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First Gas Gun Loads

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  • First Gas Gun Loads

    Going to start loading for an AR for the first time. Everything before this has been bolt guns or pistols. Been going through the ABC's and my manuals again, looking for what I need to pay close attention to, and so far it seems to come down to full length resizing and chamber gauges.

    Anyone have suggestions for things I should study, read or pay attention to?
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  • #2
    OAL has to fit in the magazine.
    Endeavor to persevere.


    • #3
      I ain't sure about the full length resizing. I just neck size all my cases and never had a problem. You may have a problem full length resizing military cases. (If you use them). I use a lot of military brass...cheaper to buy and hardly anyone at the range picks their surplus brass up. I got a decrimper and am good to go.
      Maybe a seasoned 5.56 reloader will chime in.


      • #4
        Chamber gauge = wasted money.

        I feed self loading .308W (2) & .223R (1).

        more from home when I have a keyboard.


        • #5
          Shucks, Damannoyed beat me to it. Don't waste your money on chamber guages, don't need them.
          For my AR's, I always full-length resize. I have gotten away from neck sizing only for all my handloaded ammo.
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          • #6
            I concur with regard to chamber gauges, no need for them, the chamber is the best gauge.

            FL resizing is the best route when working with an auto loading action. Necking will eventually lead to the need for full length sizing or some other process that will bump the shoulder. I've been using RCBS 2 die sets for decades, comes with the seating die and FL sizing die die. They're economically priced, customer service is legendary, and they've never given me any issues, a good quality die.

            The process is really no different than loading for a bolt gun, except that you don't need to do much in the way of fine tuning the OAL, as long as they're short enough to fit the magazine you're good to go. The only part that requires a little bit of work is finding the charge that will consistently / reliably cycle the action, then fine tune from there until accuracy is acceptable.



            • #7
              Partial Full Length Sizing is what it's called.

              Using a Full Length Die, BUT, adjusted downward in the press ONLY enough to shove the headspacing shoulder backwards 3-5 thousandths of an inch (just enough to allow the bolt to close easily over the case) This is tested/fitted using your rifle and just finger/thumb pressure on the bolt handle/fwd assist to push the extractor over the rim.
              Actually for the 2 AR's, I crack the upper loose and use my thumb on the back of the carrier.

              Here,,, my 'Resize Die Adjustment Procedure':
              Proper die adjustment for minimum brass stretch:

              If you just follow die maker's recommendations of 'screw die down until it touches the shellholder, I will guarantee 95% of the time that you push the shoulder back too far, possibly WAY to far (know of one person several rounds would not fire because the firing pin could not REACH them).
              Every time you shoot a bottlenecked case, the first thing the firing pin does is it rams the loose case fwd. until it headspaces on the stop, then it sets the primer off.
              The case walls then lock to the chamber under 50-60,000psi, and the HEAD, which is too thick to swell up and lock, slides backward to the breechface where IT stops.
              This stretches the case right where the thick head web meets the thin sides.
              I have personally seen as few as 2 reloads separate the head from this.

              Especially in an autoloader, you cannot STOP this stretching, but you can MINIMIZE it and get much MUCH longer case lifespan.

              In order to do the below fitting, you will find it BEST to have a plastic mallet (to tap the jammed action open with) and POSSIBLY a barrel rod (I have never needed this, the stuck bolt when tapped out pulls the lightly stuck case with it).

              You need to do this to fit your TIGHTEST CHAMBER ONLY since you want ammo to interchange among all barrels.

              Unique Case Lube (what I use)
              Imperial Sizing Wax (many swear by)
              One Shot SIZING WAX (not the spray-on junk, I have HEARD good results from the wax).

              One of the 3 makes life good.

              I often call the spray "one-shot", One Shot Case Glue, so many people have stuck cases in dies with it.

              Silicone spray is for keeping boots and tents dry, leave it there.

              Now, my "standard rifle die adjustment instructions"

              Set your sizing die this way, this is how I feed my BAR and my LR308, and soon to be Nic's AR.

              Take 3 fired cases from your rifle.

              Put the Full Length Resize die in your press, adjusted several turns ABOVE the ram shellholder, so as to insure NOT sizing the case enough.

              Insert one lubed case, resize, and check fit in the rifle's chamber.
              At this point, it should NOT fit.

              Adjust the die lower into the die by 1/4-turn increments, to get the case to JUST BARELY fit the chamber.

              The goal here is typically to get the case shoulder pushed back just a couple thousandths. Too little and the case headspace is too long. Too much push-back and the case is too short, which causes stretching problems.

              Bolt Action rifles have some "flexibility" in this, some people like their cases just a thou or 2 too long. The action can "squeeze" the case into place, "0-headspace". This is NOT POSSIBLE with a Lever or Autoloader action. They do not have the camming closed power of a turnbolt. These actions need the cases to be several thousandths shorter "looser" in headspace.

              When you get ONE case to just BARELY chamber in, loosen the die a 1/4 turn, resize a lubed case, and try this one. It should NOT fit.

              Tighten the die by 1/8th turn, readjust just as before. Get a finer, more precise setting.

              Once this case fits, lock the die, try the 3rd fired case. Adjust the die as needed.

              Check with the next dozen or so cases, at least.
              You MAY (probably will) have to tweak the die adjustment a bit more to account for variation in brass case spring-back.
              I do not know how bojac gets away with neck sizing for an autoloader, you HAVE to reduce the body diameter a thou or 2 for any of my 3 autoloaders in addition to pushing the shoulder back just a few thousandths.

              Let me re-iterate the first segment of that, I have, before I learned, separated the case head off in as little as 3 firings because of excessive shoulder pushback from adjusting the die too low.
              I have not separated a case head in almost 3 decades now.

              UNLESS you have some kind of ungodly tight minimum-spec target chamber, you have NO NEED for a Small Base Die.
              You ONLY, need a SB Die IF, and ONLY IF, you cannot get a standard die to resize brass small enough in the body to chamber, so no matter what The Internet tells you, DO NOT BUY ONE until after you have determined you actually need one.


              • #8
                There are also people who will tell you you need to use "Mil-Spec" primers in autoloaders.

                Question: "What was being used before CCI started marketing "milspec" primers?"

                I use WLR and WSR exclusively, no Magnums because the powders I use do not need Magnum primers, the Winchesters are (and have proven to be) plenty hot for the spherical powders I use.

                Not all primers are the same, some other maker's "Standard" primers MAY NOT light ball powder properly, especially in cold weather, if you use ball powders.


                • #9
                  Read Damannoyed post about partial resizing again and again; that's the way to do it. Period.
                  It's not that Democrats are so damned ignorant. Their problem is that everything they know is wrong.

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                  • #10
                    Some will say you also need a small base FL sizing die. My regular FL die seems to work well enough in my AR though.


                    • #11
                      Also,, if you decide to do your 'load development work' from the "start-level" (10% below maximum) manual loads, I will virtually guarantee (95%+) that your first loads will NOT drive the action.
                      You will have a Manual-Pull Single Shot.

                      I start my work from roughly mid-level (5% or so below maximum) because no ammo, no matter how wonderfully it shoots, is useful to me in an autoloader that makes ME load every round.
                      I would buy a bolt action, pump, or levergun for that.

                      Besides, none of my autoloaders seem to like to group lower-level loads, they seem to do best somewhere in the upper 10-15% of the pressure range.


                      • #12
                        "I do not know how bojac gets away with neck sizing for an autoloader, you HAVE to reduce the body diameter a thou or 2 for any of my 3 autoloaders in addition to pushing the shoulder back just a few thousandths."

                        Damannoyed, great post on the resizing die adjustment procedure! I had no idea! I started loading .223 when the Lyman 43 edition was out. A Colt AR15 was the test rifle for the loads.I just checked that manual and it has nothing other than "All jacketed bullet loads functioned perfectly in our semi auto test rifle".
                        I guess I've just been lucky all these yrs. Plus I have gobs of once fired brass loaded up. Prolly won't get it all shot up. (prepper days) I built my AR15A2 HBar back in the day with government parts from Nesards, except for the lower. Maybe that"s why I've never had no problems. Generous tolerances? But if I do, I will be prepared with your excellent procedure write up.
                        Last edited by bojac; 10-30-2018, 21:00.


                        • #13
                          Damannoyed's procedure should be a sticky, if it isn't already!


                          • #14
                            I think Paul's version is a sticky, they aren't identical, but they say the same thing.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by olyeller View Post
                              Read Damannoyed post about partial resizing again and again; that's the way to do it. Period.
                              Absolutely, and the only reason I didn't mention it is because I consider it as proper die adjustment for a FL die, which is what we consider as partial FL sizing IMHO. If we continually shove the brass into the die as far as it will go or more than necessary to facilitate chamber fit, we will experience continuous problems, up to and including excessive stretching / thinning at the web when fired, and over working it each time it goes back through the die, which will ultimately result in premature case head separations.

                              I've never understood why die manufacturer's don't elaborate on proper die adjustment in the instructions. I remember what happened to my brass when I first got into bottle neck hand loading some 40 years back, which is to say I was experiencing full case head separations within the first 2 or 3 loading's before figuring out what was causing it, and that was with bolt guns. I was actually resizing the brass as far as I could get it to go into the die, I didn't know any better, and I didn't have the internet or even video's to teach me. None the less, I got it figured out and immediately began getting no less than 10 loads from my .270 brass, with the only failures being primer pockets getting lose, and no more separations at all. Now days with annealing added to the process, I can get bottle neck brass to fully fire form within the first load, thus increasing the life span that much more, and consistently so.