Neil Jones Custom Dies ?

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by SHRTSHTR, Sep 8, 2010.

  1. SHRTSHTR

    SHRTSHTR Well-Known Member

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    I just recieved my dies from Neil Jones. They are for a 338 Lapua Improved. I noticed that the neck sizing dies allowed for .003 to .004 neck tension. I like to hold my neck tension to .0015-.002 Not sure if this is right but it is what I have been doing.

    I called Neil Jones and asked what so much neck tension? His reply was that after 3-4 firing the brass will start to work harden and this is why he allows an extra .001 or .002 for spring back.

    I told him that I planned on annealing after 1-2 firings. He strongly suggested that I do not anneal brass at all for the life of the case. His reasoning is that his custom dies are built to give maximum case life and annealing would defeat the purpose of his dies.

    I do not doubt what he is saying but would like to know if any of you with NJ dies follow this procedure and forget about annealing or what? Thanks for looking.
     
  2. SBruce

    SBruce Well-Known Member

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    Neil should be in the process of building me some dies for a 6 Long Dasher.
    He said that he'll include a different bushing for different neck thickness/tension. I am assuming that you've only got one bushing?

    I bet that he could build (maybe even already has some built) a slightly bigger bushing for you to only size down for .002 instead of .004.

    On another note, I don't know for sure that anneaning is worth all the trouble of doing it. What I mean is; I've shot the barrels out of a couple of rifles after Thousands of rounds and used the same batches of cases for those rifles from start to finish..........Never did any annealing at all.

    Perhaps I would have gotten a little better ES's or something if I had annealed, but the reloads shot as good (sub 1/2 moa) as when the brass was new right up till the barrels started going bad. Used WW brass exclusively.

    I know that some folks anneal and believe in it wholeheartedly, just as others believe in abrasive bore cleaners or moly coating bullets or Chevy/Ford Trucks or....ect. But perhaps with the NJ dies not working your brass as much as standard dies do, your brass won't ever work harden the way that some does? Might be worth a try...............Opinions may vary.
     

  3. SHRTSHTR

    SHRTSHTR Well-Known Member

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    Neil sent me two bushings. One at .362 the other is .363. The .363 bushing will give me .003 neck tension. I am sure he would build larger bushings if I asked. I have a Sunnen Hone and can easily open up the holes myself.

    I too have read where a lot of people prefer to anneal. I recently purchased a annealing machine and was planning on annealing after every firing. Especially now that I have fireformed my cases.

    I have no doubt that Neil knows what he is doing. Maybe using his custom dies does not require annealing. He assures me this is the case! (Punn intended)

    I just want to make sure I am doing this right. It has taken a lot of work to get my cases setup perfectly and I do not want to mess up now. It would be nice to eliminate a step in my process but I am not looking for shortcuts....just perfection :cool:.
     
  4. SBruce

    SBruce Well-Known Member

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    I hear what you are saying "a lot of work to get my cases setup", and Lapua brass isn't cheap. The stuff I am buying is $1 a piece.

    I've got to neck them down first and then I'll also have to fireform, but the first fireing has to be without a bullet because the gun has got a tight neck. Then the cases will have to be neck turned before a loaded round will even chamber and fireformed a 2nd time (don't want to turn necks until I know where the new shoulder will end up from the 1st fireform) ..........all this before I can even begin load development. With all this work, it very well may be worth annealing in order to make the brass last longer. Personally, I don't think I'll anneal until it looks like I have to. I just don't want to add any more steps to the process than I am already having to do. I may end up having to anneal anyway, but I am keeping my fingers crossed for now.
     
  5. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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    SHRTSHTR, Remember a few years ago when I got my 338 LM. I was only sizing the necks down .002" under the loaded round neck diameter. Neal is right on because after 4 firings I lost neck tension due to spring back and also started getting some carbon on the necks from them leaking. I took this to mean the harder neck were not sealing as well as they did when the brass was softer.

    I looked and no bushings were available in .001 or .002 smaller so I called you and you loaned me one until I could get one. Then after researching the problem fully, I bought my first annealer and started annealing the necks. This solved the problem and I was able to go back to my origional bushing. Also after annealing the carbon soot on the necks went away.

    I now anneal every firing. I know this is overkill, but it is just easier for me to keep track and run the brass through all my steps. I feel good knowing every case is perfect and I will also have very consistant neck tension and hardness on each loading.

    My first 100 cases are still producing .0005" TIR for an average. They now have 10 firings on them. After the 9th firing I inspected the brass inside and out looking for weak points to avoid any potential case failure. I found that all the brass is still healthy and will continue to use them till I see differently.

    I have known you long enough to know you make a perfectionist look sloppy. I think you should consider when Neil makes his dies they are going to be used by a variety of people and he needs to make them so they work well for all.

    You sir know metal well. Do what you feel will be best to produce the most consistant ammo you are capable of, every single case, one at a time.

    JMO

    Jeff
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2010
  6. Eaglet

    Eaglet Well-Known Member

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    Broz, what would you do?

    Hunting ammo would benefit from 0.003; besides the rifle may shoot better using 0.003 tension. Before making any changes I would shoot it first and see how well it does and then check and see if my tension is staying consistent without annealing, if not then I would anneal as necessary.

    Good thread!
     
  7. SBruce

    SBruce Well-Known Member

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    David Tubb uses/recommends .003 neck tension on his 6 XC.

    "My experience has been that the only real danger is having too little neck tension to hold the bullet (less than 0.002" difference)."......out of his page on the 6 XC.

    However, he's talking about .003 on a 6mm bullet..........maybe a .338 bullet would be different?

    I don't know if or how often he anneals...?
     
  8. SHRTSHTR

    SHRTSHTR Well-Known Member

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    I can see how Neil feels his dies do not need annealing as they are custom dies that do not move the brass very much during the resizing process. I am doing my brass in 100 piece lots. I think if I do not anneal, I will have very consistent brass for 100 pieces. As I progress through the brass, everytime I shoot the brass is going to get a little stiffer. I can also see that after 5-6 firings the brass is going to move less as it gets harder requiring a smaller bushing for spring back.

    I see no reason not to anneal my brass if it trips my trigger :D. I cannot see how the custom dies will be affected by annealed brass either. The brass should simply go into the die a little easier and would not need a smaller diameter bushing due to spring back of the harder brass.

    I also need to say that this is why I like Redding dies so much. I can only neck size until I need to bump the shoulder back a little. By doing this, I am working the brass the least. My NJ dies are full body dies.

    I modified my Redding dies to work with the 338LAI. They work just as good as any of my other Redding dies. I just hate to shelf expensive custom dies I just recieved :rolleyes:.

    This is why I asked the question, just in case I was missing something.

    Broz, your opinion always counts!
     
  9. SHRTSHTR

    SHRTSHTR Well-Known Member

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    Eaglet & SBruce,

    I have also heard that .003 is good for a hunting round. However, I think with Longrange hunting we are trying to achieve the best and most consistant ammo possible. Maybe not to the extremes Benchrest shooters do, but close.

    I have heard but do not know for fact that less neck tension reduces ES. Would like to know if I am wrong?
     
  10. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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    I agree that .003" should be tried. Test for accuracy and ES. If it is good then don't try to fix it. I have no problem with .003" neck tension and if you ever needed (I have not) to skin turn the necks and remove .001" you will now have .002 neck tension, correct?

    But, I feel for sure that, as shrtshtr says, the brass will harden from each sizing and not all will harden at the same rate. This will result in inconsistant neck tension. I know this for sure, because with my Lapua on the 4th loading the tension was going away and I had some loose bullets. Problem is, not all of them...inconsistant neck tension. Remember I was using a Redding Competition die set with a comp neck seater and only sizing the necks .002 under from the time the brass was new.

    So I vote for trying the .003" bushing and annealing every firing to keep it the same exactly each time.

    Jeff
     
  11. SBruce

    SBruce Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting post, I hope it continues.

    I am not trying to argue anyones point or logic here, or hijack this post....curious about others results and tests is all.

    I've never put much thought into neck tension untill recently.........always seemed to get acceptable accuracy from the benchrest style loading methods taught to me by my late great uncle who was pretty accomplished in his day (prior to PPC's taking over).

    I always figured soot on the necks was just normal. He showed me how to use fine steel wool to remove it and acted like it was normal for him to do this on his benchrest competetion rounds.

    He did pay close attention to runout and turned necks and used bushing dies and necksizing as much as possible, as I have done since also.

    He never mentioned annealing at all as something I should consider doing.

    He wasn't concerned with velocity or ES's or SD's, didn't even own a cronograph. His only concern was the smallest possible group or the best accuracy he could squeeze from any given rifle. My grandfather on the other side (in contrast) was a Hi-Power competitor for the Military. He said that "why try to get better than 1 moa, that's all the better a person can shoot unsupported from field positions anyway(no bipod or bags, no windflags). They argued their different styles of shooting and loading techniques till death do them part. I guess what we're trying to do with most long range hunting would be (in my opinion) a compromise somewhat between thosee two styles.

    I realize that times and techniques change, and those that want to stay on top of their game must change sometimes too and adapt new technology, but I do seriously wonder sometimes.....how much of this change is just fad or marketing, or a few people taking the words of one and turning it into gospel??
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2010
  12. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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    I do not claim to be an expert reloader. I just know through trial and error I seem to have developed a method that works for me. I agree the runout is important like the tension. I will also go as far to say that if I didn't anneal each firing, after 3 ~ 4 firings not only would my tension change but I am betting on run out increasing too. Who is to say the hardening of the necks and or spring back will be equal all the way around the neck? Especially if the neck thickness varies .001".

    Jeff
     
  13. Joel Russo

    Joel Russo Official LRH Sponsor

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    Great discussion guys...
    Neil's dies are top shelf, and so is he.
    I'll throw in my 2 cents on annealing and Neil's dies..
    This is not a right or wrong, but what I have found works for me..

    I have a set of Neil's dies for my .30-.416 Rigby Improved with a .336" neck. I form the Norma brass in five steps...
    .416"
    .390"
    .365"
    .340"
    .329"

    I turn the necks to .012", then run everything through a full length size die with a .330" bushing.

    I anneal every other firing, and have found that annealing gives me more consistent neck tension and tighter ES. I run single digit ES with this rifle and accuracy at extreme range, 1,760 yards, is exceptional.
     
  14. SBruce

    SBruce Well-Known Member

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    If I am figuring correctly, the .330 bushing gives you .002 tension on a .308 bullet with a .012 neck (accounting for no spring-back)?? With spring back maybe looking at only .001 neck tension??