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Thread: Neck Sizer, for sure?

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Neck Sizer, for sure?

    Ok, I'm already finding I need (?) more than the basic kit and my cost per round is going up, maybe?

    Do I need to get a specific die for Neck Sizing or can I adjust the full length die to just size the neck?

    Am reloading for only one rifle and have several hundred rounds of once-fired brass so this looks like the way to go. Seems somewhere I read you could back out the full length die to just neck size??

    Also am using RCBS so far should I get a higher end neck sizing die, Carbide (by Redding I think?) or stay simple. Probably won't be doing more than a couple hundred rounds a month, tops. For many yrs tho are you guys seeing these RCBS dies wear out?

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    I haven't personally seen any benefit in neck sizing vs. partial full length vs. full length sizing cases.

    If you clean your brass before sizing, you are unlikely to wear out your dies. I personally prefer Redding dies to RCBS, but I've loaded accurate ammunition with RCBS, Lee, Hornady, Redding, Forster and Lyman dies.

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    I actually prefer to use my full length sizing die for neck sizing. Just back it off enough so the shoulder of the case isn't touched on the sizing stroke. With neck sizing, sooner or later you're going to need to run cases into a full length die because it's getting difficult to close the bolt due to accumulated body expansion. When that happens, turn the sizing die down about a quarter turn, size a case and try it in your chamber. Still stiff? Turn the die down another quarter turn and try again. When you get to the point that the cases suddenly get easy to chamber again, lock down the die and do the rest of the cases.

    Benefits are that you won't be "overworking" the bodies on your cases. Chamber reamers in factories do lots of rifles and eventually wear out. To stretch their life, most start them a little oversize and don't quit using them till they're a little undersize. Over the life of the reamer, there's quite a range of "standard" chambers. Your sizing dies will be great for the rifles produced at the midpoint of the life of the reamer, but not as good at either end.

    To illustrate, RCBS built me a rifle (257 Roberts) back in the early 1970's and provided a custom sizing die at the same time. I haven't found another rifle that will chamber cases sized in that die, but it gives incredible case life in the rifle it was built for- frankly I think, even better than neck sizing. I won't tell you how many firings I get out of the cases, because someone else might load to higher or lower pressures and change that. But I will say that custom die has rearranged my thinking about what "normal" case life should be.

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    Member Dan in Alaska's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kodiakrain View Post
    Do I need to get a specific die for Neck Sizing or can I adjust the full length die to just size the neck?

    Am reloading for only one rifle and have several hundred rounds of once-fired brass so this looks like the way to go. Seems somewhere I read you could back out the full length die to just neck size??
    Yep, back off the sizing die to size the neck and just bump the shoulder. A Sharpie marker can be used to "paint" the case, so can see exactly what's getting sized, and you can adjust accordingly.

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    Default how long will dies last?

    As long as you clean and lube your cases, I think they should last about your lifetime. I have loaded thousands of rounds in some of my dies and they still work great. Sometimes I neck size by backing out, most of the time I full length size. HAVE FUN Gerberman

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    Quote Originally Posted by kodiakrain View Post
    Ok, For many yrs tho are you guys seeing these RCBS dies wear out?
    I missed that in your original post, but Gerberman is right on the money. Clean your cases first and the dies should outlast you. I'm still using RCBS dies I bought in the 1960's. They're pushing 50 years old and have loaded many tens of thousands of rounds. Good as new.

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Vibrate clean always?

    So when you say clean everytime are you including brass that you have used once, picked right up or even right out of the action and stuck in a box, does that need to be cleaned?

    and with the vibrator case cleaner or is there just a wipe down method for stuff that seems really clean already?

    I imagined the case cleaner for obviously tarnished, long stored stuff. Is that something to get for sure, I do like clean professional looking ammunition in my magazine.

    Not looking for an easy way but the BEST way, I appreciate the tips on extending Die Life with cleaning and neck sizing, MORE THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE.

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    Brass from shooting on a benchrest goes from the chamber right back into the box, so that just gets a quick wipe down. Since I do about 99% of my shooting from field positions rather than the bench, it's going to hit the ground and need a little more thorough wipe-down and inspection. Rainy days, dust and grit in general are issues if it hits the ground, and every situation is different. But a quick swipe with a damp rag has been enough to keep my dies in shape for decades.

    Frankly I prefer run it through my case cleaner after sizing and decapping to help remove the last trace of lube and get a start on primer pocket cleaning. You'll ruin media faster that way, but it's a price I'm willing to pay for really lube free loaded rounds without a lot of wiping and scrubbing.

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    I used to just wipe down cases to clean them, but now that I have a tumbler, I just toss them in and let it run for a few hours. One big difference I've seen with cases running through the tumbler is I don't need to lube the inside of the neck. When I'd just wipe down the outside, I'd have to lube the inside of the neck as the expander would noticeably drag on the inside of the neck.

    Considering how much time you save using a tumbler over hand wiping cases, it is well worth the expenditure.

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    I also have RCBS dies from the 60's and 70's that have loaded thousands of rounds and still work flawlessly and show no signs of wear. They last forever or RCBS will replace them for free.

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    Your posts seem to imply that you believe that neck sizing only will extend the life of the dies. This may or may not be true since dies last about forever if they do not get scratched by grit. Neck sizing only will improve the life of your brass, how much depends on if you anneal and the size of the chamber of your rifle, as well as how hot of loads you are shooting.

    Here is my method of cleaning and sizing brass. Everyone seems to have there own method, there are many ways to skin a cat. The biggest deal as far as life of the dies is concerned is to avoid having any grit on the brass when they go into the dies.

    1. Shot
    2. Punch out the primers using a Lee punch kit.
    3. Tumble the brass in a vibratory cleaner. I do not try to get them dead clean just a half hour or so.
    4. Lube and resize.
    5. Trim if needed.
    6. Clean off lube with hot water and dish soap with a little lemon juice. This seems to also help remove the last bits of powder on the cases. I just swirl them around in an old coffee can. Rinse twice with hot water.
    7. Shake the water out and let dry.
    8. Load, and repeat.

    I have found that the more times I load my brass the shinier they get and the faster they clean. I think they get more polished over the repeated cleanings and get so smooth that the powder residue has less to hold on to.

    Edit:
    One other thing I have found that really helps is to clean/resize in batches. I use different makes of cases to denote different uses. I use Winchester for my hunting loads, Fed for my practice loads, and Rem for my cast bullet loads. I have about 100 of each type of case I use and will wait till more then half or all have been shot then clean and resize as a batch. That way I most always have cases ready to load.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bandhmo View Post
    7. Shake the water out and let dry.
    Let them dry well . . . it can take quite a while, 3 days or more sometimes here in the summer.
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    I would suggest you get at least the Redding Type S Neck Bushing Die if you want to neck size. Neck sizing only is not ideal for hunting, but if you want to do it for it's benefits, you must get the proper tool. When you neck size with a FL die backed out slightly, you are still pulling the expander plug through, thus working the brass more than necessary and possibly causing some excess runout. With the Type S Neck Die you are sizing the neck to the proper size in one step, and not pulling the expander ball back through. I've gone down the same road you're going down, and once you decide to go down the accuracy road, there's no cutting corners and saving money, you must get the proper tools. Having said that, there is nothing wrong with FL sizing for a hunting rifle, as the extra accuracy you will get from neck sizing is nill. Even competition shooters FL size, but they use custom dies that more precisely fit their chambers. The key is not having to pull that stupid expander ball through you necks. If you are using once fired brass that has not been shot in your exact chamber, you MUST FL size or you run the risk of them not chambering in your rifle.
    "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything."

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    Default Anneal ?

    Thanks guys, great info, I think my next thing is the tumbler

    Bandhmo, yes that is what I am thinking is to Neck size to extend use of brass for firing all in the same rifle.

    Question you refer to "annealing" what does that mean?

    Your Quote, "Neck sizing only will improve the life of your brass, how much depends on if you anneal and the size of the chamber of your rifle, as well as how hot of loads you are shooting."

    Can anyone explain more here? Thanks

  15. #15

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    If your die closely matches your chamber dimensions, you will get just as long a case life as with neck sizing. If you neck size only you will, depending on many factors, have to full length size after between one and maybe a maximum of three firings. If you don't the bolt will be very sticky, not something you want in a hunting rifle, especially on Kodiak :-) The very best thing to do is to have a custom die that barely sizes your case to just under your chamber demensions. It can be a full blown custom die or a Redding Body die honed out to closely match your chamber with a bushing to size the neck just enough to hold the bullet and not have to pull and expander ball through the neck. I have found that brass tends to have a memory and after a couple of times neck sizing only, I will have to size the body after every firing or the bolt is very sticky. If you start out sizing the body too you are better off. If you have a factory chambering that is on the large size of the SAMMI specs it really causes a lot of problems with case life cause you are working the brass excessively with any factory die.
    "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything."

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Custom Dies?

    Hey Blackfoot,
    When you refer to a custom die ( I assume you mean custom full size ,sounds cool to me) is that a custom to- a Sako manuf specs barrel or one from a machinist measuring my specific barrel?
    I actually already ordered a RCBS Neck sizing die for .270WSM before reading what you are saying I wonder how a custom die is found?

    Is the factory chambering size in reference to Saami specs something I can find somewhere from Sako online for example?

    In my first twenty rounds reloaded yesterday, I was measuring b-4 and after full sizing and found very little if any change in the size of the body of the case, they chambered very smoothly.

    The advantage that attracted me the most to Necksizing even for hunting is the idea of a perfect fit to my chamber that improves accuracy and seems to me would also be smoother all around. Seems it would improve accuracy quite a bit but, the reality is probably that the difference to a "clean Kill Zone" on big game is probably neglible,

    Appreciate the info

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    Typically you'll either send three fired cases or make a chamber cast with Cerrosafe® and send that to the die maker. CERROSAFE is easy to use. I've only done it with RCBS, and you're going to tie up a hunk of money. It's never been cheap, but at today's prices, wow. I'm having trouble with the RCBS site at the moment, or I'd link you right to their custom section. Here is their home page so you can navigate on your own.

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    Annealing is to use heat to soften mettle. Brass and other non fairs mettle is the opposite of steel in that quenching (rapid cooling in liquid) softens it where slowly cooling steel softens it. You expand the brass when it’s fired and constrict it back when you resize it. This ‘work hardens’ the mettle making it hard and brittle, it’s the same as bending a wire back and forth, eventually it will break off. So to remove the work hardening you can anneal it and start the cycle all over like new mettle. With annealing you can keep your brass going till it just gets so thin from the stretching and trimming off that it will fail from that or they crack by the head.

    You don’t want to anneal the head just the case necks and sometimes the shoulder. Most guys stand the brass in about an inch of water in a cake pan, heat the neck with a plumbers torch till just red in indoor light, and knock them over into the water. You can also buy kits from mild to wild that have heat sink pasts, crayons to tell how hot you got it and so on. Some BR guys even build a turn table rotate the brass so the neck gets an even heat all round. Google ‘annealing rifle brass’ and you will find all kinds of info, Youtube instructional videos, and even plans for complicated DIY annealing machines.

    The average reloaded does not bother with annealing, they just buy new ammo to get their brass or just buy brass. I only bother on hard to come by or expansive brass like my 6.5 & 7.7 Jap brass.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kodiakrain View Post
    Bandhmo, yes that is what I am thinking is to Neck size to extend use of brass for firing all in the same rifle.

    Question you refer to "annealing" what does that mean?

    Your Quote, "Neck sizing only will improve the life of your brass, how much depends on if you anneal and the size of the chamber of your rifle, as well as how hot of loads you are shooting."

    Can anyone explain more here? Thanks
    Adfields covered annealing very well so I will not repeat that. I do agree that annealing is not of great benefit in calibers where brass is cheap. Also if you do take it up consider it a thing to learn and do later as it is just another complication for the beginner. To explain how neck sizing improves the life of the brass I should first explain what happens to the brass in firing and resizing, some of this has already been covered. Also the Hornady Reloading manual covers it well. I should point out that I found reading a lot of reloading books really helped my understanding. They all talk about the same thing but cover different areas differently, and more extensively then others. Most public library's have a several reloading books, so that is a good way to read a lot for free.

    When the firing pin hits the primer it pushes the cartridge to the front of the camber, thus leaving the head of the cartridge a few thousandths of an inch from the bolt. As the powder burns and pressure builds up the brass expands causing it to grip the chamber walls. The neck also expands and releases the bullet. When the pressure gets high enough the brass is no longer strong enough to hold the cartridge head off the bolt and the brass stretches just above the head, till the cartridge head is in contact with the bolt and the bolt takes the pressure. The brass gets thinner in the area in which it stretches. How much the brass has to stretch is dependent on how much it can move forward in the chamber before firing. This is of coarse dependent on how deep the chamber was cut (headspace) and how long the brass is to the shoulder.

    When you now take the brass home and resize the neck is reduced in diameter to hold the new bullet, and in full length resizing the shoulder is pushed back to the standard dimension but the thinning near the head remains. So when the cartridge is fired again the thinning repeats. After a number of firings the cartridge can split just forward of the head (case head separation).

    Even in neck sizing only the neck gets expanded and reformed on every firing and over many firings gets brittle. This leads to neck splits. Annealing the necks can remove the brittleness and prolong the life of the brass. However, annealing can do nothing to prevent case head separations. By neck sizing only the brass does not get the shoulder pushed back so the cartridge does not move forward in the chamber when fired so the stretching is much reduced or eliminated. How much stretching at the case head occurs when firing full length resized brass, is dependent on how loose the brass is in the chamber. If your chamber is cut relatively short then very little stretching will occur and the increase in life for neck sized brass may be very little. However, if your chamber is relatively long then neck sizing only may improve the life of brass by a great deal.

    Shooting hot loads is way harder on brass then light loads. On hot loads the head of the cartridge expands and some brass is forced into the ejector hole or slot. So shooting such loads may reduce the life of the brass to the point that any benefit from neck sizing is not seen.

    In the end brass no matter how carefully husbanded, ages and needs to be replaced. Neck sizing only can help reduce one of the causes of aging but not all of them. If I were you I would just use a standard full length die and use it to full length size and neck/ partial full length size depending on the use of the ammunition.

    I use a full length die turned up a half turn to partial full length size my practice brass. This does not push the shoulder back so it may extend the life of the brass. Since a round not chambering easy at the range is no big deal I see not reason not to neck or partial full length size. However, my hunting rounds all get full length resized. How much this hurts the life of the brass I do not know but since after 2 firings I get new brass for hunting and use the old for practice the small loss of life is no big deal. However, I am not willing to risk having to fight a round into the rifle in the woods.

    At present I do not anneal, though I have been giving it some thought. Right now my practice brass is on its 6th reload and still going strong. I may anneal half using the water method given above and see if they last longer enough to be worth the time. However, the cost of 100 new 30-06 brass is only about $40 so if I only get 6 loads out of it is not a big expense to replace.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by kodiakrain View Post
    Hey Blackfoot,
    When you refer to a custom die ( I assume you mean custom full size ,sounds cool to me) is that a custom to- a Sako manuf specs barrel or one from a machinist measuring my specific barrel?
    I actually already ordered a RCBS Neck sizing die for .270WSM before reading what you are saying I wonder how a custom die is found?

    Is the factory chambering size in reference to Saami specs something I can find somewhere from Sako online for example?

    In my first twenty rounds reloaded yesterday, I was measuring b-4 and after full sizing and found very little if any change in the size of the body of the case, they chambered very smoothly.

    The advantage that attracted me the most to Necksizing even for hunting is the idea of a perfect fit to my chamber that improves accuracy and seems to me would also be smoother all around. Seems it would improve accuracy quite a bit but, the reality is probably that the difference to a "clean Kill Zone" on big game is probably neglible,

    Appreciate the info
    You can send a Redding Body Die to Jim Cartesen and have him convert it to a custom die with a neck bushing. It will run you about $100 to have it converted, along with the $25 die and a couple of $15 bushings to find the right fit. He needs 8 cases fired in your chamber sent along with it. Honestly if I were you I would spend my money on bullets and powder to do some shooting and reloading for now, and worry about such things at a later time. Try your neck sizing die and see what your results are. Another word of caution though. If you neck size only after a couple of firing when your bolt starts getting sticky, you may start to gall your bolt lugs if it takes too much force to lock the bolt down. Just something to be aware of.
    "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything."

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