FL die and lee collet, it don't work

6pakzak

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Nov 30, 2021
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327
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New York
I have just used the FL length sizing die and bumped the shoulder, I've FL sized and collet neck sized and my groups shrunk compared to FL sizing alone, I've just neck sized and groups were worse than FL sizing, I bought Redding body die and used that with collet neck die and got consistent good groups 1/2 or less at 100, I found that the body and collet die gave the least runout, very rarely over .002 and usually right around .001, also got low run out just neck sizing but my groups were often over an inch, FL sizing seems to be more hit or miss in terms of runout, also with the body collet combo my flyers are almost gone. I kept everything the same as far as brass weight, once fired, uniformed primer pockets, trickled powder exactly, I can shoot 100 yds in my backyard and made a shed with rest I can shoot out of with heat, the body and collet die was a huge improvement for me, felt like I solved runout problems and shooting way better.
 

MagnumManiac

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Feb 25, 2008
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4,195
I get the least runout when I use dies, mandrels or custom neck sizers that only move the brass in all directions no more than .003”, including spring back.
When I size my necks, I can barely feel any resistance at all. If you have a chamber that has more than .003”-.004” clearance in the neck, then you would be better off sizing with a FL die and use the expander with graphite powder on the INSIDE of the necks.
This is how all sizing should be done.
I use 2 methods, body die only, then custom neck die with expander followed by final mandrel size.
Custom neck FL sizing die with custom expander made by Forster or Whidden.
This is sometimes followed by a mandrel if I want .0005” accuracy, but mostly my hunting rifles are sized adequately doing this.
I no longer use bushing dies, they just aren’t as concentric as a honed neck die.

Cheers.
 

FEENIX

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Great Falls, MT
I have read many posts on this forum and others telling people to use you FL body die with the guts removed and then use your collet die after, ok, I tried it, with the guts removed from your FL body die it compresses the neck, without the expander the neck stays sized down quite a bit. Ok so I did that, now on to the collet die, well lots of pressure to get it started, keep going let's get this neck sized, that's what I do and .003 runout on case neck, ok they say use a little lube inside neck, same thing, bad runout. This makes no sense, I'm basically using the mandrel on my collet die to expand the neck and it floats so with all that pressure it will move the neck one way or another, can anyone explain how this works, I have switched to a body die which works great cause the collet die ain't doing anything to the neck till it's actually forming on the collet but I see this posted everywhere, was I doing something wrong?
Could you explain the process for using a mandrel die
I meant FL die, shouldn't have added body after, so basically what I read about removing the guts from a FL die and then using the collet die is not correct, I wonder if people are posting this without actually doing it, would u use the collet die after the expander mandrel or would that be the end of the process.
I want to bump the shoulder back so now I have Redding body die cause FL die without expander ball did not work well, I use collet die after but now wondering if the expander dies your talking about would produce even straighter ammo.
I have just used the FL length sizing die and bumped the shoulder, I've FL sized and collet neck sized and my groups shrunk compared to FL sizing alone, I've just neck sized and groups were worse than FL sizing, I bought Redding body die and used that with collet neck die and got consistent good groups 1/2 or less at 100, I found that the body and collet die gave the least runout, very rarely over .002 and usually right around .001, also got low run out just neck sizing but my groups were often over an inch, FL sizing seems to be more hit or miss in terms of runout, also with the body collet combo my flyers are almost gone. I kept everything the same as far as brass weight, once fired, uniformed primer pockets, trickled powder exactly, I can shoot 100 yds in my backyard and made a shed with rest I can shoot out of with heat, the body and collet die was a huge improvement for me, felt like I solved runout problems and shooting way better.
How about some clarity on what you are trying to accomplish? Are you trying to establish a good neck tension, i.e., .002" or bumping the shoulder by .002"? Slow down; you are kind of all over the place. Let us help you with one issue at a time.
 

Blacktailer

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Sep 17, 2019
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121
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AZ
Good point Feenix, I've been reloading for over 50 years and he is getting me confused.
First off, decide what you are trying to accomplish. Are you assembling hunting rounds where MOA is adequate or are you trying to achieve bench rest accuracy? To assemble MOA loads you don't need to go OCD.
Here is what I do for hunting loads and it has worked to get <.002 TIR on a number of calibers and usually .001.
First, unless I run into chambering difficulty and need to bump the shoulder (several firings) I use a Lee collet die because it gives me straight cases without having to use lube.
If shoulder bump is required, I FL size with a conventional die but take out the decap stem/expander and replace it with an assembly from a smaller caliber ie. a 270 stem in a 30-06 die. This lets me bump the shoulder and decap at the same time. I then replace the correct size expander stem bak into the FL die and run the case into the die just enough for the expander to size the neck (not all the way in). This expands the neck on the upstroke so you are pushing it over the expander, not pulling it down over the expander so the shell holder is supporting the case straighter. This gives minimal runout. If you are doing BR this method probably won't work for you.
BTW I also kept reading on the net about runout problems so got a gauge and found out my loads had been straight all along.
Good luck.
 

6pakzak

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New York
I shoulder bump to get same shoulder Everytime, that I got down, once I got Sinclair's concentricity gauge I found runout all over the place, was using lee dies, switched to Hornady, less runout and groups improved, switched to Forster FL die and seater, runout a little better with combo but not significant, Redding body die and collet is what fixed my runout, so runout is good, will annealing brass and what I'm doing keep neck tension consistent, do I need a mandrel die to do that or is it more for runout. My original post was to confirm that using a fl die with guts removed and then going to collet die is not right cause people on other sites and this one I believe we're saying that's what they do to get less runout and my point being that you actually start sizing neck as soon as it slides on mandrel of collet die which floats and will torque the neck silly, but now i gather from what is being said here that u need a mandrel die to open neck up again if you fly size with guts out and people are spreading misinformation by saying you can fly size with guts out and go directly to lee collet die but you guys have my interest in using a mandrel die and can u control neck tension with it.
 

6pakzak

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BTW thank you magnum maniac your explanation of using the mandrel die is very good. Problem with neck sizing only to me is that u just made a different bullet cause shoulder has moved and neck has moved forward and if u have to trim case u now have a different amount of neck holding the bullet. I tried neck sizing only, still try it every now and then, my groups are not as consistent, I even see big spreads in fps compared to body die and collet die. I don't see how expanding the neck on the upstroke can make it straight, it designed to float and size neck as case is coming out not going in, you got this thin rod with expander supported at the top and it stays straight as you push neck through it, I honestly have never heard of this, if your right I definitely learned something new.
 

SuperBruce

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Nov 4, 2021
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Utah
I shoulder bump to get same shoulder Everytime, that I got down, once I got Sinclair's concentricity gauge I found runout all over the place, was using lee dies, switched to Hornady, less runout and groups improved, switched to Forster FL die and seater, runout a little better with combo but not significant, Redding body die and collet is what fixed my runout, so runout is good, will annealing brass and what I'm doing keep neck tension consistent, do I need a mandrel die to do that or is it more for runout. My original post was to confirm that using a fl die with guts removed and then going to collet die is not right cause people on other sites and this one I believe we're saying that's what they do to get less runout and my point being that you actually start sizing neck as soon as it slides on mandrel of collet die which floats and will torque the neck silly, but now i gather from what is being said here that u need a mandrel die to open neck up again if you fly size with guts out and people are spreading misinformation by saying you can fly size with guts out and go directly to lee collet die but you guys have my interest in using a mandrel die and can u control neck tension with it.
It sounds like you've got a good process going with your shoulder bump + collet die and I really doubt switching to a mandrel is going to materially improve that, if it improves at all. If you want to play around with different neck tensions you can still use a collet die: lee will make you a custom mandrel or you can buy a normal sized one and polish it down.

All that said, if you really like to experiment and have some extra $$ you don't mind parting with, a lot of people really do like mandrels.
 

6pakzak

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Nov 30, 2021
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New York
I was thinking about experimenting with extra mandrels, I did sand mine down about .0005, I also sanded and polished the slope that the collet goes down and the collet and reduced the diameter of the mandrel at the bottom so case enters smoothly since sizing is done on top, this has made the die work much better, I could see a difference in runout and now a smooth operation. I would like to try a thicker mandrel as I have read in some forums that having the minimal amount of neck tension will create better consistency, for instance if you have a difference of 20 percent in tension on 100lbs of tension that is 20lbs where as a difference of 20 percent on 20 lbs of tension it is 4lbs, not saying this is the tension on bullets just trying to show the difference, so probably should have not made the mandrel smaller but would be a good experiment and get bigger mandrel and see if my fps variations get closer. So if I just loosen collet die it probably wouldn't work right correct, I would need a bigger mandrel?
 

Pointman

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Aug 12, 2017
Messages
159
Good point Feenix, I've been reloading for over 50 years and he is getting me confused.
First off, decide what you are trying to accomplish. Are you assembling hunting rounds where MOA is adequate or are you trying to achieve bench rest accuracy? To assemble MOA loads you don't need to go OCD.
Here is what I do for hunting loads and it has worked to get <.002 TIR on a number of calibers and usually .001.
First, unless I run into chambering difficulty and need to bump the shoulder (several firings) I use a Lee collet die because it gives me straight cases without having to use lube.
If shoulder bump is required, I FL size with a conventional die but take out the decap stem/expander and replace it with an assembly from a smaller caliber ie. a 270 stem in a 30-06 die. This lets me bump the shoulder and decap at the same time. I then replace the correct size expander stem bak into the FL die and run the case into the die just enough for the expander to size the neck (not all the way in). This expands the neck on the upstroke so you are pushing it over the expander, not pulling it down over the expander so the shell holder is supporting the case straighter. This gives minimal runout. If you are doing BR this method probably won't work for you.
BTW I also kept reading on the net about runout problems so got a gauge and found out my loads had been straight all along.
Good luck.
Never thought about using the next smaller decapping rod. Thanks for the suggestion. I personally decaping using a dedicated die but this suggestion plus a proper sized expander die is great for those of us chasing that "Mythical" .000 group.
 

6pakzak

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Nov 30, 2021
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New York
How do you center decapper when you put it back in to size on the upstroke. I decap separately cause sometimes you get harder primer to get out and keeps decapper in FL die from getting pushed out of alignment or putting a slight bend in it
 

6pakzak

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How do you center decapper when you put it back in to size on the upstroke. I decap separately cause sometimes you get harder primer to get out and keeps decapper in FL die from getting pushed out of alignment or putting a slight bend in it. Case is best supported by sides when using FL die and sizing neck as it's coming down, case can move around a little on shell holder so how can you ensure it's going up straight into the expander not to mention the force on it bending the decapping rod.
 

6pakzak

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I learned a little trick from someone on this forum, put case all the way up in FL die, screw expander all the way up till it touches the neck, now back off of it 1/2 to one turn and only tighten enough to hold setting. I did this with my Hornady and runout on neck after sizing was cut in half, I also polished expander, figured it couldn't hurt, also you can't decap cause it's moved so high up but I don't decap with FL die anyways.
 

Mark&Belle

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Dec 28, 2021
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Sacramento
Nobody ever mentioned that the correct way to shoulder bump with a FL die is to 1) drill out the neck portion of the die larger so it can no longer neck size OR 2) use the next larger caliber die in the "case family" you are using ie use a 30-06 FL die for a 270 Win, use a 338 Federal for a 308 Win, a 260 Rem for a 243 Win, a 338-06 for a 30-06, a 7mm-08 for a 260, a 308 Win for a 7mm/08 and so on. The use the Lee collet neck die. Check neck concentricity after each step in the reloading process and on the fired case before starting anything with it, even just primer decapping. One bad die will mess up concentricity.
 
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