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Beginning to reload rifle .243/.308/.223

cwinncwinn Member Posts: 1,223 ✭✭
First question, is there a specific sort of die I want to used for the .223 in an AR-15 20" rifle?

Secondly, I was wondering if there is any specific reading you all think I should invest in that will help me? (Besides my Speer manual)

I have only loaded pistol cases so far.

Also if anyone has any other insight for a beginner in rifle reloading I would love to hear it. Thanks

Edit: I plan to load for maximum accuracy with the bolt actions. (243/308) Should I be looking for a specfic type of dies for these? (full length/neck etc.)

Comments

  • AmbroseAmbrose Member Posts: 2,943 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Asking questions is a really good start.

    I think most would advise using a "small base" sizer for your AR.

    Your Speer manual is a good one. The latest edition of the Lyman Reloading Handbook would be a good addition to your library, also. But get several manuals (Sierra, Hornady, Hodgdon, etc.) and read as much as you can before you start acquiring tools. Even older editions of manuals have good info. You can sometimes find the older books at yard sales or some gun shops have the old books that got dumped on them. The guys that wrote those books have been doing this longer than I have and I started in 1958.

    My last bit of advice is to start with a single stage press. The work horse on my bench is a RCBS Rockchucker and I hardly ever use anything else. Good luck!
  • charliemeyer007charliemeyer007 Member Posts: 7,348 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    You should have a second book for cross reference. I like the Lyman book. The redding imperial sizing die wax or the lee case lube are what I use for non carbide dies. Some autoloaders need "small base" dies in order to have the ammo function. Collet sizers look interesting. My bolt gun brass is usually neck sized only by backing off the full lenght sizing die. Sooner or later you will a case trimmer.
  • cwinncwinn Member Posts: 1,223 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Thank you both.

    I also am currently using a Rockchucker and am very pleased with how it has performed thus far. Very smooth and sturdy.

    Somewhere I thought I read that a small base die was not "required" for the AR-15, but that many use them. COuld you elaborate on what these are and what they do exactly?

    Are the new "AR" series dies such as those from RCBS of any advantage?
  • AmbroseAmbrose Member Posts: 2,943 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    In general, a convential resizing die will will reduce the diameters of the fired case but not quite to the same as an unfired case. A small base die, as the name implies, reduces these diameters closer to that of an unfired case. The purpose is to insure against drag on extraction of the case from self-loading guns to guard against reliability issues. If your gun works fine with ammunition loaded with the use of a regular die set, then you have no issue, if not, small base dies may help.

    I am not familiar with the RCBS AR dies but, if I had to guess, they are probably similiar to small base dies.
  • bpostbpost Member Posts: 31,944 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    An all too common problem with new rifle loaders is the error of screwing the seating die in too far when seating bullets. Rifle bullets do not need a crimp to hold the bullet in place if the neck tension is about .002.

    Way too often new rifle loaders will push the shoulder back, almost imperceptibly, this causes chambering issues that will drive you nuts.
    Set the seating die at least one full turn UP from case contact, adjust the seating depth with the seating stem. You will get variances in OAL due to bullet nose length differences. Do not chase a OAL, it too will drive you nuts.
  • 62fuelie62fuelie Member Posts: 1,067 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    When you got your Rockchucker I don't know if you got the "ammo-crafter" kit or just the press, but there are several tools you will need or want to do a quality job. As you said you load for pistol I am going to assume you have a quality scale - the second most critical safety item behind quality "how-to" manual(s). A case mouth chamfer/deburring tool is a must. The calibers you have chosen are top notch and will cover almost any situation you could encounter in North America. Good luck and good shooting. You will always get willing assistance here.
  • dcs shootersdcs shooters Member Posts: 10,969
    edited November -1
    Bpost's comment about rifle rounds not needing a crimp is right for bolt guns. For semi-autos that is not true. You need a crimp so the bullet doesn't "set back" in the case. That causes much higher pressure and may hurt the rifle and you [xx(]
  • cwinncwinn Member Posts: 1,223 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Great info, thanks guys.

    Keeping the bullet in place seems to be exceedingly important when pertaining to autoloaders. I will do more research before I begin.

    The tip on overall cartridge length is interesting to. I had no idea these types of bullets varied in length so much, but I suppose it makes sense.

    I'll post any successes or failures once I get my dies and experiment a bit.
  • nemesisenforcernemesisenforcer Member Posts: 10,513 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Ditto all of the above.

    I would add that if you're reloading for a bolt action rifle in your 308 or 243, neck sizing your fired brass is the way to go IMO.

    I like the LEE neck sizing dies.

    As for powders, stick with relatively slow burners that give top velocities and have a small grain size or are ball powders. I like Varget or Reloader 15 for 223 and 308 but you'll likely have to find something slower for you 243 since it's more overbore than the other 2.
  • FrancFFrancF Member Posts: 35,278 ******
    edited November -1
    The books I use are Lyman, Sierra, Nosler, Hornady and Speer. Also a good thing to do is check online at load data for powder and bullet manufactures. Sometimes books can have a Typo or two, Also (While not drastic) an update on load data may change due to new powder formulations.

    As stated from the other guys, for your bolt guns, once your brass has been fire formed, Neck size only, this will prolong the life of your brass, also (I have two .308's and both have dedicated brass to each rifle. meaning, I keep them apart.)

    For your AR- Full length resize your brass. Some will take issue with this, but not all AR's and Clones are equal.
    And last but not least .223 in a 5.56 nato chamber OK not the other way around. (It can be done, but for now stick with that and you will be safe.)
  • sandwarriorsandwarrior Member Posts: 5,453 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Cwinn,

    Small base dies are not necessary, but DO keep it in mind if you aren't chambering rounds well in your AR-15 Platform. Also, remember when using regular dies for the AR-15, you need to 'cam-over' just a bit with your dies. I, like Ambrose, use a Rockchucker. I usually just tighten the die in just a smidge to get a little more force for full length sizing for an AR. However, I ended up buying and using small base dies for a couple AR's I had that I loaded for. Not a huge issue, you just need to understand every single chamber is different.

    Also, reading as many reloading books as you can will help. Old and new. There were things in the older books that said, NEVER, and stuff in the new books that explain why you can. The prime example of that is loading into the lands. Most of the older books said not to do it. Today, we specifically load Berger VLD's into the lands (and other match bullets) to help increase accuracy. One thing we always do though when we do that is start with low loads and work up. One big reason we can do that today is powders available to us today are much more consistent than powders of the '40's and '50's and even the '60's. A lot of what was available to us reloaders up until the '70's was WWII surplus.

    A rule of thumb I've found. Same case, smaller diameter, i.e. .308/.243...the smaller diameter will take slower powders for comparable weight bullets.(light/light, mid-mid, heavy/heavy) The inverse is true. If you loaded .243 for years and move up to .308, you'll find you need to speed the powder choices up. In that regard, find the powder burn rate chart and see where each powder falls. Find that powder in your load book and start working up from there. Point being in this statement, is when you compare cartridges/calibers/loads and something seems off in the ratio...alarm bells should go off and you need to double check information before you continue on.

    If you ever have a powder that you want to use and can't find a starting load for it for the cartridge you want to load for...ASK someone with a quick-load or some other load computer to help you find a starting load. Reason I say that is I delved off on new cases and wildcats with new powders and almost 'lost it' a couple times with some serious hot loads. Starting loads ended up being right at MAX. My advice on this is get comfortable with the process before you do what I did. Ask those with computers and find the numbers and call the powder manufacturers for a good start load. Ladders are a lot easier to deal with low pressure loads than beating your bolt open. Truth is I called one manufacturer and got a starting load but didn't decrease by 2 gr. like common sense told me I should have.

    As far as maximum accuracy with bolt guns I would look to Wilson for body die neck sizers/in-line seaters. They require a different press than the Rockchucker, but from what I've seen they are more accurate.
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