Warner Tool Co. Full-Length Die
"Maxi Die" with Neck-Shoulder Bushings and Headspace Shims
Rolls Royce of FL Sizing Dies
The Warner Tool Company full-length sizing die (WTC Die) is a masterpiece of machining. Alan Warner notes that tolerances are held within five ten-thousandths throughout the die. It is built with upper and lower inserts, custom-fitted to your specific brass. The lower insert sizes your case from the bottom of the web to the edge of the shoulder. On top of that rides a combination neck-shoulder bushing. This way you get the benefits of adjustable neck tension while retaining a crisp neck-shoulder junction. (Conventional neck bushings just size part of the neck. Below the bushing, brass can tend to build up.)
When this editor first held the WTC Die, my impression was "wow, this is massive" and "I have never seen machining this perfect on reloading gear of any kind before." John Southwick, who took most of the photos for this article, called me after disassembling the die for the photo shoot and said "this thing is amazing--the tolerances are unbelievably uniform--even on the locking ring. And the bushings are the best I've ever seen, by far." Handsomely finished (blued) in glossy black, with contrasting gold ring, the WTC Die looks like something built for the space program.
History and Development
We asked Alan Warner how he came to develop this new product. He replied: "After trying various factory dies, and finding them unsatisfactory, I decided to produce a better product. I tried one die and it left the body banana shaped. Then another factory die wouldn't size the base the way I wanted. I also saw the problems people were having with headspace control. So, about eight years ago, I decided to try to improve on a commercial die I was using for my .308. There was enough room to remove the banana shape of the body and establish a closer tolerance of concentricity of the neck. Well, that got screwed up and had to be thrown away. I then bought another factory die, only to find that it was worse than the one that I had just tossed. Having wasted my money twice, I decided to make my own and began cutting the first two of what you see here."
High-End Performance, with a Price to Match
The complete WTC Die with one body insert and one neck-shoulder bushing is $325.00. This includes the headspace shims, allen wrench (for the shim holder) and a machined wrench for the lock ring. Additional caliber-specific body inserts are $100, while neck-shoulder bushings cost $50.00 each.
So, with a complete die and two (2) neck-shoulder bushings, you would have $375.00 invested in the die ($325 + $50). That sounds expensive, but consider this. You can use the die for more than one cartridge. All you need is another body-sizing insert ($100.00) and appropriate neck-shoulder bushings. If you load different cartridges that share the same shoulder angle and neck size (such as the 6mmBR and 6-6.5x47), you can use the same neck-shoulder bushings on both cases. The WTC Die body, made of 4140 steel, pre-heat treated and blued, will accept die inserts for any caliber from 6mm to 30-06.
Realistically, though, you'll probably want a new body insert and at least two neck-shoulder bushings for each cartridge you reload. That totals up to $200.00 ($100.00 for the lower "body" insert plus $100 for two neck-shoulder bushings, priced at $50 each).
NOTE: In the above photo, three neck-shoulder bushings are shown. The middle one is top side-up showing the neck channel. The left and right bushings are upside-down, showing the base of the bushing, with the bevel that contacts the shoulder.
As you can see in the photo, the WTC Die is oversize. It is designed to fit in a RockChucker-style press without the 7/8" x 14 threaded press insert. In order to use the WTC Die, you'll need to remove the press insert. This can be a little difficult at first, but if you use a little penetrating oil and a long-handle wrench, it should come out without a struggle. You'll need a wrench that opens to 1.5". The slick way to go is to use a 1.5" socket with a ratcheting handle. The WTC Die thread is 1.25"-12, which fits the RockChucker perfectly with insert removed. (A standard die uses 7/8" x 14 threads.)
Once you've removed the insert, just clean the press threads, re-grease them (and grease the die's threads), and then screw in the WTC Die body. With an appropriate shellholder in place, raise the ram all the way, and screw down the die until it just touches the shell-holder.
Head-Space Control--The Best System Available, Bar None
With normal FL dies, in order to bump the shoulder back, you have to screw the entire die downwards. If you're already in contact with the shell-holder this can cause problems. We've also found that, with some die/press combinations, when you have the die set for just the right amount of shoulder bump, the die isn't even in contact with the shell-holder. Give the amount of slop in the threads and ram channel of most presses, it's generally a good idea to have the shell-holder contact the bottom of the die. This ensures that the case runs up straight into the die, and the case axis remains square to the rim.
You can fiddle around with extra-high shellholders to reduce clearance or you can actually file down the base of a standard die if you need more clearance. But Alan Warner has developed a better solution. At the bottom of the WTC Die is a ring, secured by three Allen-head screws. This ring is used to secure thin metal shims at the base of the die. Using the shims allows you to precisely adjust headspace in .001" increments, while maintaining optimal contact between the die base and the shellholder.
The WTC dies are set-up for minus .005" headspace
(with no shims in place) when used with a standard .125" shellholder. Included are a set of shims (two .001, and one each .002, .003, .004, and .005) to allow you to adjust the die head space.
Here's how it works. Raise the ram fully, then screw in the WTC Die until its base firmly contacts the shell-holder (some presses will require the die to be very slightly lower to induce more cam-over). Position the WTC Die lock ring to hold the die in place. Then run a lubed, fired case into the die. Measure the amount of shoulder bump you get. If you need more shoulder bump, remove shims. If you need less shoulder bump, add shims. NOTE: Be sure to loosen the smaller lock ring (and its knurled cap) at the top of the die before removing the lower ring to add or subtract spacer shims.
Body Insert and Neck-Shoulder Bushings
Warner Tool Co. provides one cartridge-specific insert and one neck-shoulder bushing with each die set. Body insert and bushings are Cru-Wear tool steel hardened to R.C. 63 and finish ground between centers. Normally, you would send in 2-3 fired cases and the body insert would be reamed to exactly fit your fired brass with just the right amount of sizing from top to bottom. WTC Dies are made from samples of your fired brass to full-length size only .001" to .0015" on the body diameter and just enough on the necks to get 30 or more reloads from your brass (if you anneal the necks as necessary). You can also ask Alan for custom dimensions.
Alan Warner knows that precision shooters need to adjust neck tension to adapt to different brands of brass and to control changes in tension that occur as brass work hardens over time. So, the WTC Die allows you to use incrementally sized bushings at the top to set your neck diameter. This is similar to a factory bushing neck die, with one important difference. Conventional Wilson or Redding bushings only size the neck section of the case, and actually leave the bottom of the neck unsized. The Warner bushing contacts both the neck AND the shoulder. This way you get a crisp neck shoulder junction, and there is no chance the neck is misaligned. Another benefit with a neck-shoulder bushing is that the neck is sized evenly and completely all the way down to the bottom. Conventional neck-only bushings, over time, allow brass to thicken right at the neck-shoulder junction. This may be a contributing factor in the formation of the "dreaded doughnuts". And without question, the thicker brass causes neck tension to be greater at the base of the neck than it is further up.
Using the Die
The sample die Alan Warner provided to us was supplied with .267", .268", and .269" neck-shoulder bushings. The Warners have found this is the right range for unturned 6XC brass. However, with our 6BR case, the neck diameter of a loaded round is slightly over .269" with a Lapua 105gr Scenar seated. After sizing, our Lapua brass has about 0.0014" spring-back. Therefore the .269" was simply too big, the .268" bushing provided almost no sizing, and the .267" was barely enough.
Not having sample cases from our gun in hand, Alan also crafted the body-sizing insert based on standard dimensions. It turns out we had a tighter chamber. So, when we ran our fired 6BR cases into the die they would slide right in with no reduction of the brass.
The die was so beautifully made we were disappointed that we couldn't really check to see how well it performed on our brass from top to bottom. With the .267" bushing in place it did produce a crisp neck-shoulder junction, and loaded rounds had extremely low run-out. Measured off the bullet, the dial indicator hovered under .001".
The WTC Die works best if you start with new brass or recently-annealed cases. Warner tells us: "When switching to our die, we recommend either starting with new brass or annealing anything that has been sized in another die if one plans to re-use older brass. Over time, spring-back increases, because brass work-hardens each time it is fired and/or sized. Spring-back progressively increases as the brass gets harder. Since we are shrinking the window of movement on the brass with the die, it is important for the cases to be of uniform hardness. Otherwise, they may not come out of the die as expected because of the spring-back."
Range Report--Warner Die Delivers Accuracy
To get a better idea of how a WTC Die works when the inserts are custom-fitted to the case, we talked with Ed Eckhoff, match director for recent NBRSA and U.S. F-Class Nationals held in Sacramento, California. Ed uses the WTC Die on a wildcat cartridge he calls the 6.5 FatCat.
Ed reports: "I really love the die. It is beautifully machined. There's no slop--it just has the feel of top-quality in every respect. Yes it's expensive, but I can re-use the body with a variety of different calibers--just buy a new insert. Alan crafted the FatCat body insert from my fired brass and the sizing is perfect. I have three bushings so I can adjust the neck tension as the brass gets older. I recently loaded some ammo, and I can tell you the run-out is very, very low. I'm using Winchester 25 WSSM brass necked up to 6.5 mm for this case, so I had some concerns. Run-out on brand new brass is .003". But once it comes out of that die the brass is super straight. My run-out on fired, sized brass is under .001"--the needle just barely moves. Accuracy-wise, I can't complain. My 6.5 FatCat has proven incredibly accurate. People can't believe how well this thing shoots, even with relatively inexpensive Winchester-brand brass. It has shot in the "ones" at 100 yards. At 600 yards, I had 4 shots in .75" recently, and all my five-shot groups are coming in under 2". So, I guess you'd have to say the Warner die is doing the job. I just ordered a new body insert and 7mm neck-shoulder bushings from Alan so I can use the die for my new 7mm. It's the Warner chamber based on necked-up 270 WSM brass."
One complete Warner Die assembly includes:
- One Headspace Ring & Shim set for desired head space (includes spare screws and Allen wrench).
- Die holder body & lock ring (Your press must accept an 1.25"-12 thread).
- Two-part .750" diameter die inserts for one caliber (body + neck/shoulder).
- Top retainer, lock ring, & lock washer.
- Industry standard decap/button rod assembly.
- Custom lock ring wrench.
For more information, contact:
Warner Tool Company
18 Lucinda Terrace
Keene, NH 034331
Copyright © 2007, AccurateShooter.com | 6mmBR.com, All Rights Reserved. Photos by John Southwick. No reproduction without advanced permission in writing.
Topics: Reloading, machining, custom dies, full-length die, bushings, Rockchucker, Warner Tool Company, alan Warner.