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Small base vs. X-die

This is a discussion on Small base vs. X-die within the Ammunition forums, part of the M14 M1A Forum category; I thought I had it figured out but now I'm confused. I understand why full length sizing may not be enough for a semi auto ...


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Old May 2nd, 2017, 02:05 PM   #1
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Small base vs. X-die

I thought I had it figured out but now I'm confused. I understand why full length sizing may not be enough for a semi auto where it might be for a bolt rifle.

So my questions: Which do I want to use for an M1A? Which die for a bolt rifle? Is there one that can be used for both semi-auto and bolt? Or for a bolt rifle just stick to full length only?

Schooling appreciated!

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Old May 2nd, 2017, 02:14 PM   #2
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Question of the century.

Then, the more serious you get into reloading, many more things can come into play.
I use an RCBS sb X die for all my generic loading for both semi and bolt.
For my precision bolt rifles which have fire formed brass, I only neck size.

Just getting started , the sb x die will do the job for you.

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Old May 2nd, 2017, 02:19 PM   #3
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Use a quality .308 die set (mine is a Dillon 3 die set) and full length resize each time. Check with a chamber guage AND check the resized case in you rifle with the op rod spring removed. The bolt should rotate to fully closed with only finger pressure. Should you encounter a batch of brass which will not allow the bolt to close, then use a small base die (bought separately) for that brass.
Once your brass chambers properly, you can use just the chamber guage for a reloading session.
Track which brass requires the SB die and reload accordingly.
Hope this helps.

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Old May 2nd, 2017, 02:21 PM   #4
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Sorry... Left out the bolt rifle answer... I also neck size for bolt guns after the 1st firing...

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Old May 2nd, 2017, 02:27 PM   #5
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I use a X die. But it's all about what works for you. The quick and easy way to check for properly sized ammo is a LE Wilson case gage, or a Dillon case gage. You'll find that some mg fired brass does not size properly on the 1st pass thru a fl die, where off a sb die it will. My point is to run your sized cases thru said gage, if they pass the gage the ammo will be of proper dimensions to safely use in your semi autos with a floating firing pin. Whatever die is used is just personal preference.

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Old May 2nd, 2017, 02:31 PM   #6
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I am also in the same boat. Starting on my reloading adventure. Have most things picked out, but dies make me scratch my head something fierce. Lots and lots of options. I'm looking that the Forster full length 308 National Match or maybe the Whidden Gunworks dies. I hear it's bad to pull the resizing doohicky back through the brass and to use a bushing die or some such. Sigh. So many options. Ask 10 people and get 13 different answers. That's what makes it so fun. I think it's going to be like swimming in freezing water. Squeeze your eyes shut and jump in. You'll warm up after a while.

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Old May 2nd, 2017, 06:00 PM   #7
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I've been reloading for 20+ years, and although there are more seasoned or experienced reloaders than myself out there ... I might not always agree with their methods.

One being the need to Small Base resize every piece of brass that comes across your bench.

I have spoken to John Lee of Lee Precision and Mike Dillon of Dillon Precision, may he Rest in Peace, on numerous occasions about this subject.

With both individuals ... when this topic arose ... they would both say something along the lines of "If there were really a need for a Small Base Die, we would make one!" ... of course I'm paraphrasing, but you get the gist of it.

I can understand the need for a small base die, but have never found the use for one. I have always used GIBrass, Jeff Bartlett, for 90% of both my 308/7.62x51 & 5.56 needs. The first time I bought brass from him was in 1988 at a local gun show, and he is 10 miles from my front door. As many of you can attest ... he has a lot of 'Machine Gun' M240 or SAWS fired brass which are both known for excessive headspaces and stretch brass out.

To my point ....

I have never needed a Small Base Die for 2 Reasons ..... my 'Case Prep Method'.

1) I always Size ... Trim ... Size ... Gage ... in that exact order.

2) I always 'over cam' my dies by turning an additional 1/2 turn PAST the initial contact with the shell holder.

If you do both of these things ... you will save yourself a little money and a lot of headaches.

The reason for sizing 2 times is in the first sizing ... the brass is often so out of spec that the neck is pushed up into the die so far that it 'bottoms out'. When you bring it back out it will 'spring back' slightly. By trimming and resizing a second time you relieve the 'neck tension' and allow the brass to flow a little further up into the neck of the die the second time around.

Just my 2 cents. Other guys have there way of doing things, but I've never felt the need.

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Old May 2nd, 2017, 06:54 PM   #8
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I prefer to use military brass and mainly load for 5.56 and 7.62, had issues years ago with bolts not fully going into battery on my AR's and decided to purchase a set of RCBS SB X dies for both calibers and I have had nothing but great luck with them. I process my brass by sizing, trimming on a Girard case trimmer and annealing all my brass as well on a Girard case annealing machine, I also check my brass on a Dillon case gage randomly prior to going on a loading spree, my press is a Hornady LnL and my groups are great and my rifles all function flawlessly. My profile picture is my handloads for my Colt LE-901 at 100yds and I am very pleased at my loads.


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Old May 3rd, 2017, 02:14 AM   #9
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Full length dies are not all the same. I have a couple of sets of RCBS full length dies from the 70s that I started with that are tougher on brass than current productions SB. They actually size the casing smaller than the new SB.

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Old May 3rd, 2017, 06:57 AM   #10
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First, some terminology about the type of resize dies.

1) Neck Size - just reduces the OD of the neck so the bullet is held tightly in the neck. The diameter and length of the body and shoulder is not changed, so it might be difficult or impossible to insert a fired case into the chamber.

2) Shoulder Bump - just pushes the shoulder back slightly, and might resize the neck. The diameter of the body is not changed, so it might be difficult to insert a fired case into the chamber.

3) Full Length Resize - reduces the diameter of the body, pushes back the shoulder, and tightens the neck - to an amount that 'should allow' the case to be inserted into a typical SAAMI spec chamber. But trimming the neck might be necessary to avoid having the resized case being too long.

4) Small Base Full Length Resize - similar to regular FL Resize, but reduces the diameter of the case near the base a little more to get it back closer to 'new case' size.

NOTE: I don't know of any 'industry standards' that specify what case body diameters are produced by 'regular' or 'small base' dies - it's pretty much up the the maker. Some makers probably produce 'regular' dies that have the same dimensions as other make 'small base'.

5) X-dies - are a type of FL resize that are supposed to reduce or eliminate the need to trim the neck after resizing.

----
An autoloader will function most reliably and safely with cases that have been resized so that they are an 'easy fit' in the chamber - it's critical that the cartridge is fully chambered and the bolt is completely closed and rotated into position when firing. The shooter is NOT operating the bolt, so it cannot be felt whether the bolt is fully closed - you need confidence that it happens, or look each time.
With a bolt action, the shooter can feel the bolt closing and knows if something is wrong.

If you have access to different types of resize dies, try them and see if they work to give 'easy fit' in the chamber. If a die works, then that particular die will be OK, but there's no guarantee that another one of the same type will!

When I bought dies for new calibers, I bought 'small base FL resize' because I thought that had the best chance of working.

Jay Kosta
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Old May 3rd, 2017, 07:11 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayKosta View Post


NOTE: I don't know of any 'industry standards' that specify what case body diameters are produced by 'regular' or 'small base' dies - it's pretty much up the the maker. Some makers probably produce 'regular' dies that have the same dimensions as other make 'small base'.

Jay Kosta
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I have often read different brands of dies are like this. Forster Competition sizing dies for example.

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Old May 3rd, 2017, 08:16 AM   #12
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dies, dies, and then there are dies

Thank you all for your comments and thoughts. My brass processing to date consists of (in this order)c decapping, wet tumbling, sizing using a FL then an x-die, testing cases on either a EGW case gage or a wilson gage, trimming, and deburring. This seems to work for me, so I was interested to see if I was missing something. I should also add that I typically use commercial brass for my bolt rifle, milsurp for my M1A, although I am considering using milsurp for both but segregating the batches by rifle type.

Interesting enough, I have had a few reloads (maybe 5 out of 500) that I could not close the bolt on my Remington 700 even when the case had passed the wilson case gage or EGW test which is what got me curious, especially since I follow the same case prep procedures for bolt action as well as M1A.

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Old May 3rd, 2017, 08:34 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by topclass2017 View Post
Th

Interesting enough, I have had a few reloads (maybe 5 out of 500) that I could not close the bolt on my Remington 700 even when the case had passed the wilson case gage or EGW test which is what got me curious, especially since I follow the same case prep procedures for bolt action as well as M1A.
Your 700 may have a shorter CBTO than other rifles and therefore your bullet could be contacting the lands. Not a great idea as far as safety is concerned. Bullet seating depth may need to be increased.
COL in reference to CBOT is different for different bullets.
How are you measuring your cartridge base to lands.

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Old May 3rd, 2017, 08:59 AM   #14
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have an xdie and its mostly a gimmick. I still have to trim...

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Old May 3rd, 2017, 11:35 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danthman114 View Post
have an xdie and its mostly a gimmick. I still have to trim...
I don't know why you are trimming...

I have 10 test cases in .308 that are on the 13th load with the X-die... and haven't trimmed them yet.

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