During a recent conversation with a good shooter from another part of the country, I asked him what were some of the hot topics that the shooters in that area were talking about. Without hesitation, he said neck tension. He stated that in long range shooting, consistent neck tension is a must in order to shoot high scores and small groups. The intent here is not to say that any method is better than the other and we are definitely not endorsing any particular products. As scores go higher and groups get smaller, the purpose of this blog is get good shooters to think about what other good shooters are actually doing to improve.
Shooters try to achieve consistent neck tension so that during the firing process, the brass will release the bullet the same each time. Most shooters that have ever reloaded many bullets have surely noticed that often times it takes a different amount of pressure to force the bullet into the case. So what are some of the things that the successful shooters are doing?
On a recent trip to PA., most all of the shooters that I spoke with take new cases and uniform both the overall case length and the case neck thickness. Even with a no turn neck, they at least make sure that all the necks are the same thickness. Most every shooter that can afford one, has an annealer. The difference is that every good shooter has their own idea about how often to anneal. I guess that remains open for debate. What to do with the inside of the case neck? Another debatable issue. One guy suggested that after each firing, he wet tumbled his cases to get them squeaky clean and then chucked an over-sized brass bore brush in a drill press, spun bits of steel wool into the bristles before manually running the brass case up and down on the spinning brush to make certain that the case neck was shiny and super smooth. Another good shooter told me that he would not dare wet tumble his brass and that he allowed the carbon to build up in the case neck which he has determined allows for a consistent release of the bullet. Two opposing methods that obviously both work for different shooters. If possible, try them both and see which one works for you. I have also heard shooters mention that they dip their bullets in a dry lube before seating them into the case mouth. Maybe that is a way to make a clean neck act like a carbon coated neck. Not real sure on that one.
For the first few years that I reloaded bullets, I seated the bullets with a seater die and a regular reloading press. That is when I noticed how many different pressures had to be applied to the reloading press handle to seat the different bullets. Recently I purchased an arbor press with a gauge attached that will measure the pressure being applied on the down stroke. There are presses being sold with dial indicators attached and also models with liquid filled gauges attached. Choices, Choices. Once I began using the press with the meter attached, I recognized quickly that I had a big problem with consistency. On a scale of 1 to 100, the pressure to seat a group of bullets was ranging from the high 40’s to over 100, which is higher than the gauge is rated for. After several months of seating bullets with a wide range of pressures and trying to separate them into like groups of 5 or 10 for record, it became clear that there had to be a method to get 20 or 30 rounds the same instead of just 5 or 10. That is when I began to search for a real solution. A fellow shooter mentioned to me once that he sized his necks down and then ran a neck sizing mandrel in to open the case neck up. Guess what, I bought a mandrel but never used it. Even forgot I had it. In my search for a solution to my problem, I sought advice from a second good shooter. He suggested that I size the necks small and run a mandrel in the case neck to expand and force the irregularities to the outside. I said really, I think that I have heard that before.
The following is the method that I have used lately along with the results achieved. The rifle cartridge used here is a 6mm Dasher and the rifle chamber is .2704. I am trying to create a loaded round with approx. .001 neck tension with .003 neck clearance. After each firing, I use a Redding BR die with the decapping pin run way out to knock out the primers, clean primer pockets, tumble in wet media, dry, anneal, full length resize with a .267 neck bushing and bump shoulder .002. Finally I use a Wilson sizing die with a .264 neck bushing and then lube inside necks with dry lube and run the case necks into a neck sizing die with a .243 mandrel installed. I then dip the bullets in the dry lube and seat them with a Wilson seater die. The pressure on the meter now consistently reads between 20 to 25.
Is there still room for improvement? Sure. Is any of this offered as the gospel? Negative. But remember, scores are going higher and groups are getting smaller. Please come join us at Reese Bottom!!!!