reloading Equipment ? In any event I picked up everything I need with the exception of the actual materials to reload. I have brass which I cleaned using a Hornady supersonic 2XL and it worked great, fast, very quiet, and the oven worked great for drying!