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ive been reloading pistol cartridges for more than 30 years but have shied away from bottle neck rifle cartridges — so on this I’m a novice.
objective is a mid range 223 round (55 gr) to use in AR style rifle. I’m using a Forster coaxial press and some mixed (but well cleaned) range brass and some new Starline brass. I have RCBS and Redding FL small base sizing dies. Also Hornady FL die set. Problem is in sizing.
using Hornady Unique case lube with no problem on the Hornady FL die.
The small base dies recommend setting up so the die just touches the shell holder and then add 1/8 to 1/4 turn before locking the die. This will dent the case every time. It’s not excess lube — I’m putting on just enough to avoid a(nother) stuck case. If I back the die off about 1/8 to 1/4 turn the dent goes away.

so, two questions:
what might I be doing wrong to crunch the cases?
is the small base die really necessary?
thanks
Dave
 

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First off, you need to toss that crap Hornady One Shot, even PAM cooking spray is better. Get yourself a tub of Imperial Sizing Wax and apply it with your fingers or an RCBS Lube pad and RCBS case lube on it and roll the cases on the pad making sure the necks get lubed too. Once you size them, take a clean rag with some brake cleaner and wipe off the sizing wax. I retumble mine but I tumble is STS not cob. If you do cob, wipe them by hand.

You want to bottom the die against the shell holder and add just enough to cause a mild cam over effect and no more.

because they are fixed chamber dies, you cannot 'bump' the shoulders back unless you remove material from the bottom of the die to allow the case to go farther into the die but that is for another time and not here. I tend to bump all my FL sized cases 0.002 for easier chambering and extraction. Least in the 223 flavor. Everything else I load is with short base bushing dies, not fixed chamber.

I have a couple cans of One shot I've never used. All it's good for is lubricating door locks. Did you anneal the necks when you prepped them? if not your downrange accuracy will suffer because neck tension is critical in smaller bottle neck cases. Workhardened case mouths are the leading cause of inaccuracy. it's very important the pill leaves the case smoothly, that won't happen with hard case mouths.

All I load in 223 flavor are 55 grain Hornady Spire points with a crimp grove and I crimp them too. I use a Lee Collett crimp die. Loaded literally thousands of them. All brands of brass, all conditions, from green range brass to Starline to Federal NATO to Privi. All in the prep and if they look bad after a good cleaning, I toss them in my scrap brass can. Even loaded light armor piercing before.

My go to propellant is either H322 or H335 and CCI small rifle primers. I don't use that CFE junk either as I clean my guns regularly.

I have no idea what is a small base or large base die is either. I use RCBS or Redding 223 FL dies and I remove the primer pin as well as the inner sizing ball. In fact, I never use an inner sizing ball on anything and I use a dedicated primer removal die first thing before I do anything else. never neck size either, always FL resize.

What I do and what you do I'm sure are different but that is what I do and have been for literally decades now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
First off, you need to toss that crap Hornady One Shot, even PAM cooking spray is better. Get yourself a tub of Imperial Sizing Wax and apply it with your fingers or an RCBS Lube pad and RCBS case lube on it and roll the cases on the pad making sure the necks get lubed too. Once you size them, take a clean rag with some brake cleaner and wipe off the sizing wax. I retumble mine but I tumble is STS not cob. If you do cob, wipe them by hand.
thanks for the thoughtful response. I am not using One Shot! Learned that on my first (and last) try at 30-06. H Unique is a wax lube much like Imperial. From what you say I think I’ll load 10 or 20 using just the full length die and see how they do.
I appreciate it.
dave
 

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Actually, the best and least expensive is the RCBS case lube pad and case lube. Been using the same bottle for years now and thousands of cases. I use Imperial Sizing Wax on my large (338 Lapua and 300 Win Mag brass however) because I only load as required. Very expensive cases to load, take a lot of propellant (103 grains and 80 grains of H1000 respectively), unlike 223's or handgun rounds. and....

I anneal all my cases ALL of them every time I load them, no exceptions and that includes straight wall handgun brass as well because the crimp work hardens the end of the case and they will crack. I just anneal the ends of them. I use an 'Annealeze' case annealer and Templac to determine correct annealing temperature.

I never neck size anything, always full length and other than 223, always bushing dies with the correct bushing in the die to set neck tension. I also bump the necks back 0.002 on the 223 cases but I've modified my .223 full length die by grinding off 0.002 from the base of the die using my surface grinder with the die fixtured on it true vertical, something you cannot do but I can. I also turn the necks true on my bigger cases but not the smaller ones.

When you bump the shoulder back, it allows easier chambering and extraction, especially in a gas blowback action. Straightwall cases where the case indexes on the case base don't have the issues a bottleneck case has (where the case indexes on the shoulder datum).
 
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thanks for the thoughtful response. I am not using One Shot! Learned that on my first (and last) try at 30-06. H Unique is a wax lube much like Imperial. From what you say I think I’ll load 10 or 20 using just the full length die and see how they do.
I appreciate it.
dave
I use Hornady Unique lube........FOR THOSE that don't know........It comes in a tub and has the consistency of lard. I've been using it for years on ALL bottle neck cartridges.....Works great!..........Read and comprehend OP's first post. He stated Unique lube.
 

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I also use Unique lube and it works great, I've never had an issue with it at all. Just don't go crazy with it, you can get your fingers a little slick, and that usually lasts between 3 and 5 cases. I've never, ever gotten a case stuck with this stuff, but too much could leave bends or wrinkles especially around the neck.

I don't use small base dies, every rifle die set I use is Lee and the 223 dies are no exception. I've never had a problem with any cartridges coming off of those dies.
 

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High quality bottleneck dies will have a small relief hole drilled into the die body (before hardening) that will allow trapped air to escape from the area of the shoulder datum and eliminate any chance of denting the case no matter how much case lube you use. FYI.

The issue with ANY case lube is it will contaminate the propellant if not removed post sizing which is why I reclean my cases in STS for a short time prior to priming and loading. STS, a dash of Dawn dish wash detergent and a dash of Lemishine.
 

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Never been overly impressed with Lee Precision dies except their dedicated collet crimp dies, which I use. Lee has to have the cheapest die lock rings ever made (they won't hold their settings between loadings. I use Redding cross lock rings on pretty much every die because once I get them set for proper shoulder set back, I leave them set for all time.

Lee dies in my opinion are fine for straight wall handgun loading / sizing, not for bottleneck cases and lee dies are all fixed chamber (no neck bushing) dies anyway, not something I use.

On the subject of bullet seating, I much prefer the RCBS front load, micrometer seating dies. They aint cheap but are very consistent plus they load the bullet from the front, not the bottom and I machine my own seater stems to fit the Ogive of the Berger bullets I usually load. 2 of them cover all the calibers I load (with custom machined seater stems).
 
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High quality bottleneck dies will have a small relief hole drilled into the die body (before hardening) that will allow trapped air to escape from the area of the shoulder datum and eliminate any chance of denting the case no matter how much case lube you use. FYI.

The issue with ANY case lube is it will contaminate the propellant if not removed post sizing which is why I reclean my cases in STS for a short time prior to priming and loading. STS, a dash of Dawn dish wash detergent and a dash of Lemishine.
Curious. What brand of dies have a weep hole at the shoulder as you indicate? I use RCBS and Hornady dies for bottle neck reloading. That would eliminate dented shoulders.
 

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RCBS, Redding and my John Whidden custom machined dies all do, Not sure about Hornady, don't use any if their dies. I do use other Hornady tools like their headspace gage (which is really Pacific Tool and Gage), Hornady concentricity gage and the Hornady ogive gage set. The relief hole eliminates any chance of a dented shoulder datum from excessive sizing lubricant.

I will say I like Joyce Hornady brass except for the 460 flavor.

You do know that Joyce Hornady was a preacher???
 
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Made this great discussion a "sticky"...
 

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Never been overly impressed with Lee Precision dies except their dedicated collet crimp dies, which I use. Lee has to have the cheapest die lock rings ever made (they won't hold their settings between loadings. I use Redding cross lock rings on pretty much every die because once I get them set for proper shoulder set back, I leave them set for all time.

Lee dies in my opinion are fine for straight wall handgun loading / sizing, not for bottleneck cases and lee dies are all fixed chamber (no neck bushing) dies anyway, not something I use.

On the subject of bullet seating, I much prefer the RCBS front load, micrometer seating dies. They aint cheap but are very consistent plus they load the bullet from the front, not the bottom and I machine my own seater stems to fit the Ogive of the Berger bullets I usually load. 2 of them cover all the calibers I load (with custom machined seater stems).
Yeah, well, about that...the first thing I do when I buy a Lee die set is to replace the lock rings with Hornady lock rings. Some say that it's like putting Corvette parts on a Vega, but I really love those Hornady rings and they have never given me a problem.
 

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If anyone wants any (Lee lock rings), I have a box full of them. Totally useless. Actually, the Redding lock rings are better than the Hornady. The Redding rings are knurled and the securing fastener is larger and takes a larger hex key as well.
 

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Made this great discussion a "sticky"...
You didn't have to Marc but when you get up here to the farm, I'll show you how I do things. Been doing it for decades now and I've honed it to a fine science.

One thing I never, never do is trust any powder thrower for an accurate charge, not even my ultra buck Harrell Culver measure. I always check every charge on a Ohaus triple beam scale before charging a case, that especially holds true for the big caliber cases like 300 WM and 338 Lapua where the charges are always compacted and I'm on that ragged line of blowing them up or sending them down range at warp speed.

When I get a tray loaded, I'll take a flashlight and look into each case to make sure the level of propellant is even across all of them. No point in having an oops.

With large magnum calibers I can 'whale' through propellant pretty quick, 70 loadings will eat a solid pound of H1000 right now and the 338 is even worse. I can get about 55 cases loaded with H1000 in a pound bottle. Why I buy the stuff in 8 pound jugs and lately, 8 pounds is a nice dent in my wallet (when I can find it).

I'll never load with a progressive press because there are too many variables. Always a single stage. I do have a Redding T6 turret press as well as a Rockchucker but the Redding still has to be advanced manually, so one load at a time.

Remember back when 8 pounds of H1000 was a measly 125 bucks. Those days are gone forever.
 

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RCBS, Redding and my John Whidden custom machined dies all do, Not sure about Hornady, don't use any if their dies. I do use other Hornady tools like their headspace gage (which is really Pacific Tool and Gage), Hornady concentricity gage and the Hornady ogive gage set. The relief hole eliminates any chance of a dented shoulder datum from excessive sizing lubricant.

I will say I like Joyce Hornady brass except for the 460 flavor.

You do know that Joyce Hornady was a preacher???
i load 30/06 and 280 with RCBS dies. Mine are old. I've never saw a weep hole in those dies and I HAVE got dented shoulders with them.........Must be a recently added phenomena.
 

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I'd say mine are at least 10 years old, no dented shoulders. it lets the pressure out especially with an over application of sizing compound. Try removing the lock ring and giving them a bath in brake cleaner and examining the the outer threaded portion near the upper part of the die. It might be there and you don't see it. not a large drilling, maybe a number 60 drill. It's only in FL sizer dies, not NS dies.

I tend to give mine a bath in brake cleaner (or Gun Scrubber) after every use anyway. That especially holds true for bushing dies as the bushings will get loaded up with sizer and won't come out.
 

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Good choice using RCBS small base sizer die for AR
I suggest add a Lee Factory Crimp Die for your last step.
Agree with all on lock rings kinda prefer Hornady Bullet seater and lock rings.
I use RCBS Sizer Small Base Die for 40 years in 30-06 for Browning BAR and Colt AR’s exclusively.
 
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