View Full Version : Anything wrong with using small-base die all the time?
February 09, 2010, 22:01
Any downside to using RCBS small-base .308 die all the time? Regular die is Lee RGB, which I really am starting to dislike. Rather than buying another die or fussing with the Lee, why not just use the RCBS small-base all the time, which I already have, and be done with it.
Teh reason why I don't like the Lee RGB is that cases sized with this die do not grip the bullets firmly enough unless also run through a neck sizer. That's not too big a deal, but the problem is that I sometimes don't remember until after I charge everything and start seating bullets.
February 10, 2010, 00:28
A small base die will overwork your brass, thus shortening its useful life.
If the RGB isn't putting enough neck tension on the bullet, then it's possibly out of spec. You could always try reducing the diameter of the expander.
I use the Lee Factory Crimp Die on all my rifel ammunition anyway. :)
February 10, 2010, 01:14
I like the FCD and need to get one for .308.
Does reducing the diameter of the expander mean getting another expander, or working with the one that is there? I could probly reduce it by chucking it in a drill and spinning it in lapping compound; something like that.
February 10, 2010, 01:58
I have a SA M1A standard model and I do not use a small base FL die on my .308 cases. As stated by English Mike, a small base die will shorten the life of the case. I use a Lee FL die and use a Lee FCD to insure a proper crimp to eliminate the chance of bullet pull under recoil.
Most military rifles or civilian clones of them have standard or slightly oversized chambers to start with. A small base die isn't necessary IMHO. A matchgrade M1A or AR might require the use of a small base die.
Over the years I've owned several bolt action .308's and I use a necksizer die for them. It saves all the effort of lubing and then cleaning the lube off. The only drawback is that ammo loaded using a necksizer die needs to be properly ID'd so it won't be used in a different rifle.
And so it goes.
The Retired One
February 10, 2010, 04:11
I used one for years on 308, tough to use. On my latest bench, when I decided to reload 308, I reinforced the bench. Since then I've gotten a standard size die set but haven't used it yet. BTW, when I bought the SB set, I was using surplus M60 brass and felt it was the right thing to do. Everything I have has been through new chambers so, I guess, shouldn't apply.
February 10, 2010, 07:03
Originally posted by Mebsuta
chucking it in a drill and spinning it in lapping compound; something like that.
I say try it. The die does not work for you now so you cannot be out much. You could probably buy a whole new set of Lee dies for the cost of a custom expander. I would not use the small base unless I had a gun with a tight chamber that required it. I have a set of small base dies to reload for my Winchester 100 the previous owner said had a tight chamber but have never shot anything but factory in it so the dies just gather dust. Good luck and do get that factory crimp die.
February 10, 2010, 07:38
I don't crimp at all. I do polish expander balls with fine grit paper to ease pulling the ball back through the case neck.
I would try sizing without the decapping assy. and see if that shows any improvement in neck tension. Then you'll know whether to attack your expander ball.
Small base dies are for target rifles, to a point.
February 10, 2010, 08:05
Mike the ball before reducing, if it's in spec try resizing one case without the ball in the die. If that neck internal diameter isn't several thou under the minimum size needed for the round, it might be the die's internal diameter is too big, not the ball is too big.
February 11, 2010, 11:41
General rule of thumb for expanders is .001" less than bullet dia. for bolt action or single shot rifles and .002" less for semi-auto.
I did say, GENERALLY! :D
And, I use the Factory Crimp Die too.
February 11, 2010, 12:26
Here is a fairly extensive discussion on the subject.
February 21, 2010, 23:59
Polished the expander with fine grit and it is now good to go. It had an area on it that looked high, as if it wasn't finished carefully. I think that was the trouble. Have to use the puller now to remove bullets instead of hands.
February 22, 2010, 12:56
Update on my earlier post- I am using a standard die set now. It's much easier wo work with. Now to see if it will work with the rifle.
April 03, 2010, 03:15
Shoots fine in my PTR. Acuracy is good and the load is, coincidentally, the same as for my FAL. Anyway, small base dies are working great.
April 04, 2010, 08:10
What Mike said is absolutely correct, Mebs. With that, I will state that I used a .308 SB dies a long time. Got up to six loads with LC and FC brass. R-P would give it up sooner. Only reason I am not using it now is I let it rust up on me (don't ask). I happened onto a FL set for cheap.
April 12, 2010, 21:11
I am at 7 loads on some hornady brass, working on my fifth loading on black hills brass. All using SB dies and a kit FALS built on IMBEL receivers. I want my ammo to be able to be used in anyone's gun should SHTF so I will take the slight decrease in brass life.
RCBS SB FL two die set.
April 21, 2010, 21:13
I use my RCBS small base set the first time I size military brass. After that I use my regular Dillon set in the 650. By the time I get to 4 reloads it is time to load them up one more time and run them through the CETME and throw them in the scrap bucket (If it hasn't thrown them into the next county).
April 21, 2010, 22:14
If you're having a problem with a Lee die, call Lee and talk to them about it. Its possible you're die is out of spec and they might hook you up with a new one. I use Lee dies and they've been pretty good to me.
Also, you should be able to remove the expander rod from the die. Unscrew the top and pull it out - the size should be engraved on it. If you have a .308 expander rod and you're not getting enough neck tension, you might want to try a .307 expander rod. If you have a .307, see if you can get your hands on a .306. Lee sells replacement expander rods in all sizes for not much money. If you need something smaller, I'd bet they'll have it available.
Oh, and while you're at it, GET A FACTORY CRIMP DIE. You'll be glad you did!...
April 21, 2010, 22:27
Small-base is the only thing I use on .308 and .223
I chuck cases after three firings anyway, because the rims are buggered and the case is stretched all to hell from the extraction cycle.
Yes, you might get ten firings from some few number of cases out of 100.
But, I promise you, you will start to see some few cases out of 100 failing on a fourth firing if you use my loads and shoot the cases in my guns.
It only gets worse the further you push it.
Been there, done that, had it with the aggro.
Three firings and into the bin.
Whatever circumferential stresses may come from a small-base die "working the brass" in three firings is a drop in the bucket compared to the far greater longitudinal case-stretch that comes from actually shooting the cases.
Slow-fire bolt-gun shooters need not apply.
April 21, 2010, 22:28
Originally posted by Mebsuta
...reason why I don't like the Lee RGB is that cases sized with this die do not grip the bullets firmly enough
Reduce the diameter of the expander ball.
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