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Questions on .308 dies

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by rocklinskier, Jan 4, 2010.

  1. rocklinskier

    rocklinskier New Member

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    So, My Son In Law wants me to start reloading for his M1A, so I'm starting to explore the mechanics of doing so.
    Looking at the dies, there are a couple of choices.

    FL-Full Length?

    SB- Small base?

    Neck die set?

    Someone told me that the 'small base' would be the way to go as it sized the cartridge just a wee bit smaller than the standard and makes it more reliable for the auto-loading M1. Truth or Fiction?

    How does the FL set differ? What about the neck die set?

    Also, from what I'm reading in the "book", I will need to crimp the bullets for the Auto loading M1 correct? So I will need a crimping die? Does not appear to be standard issue with the die sets, so I just want clarity.

    I'm sure I will have more questions, but this will get me started in the right direction.

    thanks
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2010
  2. rocklinskier

    rocklinskier New Member

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    Just found some info on RCBS's web site, but still a bit confused.

    They state the small base, is the correct one for the auto loader. So good there,

    The neck sizer will only be needed after a few fireings? So eventually I will need that one, but not right away?

    Then they also say that after a few reloads, I will need to use a FL sizer to reset the shoulder, and basically reform the case (as I think I read it)

    So, does that mean I would really need all of them?? Now I'm even more confused.
  3. jim brady

    jim brady Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like you are on the right track for reloading the .308 Winchester (7.62X51 NATO). I've reloaded this round since 1981 and my first M1A, and have used it for comp shooting as well as casual target shooting.
    Standard FL .308 dies in RCBS, Lyman, Lee will all work just fine. I use RCBS. These will work the brass to proper tolerances for reliable shooting. Do not Neck Size only for an M1A. You will have feeding trouble. Don't worry about SB sizing. Standard dies are just what you need.
    I have used the same RCBS FL dies to load for 2 different M1A rifles, and have never had the least hint of a problem with my reloads.
    The important - and critical - item to keep in mind is propellant powder. The .308 is a teriffic accuracy round, and there are powders that will amaze you in their ability to produce near single hole groups. But an M-14/M1A is built for a specific range of powders. Stray too far from them and you can damage your rifle. I use IMR-4895, WC 846 or BLc-2 powder, and either 147 grain FMJ or 168/173 grain match bullets.
    Good luck and have fun!
  4. new308handloader

    new308handloader New Member

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    Only neck size in a bolt gun where the brass was fired in the gun it is going to be shot in again.

    DO NOT neck size for a semi-auto.
  5. rocklinskier

    rocklinskier New Member

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    Great!!

    Thanks for clearing all that up guys. Now I feel like I can get started, and only buy the one set of dies.

    So, FL dies, not SB, NO neck sizer.

    What about crimping? Needed, or not?

    Thanks for the specific data on powder too. That will take a lot of guesswork out of it. :)
  6. new308handloader

    new308handloader New Member

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    Crimping should be done for a semi-auto....Yes, crimp.
  7. Texxut

    Texxut Member

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    Your RCBS FL die set will crimp also when properly set up. The instructions will give you the particulars on that.
  8. rocklinskier

    rocklinskier New Member

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    Excellent,

    Thanks to everyone.

    RS
  9. gdmoody

    gdmoody Moderator Supporting Member

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    I am going to throw a monkey wrench into the works. I recently bought an M1A and I am having problems shooting my reloads. I have been using a standard FL RCBS die for several years. The rounds function fine in my Remington 700 VTR and also do fine in my L1A1.

    I was telling my friend, who owns the gun shop where I bought the M1A, and he told me that I should to be using the small base die for the M1A.

    I have not ordered the SB die yet, so please let me know how the FL sized ones work in your SIL's rifle. Maybe I am doing something wrong !!
  10. new308handloader

    new308handloader New Member

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    I would listen to gdmoody, he knows what he's talking about.....go with the small base die.
  11. medalguy

    medalguy Member

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    I have reloaded 308 for many years and shot thousands of rounds in three different M1A and M14 rifles, using standard dies, and never had any problems with feeding. Since you are shooting an M1A, I would suggest several things:

    1. Do you have a military barrel or commercial? Mil barrels are generally larger chambers. Since they feed fine in your other rifles, I would look hard at the chamber of the M1A.

    2. Do you check your cases with a case gauge when reloading? If the shoulder is not set far enough back, you will have feeding problems.

    3. For crimping I would suggest using a Lee Factory Crimp die. They work exceedingly well.
  12. jim brady

    jim brady Well-Known Member

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    You can use that small base die in the .308 and harm nothing. Sounds to me like gdmoody has a very tight chamber in that M1A (Maybe a Match barrell?).
    Otherwise, I would suspect that those dies are not quite adjusted properly. I doubt this, because I have read other postings of his and he seems to have reloading experiance.

    Like I said, I FL size with my RCBS dies, and this is with 2 different M1A rifles over more than 28 years and thousands of rounds of ammo. (My rifle was worked over by a Master Armorer, but it still sported the issue grade barrel and sights. That was the best I could do at the time because this was my own private property - not Government property, and the Armorer did the work on his own time). Sorry, I got off track, but I am passionate about my M1A rifles.

    I agree with medalguy on everything except the Lee crimp dies. The RCBS seating die will crimp just fine (if you properly adjust them). I do not doubt gdmoody's Gun Shop friend, just that a whole lot of people - like me and medalguy here - find that we don't need special or custom dies to reload 7.62X51 Nato spec ammunition. If you want to put out cash for sb dies or any special or exotic gear, please go ahead and help out our economy. Good luck to you, and have fun!
  13. rocklinskier

    rocklinskier New Member

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    Actually, based on all the info above, I've decided to take a few expelled cases from his rifle, take a few measurments, and contact RCBS. I might even hand deliver to them (I am less than an hours drive from their home office here in CA.)

    Thanks again for all the info. Better to be educated than shooting in the dark.

    RS
  14. gdmoody

    gdmoody Moderator Supporting Member

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    Before I spend the $30+- on the SB dies, I will play around with the FL a little when I get a chance, I will do a lot of measuring and so forth. I may just need to re-adjust the dies a little!!

    I did not know about NOT using the Neck size only on the M1A. Why not if I keep the ammo separate for use only in the M1A?

    Thanks Jim, I do have a little over 35 years of reloading experience, but I still learn stuff all the time.

    medalguy:
    1. It is a newly purchased Springfield M1A. The manual does say it is a G.I. chrome lined barrel, so I guess it is military??

    2. I check every case for length and every finished round for C.O.L. I do not have any kind of device to check to see if the shoulder is set back properly.

    3. I, too, use the Lee Factory Crimp die on my reloads.
  15. rocklinskier

    rocklinskier New Member

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    Spoke with RCBS rep yesterday (phone) and they recommend the SB dies. They say the SB's will still work in a bolt, but the FL's may or may not work in the auto.

    This is a fairly new gun that seems to be pretty tight, so I'm leaning toward the SB's. If I had a way to compare the two, I would, but I don't know anyone who is loading 308 here locally. Probably the safe bet is the SB. Not putting money down just yet, but that's where I'm leaning.

    We are rec shooters, not shooting for money, so any gain in the tighter fit would likely be lost on us. The SB would lend to more reliable, and I'm thinking that would be a good thing.
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