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Noob die and cleaning question

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Centurian22, Nov 24, 2012.

  1. Centurian22

    Centurian22 Well-Known Member

    Ok I've ordered all my equipment including an ultrasonic cleaner, I will be reloading for .308 mostly and a little for .32S&W long. I am trying to piece together my order of operations. I want to clean my cases in the ultrasonic after decapping so it will clean the primer pockets as well and avoid trapping water around the old primers; however, decapping is tied to resizing either neck or full length (unless I purchase a universal decapping die) and I'm concerned with dirtying or damaging my resizing die (over time) if the cases aren't clean.

    My main question is do the lee neck and full length resizing dies for .308 contact the case ONLY on the outside or does some part (aside from the decapping pin) make any contact on the inside? My thought if they only contact the outside is to just wipe the outside with a rag, decap/resize, trim if needed, deburr flash hole if needed, deburr, chamfer, brush the inside of the neck, clean the primer pockets with a twist or two, then toss in the Ultrasonic cleaner. If the resizing dies contact the inside and the outside then thanks to being OCD I will be inclined to run a cycle in the ultrasonic cleaner, dry, decap/resize, go through all case prep mentioned above and then go through another cycle in the ultrasonic cleaner to make sure the primer pockets get clean and to wash all brass trimmings shavings etc. out of the cases.

    Experienced reloaders (especially anyone using an ultrasonic) please help me out here.
  2. 45lcshooter

    45lcshooter Well-Known Member

    Inside the dies are a piloet. When you push the case into the die, the neck goes into the piloet. Example: you have a case where the neck is pushed in, when you put it in the die, the piloet will form it back to where it should be, from inside the case to the outside of the case.
  3. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    Most rifle dies do three operations. When inserting the case into the die, the outside of the case is resized and the primer is removed. As the case is withdrawn from the case, an expander button expands the neck of the case to the proper diameter that will hold the bullet.

    Rifle dies come in neck sizing and full sizing. Neck sizing is reserved to actions such as bolt rifles and only resize the neck of the case. Neck sizing is not appropriate for semi-auto rifles, slide action rifles, or lever action rifles.

    There are rifle dies with replaceable bushings for the neck. You select the bushing to give you the proper sizing of the neck without the need for the expander button.

    Generally, I clean my cases after firing but before resizing just so the range grime does not damage my dies. I then clean the cases again after resizing but before loading. Folks frequently omit one of those steps without issue. Just a personal preference.

    I used to use an ultra-sonic cleaner decades ago and it does clean the cases. I am not sure about the cleaning elixirs that are available today, but the cleaners I used did not shine the case. I prefer to tumble my cases in either a dry vibrating tumbler or a wet, stainless steel pin process. Clean and shiny.

    The wet processes take time to allow the cases to thoroughly dry, in my case, I let them dry for several days. Every so often you will read about a fellow who tries to force dry his cases only to ruin them by over heating them. As they say, "Haste makes waste".

    Hope this helps.
  4. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Well-Known Member

    The Lee neck sizing die only contacts the brass on the inside (mandrel) and outside (collet) of the neck. The full length sizer does contact the whole side of the casing as far as it goes into the die. IIRC you said you were getting Lee dies. You could use your FL sizing die (any brand) and put the die in the press upside down (screw it in from the bottom) with the decapping pin sticking down (with the decapping rod sticking out what would have been the top if right side up) to decap without having any other contact as long as it will fit in the press that way. Or use a little bit of 000 steel wool and polish the brass and remove any bad stuff before putting it in the die. FWIW the dies are hardened and most stuff you would normally get on them will not hurt the dies if you simply wipe them off with a rag before you lube them. Also the carbide pistol die is darn near indestructible anyway. I bet after a few cycles your OCD will be a bit calmed down your dies are really not that fragile.:D

    BTW you can use your 308 sizing die to act as a universal decapping die for your 32 S&W brass. But not the other way around.
  5. Jake in TX

    Jake in TX Well-Known Member

    Another option is the Lee decapping die. With the proper shell holder, it can decap most cartridge cases. I use one for 22 Hornet on up. It does not touch the case, except for the inside of the case mouth and neck on some calibers.
  6. GLOOB

    GLOOB Well-Known Member

    Jake's got it right. To do what you want without triggering your OCD, decap, first. You do not necessarily need a new die, either. IIRC, I have decapped 223 using a LEE 45ACP sizing die - though, I could be misremembering. 308 could very well be too long for most pistol dies. But perhaps you have something else that will work, already. 500SW mag?

    Another option to be aware of is the Lyman M die. What you do is to swap out your decapping rod with a universal decapping rod or one for a smaller caliber. Then your sizing die sizes and decaps, only. You flare with the M die in a separate step.
  7. Centurian22

    Centurian22 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for all the replies so far. It's nice to know that I won't be the only one who washes my brass twice if my OCD wins out and it's also nice to know that the dies should be tough enough to not be damaged if I don't wash first. 98% of my brass has never even touched the ground and those few cases that have, were on a swept concrete floor. Worse case scenario I will spend the $11 on a universal decapping die.

    Frogo: thanks for the .308 for .32 decapping tip! That will come in handy.
  8. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Well-Known Member

    These days I use my 500 S&W sizing die for a universal decapping die for my other brass as long as it will fit length wise. I saved that $11 plus shipping.:)
  9. Centurian22

    Centurian22 Well-Known Member

    I don't have a 500S&W, nor after firing one twice, do I ever intend on owning one. As for the shipping I would just include it in another order or buy local (if possible).
  10. James2

    James2 Well-Known Member

    Much of my shooting has been hunting or plinking. The fired brass went into a pocket. By the time I get home it had been jostled around in the pocket for who knows how long? That is cleaning enough. Just size them, wipe the sizing lube off with a cotton rag and load them.

    Really there is seldom more than a little soot on brass anyway, so why worry about cleaning? It has never been a big issue here. I just load them. Yes, the vibrators shine them up, but dark brass works just as well as shiny brass.

    There are exceptions if the brass was dropped in mud or has been on the ground for months. A little steel wool shines up real dark brass, and check the inside for spiders.

    I have only been loading for 55 years and have never washed brass with water.

    Also, I have loaded some brass for its useful lifetime with never cleaning a primer pocket. That project can be over emphasized too. They usually seat deep enough whether the pocket is cleaned or not. I have never seen a flash hole plugged. A little soot in there doesn't matter. Brass with crimped primers are needing the pocket reamed the first time they are loaded.

    The point is, put as much or as little effort into cleaning as you wish. Whatever turns your crank. You are, after all, the judge and jury on your own reloads.
  11. Centurian22

    Centurian22 Well-Known Member

    James: I greatly appreciate the input from someone who has "only" been reloading for 55 years. I have only been researching reloading for about a year or so and often found myself caught on the fence between both sides of a discussion about a certain step, like cleaning flash holes. I am (sometimes unfortunately) a perfectionist, but I strive to be realistic and efficient as well. I would describe my shooting plans as a little above 'plinking'. If / when I am able to find a good load for my rifle and hone my skills further I would love to enter a factory rifle competition. I also would like to pursue some "long range" shooting. I use quotes because on here its probably more accurate to refer to it as medium range. 200-500 yards or more if I am able to find somewhere to shoot it. Here in Maine it's rare to see more than about 100 yards. The exception being farms, powerlines and abandoned air fields.

    I appreciate your "to each his own" approach and I know for me I will start by allowing my perfectionism / OCD to have its way with me and then as I am comfortable, I may start dropping some steps that people like yourself have 'demonstrated' may be unnecessary. Again I greatly appreciate the experience and reply as it shows me another 'data point' of what's out there.
  12. James2

    James2 Well-Known Member

    When I started reloading the guy at the sporting goods store helped me pick out some bare minimum tools. First on the list was a Lyman Manual. He simply said, "Read and follow the steps in the book."

    That is what I did. There was no step that said clean the brass. It was lube the brass then size it, which deprimed it too, then reprime, load the powder and seat the bullet. Seemed simple enough to me and it worked.

    There was no internet, and I was not getting any magazines at the time, and had no tutors, so I just went for it as set forth in the manual.

    Hey, I did a lot of shooting in those early days. I shot the 30-30 and 44 Spl like most kids shot their 22LR.

    As time went by I did get some magazines and many years later got on the internet and was exposed to some of the ideas that people had about sorting bullets for weight, sorting brass for weight, cleaning brass, polishing brass, washing brass, etc. Problem was I had already been making ammo that was more accurate than factory ammo, and I tried playing with some of these ideas with not enough improvement to matter. I guess if you were into serious bench rest shooting you may see some diff, but for me it wasn't worth the effort and time.

    This is why I said, suit yourself. (I say this about cleaning. I would never say that about any step that was a safety matter. We definitely need to pay attention to detail when reloading) It is a great hobby, and there is a certain amount of pride and pleasure that goes along with assembling your own ammo, and especially seeing how it performs. I hope you can enjoy it as much as I have.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2012

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