New Lapua .308 Brass Problem; Neck Tension?

Strykervet

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    So I just got a bunch of brand new Lapua brass to load 175gr. SMK's using CCI 34's and 42gr. RE15.

    All's fine but one thing: when seating, there's a lightly pressed ring left on the bullet about 1/3rd of the way up. Many also had scratches about 1/4" wide, 1/4" long just below the ring, always the same scratch, always in the same place. It was light too. The damage to the bullet wasn't significant enough to prohibit use, especially since I was just breaking in the barrel, getting chrono data and zeroing the flip up irons.

    But in the future, I'd like to have the ammo looking like new ammo should. I sent back the Forster mic seating die and just ordered another just like it. I sent back the SB sizer because after checking it all out it seems the full length sizer would be sufficient. The mic die because the scratches aren't due to neck tension.

    When I looked up the problem, it seems these rings point to neck tension, too much force necessary to seat the bullet. So how do I set the neck tension of new brass without resizing it? I saw neck tension dies and bushing dies, the bushing dies all seem designed to push back the neck and I don't need to do that. The neck tension dies didn't use bushings so how do I know I'm getting .002"? How would I know what bushings to order?

    I really don't want to have to lube the brass if I don't have to and then clean it, though I could, it's only 1000 pieces.

    I figure I'll call Forster on Monday, but wanted to get some advice from you guys too. I'll probably end up just sending them a new case and a fired case, with and/or without bullets as they desire, and go from there.

    The rifle is a new 20" SR25, FWIW. So I can't get away with sizing fire formed brass here, I'll need the full length resizer after firing. But I don't want to use it on new brass, I heard that ruins good, new brass like this. I'm using a Dillon 650 press but don't think this is the issue --it works fine with everything else and so do the Forster dies I use. I also have some plain, cheap RCBS dies I can test out on the single stage press in the meantime while I wait for the new dies from Brownell's, and wait for a solution to the seating problem I'm having.
     

    bruddah

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    So I just got a bunch of brand new Lapua brass to load 175gr. SMK's using CCI 34's and 42gr. RE15.

    All's fine but one thing: when seating, there's a lightly pressed ring left on the bullet about 1/3rd of the way up. Many also had scratches about 1/4" wide, 1/4" long just below the ring, always the same scratch, always in the same place. It was light too. The damage to the bullet wasn't significant enough to prohibit use, especially since I was just breaking in the barrel, getting chrono data and zeroing the flip up irons.

    But in the future, I'd like to have the ammo looking like new ammo should. I sent back the Forster mic seating die and just ordered another just like it. I sent back the SB sizer because after checking it all out it seems the full length sizer would be sufficient. The mic die because the scratches aren't due to neck tension.

    When I looked up the problem, it seems these rings point to neck tension, too much force necessary to seat the bullet. So how do I set the neck tension of new brass without resizing it? I saw neck tension dies and bushing dies, the bushing dies all seem designed to push back the neck and I don't need to do that. The neck tension dies didn't use bushings so how do I know I'm getting .002"? How would I know what bushings to order?

    I really don't want to have to lube the brass if I don't have to and then clean it, though I could, it's only 1000 pieces.

    I figure I'll call Forster on Monday, but wanted to get some advice from you guys too. I'll probably end up just sending them a new case and a fired case, with and/or without bullets as they desire, and go from there.

    The rifle is a new 20" SR25, FWIW. So I can't get away with sizing fire formed brass here, I'll need the full length resizer after firing. But I don't want to use it on new brass, I heard that ruins good, new brass like this. I'm using a Dillon 650 press but don't think this is the issue --it works fine with everything else and so do the Forster dies I use. I also have some plain, cheap RCBS dies I can test out on the single stage press in the meantime while I wait for the new dies from Brownell's, and wait for a solution to the seating problem I'm having.
    Pictures? If it's what I think it is, it's the seating cone not perfectly matching up with the bullet. Usually causes no issues and goes away as you load more of that bullet. Additionally, you can polish the seater stem.
     

    Supersubes

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    Does the force required to seat the bullets feel high to you? I fl size virgin brass almost always, because i want my prefered neck tension and headspace dimensions, and not what they give me. Depending on the headspace dimensions of the virgin brass, and the particular rifle the brass will be used it, i may just run the necks over a mandrel.
     

    padom

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    Virgin Lapua neck tension is all over the place and typically way too much tension. Not that it's an issue. But expander mandrel is what I use before searing bullets. I also don't do any load development till virgin brass is fireformed to my chamber.
     

    Strykervet

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    Virgin Lapua neck tension is all over the place and typically way too much tension. Not that it's an issue. But expander mandrel is what I use before searing bullets. I also don't do any load development till virgin brass is fireformed to my chamber.

    Thanks for the replies guys, I appreciate it.

    Yeah, I'm getting virtually no consistency with the loads, and to me consistency is vital. It does feel like too much tension, especially for seating a HPBT. FWIW, the tension on Mast produced .300BLK brass feels awful tight too but doesn't mark up the bullets even with flat bases. I'd like to set the tension on that brass too, actually, and it looks like that one mandrel will do both.

    So what you'd recommend is that I run the brass through the Sinclair mandrel and die that Blowby recommended? No need for lube? This will give me proper neck tension? I'd like to use this on the empty first stage of a Dillon 650 when loading if possible --I size and trim on another toolhead and clean the brass before and after sizing/trimming.

    This method is better or will give the same results as using a bushing or neck sizer?

    My mission: I'm trying to load up good, consistent virgin ammo, not reloads. I'm using an SR25 in .308 so I'm not sure fireforming is gonna do much for me since I'll be FL resizing spent brass. So should I FL size the new virgin brass, or just expand the neck, or both?

    Am I missing something here? How about I reword the entire question: If you wanted factory new match grade ammo that you made yourself for an AR10, how would YOU go about doing it?

    And what about honing the sizing die? Is it worth it in my case and how do I go about getting the measurements, or do I just send in a spent case?



    Edit: I found this article looking up info on expander mandrels. It specifically refers to the problem with neck tension and virgin Lapua brass. According to the article, all I should need to do is use this die in the first station on my press and I should be good to go regarding loading virgin ammo.

    It looks like a good idea to use this on all calibers in fact, and perhaps I should incorporate these into my setup, especially with virgin brass.

    What say you all?
     
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    padom

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    Lets brake this down. Good ammo with virgin brass, yes you can do that. Best and most consistent ammo with virgin brass, no. Fireforming most definitely will form the brass and shoulder to your chamber. If your loading for a semi auto you need to go buy a Forster FL sizing die and be done with this. You need to take your virgin brass, fire it in your SR25 then measure your fired case with a case headspace gauge and then set your FL sizing die up to push the shoulder back .003. This will give you brass with .001 or less runout. If loading on a Dillon with the RT1500 trimmer, set that up to push the shoulder back .003 and it also squeezes the neck down too much so I have an expander mandrel in the last station to set proper .002 neck tension. If you dont have the RT1500 trimmer for your 650 then just have a Forster FL sizing die in your toolhead. Expander dies dont squeeze the neck down, they set proper neck tension (open it up) after something else has squeezed the neck down (FL sizing die, bushing die, trim die, etc) but you cant JUST use an expander, the neck has to first be squeezed down.

    You arent making factory match grade ammo, your not a factory. Your making match grade handloaded ammo tailored to your rifle which will be better than any factory match ammo you can buy if proper load development and loading is performed.

    Your overthinking this. Load up the virgin brass and go shoot the hell out of it. Then size and trim and load. That will be your most consistent, accurate ammo you can produce. I have loaded match grade ammo for semis (300blk, 5.56, 308, 6.5cm, and now 6.5 Grendel) all with a Forster FL sizing due pushing the shoulder back .003 producing some of the most concentric ammo you will find.
     

    Strykervet

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    Okay, the Forster dies are what I use and I'm waiting on the new ones as I sent back the SB (it was obviously too small upon inspection) and am waiting on the FL. I sent the seater back because it left the scrape mark which had nothing to do with the neck tension. I have some older RCBS dies, but wanted something better and like the mic seaters a lot.

    So yeah, I do use the hell out of that auto trimmer and am aware that it also sizes some brass... I didn't think about that ruining the work done by the sizing die until you brought it up though. I wondered and even asked Dillon but got the impression it was non-sequitur. So you use the expander mandrel after the trimmer while all is still lubed up, huh? That'll work and makes sense.

    And with my virgin brass, you say just load it up and forget about any marks, fart around and maybe get basic zeroes on the irons and optic and go from there? It won't make sense to use any more SMK's for this so I should just get a bunch of FMJ's instead I'm guessing. Working and loading 1-2k pieces is no problem, I just feel guilty spendex'ing a new cut rifle barrel, you know?

    Bit confused though --you're saying NOT to use the expander on the virgin brass? To just load as-is? Because from that article I got the impression that I should just use the expander on virgin brass (and of course it makes sense to use it after the auto trimmer like you say).
     

    spife7980

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    Bit confused though --you're saying NOT to use the expander on the virgin brass? To just load as-is? Because from that article I got the impression that I should just use the expander on virgin brass (and of course it makes sense to use it after the auto trimmer like you say).

    I dont think he was saying to not use the expander on the virgin brass, I think hes saying to not get too deep into load development until you get your fire formed brass as the load will be different for the second firing. Now if you have 2k cases to form you might find it worth while to find a load and get good shots out of all those but if you only have 100 to do it wouldnt be worth it, just expander and go.

    I too am unclear on the whole full length sizing .003 back and then setting the trimmer up to also bump .003 though. Unless he was talking about doing one or the other and not both.
     
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    padom

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    I dont think he was saying to not use the expander on the virgin brass, I think hes saying to not get too deep into load development until you get your fire formed brass as the load will be different for the second firing. Now if you have 2k cases to form you might find it worth while to find a load and get good shots out of all those but if you only have 100 to do it wouldnt be worth it, just expander and go.

    I too am unclear on the whole full length sizing .003 back and then setting the trimmer up to also bump .003 though. Unless he was talking about doing one or the other and not both.


    Im saying done use the expander or if your really concerned about neck tension being too tight then go ahead and use the expander on the virgin brass. Shoot it, and get some practice.

    Once you have fireformed brass I am saying one or the other, Forster FL sizing die OR Dillon Trim die + expander mandrel. I would set up both the FL sizing die or the Trim die to bump shoulder back .003. The trim die sets the shoulder back and squeezes the neck down. I then use the expander mandrel to open it back up for exactly .002 neck tension. If you dont use the expander after the trimmer you will have excessive neck tension. Some guys do this all the time, especially for plinking ammo but I do not. I use the expander in the final station to open it back up.

    I have case prep toolheads for my brass. I do all this and then tumble and store in bins so its ready to load when Im ready.
     

    Strykervet

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  • Jun 5, 2011
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    With the trimmer, I usually set it far down enough to do the job --I'm not trying to use it as a sizing die. If I put a piece of brass in the trimmer only and check it in the Wilson gauge, it will still be too long. Have to use the sizer to achieve the proper headspace. However, since it is a sizing die it does squeeze down the neck but has no expander ball like a sizing die would. That's the point of the expander after the trimmer and I always wondered why Dillon didn't mention it but when called they made it seem like it wasn't important. It can't hurt and all it will do is help ensure neck tension isn't too tight. It's a good idea and it fixes what I always perceived to be an issue at some level, but neck tension wasn't on my radar like it is now.

    So yeah, I planned on loading up a whole lot of those rounds, so working up virgin loads would make sense too... I'm just confused as to what I should do exactly and don't want to waste SMK's, so I guess I'll test it out. If I can load virgin ammo that's consistently under 1MOA, I'm good. If I can't, I guess I'll have to fireform it all. Also, along the way I'll be creating fireformed cases I'll have to do something with anyway; I already have 70.

    What I just did was order the Sinclair expander mandrel and gen.2 expander die for the .30. I should get the new dies here this week too. So what I'll do is clean up and resize the 70 or so pieces I have fired and then expand the other 30 virgin pieces from that box. I have a target range already for a load to work on, so I'll load 30 resized and 30 virgin and compare those after I zero the irons and the optic and try to get a few groups with the other 40 resized loads. I'll go from there I guess.

    Reading around on the net, I find that it's common for certain Lapua brass calibers to have variable but always overtight neck tension and .308 is well known for this. To load match grade virgin ammo with it, other shooters on other sites say everything from expander mandrel only all the way to expanding, annealing, expanding again, neck turning inside and out, chamfering and some other steps. Some FL size ALL virgin brass, others don't. Then some say fireform and FL resize it. About the only common measure was to use the expander, so I'll start there.

    Thanks for all the info, I know I'm on the right track and have a plan now.
     

    padom

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    Thanks padom, you were a big help and I appreciate it!

    Why are you not trying to use the Dillon trim die as a sizing die. Thats exactly what it is. Its a FL sizing die without an expander button. Why would you want to waste additional steps when you are already running your brass through it. You need to set that die up properly. Screwing it down "enought that it gets the job done" means you have no idea what that die is sizing your case.

    Do you own a Hornady Case Headspace gauge like this here? If you arent depriming your once fired brass and measuring it with the noted gauge and writing that number down then subtracting .003 and setting up your Dillon trim die to match that number than you arent setting it up properly. You are most likely oversizing or undersizing your brass.

    Example, you fire virgin lapua in your rifle, you remove the primer and measure it with the above noted Hornady gauge. You get for example 1.435" then you take .003" off that number (1.435 - .003 = 1.432"). You now want to screw your dillon trim die down in 1/4 turn increments, sizing a piece of brass and measuring it with the case headspace gauge till it measures 1.432". Now tighten the lock ring and your Trim die is setup properly. Now install the trimmer and screw it down and test till your brass measures your desired trim length. Now lock the trimmer down. You now have your trim die setup to size the body and push the shoulder back to a headspace for YOUR rifle and you trimmed your brass to spec. The next station will open the neck for your desired neck tension based on the expander your using.

    And your not wasting SMK's. Your load with your virgin brass will be very close to your load with fireformed brass. Find your load using OCW method and adjust seating depth to shrink your group size. You need to read Dan Newberry's OCW method on how to do proper load development. You MAY need to adjust your load by a few .1's of a grain with fireformed brass. You will need to test that. You dont just load up 40 virgin and 40 fireformed of the same load. Load up a known mild load or use the 168 SMK sleuthed load Dan Newberry posted that mimics 168 Federal Gold Medal Match and shoot that in your virgin brass. Then go back and do load development once you have your fireformed cases.

    You dont just go load up 1000 pcs of virgin brass of some unknown load.
     
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    Strykervet

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    I think you misunderstand or perhaps I failed to illustrate it well. I'm pretty tired today. Anyway, I use the trim die just to trim, I don't set it far enough to size anything. I use the sizing die for that. The neck enters the trim die enough for the trimmer to do it's job but the shoulder isn't touching it. Just enough to do the trim job I should have said. I use the Wilson gauges, I don't have a comparator but would like one for COAL. The Wilson gauges are pretty simple to use and I have 'em in all calibers I load for; it's the only proper way to setup a sizing die that I know of. How else are you to know how far it's sized? How I know this brass doesn't need to be sized is that it fits the gauge perfectly.

    It's no extra work using the separate sizing die either, all I have to do is crank the handle, same amount of work for 1 die as 3. And I prefer a dedicated sizing die. I usually decap prior to cleaning with a decapper, but sometimes I work with clean 1x fired brass and I decap and size it prior to running it through the trimmer. In some cases I need to use the SB die. So I don't like to depend on the trimmer die to size. I do like the idea of using the expander after it though.

    No, 30 virgin and 30 fireformed will be 6 groups of 5 each in .1 grain increments, 41.4-42, loaded identically so I can compare groups of virgin loads to the 1x brass loads. I've already shot 70 and chrono'd those and inspected the cases and that's how I arrived at the "target" load, starting with the minimum book load and working up until I hit the velocity I'm looking for or max, in this case it's ~42gr. RE15 for 2550fps, which is about spot on (different data shows max at 41.3, some at 44, 42 looked good and was as far as I took it since I'm using CCI34's). I could probably push the load further but I see no need to as the most accurate load probably isn't gonna be the one that flattens the primers. Most say it's around this neighborhood of 2550 for this powder and load as well.

    As for length, book length is 2.8 and that also turns out to be about what a KAC mag will accept without any issue, so I can't really load 'em longer if I wanted to. I could try going a bit shorter but I don't feel comfortable going out of bounds much with regards to pressure. A little longer, yeah, shorter I'm not so hot on. Usually I like to get the bullet right up to the rifling and back off a bit, usually my most accurate loads are done this way, but it's not gonna happen here due to the mag.

    If there isn't a big difference between the two and I find an acceptable load then I'll load the remainder 900 and get some more to load up so I have plenty. I've just never loaded this large quantity of high quality components before and don't want to botch it. I understand the rings caused by the die are cosmetic, but the neck tension that put 'em there isn't, and you don't see factory or reloads looking that way so I knew something was up. Had this not occurred, I probably would have worked up a load and carried on with it.

    "And your not wasting SMK's. Your load with your virgin brass will be very close to your load with fireformed brass." That's what I'm looking for actually. Just needed to find out what I should do to prep virgin brass with necks too tight.

    No, you don't just load up any brass with an unknown load regardless of quantity. Thanks again!
     

    spife7980

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    I use the Wilson gauges, I don't have a comparator but would like one for COAL. The Wilson gauges are pretty simple to use and I have 'em in all calibers I load for; it's the only proper way to setup a sizing die that I know of. How else are you to know how far it's sized? How I know this brass doesn't need to be sized is that it fits the gauge perfectly.

    The hornady/stoneypoint gauges are actually two different types. The bullet comparators allow you to measure where you are at in relative seating depth off of the ogive instead of oal which you eluded to. However there is a second set, the headspace gauges. Those allow you to measure the shoulder of the brass. Find your brass is 1.953 in shoulder length, adjust your die to where it measures 1.951 after sizing (or more depending on what you’re sizing for) and you know exactly how much you are sizing your brass and not having to take it all the way back to saami spec each time with the drop in Wilson gauge and reducing the life of the brass. With the hornady kit you actually know what you have, the Wilson gauge is just an arbitrary point in space with no respect to your individual chamber.
     

    padom

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    And I don't know what KAC mags your using but KAC mags allow COAL out to 2.871". That's all I run and own 6 of them.
     

    Strykervet

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    The hornady/stoneypoint gauges are actually two different types. The bullet comparators allow you to measure where you are at in relative seating depth off of the ogive instead of oal which you eluded to. However there is a second set, the headspace gauges. Those allow you to measure the shoulder of the brass. Find your brass is 1.953 in shoulder length, adjust your die to where it measures 1.951 after sizing (or more depending on what you’re sizing for) and you know exactly how much you are sizing your brass and not having to take it all the way back to saami spec each time with the drop in Wilson gauge and reducing the life of the brass. With the hornady kit you actually know what you have, the Wilson gauge is just an arbitrary point in space with no respect to your individual chamber.

    I didn't realize they were that cheap, I may look into that. I really need one that does COAL like I said; it'd be nice if they have bushings that'll do both. I'll have to look into 'em more. Gotta wait until next month, I'm spent up for this one.

    Aren't these gauges basically the same thing, only they allow use of a caliper vs. just the gauge? With the Wilson gauges, they're quick and easy and if you know how to use 'em they're pretty accurate for sizing as well. It gets you back to SAAMI spec which is generally my goal since I'm mostly loading large quantities 5.56 and 7.62 ball and match and .50BMG match and belted API for multiple rifles.

    If I get the comparator, I may as well sell my Wilson gauges? Why the fuck didn't anyone (Dillon?) mention THAT instead of the Wilson gauges, which aren't exactly cheap BTW.

    Would also have been nice had Dillon mentioned the use of an expander after the trim die too. Wish the trim dies were all like the BMG trim dies; they don't size the brass, just trim it.

    If it's not to expensive, I may send my trim dies off to have 'em bored over so they'll do just that. I think I recall someone mentioning custom made trim dies, was it CH4D? They do all my custom stuff for BMG at the moment. I guess I'll do whatever is cheaper --hone out the trim dies or buy several expander dies/mandrels since I'll need one for each trim block, each caliber.

     

    spife7980

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    In that case ^^ it’s strange to me that your mags aren’t running with .071 of clearance. Your mags aren’t all gritted up are they? Could you blast them out with an air compressor or something to see if your chasing the wrong culprits?

    Or are your feedlips presenting the rounds at the wrong orientation? Snap a magpul mag for like 20 bucks when they go on sale. I did for the shits and giggles when I saw the banner for a magpul sale somewhere one day and it feeds by far the smoothest for me over aics metal mags. I didn’t realize how frictiony the metal were and sanding doesn’t seem to smooth them up any.

    Edit: Forgot youre not on the aics mag platform despite reading it so many times so dont buy a magpul aics, lol
     
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    Strykervet

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    And I don't know what KAC mags your using but KAC mags allow COAL out to 2.871". That's all I run and own 6 of them.

    If yours have the SS follower, yours may be different. The new ones have a nylon or polymer follower, not sure if the body is any different. But they have changed over the years FWIW.

    Yeah, I got 11 of 'em, they're pretty nice and 2.8 looks "close enough" and I need to be aiming for book data at this point anyway --there's a bit more room but not much, you say .071", I'll buy that, but I want a bit of room for reliability. Since I currently don't have a way of measuring "actual" COAL, I have to settle for statistically deriving one based on many measurements that take into account the variability in SMK tips. With your comparator, I guess you don't have this problem. Also, like I said, I've only fired 70 rounds total, it's still a new rifle and I'm getting comfortable with it still. I can work 'em out a bit longer in that case, but not much and surely not enough to reach the rifling, so my efforts may yield some fruit but not sure how much. I'll throw that into the testing though and fool with the seating depths once I have a load I like.

    Right now I'm just waiting on the expander and I'll compare the reloads and the virgin loads like I said, and if virgin loads are sufficient, then I'll load 'em up once I discover the "best" load out of my "target" load, which was 42gr. more or less.

    With the comparator, IS there one that does both COAL and headspace brass measurements? Not too expensive and will fit my old Mitutoyo dial caliper?

    When I loaded up a 100 here or a few hundred there, no problem. Now that I'm looking at cranking out larger amounts, I want to make sure I'm not wasting money --and pulling thousands of rounds isn't much fun either.

     

    padom

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    In that case ^^ it’s strange to me that your mags aren’t running with .071 of clearance. Your mags aren’t all gritted up are they? Could you blast them out with an air compressor or something to see if your chasing the wrong culprits?

    Or are your feedlips presenting the rounds at the wrong orientation? Snap a magpul mag for like 20 bucks when they go on sale. I did for the shits and giggles when I saw the banner for a magpul sale somewhere one day and it feeds by far the smoothest for me over aics metal mags. I didn’t realize how frictiony the metal were and sanding doesn’t seem to smooth them up any.


    he said he's running an SR25 so SR25/LR308 semi auto mags....KAC SR25 mags are the best in the business for semis with the longest COAL of 2.871. Something isn't right.
     

    padom

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    If yours have the SS follower, yours may be different. The new ones have a nylon or polymer follower, not sure if the body is any different. But they have changed over the years FWIW.

    Yeah, I got 11 of 'em, they're pretty nice and 2.8 looks "close enough" and I need to be aiming for book data at this point anyway --there's a bit more room but not much, you say .071", I'll buy that, but I want a bit of room for reliability. Since I currently don't have a way of measuring "actual" COAL, I have to settle for statistically deriving one based on many measurements that take into account the variability in SMK tips. With your comparator, I guess you don't have this problem. Also, like I said, I've only fired 70 rounds total, it's still a new rifle and I'm getting comfortable with it still. I can work 'em out a bit longer in that case, but not much and surely not enough to reach the rifling, so my efforts may yield some fruit but not sure how much. I'll throw that into the testing though and fool with the seating depths once I have a load I like.

    Right now I'm just waiting on the expander and I'll compare the reloads and the virgin loads like I said, and if virgin loads are sufficient, then I'll load 'em up once I discover the "best" load out of my "target" load, which was 42gr. more or less.

    With the comparator, IS there one that does both COAL and headspace brass measurements? Not too expensive and will fit my old Mitutoyo dial caliper?

    When I loaded up a 100 here or a few hundred there, no problem. Now that I'm looking at cranking out larger amounts, I want to make sure I'm not wasting money --and pulling thousands of rounds isn't much fun either.


    No, I have polymer followers and I have ones that are 6 years old and ones that are 1 year old. All have polymer followers and all measure 2.871" COAL to the front.

    There is no tool that measures "COAL". COAL standard for "Cartridge Overall Length" which is measured from the base of the case to the tip of the bullet. You dont ever want to measure COAL. CBTO or "Cartridge Base to Ogive" is what you want to measure your loaded rounds with and thats what the Hornady Bullet Comparator kit is for. Every reloader should have both of these kits along with a good set of Calipers. These tools take the guessing out of case sizing and bullet seating. This is how you make high quality match grade ammo. Your Wilson gauges work, yes. But they may or may not be overworking your brass. They are meant to size brass to fit in a wide range of chambers. You want to size brass to fit in your chamber.

    It seems reading through the How to Reload stickies at the top of the Reloading section would be hugely beneficial to you. Will walk you through the proper steps to load high quality match grade ammo and explain why. Why you dont want the trim die to size your brass and prefer to use a sizing die is baffling. They both do the same thing, and if you got the expander in the last station your done. Every one of my trim dies are setup in dedicated brass prep toolheads to bump the shoulder .003. I have NEVER needed a SB die in my 223, 308 or 6.5cm semis using this method along with an expander in the last station.

    Not having the proper tools to properly even setup your dies is overworking your brass. People will do what they want, you have been given solid advice on how to do it properly. How you proceed will be your choice. Links to the proper tools are below if you choose to purchase them.


    Hornady Case Headspace Kit
    Hornady Bullet Comparator Set
     
    Last edited:

    padom

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  • Mar 13, 2013
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    Ive done this a few times ;) Im trying to help you make quality ammo for YOUR gun.


    [IMG2=JSON]{"data-align":"none","data-size":"full","src":"https:\/\/i.imgur.com\/41hYhdu.jpg"}[/IMG2]

    [IMG2=JSON]{"data-align":"none","data-size":"full","src":"https:\/\/i.imgur.com\/GKmxOOo.jpg"}[/IMG2]
     

    Strykervet

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  • Jun 5, 2011
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    Cool setup. I have 2 Dillons, a 650 and a 50BMG and one RCBS single stage between the two on a 4x8 heavily reinforced table I built with a full 4x8 lower shelf; I use the opposite side to link, work on rifles and there's a vice to swage or work on rifles, etc. Two swing lamps installed in the center a few feet apart.

    So I ordered more Lapua brass today, found it for an even better price I couldn't pass up. Figure on more bullets, but I still have some and I found some 168's which may be useful. I plan on ordering more 168's and 175's, SMK's, as well as some BLK bullets. Found the Hornady comparator setup, it's not too expensive so I put it in the cart along with all the bushings --the bullet comparator bushings and the headspace bushings fit in the same socket, yeah? I read they are, but I just want to check with someone that has 'em.

    It'll be nice to have this, and I also have a second set of calipers, a Frankford Arsenal set I got somewhere years back that are cheap, but solid, new and accurate and will be great to dedicate to this. I can attach the socket to the anvil and leave it.

    Yeah, I know about COAL or COL and that it can't be measured accurately with just a set of calipers. I don't claim to be a pro but I'm getting the feeling you think I'm less savvy at this than I really am. I know exactly how I'm sizing my brass. Now I always wanted one of those comparators, well, I'll be getting it now. I don't think I need the headspace gauge, but they're cheap enough to get anyway. The Wilson gauges do what the comparator headspace gauges do without that part essentially, it doesn't clamp onto the caliper, but you can use calipers with the Wilson gauges if you know what you are doing. You seat the brass in the gauge, set the anvil on the gauge (not the case neck) and the travelling bar on the head of the case and you have the length of your brass; you can measure it prior to, during and after sizing. This is how I set my dies. The other end measures trim length. Wilson gauges are easy to use and quick for setting up a press, it's what Dillon sells and recommends for setting up the 650.

    I've always measured the max COAL I can load to by loading long, attempting to seat, seat deeper, try again, etc. Trial and error method. When it goes in and just touches the rifling and headspace is fine and it locks up easy, then I can seat another turn on the die deeper and that's my max COAL I want to load to. That's where the round will chamber nicely and the jump or leade is at a minimum. I believe the manual mentioned this. I can obviously see how a gauge would be nicer for this though and when I get the comparator, I'll probably get the tool that goes on the other end that holds a threaded piece of brass for this.

    I've looked through the stickies, but it's been years ago.

    Remember, I was only asking about the neck tension being excessively tight and how to fix it. I got that and I appreciate your help. And as for sizing, I just prefer my sizing dies, for various reasons like I said. Different strokes I guess. I can see how you like the efficiency of the Dillon trim die though.

    Thank you again, and if you could confirm the comparator body is the same for the headspace bushing and COAL bushing, I'd appreciate that.
     

    spife7980

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    Yes, the red body will hold both the large headspace bushings for measuring case shoulders as well as the thin bullet comparator bushings.
     

    atefft22

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    The Wilson headspace gauge is more for someone loading for a m1a or something to just quickly see if a case is within saami spec and within max case length, it is usable but not optimum for getting the reading off the datum line on the shoulder of your fired and sized cases. the .400 headspace bushiing is the one you want for 308. zero out your calipers on the busing body and the .400 bushing. then check multiple 1x fired cases. That will tell you the size of your unique individual chamber. Then you can set your die up to knock back the shoulder 3thou for reliable chambering in that gasser. This process allows you to have brass that is not overworked.
     

    Strykervet

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  • Jun 5, 2011
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    I wanna thank you all. Padom, big fucking thanks, you are an asset to the site. Still can't figure how you pack that much gear in what seems like a small basement room when I have far more room (two car garage, all mine) but still have trouble finding storage! It'll work itself out, I think I have far more components than you do and that's what's taking up all the space.

    Was talking to my neighbor yesterday, I knew he shot and knew he had an AR but didn't figure he was that into it. Then yesterday he tells me about this custom made (from scratch) 6mmPPC that uses neck turned brass with .001 clearance between the neck and chamber. SERIOUS tolerances. He's got the shit down pat, but being benchrest his style of shooting and reloading are different than mine. However, I think I have a few things to learn from my neighbor. Been here years and NEVER knew he did that! We even shoot at the same range, just different days. He said if his bullets aren't printing a single hole, then he's got problems.

    So I got that expander die you recommended, WHAT A DIFFERENCE! Also got the new dies. No scratches from the new ones and the marks on the bullets are almost non-existent from seating and getting better the more I use it. They seat so fine and go in without any noticeable force like before (I get that feeling from the expander now). I'll be using this expander die for all new brass and after the trimmer die, it's a must have for what I'm doing.

    I got the comparator too, but not the "bottom half" (the rod that adjusts headspace on the rifle, you know what I'm talking about). But I ran into a problem. I read there are TWO different ogives in one box of SMK's!? If lucky, just one? WTF? And I've noticed this, I did the math to figure out the length of a bullet from the ogive to base and ogive to tip. But I still am not getting consistent OAL measurements from the ogive vs. the tip --it seems one is as good as another? Could use some advice on this, I'm stumped. Do I take multiple measurements and then choose the average?

    I also still don't see how the headspace gauge does anything different than a Wilson gauge, except one is easier to use than the other depending on the circumstance. I'd think the Wilson gauges to be more accurate seeing as they are solid one piece steel and can be measure with calipers just the same. But I have 'em now and do have a limited use for them. Both are great for setting up the resizer, but the Wilson better for quick checking and the comparator nice for taking actual measurements to adjust the die. Lack of instructions included was a bit of a let down.

    I got the 168's like you said, they should work better at a shorter range than the 175's until I can stretch their legs. I understand 175's do shitty under 200m and only fully stabilize properly past that?

    Again, big thanks to all and especially to Padom. .
     

    shootnrelease

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    Sorry to be in on this a little late. Also shooting a SR25 (re-barreled, X-caliber chambered in 308w,matched bolt). My fired shells read 1.6280" (Hornady .400" bushing)..If I bump the shoulders back .003" with a F/L die, shells become wedged in the chamber, and extremely tough to extract manually. At 1.6220" it starts getting tough.
    I was using a Redding F/L bushing die.. Now Redding F/L sb bushing die to have the shoulders out there (-.002"/-.003").. I have the same results using a RCBS F/L die... Same with my factory barrel.
    Thanks in advance for input...