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November 27th, 2021

Beyond Bushings — Benefits of Honed Full-Length Dies

Honed FL Forster Whidden Full-length dies
For some applications, we prefer a non-bushing FL die over a bushing die. Shown here are three Forster full-length sizing dies, with necks honed to three different dimensions: 0.265″, 0.266″, and 0.267″.

The Honed Full-Length Sizing Die Option

There are many good options in full-length (FL) sizing dies. Most precision hand-loaders prefer FL dies with neck bushings. These let you adjust the “grip” on your bullet by using larger or smaller bushings. FL bushing dies are available from Whidden Gunworks, Forster, Redding and other makers.

Conventional, non-bushing full-length sizing dies can create ultra-accurate ammo with very low run-out. But many conventional non-bushing FL dies have an undersized neck diameter so you end up with excess neck tension, and you work the brass excessively.

There is another effective option, one that promises extremely low run-out. The honed FL die is a full-length sizing die that has the necked honed to provide a precise fit to the case-neck. When done right, honed FL dies produce extremely straight ammo — as there are no issues with bushing alignment (or bushings that are not perfectly concentric). This Editor owns honed dies from Forster, Redding, and Whidden Gunworks. They all perform extremely well, delivering match ammunition with extremely low run-out measured with a 21st Century Concentricity Gauge.

In one of the most popular articles we’ve ever published, Bugholes from Bipod, California shooter “Froggy” explained why he prefers honed dies for his tactical ammo.

Q: Do you FL size every time? Do you use custom dies?

Absolutely, I full length resize all of my brass every time I reload. And guess what? I’ve never had a feeding problem.

I do use a modified sizing die, without bushings. My FL resizing die has been custom-honed in the neck area to give .0015″ press fit on the bullet. I also put a slightly larger radius at the neck shoulder junction. I feel that this helps to seal the chamber. With this die, I get consistent neck tension every time–without bushings. Bushings are useful when you’re fishing around for a good load. But once you find the right amount of sizing for ideal neck tension, you can do this better with a customized FL die.

6.5 Guys Review Forster Honed Full-length Dies
The 6.5 Guys have reviewed honed FL sizing dies from Forster, explaining the pros and cons of this type of reloading die. They explained that, if you load a wide variety of bullets from different manufacturers, you many want to stick with a Bushing FL die. However, if you have settled on a particular bullet and found the “ideal” neck tension, then a honed die may make sense.

In this Gear Update, the 6.5 Guys discuss a service offered by Forster Products to custom hone the neck diameter of its full-length sizing dies to the customer’s specifications (to the thousandth). Whidden Gunworks also offers custom-honed FL dies.

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October 25th, 2021

Inside Neck Chamfer Tools — A Bevy of Options and Angles

Neck case chamfer tools Redding Forster Rocket model 15-p
Shown is the Redding Model 15-P Competition Piloted Inside Chamfering Tool with pilot rod that centers in the case flash hole. Also shown is a Forster 45° Rocket Tool.

There are a wide variety of reloading tools designed to cut a slight chamfer in case necks and deburr the edge of the case mouth. You don’t need to spend a lot of money for an effective tool. A basic “rocket-style” 45° chamfering tool, such as the Forster, actually does a pretty good job taking the sharp edge off case mouths, particularly if you use a little scotch-pad (or steel wool) to smooth the edge of the cut. The Forster chamfer tool, shown below, is a nicely-made product, with sharper cutting blades than you’ll find on most other 45° chamferers. It costs $24.99 at Brownells.com.

forster rocket 45 degree neck chamferer chamfer tool

Redding sells a handy piloted chamfering tool with a 15° inside cutting angle and removable accessory handle. This Redding Model 15-P chamferer works really well, so long as you have consistent case OALs. The pilot rod (which indexes in the flash hole) is adjustable for different cartridge types (from very short to very long). This ensures the concentricity of the inside neck chamfer to the case mouth. This quality tool works with cases from .22 to .45 Caliber, and retails for $36.99.

Neck case chamfer tools Redding Forster Rocket model 15-p

Sinclair International offers a 28° carbide chamferer with many handy features (and sharp blades). The $28.99 Sinclair Carbide VLD Case Mouth Chamfering Tool will chamfer cases from .14 through .45 caliber. This tool features a removable 28° carbide cutter mounted in the green plastic Sinclair handle. NOTE: A hex-shaft cutter head power adapter can be purchased separately for $14.99 (Sinclair item 749-002-488WS). This can be chucked in a power screwdriver or used with dedicated power drives when doing large volumes of cases.

Neck inside chamfer chamferer case neck tool

Many folks feel they can get smoother bullet seating by using a tool that cuts at a steeper angle. We like the 22° cutter sold by Lyman. It has a comfortable handle, and costs just $12.99 at MidsouthShooterssupply.com. The Lyman tool is an excellent value, though we’ve seen examples that needed sharpening even when new. Blade-sharpening is easily done, however.

K&M makes a depth-adjustable, inside-neck chamferer (“Controlled Depth Tapered Reaper”) with ultra-sharp cutting flutes. The latest version, which costs $54.85 at KMShooting.com, features a central pin that indexes via the flash hole to keep the cutter centered. In addition, the tool has a newly-designed handle, improved depth-stop fingers, plus a new set-screw adjustment for precise cutter depth control. We caution, even with all the depth-control features, if you are not careful, it is easy to over-cut, slicing away too much brass and basically ruining your neck. We think that most reloaders will get better results using a more conventional chamfer tool, such as the Forster or Redding 15-P.

K & M K&M neck chamferer reamer controlled depth

One last thing to note — tools like the K&M and the Sinclair chamferer are often described as VLD chamferers. That is really a misnomer, as bullets with long boat-tails actually seat easily with very minimal chamfering. In reality, these high-angle chamferers may be most valuable when preparing brass for flat-base bullets and bullets with pressure rings. Using a 22° or 28° chamferer can reduce the risk of cutting a jacket when using VLD bullets though — so long as you make a smooth cut.

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August 24th, 2019

Get FREE Reloading Data Sheets and Ammo Box Label Templates

Reloading Data Form Ammo Box Template printing labels chronograph data sheet

Redding Reloading offers handy Handloader’s Data Sheets in printable PDF format. This FREE form allows hand-loaders to document their tool settings, bushing size, powder charge, load specs (COAL etc.), and case prep status. In addition, the form allows you to enter your load testing information, complete with chronograph data, group size, zero range, and wind/temp conditions. With this single, handy form you can document all the vital information for your particular cartridges and loads. We suggest you print these out, 3-hole-punch ‘em, and then keep them in a three-ring binder.

Download FREE Handloader’s Data Sheet (PDF)

We’ve seen various reloading log templates, but this Redding form (shown below) is better than most because it combines both reloading data AND range-test data in one place. You can see all key details of the reloading process (tool settings etc.) plus the end results — how the load actually performed over the chronograph and on paper. This form allows the user to capture a large amount of information for later use, while accurately track load development. Go to Download Page.

Reloading Data Form Ammo Box Template printing labels chronograph data sheet

FREE Ammunition Box Label Template
Reloading Data Form Ammo Box Template printing labels chronograph data sheetRedding Reloading has also developed a printable template for your ammo boxes (see photo at top of article). This lets you put all vital load info on your ammo boxes. There are fields for: Date, Cartridge, Powder, Grains, Bullet, Weight, Primer, Case type. Designed for Avery 5260 (or similar) label sheets, this template allows you to print 30 labels at one time. You can purchase the Avery 5260 peel-off printable label sheets at any office supply store.

Download Box Label Template (PDF)

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 3 Comments »
February 26th, 2016

Whidden Explains How to Find the Optimal Neck Bushing Size

John Whidden Dies Neck Bushing diameter reloading

Whidden Gunworks makes great sizing and seating dies. The Whidden full-length sizing die with neck bushing is very popular because it allows you to “tune” the neck tension by using different bushings, with larger or smaller inside diameters. In this video, John Whidden explains how to choose a the right bushing size for use with your neck-sizing and full-length sizing bushing dies.

For most applications, John suggest starting with the caliper-measured outside diameter of a loaded cartridge (with your choice of bullet), and then SUBTRACT about three thousandths. For example, if your loaded round mics at .333, then you would want to start with a 0.330 neck bushing. John notes, however, that you may want to experiment with bushings, going down a thousandth and up a thousandth. With thin In addition, as your brass ages and the necks harden, you may want to change your bushing size.

John Whidden Dies Neck Bushing diameter reloadingQuick Tip: Try Flipping Your Bushings
You may also want to experiment with “flipping” your neck bushings to alternate the side that first contacts the neck of the case. (One side of the bushing is usually marked with the size, while the other side is unmarked.) So try “number side up” as well as “number side down”. Some folks believe that one side of the bushing may allow a smoother entry, and that this can enhance concentricity. Other people think they can get very slightly more or less neck tension depending on how the bushing is oriented. This is a subtle effect, but it costs nothing to experiment. If one bushing orientation proves better you can mark the “up” side with nail polish so that you can always orient the bushing optimally. NOTE: We have confirmed that some bushings are actually made with a slight taper. In addition, bushings may get distorted slightly when the brand name and size is stamped. Therefore there IS a reason to try both orientations.

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July 23rd, 2015

U.S. Shooters Help South Africans After Match Ammo Seized

Palma Long Rnage World Championships US Customs ATF South Africa Ray Gross

Story Based on Report by NSSF
American shooters, along with Brownells and Redding, are providing help to the South African Palma (Target Rifle) team members, who will be competing at the Long Range World Championships at Camp Perry in early August, 2015. The ability of the South Africans to compete has been jeopardized by the unexpected seizure of their pre-shipped match ammo by U.S. Customs and ATF. We don’t know why the Feds seized the South Africans’ match ammo, but without it, the South African Team’s ability to participate in the Long Range World Championships has been threatened.

To rectify this situation, American F-TR and Palma shooters, backed by Brownells and Redding, have secured reloading equipment (presses, dies) and ammo components (brass, bullets, powder) so that the South Africans can assemble the needed .308 Win ammo on their arrival in the USA at the end of July.

F-TR Palma World Championships US Customs ATF South Africa Ray GrossAccording to industry sources, the shipment of match ammo for the South African Palma team was seized at the U.S. port of entry by U.S. Customs and ATF agents. When Ray Gross, captain of the U.S. F-TR rifle team, learned about this, Ray contacted Geoff Esterline, Product Category Manager at Brownells. Esterline immediately turned to Robin Sharpless, Executive VP of Redding Reloading, for help.

“I won’t go into the full list of presses and accessories we’ve gathered up, but I can say it’s extensive,” Sharpless told NSSF. “A member of the U.S. F-TR team who lives near Camp Perry has agreed to take our shipment and those from Brownells and the other companies providing brass, powder and bullets so that, when the South African team arrives in the U.S. during the last days of July, they can get started immediately on hand-loading. The U.S. team is even building benches for the press setups, so the South African team should be able to knock this out and get to the more important task at hand, and that is shooting at Camp Perry.”

The 2015 Palma Match and Long Range World Championships will be held August 3-15, in conjunction with the annual NRA National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio.

Ray Gross reports: “The folks who deserve credit for this are the members of the U.S. Palma Team, Ryan Henning, Geoff Esterline of Brownells, and the folks at Redding. Members of the Palma team had donated much of the needed equipment within hours of U.S. Palma Team Captain Dennis Flaharty putting the word out.

My contribution was limited to a few emails to Brownells. They coordinated with Redding to provide the remaining equipment. This is a great example of international shooting camaraderie, but my part in it was very small.”

Permalink Competition, News 27 Comments »
May 5th, 2015

Intro to Full-Length Dies, Neck-Sizing Dies, and Small Base Dies

This article is part of Sinclair Int’l Step-By-Step Reloading Series. Most of the products mentioned in this article are sold through Sinclair’s webstore.

by Roy Hill, Brownells/Sinclair Copywriter
Making your own precision handloads is a meticulous journey with many steps, many important matters to consider, and many sets of measurements to calculate. For those who pursue the perfect group, the highest score, the really long accurate shot, the rewards more than outweigh the effort. Choosing the right cases, deburring the flash holes, making the primer pockets uniform, trimming the cases, and lubricating them are all familiar – and critical – steps along the journey. And now that your brass preparation is complete, you are at last ready to start running the cases through your press and fill them with primers, powder, and bullets. The very first die the brass encounters is the sizing die. You insert the case, work the press’s lever to return the case to its correct pre-fired dimensions – and the journey continues.

Sinclair International Int'l fL full-length sizing die bump die shoulder bump gauge

(more…)

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February 23rd, 2015

Tech Tip: Shoulder Bump — How Much Is Enough?

Some of our readers have questioned how to set up their body dies or full-length sizing dies. Specifically, AFTER sizing, they wonder how much resistance they should feel when closing their bolt.

Forum member Preacher explains:

“A little resistance is a good, when it’s time for a big hammer it’s bad…. Keep your full-length die set up to just bump the shoulder back when they get a little too tight going into the chamber, and you’ll be good to go.”

To quantify what Preacher says, for starters, we suggest setting your body die, or full-length sizing die, to have .0015″ of “bump”. NOTE: This assumes that your die is a good match to your chamber. If your sizing or body die is too big at the base you could push the shoulder back .003″ and still have “sticky case” syndrome. Also, the .0015″ spec is for bolt guns. For AR15s you need to bump the shoulder of your cases .003″ – .005″, for enhanced reliability. For those who have never worked with a body die, bump die, or Full-length sizing die, to increase bump, you loosen lock-ring and screw the die in further (move die down relative to shell-holder). A small amount (just a few degrees) of die rotation can make a difference. To reduce bump you screw the die out (move die up). Re-set lock-ring to match changes in die up/down position.

That .0015″ is a good starting point, but some shooters prefer to refine this by feel. Forum member Chuckhunter notes: “To get a better feel, remove the firing pin from your bolt. This will give you the actual feel of the case without the resistance of the firing pin spring. I always do this when setting up my FL dies by feel. I lock the die in when there is just the very slightest resistance on the bolt and I mean very slight.” Chino69 concurs: “Remove the firing pin to get the proper feel. With no brass in the chamber, the bolt handle should drop down into its recess from the full-open position. Now insert a piece of fire-formed brass with the primer removed. The bolt handle should go to the mid-closed position, requiring an assist to cam home. Do this several times to familiarize yourself with the feel. This is how you want your dies to size your brass, to achieve minimal headspace and a nearly glove-like fit in your chamber.”

We caution that, no matter how well you have developed a “feel” for bolt-closing resistance, once you’ve worked out your die setting, you should always measure the actual amount of shoulder bump to ensure that you are not pushing the shoulder too far back. This is an important safety check. You can measure this using a comparator that attaches to your caliper jaws, or alternatively, use a sized pistol case with the primer removed. See Poor Man’s Headspace Gauge.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 10 Comments »
October 17th, 2014

Big 3-Day Sale at Natchez Shooters Supplies

Natchez Shooters Supplies just announced a major 3-Day SALE on big name reloading gear. Prices on high-quality RCBS, Redding, Hornady, Lyman, and MEC products have been slashed. But this sale runs for three days only — the deals expire 10/19/2014. (NOTE: we are not sure if this means end of day 10/19 or if the deals expire at 11:59 pm on 10/18 — be forewarned).

If you are in need of a reloading press, electronic powder dispenser, or a vibratory tumbler, this is a great opportunity to save some serious coin. For example, the RCBS Chargemaster, which sells elsewhere for $340.00 – $375.00, is just $289.99. That price is way lower than we could find elsewhere. CLICK HERE for Natchez SALE

CLICK graphic below to see larger version with more products:
Natchez Sale RCBS Redding Hornady MEC dispenser scale

Sale tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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May 27th, 2014

RCBS and Redding Offer Introductory Reloading DVDs

New handloaders often ask us for advice on reloading techniques and equipment selection. It’s always best for novice reloaders to work under the guidance of an experienced mentor. Nothing beats “learning the ropes” with an experienced reloader at ones side. In addition, new handloaders should acquire one or more good reloading manuals, such as the Hornady Reloading Handbook (9th Ed.). We recommend reading the introductory chapters of a reloading manual to get a good understanding of the basic principles involved.

Along with print manuals, instructional DVDs are available. RCBS sells a 32-minute, step-by-step Precisioneered Handloading DVD, narrated by Shooting USA’s Jim Scoutten. This $9.19 DVD covers the basics of metallic cartridge reloading and shotshell reloading.

For those who have already mastered the basics, Redding offers a 45-minute instructional DVD, appropriately named Advanced Handloading: Beyond The Basics ($17.52 at Amazon.com). The Redding DVD, produced with help from Sierra Bullets, is narrated by John Barsness, field editor of Rifle and Handloader magazines. The Redding DVD does go “Beyond the Basics” but it really is more an intermediate resource — it doesn’t reveal some of the most sophisticated methods of case prep and load tuning used by competitive benchrest shooters. Nonetheless it is a good resource for those getting started with rifle cartridge reloading.

Reloading Redding DVD video

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January 12th, 2014

Redding Micro-Adjust Taper Crimp Dies for .223 Rem and .308 Win

Redding Rifle .223 Rem .308 Win taper crimp micrometer dieRedding is now offering Micro-Adjusting Taper Crimp Dies for the .223 Remington (5.56×45) and .308 Winchester (7.62×51), the two most popular cartridges used in competitive rifle shooting. New for 2014, these top-adjusting, micrometer-style dies, you can adjust crimp precisely without having to back-out the die and reposition the lock ring.

The process of traditional taper crimp die adjustment is generally both time consuming and imprecise due to the 1:14″ thread pitch coupled with the need to reposition the lock ring after each adjustment. The new Redding Micro-Adjusting Taper Crimp Dies for .223 Rem and .308 Win use a knurled, micrometer-type head situated to provide approximately +/- 0.100″ of adjustment after initial die set-up. The actual crimp is applied with a hardened steel “free floating” internal sleeve.

To Taper Crimp or Not to Crimp?
That Depends…

Do you actually need a taper crimp on .223 Rem or .308 Win cartridges? If you are shooting a precision bolt gun, the answer is “probably not”. However, if you are hand-loading ammo for a semi-automatic rifle, there are reasons you may want to apply a taper crimp on the cartridge. And high-volume .223 Rem shooters may want to apply a taper crimp, particularly when loading mixed headstamp brass using a progressive press. The new Redding dies allow you to control the amount of crimp easily and more efficiently. Redding claims that: “Down time and loss of production due to adjustment of the crimp are virtually eliminated, dramatically increasing the rounds per hour rates of all progressive and turret-style presses.”

High-volume hand-loaders often struggle with the realities of case variation and the resulting difficulties in obtaining a uniform crimp. Redding notes: “Case length is not the only variable, as case neck-wall thickness also impacts where the case intersects the die’s tapered crimping surface.”

Permalink New Product, Reloading 3 Comments »
October 1st, 2013

Smart Way to Neck-Down 6.5×47 Lapua Cases to 6mm

Redding 6BR body dieThe 6.5×47 Lapua necked down to 6mm is a popular wildcat. However, we’ve learned that, when necking down a 6.5×47 Lapua case to 6mm, simply running the brass into a 6-6.5×47 full-length sizer won’t give the best results. Reader “Fireball”, who has worked with both a 6-6.5×47 and a 22-6.5×47, offers this tip: “You don’t want to bring the 6.5mm case all the way down to 6mm in one step — it’s too big of a jump. First, to smooth entry, run a 6.5mm expander in the case mouth, and chamfer the outside of the case mouth — be sure to remove all burrs. Apply some lube to the neck. Then, if you have a .257 bushing, put that in a 6BR bushing neck die, and run the case up [for initial reduction].” Then, use your 6mm die for the final step.

Alternatively, you can use a Redding 6BR body die initially. The body die will funnel the neck down about half way. Body dies are pretty inexpensive ($29.99 at Grafs.com, Item #RED75317). After running the brass through the 6BR body die, then you can run the case into the Forster 6-6.5×47 Full-length sizing die. The Forster die is excellent — it sizes a no-turn neck just about perfectly, so long as you do an intermediate step first.”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 4 Comments »
June 5th, 2013

Reloading Presses and Dispensers on Sale at Precision Reloading

Precision ReloadingPrecision Reloading is having a June SALE on big-name reloading presses and powder dispensers. You’ll find good values on Redding, RCBS, Lyman, and Hornady Products. This special sale ends June 30, 2013. Note: Sale pricing is limited to quantities on hand and the discount prices cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions.

Precision Reloading

RCBS RebateRCBS Cash-Back Rebate
In addition, RCBS is offering a Rebate for products purchased in 2013. If you buy $50 worth of RCBS hardware you can get $10 Cash Back. If you buy $300 worth of RCBS equipment you can get $50 Cash Back.

NOTE: Although the Rebate Form refers to an option of Speer Bullets (instead of cash money), due to shortages, ALL rebates will be issued in CASH. CLICK HERE for Rebate Form.

Permalink Hot Deals, Reloading 1 Comment »
January 3rd, 2013

The Complexities of Neck Tension — Why Bushing Size is Only One Factor to Consider

Redding neck bushingsIn our Shooters’ Forum a reader recently asked: “How much neck tension should I use?” This prompted a Forum discussion in which other Forum members recommended a specific number based on their experience, such as .001″, .002″, or .003″. These numbers, as commonly used, correspond to the difference between case-neck OD after sizing and the neck OD of a loaded round, with bullet in place. In other words, the numbers refer to the nominal amount of interference fit (after sizing).

While these commonly-used “tension numbers” (of .001″, .002″ etc.) can be useful as starting points, neck tension is actually a fairly complex subject. The actual amount of “grip” on the bullet is a function of many factors, of which neck-OD reduction during sizing is just one. Understanding these many factors will help you maintain consistent neck tension as your brass “evolves” over the course of multiple reloadings.

Neck Tension (i.e. Grip on Bullets) Is a Complex Phenomenon
While we certainly have considerable control over neck tension by using tighter or looser bushings (with smaller or bigger Inside Diameters), bushing size is only one factor at work. It’s important to understand the multiple factors that can increase or decrease the resistance to bullet release. Think in terms of overall brass-on-bullet “grip” instead of just bushing size.

One needs to understand that bushing size isn’t the beginning and end of neck tension questions, because, even if bushing size is held constant, the amount of bullet “grip” can change dramatically as the condition of your brass changes. Bullet “grip” can also change if you alter your seating depth significantly, and it can even change if you ultrasonically clean your cases.

Bullet grip is affected by many things, such as:

  • 1. Neck-wall thickness.
  • 2. Amount of bearing surface (shank) in the neck.
  • 3. Surface condition inside of neck (residual carbon can act as a lubricant; ultrasonic cleaning makes necks “grabby”).
  • 4. Length of neck (e.g. 6BR neck vs. 6BRX).
  • 5. Whether or not the bullets have an anti-friction coating.
  • 6. The springiness of the brass (which is related to degree of work-hardening; number of firings etc.)
  • 7. The bullet jacket material.
  • 8. The outside diameter of the bullet and whether it has a pressure ridge.
  • 9. The time duration between bullet seating and actual firing (necks can stiffen with time).
  • 10. How often the brass is annealed

— and there are others…

Seating Depth Changes Can Increase or Decrease Grip on Bullet
You can do this simple experiment. Seat a boat-tail bullet in your sized neck with .150″ of bearing surface (shank) in the neck. Now remove the bullet with an impact hammer. Next, take another identical bullet and seat it with .300″ of bearing surface in another sized case (same bushing size/same nominal tension). You’ll find the deeper-seated bullet is gripped much harder.

PPC lapua brassNeck-Wall Thickness is Important Too
I have also found that thinner necks, particularly the very thin necks used by many PPC shooters, require more sizing to give equivalent “grip”. Again, do your own experiment. Seat a bullet in a case turned to .008″ neckwall thickness and sized down .003″. Now compare that to a case with .014″ neckwall thickness and sized down .0015″. You may find that the bullet in the thin necks actually pulls out easier, though it supposedly has more “neck tension”, if one were to consider bushing size alone.

In practical terms, because thick necks are less elastic than very thin necks, when you turn necks you may need to run tighter bushings to maintain the same amount of actual grip on the bullets (as compared to no-turn brass). Consequently, I suspect the guys using .0015″ “tension” on no-turn brass may be a lot closer to the guys using .003″ “tension” on turned necks than either group may realize.

Toward a Better Definition of Neck Tension
As a convenient short-cut, we tend to describe neck tension by bushing size alone. When a guy says, “I run .002 neck tension”, that normally means he is using a die/bushing that sizes the necks .002″ smaller than a loaded round. Well we know something about his post-sizing neck OD, but do we really have a reliable idea about how much force is required to release his bullets? Maybe not… This use of the term “neck tension” when we are really only describing the amount of neck diameter reduction with a die/bushing is really kind of incomplete.

My point here is that it is overly simplistic to ask, “should I load with .001 tension or .003?” In reality, an .001″ reduction (after springback) on a thick neck might provide MORE “grip” on a deep-seated bullet than an .003″ reduction on a very thin-walled neck holding a bullet with minimal bearing surface in the neck. Bushing ID is something we can easily measure and verify. We use bushing size as a descriptor of neck tension because it is convenient and because the other important factors are hard to quantify. But those factors shouldn’t be ignored if you want to maintain consistent neck tension for optimal accuracy.

Consistency and accuracy — that’s really what this all about isn’t it? We want to find the best neck tension for accuracy, and then maintain that amount of grip-on-bullet over time. To do that you need to look not only at your bushing size, but also at how your brass has changed (work-hardened) with time, and whether other variables (such as the amount of carbon in the neck) have changed. Ultimately, optimal neck tension must be ascertained experimentally. You have to go out and test empirically to see what works, in YOUR rifle, with YOUR bullets and YOUR brass. And you may have to change the nominal tension setting (i.e. bushing size) as your brass work-hardens or IF YOU CHANGE SEATING DEPTHS.

Remember that bushing size alone does not tell us all we need to know about the neck’s true “holding power” on a bullet, or the energy required for bullet release. True bullet grip is a more complicated phenomenon, one that is affected by numerous factors, some of which are very hard to quantify.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 8 Comments »
December 17th, 2012

Full-Length Sizing Die Set-Up — Tip from Sinclair International

How to Set Up Your Full Length Sizing Die
by Ron Dague, Sinclair International Technician
From Sinclair’s Reloading Press Blog

At Sinclair International, we are often asked for a fool-proof method to set up a full-length sizing die, and begin reloading our fired cases. The method used by many target shooters today is to set up your full length die to closely match your rifle chamber and minimally full-length size your cases –as little as .001″ for bolt-action rifles. I prefer to use this method for all of my bolt-action cartridges.

STEP ONE
I like to de-prime five (5) cases (de-prime only, do not full length resize) and measure from the base of the case to the shoulder with our Sinclair Comparator Body (09-1000) and Bump Gage Insert(09-10200). We refer to this as our headspace measurement. Our Electronic Caliper (#MIC-14) works well and may be pre-set at .000” making this headspace measurement easy to capture. The Sinclair Comparator/Gauge Body and Bump Gage Inserts make this task fairly simple. L.E. Wilson Tools & Gages, Hornady Manufacturing, and RCBS all make similar units to achieve your headspace measurement.

-"HornadySTEP TWO
With your full-length die threaded into your reloading press, loosen the lock ring and run the press ram up toward the full length die with a shell holder in place (with no case). Then, screw the die toward the shell holder until it stops. Back the die out of the press and away from the shell holder one full turn and set the lock ring finger tight.

STEP THREE
Lubricate each of the cases with your favorite sizing lube (my favorite is Imperial Sizing Die Wax) and resize a case. Again, take a headspace measurement from base to shoulder. [When running the case up into the die, be sure the press ram moves the full limit of its upward travel.] If there’s no change in the measurement from the fired dimension, loosen the die lock ring and turn the full length sizing die downward 1/8 of a turn. [Editor’s Note: You’ll need to use smaller turn amounts as you get close to the desired amount of bump. We suggest moving just a few degrees of die rotation at a time once you’ve reached the point where the die hits the shoulder without moving it back.] Now repeat the sizing process with a second lubricated case and take the measurement again. Keep rotating the die downward gradually (in small increments) and repeat the case sizing process until you see approx-imately .001”-.002” reduction to your fired headspace measurement. We prefer a headspace reduction of approximately .001″ – .002″ for bolt action rifles and .003″ – .005″ for semi-auto rifles. You can adjust to your rifle as to what works best. Don’t forget to load 10 rounds or so and try them from the rifle’s magazine to make sure they function properly.

Full-length Sizing vs. Neck-Sizing
Just a quick word on neck sizing…..I have personally never been a big fan of neck sizing. Often times when I put neck sized cases back in the rifle, the bolt would close with some drag, or it would be a bit “snug”. This was mostly recognized with factory rifles. I didn’t have any problems with accuracy, just with cycling the action for a follow up shot. If your rifle is custom chambered with the action straightened and trued, neck sizing will work well on 4-5 firing’s and then you will need to full length size or use a body die to set the shoulders back when the cases begin to “stick”. Hope these tips help make the use of a headspace gauge and full length die set up much easier.

Ron Dague
Sinclair Tech and Reloading Instructor
800-717-8211
rond@sinclairintl.com

Reloading Tip Courtesy Sinclair Int’l; Story Sourced by Edlongrange
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May 30th, 2012

New Redding Powder Measure for Small Varmint Cartridges

Redding 10X Powder MeasureRedding is releasing a dedicated small-case powder measure with a charge weight range of 1 to 25 grains. This specialized Model 10X powder measure should work well for small varmint cartridges such as the .221 Fireball, .20 Vartarg, and the 17 Hornet. The powder cavity and micrometer settings put the charge for a 17 Hornet right in the middle of the powder measure’s capacity — the most accurate part of its range. That’s good news for small rifle cartridge reloaders.

In addition, 17 Fireball and 17 Hornet shooters will be pleased to not that Redding has introduced a 17-caliber drop tube adapter that fits the small-diameter necks of these compact varmint cartridges. With this 17-cal adapter (Redding part #03817), you can throw charges directly into 17-caliber cartridge brass, without the need for separate small-neck funnels.

Features of New Redding 10x Powder Measure:

• Micrometer-controlled powder metering chamber
• Hemispherical Cup for smoother operation
• Cast iron and hard chrome construction
• Positive metering chamber lock
• Adjustable powder baffle

The 17 Hornet is based on the venerable rimmed .22 Hornet case. However, the case is not just necked-down from .22 caliber. The case designers reduced body taper, moved the shoulder, and changed the shoulder angle to 25°. This effectively modernized the old .22 Hornet case, improving efficiency while retaining the max OAL, so that the 17 Hornet can work in any action big enough for the .22 Hornet. Hornady’s “Superformance” 17 Hornet loaded ammo is designed to push a 20gr bullet at an impressive 3650 fps.

Hornady 17 Hornet Ammunition

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