How to keep the bullet straight with a Lee Die

Heym SR20

Well-Known Member
Until now I have only used Hornady Dies seating dies. These have a collar that drops down over the bullet to keep it straight as its seated. I use it for both my 7x65R and 7x57. I have started reloading the 223 using lee dies. Using flat based bullets 50gn bullets and they are tipping sideways as the ram is raised - not far of, but enough that the tip is marked as they enter the die and then straightened. Clearly there is a technique that I don't yet have when using these dies.
 

deeangeo

Well-Known Member
Difficult, but you could try using a Lee expander die to open the case mouth a midges dick.
Allows you to set the bullet a little more straight.
 

Yorric

Well-Known Member
Guide the bullet with your fingers as it enters the die. Plus a bigger chamfer inside the neck helps & with flat base bullets the use of a case flaring die (Lee) really cures the problem. (Just don't over expand the case necks - a wee tweak is sufficient.
I have the flare/expander die & use it for my 243 when loading Sierra 75 grain FB bullets.

Ian
 

stubear

Well-Known Member
I reload Sierra Pro Hunters in my Win Mag (good cheap plinking) and I just park the bullet in the neck and slowly use the press to seat - It goes in wonky but the shape of the die brings them upright, and as long as you dont rush the press you wont knacker the neck.
 

Sharpie

Well-Known Member
Have you chamfered the inside of the necks ? It helps when seating flat base bullets. Even better is to flare the neck slightly, I have a Lee universal flaring die, but find it quicker just to use a pin punch I have that has a conical shoulder that is a perfect fit. A "calibrated" rap on the table gives just enough flare, barely visible, to get the bullet started straight with my fingers before putting it in the press.

Once in the press I seat little-by little, rotating the case a bit each time, 3 or 4 goes before fully seated.

Check completed cartridges by rolling them along a flat surface and looking at the tips of the bullets. There should be no visible run-out.

Also if your brass is old and the necks work-hardened you may have difficulty seating straight. The necks don't harden uniformly and as the expander button is pulled through they can wander off. The Lee collet neck die minimises this problem and avoids over-working the brass. Once you aren't getting enough neck tension from a collet die it's time to anneal, or scrap them.

The Lee seating die doesn't use a collar to keep the bullet straight, it relies on a floating piece to let the bullet self-align. If you unscrew the adjustment knob you can take it out. The end that contacts the tip of the bullet has a conical hole for the tip of the bullet to fit, actually it is made to touch the ogive. It should not be marking the bullet. The flat end should contact the knob, the inside of the knob is slightly concave, so this piece is supposed to self-centre.

Fancy dies that supposedly force the bullet in straight, with floating collars etc, don't really work any better, if the neck isn't straight, or has become too springy, non-uniformly, the supposedly forced-in straight bullet will move to wherever the brass decides, as soon as it is out of the seater.

If you measure OALs to the ogive, with a basic comparator on your callipers, rather than simplistically to the tip of the bullet, you should find that it is very consistent.

I had one that didn't seem to work well, there was a little machining pip on the flat end. Once I removed that it was fine.

The die works well with boat tail bullets, but with flat base, or lead, you do have to get the bullet started straight first, hence the neck flare.

You can remove the flare once seated, by adjusting the crimp to just touch it.

I've got lots of tips and tricks to get the best from various Lee dies, if you are interested. Used sympathetically I think they can be very accurate.

E.g. the seating die adjustment knob is threaded ISTR (must check my notes) 20 tpi. Scribe it with say 8 graduations, each represents 6.25/1000" Now you have a poor-man's micrometer seater.

Got a standard seat-crimp die but want a dead-length no-crimp seater ? Put a suitable sized washer over the case, that takes up the clearance between base of die and shellholder before the crimp ring touches the case. Screw it into the press so the press just cams over. Now your die will stay in precise adjustment, no need to fiddle with it each time it is changed over.
 

Muir

Well-Known Member
Difficult, but you could try using a Lee expander die to open the case mouth a midges dick.
Allows you to set the bullet a little more straight.
This. It's not difficult. I di it to all my Hornet and 223 loads.~Muir
 

Sharpie

Well-Known Member
This. It's not difficult. I di it to all my Hornet and 223 loads.~Muir
Agreed. Same applies to any other make of seating die. Flat based .22 bullets need a little lead in into to the neck, larger ones may also benefit.
 

finnbear270

Well-Known Member
As above, guide with fingers, BUT I also turn the case feeling as I go, applying gentle pressure during partial turns of the case usually after two thirds turns the bullet just eases in.
 

Heym SR20

Well-Known Member
Thanks Gents, practice is required. I suppose 22 are easier than 17s! With the 7mm I can manage without glasses, the 22 I need. It’s only in the last year that my arms have got too short.

I suppose that’s why in the US there is a following for large bore double rifles be gentlemen of a certain age - they can reload the ammo.

And i suppose it’s why we all progress to Salmon fishing. The trout flies now have much smaller eyes than they ever used to.
 

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