Reloading .223 Remington - Tutorial Part 2 - Lubing and Sizing
Last Updated :: 3/18/2012 10:52:49 AM
Tutorial 2

Reloading .223 Remington - Tutorial Part 2 - Lubing and Sizing

by AssaultRifler

December 2007 updated 2/18/2012

This is the way I reload .223 using my tools. The tools will vary, but the overall process is the same. Throughout the
tutorial I'll mention other tools and alternative methods of accomplishing the same task whenever possible. The goal
of this tutorial is to demonstrate the process more so than specific tools.

Here's a quick overview of the reloading methodology I use:
  1. sort and inspect cases
  2. tumble dirty cases
  3. lube cases
  4. size and decap cases
  5. delube the sized cases
  6. poke out media from primer pocket
  7. clean primer pocket (optional)
  8. decrimp primer pockets (if needed)
  9. trim and deburr the trimmed cases (if needed)
  10. seat primer
  11. drop powder
  12. seat the bullet
  13. crimp the case (optional)
This is Part 2 of the tutorial, covering steps 3 through 5.

To me, resizing is the heart of the reloading process. You should have nice shiny brass to reload after completing the
first 2 steps in the reloading process: Reloading Tutorial Part 1 - Sorting and Tumbling.
The next step is to size the brass. Sizing will bring the brass back into spec and remove the spent primer. Once sized and
deprimed, you can remove the lube from the sized cases.

Step 3 - Lube cases

There's a plethora of case lubes to choose from: Dillon Case Lubricant, Hornady One Shot, RCBS lube and lube pad, Imperial Sizing Wax.
All seem to work and have their advocates. I'm a fan of the Dillon Case Lubricant myself so that's what I use. It cheap and it works and
you can lube well over 6000 cases from one bottle.


Lubing cases is relatively simple. Tools involved are:
  • white plastic meat tray
  • Dillon Case Lubricant

My technique is to lay the brass in the tray so that the bulk of it is laying on it's side as so.


The goal here is to get the lube on the body of the case. 3 or 4 squirts from the Dillon Case Lubricant will do the job. After squirting
the lube on the cases, shake the cases around in the tray so that the lube gets spread evenly.

As you shake the cases around, try to get most of them to line up so the case mouth is pointing straight up. They'll do this naturally.


Now the goal is to get a bit of lube inside the case mouths. From a 45 degree angle, mist the case mouths with the lube shake
the cases around again. You don't have to get lube in every case mouth. Some of the lube will stick to the sizing die's expander
ball from those cases that have lube in their case mouths.

Step 4 - Size and decap cases

Tools used for resizing are:
  • reloading press
  • resizing die
  • shell holder
  • case gage
  • cleaning rod, patches, WD-40 or equivalent to clean
the sizing die
  • allen wrench for the die's lock ring
  • adjustable wrenches to disassemble and reassemble the sizing die

  • Clean the reloading press and sizing die

    Before resizing I clean both my reloading press (a RCBS Rock Chucker with the RCBS Case Kicker) and my sizing die (a Hornady
    223 full length die)

    Here's the Rock Chucker, nice and clean, and the main ram lubed


    Here's the sizing die disassembled and just cleaned. I just ran a patch sprayed with WD-40 on it through the die and wiped down
    the decapping rod. Then I ran a dry patch through the die and wiped down the same decapping rod.


    When you disassemble and reassemble the sizing die, please use wrenches and not a pair of pliers!


    When reassembling the sizing die, assemble it such that the decapping pin sticks out about 1/4" from the bottom of the die body.
    This is a good starting point. Set it any lower and primers may not be punch out. If you set it much longer, then you run the risk
    of the expander ball hitting the bottom of the case and potentially damaging both the case and your decapping rod.

    Put the shell holder in the press and screw the die into the press


    Adjust the sizing die

    Now is the time to check and adjust the sizing die. My die was adjusted from my previous reloading sessions and it's already
    locked in with the lock ring.

    Insert a lubed case into the shell holder and lower the handle it's full range of travel.

    Now check the case in a case gage and make sure the cartridge headspaces correctly. I use the Dillon case gage. Others will
    use the Stony Point gage. I like the Dillon gage, as it's easy to use.

    The case should fall between the low and the high steps of the gage as so. It's hard to see but if you look at the 6 o'clock position
    of the gage you'll see the case is indeed between the low and high steps


    The way to adjust most sizing dies is:
    1. Loosen the lock ring and screw it until it's near the top of the sizing die
    2. Screw the die down in the press so on the up stroke it touches the shell holder
    3. Back off 1 full turn
    4. Size a case and check it with the case gage
    5. Usually the case will stick out a bit too much, if so then turn the die down a 1/4 of a turn
    6. Size the case again
    7. Retest with the gage
    8. Repeat as necessary
    9. Once the die is sizing the correct amount, resize a case
    10. While the case is in the die, screw the lock ring down until it touches the top of the press
    11. Tighten down the lock ring on the die

    Size the cases

    Once your sizing die is adjusted, then insert each case one at a time into the shell holder and size them all. Make sure you use a
    full stroke on the press handle when sizing or else your brass will be undersized and may not fit in your chamber.

    Here's a case being inserted into the sizing die.


    If you lubed your cases properly the case will be resized on the down stroke of the press handle. If you didn't lube the cases properly
    it'll get stuck. That's not good. Avoid stuck cases by properly lubing the cases!

    Near the end of the down stroke the spent primer will pop out and on the up stroke you'll feel the expander ball of the die expand the
    case mouth.

    Sizing is a relatively fast process, I resize a case about every 4 seconds or so. Along the way you may find primers aren't being punched
    out. Simple loosen the lock nut for the decapping rod and lower the decapping rod a bit in the die body and retighten the lock nut.

    Get a good rhythm going and size all your brass. Before you know it all your brass will be sized!



    One last tip. As you size the cases, inspect each one and pull out any with split necks or other issues. When they're dirty it's hard to find
    split necks. It's easier when they're clean. Here's 2 more defective cases I found as well as a cartridge with a bullet set back. More fodder
    for the scrap bucket and I'll pull the bullet on the one with the bullet set back. The set back was caused by a misfeed at the range, I just
    tossed the round in with the fired brass to deal with later. I guess this is the "later" part.


    Step 5 - Delube the sized cases

    Simply tumble the cases for 30 minutes or so to remove the case lube. Tumbling cases is described in Reloading Tutorial Part 1 - Sorting and Tumbling.

    Some people elect to finish reloading the cases and then tumble the completed rounds to remove the lube. That's a valid approach as well.
    I like to remove the lube right after sizing even though it may cause some extra work having to remove some tumbling media from the primer
    pocket. But that's another issue and there's tricks to deal with that and discussed in Reloading Tutorial Part 3 - Primer Pocket Prep and Trimming.