Lee Collet Die or Neck Turning

Discussion in 'Reloading Forum (All Calibers)' started by Mark McMahon, Jul 9, 2019.

  1. Mark McMahon

    Mark McMahon Silver $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2017
    Messages:
    349
    Would like to know if anybody has use the Lee collet die for neck sizing instead of going the traditional neck turning route, from the videos I've looked at online, Lee collet dies appears to do a great job at NK uniformity and run out, is this why Lee doesn't sell neck turning tools? Would appreciate your thoughts.
     
  2. jepp2

    jepp2 Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2011
    Messages:
    1,327
    Kinda,

    I shoot no turn neck rifles, and so far haven't done any neck turning. With the clearance I already have, I'm not convinced turning is going to change anything.

    However, I use Lee collet dies extensively. Most of the time when I use them, I use a body die to set the shoulder where I want it, and the Lee collet die to size the case neck. Why 2 steps? Because most standard FL sizing dies seriously undersize the case neck, and the expander has to do a lot of work to bring the case neck back to the proper size. Any time the expander (and I use carbide expanders and lube the inside of the case neck) has to open the case neck up 0.002" or more, it WILL pull the case neck off center.

    The dies I only use the FL sizing die, are dies I have honed the case neck to the size I need. On those, I do not use an expander.

    I am able to achieve case neck TIR of 0.001" or less in all calibers I load for following this. I spent a lot of time trying different things, measuring what worked well for me and what didn't. Redding S dies with Redding bushings gave high runout. By changing to Whidden bushings I was able to reduce the runout by 50% or more. But I still get straighter case necks with my current process.

    There is a learning curve to use a collet die. But once you climb it, I think you will be happy. And for all the nay sayers about neck sizing, there are no calibers I only neck size for. Everything gets body sized.
     
    Mark W, rogn, muleman69 and 4 others like this.
  3. Straightshooter1

    Straightshooter1 Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    May 15, 2019
    Messages:
    111
    Well, I don't use the Lee Collet Die "instead" of neck turning. I do use it for a preliminary step to neck turning. The die does a nice job of improving the neck thickness uniformity, but doesn't do as good as actually getting the whole neck uniformed by neck turning due to spring back and the particular case flaw configuration. So, even after using a Lee Collet Die, when I turn the neck, one can see plenty irregularity(s) showing up as the neck is turned. If all the irregularities were only on the outside, I don't feel using the die would provide any benefit. But I find it helps reduce irregularities on the inside of the neck, which is what I aim to do before neck turning. And yes, I too find the die does a good job of minimizing run out.
     
  4. Mark McMahon

    Mark McMahon Silver $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2017
    Messages:
    349
    Great information, thanks fellows
     
  5. DDRH65PRC

    DDRH65PRC

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2018
    Messages:
    50
    I use a Lee Collett Neck Die. had one custom made for my 6.5 PRC. 6.5 PRC is not available yet from LEE.

    I use the Collett so no need to neck turn...at least i don't. Also, similar to the post above i use a Redding FL Bushing die to bump the shoulder back, after i neck size.

    I was having issues using the expander button, the button would sometimes pull the shoulder back up, so shoulder sizing was a bit inconsistent.

    I think Lee also has diff diameter mandrels for diff neck tension.

    I think the LEE Collet is much better than Sinclair's expander die. which does something similar but not the same.
     
    Mark McMahon likes this.
  6. Mikemci

    Mikemci

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2016
    Messages:
    291
    Maybe someone can post a link to John Valentine's instructions for setting up the die. It is very good and not like anything in the Lee instructions.
    I love this die!
     
  7. done111

    done111 Silver $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2017
    Messages:
    100
    Is that the method where you use a little cam over of the press to help get consistent squeezing pressure to the neck of the brass?
     
    Fort_Bragger likes this.
  8. Homerange

    Homerange

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2015
    Messages:
    523
    Yep and IMO it helps maintain better datum length too.

    Like jepp2 I only use LCD but with zero FL sizing for a # of calibers.
    I get some little bolt closing tension but not enough to be concerned about if your bolt lugs are kept lubed to prevent galling.
     
  9. Fotheringill

    Fotheringill

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2012
    Messages:
    776
    This is Valentine's


    Try setting your die up this way:

    Using The Lee Collet Die.
    I started using Lee collet dies when they first came on the market and have found that they are very good for the purposes for which they were designed .
    I have found that there is a lack of understanding of how to use the die properly and as a result people fail to see the advantages that the die can deliver over standard neck sizing dies.
    This is not the fault of the product , it is just a lack of understanding of how the die works and what it will feel like when you operate the press correctly.
    Standard dies use a neck expanding ball on the decapping rod and size by extruding the neck through a hole and then drag the expander ball back through the inside neck.
    The collet die achieves neck sizing by using a split collet to squeeze the outside of the case neck onto a central mandrel which has the decapping pin in it’s base .
    One advantage is that there is no stretching or drawing action on the brass.
    The inside neck diameter is controlled by the diameter of the mandrel and to some extent by the amount of adjustment of the die and the pressure applied to the press .
    This results in less misalignment than can occur in standard dies because of any uneven neck wall thickness in the cases .
    Cases will last longer in the neck area and require less trimming. If cases have very uneven neck wall thickness then this can cause problems for the collet die they definitely work smoother and more accurately with neck turned cases but it is not essential.
    When you first receive the die unscrew the top cap and pull it apart check that everything is there also that the splits in the collet have nothing stuck in them then inspect the tapered surface on the top end of the collet and the internal taper of the insert to make sure there are no metal burs that might cause it to jamb.
    Next get some good quality high pressure grease and put a smear onto the tapered surface of the collet .
    Put it back together and screw it into the press just a few threads for now . The best type of press for this die is a press of moderate compound leverage that travels over centre .
    Over centre means that when the ram reaches its full travel up it will stop and come back down a tiny amount even though the movement on the handle is continued through to the stop .
    eg. is an RCBS Rockchucker.
    This arrangement gives the best feel for a collet die sizing operation.
    Place the shell holder in the ram and bring the ram up to full height then screw the die down until the collet skirt just touches on the shell holder , then lower the ram .
    Take a case to be sized that has a clean neck inside and out and the mouth chamfered and place it in the shell holder.
    Raise the ram gently feeling for resistance if none , lower the ram.
    Screw the die down a bit at a time .
    If you get lock up ( ram stops before going over centre) before the correct position is found then back it off and make sure the collet is loose and not jammed up in the die before continuing then raise the ram feeling for any resistance , keep repeating this until you feel the press handle resist against the case neck just at the top of the stroke as the press goes over centre and the handle kinder locks in place .
    This takes much less force than a standard die and most people don’t believe any sizing has taken place .
    Take the case out and try a projectile of the correct caliber to see how much sizing has taken place.
    If it’s still too loose adjust the die down one eighth of a turn lock it finger tight only and try again .
    Once the die is near the correct sizing position it takes very little movement of the die to achieve changes in neck seating tension .
    This is where most people come undone , they move the die up and down too much and it either locks up or doesn’t size at all .
    It will still size a case locking it up but you have no control over how much pressure is applied and some people lean on the press handle to the point of damaging the die. A press like the RCBS Rockchucker , that goes over centre each time gives you a definite stopping point for the ram and the pressure that you apply .
    There is a small sweet spot for correct collet die adjustment and you must find it , once found , how sweet it is ! Advantages : With a press that travels over centre it is possible to adjust the neck seating tension within a very limited zone. No lubricant is normally required on the case necks during sizing .

    If you still cant get enough neck tension to hold the bullet properly for a particular purpose then you will have to polish down the mandrel.
    Be careful poilishing the mandrel down and only do it a bit at a time as a few thou can be removed pretty quickly if you overdo it.
    You can't get extra neck tension by just applying more force. The amount of adjustment around the sweet spot is very limited and almost not noticable without carrying out tests.
    For example , to go from a .001 neck tension to a .002 or .003 neck tension you would be talking about polishing down the mandrel.

    There are some other advantages but I will leave you the pleasure of discovering them .
    One disadvantage that I have found with the collet die is that it needs good vertical alignment of the case as it enters the die or case damage may result so go slowly.
    Also some cases with a very thick internal base can cause problems with the mandrel coming in contact with the internal base before the sizing stroke is finished.
    If pressure is continued the mandrel can push up against the top cap and cause damage . If you are getting lock up and cant get the right sizing sweet spot, then check that the mandrel is not too long for the case you can place a washer over the case and onto the shell holder and size down on that.
    It will reduce the length of neck sized and give the mandrel more clearance. If it sizes Ok after adding the washer then the mandrel could be hitting the base.
    This is not a usually problem once you learn how to use them .
    The harder the brass is the more spring back it will have so very hard brass will exhibit less sizing than soft brass because it will spring away from the mandrel more. If this is happening to excess then use new cases or anneal the necks.
    Freshly annealed brass can drag on the mandrel a bit in certain cases because it will spring back less and result in a tighter size diameter.
    I have experienced it. I always use some dry lube on the inside and outside if I get any draging effect . Normally you dont need lube.
    I make up a special batch 1/3 Fine Moly powder. 1/3 Pure graphite. 1/3 Aluminiumised lock graphite. Rub your fingers around the neck and It sticks very well to the necks by just dipping it in and out and tapping it to clear the inside neck . After a few cases it coats up the mandrel .
    Other dry lubricants would work also.
    Use the same process for normal neck sizing also.

    I noticed a definite improvement in the accuracy of my 22-250Rem. as soon as I started using a Lee collet die instead of my original standard neck die.
    Readers are encouraged to utilise the benefits of responsible reloading at all times. Although the author has taken care in the writing of these articles no responsibility can be taken by the author or publisher as a result of the use of this information.
     
    DDRH65PRC, Mikemci and Mark McMahon like this.
  10. Fotheringill

    Fotheringill

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2012
    Messages:
    776
    It works.
     
    Mikemci and centerlineseal like this.
  11. DDRH65PRC

    DDRH65PRC

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2018
    Messages:
    50
    Does he have a video of setup?
     
  12. Fotheringill

    Fotheringill

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2012
    Messages:
    776
    I don't know. It was written in 2002 and is pretty self explanatory. I know there are assembly etc videos out there. Just follow his instructions once you see how to unscrew the die and take it apart or look at the Lee instructions which will also tell you how to take it apart.
     
  13. Joe R

    Joe R Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    Messages:
    1,843
    LCDs are a great product if you don't shoot too much.

    I used to use the LCD and I thought they were great until I started having problems chambering the rounds, that opened up a pandora's box for me. Long story short that was what lead me to the Porter mandrel die. Here's my video explaining it.

    Good luck,

    Joe

     
  14. DDRH65PRC

    DDRH65PRC

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2018
    Messages:
    50
    Joe, do u have good clear photos of the mandrel die you spoke of in the video? Is it similar to the LCD with collet fingers? Apologize wasnt able to listen through the whole video, quite busy at work today
     
  15. Joe R

    Joe R Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    Messages:
    1,843
    DDRH65PRC likes this.
  16. jepp2

    jepp2 Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2011
    Messages:
    1,327
    Joe, I'm assuming you were only neck sizing and not setting the shoulder back - correct?

    Regarding your Porter mandrel die, that is basically the same as the mandrels 21'st Century is now offering - correct?
    http://www.xxicsi.com/expander-mandrels.html

    I live with the handicap of growing up in MO (the show me state). But I don't see any real advantage of using an expander to open the case neck, or using a mandrel to limit the reduction of the case neck (LCD). Either way you still have springback to deal with, just opposite affects. Just asking questions for clarification, not being judgemental.
     
  17. Joe R

    Joe R Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    Messages:
    1,843
    Jepp2, you didn't look at the video or look at the link with the picture and explanation of the die. Shame on you, but here's the answers.


    Joe, I'm assuming you were only neck sizing and not setting the shoulder back - correct?

    Correct.

    Regarding your Porter mandrel die, that is basically the same as the mandrels 21'st Century is now offering - correct?
    http://www.xxicsi.com/expander-mandrels.html

    Incorrect. Nothing like it actually. The 21st Century is a Sinclair clone, very old school. The Porter die is completely different. You obviously haven't looked at the picture or read the post.

    I live with the handicap of growing up in MO (the show me state). But I don't see any real advantage of using an expander to open the case neck, or using a mandrel to limit the reduction of the case neck (LCD). Either way you still have springback to deal with, just opposite affects. Just asking questions for clarification, not being judgemental.

    I live in Missouri City, Texas the "Show Me City" (really! check my info) :). Ask others that have bought a Porter die, you'll change your tune very quickly. YMMV
     
  18. jepp2

    jepp2 Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2011
    Messages:
    1,327
    Thanks for taking the time to answer. But I did look at the pictures and I have watched the video previously. Guess I just share a different viewpoint than you do. I see a collet holding a poorly tipped gage pin.
     

Share This Page