November 30, 2010, 08:51 PM
I had a little free time this afternoon and decided to head over to the reloading bench to see if there was anything that needed doing, I sorted some mixed .223 brass and then a box of 30-30 brass caught my eye. Let me tell you to start with that I do not own anything that fires 30-30 and that I have never loaded it before and I don't have dies for it, but I do load 14 other cartridges. This all started a few weeks ago when I was at the range, had the place to myself and before I set up to shoot I cruised around for brass. There was not much there that day except under one bench there was a neat pile of very shiny 30-30 brass, 20 to be exact and looking through the garbage can I found the box crisp and like new. So now I have a box of brass that I don't load and don't even have a gun for, but today I thought maybe I could do something with them. I knew I had some bullets that would work from a deal I got on a large box of mixed cast lead bullets that I got for scrap lead price, I have lots of H4895 and large rifle primers, the only thing missing to make up some handloads was a set of dies. First concern was if I had a shell holder that would work, looked at some of the brass I had to compare and 7.5x55 swiss looked pretty close and upon measurement found that they were within about .005" in diameter. I have a set of redding dies in 7.5 swiss with a redding shell holder so I snapped it into the press and tried a few cases and they fit but a little tight turns out it was the backed out primers that made them tight. I screwed a lee universal decapper into the press and removed the spent primers, all but one case fit in the shell holder and that one I just set on the top of the shell holder and held it on the way up into the decapper it fit just fine after that. Next step is to resize, I know that I will never full length size any cartridge without the proper die, so I settled on trying to find a way to neck size my 30-30 brass. My thinking was that if I can find a full length size die for a .30 cal cartridge that was both shorter and fatter than 30-30 I could unscrew it enough so that I could just size the neck and not touch the body or shoulder. Looking thought the die sets I had and taking some measurements my best option was a lee full length size die in 7.62x39, I started out with the ram up and screwed the die till it touched the brass then lowered the ram and kept screwing the die in a little at a time and running the ram up till I had size almost all of the neck and I never touched the body of the 30-30 case. So it was time to look up some loading data and in no time I had a good idea of what would be a good load from looking through my books and the hodgdon website. I measured all the brass for length and found that all of it was just a few thousandths under spec but all very consistent and I am ok with that, I chamfered and deburred them all and primed them with a large rifle primer. Next I checked how well the "scrap" cast bullets fit, these are 180grs flat nose with gas checks all lubed and sized to .309", and they did not start into the necks very well, so I flared the case necks with a lee universal case expanding die till the bullets just started in. Charged with an appropriate amount of H4895 then I needed to figure out how to seat and crimp the bullets, and again I turned to my 7.62x39 die set, and to my amazement with proper adjustment they worked perfectly even seating and crimping in one step! I have to say I am quite pleased with myself for creatively finding a way spend my afternoon using up some components that would otherwise not get used and making some very fine looking ammo, that I can only look at for now since I do not have a gun to shoot them in. Sorry this went so long, just wanted to tell you guys about my creative use of dies and have a look at the results.