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Thread: Reloading 223 for an AR15? FL or small base dies?

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    Member billy jack's Avatar
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    Default Reloading 223 for an AR15? FL or small base dies?

    Been reloading for about a year, 308, 3006 and 300 WSM. Wanting to start reloading 223 and my gunsmith said not to use regular FL dies but to buy (small base dies) told me that i'd run into alot of problems in an AR platform if I didn'r use small base dies. I have no idea what he is talking about and didnt have the time to ask him. Can you guys please elaborate? Any help or suggestions, please chime in. thanks Billy
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    Member Akheloce's Avatar
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    Default Reloading 223 for an AR15? FL or small base dies?

    Depends on the chamber. With my colt and Wilson barrels, the Redding FL dies work fine. They don't work on my brothers bushmaster though. For his, small base is required.
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    FL dies usually don't size completely down to original factory specs and this slightly larger base can cause problems in autos. The small base die does size the case down to original specs. You may or may not need the SB for your gun. They are a little harder on brass but you may need the SB to prevent malfunctions.

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    I've had good luck with Lee RGB and Redding FL dies. I've loaded thousands of rounds for several semi's without any problems.

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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    I also have had no issues with regular full length dies. They work great in my Daniel Defense, Palmetto and BCM barrels.
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    Member alaskabliss's Avatar
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    I went with the small base dies just to be sure I had no issues. I only load .223 for the AR platform so didn't need to worry about it. It is more wear on the brass but i'll live with it. If your just starting don't forget your primer pocket swage, uniformer or whatever you choose for military crimps.
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    I have used small base dies from RCBS for several years now and have not had an issues. As far as working the brass with the small base dies, I have not had an issue with that either. It seems that I either loose the brass more often then not, or have a primer pocket get loose. Yes, I do run to the high end pressure not not over the max listed charges.

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    While it may not be required that you use small base dies to reload for your rifles chamber, IF you later aquire another semi-auto in 223 it may need the small base sized ammo. Also if you decide to reload for a friends semi-auto it might need small base sized ammo as well. The additional wear on the brass isn't nearly as detrimental as having a live round stuck in your rifles chamber with the rim torn off. Small base dies will full length resize your brass all the way down including the base (unlike Full length dies), add a taper crimp die to hold uncanneluered bullets in place and your rifles will perform without a hiccup.
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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Great thread, thanks for posting. Just got my Dillon 550B and Rockchucker mounted today.

    Ordering 223 dies and a top end from Dillon soon, glad I read this thread.




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    Is this same issue relevant to the 6.8 SPC in an AR-15........????

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    Member alaskabliss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by danattherock View Post
    Great thread, thanks for posting. Just got my Dillon 550B and Rockchucker mounted today.

    Ordering 223 dies and a top end from Dillon soon, glad I read this thread.
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    Only put about 100 reloads using once fired brass through my 6.8SPC and no issues with a standard FL die. Ammo has been used between two identical rifles though I don't know which one the ammo was originally fired in. Brass was hornady.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AGL4now View Post
    Is this same issue relevant to the 6.8 SPC in an AR-15........????
    Relevant for all autoloaders essentially. Yes there are guys that get away with FL sizing only but the theory applies to all autoloaders.

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    I'm one of the guys that gets away with FL dies, RCBS, in the .223. I feed 3 different ARs and a Mini14. For barrels: one is a Kreiger match barrel cut by Compasss Lake Eng., one is a nice match grade barrel that replaced a no name regular barrel, one is a stock Bushmaster, and the last is a stock Ruger. Never had a probem with any of them due to the dies I use. The Kreiger gets a seperate diet, the others can be fed from the same box.

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    How many resizings are you guys getting before you see the ring show up indicating case separation? I used to reload this round for a Contender and seem to remember getting around 6-8 reloads out of a case and trimming about every third time.

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    When I reload for my Ar15 or any semi auto for that matter I use a Wilson case gage. I have found it to be a valuable tool for the money and really the only way I have found to measure what’s going on in your rifles chamber. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuJYpm-qplQ

    I just quickly check my brass after its resized to make sure my sizing die is set correctly and away I go. After you get the hang of it its really a fast way to check proper size and trim. If your brass fits this gauge after you resize it should fit your rifle’s chamber, If not you need a small base-sizing die.

    I usually fire .223 brass about 7 times this is when I notice the primer pockets getting loose. I use a primer pocket uniformer to clean primer pockets and this might be why i dont get more brass life, I have measured my brass with a RCBS case Master at this point and have found no signs of neck seperation are other defects with the brass at the medium loads I run. However 7 firings is good enough for me and the brass is usually getting pretty beat up at that point.

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    I have heard of guys annealing brass and doubling their case life. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgD5D0Wzu-c

    Although I can see the benefits of this on hard to find brass or expensive big bore magnum brass,
    With the past prices of .223 brass in the past I have never found it worth the headache. However if brass stay’s hard to find and or expensive I will be looking more into this. If I stop overworking my primer pockets and utilizing a brass catch to keep my brass from getting so beat up…… this might be an option.

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    Member JoeJ's Avatar
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    Nothing wrong with SB dies for the 223/5.56 but they sure aren't necessary in any semi-auto. It's the headspace thingy one needs to get right. The SB dies will bump the shoulder back a little more than "normal" and this could contribute to fewer reloadings but does solve the problem of too much headspace that prevents proper chambering. I believe years ago there were some large rifle chambers and some FL dies were a little on the large size, which made for some bad reloading for semi-autos. I haven't heard of any problems using FL dies for semi-auto in over 20 years when the FL sizing die is correctly set up for proper headspacing and you just cam-over if using a single-stage press.

    Redding dies are pretty good, at least they are my 1st choice. Get yourself a headspace guage and taylor make your rounds for your particular AR and you can always make adjustments for other AR's if different. Using a Redding body die is a fast way to get your headspace correct and is a great die with a progressive press - you can turn out perfect cases in short order using their different dies.


    This is a cheap and easy headspace gauge and really needs to be in your reloading room for use with all your rifles if you have a decent calipher of course. Order the Sinclair Comparator/Bump Gauge Body and then the bump gauge inserts for your rifle caliber - check the 2 videos for ease of use.

    http://www.sinclairintl.com/reloadin...prod35265.aspx

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