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Thread: Small base die for Browning BLR .308?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master FergusonTO35's Avatar
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    Small base die for Browning BLR .308?

    I decided to start loading for my early 90's Browning BLR .308 again after a long hiatus. First thing I notice is that once fired brass from a different rifle which has been full length resized in my Lee dies doesn't chamber easily. Takes a fair amount of effort to close the lever. I have been reading about the problem online and the consensus is that for unknown reasons Browning gives the BLR a tight chamber and small base dies are the solution. By comparison, some factory Remington 150 grain rounds chamber and eject no problemo. Does this sound correct? It seems counterintuitive to put a tight chamber on a lever action.
    Currently casting and loading: .32 Auto, .380 Auto, .38 Special, 9X19, .357 Magnum, .257 Roberts, 6.5 Creedmoor, .30 WCF, .308 WCF.

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master

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    it may or may not help. there is a small portion of a case that just dosnt get sized this is do to the top lip of the shell holder and the radius on the die mouth. You might cut the radius off depending on how the die hits the shoulder in relation to the shell holder. If the die bumps the shoulder back enough with out touching the shoulder run a feeler gauge between to see how much can be removed.

    A small based die may do it ink one of the cases that are tight and carefully chamber it then remove and see where they are tight. The rub marks will show you. Nime military fired brass fired in larger chambers will be a bear to size in a small base die.

    You need to watch how much you push the shoulder back when sizing. Normally .002-.003 is plenty of bump back.

  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master Don McDowell's Avatar
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    It's not uncommon for a round fired in one rifle to not chamber well in another.
    I shoot 3 BLR's. 2 of them I have rifles chambered for the same cartridge, I keep separate brass for each rifle and use standard reloading dies for.
    Long range rules, the rest drool.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master FergusonTO35's Avatar
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    Thanks! I found a good deal on an RCBS small base die so I went ahead and ordered it. Will paint one of the cases and see if I can figure out where it is hanging up at. This rifle belonged to my dad and he never used anything but factory ammo. It shoots really well so I want to get it figured out.
    Currently casting and loading: .32 Auto, .380 Auto, .38 Special, 9X19, .357 Magnum, .257 Roberts, 6.5 Creedmoor, .30 WCF, .308 WCF.

  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master


    Larry Gibson's Avatar
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    Measure the diameter of the FL sizes (with your Lee FL sizer) at the expansion web. Then measure the same on a fired cases and on the factory unfired case. If a SB die is needed the Lee sized case will be the largest diameter, then the fired case and then the factory case should be the smallest diameter.

    Make sure, when sizing the case the shell holder bumps solidly against the bottom of the die. There should be no "cam over". If your press was camming over when sizing then adjust the die (turn in a turn), resize some cases and try to chamber those. Also make sure to trim as with sizing the FL die will push the expanded case in the area of the expansion web in causing the brass to flow forward lengthening the oal of the sized case.

    A SB die should not be needed. A RCBS X-die will FL size the case and prevent the case for "stretching" so the oal does not increase and you'll not have to trim. Case life will be greatly improved also.
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
    ― Nikola Tesla

  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master popper's Avatar
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    X die is SB and limits COAL growth by a shoulder at the case mouth. SB gets the case almost all the way to the groove, regular doesn't, it's also smaller by a thous or so on the body (not much more than normal machining tolerance). Most of my brass is LC MG shot, I use the std RCBS set. I get ~6 reloads (full power) in my AR10 before neck splits and shoulder cracks (unless annealed). Smoke or mark the case and see where it hangs. I use Lee cast SS press and stop after the upstroke for a while then downstroke - reduces the brass body 'spring back'.
    My understanding of the BLR it doesn't have a lot of 'camming' power.
    Whatever!

  7. #7
    Moderator Emeritus


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    Mine is an 81 with a birth year of 1980. I have never needed a small base die and confess to swapping brass between it and a couple of bolts.
    [The Montana Gianni] Front sight and squeeze

  8. #8
    Boolit Master pietro's Avatar
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    .

    Small base Dies have long been the Gold Standard for reloading the Browning BLR.
    Experience is a wonderful thing - It lets you recognize a mistake, when you make it again.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master FergusonTO35's Avatar
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    Thanks for the wealth of info! Yes, the BLR action doesn't work well at forcing cartridges into the chamber, even compared to other lever actions. It's basically an AR with the gas system replaced by a manually operated rack and pinion.
    Currently casting and loading: .32 Auto, .380 Auto, .38 Special, 9X19, .357 Magnum, .257 Roberts, 6.5 Creedmoor, .30 WCF, .308 WCF.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Factory ammo is made for the "fire it and toss it" shooters, not reloaders. Factories can and do make ammo a tad smaller than SAAMI specs so it will easily but safely chamber in any normal chamber for one shot. Our sizer dies are typically made within SAAMI tolerances so a largish die may not size case bodies down enough to easily chamber in smallish chambers; it's no more complicated than that.

    A lot of chambering problems can be solved by pushing a case fully into the FL sizer and, with the ram remaining fully up, look for a gap between the shell holder and die mouth with the press under full pressure. If there is a gap, screw the die down an eighth turn or less (about 8" thou) and try again; repeat if necessary.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master


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    I had a Belgian made BLR 308 years ago and the SB 308 sizing die did the trick.

    gmsharps

  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master


    Larry Gibson's Avatar
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    Contrary to what's been stated the RCBS 308W X-die is not a SB die. RCBS does not list it as a SB die and it is recommended for use with all action types where as RCBS does not recommend the SB dies for other than pump and lever actions. However, as I previously mentioned, I have found cases properly sized with the X-die chamber just fine in all action types except those with special very tight match chambers. The BLR does not have such a chamber. Also with cases (milsurp or commercial) fired in that chamber and sized with the X-die will last for 20+ firings.....probably more w2ithout trimming.

    RCBS does make a SB 3.08W die but it is not an X-die. With either the standard FL die or, especially the SB die, the cases will "stretch" and require trimming. Also case life will be shorter, much shorter, with incipient head separation occurring. RCBs does make standard and SB 223 x-dies. They also made an "AR X-Die set but I don't know if it's still available. I use 8 X-dies for various cartridges including the .308W and 223 Rem. They all are "standard" FL dies with the mandrel feature. I've yet to encounter any problems with any cases sized in them chambered in any rifles. That includes the 30-30 standard X-die which I use to size cases for use in 3 different rifles (2 M94s and a Contender Carbine).
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
    ― Nikola Tesla

  13. #13
    Boolit Master FergusonTO35's Avatar
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    Thanks Larry, I'll have to keep that in mind about the X dies. Tonight I'm going to double check that my dies are adjusted properly as 1hole suggested. Operator error causes most of my woes in life!
    Currently casting and loading: .32 Auto, .380 Auto, .38 Special, 9X19, .357 Magnum, .257 Roberts, 6.5 Creedmoor, .30 WCF, .308 WCF.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    The Browning BLR and BAR when made and assembled in Belgium had tight chambers. Only BLR I had was original in 243. Had several BARs and did use RCBS small base dies on it in 308. My crew got into BLR and BAR because of displeasure with Remington 742/760s mostly 30/06s. Rems had sloppy chambers as well as everything else.

  15. #15
    Boolit Grand Master popper's Avatar
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    I have yet to trim any 308W brass. Did get a little crow trimmer for 30/30 and did some once, several years ago. Reminds me of sales guy at LGS (big box) selling a trimmer to a fellow reloading for 9mm pistol. IIRC the guy was told to anneal also.
    Whatever!

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    I recently got a more recent BLR .308 takedown with the laminated stock and have yet to load for it. I have the standard .308 die set, should this work OK? What about a Dillon sizer die for the 650? GF

  17. #17
    Boolit Master FergusonTO35's Avatar
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    Took a look at everything tonight and turns out my sizing die was not adjusted down all the way. Now that I think about it, the last time I loaded this cartridge was with a different press. Properly adjusted the die, sized a few rounds, and seated some bullets to try cycling them in the rifle. The rounds now go into battery *almost* all the way with out forcing them, hopefully the small base die will be the final piece of the puzzle.
    Currently casting and loading: .32 Auto, .380 Auto, .38 Special, 9X19, .357 Magnum, .257 Roberts, 6.5 Creedmoor, .30 WCF, .308 WCF.

  18. #18
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by Gray Fox View Post
    I recently got a more recent BLR .308 takedown with the laminated stock and have yet to load for it. I have the standard .308 die set, should this work OK? What about a Dillon sizer die for the 650? GF
    My standard RCBS, Dillon and Bonanza FL sizers just sit their boxes unused.........get the RCBS X-die.....It's all I've used for 12 + years......
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
    ― Nikola Tesla

  19. #19
    Boolit Master FergusonTO35's Avatar
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    Thanks, I'll remember that! Another question: will a 22-250 mag work in my .308 rifle? I found a nice one for about half the cost of a .308 mag. I notice Browning uses different part numbers for the .243, 7mm-08, and .308 mags even though bullet diameter is the only difference.
    Currently casting and loading: .32 Auto, .380 Auto, .38 Special, 9X19, .357 Magnum, .257 Roberts, 6.5 Creedmoor, .30 WCF, .308 WCF.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    I'm not sure if it was for the "perch belly" BLR or the newer model, but Browning once had a magazine labeled 243, 308, 358. My gunsmith's 308 magazine works for my 358. the 22-250 magazine may not work because the case taper of a 250 Savage differs from the 308 taper. The magazine lips will differ.

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