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Hoping an experienced reloader can set me straight. I have been using the Lee Collet neck sizing dies for my rifles. I have fired some of the brass maybe five times and the last batches had loose fitting bullets. I adjusted the dies and applied more tension and that seemed to fix things. In my 260 I tried new bullets, 120 NBT in place of 140 Sierra's without changing the depth and I had one bullet lodge in the barrel. Guess I applied a little pressure when chambering- no -I never fired it but the bullet stayed lodged in the barrel and the case itself extracted. I figured it was an ogive\seating depth issue and readjusted the die at home. I tested chambering them after but ....are these issues an indication of a problem with my brass? I am thinking I need to measure and trim my brass -am, I on the right track? It always sounded like neck sizing eliminated the fuss but do I need to run all mine through a full length sizer - something I have never done and I don't have FL dies for all calibers I reload. What about annealing? What is my next correct step? I saw some say they run new brass through a FL sizer which seemed strange to me. I know I am opening myself up to some ribbing but could sure you some expertise.
 

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I don't know what all your problems are, but you can start by
loading a round and putting the bullet against your loading
bench and pressing hard. The bullet should not go into
the case. Buy yourself a Stony Point O.A.L. gauge. This will
tell you if the bullet touches the rifling. Instructions come
with the gauge.
Zeke
 

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Hoping an experienced reloader can set me straight. I have been using the Lee Collet neck sizing dies for my rifles. I have fired some of the brass maybe five times and the last batches had loose fitting bullets. I adjusted the dies and applied more tension and that seemed to fix things. In my 260 I tried new bullets, 120 NBT in place of 140 Sierra's without changing the depth and I had one bullet lodge in the barrel. Guess I applied a little pressure when chambering- no -I never fired it but the bullet stayed lodged in the barrel and the case itself extracted. I figured it was an ogive\seating depth issue and readjusted the die at home. I tested chambering them after but ....are these issues an indication of a problem with my brass? I am thinking I need to measure and trim my brass -am, I on the right track? It always sounded like neck sizing eliminated the fuss but do I need to run all mine through a full length sizer - something I have never done and I don't have FL dies for all calibers I reload. What about annealing? What is my next correct step? I saw some say they run new brass through a FL sizer which seemed strange to me. I know I am opening myself up to some ribbing but could sure you some expertise.
Ken,

You should always FL size new brass before the first firing and you should definitely at least own a FL sizer for each caliber you reload. As you've just learned, you absolutely need to determine the appropriate COL for any new bullet you work up a load for. Creating a "dummy" round for each bullet is a very good idea. Send me a PM and I'll explain how to go about that, but your reloading books will explain it pretty well.

Now, the question you're basically asking here is, do you need to FL size and trim your brass, sometimes...the short answer is; ABSOLUTELY! :)

Even with mild loads, your brass is going to expand and stretch, eventually being too long for the chamber. If you can take a fired piece of brass and easily close your bolt on it, without FL sizing, then neck-sizing is fine. After repeated firings, you won't be able to do this because the neck will probably be too long for your chamber. (Well, OK...sometimes you get a gun with a VERY long chamber and might not run into this.)

So, order a set of 260 dies, lube and FL size the whole batch, use a documented process for creating a dummy round, and then begin the process of working up a suitable powder charge, for that bullet. By the way, Zeke's advice about pressing a loaded round against your bench will tell you if the neck tension is sufficient to hold the bullet, so it doesn't get stuck in the lands of your rifling again, but the way to keep that from happening is to not load the bullets too long! The Stony Point gauge will help with that, for sure, but there are easier ways to determine the right COL, for any given bullet, in your gun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
thanks guys. So do I trim my brass and then FL size or.......?? What kind of life expectency does brass have under these conditions anyway?
 

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thanks guys. So do I trim my brass and then FL size or.......?? What kind of life expectency does brass have under these conditions anyway?
You would be better off to FL size, then measure/trim...since the brass will be changed by the sizing process. (Remember to deburr and chamfer, after trimming)

Check with Rocky Rabb on this, but opinions vary. I use the technique of seeing how easily my bolt guns will close on a fired case to help me determine if I need to FL size and/or trim and I believe I get more accurate ammunition, as well as increased case life, doing this. Rocky, who is a true authority on all things reloading, says to just go ahead and FL size every time. In the grand scheme of things, brass isn't all that expensive so if you get a few less firings by FL sizing, it's not going to break the bank.

Jason
 

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ok- makes sense. so, can I buy a FL sizer die by itself?
Ya know, I'm sure you can, but I've always bought the full set, so I would suggest looking at Midway or calling one of the die manufacturers.
 

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Scroll to the bottom of this page to "Similar Threads" and click on the previously posted thread on this topic to see what has been posted by others.
 

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Lee Collet dies need to be screwed into the press far enough to fully close the fingers of the collet when neck sizing the cartridge case. I use them for my .22/250 and have never had a problem. The main reason I like them is that I have never needed to trim my .22/250 brass using the collet die as I would if using a FL sizing die. I do think that the collet dies produce less neck tension than a FL die would, resulting in less bullet pull and a more "fragile" cartridge, so to speak...fine for a prairie dog rifle but maybe not for an elk rifle.

SO, for my big game rifles everything is full length sized and trimmed if necessary, to make sure there is never an issue with chambering a round or dislodging a bullet, especially when buck fever is running high.

It sounds like your problem was switching bullets without checking to see if the new one was jamming into the rifling lands when seated using the same die setting as the old one. If the ogive is farther forward or a less acute curve than the old bullet, it may contact the rifling at the same OAL as the older bullet that didn't touch the lands. Add the lighter bullet pull produced by the collt die, and you get the problem you describe.
 

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I think the first part of your question where your brass was on about its fifth firing and then using the collet die resulted in loose bullets is an annealing issue. My brass starts to get work hardened by about the fifth firing so it gets annealed every fifth.

So when you dialed you neck sizer down a little, that allowed extra pressure to be used against the neck.... pressure that was not required before (because the brass was less work hardened and thus softer).

I use the collet neck sizer in 22-250 and 25-06 without any issues, but the brass is annealed after every fifth firing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Wild and Stretch, thanks (and to everyone else)- admit I am a little confused between the differing opinions BUT I do think putting more pressure on the collet might have helped- after reseating the depth. I will check ease of closing the bolt. I actually had the loose bullets in more than just the one caliber, it just turned into more of an issue in one. So are you two saying I just don't need to FL size ever if I don't want - or trim for that matter? Do you FL size new brass like the others? If I anneal after five shootings how may long can I keep the brass.
 

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Well, I haven't had Bobby's lucjk when it comes to trimming. I have to trim about every third or fourth firing, depending on how heavy the load was in each case. But then, after neck-sizing, charging, and seating, I crimp most of my 22-250 cartridges using the Lee factory crimp die. Some are a light crimp, others are heavy. I do it because I've noticed an improvement in accuracy, but the truth is that I don;t have enough rounds through this rifle (about 400+) to have really tested this crimping. In order to be accurate, a particular load must be shot several times with results accurately recorded, then crimped, and shot several times again with results recorded. I haven't fired enough yet in this one, I've just noticed some very tight groups, whether crimped or not, and record them as such.

The best thing to do after each firing is: once your brass is clean and then sized (full or neck), check each case with calipers. Once you get familiar with your trimming tools, you'll begin to know when a measurement is close enough to trim or whether you want to leave it alone for another firing or two. Just because a case has exceeded the length of your trim gauge does not necessarily mean you must trim it. Sometimes I'll let a few thousandths on a case go for another firing before trimming or, before re-echecking the length anyway. But...when it begins to get close to the maximum case length, you must trim it.

I full-length size new brass and every time after annealing. In-between, I neck size only. There has been a time with my 22-250 that I had to full-length size even though the brass wasn't ready for annealing. At the range, one cartridge out of twenty wouldn;t chamber, so when I got home and prepped all the brass, I went ahead and full-length sized them all (even though all but one chambered just fine). Better to just do them all, I figured. If I remember right, the brass was on it's 3rd firing, so two firings later I annealed, and full-length sized them all again.

This annealing must be done correctly. That's important. Read as much as you can on the subject or you could end up 1) doing nothing worthwhile, 2) ruining your brass, or 3) creating a very volatile and dangerous situation in your rifle. I'm no expert at annealing (or reloading for that matter - I call myself a "yearling"), but I've read all I can in this forum and others, and have done it many times. I've also had a very bad experience at the range back in July with my 30-06. I think the problem was due to improper annealing.

When I load a batch, the type of bullet, type of powder, charge weight, primer, overall length, and whether or not the bullet was crimped is all recorded. Also, for that batch, the brass is recorded. I do it with a two-number recording like this: new brass is 0-1, meaning it has never been annealed ("0") and it will be, when fired, fired once ("1"). After four firings, the loaded cartridges are recorded as 0-5, meaning this batch of brass has not been annealed and, after firing, it will have been 5 firings. Then I anneal, full-length size, and the next time that batch is loaded into cartridges the brass is recorded as 1-1. Make sense? Probably not....only to me, maybe.
 

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I won't say you will never have to trim with a collet die. All I can say is I haven't had to yet. My current lot of .22/250 brass is on it's 4th. loading, so sooner or later I might get excess brass OAL or work hardening issues. Also, my ammo still chambers OK but I won't be surprised if I might have to FL size it some day if it starts to get difficult to chamber.
 

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Wild and Stretch, thanks (and to everyone else)- admit I am a little confused between the differing opinions BUT I do think putting more pressure on the collet might have helped- after reseating the depth. I will check ease of closing the bolt. I actually had the loose bullets in more than just the one caliber, it just turned into more of an issue in one. So are you two saying I just don't need to FL size ever if I don't want - or trim for that matter? Do you FL size new brass like the others? If I anneal after five shootings how may long can I keep the brass.
Ken, I really don;t think a reloader can get away with always neck-sizing and never full-length sizing (you probably already knew that). I mean, eventually all brass will have to be full-length sized if nothing more than to push the shoulder down a tad and get it back within specs.

Again on annealing. Study up on it. There really is some science involved, even if it's basic. Now.....it will take the old-hands to come in and say how many rounds you can get out of brass, but I'm sure they'll say there are several dependant factors, many of which are relevant to each other: how hot the loads are, chamber condition, number of times sized, number of times trimmed, and more.

Me? Well, in some 30-06 and 25-06, I'm on brass recorded as 3-2, remember that? That means it has been fired 11 times. But what I do when I get a bag of brass is I only load in batches of 20. Then I keep cleaning, prepping, and reloading that 20 until they start to fall apart. Now I may be reloading 2 or 3 btaches of 20, but they're kept together and grouped that way so I can keep track of them without having brass rolling around all over the place. My little attempt at organization.

Sometimes a few necks will split, but most often the first "danger" sign will be a ring, sometimes appearing like a crack, about 3/8" or so up from the rim of the case. Usually the "crack" will not go evenly around the case, but will appear to move upward at a slight angle, and it will not completely encircle the case body. When you see it, you'll know it. Toss that case. Some guys take a piece of baling wire or whatever and bend a little hook into the end and sharpen it. This allows the wire to scrape the inside of the case to find the inside crack. I just toss mine when I see that crack. With the wire, they are trying to find the crack on the inside before it appears on the outside. I've never had a case head seperation, but it's said to be violent and dangerous. Toss them if you suspect the case head is affected. (annealing - danger here)

I've read where guys will say they're on their 20th or 25th loading with brass, for example, but I'm not there yet with mine.
 

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Stretch is correct that your cases are getting harder so they spring back more after resizing. Annealing is the ONLY cure.

The Lee collet dies do (typically) give a bit less bullet "tension" (interference fit actually) than others but that's also part of why the loaded rounds have less runout than we get with more conventional sizers.

No one can honestly tell anyone how many reloads we can get from a case, far too many variables to project that. I have some Norma and Rem .22-250 and .243 cases I've reloaded hot well over a dozen times without trimming or any indication of a head seperation when using the Lee sizer. But they got annealed after the 5th firings.
 
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