October 27th, 2018

How to Neck-Size Cases with LEE Collet Die

LEE Precision Collet Die

For those who prefer to neck-size their brass (rather than full-length-size), the LEE Collet Die is a popular, inexpensive option. It works by having collet tangs or “fingers” press the neck against a central mandrel. The benefit is that you get a very straight neck, which is sized consistently from top to bottom. Canadian shooter Jerry Teo explains: “LEE Collet Dies produce sized cases with very low runout (measured runout is under .001″ using a Sinclair concentricity gauge). You also don’t get the build-up of brass at the base of the neck, as can happen with bushing neck dies. The neck-shoulder junction stays nice and crisp.”

LEE Precision Collet DieTIP ONE — Adjusting Tension
LEE Collet dies don’t have a specific mechanical adjustment for neck tension. But you CAN easily modify the die to provide more or less tension. If you want to adjust the neck tension using a Lee Collet die, you can simply chuck the mandrel in a drill and reduce the diameter with some sand-paper (to increase neck tension) or you can order a mandrel the next caliber larger and turn it to whatever diameter you want (the larger the mandrel diameter, the less the neck tension). You can also order custom mandrels from Lee sized to any diameter you want.

Regarding neck tension, Boyd Allen makes an important point: “The only way to properly get more neck tension with collet dies is to either reduce the diameter of the mandrel, or order a smaller-diameter mandrel from Lee. I remind folks that adjusting the die position to have more toggle at the top of the ram stroke (not the factory recommended method), or leaning on the press handle with more force than recommended will NOT increase neck tension.”

Lee also offers Custom Collet Dies, made from two fired cases. Lee offers custom standard collet dies for $70.00 (plus S/H) and custom large collet dies for $160.00 (plus S/H). CLICK HERE to ORDER.

TIP TWO — Polish and Tune for Easy Case Removal
Some users have complained that their Collet Dies grab the case-neck too firmly, making the case hard to remove. There are solutions to this problem. First inspect the collet fingers and smooth the inner surface up a bit with polishing compound or an extra-fine sanding pad. Second, you can open up the fingers a little bit. LEE recommends that if your Collet Die is sticking, take a steel punch and tap the fingers apart a little bit so that the natural “unloaded” position is wider. Lastly, you should lightly lubricate the outside of the collet fingers (see arrows) before you re-assemble the die. This will ensure they slide smoothly. Also, to prevent the collet fingers from closing too tight, never load up the die with your press without putting a case in place first. Without a case neck between the collet fingers and the mandrel, the collet can clamp itself too tight as you raise the ram.

TIP THREE — Always Have a Case Inside When Operating Collet Die
Our friend Boyd Allen tells us that you need to follow directions and NEVER operate the die without a case inside. Boyd explains: “This is because doing so will spring the quadrents of the collet inward so that they interfere with the insertion of a case, and the user will have to figure out how to undo the damage if the die is to operate properly. This advice would not be needed if everyone read the instructions before using the die…. but many times, they don’t. Another thing that I tell new users is to take the die apart so that they will have a better chance of understanding how it works.”

TIP FOUR — Size Twice and Spin Your Case 1/8th Turn
After reaching fully “down” on your press handle, withdraw the case about an inch and manually rotate it about 1/8th (NOT 1/4 or 1/2) turn while still in the shell-holder, then size again. This will place the die’s collet petals on the four “high spots” of the case neck and will result in a rounder, more evenly-sized neck with slightly more bullet tension. This takes only about one second more per case and is well worth the slight extra effort. (We thank reader Stonecreek for this smart tip).

Here’s a good video that explains how to use a Lee Collet Die to Neck-Size .243 Win brass:

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September 7th, 2017

Six Great Gear Items for Shooters — All Under Twenty Bucks

cheap tricks under $20 gear

Some top-flight components for a great-shooting rifle surely aren’t cheap — like a custom action ($1200 and up). And a premium, match-grade scope could set you back two grand or more. But there are still some great items that cost under $20.00 that can benefit any gun-owner. Here are our selection of six great shooting accessories under twenty bucks. Many of these are top-selling items on Amazon. The first item, a motion-sensitive light for your gun safe, has been a big hit with our readers.

1. Amazon — Motion-Sensitive Interior Light for Gun Safes, $9.95

gun safe light vault cabinet motion sensor light motion sensing LED magnet lamp

Let there be light. Here’s a great accessory for your Gun Safe. This “smart” LED lamp turns itself on when you open the door, and off when you close the door. There’s a built-in magnet so you can easily attach the light to the inner walls or “ceiling” of your gun safe. It works, it’s handy, and it’s inexpensive — just $9.99 with free shipping for Prime members (or otherwise free shipping for $25+ orders). We bought two for our own firearms vault. This can provide 14 hours of light with three AA batteries (not included). Very versatile, these motion-sensor lamps can also be used in closets. NOTE: This item has been very popular with our readers, who have purchase six dozen already.

2. Amazon — Discovery Scope Level, $8.99 (30mm)

Optical Rifle Scope bubble level Discovery 30mm 1 inch 34mm Amazon

If you shoot long range, you need a scope level. This Discovery scope level is fully CNC-machined to close tolerances for a good fit. It is available with inner diameters to fit scopes with either 1″ or 30mm main tubes. The popular 30mm version is now on sale for just $8.99 while the 1″ model is $9.99. (That’s right, the bigger version is cheaper right now). You could easily pay $35.00 or more for a 30mm scope level. Purchasers have praised this product: 84% of verified buyers rated this four or five stars.

3. Amazon — 34 dB Noise Rating Ear Muffs, $17.45

34dB NRR 32 hearing protection earmuffs

These 34 dB NRR earmuffs provide excellent sound protection without being too heavy and bulky. At at $17.45, they are a great bargain. The lower section of the muff is trimmed for a narrower profile — that helps with rifle and shotgun stocks. The headband is adjustable and has comfortable padding. Select from ten color options: black (above), grey, pink, purple, teal, white, green, blue, red, and Coyote Brown (our favorite). These Pro For Sho Muffs have earned a 4 1/2 star consumer rating, with over 1,600 Amazon customer reviews. NOTE: These fit pretty tight. If you have a very large hat size you might want a different brand.

4. Midsouth — Lee Universal Decapping Die, $10.95

Lee Universal Decapping die

Midsouth sells the Lee Universal Decapping Die for just $10.95 (item 006-90292), a very good deal. There are many situations when you may want to remove primers from fired brass as a separate operation (prior to case sizing). For example, if your rifle brass is dirty, you may want to de-cap before sizing. Or, if you load on a progressive press, things will run much more smoothly if you decap you brass first, in a separate operation. The Lee Universal Decapping Die will work with cartridges from 17 Fireball all the way up to 45-70. However, NOTE that the decapping pin supplied with this Lee die is TOO LARGE for LAPUA 6.5×47, 6BR, 220 Russian, and Norma 6 PPC flash holes. Because the pin diameter is too large for these brass types, you must either turn down the pin, or decap with a different tool for cases with .059″ flash-holes. Otherwise, the Lee Decapping Die works well and it’s a bargain.

5. Amazon — Bore Stores Rifle Cases Starting at $14.99

Bore-Store Gun Sacks

Our take on Bore-Store Gun sleeves is simple: They work great, so buy them and use them — for ALL your valuable firearms.

These thick, synthetic-fleece sacks cushion your guns, preventing nicks and scratches. The breathable fabric wicks away moisture, and the fibers are coating with corrosion inhibitors. I personally use Bore-Stores for in-safe storage with all my guns, and I have never had one of my guns rust inside a Bore-Store, even when I lived a stone’s throw from the ocean.

Bore-Stores are offered in a wide range of sizes, so you can find something to fit everything from a Snub-nosed revolver to a 32″-barrelled 50 BMG. Rifle-size Bore Stores can be purchased for $14.99 – $23.00 from Amazon.com. For long F-Class or tactical rifles, we recommend the 10″x52″ SSG Scoped Shotgun Bag. You can also order direct from the Bore-Store manufacturer, Big Spring Enterprises, www.BoreStores.com. Big Spring will also craft custom sizes on request.

6. Midsouth — Lyman Bleacher Loading Blocks, $6.14

Max NRR 33 db ear plugs

Lyman’s new Bleacher Block stepped cartridge holders are great. Use the different levels for sorting brass. Or, migrate the brass from top to bottom as you proceed through case prep stages. Made of durable polymer, Bleacher Blocks are molded in three sizes. The smallest size (with 0.388″-diam holes) fits .223 Rem-size case heads. The middle size (with 0.485″-diam holes) fits .308 Win-size case heads. The biggest Bleacher Block has 0.565″-diameter recesses for magnum-size cases. All three cartridge block sizes hold fifty (50) rounds. Purchase any size for just $6.14 per Block at Midsouth.

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