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4 Basic Rifle Questions


XrayDoc88
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I own Forster Co-Ax and Dillon XL-750 presses.  Currently I reload 9mm and .40 S&W brass.  I'd like to start reloading 5.56 NATO and 300 BLK.

 

1. Should I do this on the progressive or single stage press?

2. Is it worth it or easier to use carbide dies, even though you still have to lube?

3. When do you use a "neck resizing die"?  Some die sets include this and others don't.  I have a Mr. Bullet Feeder on the Dillon press.  I'd be one station short if I had to add the neck sizing die with a separate crimp die.

4. What brand of dies do you like the best for these two calibers?

 

Thanks!

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1.  Depends on the quantity you are loading and the time you have.

2. Only if you are loading great quantities.  Plus carbide dies are currently hard to get (along with many other things)

3. If loading for semi-autos, stay with full length, maybe even small base sizing.

4. Most makers are providing serviceable dies.  Take your pick.  I've never used Forster dies, but hear good things.  Redding and RCNS are very good, alklong with Lyman and Hornady

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1. I would start out on your single stage to get a feel for it then transfer over to the Dillon later once your comfortable. Your going to have to clean, lube, resize, measure, maybe trim and deburr, maybe swage/ ream 

primer pockets, then prime, powder, seat. Crimping is optional. Point being that there’s a lot to potentially do between the sizing stage and the primer seat stage that you don’t have to do with straight wall pistol, so it’s going to be difficult to get going on a progressive without a lot of automated accessories. 
You could case prep on the single, then finish up on the Dillon?

2. Totally unnecessary 

3. By your calibers you noted, I’m assuming an AR or similar. Use full size dies and learn to bump your shoulders for your tightest chamber to reduce brass working and potential accuracy gain. 
4. Not really any bad dies. I use Lee dies for 223. They’re nice for the rare but inevitable stuck case. 

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So is a neck resizing die never used if you first use a full size resizing die?  I guess if the crimp stage is optional with rifle cases, the Dillon XL-750 does have enough holes for both a full size and neck resizing die?

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12 hours ago, MakBaba said:

Full sizing not needed if you neck size. 


True if you are using a bolt gun and the brass is out of your gun.  If you’re sizing range brass then you should full size, especially for 223/5.56. The reason is your chamber may be tighter than others.

 

What’s not mentioned yet, if you are using range brass you will get crimp primer pockets and must swage or trim them to clear the crimp. If you don’t, we’ll be reading about the issue of failed or difficult primer seating. 
 

Dillon dies are great, RCBS small base is worth having in you box and the Lee sizing die works. Lube is essential no matter what the die is made of.
 

Buy a good chamber gauge to check your ammo. These work really good https://sheridanengineering.com/.

This also checks the length and possible need to trim your brass. Rifle brass stretches a bit. 

 

You don’t have to do this, but annealing the neck will help the brass last longer, more reloads.

Edited by HesedTech
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13 hours ago, XrayDoc88 said:

Is this an additional step for bolt gun calibers or is full sizing not needed?

NO neck or full length.     Pick one  full or neck.  Most likely if you neck size for your AR.

will become a single shot. (it will jam )

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22 minutes ago, XrayDoc88 said:

Ahh, case trimming and deburring?  Can you do that after cleaning, but before resizing and primer seating?

Yes you can trim and deburr after sizing and cleaning. Lee makes an adequate die and drill mounted blade for just that reason. However, if you are going to do large quantities of loading consider getting an electric trimmer and die combo for your 750. This brings you to the two pass process; first pass through press sizing and trimming and then the second loading. 
 

Many people who shoot large quantities of 223/5.56 use the progressive press and electric trimmer. When doing small quantities, say 100 at a time, it is far more therapeutic to use a single stage press. 
 

 

Edited by HesedTech
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1 hour ago, XrayDoc88 said:

How about before sizing?  I was hoping to just fill the case feeder once.

Yes it can be done. The only issue is if you want an exact length it will change during resizing as the brass is stretched a little to return it to the correct size. The case gets longer is the simplest answer. 
 

Compared to pistol reloading rifle is a bit more detailed. 
 

Even purchasing resized and clean brass from a retailer unless you have experience with them previously the brass has to be checked.

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I could be the minority, but after loading pistol for decades I started the .223 journey, loading for my 3-Gun rifle.   Everything I learned was from prior failures, meaning they did not feed reliably. 

 

What I learned.   

Preparing the cases is a lot of work.

I de-prime as a separate operation, with an old Lee Universal decapper.  It just turns out easier overall to do that.

I've tried several sizing dies the RCBS small base was the best I tried.

The sizing is best done on a good quality single stage press.   I broke a Lee Press.

I use liquid lube on the outside and a paste for the inside to lube cases.

After sizing clean again (I use fine walnut).

Swag the primer pockets all of the them it is faster than looking at each one.

I use a drill press mounted trimmer WTF trimmer.  Easiest part of the whole process.

Drop check is the next step and be ISO 9002 about it. 

Next up the chamfer/de-burr with a hand tool. 

Cleaning again is optional but I usually do.

 

Loading -

I use my Hornady L&L because it is easier to hand feed cases, I have also done it on the Dillon 650.

Just Powder, and Seat/Crimp which takes a while to get adjusted perfectly.

Again it is drop check time- and again zero tolerance.

Take a few an see if they feed thru you gun.  Seriously you might just find you can't get it out easily.

Getting just the right load on rifle is a challenge but it is trial and error.

Pick a load and load 10 rounds, then change it up 2-3 tenths of a grain load 10, and make several batches.  

Go to the range and shoot off a bench rest and see which one groups the best at 100 yards.  

 

When loading 69gr Sierra Match Kings my gun groups best with 24.1gr of TAC.

When loading 55gr Hornady 55gr HPBT 27.1gr of BLC(2).

 

And for those short range level 0 matches with a bullet of non choice and a powder you found - 50gr Zmax with 24gr of Benchmark, makes good hits at 25 yards no problem.

 

At $1.00 each, they may still be a bargain, if your time is valuable, being retired it gives me something to do, when I don't feel like practicing guitar.

 

 

Edited by CocoBolo
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17 hours ago, XrayDoc88 said:

Is this an additional step for bolt gun calibers or is full sizing not needed?

 

I have yet to process any 223 brass and this comes from what seems all of the same questions you have are the ones I had, and preparing to process 223 of my own.  This post has re-enforced what my research has revealed.  Hopefully this week I will be processing brass., but most likely it will be next week.  I would take the information I have gathered an hopefully use it to help your research and speed up the process.  Hope this helps from one noob to another.

 

From my understanding in limited research in regards to neck sizing versus full length sizing in PRS only it would seem it is a preference in one or the other and not both.  If you have one AR you could neck size, but I do not think its a good idea from the research I have done, and what has already been mentioned above.  Neck sizing required measurements of the used cases and buying a specific neck bushing to install into the die after performing the appropriate calculations to purchase the correct neck bushing.  Erik Cortina has a really well done YouTube channel on PRS (Precision Rifle Shooting) Stuff and has a video about NOT neck sizing your PRS ammo.  I figured the same would hold true for AR platforms.  I highly recommend watching his video and doing a lot of research on neck sizing before going that route.  Cortina's also has a video that goes into detail on how to full length size your casing as well that is highly informative that I assume would be valuable information to make sure you full length size your AR casings correctly.  As mentioned above you make sure you are full length sizing to you most restrictive chamber if you plan to shoot the ammo out of multiple ARs.  I believe AR headspace is more forgiving than say a PRS rifle headspace is (for precision reasons), so keep that in mind when adapting PRS information (i.e. Cortina's videos) to AR platforms.

 

I am in the process of starting to load 223 my self.  If you choose full length sizing I would think a die with an expander ball is a must to make sure the neck sizing is correct for seating of the bullet.  I purchased the Foster Die as in my research I have yet to find anything negative about the .223 full length sizing die that includes the expander ball.  I might be wrong, but many of my extracted cases have dings and dents that would need to be corrected before a bullet could be seated.  I will remove the decapping pin on the Foster die and only using the Full length sizing and expander ball. Another thing to keep in mind is I think you would need to size before you trim if using a progressive press because all of your dies will tell you the case must be deburred before sizing or you will damage the die which makes sense. I bring this up because I have not seen any mention of expander balls in the post.  As I have zero reloading experience of .223, I have not heard expander balls discussed much.  Maybe others can elaborate.  This information would help me as well.  

 

If you intend to used a die with an expander ball be sure to read the direction as the die has a port (tiny pin hole) on the side of the die that the expander ball must be lined up with correctly for the die to operate correctly.  At least this is the case with a couple of the full length dies with expander balls I researched.  

 

My intention is to use FW arms decapping die, then the FW Arms, swage foot die to help swage the cases, the full length size with the Foster die, Trim using a RT1500.  Tumble brass to remove lube and deburr then load on a second pass with a tool head built for loading.  I have a 1050 so this would be easy and completed in only two passes.  On a 750 it does not come with a swage station and requires you to buy a special tool for swaging brass.  You might have to make more passes because the absence of the swaging station. If you are looking to reload a high volume of 223 the 750 may not be the best option and something to investigate further.  I will defer to those that have a 750/650 to answer those questions directly.  Obviously a 750 would beat a single stage press in regards to reloading.  

 

On a side note I do have a set of Dillon 223 dies to sell as I have decided to go in another direction in regards to dies. They are a steel and not carbide die set, but they would get you started.  Let me know if you are interested. Dies are super hard to come by, but if you have patients and due diligence you can find the exact one you have.

 

Obviously being a noob myself on this topic, anyone feel free to comment on any information I have provided and if something is incorrect or off I would greatly appreciate to be corrected.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Boomstick303
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I guess when picking up range .223 brass you never know what you're getting.  But what if you only reload your civilian store bought .223 ammo?  Are you likely going to need a swage step?  I don't think I have any military brass with crimped primer pockets.

 

I currently deprime my pistol brass with a hand held Lee press while watching TV.  I then wet tumble the brass shiny clean.  Would this be a reasonable sequence to use when loading .223 and 300 BLK?

 

1. Deprime while watching the hockey game.

2. Wet tumble clean.

3. Lube and resize on the Forster.

4. Measure case length.  Trim, debur as necessary.

5. Dump cases in Dillon case feeder.

6. Leave station 1 empty.

7. Prime, powder, seat bullet on Dillon.

 

Or should there be another definite swage step, cleaning step or additional lube step inserted above?

 

And I thought 9mm brass reloading had some quirks.

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22 minutes ago, XrayDoc88 said:

But what if you only reload your civilian store bought .223 ammo?  Are you likely going to need a swage step? 

Yes.

 

I have purchased 223/5.56 and 300 AAC from civilian branded ammo and they have "crimps." Some of the crimps look like staking and others is a rim rolled onto the primer.

 

223wcc.jpg&ehk=0Cy12HWv5iPS1UjRRHMt7AoF6

 

223normacrimp001.1.JPG

 

Notice the second is 223. I'm not at home, but I believe my PMC 223 was crimped also.

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1 hour ago, Boomstick303 said:

Obviously being a noob myself on this topic, anyone feel free to comment on any information I have provided and if something is incorrect or off I would greatly appreciate to be corrected.

 

The only comment I have to your post is this, don't over think the process.

 

A lot of rifle ammo reloaders are seeking the perfect round and essentially the reloading process is the hobby. For 223/5.56 I'm happy with a 3" group at 100 yards shot from a standing position (no brace). And a good "A" zone at 400 yards.

 

The goal is to make consistent ammo which loads and shoot every time from your gun. Reloaded 223/5.56 is notorious for not fitting in some AR rifle chambers, which means the sizing issue is the most critical part of the process. Also why, after some frustrating first attempts I purchased the best gauge I could find, which is from Sheridan Engineering. 

 

Dillon also gives some good instruction how to set up the sizing die using the gauge.

 

Personally I believe the only reason to use a carbide die for rifle is the wear factor. It will just last longer, but neither will work without lubing the cases. Trust me a stuck rifle case in a die is a very difficult thing to remove, carbide or not.

 

Here's my 223 process:

 (I have both a Dillon 550 and 1050 and the basic steps are the same)

 

1. Deprime

2. Size and trim. (Dillon trimmer)

3. Randomly check cases with gauge to verify sizing is correct.

4. Wet tumble, no pins. I hate separating the pins, even with a magnet.

 

Reload

1. Prime

2. Powder drop.

3. Bullet seat.

4. Light crimp (yes some don't but on the 1050 I expand/bell the neck for the Mr. Bullet Feeder)

 

Then I gauge check every single round. It really stinks when firing away a cartridge  fails to load.

 

I wrote too much, hope it helps.

There's just one problem these days, primers. I'm down to 1000 SRP and have not found any locally or online now for months. No I'm not paying 30 cents a primer.

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, HesedTech said:

2. Size and trim. (Dillon trimmer)

 

How do you make sure your neck is correct without using some type of expander ball, or full length sizing die with an expander ball?

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17 minutes ago, Boomstick303 said:

 

How do you make sure your neck is correct without using some type of expander ball, or full length sizing die with an expander ball?

To be honest, the Dillon, Lee and RCBS (small base) dies I have all do an excellent job of sizing the neck properly. On the 1050 the swage rod with the correct diameter to match the bullet size with a little tension. The 550 I use a NOE expander plug to make sure the neck is correct for the bullet. https://noebulletmolds.com/

 

However, I found the basic die sets didn't require anything extra if I am working on a single stage press.

 

I can't emphasize enough the need for a precision case gauge for all high power rifle loads. I would bet most head space failures can be prevented by verifying all rounds. I shoot tens of thousands of reloaded pistol for USPSA and I check EVERY round I load. Reliability can never be overstated!

 

I reload these rifle rounds:

223/5.56

30-06

30-30

300 AAC (although it's really more like a pistol round than rifle because it's sub-sonic)

.308 (my sons uses these and is the real expert on reloading them).

Edited by HesedTech
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13 minutes ago, HesedTech said:

Also why, after some frustrating first attempts I purchased the best gauge I could find, which is from Sheridan Engineering. 

I have Sheridan cutaway gauges for 9mm and 40 S&W reloading.  They're very nice.

 

My .223 and 300 BLK reloading would be for bulk range shooting, not precision.

 

When you use the Dillon electric case trimmer, do you have to then manually champfer/debur?

Also, so you deprime and resize your brass on a progressive before it's clean?  I don't like the idea of dumping dirty brass into the case feeder.  :)  

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5 minutes ago, XrayDoc88 said:

When you use the Dillon electric case trimmer, do you have to then manually champfer/debur?

 

You could, but honestly they come out really clean and for bulk shooting I have had zero issues.

 

Yes the brass feeder and press gets dirty and has to be cleaned occasionally. I just don't like cleaning twice. 

 

I have to emphasize the key is finding the weak areas of the reloading process and focus on how to make it work. Precision competition requires ammo more precise than combat style, which is what most people shoot.

 

I have to add I just received some coated bullets for 300 Blackout. Looking forward to building a load, just a bit frustrated (as we all are) primers are like unicorns right now.

Edited by HesedTech
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To clarify, the Dillon Super 1050 or RL 1100 have dedicated swage stations, but on a XL 750 my only swage option would be to use the primer station and an aftermarket swager?  Disassembling the primer station each time sounds like a pain.  Is the manual Dillon super swager 600 any good?

 

I noticed Dillon also sells a dedicated "case prep" press, the CP 2000.  Has anyone spent the money for that option?

 

 

 

 

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