.223 needs lower shoulder but sizing die already bottoms out


June 10, 2011, 02:23 PM
I have a problem resizing .223 brass on two presses: Hornady LNL and Rock Chucker. Dies used are RCBS X-Die and Hornady standard .223 sizing die. Mixed brass, fired in my mixed ARs. Cases are liberally lubed with Hornady One-Shot spray.

When resizing/decapping, half of my brass comes out just a little longer than my JP case gauge's (Wilde Chamber) long limit - probably a thousandth of an inch or so. The other half of the brass is right at the gauge maximum.

This condition exists for both dies on both presses. The case gauge is probably not faulty, as brand new brass and store-bought ammo drop in and measure right at the minimum mark on the gauge.

I can also confirm the case gauge is correct, by the fact that the out of spec, "long" cases jam my JP Wylde chambered rifle when loaded, causing a slight out of battery condition, and these live cartridges are very difficult to extract. In fact, they get stuck so tightly, that with the rifle pointing straight up, I have to bang the buttstock on the bench a couple of times to loosen the cartridge and eject it.

JP's tech support suggested that I set back the shoulder of the case just a little more, which makes sense to me.

The problem is that my sizing dies are already bottomed out and touching the shell holder on the Rock Chucker or the shell plate on the Hornady LNL. If I screw the sizing dies any lower, they will then start to damage and warp the shell plate and shell holder.

Any ideas on how I can set the shoulder back (aka bump the shoulder) a little more?

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June 10, 2011, 02:39 PM
Can you take a few 1/1000 off the sizing die?

June 10, 2011, 02:39 PM
This may sound like a silly question, but here goes. Are you trimming your brass? Brass longer than the gauge needs trimming. You can set the Rock Chucker to cam over (1/4 turn past the bottom of die hitting the shellholder) and this may get you the clearance you need if the brass is trimmed properly. If not, you may need a small base resizing die for brass fired in your guns (http://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com/item.asp?sku=0004411103). Hope this helps.

June 10, 2011, 02:43 PM
I don't think a small base is going to help. If you were just going to load them on the rock, I'd removed material from the shellholder. If you want to load on the progressive, take it from the die bottom. (assuming everything else is correct as parker51 said).

Doug b
June 10, 2011, 02:43 PM
Strange both dies not bumping the shoulder back.Are you using the same shell holder for both dies.

June 10, 2011, 02:50 PM
If you bottom out on the shellholder AND then turn the die in another quarter turn does the long condition still persist?

June 10, 2011, 03:02 PM
Second thought: What's different about the wylde chamber (compared to 5.56)?

June 10, 2011, 03:07 PM
RW Dale - I just tied this. I screwed the Hornady die into the RCBS Rock Chucker, contacted the shell holder, then screwed the die in another 1/4 turn.

The result was perfectly sized cases that dropped right into the case gauge at the minimum mark.

While this die installation would eliminate my problem, won't the ram/shell holder working against the die with such force cause long term issues with damaged press handle linkage, swaged die and shell holder, warped shell plate on the progressive Hornady LNL, and other mechanical damage?

June 10, 2011, 03:14 PM
That is the way the Sizing die should be adjusted, and the way the RCBS press needs to operate. It holds generally true with any bottle-neck rifle die.
Carbide insert pistol dies are the only ones you don't want to set that tight.

Can't comment on Hornady shell plates though.

There is a certain amount of press frame flex and linkage slop in even the best of presses.

Adjusting the die down further then shell holder contact like you have done makes up for the slop & flex.

In other words, you are now resizing the case as far as the die will allow, instead of getting a few thou flex springing the die away from the shell holder at full ram travel force.

It won't hurt a thing.
I've been doing it with my RCBS Rock Chucker & the same .223 shell holder since I bought them new in 1970.

If the manufacture cut rifle dies deeper and didn't allow for press frame flex, those who set them to "toggle over" like we always have would end up with excess headspace on every case we over-sized.


June 10, 2011, 03:18 PM
It shouldn't hurt anything at all. What is happening is that your press is flexing a little bit. You wouldn't think it's posible given how solid they look. But it's fairly common to have to screw the die in a bit further after it's already made contact. I'm glad you tried it and came up with a simple solution. I have one die/shellholder/rifle combo that even doing that wouldn't work. Before I filed on either the shellholder or the die, I inserted different feeler gauges between the case head and the shellholder. Sure enough, when I had a 0.004" feeler gauge under the case head, it gave me just enough extra sizing to barely bump the shoulder back 0.002". That way I knew exactly how much I wanted to file off the shellholder. I prefered to leave the die alone.

June 10, 2011, 03:23 PM
Same on the L'n'L - your die is not in far enough...try 1/8 and then 1/4 turn beyond "just touching." That's normal and won't harm the plate or the press.

June 10, 2011, 03:35 PM
As others note it's the way dies are "supposed" to be adjusted and what the manufacturers shoot for when cutting dies and shellholders. Every once in a great while you'll get a die cut slightly short that will set the shoulder back too far @ +1/4 turn but by in large this is what's required to get a case FL resized back to SAAMI specs.

So you still need to perform due diligence and make certain you're NOT creating an excessive headspace situation. As you have done with the use of a case gauge.

Some guys will pop poo bumping against the shellholder but if that's what it takes to get a FL resize that's what it takes.

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June 10, 2011, 05:25 PM
Thank you, everyone!!! I just spoke with Hornady tech support and they said it is OK to screw the die in 1/4 of a turn after it touches the Lock N Load AP press' shell holder. I've got the die adjusted correctly on the Rock Chucker, and the LNL is next.

Thanks for the great advice, THR! :):):):):):):)

Friendly, Don't Fire!
June 10, 2011, 06:56 PM
The die needs to make contact with the shell holder, then turn down the die 1/4 turn more. If you do not feel the ram topping out (some resistance) then you have not properly set up the resizing die.

The ONLY reason I am aware of where you don't want the shell holder making contact with the die bottom is for straight-walled cases where you are using a Carbide resizing die! The reasoning is that the carbide sleeve in there is set at the bottom of the die and since it is brittle, you could possibly crack or otherwise break the carbide die! That is the only reason I am aware of for not "camming-over" with the ram!

June 10, 2011, 08:37 PM
Adjusting the die until it bottoms out and seats hard on the shell holder will be the "shortest" cartridge head space you will be able to achieve.

Bottoming out your die and contacting the shell holder assumes that YOUR rifle is at minimum head space. Assuming your chamber is tight and at minimum is how case head separations occur.

Below is a Wilson case gauge and it is for the .303 British and I don't what to hear anything about it being a rimed cartridge. ALL Wilson case gauges are used to check the location of the shoulder and reference the datum line of the case.

Please notice the ledge just inside the gauge mouth.


Below, a brand new Remington case inside the gauge "resting" on the ridge, this case shoulder is actually a 1/4 inch too short!


A fired case in the Wilson case gauge and by American standards it is not within SAAMI standards. Well it won't be within American standards because it was fired in a British rifle. :eek:


Therefore assuming your chamber is exactly the same length as your reloading die when it is bottom out is NOT a wise idea.

If this was true then they wouldn't make longer shell holders for longer chambers. ;)


They wouldn't make a set of master head space gauges to check head space.


And they wouldn't make the die shims below if all chamber were the same length.


I bottom out the majority of my dies by over camming the press and hard onto the shell holder. BUT I then shim my dies until the case is .001 shorter than the chamber. ;)


The length of your resized cartridge case can vary by just the amount of lube on your pad or how it is applied by your fingers. :eek:(especially if any lube gets on the shoulder of the case)


June 10, 2011, 08:50 PM
But if you're having seperation issues with ammo sized to a SAAMI gauge then you have a RIFLE problem not a sizing one.

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June 10, 2011, 10:19 PM
Bigdp51 - while I hate to appear so obtuse, I'm still not sure what advice I should take from you post regarding my situation. Specifically, do you propose a different solution to my resizing problem?

June 10, 2011, 10:52 PM
Bigdp51 is saying that there are some options out there to give you a little more flexibility in sizing the cases than maxing out the press flex to just barely get your required case dimensions.

While the "1/4-turn" trick is traditional, I'd suggest getting the Redding Competition shellholders to "tune" your die/press combination to where it doesn't require that degree of camming-over all the time. Redding's system is simple, works well, and gives you some breathing space.

June 10, 2011, 11:23 PM
Education, methods and technique????

If my die is not sizing my cases in my press (many options) with my shell holder, I can measure the case to determine the amount of case that did /does not get sized can be measured, the deck height of the shell holder is .125 thousands, measure the deck height of your shell holders, RCBS offered to trade me new shell holders for my old shell holders, I thought that was nice of them but I am not so vain I need to be surrounded with BLING, I only need to know their design, function and measurements.

Same for a die, if the die is not sizing my cases and the deck height of my shell holder is .125 there has to be left over case sticking out somewhere, Me? When my shell holder shoves the case into the die and all of it does not go or will not fit I find it between the shell holder and bottom of the die, that is when I reach for the companion tool to the press, the feeler gage to determine the gap between the top of the shell holder and bottom of the die and that is how I determine the amount of the case that is not being shoved into the press.

Grinding the die and or shell holder is not necessary, again, with an RCBS shell holder, and the feeler gage I can form cases for short chambers from -.012 thousands to minimum length (000) cases, that is 12 different case length, going the other way I can form cases from minimum length/full length sized case to .002 thousands longer than a field reject length chamber, that is 16 different length cases. And that is more than the Redding competition shell holder set can do.

F. Guffey

June 11, 2011, 11:08 AM
But if you're having separation issues with ammo sized to a SAAMI gauge then you have a RIFLE problem not a sizing one.

Rifles have head space setting of GO and NO-GO or a ballpark plus or minus and a bottomed out resizing die only gives you one size and it can be far too small.



At http://savageshooters.com/SavageForum/some of the people are setting their head space by just using a new cartridge case. The problem with this "method" is the last 100 bulk .243 cases I purchased were from anywhere from minus -.003 to -.012 smaller than GO or minimum head space.


The next thing these "barrel nuts" ask is "WHY" their resized cartridge cases wont fit in their chamber. The reason is they can't push the shoulder back far enough to fit their "under size" chamber.

Not all chambers are the same because of manufacturing tolerances, chamber reamer wear and the same applies to the resizing dies we use.

The .243 rifle above is mine, for grins and giggles and because I have too much time on my hands I purchased three different manufactures of reloading dies. Each die pushes the shoulder back a different amount, and each die resizes the base diameter to a different hight and diameter.

Adjusting the hight of your die in relation to the shell holder is important for case life and accuracy.

Below, case stretching in the web area and "why" you have case head separations.


And as an example the 30-06 can have as much as .010 room to play with on your resizing dies and their adjustment.

2.0487 to 2.0587 to the datum line in the chamber or min and max head space, and a new cartridge case can be anywhere from 2.0456 to 2.0526 to its datum line.


June 11, 2011, 11:54 AM
As bigedp51 has so aptly pointed out, when your chamber is out of spec, reloading goes to a whole nother level.

Fortunately, the vast majority of modern chambers are within spec, as well as ammo and dies. The gun makers do a great job, as do the die makers, of keeping things in spec and keeping reloaders out of trouble.

As R.W. Dale and rcmodel have posted, the flex in the presses linkage can sometimes come into play when sizing if the die needs to be screwed down farther than just contact when no sizing is going on.

That was the problem here, and IMtheNRA has solved his sizing issue.

While the die makers keep us out of trouble 99% of the time, the best way to size is to use some sort of tool to know how much we are sizing our case, not only relative to the size of our chamer, but relative to SAMMI specs as well.

The most important relationship is the sized brass to OUR chamber, since, as fguffey likes to point our, SAMMI does not cut our chambers.

I like shoulder bump gauges and case gauges, fguffey likes feeler gauges, some like the Redding or RCBS tools, some like gauges like Larry Willis and Sinclair make, some just like to size to fit cases gauges, but I bet the majority of reloaders just screw the sizer down all the way and when things work, call it good. :)

June 11, 2011, 12:01 PM
And that's why you don't set a savage chamber up on a NEW piece of brass. That's silly because you note new cases can be all over the place.

I set mine up to be a mere .001 to .002 deeper than WHAT MY DIES will set the shoulder back on a FL resized case. That way my chamber matches my dies and works the brass a bare minimum and to ensure I don't have any variance in shoulder length I want that setup case (actually three) to come from a bottomed out shellholder.

Now granted I may not be able to shoot factory loads, but I honestly don't care about doing so.

Now I get what your saying and how it applies to a rifle with a long chamber. BUT the fact of the matter remains that a rifle having separation issues with cartridges sized to just fit into a SAAMI gauge then the RIFLE is out of spec and will have those same issues firing factory loads.

And all of this is before you get to the possibility that the OP is loading for an autoloader which DOUBLY throws what your saying out the window. Because I assure you sticking cases into an AR15 that DON'T FIT into a SAAMI gauge is a surefire recipe for heartache.

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June 11, 2011, 01:18 PM
Somehow... I don't think the OP was bemoaning head separation issues (but we went that direction anyway`cause it's more fun.) :neener:

That said, that's a really nice graphic on the case stretch/head-sep (and flashhole/primer pocket expansion) phemomena, BigEd. Thanks for something new for my library:)

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