Reloading the .308 Winchester

Discussion in 'Ammo & Reloading' started by SWO1, Oct 4, 2014.

  1. SWO1

    SWO1 Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporting

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    In this thread I will explain and show My operation for reloading the .308 Win. However the process is the same for all my Bottle Neck Rifle rounds, just a slight twist on Crimping for different applications. this will be a multi post thread with seperate posts and Pic for the entire process.

    First off is the Case Preperation. This is over half the reloading time for me but an important one. Like all processes preperation insures a good final product.

    First off is my case Prep area. I have it seperate from the loading bench. Pic of my area. It includes a seperate press I use for depriming.
     

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  2. SWO1

    SWO1 Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporting

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    First step in my case prep is Tumbling the Brass. For this first pass I leave the spent primers in. tumbling is to clean the case and make it easier to inspect for defects and also they run a lot smoother thu the dies. Here I have 31 .308 Win cases and will go thu the entire operation with them. I use a medium size tumbler with Walnut Shell and rouge. The slotted spoon is to remove the brass without getting your hands into the tumbling media.

    Second Pic is the tumbled brass. This batch I let run for about 2 hours. It wasnt very dirty as it was shot factory ammo and reloaded once. I have had to let it tumble for 4-6 hours if it was real cruddy.
     

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  3. SWO1

    SWO1 Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporting

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    Next up is Depriming, decapping as it is called sometimes. I Deprime all my brass, rifle and pistol OFF the reloading press as a seperate step. I use a small Lee press that I picked up cheap for this. I use the Lee Universal Depriming Die. One setting and it deprimes all calibers, rifle and pistol.

    Second Pic is all 31 cases deprimed
     

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  4. SWO1

    SWO1 Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporting

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    this step is cleaning the primer pockets and flash hole. I do this every reloading. I use two tools, a Primer pocket uniformer and a flash hole runformer. I like the Lyman as they have handy dandy handles which make it a lot easier on the hands and wrists. Also during this step I inspect EVERY case for signs of problems. Split case necks, wrinkles or bludges in the brass, and primer pocket for clear primer seating and flash holes for no obstructions. I do this twice, once as I uniform the pockets and once as I clean the flash holes. If I find a case that is unacceptiable I crush the neck and discard in the round file.

    Pic 1 is the pocket cleanding

    Pic 2 is the flash hole cleaning.
     

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  5. SWO1

    SWO1 Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporting

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    Now on to resizing the case. For this I move over to the big single stage press with the reloading die. Two different ways to resize depending on the application. If I am reloading brass for a bolt gun or single shot break open I only NECK SIZE. This I do for the .223 bench gun. It extends the life of the case over Full Length Sizing and increases Accuracy, I believe. For Hunting rounds I full length size. this is my Full Length Sizing sequence. First off I lube the cases. Even tho the dies are Carbide bottle neck brass HAS to be lubed prior to running thu the Die, otherwise you risk getting a case stuck in the die, been there, done that. Straight walled cases dont require any lube. I use the Lee lubing paste in a tube. It contains No Oils or addatives that would degrade primer ignition or Powder ignition. I spread a thin layer on a lubing pad and roll the case lightly on it. I then run each case thru the Full Length Sizing Die. One pass is all thats required using firm pressure at the bottom of the stroke.

    Note: Neck sizing only is for brass that is shot in ONE gun only. It has to be kept seprate from brass that is used to reload for other guns. As it is shot it will be "fire formed" to that specific chamber. If used in another rifle if probably wont cycle properly. full length sizing will return the entire case to SAAMI standard and work in ANY GUN. A NECK SIZING die is required for this process. Lee only makes neck sizing dies for calibers that are Usually used for percision shooting. they will however make a Custom die for anything.

    Pic 1 lubing the cases

    Pic 2 running the cases thru the resizing die
     

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    Last edited: Oct 5, 2014
  6. SWO1

    SWO1 Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporting

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    And now the final step in case prep. Trimming the case to length. I like the Lee Zip Trim. It allows you to trim to ANY lengh, within safe standards of course. The zip trim has to parts, the cutter which is used for ALL cases, and a Barrel that is caliber specific. In the case of the .308 barrel the cutter adjusted all the way up will put a 2.006" trim on the case. Each click of the adjusting knob will decrease the lengh by .001. total adjustment is .030". The Sierra load data calls for a case length of 2.005". I adjust the trimmer and measure with a micrometer to insure proper length. During trimming I check about every 5th round to insure consistancy. The Zip Trim also puts a slight bevel on the case neck. You insert the case and run it all the way up into the die and keep firm, moderate pressure on the arm. Turn the knob and you can feel it trimming. When it turns freely, after about 4-6 revolutions its done.

    Note: Trimming to an exact length is an important requirement for consistent Ammo. In seating the bullet the seating die is adjusted off the top of the case. If Every case is not the same length you will get Varying seating depths and have ammo that is of different OALs. Therefore it wont shoot the same and may not even cycle thru autos, pump, or lever actions. If your are getting inconsistent OALs with the same bullet its probably the case length and not the die, press, or you.

    Pic 1 running through the trimmer

    Pic 2 checking for proper length
     

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    Last edited: Oct 5, 2014
  7. FOUR4D4

    FOUR4D4 Moderator Moderator

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    I think this one should become a sticky nice post SW
     
  8. SWO1

    SWO1 Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporting

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    The only thing left to do now is clean the lube off the cases. You dont need or want in the following steps. You can wipe them off with a rag, maybe use a little water or other cleaner. I just throw them back in the tumbler and run it for about 30-45 minutes again. This also helps to remove anything that has stuck to the cases and will give you problems in the other dies. You are now ready to continue the ACTUAL reloading steps, priming, charging, bullet seating, and crimping.
     

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  9. SWO1

    SWO1 Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporting

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    In this next segment of posts will go through the steps of assembling the 4 components of a round. 1. Priming .. 2. Charging .. 3. Bullet seating ... 4. Crimping.

    Priming is probley the most dangerous step. Primers are EXPLOSIVE. When priming always wear eye protection. Always keep your head away from the case neck and/or angle the case away from your head or other body parts for that matter.

    Priming can be done in a number of ways ... Priming off the press . this is done with a manual priming tool. I use the Lee hand primer. It comes with 2 trays, one for large (rifle and pistol primers) and one for small (rifle and pistol) The Lee hand primer comes with a set of case holder (11) and they are propritery to the Hand Primer. Shell holders for the press and dies DONT FIT.

    Priming on the Press. Lee as with other press manufactures make a priming tool that fits into the piston of the press. Even so you still have to place a primer, one at a time on the tool. Priming on the press also is availiable on Progressive presses that use a loading tray and automaticaly position a primer for seating on each pull of the press arm. When running through a LARGE amount of reloads at a setting this function along with Automated bullet feed and case feed really speed up the loading process. Every pull of the arm will result in a completed loaded round.

    For me I use the hand primer. I like to have the FEEL of the primer seating. Simply place desired # of primers in the tray. they will all have to be up and able to see the components in the primer, Primer mixture and anvil. You can either put the lid on the tray and gently shake it or just take your finger and gently flip the primer to the correct position. The hand primer automatically seats the primer and positions another one ready for the next case. If the primer wasnt seated deep enough it will not let the case be removed from the shell holder. Also every once in a while the primer will be presented wrong way up in which case it wont seat either. After seating a primer and before inserting the next case I always look and make sure the next primer is positioned correctly. I takes about 3 seconds to prime each case. I guess some people can go faster ..... but I am slow and sure. A good tip is to use a dryer sheet to wipe down the primer tray and other components to ensure a smooth feed. Save the dryer sheet as it will be used in another step later. I use Bounce Brand as that is what my wife has but any brand will work. It takes the static cling out.

    Pic 1 is the hand primer with trays and shell holders as is supplied by Lee. Other brands work the same and are just as good.

    Pic 2 is the slot on the single stage press for the automated primer tool

    Pic 3 is the slot on the Turret press for the automated primer tool
     

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  10. hombre243

    hombre243 Well-Known Member

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    SW, what do you do to clear the flash holes of stuck in the hole polishing media?
     
  11. SWO1

    SWO1 Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporting

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    Lets go over Primers. As I said earlier there are four basic types, Large and Small Rifle, and large and small pistol. Rifle and pistol primers can be interchanged with ONE EXCEPTION. Small primers are the same size, Small pistol can and small rifle can be used in either one. Large rifle CANNOT be used for large pistol. they will seat but will be a hair to high. Magnum primers are also availiable for each and an often done swap is regular small rifle for Magnum small pistol. The rifle primes are a little hotter than pistol as rifles and pistols use different textured powders. rifle powder is harder to ignite than pistol powder.

    I have 4 flavors of Large Rifle primers as is shown in the Pics. Two Magnum and two regular. The Sierra load data calls for Federal Match so that is what I will use. The difference in regular and match primers is more care is taken with the match to ensure a higher level of consistant ignition. Cost is slight. I have both regular and Match primers.

    primers can be purchased in 100 ct. boxes as shown here or 1000 to a brick. Cost right now is around $30 for a brick or $0.03 for primer.
     

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    Last edited: Oct 5, 2014
  12. SWO1

    SWO1 Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporting

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    Now for the actual priming process. Primers are loaded into the Priming tool tray, open end up. The handle is pressed once to position a primer ready for seating. Insert a case into the shell holder and press the handle with a firm steady pressure. Again with saftey glasses and pointing the case mouth away from you. when the seating is done remove the case, place into another loading tray. And I always look to make sure the next primer is positioned properly before inserting another case. Repeat the process for ever how many cases you will prime.

    Pic 1 is wiping down the tray and tool with a dryer sheet

    Pic 2 is 31 primers dumped into the tray. Notice that some will land open side up and some closed round side up. To position each I just lightly nudge them with my finger. the tray has a lightly dimpled texture and they flip right over into the correct position.

    Pic 3 is the tray loaded with the primers in the correct open end up.

    Pic 4 is a case instered into the shell holder on the tool. Just press the handle and a primer will be seated.

    Pic 5 is the 31 cases primed and ready for the next step. Hand priming took about 1.5 minutes.
     

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    Last edited: Oct 5, 2014
  13. SWO1

    SWO1 Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporting

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    On to charging. The process of loading powder into the case. As careful are you are probably will spill some powder. If you do just sweep it up and I disgard it out on the grass. Never put spilled powder into your trash can. Depending on the amount BAD things can happen to the trash truck. Dont take the chance.

    I have load data for IMR 3031, and 4320. Have used both with good results. However the 3031 does better in my rifles. It also happens to be what Sierra reccomends for hunting loads. Top end for this load is 43.5 grs of 3031, test at 2900 fps. My best performance is obtained with 42.2 grs at a reported 2800 fps. Here I will load 3031.

    As with priming, charging can also be done with different methods. A common and often used one (mostly for Match Ammo ) is using a beam scale. Its slower but most accurate. I use the dipper that comes with the .308 dies and a level dipper will weight out about 41 grs. I then use the manual trickler to top off.

    another method is to use a powder dispenser. One way is the Lee Powder measure. the dispending adjustment is in GRAMS. They supply a conversion chart to convert Grams to Grains. fill the hopper with powder, set the desired
    amount and rotate the handle one time. Powder is dispensed out the bottom.
    They are also pretty accurate, not as much as the beam scale tho. A good idea is to set it light and finish off with a trickler.

    third is to use a digital scale with NO powder dispensing. You have to dip the powder and top off with a trickler. Pretty darn accurate.

    Forth is to use one of the Digital dispensers and scale. I have the Lyman Gen 3 model. It takes 30 minutes to warm up go through diagnostics. The newer gen 5 and 6 only take a few seconds. I got this one NIB at a yard sale for $30. I can live with the warm up time. You program in your load, save it by punching the save button. then when you punch the ready button it will dispense and weight the charge. Be aware that the digital do dads can be affected by Floresent lights to close, cell phones, ect. Also you have to have the on a solid leval surface and not have anything touching the unit or even a slight draft or breeze will cause incorrect readings.

    for working up small batches of test loads I use the beam scale or stand alone digital scale. For production of more than 20 rounds I use the Dispenser and Scale unit.

    Also using the dryer sheet wipe down all surfaces that powder will come into contact with. Powder is highly sensitive to Static Cling, the flake pistol powders for sure.

    Pic 1 the two powders I use for .308. I will be loading with IMR 3031

    Pic 2 Beam scale with manual tricker and dipper

    Pic 3 My little digital scale with dipper and trickler

    Pic 4 The digital powder dispenser and scale. I will use this for this loading session.
     

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  14. Nogoat

    Nogoat Well-Known Member

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    Thanks these are great tips and reminders. Appreciate it!


    Sent from my iPhone using Marlin Forum
     
  15. SWO1

    SWO1 Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporting

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    Al righty then, time to charge the cases. I have the brass in a loading tray with the primer ends up. I will charge one at a time by placing it neck up onto my charging block ( just another block for this ). I place the powder funnel onto the neck of the case. I have already warmed up and saved the load data .... 42.2 grs so just have to press the ready key and it dispenses the powder and weights it. Initial discharge will be about 1-2 tenths of a grain shot and it has an automatic trickler funtions that tops off the load. It will then show the number of loads that it has dispensed for that particular load and then weight the final amount and display it on the screen. I then remover the powder lattle and dump into the funnel and into the case. I then place the case in another loading tray and repeat until all rounds are loaded. Once in a while the final weight will be flicking form 4.1 to 4.2 grs. the trickle button can be pushed and it will dispense an actual grain or two to until the display has settled on 4.2 grains. the digital scales (the two I have anway) are only accurate to the 10th of a grain. Meaning you load can actually be from 42.021 to 42.029 grns. Its hard to get any finer than that seeing as how one little piece of powder can be a couple thousands of a grain.

    Pic 1 The dispenser going into warm up mode on pressing the ON button

    Pic 2 count down in minutes and seconds of the warmup procedure

    Pic 3 Programmed load dispensed and final weight shown

    Pic 4 dumping the charge into the case through the funnel. Notice the weight displayed on the unit. that is without the pan on the scale. When the pan is replaced it zeros its self out again and ready for the next load. Have I pushed the ready button without the pan on ....Why yes I have. then you have a little mess to clean up before continuing.

    Note: its hard to double charge a rifle case. Pistol cases its EASY to do. Even a light double charge will spill over in rifle. some pistol rounds will take up to TRIPLE charge without running over. the first couple of charges I always look into the charged case to get an idea of where a correct load should be. Not really necessary in rifle but I do it anyway. Another way to check for over charging is to place the charged case on like a little stand alone scale and weigh it. they will all be VERY close in weight. Fully loaded with bullets this also can be done for another safety check.
     

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    Last edited: Oct 5, 2014
  16. SWO1

    SWO1 Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporting

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    Seating and Crimping. These final steps can be done with one or two dies, depending on the type of crimp.

    Taper Crimp ... this is just firmly pressing the case neck against the bearing body of the bullet. Considered the best for accuracy. Mainly for bolt guns and single shot/break open actions. A taper crimp is applied with the Lee Dead Length Bullet Seating die. It is done in the same stroke, bottom of it, as seating takes place. Semi Autos and pump rifles usually require a Roll Crimp. This type crimp actually roll the edge of the case mouth over and against the bullet. The Lee Factory Roll Crimp die is used even for bullets with NO canilure. Thats the serrated ring around the bearing body of the bullet. Also if you carry your ammo in a pocket loose, you many want a roll crimp. A roll crimp is firmed than a taper crimp and will produce a little higher pressure with like components. Some autos and pumps with removable Mags vice a tube can sometimes get by with a firm taper crimp. You dont want the bullet to suffer "set back" by strong recoil or pressing against another bullet in a tube Mag. Set Back will change the C.O.A.L. and you will get vairying results in shot patterns and point of impact. Nothing wrong with roll crimping rounds
    for a bolt gun. All Factory ammo is roll crimped as they dont know what guns it will be shot out of.

    For my bolt .308s I use the taper crimp there for only the Seating Die is Required. A seperate crimping function MUST be applied to rounds that are only NECK SIZED. The neck sizing die does NO CRIMPING. By adjusting the Factory Crimp Die a taper crimp can be applied.

    Just to go back and touch on the Case Trimming step. You will not achieve a good crimp, taper or roll, unless every case is the same length.

    Pic 1 The two different 150gr .308 bullets I load with for White Tail Deer. On the Left is the Soft Point Boat tail. On the right is the Soft Point Flat base. Boat Tails really dont aid in accuracy under 300 yards. They stabilize better at long range and may not be fully stabilized at shorter ranges. The Flat Base is a superior performing bullet for shorter ranges, and even some longer range Match shooters use them up to 600 yards with great results. Depends on you gun. I will use the Flat base bullets.

    Pic 2 is the Lee Dead Length Seating die. Depth is set by the Knob on top.

    Pic 3 A fully seated round showing the C.O.A.L. I check about every third round to ensure consistant seating depth. Notice my digital micrometer shows lentgh to the 10/1000 th. Every bullet in this sequence seated to with 5 10/1000 of 2.7500

    Pic 4 A charged case that has the bevel applied with the Zip Trim. The bullet sits on top and ready to be seated. Slowly lower the arm until the bullet enters the die and the apply firm, but not over agressive pressure at the bottom of the Stroke.

    Pic 5 this is the info I put on every box of reloads. I know its a little fuzzy as I didnt reset the lens for CLOSE UP SHOTS ....MY BUST.
    It is labeled with Caliber of round, Bullet brand and specs along with C.O.A.L., Powder brand, type, and load in grains, Brand of case, and Primer Mfg. with type of primer, and # of time these cases have been reloaded.

    Now have 31 loaded rounds Ready to Shoot. They will be tested at my Sighting in range, for me its 75 yards. From year to year the same load tends to change somewhat. By that I mean can shoot a little worse, same, or even a little better than in the past. You want to know before You get a big
    Buck in your sights during the season. AS this loading is tested in the Savage
    Axis and Marlin 7X I will post results in the Going Shooting thread.
     

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  17. greyhawk50

    greyhawk50 Well-Known Member

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    Most excellent thread. Very in-depth explanation. Nothing that I can disagree with.

    It's just me, but I've never used a Factory Roll Crimp Die. However, I like your explanation on when it is best used.
    The only thing that I own that it should be used on is my Marlin 30-30 and that is going to my son in Alabama. What I'll have left is 2 single shot and 1 bolt action rifles.
    Also, I have never invested in a Tumbler. Maybe I should but I just haven't.

    I differ from you in how I trim may cases. I use the Lee Handheld Case Length Trimmer System.
    http://www.amazon.com/Lee-Precision...&qid=1412612536&sr=1-7&keywords=case+trimmers
    http://www.amazon.com/Lee-Precision...qid=1412612536&sr=1-13&keywords=case+trimmers
    I use a battery drill with the Lock Stud/Shell Holder & Case Length Gauge/Cutter. After the case is trimmed and still in the Holder, I use the De-Burring Tool. Then I use Fine 3M Pad or Fine Steel Wool to clean the case, using the drill, before removing the case.

    I also use Imperial Sizing Die Wax in place of the Lube & Lube Pad. I just put a little on my thumb & index finger. Then coat the case and finish by scraping a little into the neck. Quick, easy and not as messy.

    This is what my method looks like.
     

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  18. SWO1

    SWO1 Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporting

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    Excellet greyhawk ... doing the same process, just different tools and stuff.

    I also have the lee hand held trimmers. they just wear my fingers and hands out. I Like your drill assistance. Only thing about using the lee case trim is it only trims to ONE length. I used it for quite a while and had excellent results. I just want to trim to different lengths and thats what the Zip Trim provides.
     
  19. greyhawk50

    greyhawk50 Well-Known Member

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    I'm sure that you load/shoot more than I do. I don't have sons and grand kids to help me spend money that way. heehee Although that would be a good problem to have. :))
    Most of my shooting is shotguns and rimfires.
    Except, now I have a 38 spl. that will need to be fed. At one time, I downsized my loading equipment by giving away my Lee Auto Primer and my Lee Powder Dispenser. With the demand of the 38 sp;., I had to order those items again for myself. I have a #55 Ideal Dispenser but the 38 spl. load is a little small for the Ideal. I thought the Lee might work better.
    And, Those Small Pistol Primers are SMALL. Grrrrr. Everything else that I load is Large Primers. So much for "Fat Finger Syndrome".

    Have a Blessed day. I would love to meet you some day and share your range. Wishful thinking.
     
  20. SWO1

    SWO1 Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporting

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    Sorry I missed your question earlier hombre .......

    The crushed walnut media is small enough to become lodged in flash holes. Most will clear by lightly tapping the case side as you pour out what is in the case. If it dosnt I use the Flash Hole Cleaning tool to clear it out. Another tool I use is a depriming rod that I have removed from the Full Length Sizing die. I dont need it in there as I deprime off the press in a seperate process before resizing. As I remove each case from the tumbler I always look thru the flash hole against a light source to make sure it is cleared. I check them also as I uniform the primer pocket and flash hole.