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Thread: Modifying Dies For Cast Bullet Shooting

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
    Doc Highwall's Avatar
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    Modifying Dies For Cast Bullet Shooting

    I have been working with a Remington 40X in 308 Winchester and up till now I have only made a expander and used some JB Weld for a custom fit of the bullet seater die and my record five shot group at 100 yards is .305". Well I put some thought into getting the rifle to shoot even better and with fewer flyer's so I am going to show some pictures of the dies that I am using and the modifications that I made to them. Before I was using a LEE collet neck die with Federal cases that have .0015"+ neck run out and when Lapua came out with the new 308 Win Palma cases with the small primer pocket and flash hole I purchased 300 of them. I am now going to use a Redding Competition bushing neck sizing die that has a sliding chamber to hold the case during neck sizing. Well this got me to thinking why not have a expander die with a sliding chamber to hold the case with a carbide expander to get the best concentricity to eliminate bullet run out. I purchased a Forster Bench Rest Seater die with the sliding chamber to modify. The first thing I did was to set it up in my lathe and ream the hole that was made for seating a .308" diameter jacketed bullet to .312" and then designed a floating carbide expander with a .309" diameter section for the bullet with a .3119" diameter to bell the case mouth and align the expander in the sliding chamber. I also bore a groove for a rubber O-Ring in the lock ring.
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  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    For my seating die I purchased a Forster Ultra Micrometer seater die and I set up the sliding chamber in my lathe and reamed the hole that was made to seat .308" diameter bullets to .3105" and made a floating seater plug that was made for the SAECO #315 bullet that I size to .310" and .3104". I still have to cut the old seating stems off and I included a picture of a die that has a regular lock ring with a set screw that is jammed with a LEE lock ring to use the O-Ring feature.
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  3. #3
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    Doc

    That is pretty slick indeed!

    Larry Gibson

  4. #4
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    Thank You Larry! I just finished loading the first 50 rounds with them and I plan on testing them tomorrow at 300 yards. I am going to have three changes at once over the old load that cannot be helped. The old Federal Gold Medal cases had more neck thickness variation over .0015" weighed more then 5 grains more and had large rifle primer pockets. The new Lapua 308 Win Palma cases have small rifle primer pockets and flash holes along with weighing less. Because of the small rifle primer pockets I am going to use the CCI BR-4 small rifle bench-rest primers where I used Remington 9-1/2 before. The rest of the load will remain the same SAECO #315 cast 30:1 sized .310" lubed with Bullshops NASA lube over 20.5 grains of AA5744 loaded to an OAL of 2.825".

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    Well I sitting here drinking my second cup of coffee and will be leaving for the range shortly and hopefully will give an up date of how the gun preforms with the new cases and load loaded with the new dies.

  6. #6
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    Well today at the range was pretty much a bust wind was blowing from all compass points, blew my target over an I broke the stand trying to push the spikes into the ground. I ended up helping people out bore sighting in rifles and my brother was at the range next door shooting a 22Lr egg match (steel eggs) and stopped by ended up having a good time

  7. #7
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    I went out to the range today got there and set up at 300 yards before 8AM so I could shoot before the wind picked up I could just feel it on my face about 3 mph. Well the new die modifications worked well now to tweak the load by starting to up the powder charge as the new Lapua Palma cases weigh over 5 grains less then the old Federal cases. The best 5 shot group measured 2.5" and the largest measured 4". Here are some pictures I took from both the firing line and from the target you can see in the lower left of the picture and a picture through the scope and a picture of the 2.5" group.
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  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    I went to the range again today and I had a chance to shoot 300 yards with the increased powder charge and it looks like I am heading in the right direction. I am going to increase it again to 22.0 grains and see what happens at 300 yards. I am posting a couple of today's pictures even though I made mistakes like not tightening the front rest, moving the rifle forward on the front rest and not paying attention to the wind like I should. The wind was just about 3 mph when I was putting up my target and picked up to about 5 mph switching directions and the mirage was enough that my target rings would disappear and I would have to wait to shoot the next shot. The first target 21.0grs has eight shots that have the two widest shots 3" apart with 6 shots in 1.6" but looking at the target the holes look like the bullets are just starting to become unstable. The second target I shot both 21.4grs and 21.6grs because the wind was getting stronger and both have 10 shots each with the top target having a double.
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  9. #9
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    Doc, I'm impressed. THAT is what I was looking for when I posted my poll in the Cast Boolits forum a few weeks back. I don't see how anyone shoots really good groups at long range unless they have dies that work in perfect harmony with the brass, chamber, boolit, and throat of the gun.

    I often get criticized for being a "micrometer Nazi", condemning folks for measuring sized boolits with a Harbor Freight digital caliper, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. I size to tenths just like you do, and in some instances four "tenths" DOES make a big difference in group size, as does boolit runout or dies that are pushing your case neck more and more off-center on the longitudinal axis each time they get sized and expanded.

    Using the floating chamber body die for the expander is pure genius, I've been trying to figure out something like that for my .30-30, since the thin shoulder can easily let the neck get off-center during expansion.

    Some folks use a bushing die without an expander, just bell the neck a bit and make sure the bushing gets the correct neck tension, but there is still the potential for misalignment, and I've never had the greatest consistency in neck tension using only an outside collet for neck sizing, even with turned and mic'd necks. Still a big fan of the expander ball.

    Anyway, Bravo! Keep the results coming!

    Gear

  10. #10
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    Thank You geargnasher, I am working on a set of dies for the 30-30 also and I am going to make the same sliding chamber as the 308.

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    Please do post, I finished a customized set of Lee specials a while back, honing the neck to .328" and using a bone-stock .303 British expander/decapper (.3108"), then enlarging the crimp shoulder in the seating die .002". In the process I made a sizing die .031" by accident, I'm now thinking of trying to use that as a body-supporting charging die by making a tapered expanding plug to work with the Autodisk measure. Might even eliminate the expander ball in the sizing die (one of the main causes of neck distortion) and use strictly the plug in the custom PTE die. That would eliminate the need for a separate station for powder charging with my 4-hole turret and I could seat and crimp in two steps, maybe even use the FCD.

    When it comes time to tackle the .270 Winchester again with cast, I might try to hire you to make some mods like you have above, I'm wanting a little better stuff than just fitted, traditional-style Lee dies.

    Gear

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    geargnasher, when you say tapered expanding plug do you mean for belling the case mouth.

  13. #13
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    Dang fine work! I know people who would be happy with groups like that at 50 yards...

  14. #14
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    Thanks Bret, today I was ready to go to the range for another test at 300 yds but the weather is not cooperating it is raining and windy so if the weather is good Friday I will go in the morning and test again.

  15. #15
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    Doc:
    Some of the best work I've seen. I don't have the knowledge or the equipment to do that sort of thing. But I recognize good work when I see it. I'm not surprised that your getting good results already.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Highwall View Post
    geargnasher, when you say tapered expanding plug do you mean for belling the case mouth.
    Poor description on my part, I meant like an "m" die, a hollow expander that expands the entire length of the neck and has a taper to bellmouth at the same time. The thing have a funnel seat on the top part just like the Lee PTE dies for charging the case with the Autodisk. Obviously it wouldn't work well with small calibers and IMR "logs", but should be ok for .30 caliber necks and spherical powder like 748.

    Gear

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    I went to the range today to try the 22.0gr load and the wind was 5-8mph. and came from all compass points like it usually does at the end of summer. When I was putting up the targets the wind was already blowing the loose targets and I had to put a weight on them so I would not have to chase them and I was wishing I had brought something for reading the wind. I used the grass that I could see in the bottom of the scope as a wind indicator but the wind close to the ground is not moving as fast as it is three or four feet above the ground. I thought I did pretty good even though I have not competed since 2002 and only made a few mistakes. The best five shot group was 2.855" and the worst was 4.338" at a distance of 300 yards and you can see the horizontal spread.
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  18. #18
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    Doc, this whole effort is impressive, instructive, and inspirational. You get a big

    Way To Go!
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  19. #19
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    Thank You Echo! I was running around a few days ago stealing bullets from my collection, examples of the SAECO #315 just to load up the rounds for shooting these last groups and I have no more and I am going to cast some more up today. It is 69 deg here now and I might only cast as many of the #315 as I can so I will have a chance to shoot them next weekend and do some more testing first with the powder charge then make a sizer die .3105" to try that and then play with seating depth to get it to shoot the best.

  20. #20
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    If we go to war, I want to be on your side. Never could dope the wind like that, that's pretty good shooting.

    BTW, I had anal-cranial inversion above when thinking about making a PTE die out of a sizer, the threads are totally different! I have an extra seater (only, no crimp) die that would be okay since the plug adjuster threads are the same, but the case body is kinda generic in fit. Might have to break down and buy a REAL floating chamber die and modify it.

    Gear

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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