Disappointed in Lee

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John Carlson posted this 3 weeks ago

As I holed up in my mancave on this wet/cold/windy November day I contemplated one of my goofy ideas, that being the loading of cast bullets in the 7.62x39 (which I don't even have one of.............yet),  While considering the required equipment I discovered that the Lee collet die comes with a mandrel for .308 bullets.  I contacted their customer support folks (Peter) and asked why the die did not support .311 bullets as specified by SAAMI.  Since the pacesetter sizing die comes with expanders for both .308 and .311 it seems the collet die should also come with mandrels for both.  I was advised that there are no plans to do so and I should order (for an extra $10) an over-sized mandrel.  Doesn't seem like like one should need to order a custom die to produce SAAMI spec cases but I guess that's how it is.  Boy, if this is how I'm going to spend cold/wet/windy days it's going to be a long winter.

Holding public office should be viewed as an obligation to serve, not an opportunity to rule.

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bdrake71 posted this 3 weeks ago

Since Lee Sr retired  and then passed on in 2018 and John Lee took over the business completely, I've found that Customer Service has lowered a step each time they bring out a new product....It's gotten to the point where I prefer to pay for new CH4D dies or look for older RCBS/Herter dies on Ebay first. 

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Larry Gibson posted this 3 weeks ago

Unfortunate that businesses hire folks to answer phones who are not really familiar with the products.  The Lee Collet Die in 7.62x39 can be adjusted to give the correct neck tension on .310 - .312+ bullets w/o the case neck being squeezed against the mandrel.  Easy to do by simply turning the die in or out of the press a tudge at a time until the correct/desired tension is achieved.  For use with cast bullets I adjust the collet die (I have 8 different collet dies) so the sized case is a tight slip fit over the correct M-die mandrel.   

LMG

Concealment is not cover.........

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RicinYakima posted this 3 weeks ago

Or I have a 30 year old set of Redding dies with expanders in .307" and .310" that I bought on eBay. Just use regular dies and an M die that fits. I have a hard time trying to see why people want to use Lee Collet dies that so hard to adjust to make straight necks. But then, I am an old fashioned guy ready for the bone yard. 

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JeffinNZ posted this 3 weeks ago

Lee collet dies are the only way to go with .303 Brit. for long case life.

Cheers from New Zealand

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John Carlson posted this 3 weeks ago

The Lee collet dies require practically no adjustment when used as designed.  If the mandrel is too large it can be reduced in size easily enough.  When the mandrel is too small the system Larry describes becomes necessary.  The alternative is to acquire an oversize mandrel, available for $10.  Not that much different than having a variety of bushings for a bushing die.  The point was my disappointment in Lee for selling a die with a mandrel that is not appropriate for the cartridge it's designed for.  Being a crotchety old geezer it irritates me to have to spend the extra money.

Holding public office should be viewed as an obligation to serve, not an opportunity to rule.

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MP1886 posted this 3 weeks ago

The collet fingers on the Lee collet die are specific to the case neck length. If the die isn't screwed in the proper amount all of the neck doesn't get sized and that maybe be a problem with cases that have short necks.  Also it may not iron out a dented in case mouth.  It's easy enough to make an oversized mandrel on a lathe even a mini lathe.  Done that a lot. In fact I have mandrels so that my case neck gets sized the proper amount for cast bullets as they are the collet dies are for jacketed bullets as they come from LEE.  ......and no putting a decapping pin in one and flaring the top of the mandrel so it doesn't fall through the die is no biggie.

I needed a collet die for the 35 Whelen, which LEE doesn't make, so I made one from a 30-06  collet die.  Works like a charm. I also made the internal sleeve in Forster inline Benchrest Seater Die for the 35 Whelen using one of their inner sleeves for the 30-06.  

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BigMan54 posted this 3 weeks ago

You guys are way beyond me. I just adjust My old Herters & Lyman  FL sizing dies to partial size. Haven't lost a case to head separation yet. 👍😁

Long time Caster/Reloader, Getting back into it after almost 10yrs. Life Member NRA 40+yrs, Life S.A.S.S. #375. Does this mean a description of me as a fumble-fingered knuckle-draggin' baboon. I also drool in my sleep. I firmly believe that true happiness is a warm gun. Did I mention how much I HATE auto-correct on this blasted tablet.

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John Carlson posted this 3 weeks ago

They're only easy to make IF you have a lathe.  Many of us don't.

Holding public office should be viewed as an obligation to serve, not an opportunity to rule.

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MP1886 posted this 3 weeks ago

I use to be that way  one time John.   Made a lot of things on a drill press not having a lathe. Having lathe being a gun nut and reloader is a very important tool/machine to have. 

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Little Debbie posted this 3 weeks ago

Larry Gibson is correct. All Lee collet dies can be adjusted to a range of inside neck diameters. For example my .30/06 collet die is adjustable to leave an inside neck diameter from .305” to .312”. Shorten the collet a few thousandths and the case mouth will not be sized, leaving it at the as fired diameter, a perfect flare to start your bullet. The Lee collet die is kinda a miracle that way. You need a set of pin gauges to set up die accurately but a set of pin gauges comes in handy for a lot of things. There is not an easier or cheaper way to get various inside neck diameters.

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longhunter posted this 3 weeks ago

There is another way!

NOE make neck expanding dies.  They work with the Lee universal expanding die. It maybe another step but they are inexpensive and do a great job.  I have several in different calibers.

Jon

 

Jon Welda CW5 USA Ret.

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Glaciers posted this 3 weeks ago

Plus 1 for NOE expanders

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Geargnasher posted this 2 weeks ago

Achieving uniform neck tension at a larger neck dimension by backing off the die from the shellholder slightly is very tricky and requires a good press and very consistent technique and timing with the press handle.  Far better to have a correctly-sized mandrel.  I agree, Lee should include a larger mandrel for the standard size of the Soviet cartridge. 

As an aside to the discussion, several modifications can help the Lee collet neck sizing dies do their best work:  Making a mandrel about .002-3" smaller than the diameter of the bullet which will be used, and making a bushing which closely fits the case head and press-fitting it into the bottom of the collet sleeve so that the case is held very concentric to the mandrel and the neck is sized in-line with the body of the case.  Still another useful modification is to shorten the fingers or back-bore them with a tool post grinder on the lathe so that a sort of flare is left on the case mouth.  

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 2 weeks ago

just some trivia on the Lee Collet sizers ... 

i have had a couple " busted " sizers sent to me to fix ... both had been had the collet squished up into the closing cone ... resulting in the spring collet closed beyond spring-back clearance of standard case necks.

the fix is to press a tapered rod into the collet to re-expand the collet to clear the case necks.  

and yes, me myself have dropped the press handle on an empty die and squished the collet too tight.

i wonder if some collets are more prone to this lesser spring-back due to varying production heat treat.

ken the trivia guy

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MP1886 posted this 2 weeks ago

Achieving uniform neck tension at a larger neck dimension by backing off the die from the shellholder slightly is very tricky and requires a good press and very consistent technique and timing with the press handle.  Far better to have a correctly-sized mandrel.  I agree, Lee should include a larger mandrel for the standard size of the Soviet cartridge. 

As an aside to the discussion, several modifications can help the Lee collet neck sizing dies do their best work:  Making a mandrel about .002-3" smaller than the diameter of the bullet which will be used, and making a bushing which closely fits the case head and press-fitting it into the bottom of the collet sleeve so that the case is held very concentric to the mandrel and the neck is sized in-line with the body of the case.  Still another useful modification is to shorten the fingers or back-bore them with a tool post grinder on the lathe so that a sort of flare is left on the case mouth.  

Gear, Lee use to provide two decapping/expander rod assemblies with the the 7.62x39 sizer die I have. If they do that I don't see why they don't send two mandrel with the collect dies in the Soviet rounds.

I've never stuck those collet fingers.  I do lube that taper a little to very lightly with grease.  I have popped off the the aluminum cap on top the dies. Very easy to strip those few aluminum threads.  

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