Reloading Dies


January 29, 2013, 07:53 AM
I want to reload the .223 Rem cartridge. There is the standard dies set for these, and now there is a new set available called AR series small base die set. OK guys, what is the difference and is it worth the extra bucks.The small base set is supposed to give better sizing for semi-autos, but I am hearing the brass doesn't last as long due to the tighter swaging. Also supposed to eliminate "slam firing".

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January 29, 2013, 08:11 AM
i shoot 5.56mm exclusively in my AR-15s, and i use small base dies exclusively, some of my brass has seen over 20 reloadings. by using the SB dies i have never had a bad chambering, BUT !!...., be very careful with crimping, there is where you will get in trouble if not done correctly, i use a Lee "factory crimp" die that i had to modify due to the sliding crimper, it would stick in the crimp position, then when the cartridge rotates to the crimp position (i use a Dillon XL-650) and the handle lowered the case mouth hits the stuck crimper and buckles the shoulder.

YES ! i consider the extra cost for them well worth it. slam fires in an AR-15 is mostly due to a dirty BCG where the firing pin can not move or moves very little inside the BCG.

the above are my personal experiences.., "your milage my differ" :D

January 29, 2013, 08:22 AM
Where the small base dies are sizing more than the regular sizer dies is on the body of the case. This area can be blown out pretty bad on MG fired cases. IMO, small base dies do not reduce brass life. Keeping cartridge head clearance </= 0.005 will give good brass life.

January 29, 2013, 08:51 AM
I use both. When loading surplus brass it goes through the small base dies first trip through the system. After that due to all my rifles having good chambers, I use standard dies.

January 29, 2013, 09:04 AM
I use standard dies with my AR. No slam fires. No problems after reloaded thousands of rounds.

Don't east the extra money for the AR series. Standard dies are just fine. Put the money you save by getting standard dies, on components.

January 29, 2013, 09:40 AM
I use standard LEE dies for .223, no problems here.

I use RCBS standard dies for loading up ammo for my M1 Garands, no problem there either.

January 29, 2013, 10:07 AM
Since you do not have a set of 223 Remington, I recommend getting a set of small base dies especially if you plan on using once fired cases and range pick ups.

With the various different chambers out there for 223 Remington you could run into some cases that do not get the body sized enough with standard dies for your rifle.

Just some good insurance for a small price. RCBS AR dies are good as well as others.

I use small base sizers for my 223 Remington ARs, 308 Win M1A, and 30-06 M1.

I do not crimp my AR loads ( or M1 or M1A either for that matter). But if you insist, over crimping can cause you problems. Note, crimping will not fix insufficient neck tension.

Hope this helps.

January 29, 2013, 10:26 AM
I've handloaded and fired thousands of 5.56 loads in multiple ARs. I've always used standard dies. I have had no problems and have seen no need for SBDs. In my own mind, I figure that working the brass more than needed is not conducive to brass life, however others obviously won't agree. I load primarily military surplus, once fired brass.

Just saying that in my experience, I've never needed SBDs. In fact, I've never needed SBDs in lever action rifles either, where others seem to like them.

January 29, 2013, 01:33 PM
As people are pointing out, it is a crap shoot if YOUR rifle will need small base dies or not. SOME auto-loading, pump, lever, etc. rifles seem to need them, some don't. The only way to tell is buy a set of dies and try them. Then if you need the SB dies, you buy the SB dies, if not, go on your way. Of course it you DO need the SB dies you are out twice, so it might be good to buy them to begin with and not worry if you really needed them or not.

The RCBS AR dies resized the case farther down the body (as do all SB dies) and set the shoulder back slightly so your cases will chamber in a slightly dirty chamber (the AR dumps a lot of gas back there) and ensures the case won't be too long and jam.

Bullet length and ogive are also important. I was down at the gun shop and the owner asked me what was wrong with his .223 reloads as they would not chamber properly. I said if they were sized right (he claimed they were), if the neck or shoulder wasn't buckled (they weren't), then it was the bullet. He claimed he measured them and they were the proper OAL. I said the ogive was hitting then, shorten them up! He gave me a look, went to the bench and shortened them up a few thousands and guess what? They worked!

Hope this helps.

January 29, 2013, 02:21 PM
I use the standard dies but I don't buy brass that was fired in machineguns. I load for Colt AR15s and they work fine with FL resizing with regular dies. I don't shoot full auto so if that's your question, I don't know.

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