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Dillon 550b and Lee dies?

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by Tracer411, Jun 14, 2011.

  1. Tracer411

    Tracer411 Salem Member

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    I just purchased a used 550b with some of the parts for .223 reloading and I have searched and found that alot of loaders use lee dies in there dillons. My question is do you use the 2 piece or 3 piece sets and why?
     
  2. Grommit327

    Grommit327 Buckley Active Member

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    Depends on what you are loading but generally a 3-piece die set with a sizing/depriming die, seating die, and crimp die is best for a 4 station progressive. Find sets that were made specifically for a progressive as they have more bell on the mouth to allow for more misalignment of the case. I had 2 3-die sets and had to buy a lee factory crimp die for both to use in my 550...one for rifle and one for pistol. I have two sets of dillon dies and have to say they are pretty nice dies. My redding dies are also not bad but lack a couple of features the dillons do. The lee factory crimp dies lack the feel/quality of the other two brands but they have been just plain working good
     
  3. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    I use Lee Dies for a couple of reasons. First of all, the de-capping pin in a Lee sizing die is almost indestructible. Rather than bend or break the pin, the rod is forced up through the locking collet should you try and size/deprime a berdan primed case. Redding and RCBS dies will allow the pin to bend or break, shutting down the operation totally. With the Lee, loosen the collet, push the rod/pin assy back down, and retighten. Problem solved.

    For the seating die, I like the Lee's floating seater plug. Similar to those in the high-end competition dies. The Bullets start into the case straghter and my finished rounds have very little run-out. I have retired my RCBS seater die permanently as it's too hard to adjust and the finished rounds had far greater run-out.

    Lastly, I like to crimp all my ammo as a separate operation. The Lee Factory Crimp Die is great for this. On a progressive press it's just a matter of putting the die in the last station and crimping to the desired level. Light to just push the case back against the bullet or a little more to push the case mouth into the cannelure so the bullet isn't as prone to being jambed back in the case if caught on the feed ramp of an AR.

    On a side note, I use the Lee 4-Piece die set for my .308 and 30-06 loading. For brass that is new to me (either once fired I have picked up or purchsed) I full length size it. After the first firing in my rifle I then use the Lee Collet Die for sizing and de-priming. No lube required and it only neck sizes the case. After a few firings, when the case gets a little large for the chamber, I then use the FL sizing die again and start the cycle over. Caution: It's not a good idea to only neck size cases when used in an autoloader.
     
  4. Hotwheelz

    Hotwheelz Pierce County Member

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    He nailed it these are the same reason's I use the Lee dies.. He even worded way better then me maybe we should call you "Deadshot2 wordsmith":laugh:
     
  5. Tracer411

    Tracer411 Salem Member

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    So no one in town had the Lee dies in stock and i was just chomping at the bit to try this thing out. So I ended up buying the dillon dies. and payed 2x for them vs. lee's I have a question for you, where is the flaring of the case mouth supposed to happen? and can one of you guys post a picture of a cloes up of the inner powder drop tube? i'm not sure I have the correct one. all it has is an "A" stamped on it.

    Thanks
     
  6. Hotwheelz

    Hotwheelz Pierce County Member

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    according to the 550b manual the correct powder funnel is "A" ,shell plate #"3", locator button's #"3"
     
  7. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    When loading .223 there is NO flaring of the case mouth. Ditto for other bottle-necked rifle calibers. The sizing die forms the case neck on the up-stroke and then the expander ball expands the neck to approximately .002" less than the bullet diameter when pulled from the die. No flare or "bell" is created. If your bullets, especially flat based, are difficult to get started it will be necessary to chamfer the case mouth after sizing. Boat tailed bullets sit in the case mouth real well at the start of the seating process and I don't find chamfering necessary.
     
  8. Tracer411

    Tracer411 Salem Member

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    Thanks Hotwheelz looks like I have all the correct parts. Deadshot2 thanks also, good to know. Does it matter how far down you set the primer punch and expander ball if its not hitting anything else in the stroke process? I am currently using hornady vmax flat base 55gr. what do you guys think of the hornady one-shot case lube? or should i use something else.
     
  9. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    If you are using a lee die, the punch is set so it's flush with the locking collet on top. The punch on any die needs to be far enough into the case so it is expanding after the case neck has been withdrawn from the neck sizing part of the die. If too high it will also cause the case neck to be crushed when the case is fully inserted into the die.

    I like to set mine, if using one of the screw adjusting primer punches, so that the ball is just a little short of the case head when the ram is fully extended. An easy way is to size/deprime the case and while the ram is still fully up, loosen the adjustment. Screw the rod down until it stops and then back it off a couple of turns. Might have to re-do this adjustment if switching from civilian brass to military but if set for military, which has a thicker case head, it will work for either. Or just use the LEE dies.
     
  10. Grommit327

    Grommit327 Buckley Active Member

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    I found the hornady one shot works good with pistol cases but not so hot on the rifle cases. Been using the Dillon lube but it's just Isopropyl Alcohol and Lanolin and could be made cheaper by yourself. Works good but have to wipe the shoulders off before sizing and wipe the whole case down afterwards. Kind of sticky
     
  11. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    Another vote here for the dillon lube. I put a bunch of cases in a gallon sized zip lock bag, spray some lube in, seal the bag, and then tumble by hand until the lube has distributed itself to all cases in an even film. I then dump them out on a cooking pan to dry. All that's needed is a thin film of the lube and using this method I have had ZERO stuck cases or dented shoulders.

    One note on Lee sizing dies. It's not a bad idea to remove the de-priming/expander rod and polish the upper surface of the expander portion. I chucked mine in an electric drill and used super fine (2,000 grit wet/dry sandpaper) on the top of the expander, avoiding the outside circumference to polish off all the machine marks that create drag when being pulled out of the case. When the marks were gone I finished with some metal polish to get a near mirror-like surface. Keeps the cases from being unnecessarily stretched out by a sticky "ball". My prime 'gripe' about Lee dies is the lack of finish polish on things like this. Otherwise they are great.
     
  12. Uberdillo

    Uberdillo Oregon Active Member

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    Good info here, I was wondering how the seater dies were constructed. That floating seater plug sounds great. I'm just about sold on getting a set of Pacesetter dies for my 550b to feed my AR.

    Have any of you considered or used Forster dies? I'm not opposed to spending a little more up-front and buying dies once. I've read that the seater is amazing but I'm confused by this review of the sizer at Midway USA:
    I think I understand the concept but hardly believe what I'm reading. That would mean you'd have to have a neck sizer to use the set safely. That made the Pacesetter dies more attractive, though there was another review that said you have to send your decapping pin in if you want a replacement. I've got between 800-1200 once fired LC brass from the 90's. I'm wondering if a universal decapper and a source of spare pins might just be safer to avoid any frustration when I do have time to load?
     
  13. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    De-Priming pins for Lee Universal De-priming dies are only $2 but the pin is so stout I doubt your'll break it. Pins for the .223 sizing die are only $3 with the expander ball. I would just order a spare pin assembly and not worry about sending one if you do break it by trying to de-prime a piece of berdan primed brass (although I actually punched a new hole in a case one time just to see what would happen. The lee pin didn't break)

    I like using a universal de-priming die because I like to clean all my brass before any other processing.

    As for "Match Dies" most who use them have custom rifles with very tight toleranced chambers. Most competition shooters use dies with bushings that size neck according to the dimension of their chamber. For an AR with standard barrel this isn't necessary.
     
  14. Tracer411

    Tracer411 Salem Member

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    So I have completed my first 40 rounds and measured a bazzilion times and cut once and remeasured case size / powder charge / O.A.L and I am still kinda scared to shoot them. Is that NORMAL? I used cci sm.r.p 400 / h335 @ 24.6gr and Hornady 55gr bullets. should give me 3000fps. Everything looks good, but still nervous.

    Typo 22.6gr of h335
     
  15. Abiqua

    Abiqua Oregon Active Member

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    Yes. :)

    Can't help with the load, though. I just run pistol so far.
     
  16. Grommit327

    Grommit327 Buckley Active Member

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    Load sounds good to me but the velocity seems high for a non max load. Not around my manual to look. Fire away!!! I have a bunch loaded at 25.5g of h335 I think that haven't been tested
     
  17. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    Your load information is right in the range of "normal". If you're afraid to shoot them then just tie the rifle to a tree with a string running from the trigger (Hillbilly ammo proofing and quality control method).

    Go out an shoot them. Even if you were to mildly exceed the MAX Saami specs your rifle would survive. The "Proof load" for this rifle is waaaay above what SAAMI considers max. That way there is some fudge factor and a safety margin.