I've spent a few more hours with the .223 Rem LEE Collet die.With the die way below touching the shell holder the case goes in over the mandrel, the ram goes up to a full stop and the collet-I think-is fully compressed. The collet is compressed-ram at full stop-without a lot of force/ (I am, by the way, enormously strong.) Some cases do NOT show any/much resistance going over the mandrel, either before or after going to a full stop. These cases don't size, and no measurement I can make tells me why. Maybe it doesn't matter-these cases are on the way to recycle land.Is that my problem with the collet die? Should the cases be tested for resistance on the mandrel-tried in the die-and rejected if there's no resistance? I'm just not getting it. Others love the Lee collet die.
LEE COLLET DIE
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- Last Post 24 December 2013
Five cases with no resistance to the mandrel, necks OD measured .2465"-.2475” Full length sized the neck OD was .2450"-.2465". After FL sizing there WAS plenty of resistance as the case necks went over the mandrel. Were the case necks to hard/springy for the Collet die? Six cases with no resistance to the mandrel measured .2455"-2485". Annealed, still no resistance to the mandrel. FL sized, .2450"-2475", plenty of resistance to the mandrel. The gun has a very tight neck, there is very little expansion after firing. It looks like some cases must be sized before the collet die works; or sent to the recycler. I'm sending. Still puzzled.
It takes some pressure to compress the collet before it contacts the case. Try a little more depth on the die and make sure there is lube on the conical sections of the die. You might also check the diameters of the mandrel and the actual collet inside dia.
Joe here's an explanation on how to adjust the Lee die from BR Central. I've provided a link to the whole thread at the bottom. Using The Lee Collet Die. I started using Lee collet dies when they first came on the market and have found that they are very good for the purposes for which they were designed . I have found that there is a lack of understanding of how to use the die properly and as a result people fail to see the advantages that the die can deliver over standard neck sizing dies. This is not the fault of the product , it is just a lack of understanding of how the die works and what it will feel like when you operate the press correctly. Standard dies use a neck expanding ball on the decapping rod and size by extruding the neck through a hole and then drag the expander ball back through the inside neck. The collet die achieves neck sizing by using a split collet to squeeze the outside of the case neck onto a central mandrel which has the decapping pin in it's base . One advantage is that there is no stretching or drawing action on the brass. The inside neck diameter is controlled by the diameter of the mandrel and to some extent by the amount of adjustment of the die and the pressure applied to the press . This results in less misalignment than can occur in standard dies because of any uneven neck wall thickness in the cases . Cases will last longer in the neck area and require less trimming. If cases have very uneven neck wall thickness then this can cause problems for the collet die they definitely work smoother and more accurately with neck turned cases but it is not essential. When you first receive the die unscrew the top cap and pull it apart check that everything is there also that the splits in the collet have nothing stuck in them then inspect the tapered surface on the top end of the collet and the internal taper of the insert to make sure there are no metal burs that might cause it to jamb. Next get some good quality high pressure grease and put a smear onto the tapered surface of the collet . Put it back together and screw it into the press just a few threads for now . The best type of press for this die is a press of moderate compound leverage that travels over centre . Over centre means that when the ram reaches its full travel up it will stop and come back down a tiny amount even though the movement on the handle is continued through to the stop . eg. is an RCBS Rockchucker. This arrangement gives the best feel for a collet die sizing operation. Place the shell holder in the ram and bring the ram up to full height then screw the die down until the collet skirt just touches on the shell holder , then lower the ram . Take a case to be sized that has a clean neck inside and out and the mouth chamfered and place it in the shell holder. Raise the ram gently feeling for resistance if none , lower the ram. Screw the die down a bit at a time . If you get lock up ( ram stops before going over centre) before the correct position is found then back it off and make sure the collet is loose and not jammed up in the die before continuing then raise the ram feeling for any resistance , keep repeating this until you feel the press handle resist against the case neck just at the top of the stroke as the press goes over centre and the handle kinder locks in place . This takes much less force than a standard die and most people don't believe any sizing has taken place . Take the case out and try a projectile of the correct caliber to see how much sizing has taken place. If it's still too loose adjust the die down one eighth of a turn lock it finger tight only and try again . Once the die is near the correct sizing position it takes very little movement of the die to achieve changes in neck seating tension . This is where most people come undone , they move the die up and down too much and it either locks up or doesn't size at all . It will still size a case locking it up but you have no control over how much pressure is applied and some people lean on the press handle to the point of damaging the die. A press like the RCBS Rockchucker , that goes over centre each time gives you a definite stopping point for the ram and the pressure that you apply . There is a small sweet spot for correct collet die adjustment and you must find it , once found , how sweet it is ! Advantages : With a press that travels over centre it is possible to adjust the neck seating tension within a very limited zone. No lubricant is normally required on the case necks during sizing .
If you still cant get enough neck tension to hold the bullet properly for a particular purpose then you will have to polish down the mandrel. Be careful poilishing the mandrel down and only do it a bit at a time as a few thou can be removed pretty quickly if you overdo it. You can't get extra neck tension by just applying more force. The amount of adjustment around the sweet spot is very limited and almost not noticable without carrying out tests. For example , to go from a .001 neck tension to a .002 or .003 neck tension you would be talking about polishing down the mandrel.
There are some other advantages but I will leave you the pleasure of discovering them . One disadvantage that I have found with the collet die is that it needs good vertical alignment of the case as it enters the die or case damage may result so go slowly. Also some cases with a very thick internal base can cause problems with the mandrel coming in contact with the internal base before the sizing stroke is finished. If pressure is continued the mandrel can push up against the top cap and cause damage . If you are getting lock up and cant get the right sizing sweet spot, then check that the mandrel is not too long for the case you can place a washer over the case and onto the shell holder and size down on that. It will reduce the length of neck sized and give the mandrel more clearance. If it sizes Ok after adding the washer then the mandrel could be hitting the base. This is not a usually problem once you learn how to use them . The harder the brass is the more spring back it will have so very hard brass will exhibit less sizing than soft brass because it will spring away from the mandrel more. If this is happening to excess then use new cases or anneal the necks. Freshly annealed brass can drag on the mandrel a bit in certain cases because it will spring back less and result in a tighter size diameter. I have experienced it. I always use some dry lube on the inside and outside if I get any draging effect . Normally you dont need lube. I make up a special batch 1/3 Fine Moly powder. 1/3 Pure graphite. 1/3 Aluminiumised lock graphite. Rub your fingers around the neck and It sticks very well to the necks by just dipping it in and out and tapping it to clear the inside neck . After a few cases it coats up the mandrel . Other dry lubricants would work also. Use the same process for normal neck sizing also.
I noticed a definite improvement in the accuracy of my 22-250Rem. as soon as I started using a Lee collet die instead of my original standard neck die. Readers are encouraged to utilise the benefits of responsible reloading at all times. Although the author has taken care in the writing of these articles no responsibility can be taken by the author or publisher as a result of the use of this information.
Two things to not do when using the Lee collet die. #1 once you have the die adjusted don't move the ram all the way up without a case in the shellholder. This will compress the collet fingers and without a case the fingers don't retract. Next case neck hits the edges of the fingers and you have a case with an inverted shoulder. Disassemble the die and spread the fingers. #2 Cases with seriously undersize flasholes won't let the decapping pin enter and the mandrel can push the top cap out of the die body. Not a design fault. Operator error.
Remember that there is one common error that permanently ruins Lee collet dies mentioned in the Lee instructions. If you close your press with the recommended force and have no shell in the shell holder that the collet is badly damaged, squished and bent out of alignment and will no longer work by following directions until the collet is repaired or more likely replaced.
Your odd results read like you have ruined the collet in the die!!!!!!! It only takes once to do this to the die and can easily be missed as the cause of the odd results you are getting. The die will NOT work properly after the collet is damaged.
What press are you using Joe? A turret press with a multi-station shell plate or a progressive press with the Lee Collet Die set too low will allow the press to over activate the collet and damage it when another operation is being done on the press. This is overcome with press setup in order of dies and steps to avoid the over activation and damage to the collet in the Lee Collet Neck Sizing Die. If you add this die last and don't change the whole press setup in order you will mash the collet and ruin it the first time the press is operated with no shell in the collet die.
Make sure you understand how the parts of the die work and how the die can be over activated by an incorrect press setup that will mash the collet if an incorrect setup has been used. Perhaps you just installed the collet die and ran the press, That will ruin the collet die, all the dies have to be removed reset to work correctly after the collet die and in order or there is damage to the collet.
The case resistance on the mandrel you mention is relative to case condition before sizing. Some will be easy, others will bump past and be expanded by the mandrel. Some with ignored dented case mouths will fold and self destruct. They should have been at least flared round first if they were bad.
However, after that, they will all be squeezed and neck sized by the collet if your die is not damaged and it is set and operated correctly.
I hope you learn to operate and like these Lee Collet Neck Sizing Dies. I sure like them a lot and they operate just fine for me.
Thanks to all. I understand all the above, the collet isn't damaged, the press is either RCBS JR. or a Huntington Compact Press. Everything is set up correctly. The mandrel measures .222"-.2225". I can't figure out how to measure the ID of the collet.Some cases don't size. They're on the way to recycle land.All necks are now turned, slightly.I'll load and shoot come cases and see if the Lee collet die then works.Thanks;joe b.
Five cases with no resistance to the mandrel, necks OD measured .2465"-.2475” Full length sized the neck OD was .2450"-.2465". After FL sizing there WAS plenty of resistance as the case necks went over the mandrel.
Were the case necks to hard/springy for the Collet die?
Six cases with no resistance to the mandrel measured .2455"-2485". Annealed, still no resistance to the mandrel. FL sized, .2450"-2475", plenty of resistance to the mandrel.
The gun has a very tight neck, there is very little expansion after firing.
It looks like some cases must be sized before the collet die works; or sent to the recycler. I'm sending. Still puzzled.
The ranges of OD before sizing you mention are very close to mine AFTER sizing. 223 fired cases from all of my factory rifles are always in the neighborhood of .253". So you are right your neck is tight. Do those cases with an OD= .245-6” need to be neck sizes at all to hold the bullet with reasonable tension?
What are the ODs of cases from your Savage? Have you tried sizing them with the collet die? If fired cases from the Savage are .245 - 6". I think the neck portion of your chamber is maybe out of spec. (on the small side) since I have never seen such ODs except from a bench gun I have with a tight necked chamber. Even with brass workhardened to the point of starting to have neck splits, and very mild (5 grains of 700X) loads, the case necks OD always seem to be .253” or larger in factory chambers.
Your mandrel for the .223 Lee Collet Neck sizing Die measures correct at .222-.2225"
Normal fired brass size has a larger neck inside diameter than the mandrel and the brass is squeezed by the Lee collet to the mandrel. Next, the amount of spring-back from being Collet neck sized depends on the condition of your brass.
If your collet is not damaged as you state and you have brass that is giving resistance when the mandrel goes into the case, this is not a die problem at all. this is a brass problem due to your chamber size or neck wall thickness of the brass. Some serious measurements of your chamber and brass will determine the culprit for you.
It is NOT that the die is not sizing the brass as you say for some of those troublesome cases Joe. It is that your troublesome brass is not in a normal state to be neck sized. The troublesome brass is too small in the neck after firing. It will not spring back normally as brass that is the normal size after being fired. It will still be undersize after sizing because the spring back won't happen with brass in the pre-sizing condition you have described.
Unless you have a specific reason for wanting a rifle that does that to brass, recycling the rifle or chamber reaming to standard would be just as productive as recycling the brass.
Joe, a chamber of a size that does that to normal ,223 brass is fine for jacketed bullets and may be a good performer with jacketed bullets as nominal jacketed bullet diameter is .001” bigger than bore G to G inside diameter, Cast bullets need to be larger, .002-.004” larger than G to G inside bore diameter to deter gas jetting. A chamber that does what yours is doing to brass won't allow that size cast bullet or will change the bullet size. If this rifle is the one that you cannot get to shoot well with cast bullets with all the molds you have tried and posted about, your chamber size in that rifle is the reason. A chamber size that leaves brass necks undersize for a collet neck sizing die will cause cast bullets to gas jet when they reach the bore and you will have poor accuracy regardless of mold selection for cast bullets in that rifle.
You have a situation similar to a revolver with a tight spot where the barrel is fitted to the frame and does the same thing to cast bullets as your rifle is doing. The revolver will really be a poor accuracy performer with cast bullets till the tight spot is corrected. Your rifle will be a poor accuracy performer with cast bullets till the tight spot is corrected.
I can understand Joe's difficulty. His chamber and brass are out of the bell curve of statistics too far to be “normal” for Lee Collet Neck Sizing dies and he expected the normal excellent results from these dies.
We both know that the dies are fine from our experience but these dies are relatively new to Joe. He will get it just fine, I am sure, just as soon as he tries them with a normal chamber rifle and normal fire formed brass.
I see you have deleted your comment, it was relevant but a bit harsh.
Well, we ought to have Joe throughly confused now with the different approaches to using the collet die. Reading all the helpful advice must be like trying to drink from a fire hose.
To me what comes out of this discussion is that there is more than one way to skin a cat -- or use a collet die. Lee meant for it to be used by the collet squeezing the neck down on the mandrel while the decapping pin was in the flash hole of the case to provide alignment (never mind that some flash holes aren't centered). I assume that when busted dies started coming back by misuse, especially in presses that go “over center” because they provide tremendous leverage near the end of the stroke Lee changed the directions that come with the dies to eliminate the over center feature by turning the die down two full turns so you never reached the ” over center” point. They also started specifying the 25 pounds of pressure max. Earlier directions mentioned neither issue. You could argue that Lee method is the “correct” way to use the die as explained by Gary and you would be right. However, the method outlined in Pat's post by the guy using a press with the dreaded “over center” design obviously works for him as well. I also don't use the “correct” method and don't always mash the case neck down on the mandrel. I also find that neck sizing by my method only requires about five pounds of force on the press handle with presses that don't go over center although I used to use one that did go over center with no problems. The neck OD on my brass after sizing varies less than .001” practically all the time and is otherwise completely satisfactory. The die was bought the year after Lee put them on the market has sized at least 30K cases and is still working perfectly. Just because there are more than one way to successfully use the die doesn't mean you can't misuse them of course. John
It certainly appears that Joe's chamber neck is tight, .252 to .253” would be more like the diameter for the normal clearances.Once had a .250” neck diameter,was supposed to be the minimum diameter for Lapua brass without neck turning,I saw no benefit from it,this was with jacketed target loads.I measured some loaded rounds with PMC cases and .224” jacketed projectiles,six cases went from .2455 to..246",fired cases were basically .252".One thing I noticed with a few cases fired with GC loads,you could almost tell the pressure of the load,as the low pressure loads barely expanded on firing and the more powerful ones expanded to around the same as jacketed ones. I have only used a cam over type press for Lee Collet dies,until a friend put me onto the method published earlier,I had no idea as what to do,or how much load to put on the handle. Now it is easy.In time I will try the Lee method as I have a Lee Turret Classic press,yet to be used.Mike.
If it's a tight neck gun then either a neck bushing die is needed or necks with a tad more thickness so no sizing is needed and the bullets pushed in by hand.
Dear Joe, I have noticed you kick back and seem to study numerous responses before with other subjects and then come back with a melee of disagreement and criticism. Consider not doing that this time. Many are trying to help you here constructively with this one.
You mention back in your response #8,"I can't figure out how to measure the ID of the collet"
Collet ID is irrelevant to case sizing with Lee Collet Neck Sizing Dies. The collet only functions to squeeze the brass against the mandrel. The collet will do this correctly unless it has been damaged or the die is set incorrectly. The inside diameter of the collet changes as the die functions. The collet closes on operation till the brass and the mandrel stop the collet.
If the collet has been damaged or deformed and needs adjustment, remember the collet is just slits in a cylindrical part. Bent fingers should be adjusted to match the rest of the cylindrical part. No measurement is necessary. Or, if the fingers are seriously mashed and can't be re-adjusted to function correctly, you need a new part from Lee. For .223 Rem it is part# NS2602 @ $9. Every part of the die is replacable, so, if you have even turned down the mandrel experimenting and want to replace it, a new one in the standard size is only $4. If the collet sleeve has been damaged or over polished for any reason that part is also only $4 to replace.
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