Thursday, September 15, 2016

Introduction to the 310 tong tool: part 3

In the previous two sections we've covered the tong tool handles, the variations and their features as well as the die identification you should be aware of when trying to identify dies that can be successfully used in a 310 tong tool. In this third section we'll briefly cover die set up and adjustment. Please note instructions for the Lyman 310 tool can be found here on Lyman own website as they still produce and support this unique tool. However these instructions are for the 4 die sets, this tutorial will cover 5 die set up procedures.

As I may have mentioned in one of the first 2 sections you will want a dedicated screwdriver that fits the set screws for the lock rings on the 310 dies. They are quite small and some can be quite set deep into the lock-ring depending on the era the dies were made, so it is important to have a hollow ground screwdriver (Chapman makes a nice set) that will not damage the screw or the lock-ring itself.

I will go over how to set up a 5 die set, much the same as the 4 die set in the Lyman instructions but with the sizing/decapping die functions separated into 2 dies.

First step is to decap all your fired cases, select the "universal" decap die and adjust it so that the decap pin sticks out past the handles about about 3/16" ..ish. The important thing is the pin pops the primer out and does not bottom out on the brass or hit the opposing handle (broken pin).

The nice thing is if you have 2 sets of handles and 2 universal decap dies you may set one up for both handles and never worry about having to adjust them again. They will work for all of your 5 die sets! If you have 310 PRESS dies I believe you can take the decapping rod assembly out and use them just like a 5 die set.
De-cap pin stick out, you run the risk of breaking the pin if you have it lower than necessary.

decap brass, note how far the hook extracts the case.

The next step is to size your fired brass. The die for this step in a 5 die set does not have threads on the inside (where a decap stem, seater or expander is typically threaded). A little lube is recommended although I've never used any with my .38/357 pistol set, I can however see the wisdom in the recommendation.

MR die (neck sizing) 

Adjust die until it is sizing the brass as far down as you plan to seat the bullet.
Pro tip- If you have trouble figuring out how far down the sizer is touching the brass it is recommended that you use a sharpie and color the neck then size. Where the die has touched you will see scratches in the sharpie mark. Layout fluid is also an option.

Die has sized brass as far down as I wish to seat the bullet. Note lower ring on neck

Next we set up the priming die, if you need to clean your primer pockets now is the time to do that. To set up the priming die we loosen the thumb nut and adjust the die with the handles closed until #1 the plunger sticks up into where the brass sits by a little bit and #2 the open part of the shell holder faces us. Set up the tool to the "handedness" you will be using it. I use mine in my left hand so I set it up as pictured below.

Priming chamber installed and ready to adjust.

Amount of protrusion we want for the priming plunger with the handles closed. Any more and we will lose the advantage of leverage. 

It is recommended that you practice priming with "dead" primers if this is the first time you have used a hand priming device. Make sure the primer is oriented correctly and gently squeeze, after a few times you will learn the feel of it and know how much pressure to use.

Case being primed, drop a primer atop the plunger and close gently.

Next we will gently expand or "flare" the case mouth if needed. If we have not chamfered the case mouth and we are loading say a boat tail bullet it is recommended we put a slight flair on the mouth to keep from scraping at the bullet jacket. If we are loading cast then we will need to flare to prevent shaving lead while seating cast bullets.
This is the only type of expander die set up that will work with a 310 tong tool 

Die body is threaded in and stem is installed to desired depth, it is recommended to start backed out and turn 1/2 turn in until desired effect is reached.
If you are getting varying degrees of flare at the case mouth you may be needing to trim your brass as it is not uniform between cases. Trimming options will not be covered here at this time but should be in the not so distant future.

Case in flare die as we are loading cast bullets.
Next we select our bullet seating die which also has the option to crimp the bullet in place (you would of course add powder at this step). Just like normal reloading dies it is a good idea to work out your bullet seating depth first and then crimp the bullet in place and adjust the dies accordingly. You do this by starting with the seating stem further in the die body as to bypass the crimp option. Make small adjustments as needed and once the depth is where you want it you can remove the seating stem entirely if you wish.  Now thread the die body in with the handles closed until you feel a little resistance. It is possible to over crimp with these dies so small adjustments go a very long way. After that is all figured out screw the seating stem back in tightly until it touches the loaded round with handles close.

2 seating stems are shown, as often with die sets the stems are for 2 different nose profiles of bullets.
Round nose and spitzer type seating stems are pictured.
Seating die installed in handles  adjusted to seat a flat nose cast bullet.

Though this is a powder-less dummy round for set up it is important to remember that there will be powder in the case and that keeping everything upright to prevent spilled powder is ideal!

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