Best Dies for concentric CB seating

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  • Last Post 13 March 2024
SkinnerD posted this 08 March 2024

I just picked up a new long coveted Uberti Highwall Sporter in 38-55 WCF. I have Lee Pacesetter dies and 3 different 250gn purchased bullets all miking close to or at .379 dia. Two are powder coated, one is Cast, gas checked and lubed. One of the PC bullets tends to slightly bulge one side of the case. Taking great care with my stubby fingers I get a lesser incidence of this but still happens. These are the most readily available bullets commercially and to the eye look the best made, most uniform. I get the same result setting up in a Lee Hole Cast Classic and a RCBS Summit SS.. Clearly there is something I can't spot with this bullet over the other two. My case mouths are slightly flared and no great force is required to seat. 50m groups are acceptable with best at 1.5in but I want touching (don't want much) at 50m to do well at 200.

In other calibres I have Hornady dies with the drop down tube that nicely captures the projectile and guides it up into the seater. Expensive tho in 38-55 but I'm beginning to think worth the $$

Interested in what others are using successfully and whether the slight offcentre bulging matters so much?

Gear is hard to come by in NZ at the mo. I may well have got the last Lee 38-55 available here recently, $125NZD. Lyman are available at $145 and Hornady series IV at $245. I'd love to know what others rate highly for flat base cast bullets in the 30 plus Cal range.

Cheers

John - New Zealand

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admiral posted this 08 March 2024

What size is the expander plug on your die set? Many 38-55 die sets have an expander plug set up for .375" jacketed bullets. I have a Lyman and RCBS set that came that way. I ended up making a larger expander plug (.380") for the Lyman die and RCBS sent me a .379" expander that come standard with the Cowboy die sets for my green box die set.

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Duane Mellenbruch posted this 08 March 2024

Consider removing the seating stem from the seat/crimp die and examine the fit on the nose of the bullets you have in hand.  It is possible that if the nose is not held firmly aligned, it will tilt and cause the bulge when seating the bullet while it is allowed to lean to the side.  It might be that you are focused on the wrong end of the bullet.

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Bud Hyett posted this 08 March 2024

The .38-55 is a fabled cartridge. popular before the SAAMI specifications came out. Today we have a mish-mash of drawings, both cartridge and chamber, that can lead you anywhere. I had a Remington Rolling Block that one day would shoot sub-minute at 200 yards and the next day shoot Improved Cylinder. This caused me to investigate and I found something interesting.

Looking at the cartridge and chamber drawings, you see there is no neck. This is a straight-taper cartridge. If you can get it in the chamber, it is correct. To gain accuracy, I used .375 Winchester dies that have a short neck. 

 

Farm boy from Illinois, living in the magical Pacific Northwest

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SkinnerD posted this 08 March 2024

Thks folk for the replies. I'll work thru the questions/ suggest and report back.

John - New Zealand

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4060may posted this 08 March 2024

might be best to slug the barrel

my friend has one of those with double set triggers, his original barrel slugged at .381 groove dia,

rifling looked like it was  threaded instead of rifled ,replacement barrel from Taylor is nice still at .380

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Premod70 posted this 08 March 2024

The main consideration to accurate lead bullet seating is the cleanliness of the seater and how to keep it so. As for what make seater I doubt there is enough difference to show up at the target.

Forrest Gump is my smarter brother.

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MP1886 posted this 08 March 2024

I'm going to tell you the best seater die in my opinion and that the Forster Benchrest Seater. What I do when I use it for cast in which the bullet is oversized then the jacketed I ream out the hole of the bullet seating tool as needed. As you know this is an inline seater. A tip, instead of buying one for another caliber you can buy the inserts seperately.  They have two sizes of those dies, one for the smaller cases such as 223 and the other for the larger cases such as 30-06. They are also very easy to keep clean.  Just unscrew the the upper part of the die, careful not to lose the spring, then clean it like the bore a firearm. I also have two inserts for each caliber because if I'm loading jacketed I don't want to use the more lose insert setup for the larger diameter cast.  Best affordable inline seater there is for the money. 

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fa38 posted this 09 March 2024

Wilson makes a very good inline seater die. You need an arbor press to use it.

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Tom Acheson posted this 09 March 2024

I’m a fan of minimal case work after firing, before loading the case again. Usually just a slight mouth flaring or run a Lyman VLD tapered inside case mouth de-burring tool is all that’s needed. This works for all my cases except one…..38-55 Remington Rolling Block.

 

If I don’t do anything to the case, as I seat the bullet, it falls into the case. This is overcome by full length sizing the case. This removes the slight taper of the case in the upper half of the case.

 

The barrel is a full octagon Green Mountain 1:12 twist. In hindsight I probably should have sought a match reamer that didn’t have the original taper. 

 

What has to be done works but it would be better, for me anyway, to be able to avoid the full length sizing step.

 

Tom

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SkinnerD posted this 09 March 2024

Thks Tom, I have a local acquaintance who swears he does not resize, just slips the bullet in with the seater. He is however shooting a rebarreled Martini action rifle. One he bought second hand. I'm guessing his chamber does not resemble mine lol.

Without resizing the bullets would drop into my cases as well. After I FL sized the first small batch, lubing the full length with Lees resizing lube (my favourite for all), the brass sized so easily and it looked like the brass was only contacting the die in the neck area. Here the lube was scraped off and the brass quite shiny. The rest of the case as fired. So the next batch I decided to save lube and just roll my fingers around the first third, more than covering the neck area. Darn! That first case was as close to being stuck as you can get. I really thought I was going to rip the rim off in the shell holder! So back to lubing the length. At a couple of bucks each they are not to be lightly wasted eh. As to longevity. I know the brass is thin. I am wondering if it will have a similar life to say 38Sp, 9mm and 357mag. The 9mm is tapered, the others straight wall and while obviously shorter by a lot, the amount of resizing is similar. I have 38 and 357 brass that would have been reloaded well over 100 times. The older 38 stuff I get a small percentage of splits, mainly because I load them heavy for goat hunting. I don't recollect ever seeing a failed 9mm case, no doubt the short length is a large factor. Nevertheless it gives me hope of a reasonably long life for the 38-55.

Thanks for the insights. J.

John - New Zealand

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SkinnerD posted this 09 March 2024

Further to the above, people keep referencing the Lee FL Sizing die as having a expander button including in several threads I've read elsewhere. My brand new Lee Pacesetter die simply has a decapping rod, no expander button at all. Same as Pistol calibre dies such as 44-40 and 45 Colt etc.

Is there commonly a thing such as 38-55 FL Sizing dies with an expander button?

John - New Zealand

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Tom Acheson posted this 11 March 2024

Short revisit to this topic....

Looked through my 38-55 notes. There are (3098) rounds through it using a batch of (200) cases. That calculates to about 15+ firings of each case. They get annealed every fall, following match season. So far not one case lost to splits, etc.

Tom

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admiral posted this 11 March 2024

I have never seen a straight wall case die set that has an expander button like a bottleneck die set. Only ones I have seen are built like big pistol die sets. Have you measured your die's expander diameter yet? I'm 99% sure it's far too undersized to load a .379" diameter bullet causing your case neck bulges when seating.

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SkinnerD posted this 11 March 2024

Hi Admiral, if there is no expander button the die does not expand so nothing to measure- right?

There is only a decapping rod. Therefore the die works to resize only by swaging the brass back to a SAMMI dimension for diameter. If the brass is too small in internal diameter to seat bullets properly then the options would be to change dies, ream the inside of the die, or ream the inside of the brass. However...

I completed my second incremental load test yesterday just with the bullets giving bulging issues when seated. Had some good results too which I will pursue.

Back home I went to make a reference round with a piece of now twice fired Starline brass. This to be able to make and check rounds against from fire-formed 30-30 brass. Heeding what others have indicated I did not resize the piece of Starline brass. The bullet would not insert into the neck with just finger pressure so I used my Lee seating die. Lo, the bullet inserted cleanly with no bulging, and the neck tension is excellent. Nor did I flare the case mouth.

Not only is there no side bulge but there is no bulge that is typical from loading cast bullets necessarily oversized in many calibres, found the length of the seated part of the bullet to its base. Instead the outside of the brass at the mouth is smooth and uniform.

I am going to end my participation in this thread here, with thanks to you all. There is a thread on my local forum, NZ Hunting & Shooting where I posted a report on my new Uberti 38-55 Highwall Sporter including a range report for first shots. I will soon be updating that with yesterday's effort and result of the last half of my incremental load test. With AR2207 (Reloder 7 equivalent). You can find that post here

https://www.nzhuntingandshooting.co.nz/f15/uberti-38-55-1885-high-wall-sporter-first-impressions-photo-heavy-102729/

John - New Zealand

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Bud Hyett posted this 11 March 2024

First, let me state I learned a lot shooting the .38-55 cartridge. I enjoyed the time spent at the range. The rifle shot very well one day and Improved Cylinder the next day. 

Going back over this conversation, I'm adding that the best accuracy I got with the .38-55 was with .375 Winchester dies. Looking closely at the neck area in the drawings below, you'll see a short straight section dimensioned at .4015 in the chamber drawing and .400 in the cartridge drawing. Using .375 Winchester dies in my .38-55 Rolling Block eliminated flyers. 

I eventually gave up on this rifle rebarreling to .45-70 hunting rifle and sold the barrel to a friend in Boise. He was needing a good barrel when rebuilding a Marlin 1893 . I was rewarded several years later with elk steaks taken with his rebarreled rifle. I still have the dies and will give them to a friend inheriting a Marlin 336 Classic .38-55 when we begin to cast for it. 

 

Farm boy from Illinois, living in the magical Pacific Northwest

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SkinnerD posted this 12 March 2024

What was the rifle Bud?

John - New Zealand

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Bud Hyett posted this 12 March 2024

John - The .38-55 was a Remington Rolling Block Military action with a Sporter breechblock and hammer. This rifle was a rebuild of parts carefully put together. As the rebuilt .45-70, it shot cast very well and the barrel on the 1893 Marlin shot very well. The barrel was shortened to 24 inches and possibly that changed some bad harmonics.

Sometimes there simply are bad harmonics and you can do little to improve them. I still suggest using .375 Winchester dies as that was one marked improvement.

Farm boy from Illinois, living in the magical Pacific Northwest

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MarkinEllensburg posted this 13 March 2024

I have not measured runout however my experience has been that Hornady dies with the floating seater and seater holder do a great job of keeping bullets straight. This has been true across several calibers and different bullet shapes.

Except for .45 acp I have not used Redding. I have used: Lyman, RCBS, Lee, and Hornady.

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