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Thread: neck sizing vs full

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    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    Default neck sizing vs full

    Starting to reload and got into a dicussion with someone on the topic of neck sizing vs full lenght. We was telling me that it was more desireable to full size for dangerous game for reliability of chambering vs the possible accuracy gain. What your experiences and thoughts on the matter?

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    I've learned a bunch recently along these lines. One way to be sure neck sized cases will be ok in the field is to simply try each one in the chamber. If they're tight to the point that it might be difficult to get the bolt closed when you need a second shot right now then I've been told you can use a full length die but just set it to barely bump the shoulder back to the point that resistance is light. Requires testing and measuring with a tool like the RCBS Precision Mic or the Stoney Point Head-N-Shoulders gauge. Good tools to have for reloading anyway.

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    Ok, I will assume you are loading for a bolt action rifle.
    Each chamber is different. What I do for my hunting rifles is to back the die off so I am only neck sizing the case. I chamber it and note the resistence. Then I turn down the sizing die maybe a 1/8 of a turn at a time and resize each time I adjust the die. When I hit the point where my rounds chamber with just a tiny hint of resistence I stop adjusting the die downwards. This setting will maximize your brass life and hopefully be more accurate as well.
    Once you have all your loads finished safely run each one through your rifle before you go hunting to make sure they chamber and feed correctly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowwolfe View Post
    Ok, I will assume you are loading for a bolt action rifle.
    Each chamber is different. What I do for my hunting rifles is to back the die off so I am only neck sizing the case. I chamber it and note the resistence. Then I turn down the sizing die maybe a 1/8 of a turn at a time and resize each time I adjust the die. When I hit the point where my rounds chamber with just a tiny hint of resistence I stop adjusting the die downwards. This setting will maximize your brass life and hopefully be more accurate as well.
    Once you have all your loads finished safely run each one through your rifle before you go hunting to make sure they chamber and feed correctly.
    I going to add, that you need to remove the firing pin from the bolt first. If you don't know how to do this, LEARN! There are tools made for Remington that make this job easier. Costs about 25.00? Worth what you pay for them. It also takes away the excuse for not servicing the bolt.
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    Many handloaders, who are also hunters ask this question. When they ask the question the usually do not have a neck sizing die. What they are really asking about is should the turn the full length sizing die down until it contacts the shell holder or not.

    Snowwolfe just described the correct way to size for hunting rounds and this is generally considered neck sizing but really is more than that. It is partial full length resizing, if we could use such a term, and it is probably better than just using a neck sizing die. This partial sizing is done with a full length die and will size the body of the case some if the chamber has allowed it to expand beyond minimum chamber dimensions and of course it will size the neck. Using this technique will be very beneficial for those who shoot a rifle with a slightly oversized chamber (not uncommon at all) and will make closing the bolt on previously fired rounds easier. The chamber is not so much over sized but out of round, or non-concentric (eccentric).

    When a fired case shows a bulge at the base just above the webb (solid part of the case) it is almost never even all the way around. Then when rechambering this case, if it is neck sized only, it will not be turned the same way and will be tight to chamber. These are the cases that get almost closed when they stick in the chamber and the bolt won't close...or open, in a worst case situation.

    If you have a rifle with a good, concentric chamber and well dimensioned to conform with SAAMI a neck sizing die is all that's needed. When I order dies now for my favorite (good) rifles I order a neck sizer, a seater and a body die. The neck die sizes only the neck and doesn't touch the body and the shoulder will not be touched if the chamber is headspaced correctly. The body die will size the body back to minimum SAAMI dimensions and will set the shoulder back to minimum headspace dimension, if it is screwed down to contact the shell holder. It will not touch the neck. It is usually backed off to allow it to just contact the shoulder of the case fired from my rifle. The is the best way to minimize working the brass and provide good case life and very accurate rounds.

    This purely neck sizing technique is probably not the best way to load ammo for a hunting rifle. Especially if this hunt is for dangerous game. It is far more important to have rounds that will always chamber no matter what, than to save your brass to last for 88 firings. Usually something between these two extremes works best for all. I refer you to Snowwolfe's post for the best compromise of reliability/brass life/ accuracy.

    Cycling every round though the chamber to see if they work is not a bad plan but even with this you could still find a round in the field that won't chamber. This is because the case/chamber is not round and if the case is turned the right way, or I guess, the wrong way, it won't fit. I will still always test chamber every round I take to the field when it really matters. Murphy's Law.

    Nothing will annoy the great beast of the field more than to have to wait on you to fish out you Leatherman tool and partially disassemble you rifle to extract a jammed round, then try three or four rounds before you find one that fits, then reassemble the rifle and shoot. Bears hate that!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
    Many handloaders, who are also hunters ask this question. When they ask the question the usually do not have a neck sizing die. What they are really asking about is should the turn the full length sizing die down until it contacts the shell holder or not.

    Snowwolfe just described the correct way to size for hunting rounds and this is generally considered neck sizing but really is more than that. It is partial full length resizing, if we could use such a term, and it is probably better than just using a neck sizing die. This partial sizing is done with a full length die and will size the body of the case some if the chamber has allowed it to expand beyond minimum chamber dimensions and of course it will size the neck. Using this technique will be very beneficial for those who shoot a rifle with a slightly oversized chamber (not uncommon at all) and will make closing the bolt on previously fired rounds easier. The chamber is not so much over sized but out of round, or non-concentric (eccentric).

    When a fired case shows a bulge at the base just above the webb (solid part of the case) it is almost never even all the way around. Then when rechambering this case, if it is neck sized only, it will not be turned the same way and will be tight to chamber. These are the cases that get almost closed when they stick in the chamber and the bolt won't close...or open, in a worst case situation.

    If you have a rifle with a good, concentric chamber and well dimensioned to conform with SAAMI a neck sizing die is all that's needed. When I order dies now for my favorite (good) rifles I order a neck sizer, a seater and a body die. The neck die sizes only the neck and doesn't touch the body and the shoulder will not be touched if the chamber is headspaced correctly. The body die will size the body back to minimum SAAMI dimensions and will set the shoulder back to minimum headspace dimension, if it is screwed down to contact the shell holder. It will not touch the neck. It is usually backed off to allow it to just contact the shoulder of the case fired from my rifle. The is the best way to minimize working the brass and provide good case life and very accurate rounds.

    This purely neck sizing technique is probably not the best way to load ammo for a hunting rifle. Especially if this hunt is for dangerous game. It is far more important to have rounds that will always chamber no matter what, than to save your brass to last for 88 firings. Usually something between these two extremes works best for all. I refer you to Snowwolfe's post for the best compromise of reliability/brass life/ accuracy.

    Cycling every round though the chamber to see if they work is not a bad plan but even with this you could still find a round in the field that won't chamber. This is because the case/chamber is not round and if the case is turned the right way, or I guess, the wrong way, it won't fit. I will still always test chamber every round I take to the field when it really matters. Murphy's Law.

    Nothing will annoy the great beast of the field more than to have to wait on you to fish out you Leatherman tool and partially disassemble you rifle to extract a jammed round, then try three or four rounds before you find one that fits, then reassemble the rifle and shoot. Bears hate that!
    10-4 Murphy,

    Thats why I only use NEW cases when it counts....Hunting/Self Defense, Competition. Also, helps to have a case gauge. Makes things much simpler, then gauge every loaded round which is intended for serious use.

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    Interesting. I will only use once fired cases for hunting. Started this practice after having a head separation on two different occassions back in the late 1970's. Each time it was with a different caliber, different rifle and different brass.
    Now I once fire my brass with a medium load, size it to fit my chamber, and only use them for one shot on an animal. After that they go on the other side of the box to only be used for sighting in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowwolfe View Post
    Interesting. I will only use once fired cases for hunting. Started this practice after having a head separation on two different occassions back in the late 1970's. Each time it was with a different caliber, different rifle and different brass.
    Now I once fire my brass with a medium load, size it to fit my chamber, and only use them for one shot on an animal. After that they go on the other side of the box to only be used for sighting in.

    That is a good plan. It avoids trouble, I use it myself.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    I donít like what is called ďPartial FL ResizingĒ. It may depend on die dimensions compared to the chamber dimensions, and/or how straight the bottle neck case design, but when Iíve tried that, using the method described by Snowwolf, itís not been satisfactory.

    A case in point, Iím sizing cases for 7mm RM. To start off, the fired cases fit the chamber just fine. By the time I get the neck about 3 / 4 sized, the case becomes too tight to fit, or at least a very tight fit, because at that point, the shoulder begins to be squeezed also, and that causes the shoulder to be lengthened.

    I continue to turn the die down in my press, and easier feeding doesnít come until the case is actually FL resized. Iíve gone to Neck Sizing dies for small caliber belted cases, because thatís much easier, and it works well.

    Iíve never had a tight fitting round when the case was Neck Sized. Granted, Iíve handloaded for only a few different cartridges, and rifles.

    While it sounds good in theory, ďPartial FL ResizingĒ can be a can of worms. IME, itís better to FL resize, (just do it without over sizing), or Neck size. This half way in between stuff doesnít cut it.

    If you are satisfied with only sizing a small fraction of the neck, ďpartial sizing with a FL die would probably be workable, but perhaps not OK for other reasons.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowwolfe View Post
    Interesting. I will only use once fired cases for hunting. Started this practice after having a head separation on two different occassions back in the late 1970's. Each time it was with a different caliber, different rifle and different brass.
    Now I once fire my brass with a medium load, size it to fit my chamber, and only use them for one shot on an animal. After that they go on the other side of the box to only be used for sighting in.
    I quit keeping track of brass years ago. Too much pain. Its easier to use new when it counts. Everything else is practice/plinking only.

    The benchers like to do all the super high speed tricks to get super small groups. What a pain, all that takes up too much time. I'd rather be shooting. Besides, bulk new brass will out shoot 95% of the folks reading this. If I need ulta small groups I'll use Lapua brass and inspect each case before and after loading (super rare for me, maybe 200 per year).

    Reloading is a hobby in itself, it is a pain. Granted I like working up loads for a particular weapon. But after that its production, boring.

    Full size your brass, it will shoot in every weapon you own (your buddies too) and I'll bet most of you will ever tell the difference.

    People want to shoot better groups, then spend more time behind the trigger and less time handling brass. JMHO

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    I donít like what is called ďPartial FL ResizingĒ. It may depend on die dimensions compared to the chamber dimensions, and/or how straight the bottle neck case design, but when Iíve tried that, using the method described by Snowwolf, itís not been satisfactory.

    A case in point, Iím sizing cases for 7mm RM. To start off, the fired cases fit the chamber just fine. By the time I get the neck about 3 / 4 sized, the case becomes too tight to fit, or at least a very tight fit, because at that point, the shoulder begins to be squeezed also, and that causes the shoulder to be lengthened.

    I continue to turn the die down in my press, and easier feeding doesnít come until the case is actually FL resized. Iíve gone to Neck Sizing dies for small caliber belted cases, because thatís much easier, and it works well.

    Iíve never had a tight fitting round when the case was Neck Sized. Granted, Iíve handloaded for only a few different cartridges, and rifles.

    While it sounds good in theory, ďPartial FL ResizingĒ can be a can of worms. IME, itís better to FL resize, (just do it without over sizing), or Neck size. This half way in between stuff doesnít cut it.

    If you are satisfied with only sizing a small fraction of the neck, ďpartial sizing with a FL die would probably be workable, but perhaps not OK for other reasons.

    Smitty of the North
    Smitty,

    You bring out some good points here, and a can of worms it may be but other factors come into play.

    But if your f/l die is screwed up above the s/h more than 1/2 turn, you're just didling the neighbors cat if you think you are sizing cases.

    Sizing the neck 3/4 of the way is not a good plan ever regardless of whether the body is being sized at all or not. The case will go back in to the chamber it came out of unless you reshape the case in the die so it no longer fits....which is quite possible. A neck sizing die won't touch any part of the case above the shoulder and it normally will not touch the shoulder top if all dimensions are correct.

    The only reason for not full length resizing is to avoid pushing the shoulder back down to minumum specs, which allows it to stretch the case back when fired. You do want the whole neck sized down or at least the same partion sized each time and for hunting rounds, that is the whole neck.

    When forcing the case into a die, all the chamber dimensions and all the dies dimensions come into play, but also there are forces that will case to deform. Pushing the neck down into the shoulder slightly can cause the shoulder to increase in diameter. When pulling the sizer button back through the neck can have the opposite effect and this can even pull the shoulder forward enough to decrease the headspace. You can also bulge the case walls out slightly and these things may not allow it to fit the chamber it came out of. If you get the case far enough into the die it will be shaped correctly. Also the lube you use and how and how much applied can make a difference.

    Your right though, this partial sizing is really not the way to go and it is a poor excuse for sizing a case. Neck dies and body dies (when needed) are the way to go. Also there are differences in dies. I don't know what brand you use and don't need to know but some are better than other and any die from any manufacturer as well as any chamber from any gun maker can be out of SAAMI tollerance. These things are out of our control and when a loader has a die that is mis-shaped or out of tollerance, he may never know it having only one rifle to try and only one die to size. Fortunately I have many. When loading for about two dozen rifles we get to know chambers (brass finger prints) and we soon know that our dies are good or not. I have had some bad dies. Also there is a difference in philosphy in die makers. Rcbs does things differently from the way Redding does it and the results are different. In some cases one is better than the other. The way the company makes the seater die can cause the case to be reshaped in that die. Some diemakers don't support the case in the seater, especially at the neck, and runout is created in the die or the neck gets bent off to one side. Little things make a difference.

    Many loaders will say this die is the best or this one works for me but have only used the one for one caliber....hardly a testament.

    Anyway once again you're right about the partial sizing it isn't the best way to go but it is hard to explain in words here the right way to do something especially after a person has bought the wrong equipment. I have been consistant in my phylosphy and my advice and my technique for about thirty years. There are, I'm sure, other ways to do the same thing that would also be correct.
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    About 15/18 years ago we played with roll sizeing handgun brass. It was the only way to reshape and straighten brass shot out of really loose chambers.

    It seems to me that roll sizeing would be the way to go with rifle brass as well.

    Murphy have you played with such units, if so whats your thoughts?

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    Thanks Murphy:

    As I mentioned before, the number of rifles, Iíve loaded for HAS been limited. I also recognize that a variety of things can contribute to the difficulty Iíve had in attempting PFL resizing.

    I want ALL of the neck sized.

    Iíve got nothing against FL sizing, but I prefer Neck sizing with a Neck Sizing Die.

    Iíve always found it necessary to lube the inside of the necks, and I donít mind wiping it out afterwards. Iíve used Q tips, and a cleaning rod end with a patch for that. Itís just another step in the process.

    Thanks again for your wisdom and clarification.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    Thanks Murphy:

    As I mentioned before, the number of rifles, Iíve loaded for HAS been limited. I also recognize that a variety of things can contribute to the difficulty Iíve had in attempting PFL resizing.

    I want ALL of the neck sized.

    Iíve got nothing against FL sizing, but I prefer Neck sizing with a Neck Sizing Die.

    Iíve always found it necessary to lube the inside of the necks, and I donít mind wiping it out afterwards. Iíve used Q tips, and a cleaning rod end with a patch for that. Itís just another step in the process.

    Thanks again for your wisdom and clarification.

    Smitty of the North
    And for yours as well. You speak of experience at the bench.

    I use ........er, not q-tips, aren't those for baby's ears and other delicate places, but manly, long wooden stick cotton swbs available from Brownells.

    I lube the inside of the neck, and with those calibers that I have neck dies for (most) I dip the neck in the dry powder lube and that gets both inside and outside. I still clean it out by hand with the above mentioned swabs. I have a little end section of cleaning rod and a loop jag and patch that I use also.

    I have several of the Redding carbide sizer buttons that replace the fixed sizer on the decapper stem. These little carbide buttons are round and go on the shaft with a sub caliber threaded keeper but it allows the round polished carbide button to float. The hole through it is larger than the shaft and it wobbles. This allows it to self center and it doesn't stress the neck as much and it needs no lube. They only fit Redding dies.

    The Forster dies have a different system. The expander button is round also and it is located at the top of the shaft just below the neck portion of the die and when the case is withdrawn for the sized position the expander is going through the bottom of the neck while the top of the neck is still in the neck of the die. This keeps them aligned much better and makes for a straight neck. Not a bad idea. Different strokes for different folks.

    I like a neck die for new brass that is clean and shiney and has the mouth dented a little and ragged. I dip the neck in the dry lube and run it through the neck sizer. This trues everything up without over working things and it fits the trimmer collet well.
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    You guys are making my head hurt! For hunting; FL resize or bump the shoulder back partially? I just reset my dies using the method in the older Barnes manual, but results are still out.

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    Daveintheburbs:

    Iíve always understood,,,

    Partial FL Resizing to mean sizing just the neck using a FL die, and not bumping the shoulder at all. (It never did work for me.)

    And, FL sizing to mean sizing the full length of the case with a FL die, including bumping and/or squeezing the shoulder and anything else thatís too big. .

    And, any FL die whether for a belted case, or not, should be adjusted to where it doesnít push the shoulder back a lot more than it needs to be, because it gets blown forward, again on firing, pushed back again next time it's sized, etc, etc. which works the brass more than it needs to be worked.

    It makes my head hurt too, when Iím not sure if other people mean, what I mean, by those terms.

    I may give up handloading as a hobby, and go into Big-Foote Research.

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    Thanks Smitty,


    What I have done for a while now was what I thought was the pretty standard
    FL resize. Adjust the die so it bottoms out at the top of the stroke, then down just a little more to ensue it resizes the entire case.

    Inspired by accounts of better accuracy, I have just started to adjust the die following the steps in the Barnes manual. This involves smoking the cases and adjusting the die until it makes some, but not total contact with the shoulder. When chambered, the bolt closes with just a slight amount of pressure.
    Now inspired by thoughts of less than total reliability I’m about to pitch the whole idea and go back to my tried and true method, but have a range session to enjoy first.
    Have I mentioned my bad crimping habit?? I was thinking of drinking the Kool-Aid and giving that up as well. I guess that is another post.
    Dave

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