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Thread: Lee Collet die advice

  1. #1

    Lee Collet die advice

    After seeing so many people having success with these and after having problems with neck sizing in previous experiments I decided to give the Lee collet die a try. So, today I took out some old once fired cases to experiment with, I'm not going to do testing on my nice Lapua cases!

    I followed the instructions for non Lee presses to screw the die down until it touches the shell holder and then two full turns. My press, a Hornady LnL, certainly doesn't cam over at that setting. I put a case into the shell holder and the primer pops out just fine but I can't feel anything happening. Basically the press just stops and I am pretty sure it is going no further without applying the most extreme pressure to the arm.

    I have tried to fit a bullet into the test case and it will not push in by hand but looking at the neck of the case it looks possible that the die has resized just the last 1mm or so.

    Can anyone using one of these dies advise on what it feels like when resizing the neck? Maybe the mechanical advantage in my press is such that I'm just not feeling it doing the work but I suspect it is only sizing the very end of the neck.

  2. #2
    Hmmm that sounds like you have a Lee factory Crimp die and not a collet die.

  3. #3
    All I can say Brithunter is that the documentation with it is for the collet die and the die i have looks exactly like the one in the photo on the documentation. Also the die i have has a decapping pin and pops the spent primers out nicely. I don't imagine a crimp die would have a decapping pin but I might be wrong on that.

    It is possible my die is working just fine, it is just that it doesn't feel like it does anything. I only reload for 308Win and must measure the necks of a few cases that have been through the die and some that haven't.

  4. #4
    sounds like there is something wrong there. Have you looked at the Lee website where there are video clips on using this die? Just a suggestion.

    I had a problem with a Lee full length resizing die a little while ago and had to return it to the factory, it was replaced immediately. My die wouldn't set back the shoulder despite having a small amount ground off the bottom (after consulting Lee). They claimed that it was still in spec, this I doubted. The new die works just fine.
    When you are producing so many dies a rogue one must slip through the net occasionally in spite of all the checks.

  5. #5
    These cases I wonder if they are over length as I wonder about the 1mm mark. I use some collet dies and have never had a problem with them. Of course it sometimes comes to a point where the cases need the shoulders bumped back to chamber easily as I found when using a collet die to load for a Ruger No1B in 300 Win mag.

    Just something to bear in mind.

    Another point is that the cases need to have been fired in you chamber

    Have you pulled the collet out of the body and checked for burrs or damage? The Lee Collet only does it's work in the last bit of travel.

  6. #6
    Thanks for the pointers 8X57, I took a look at the video and it looks like I'm doing it right.

    I also got the calipers down and it looks like my sized cases are a little smaller in the neck than unsized ones. Also a sized case slides almost all the way into the die while an unsized one doesn't and my bullet fit is just like they show in the video.

    So, I think it is probably working just fine but I just can't feel anything happening so it all seems a bit odd.

    The cases were all fired in my rifle Brithunter and I will full length size once in a while. This is my second experiment with neck sizing and first time around it didn't work well at all. I hope to go to the range on Saturday and shoot a few rounds and that will give me some brass to work on and reload for real. Hopefully it will all be a success.

  7. #7
    I hope I can explain this properly, but you'll have seen yourself that the collet is in quarters..4 parts that come down on the case neck at the very end of the stroke. On a correctly necksized case held up to the light you will be able to the 4 lines along the length of the neck where the collet quarters didn't grip.
    My ones do need a real push down at the end to employ the collet. If you see those 4 lines / faint ridges you've got it.
    Anyone else able to explain this better than a heathen Gael?

  8. #8
    From your inital post it seems right to me. My neck sizing collet does exactly the same; it pops the primer out and yes there is no real resistance on neck sizing.

    I initally experimented with a couple of caes by slightly denting them out of round and trying a head, which slipped right through. I then sized it (with little or no discerible resistance) and it then comes out of the lee die round and as Lee says I think (do not quote me ) 1 thou inch smaller than the bullet head, which then seats in firmly on the seating press.

    I think as mauser66 says you can see the four lines slightly, however if you over press and wind the die down too far and then apply too much pressure, Lee warns you can then distort the case, so I tend not to over- press them.

    I think from recall again Lee says about 25lb of pressure is sufficient, he tells a story or so about over-pressing. It is all in his book and I have very sad long term memory for crappy facts by the way! Lee does go on about how some people have him shave another thou off the sizing die to make the case even tighter, but he clearly does not like doing it as he believes the buullet head is being used to force too much pressure into the case and it a "poor" tool to open the case up with hence, only 1 thou below bullet diameter thus not a lot of pressure or feeling on the press to achive this.

    Sorry to ramble on, hope it helps

  9. #9
    Also make sure that the cap on the top of the die is scewed down tight. I then back it out 1/4 turn just to give a wee bit of play. Don't know if there's logic in that, but for me it works.
    From the destructions:
    "Screw the sizing die in until it touches the shell holder and then ONE turn more.....The neck is sized at the very end of the stroke and requires considerable force...Extra bullet grip can be obtained by screwing the die in an extra 1/4 turn. You will reach a point that no further bullet tightness is possible."
    Hope you get it sorted.

  10. #10
    Thank you to everyone for the great replies and details, it looks like maybe everything is working as it should but because it is new to me it feels a bit odd.

    I didn't notice the 4 little lines mauser66 but can see what you mean about the gaps in the collet so I will look out for that when I next experiment. Hopefully I will get to the range on Saturday and shoot a few groups as I want to see where 165 grain bullets go compared to my 150 grain ones and I might try to borrow a chrony to see how fast they are leaving me. If that all goes to plan then I will have some brass to reload and so will put my mind to neck sizing to see if that is going to work for me with the Lee die.

    Reports will follow, but it tends to be a slow process with me

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