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Lee die re-sizing problem?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by kerreckt, Jul 3, 2013.

  1. kerreckt

    kerreckt Well-Known Member

    I rarely run into problems when reloading. When I read some of the posts I just shake my head and can't imagine why the person is having a problem. Well, I guess my time has come. I have been re-sizing a bunch of once fire .243 brass. The brass is sorted by headstamp. I set up a Lee full length re-sizing die and went at it. I checked the first couple and all was well. After about 50 more I checked the fit and it was all over the place. Some too tight others just fine. There just wasn't any consistency. I attempted to readjust with no good results. Rather than waste time. I am fortunate enough to have a set of Redding dies. I used them and all is well. I don't want this to turn into a Lee products bashing session because I have used many of their products and they have worked well, for me. I have used their rifle dies in 30-06, .223, .308 with no problem. I re-sized all the first batch of inconsistent brass and they now fit fine. All I can think about is why this happened. My set up was my usual that normally works. Any ideas or thoughts about this problem will be appreciated because I am totally baffled. Best wishes and a healthy, happy fourth of July to all.
  2. 243winxb

    243winxb Well-Known Member

  3. Rule3

    Rule3 Well-Known Member

    I have no idea. There is not much to adjusting a Lee sizing die. I have about 14 of them. Never had a problem.

    What press?

    Screwed down to touch the shell holder?

    Your cases are lubed with not to much or little?

    Your dies is screwed down tight and the lock o ring is tight. I hand tighten and than a bit more with a wrench. (they do not move)

    Other than that, without seeing it is all just a WAG
  4. mdi

    mdi Well-Known Member


    Also you need some precision tools for checking precision work. "All over the place", "too tight", and "just fine" aren't measurements, and mean something way different to me. I'd suggest getting a good 6" dial caliper and good 1" micrometer for troubleshooting chambering issues...
  5. stubbicatt

    stubbicatt Well-Known Member

    May I inquire of OP, which press were you using? I would initially suspect some sort of flexing in the press. Did you notice a lot of expander drag? If so, a wee bit of lube on the inside of the case neck may be necessary. Sometimes too much expander drag will affect the shoulder dimension.

    I guess if you determined the effect of the die by chambering a sized round there are basically 3 dimensions which could hink you up.

    1. The neck is too long,
    2. The shoulder is not set back enough, or
    3. The base of the case is too expanded... with 243 sometimes I have noticed that there is a lot of growth at the web. Sometimes the small base dies are necessary, although I've never had an issue with this dimension in Lee dies.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2013
  6. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    Are you sure you were properly lubing the cases and running them through the full die length?
  7. ranger335v

    ranger335v Well-Known Member

    "And this helps answer the question or solve the problem, how? "

    Some people have something to say. Some others just have to say something! :cool:

    I've loaded since the mid 60s and have 50+ die sets in many brands, including Lee; I've never seen any functional difference between any brand of sizers.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2013
  8. TNBilly

    TNBilly Well-Known Member

    Hasn't been mention so far in this thread but you haven't mentioned what the brass is other than mixed head stamps. Hardness can vary some to a lot depending.... some of the foreign brands run a little harder for sure. Every time the brass is fired/resized it'll be harder. I've gotten in the habit of re-annealing every second loading on brass I care about. Another little lesson I've learned from military brass (lots of unknowns) is to size it till it quits resisting! The brass varies widely in hardness so if it sizes hard I'll rotate the case after the first time in the sizer and size it again. Real tough stuff even a third rotation/sizing. I think you'll find the cases will be lots more consistent doing this.
  9. James2

    James2 Well-Known Member

    I can only suggest:

    When adjusting the sizing die, run the ram up to top of stroke, then turn the die in until it hits the shell holder, then lower the ram and turn the die in another turn and set the lock nut. This will give you full length sizing consistently. The extra turn is to compensate for any give or spring in the press. In order to get full length sizing the shell holder has to touch the die when full up. Any brand of dies I have ever used..... same thing. They all work the same.
  10. JohnhenrySTL

    JohnhenrySTL Well-Known Member

    I went through a similar problem in opposite order of you. I had more problems than I care to explain, as I was attempting to reload .308 rounds for my AR.

    I started off with a redding die set. I wanted to stick with Lee, but I was talked into redding. No matter what I tried my brass would either bulge or have no neck tension as I ran the cases through the full length sizer.
    I ended up in contact with Redding. I had a bad die from the factory. I bought a lee and have had great results. I still have not been able to successfully to re-size .308s to chamber my ar using the redding die set. However, the Redding neck sizer works great for my bolt gun.

    Maybe you have a bad die? Perhaps you should take it apart and clean it? Maybe some small got out of touch within the die. This has helped me before.

    The point of my story is, I feel your frustration. Lol
  11. kerreckt

    kerreckt Well-Known Member

    After looking over my process. I have come to the conclusion that my problems were caused by flexing in the press. Just as poster #7 (stubbicat) speculated. I was using a Lyman "All American" press. I have used it to resize .223 but never anything larger. I set up my RCBS JR3 with the Lee dies and the problem disappeared. This was the same press I set up with the Redding dies. Not a die problem but a press problem. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. I learned a lot from everyone's ideas and suggestions. It is comforting to know that there are so many smart reloaders out there willing to give their time to others. Many thanks and best wishes...
  12. fguffey

    fguffey Well-Known Member

    “My set up was my usual that normally works. Any ideas or thoughts about this problem will be appreciated because I am totally baffled. Best wishes and a healthy, happy fourth of July to all”

    “Any ideas or thoughts about this problem will be appreciated because I am totally baffled” “My set-up....” I do not have a clue as to how you set-up your dies. I will assume your way is different than my way because I do not have the problem, I do/can determine if the case was sized to minimum length before I lower the ram.

    243winxb has a commercial recommendation, more tools, I do not agree, I believe there are less expensive solutions, I recommended the reloader get all the use out of the tools they own.

    “To find the problem some tools are needed. Comparator to check head to datum length. A micrometer to check body diameters. SAAMI drawing with measurements”

    Then there was Howland’s contribution.

    A reloader can determine if the case won or the press won if the die is adjusted to the shell holder. Again, I was asked to help with sizing some cases, there was nothing suspect about the press, it was a RCBS A2, bump type/cam over press, the cases were whipping the press by .017”, meaning, with the die screwed down an additional 1/2 turn after contact there was a gap of .017” between the top of the shell holder and bottom of the die. Getting the ram up when sizing and lowering the ram ‘AND!’ pulling the sizer ball through the neck was accomplished by entering in to mortal combat between the owner/user of the press, the press and case. It is not easy to tell a friend he has some bad habits, the first tool I ask for was a feeler gage, between us there are not many tools, that exist, we do not have, the thing that keeps us both humble is on occasions he will call and ask for a rare and or obsolete set of dies I do not have.

    F. Guffey
  13. fguffey

    fguffey Well-Known Member

    243winxb, “A micrometer to check body diameters”:

    243winxb, the case body is tapered. The should is tapered, again, I am the fan of getting all the use I can out of a tool, I do not recommend using a micrometer to measure the tapered case body. I do make tools that measure the diameter of a taper, I can modify a micrometer to a configuration that allows me to measure the diameter of a taper anywhere from one end to the other end, just wondering how do your measure the diameter of a taper.

    I also have a machine that grinds angles, tapers and makes straight pilots, for making head space type gages it also is a butt grinder.

    F. Guffey
  14. x_wrench

    x_wrench Well-Known Member

    i have a lot of Lee products also. most of the time, most of it works like it should. i have never had the exact problem that you are describing. but the one thing that comes to my mind, is the one part about lee dies i do not care much for. their o-ring "lock ring". it can and will allow for a certain amount of play in dies. how ever much slop is in the threads, is how much the die can move, unless you have the o-ring fully compressed. and if it is all the way compressed, guess what, you now have a metal to metal lock ring. on ALL of my sizing dies, i use the Hornady locking ring. once they are set up correctly, there is no reason to change the adjustment. and the Hornady rings lock them up solid. try reversing the Lee die ring, and snug it down with a wrench, and see if it does it again. if not, you may have found a no cost cure.
  15. fguffey

    fguffey Well-Known Member

    “I don't want this to turn into a Lee products bashing session”

    At his request, no bashing, please. Remove the ring, turn the lock nut over with the flat side down.

    F. Guffey
  16. ranger335v

    ranger335v Well-Known Member

    I'm often puzzled about the agony Lee's die lock rings seem cause some folk. Personally, I couldn't care less, they work fine and I neither love nor hate them. I do read on the net that some people like Lee rings so well they put them on all of their dies.
  17. RealGun

    RealGun Well-Known Member

    If you have the Lee lock rings more than finger tight, the O-ring can be compressed. When loading, the press will first relieve the O-ring compression before really hitting a "locked condition" against the die threads. That couldn't be much but might be a few thousandths. Pure speculation, but I think it is worth considering.

    I don't suggest discarding the O-rings but rather just advise against wrench tightening by much.

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