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Thread: Lee full length die problems.

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
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    Northwest New Mexico
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    17

    Lee full length die problems.

    Iíve been loading for about 3 years now. Started with 9mm and Lee dies. Learned a lot from this sight. Iíve been casting and loading for 30-06 for about a year and have been using Lee dies. The full length die seems to be extremely hard to use. I have stuck the some cases on the decapper/expander rod. These are RP cases, tumble cleaned. I brush clean the mouth and lube every case, mouth and body. I have to exert considerable force to get the cases off the expander. I recently started resizing some 303 British brass using RCBS dies. Wow. Total night and day difference. Hardly no effort to full length resize the case. This made me wonder if the lee decapper die is defective. I have it set to just kiss the shell holder on the up-stroke and the rod set to just push the primer out. I thought that was just the way it was with the lee die, till I used the RCBS. Iv started looking into replacing the lee dies with RCBS but wonder if itís my setup/use of or the lee dies thatís creating the problem?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Jan 2010
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    What is the diameter of the neck expander button?

  3. #3
    Boolit Mold
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    Feb 2018
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    It measures .302. It is also rough. Like it has been scored. It’s definitely not smooth.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Tom, VA
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    I would contact Lee and ask them to replace it.

  5. #5
    Boolit Mold
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
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    Thank you for the response. Also I cleaned the die not too long ago and while it’s got lube in it, it now has some brass flakes. Looks like it’s scraping the mouth pretty hard.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
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    Central Virginia
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    Because dies are one of those "buy it once and use it for a lifetime" type of tool, I prefer to buy high quality dies.
    Cry once and be done with it.
    Redding and RCBS are my go-to manufacturers but I have others as well.

    My Redding dies for bottle necked rifle cartridges have been equipped with carbide expanders and they work wonderfully. The carbide expander is a small sphere that is free to float a little on the stem so that it self-centers in the casing neck. Again, a little bit more money than a standard expander but you only have to buy it once. AND, the carbide expanders eliminate the need to lube the inside of the case neck.

  7. #7
    Boolit Mold
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    Feb 2018
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    Northwest New Mexico
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    Thank you for taking the time to respond. I talked to a long time reloader a bit ago and he recommended the Hornady custom grade dies. I did like the micro adjustments that the Hornady had. I would love to be able to step up to reading but can not at this time. It’s between RCBS or the Hornady. While I will keep some of the dies out of the Lee set I would like to try others out.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Nov 2012
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    Central Virginia
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    I hear you, Redding isn't cheap.

    Several companies make good dies. When I need high quality but don't wish to pay top shelf prices, RCBS is my choice.

    I don't want to bash Lee and I do own some Lee products but I will not buy Lee dies.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
    Tom W.'s Avatar
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    I started with Lee dies, but went to Redding for all but a 30-06 and a 22-250.As I no longer have most of my rifles, I sold the dies. I also sold all of the Lee pistol/ revolver dies for RCBS carbide dies, and never looked back....

    I just acquired a set of Herters 30/30 dies and so far am liking them.
    Tom
    μολὼν λαβέ

    Adults are just children with much better toys..

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
    Tom W.'s Avatar
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    I started with Lee dies, but went to Redding for all but a 30-06 and a 22-250.As I no longer have most of my rifles, I sold the dies. I also sold all of the Lee pistol/ revolver dies for RCBS carbide dies, and never looked back....

    I just acquired a set of Herters 30/30 dies and so far am liking them.
    Tom
    μολὼν λαβέ

    Adults are just children with much better toys..

  11. #11
    Boolit Master tazman's Avatar
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    Jan 2014
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    west central Illinois
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    I am using Lee rifle dies on my 30-06 cases. I mostly reload Remington brass for my rifle. I have never had the problem you speak of UNLESS I didn't get the inside of the neck lubed properly.
    Now I use Hornady One Shot spray and spray the cases from above at an angle so I get some inside the case neck as well as on the sides. I simply have not had any issues since I started using One Shot.
    Not the cheapest but almost certainly the easiest to use.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    way out west, Texas
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    Check the instructions how to set up the LEE dies. The expander /decap rod should be even with the top of the die. If it isn't, it will start to expand before the neck of the cartridge has exited the neck forming part of the die. If it is not, you may be getting the case jammed between the die and expander rod thus making it very difficult to remove. I have had this happen to me. After adjusting the die properly, the LEE dies work just as well as the RCBS dies that I have.

  13. #13
    Boolit Mold
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    Thanks to all that replied. I use RCBS case lube and wet a cotton swab and apply to the case mouth and roll the case on a pad soaked with RCBS lube. All goes well as the case enters the die and I can feel the expander going in and the mouth being resized. The trouble comes when I try to extract the case off the sizing mandrel. That is where the case wants to stick. I have had it pull the mandrel out of the die. Perhaps changing to a different lube will help. I will try that. If some one would be so kind to measure their lee mandrel for 30-06 for me I would appreciate it. I also adjust the mandrel to sit flush with the top of the collet.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    Australia
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    Could it be the shells are too long and are fouling up in the die, just a thought. Regards Stephen

  15. #15
    Boolit Mold
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    Stephen. I always trim after I resize the case. I also clean the mouth before sizing. Are you thinking that some of the excess lube may not be exiting out the vent hole and causing problems? This in turn may be sizing the case smaller then the mandrel causing it to stick?

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    Australia
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobcat503 View Post
    Stephen. I always trim after I resize the case. I also clean the mouth before sizing. Are you thinking that some of the excess lube may not be exiting out the vent hole and causing problems? This in turn may be sizing the case smaller then the mandrel causing it to stick?
    That was one of my thoughts but I had a Lee 308 die that did the same thing till I trimmed the cases I think the die was the wrong dimensions in my case. I also have a set of Lee 222 dies that has a partially drilled vent hole in it. If only you lived next door I could give you a spare RCBS sizing die I have. The only other thing I could think of is the expander button is trying to expand the neck before it is out of the die and you don't seem to be that inexperienced to get caught with that one. Regards Stephen

  17. #17
    Boolit Mold
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    Thanks Stephen. I know the vent hole works. Every now and then I have to clean around it. I’ll try trimming first and run some through. I’ll contact Lee to see what they think today. I wouldn’t mind getting this figured out, that way I have a spare set of dies for my Lee hand press. Not turned off of Lee just yet. Just curious about different makes of dies.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master 15meter's Avatar
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    303 case necks are thinner than 30-06, that will account for part of the difference in effort. But it still sounds like you have other issues. The recap/expander stem sounds like it needs a polish job. Lee is my least favorite die, Redding first, RCBS next. Only buy Lee for very low volume reloading or for some oddballs that the other guys list as "special" --. 8x56r, .43 Spanish type. Lee manages to keep these in their line for cheeeep in comparison to the other guys.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master

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    I have found Remington brass to be on the hard side to start with , but if you chuck your expander button in a drill and give it a good polishing it won't hurt . Same with the neck area inside of the die a cotton ball in a split stick with a little polishing compound will smooth up the inside of a die just don't over do it . But a email to lee won't hurt . Could be a good time to try annealing a couple pieces of brass to .

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    If you have an older set of Lee dies they will have a long cylindrical section on the expander that is more difficult to use.
    Later Lee die sets have an easy out expander (called EZ X) that has a short full diameter section that produces less drag.
    You can polish either style to make them easier to use but a file can be used to shorten the full diameter of the old style so it looks more like the easy out version.
    Lee will replace your expander for the cost of postage.
    Last edited by EDG; 06-04-2018 at 09:52 AM.
    EDG

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check