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Dies and powder

I have some gift certs from Christmas for Cabela's and I've been planning on buying some new reloading dies. I have a Redding .280 Rem Neck Size die set. I am looking for a set of dies for my .338 Win Mag and my .308 Win. and possibly a set of .243 Win dies. They are all bolt guns except the .243 which is a single shot. I'm thinking neck size dies will be best for all three calibers. I'm not planning on sharing my ammo. Shame on You! I have looked at RCBS and Redding but the prices for the 3-die sets are pretty steep. I have also looked at the Lee collet-type neck size sets. I am leaning toward the Lee's for all three calibers. Does anyone have any comments pro or con on these dies? I like the three-die sets so that I can do full-length sizing should I get another rifle of the same caliber down the road. Should I also get the Lee Factory Crimp dies? I know you don't need much of a crimp for bottleneck rifle reloading but I would like to put out the best ammo I can produce and it would seem that a little crimp would be a good idea. I would also like to get some powder that would work well in at least three out of the four calibers listed. Any recommendations are welcome. I have reloaded my .41 Mag pistol but have not done it in a while. The press is an old RCBS Reloader Special. TIA!

WesternHunter's picture
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Dies and powder

I would avoid Lee unless you are on the tightest of budget and have no other choice. It has nothing to do with quality in itself. Lee dies will size brass and seat bullets just fine. My problem with Lee has always been that I find their equipment just seems to make the job of reloading more difficult than it should be. Their dies are smooth on the outer surface (no checkering or stippling for added grip). Try both tightening down or loosening to remove a Lee die from a press. You'll see what I mean. Their locking rings and seals are also just plain difficult to manipulate too. I just find most Lee tools to be overall very difficult to use. I've slowly replaced the vast majority of my old Lee equipment (including the dies) with stuff from RCBS, Lyman, Redding and have found it to be a world of difference. Stick with RCBS, Redding, or even Hornady. Lyman also makes some good dies.

Even if you don't plan on sharing ammo, personally I would avoid a neck only sizing dies for reloading ammo that you intend to use for hunting. That stuff is better used for competition benchrest shooters in match grade chambered rifles. In the field such as hunting you'll need ammo that has had it's brass fully resized so that you can chamber and extract rounds much smoother, easier, and quicker. Get a set of dies that has a full length sizing dies and a seating dies.

As far a crimp goes. Avoid it. I reload rifle specifically for hunting and I have never crimped. It's just not really a nessesity and I even find that it degrades my accuracy. In fact I would never crimp a round unless the specific load data for that given recipe calls for it. That's just my advise.

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WH

Thanks Western. I have never used my neck size dies on my .280, or the full length dies for that matter. I've got some time between now and next hunting season and would like to get proficient at rifle reloading. The reason I considered crimping is recoil on the .338 and the possibility of changing the bullet seating depth from the rounds hitting the front of the magazine. I don't know if that's a real concern or if I'm worrying about nothing. I planned on reloading some .338 and not crimping and then test fire and measure the OAL after firing a few rounds to check. FWIW, I would never take reloaded ammo hunting w/o first checking to see if they chamber correctly. Ater reloading my .41 I found I had bulged a couple of the cases to the point that they wouldn't chamber.

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Dies and powder

I have loaded for a coulpe 338 mag tears past and never had a problem with not crimping the bullets. I'm with Western Hunter on the neck size dies also. I full length size everything I hunt with. In the field is not the place to find out that you neck sized one time to many. What happens is that every time you fire and neck size the case grows just a bit in the shoulder area until the fit is so close it won't go in with out trouble. Then I've found that if I look at the bolt face, there's brass rubbed on it because of to tight a fit. The brass comes off the back of the case when closing the bolt.

Not sure what you did with the 41 mag cases. Maybe you didn't flare the case quite enough or maybe to much and the seating die won't re-size it. When you have the die set right to flare the case, the bullet should just fit in the case. If you can actually push the bullet down very far you flared to much. By flaeing to much you'll also overwork the case mouth and notice case splitting far to soom.

My son has a set of Lee dies and they work but I just don't like them. Probally as Western Hunter said they are just not userfrendly. Keep in mind that for the hunter, the best equipment to use is usually the easiest. Exceop the powder scale. I really like a beam scale. Digitals obviously work but I don't like something telling me what's going on in a language I don't understand. I also like dial calipers for the same reason.

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Dies and powder

Keep in mind NH Hunter, that your OAL may be slightly shorter if you measure from bullet tip to cartridge base. The reason being that recoil may jar the cartridges within the magazine up against the front wall of the magazine, not really forcing the bullet to seat deeper, but slightly flattening the nose tip of the bullet. This may give you the false impression that the bullets are being forced deeper into the case with recoil. It may not be so at all. There are some types of calipers that measure from a consistant area just below the bullet nose and are more accurate in determining bullet seating depth.

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Thanks Don

Thanks for the input Don. I think the problem with the .41 was a case length issue combined with a heavy crimp. I don't have a trimmer and I buckled some of the longer cases (I believe). I have a RCBS beam scales and a dial caliper. I have a digital at work but I'm just as happy with a vernier. People won't steal a vernier because a lot of people can't read it. Think Leave a digital or dial laying around and when you turn around, it's gone. I will full length size to start out as you and Western have suggested. Have you found a significant improvement in accuracy when neck sizing or is the difference so small it's not worth messing with? I fully understand that hunting ammo needs to 100% reliable. Any powder recommendations?

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Dies and powder
WesternHunter wrote:
Keep in mind NH Hunter, that your OAL may be slightly shorter if you measure from bullet tip to cartridge base. The reason being that recoil may jar the cartridges within the magazine up against the front wall of the magazine, not really forcing the bullet to seat deeper, but slightly flattening the nose tip of the bullet. This may give you the false impression that the bullets are being forced deeper into the case with recoil. It may not be so at all. There are some types of calipers that measure from a consistant area just below the bullet nose and are more accurate in determining bullet seating depth.

Good point. One thing I need to learn more about is how far to seat the bullet. My understanding is that you want the bullet about 0.050 off the lands. I don't quite understand all the ins-and-outs of exactly why that distance was cited. I have more research to do before I start loading. I want to make sure the ammo is safe to shoot, and accurate.

WesternHunter's picture
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Dies and powder

There are a few reasons for that. You definitley don't want the bullet to touch the rifling especially in a fully powered hunting cartridge loaded to max load. High chamber pressure will be a problem with a loss of some velocity. Also the reason for seating away from the rifling is this: imagine you put your car tires up against a parking stump at idle then try to drive over that stump. It will take a lot of gas and energy to go from idle to push the car over the stump. Now imagine the car having about 10 feet headstart going at 5 mph. You will be able to drive over that stump without increading your throttle and burning any more gas. It's the same with bullets engaging the rifling and going down the barrel. That extra distance gives the bullet a headstart making more efficient use of the propellant (powder). However, often seating the bullets too far away from the rifling results in loss of accuracy for a particular barrel. So it's a matter of lots of trial and error to find that OAL that will result in great accuracy for particular barrel.

Consider taking a good reloading class. One that lasts 4 or more hours. We could give you the whole run-down of reloading, but there is just way too much info and not enough time to give it here on this forum. Plus, you'd benefit much better by hands-on instruction from an NRA reloading instructor. Check with your local range, club or gun shop to see if any of them offer a class. Just something you might want to consider. Good luck.

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NH Hunter,

I don't do a lot of handgun loading, goes in spurt's for me. But over the years I've loaded a lot of them. One thing about straight wall cases is I've never seen one streach. It's doubtfull you need to trim those 41 cases.

When you set up your seat die for the 41, first get the bullet seated so that the case mouth is just above the crimp grove on the bullet. Once it's there, back out the seater plug and turn the die in a quarter turn at a time until you see the crimp form around the bullet. At that point, run the loaded case back into the die and hold it up while you turn the seater plug down to the top of the bullet. Lock the seater plug stem in place. Now you can do the rest of the cases and just set a bullet in the case and run it into the seater die. It will seat the bullet and crimp it. Crimp is important to have on straight wall handgun cases as it help's build the proper pressure.

Once you get your dies set, lock the locking rings so you don't have to fool with them again.

With rifle bullet's, don't worry about seating depth to much yet. Just make sure as W.H. say's and keep the bullet off the lands. To figure out how long the loaded cartridge can be, close the bolt and run a cleaning rod with a plug on it down the barrel to the bolt face. Right at the muzzle mark the rod with a pencil. Now remove the bolt and drop a bullet in the chamber followed by a long dowel that will hold in the bullet lightly to the lands. Hold the bullet there while you again run the cleaning rod down the barrel and lightly touch the bullet tip. Again mark the cleaning rod. Measure between the marks and that's the length from the bolt face to the tip of the bullet touching the lands. Then when you seat your bullet's, just make sure they are a bit shorter than that measurement. As time goes on you might be able to tweek loads for accuracy by adjusting the length. The goal for now is good safe loads.

Have fun.

WesternHunter's picture
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Dies and powder

Don,
That's great advise about using markings on a cleaning rod to measure bolt face to lands distance. I'm sure if NH Hunter could, he'd buy you a Black Butte Porter for that one Thumbs up

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Dies and powder

Another way is to seat the new rifle bullet in the case about .050 longer than the Maximum recomended overall length. Then chamber the round a couple of times. This will seat the bullet tight into the lands. Measure overall length. Reseat bullet .010 deeper. Start from there. Thumbs up

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