Garand .30-06 - Which RCBS Dies?


June 9, 2003, 04:33 PM
I'm going to be feeding a Garand soon and know I need to do full length resizing. Which RCBS die set should I get - I think there are at least 2 choices.


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June 9, 2003, 04:52 PM
I just use the standard RCBS Full Length Die Set.They work well for me.
You may want to get a case gauge to make sure you size your cases correctly.

June 9, 2003, 05:27 PM
the Garand are the RCBS X-Dies. They elemintate the need to trim brass in most cases if used correctly.

Best Regards,

June 9, 2003, 05:37 PM
I have always used the "small base" dies for use in the Garand. I once had a problem with just using the standard full length dies and so went to the "small base". They have always worked well for me. Quantrill

June 9, 2003, 11:39 PM
Years ago, when I shot the M-1 in competition, I used a set (2 die) of RCBS dies. They were their standard dies. I never found small base dies necessary, though some rifles might require their use. Be careful with die set-up, for loading life of brass is shortened considerably if you set the shoulder back to far. Also, check overall case length, trimming as necessary. As I recall, max case length was 2.494", and my old Lyman # 45 loading manual recommended triming to 2.484"

June 10, 2003, 11:31 AM
What to do - small base or not in the X-die?? I decided to call RCBS and see what they recommended. RCBS says go with the small base for autos, so I ordered a set of small base from MidwayUSA.

alan - I understand your comments and could see if my Garand had a tighter than usual chamber the small base dies may not be needed. But I need to make the jump and get the dies ordered. If the RCBS instructions are not clear, I may have some questions on the adjustment of the resizing die. I currently reload bottleneck cases for Swedish Mausers, but do just a neck resize on them.

I've never had to use a case gauge before, but it might come in handy on the Garand.

I'm going to get some 150 gr. bullets at the Dallas Market Hall Gun Show on the 14th. They need to be soft points because most of the ranges around here don't allow FMJ.

Anyone else going to Market Hall this weekend?

June 10, 2003, 05:21 PM

RCBS dies, in my experience, are fine, never has a problem with them, in any caliber. I would suggest that you adjust the FULL LENGTH sizing die exactly as per RCBS instructions.

As I mentioned, not setting the shoulder back to far will definately help with case life. There used to be a couple of gages available, with which one could check how far the shoulder was being moved back. Mo DeFina used to sell one of them. Don't know if he is still in business though, haven't seen/heard of him in years.

I assume you are using a single stage press. Bring the ram to the top of it's stroke. Screw the sizing down until you have firm contact with the shell holder. Back the die out about 1/4 -1/2 turn. Resize a fired case. Check to see if the bolt will close on this resized case, likely it won't. Screw the die in a little, say 1/8 turn at a time, and try the above step again. Do this till the locking lugs go home (the bolt closes) on the test case.

At this point, you will have set the shoulder back quite close to the minimum required for proper function. Now turn the sizing die in the smallest increment you can, check the test case again. If the bolt still closes fully, the locking lugs are flat, lock your die where it is. Do tis with a case in the die, as everything will then be centered. By the way, when checking for chambering, as above described, operate the bolt by hand, with operating rod and spring, the extractor and ejector removed. Doing this is not really a big deal. Having a vise is a great help in reassembling the bolt, unless you are one of those lucky people who have three or four hands.

One other thing you might pay attention to is "wire drawing" of fired cases. Reloading and firing such brass can lead to head spearations, leaving you with a broken case, stuck in the chamber. If you happen to have a broken case extractor close at hand, not a large problem, othertwise you are stuck, with a disabled rifle. Check for wire drawing as follows. Straighten out a paper clip. Bend a small "L" shape hook at one end. Run your tool, "L" bend forward, till you bottom on the inside of the case. Move your tool till the "hook" is against the inside of the cartridge case, still bottomed on the case head. SLOWLY drag your tool out of the case, keeping the the hook against the inside wall. If you feel as if your hook "falls into a ditch, then climbs out", you have found "wire drawing", and that particular case is likely on it's last legs, and should not be fired, lest you experience head separation. The procedure sounds a lot more complicated than it is, and it will work with fired cases in any rifle, though wire drawing is usually less of a problem with bolt guns, due to reduced tendency toward case stretching.

If you are already familiar with the above methods, nothing lost. If you weren't, then the above might save you some trouble.
Enjoy your Garand.

June 10, 2003, 07:26 PM

I use a single stage for rifle and will keep your setup instructions at hand when adjust the die - thanks!

I do have a "special" paperclip tool already made up in case I see a suspicious Swedish Mauser case.

Steve in PA
June 10, 2003, 07:27 PM
I've been using the RCBS X-Dies for my Garand.....and they work just fine.

June 10, 2003, 10:36 PM
Have been wondering if Mo is still in business. Have one of his 30-06 case headspace gauges. Wouldn't load for a garand without one. RCBS gauge looks as if if works the same but do not have one so cannot give first hand report.

Just bought a Stoney Point cartridge headspace gauge and it seems to do the job and is not caliber specific as it has a set of bushings which attach to your caliper.


Be very cautious on loading for gas guns that your cases are not oversized, primers are not seated too high, or chamber not dirty to cause slam fire. The garand, M1A and (I think) the M16 all have floating firing pins which "peck" the primer when bolt slams home. Therefore, anything which causes the bolt to stop short, could possibly contribute to a slam fire. A good tool for this job is the cartridge case headspace gauge. On the other hand, using small base dies can overwork brass in the expansion ring area or improper setting on regular dies can push shoulder back too far, resulting in overworking brass and premature case head separation as has been previously mentioned.

Having loaded for at least four M1's and two M1A's, have never found it necessary to use small base dies. Most service grade gas guns have a generous chamber in order to be more reliable under field conditions. Match grade service rifles may have a "snug" chamber. Two of the rifles I loaded for were match grade rifles with snug chambers and the regular RCBS dies worked fine. Having said that, I never used brass which had been fired in machine guns in my rifles, which might have required small base dies. I suspect this is why RCBS recommended the SB dies as MG's can have extremely sloppy chambers and stretch the brass considerably.

Enjoy your Garand, it's a great rifle!


June 11, 2003, 11:27 AM

I used to run into Mo at rifle matches, a now and then thing. I've neither seen nor heard of or from him in years. At that ytime he was located in or near Middlefield Conn., as I recall.

I have one of his "micrometer type gages" in .308 (7.62mm NATO) that I used when I was shooting rifles. Didn't really need it for bolt guns. I used to set my sizing die up with the shoulder set back not more than .002". Using Mo's gage, this was easy to determine. I assume that he had them in other calibers also.

I fired an M-1 in competition for about 5 years, 10,000 plus rounds in actual matches. Mine was a Winchester product, and shot quite well with handloads, especially at 600 and 1000 yards. I never found the use of small base dies necessary. The brass that I scrounged had all been fired in rifles though.

I've noticed the slight firing pin "ding" on primers with the M-1, after an unfired round had been chambered. I've noticed this with pistols also, that is those whose firing pin "floats", the Makarov Pistols for instance. Never had a round fire "unlocked", and definately would NOT want to experience same. Supposedly, based on design featues, the Garand cannot fire unlocked, but then I was supposed to be LINDA, and that didn't work out as hoped for either.

June 11, 2003, 11:30 AM

Aren't those paper clips amazing devices? Endless things can be done with them.

June 11, 2003, 12:13 PM
While I have never experienced an out of battery discharge and continue to do everything humanly possible to avoid such, I did witness one. My shooting buddy and I were at a State Service Rifle match several years ago. He is an experienced shooter and reloader but on 200 RF his .308 custom built match M1 fired out of battery, bending the op-rod, blew extractor and ejector out of bolt and rounded the receiver where bolt cams over into battery. A piece of something, we never did find the piece, cut through his cap just above the bill, went all the way through several layers of sweat band, etc and cut a 1/2" shallow cut on his forehead.

We both used cartridge headspace gauges to set our dies and periodically checked to see that we had .003" clearance on loaded rounds. The batch of brass he was shooting had been loaded quite a few times and upon checking some of the unfired ammo later he discovered they lacked that clearance, thus causing bolt to "stop short".

As you pointed out, this shouldn't happen due to the 90* bend on rear end of firing pin which "must" line up with the notch in the receiver bridge, but, it did happen. We figured that since this particular lot of brass had a number of firings/reloadings, it had workhardened and therefore sprung back more after sizing than the newer brass he had been using and had set up his dies with. Apparently he did not check this lot w/headspace gauge or in spot checking, missed an oversized one or more.

Sometimes we tend to get a little lax in our safety practices and something like this is a wakeup call. By the way, the receiver was not damaged beyond repair, but my buddy had to work on his trigger control for a while after that.


June 11, 2003, 05:45 PM

That sort of experience is certainly one to "get one's attention".

Find myself curious as to one aspect of what you described. Any possibility of the problem having been caused by overly thick necks?

It is my understanding that this is something that can happen with much reloaded brass, due to "metal flow", leading to neck thickening. Might be worth while to mike the neck o.d. of reloads, compared to the same for unfired rounds.

Personally, I never experienced unlocked discharge, perhaps due to the fact that "the gods look after drunks and fools". My brass was much reloaded too.

As I remember, the feature that you mentioned, the 90 degree bend in the tail end of the firing pin having to slip through a fairly narrow slot in the rear end of the bolt precluding unlocked discharge was supposedly the trick. It is, of course, possible that due to manufacturing tolerences, things didn't work as expected, nor as they usually do. Glad to hear that nobody suffered permanent damage.

Safety, as you noted, should never receive short shrift.

June 11, 2003, 06:34 PM
alan "Any possibility of the problem having been caused by overly thick necks?"

Suppose anything is possible, but we checked some of the unfired rounds and they were over the recommended .003" shorter than the average of 10 once fired cases in that rifle. Can't remember now how much oversized, but best theory we could come up with was that this held bolt open enough to allow firing pin to strike with enough force to detonate primer before bold cammed into battery and aligned the FP tail with the slot in receiver bridge.

Have never checked the thickness of necks but if they were too thick, seems it would not allow bullet release when round fired, especially in a snug match chamber. Just my WAG, however. Just never thought of this possibility before.

Sure seems to be a lot more questions than good solid answers sometimes, doesn't there? :)


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