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Thread: Carbide expander buttons for rifle dies

  1. #1
    Boolit Master AnthonyB's Avatar
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    Carbide expander buttons for rifle dies

    Fellas,
    I am a slow learner and have just read about Lyman decapping/expanding rods with carbide expander buttons for RCBS dies. Dillon dies come with the carbide expander, but I don’t see them in any others makes.
    Thinking that would be very handy for processing .308 brass on a progressive press. Anyone use one, or just remove the expander button and expand with an M die?
    Tony

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master

    Winger Ed.'s Avatar
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    The advantage of the expander ball is it works for the whole length of the neck.
    Without it, the 'M' die will open up/flare some of the neck, but I'd think the rest of it would really be on the tight side.

    If you made your own 'M' type die, the front part would need to do the job of the expander,
    and sort of get you back to it being handy to just use the expander ball in a sizer die and save a separate step.

    The carbide expander ball is the same size as the old regular ones, they just last longer.
    I'd think a "M" die would wear down at the same rate a old school expander does when used the same way in a tight neck.

    I like to see folks try different things, and raise questions.
    However; I think this concept has been pretty well worked out already.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Master AnthonyB's Avatar
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    My thought was the carbide expander would make up for a potential lack of lube in the case necks when cases are sprayed with lanolin/alcohol mix. I don’t mind lubing individual neck for a box of twenty rifle loads, but processing a 5 gallon bucket is different.
    Tony

  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master

    Winger Ed.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnthonyB View Post
    I don’t mind lubing individual neck for a box of twenty rifle loads, but processing a 5 gallon bucket is different.
    Tony
    When doing rifle ammo, I process it in increments of 100, it usually ends up being 4-500.
    For 5.56 and 7.62NATO, like for handgun ammo---- its at least 1,000 at a time.
    Yeah, I'm old and brass used to be WAY cheaper than it is now.

    What works for me is lay them out in rows on the bench, usually 1-200 at a time where I'm looking into the necks.
    Spray 'em with 'one shot', roll them about 1/2 turn, spray again.
    I spray at a low angle so the 'one shot' goes into the neck. Then run them through the sizer/de-cap/ expander ball die.

    I've trashed a few regular expander balls, but I get much more mileage out of the carbide ones.
    Last edited by Winger Ed.; 07-02-2022 at 05:04 PM.
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  5. #5
    Boolit Master AnthonyB's Avatar
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    Ed, I’ll try to low angle approach. I have been putting the brass in a plastic bag to spray lube and then swirl them around to get more even coverage.

    Once I get the initial sizing and trimming done the numbers to process after shooting get much more manageable.
    Tony

  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master

    Winger Ed.'s Avatar
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    I'm big on lubing inside the neck.
    For my lay 'em flat method, I put them on a old 'T' shirt layed out flat to keep them clean too.

    It might be my imagination, but I think I've had some cases where there was a lot of resistance to
    pull the case down off the ball, and it might have pulled the shoulder angle up some.

    For no reason, I've had a random full sized .30-06 not want the bolt to close in a real tight chamber.
    I think the expander was was trying to make its own version of a Ackley Improved case.

    I think the big advantage of the carbide expander ball is that it will last longer going out through dirty
    and/or un-lubed necks. With clean and lubed necks-- it should last forever.
    In school: We learn lessons, and are given tests.
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  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    I really like carbide expansion buttons, I ve got em put on just about every Redding size dies I own, they I think were the first to introduce them. and back then I could afford them with no problem. I wish I had them on every die set I have.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master


    GregLaROCHE's Avatar
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    I removed the expanders from my dies when I started using the NOE expanding system. I don’t do high volume reloading, but understand that those who do, would want the button system. You can’t beat carbide, especially if your doing high volume.

  9. #9
    Depending on the setup of your progressive press, if you have enough stations to body size followed by neck sizing you might try a Redding body die followed by a Lee Collet neck sizing die. Using this method my concentricity is consistently.001”or less better than 95% of the time, and the worst I’ve ever see was .003”. No neck lube required.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    after reading through these I think maybe there are two different things going on. there are expander buttons on the decapping/primer punch rod in sizing dies and then there are case mouth expanders like powder through and Lyman "m" dies and others like the noe system or such where you expand case mouth to insert a cast bullet without the lead getting shaved off when seating. ive never seen a carbide "m" die or any carbide case mouth expander that is use before the seating die, but there are new things coming out all the time and off course I'm not an expert just a hobbyest

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy
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    For lubing the case necks and body, I use a small plastic storage box that will hold several hundred 223 cases and spray with homemade case lube. I spray the brass and shake/swirl the brass to distribute the lube and that causes a lot of the cases to stand up so I spray again into the necks. Yes I miss a few necks but the residual lube left on the expander ball takes care of them.

  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master

    Winger Ed.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by farmbif View Post
    there are new things coming out all the time
    Yep. Just goes to show ya-- There's more than one way to skin a cat.
    In school: We learn lessons, and are given tests.
    In life: We are given tests, and learn lessons.


    OK People. Enough of this idle chit-chat.
    This ain't your Grandma's sewing circle.
    EVERYONE!
    Back to your oars. The Captain wants to waterski.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master pertnear's Avatar
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    I know that the new dies with neck-bushings are the must have for accuracy fanatics. While I realize the right size bushings minimize "working" the brass, I was wondering why die makers don't offer carbide sizing buttons in sets of 3 or 4 in increasing graduations of .001" diameter? Seems like another way of controlling neck tension. Just a thought...
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  14. #14
    Boolit Master and Dean of Balls




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    Anthony,
    Hornady made carbide expanders for a short time and abandoned them. I believe they also fit redding dies.

    I looked to see if I still have one in .306, which I know I do. When I find it I'll send you a PM.
    Last edited by fatnhappy; 07-03-2022 at 01:52 PM.
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  15. #15
    Boolit Grand Master
    Shiloh's Avatar
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    Redding made them.
    Not sure if they are compatible with non Redding dies.

    Shiloh
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  16. #16
    Boolit Master AnthonyB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatnhappy View Post

    I looked to see if I still have one in .306, which I know I do. When I find it I'll send you a PM.
    Thanks for looking!
    Tony

  17. #17
    Boolit Grand Master

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    As a few others mentioned, Redding also makes carbide expander balls for their dies. I have them for the cartridges that I load in volume. I believe that I get less neck stretching by using them. They are somewhat expensive!

    I also use Lanolin lube. My method is to put a hundred or few hundred cases in a gallon ZipLoc bag, give them a couple of squirts of lube, shake, rattle and roll them around for a few minutes and then dump them out to dry.

  18. #18
    Boolit Grand Master jmorris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnthonyB View Post
    My thought was the carbide expander would make up for a potential lack of lube in the case necks when cases are sprayed with lanolin/alcohol mix. I don’t mind lubing individual neck for a box of twenty rifle loads, but processing a 5 gallon bucket is different.
    Tony
    I use spray lube with Dillon dies by the 5 gallon bucket full, works for me.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    I'm a low volume shooter, always been more interested in precision shooting than imitating Rambo.

    Some forty or fifty years ago Redding sold carbide expander buttons for other dies. I got a couple and loved them ... until I got a gage to check seated bullet runout. I went back to my "M" expanders and, with Redding/Forster full length body sleeve "competition" seating dies, that's what I still do. (Love Lee's Collet Neck Sizers too!)

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    IIRC have seen the carbide expanders for Lyman and maybe RCBS, but this was years ago.

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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