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 Help setting up RCBS Primer Pocket Swager
GlockTiger  [Team Member]
12/7/2009 11:22:25 PM
Hi Guys,

I have one of these dies but can't make sense of the instructions. RCBS makes nice stuff (I have a Pro 2000 progressive press plus some of their die sets and accessories) but seems to lacking in the manual-writing department. Their customer support is difficult to get on the phone –– the one time I got through today, I was #18 in the call queue and couldn't hang on that long. Other times I'd get the "office closed" message even though it was during their hours or just a plain busy signal.

So here are the instructions:
http://www.rcbs.com/downloads/instructions/PrimingToolsAndAccessories.pdf

I'm trying to de-crimp LC .223 brass. Manual says "The Swager Rod must be backed up snugly and securely tightened against the top of the Swager Body at all times to avoid damage to the Swager Rod." I've read plenty of posts on the net about how easy it is to bend the rod, but I don't know what "backed up snugly" means. Reading on down, "Lower the Swager Body until it contacts the web of the case" –– does this literally mean screw the die in further or raise the ram? I have no problem making the case stick on the swager button, but I have no idea if the Swager Body is in the right position relative to the ram or the proper Rod position relative to the Body. I've also never de-crimped before so I have no idea what it should feel like.

Could someone please take a shot at these setup instructions in their own words? Maybe it'll click then. Sorry if I'm being dense. I'm pretty comfortable with normal handloading operations but this tool (and vague directions) are stumping me.

Thanks everyone...
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CCW  [Team Member]
12/7/2009 11:34:11 PM
"Backed up and snugged down" means tightening the jam nut down after positioned, uses the female/male thread pitch-on-pitch of the 60 degree standard thread angle to keep the stem (backup rod) centered to the die body and not flopped to one side or dangling from a lose set of threads when the ram force is applied to it. Column buckling failure is greatly influenced by eccentric load application and moment resistance The force application to the rod is more of a "fixed-pinned" rather than "pinned-pinned" arrangement if the top of the rod is tightly secured. Keep the eccentric to a minimum, the top of the rod secured or "fixed" and the resistance to failure is increased.

I usually put a case up in the die and adjust for a slight "over center" action of the ram linkage, then wrench the lock nut down snug before retracting the ram. My rule of thumb is that if you don't need the stripper cup to retract the swager nib from the head (of say Lake City once fired pre 2008) then you are not applying enough ram force. Keep the nib cleaned of brass smear with something like CLP from time to time.

The inherent problem with the RCBS swager (off press Dillon as well) is that the stem length adjustment must accomodate "web thickness" variations from case to case. This is not too bad with a set of brass cases that has little variation. See "Dryflash3"'s sticky article at top to get an idea of "web thickness" variations on .223 /5.56 NATO cases.
dryflash3  [Team Member]
12/7/2009 11:40:49 PM
Originally Posted By CCW:
"Backed up and snugged down" means tightening the jam nut down after positioned, uses the female/male thread pitch-on-pitch of the 60 degree standard thread angle to keep the stem (backup rod) centered to the die body and not flopped to one side hanging from a lose set of threads when the ram force is applied to it. Column buckling failure is greatly influenced by eccentric load application and moment resistance The force application to the rod is more of a "fixed-pinned" rather than "pinned-pinned" arrangement if the top of the rod is tightly secured. Keep the eccentric to a minimum, the top of the rod secured or "fixed" and the resistance to failure is increased.

The inherent problem with the RCBS swager (off press Dillon as well) is that the stem lenght adjustment must accomodate "web thickness" variations from case to case. This is not too bad with a set of brass cases that has little variation. See "Dryflash3"'s sticky article at top to get an idea of "web thickness" variations on .223 /5.56 NATO cases.


Here it is.



If you don't adjust for each headstamp you will bend the rod, and have to wait for RCBS to send you a new one.
forrest0872  [Team Member]
12/8/2009 12:14:38 AM
Great info - Dryflash, thanks -
NVGdude  [Member]
12/8/2009 12:50:40 AM
Well, it depends. If you are using an RCBS press like a Rockchucker that cams over, you can definitely bend the rod. If you use a non camming press like a Lee it's a lot harder to bend the rod since you have a better feel.
dryflash3  [Team Member]
12/8/2009 12:51:12 AM
My original post about FC brass with all the info and pics is here.
dryflash3  [Team Member]
12/8/2009 12:55:28 AM
Originally Posted By NVGdude:
Well, it depends. If you are using an RCBS press like a Rockchucker that cams over, you can definitely bend the rod. If you use a non camming press like a Lee it's a lot harder to bend the rod since you have a better feel.


Having never used a Lee press, I didn't know that. Thanks for clarifying that.

Yes, I use a Rockchucker.
CCW  [Team Member]
12/8/2009 11:15:34 AM
Originally Posted By NVGdude:
Well, it depends. If you are using an RCBS press like a Rockchucker that cams over, you can definitely bend the rod. If you use a non camming press like a Lee it's a lot harder to bend the rod since you have a better feel.


Column buckling is usually too fast to be interrupted by operator feel. When it occurs the eccentric generating the bending force in the column avalanches because all the strain energy developed in the press is dumped into the bow in the rod. It is true that the lower mechanical advantage of the Lee linkage does require the OP to apply much more force to the handle to generate the buckling load.

GlockTiger  [Team Member]
12/8/2009 11:43:41 AM
Thanks for the replies. I'm using a Lee Challenger as my single-stage, fwiw. So no cam-over linkage to worry about.

I understand the nut needs to be tightened to secure the Swager Rod once the rod is in the right place, however my original question remains:

Can someone hit me with a step by step setup in their own words since the RCBS manual leaves me wondering if I have it right? (compounded by the fact that I don't know what swaging is supposed to feel like).
Mugbug  [Member]
12/8/2009 12:52:18 PM
Right or wrong this is what I do and have not bent a rod yet.

1. Run the rod all the way up in the die and lock it with the nut.
2. With the spud and cup on the ram, run the ram all the way up.
3. Run the die down until there is about 1/2 inch between the bottom of the die and the spud.
4. Drop the ram and place a piece of brass on the ram and slowly raise the ram until it is extended fully or until you make contact. If you make contact do not go any further. ( You may find it easier to place the brass on the rod and then raise the ram).
5. If you made contact back the die out until the ram is all the way up and the rod is just touching the web of the brass. If you did not make contact run the die down until the rod makes contact with the web of the brass. The spud should be resting on the primer pocket but not be forced in at this point.
6. Lower the ram a bit and turn the whole die down 1/8 turn (not the rod) and raise the ram it should force the spud into the pocket a bit. Repeat until you have spud into the brass up to the shoulder of the spud. This is where the spud changes from straight to a taper near the base of the spud.
7. You may be done, test fit a primer and see if it seats the way you like it. If not run the die down a hair at a time testing the seating resistance after every adjustment. Be careful if you go too far you will bend the rod. Once you have the die set lock it.

This takes me about minute to do and sure took me longer to type then adjusting the die will take.

Do this for each brand of brass and it might be wise to separate years as well.


ETA: On my Lee turret press the ram does not retract far enough to pop the brass off the spud on the down stroke. I solved this with a large flat washer placed over the ram, this raised the cup enough to pop off the brass.

Don't grab the brass and work it back and forth to lever the brass off the spud you will deform the pocket. It needs to pop straight up.
CCW  [Team Member]
12/8/2009 1:11:08 PM
ETA: On my Lee turret press the ram does not retract far enough to pop the brass off the spud on the down stroke. I solved this with a large flat washer placed over the ram, this raised the cup enough to pop off the brass.

Don't grab the brass and work it back and forth to lever the brass off the spud you will deform the pocket. It needs to pop straight up.


I was over on Youtube looking for a good movie on the subject. The guy with the Lee press was wrenching the case back and forth to get it off the spud. In another one after swaging the guy goes back in with a deburring tool and reams a chamfer on the pocket edge.

IMO your approach using the washer to space up the stripper cup is a far better idea.

I use the radius on the corner of the swaging spud to make the smooth lead-in into the primer cup. So, my swaging force is going to be much higher than the guy just doing a light swage then reaming a lead with the deburr tool.
Mugbug  [Member]
12/8/2009 1:15:25 PM
Agreed...like I said in step 7 once you get to the shoulder of the spud it becomes a preference thing.
GlockTiger  [Team Member]
12/8/2009 10:19:19 PM
Thank you Mugbug! That makes sense to me. 2 things that weren't clear before were

1) screw the rod up in the body until it stops (I didn't realize it would stop so soon –– I thought maybe it would go way up in the body and I had to find an arbitrary place to stop it before locking down)

2) the rod does NOT get adjusted. Just screw it up in there all the way and lock it down with the little hex nut and leave it be until you need to change to the other rod for a different size case.

Realized I'm totally out of SR primers to even test my swage amount, so that part will have to wait until I score some caps.

But I think I'm straight now –– thank you all for taking time to reply!
CCW  [Team Member]
12/8/2009 11:35:03 PM
I am not so sure you got it.

The case can only go up in the die as far as when spud base or the stripper cup on top of the spud base hits the end of the die body. You can adjust die body up and down in the press frame all day, but the case can only go up in the die as far as when the the stripper cup on top of the spud base hits (actually a few thousandths more, but that is not so relevant here). The back-up rod needs to be adjusted in the die body so the case stops on the back-up rod before the stripper cup or spud base hits the die body and even before the spud goes a small distance into the primer pocket. You only need to do the back up rod adjustment once for a given set of brass, that is segregated similar to what Dryflash3 has demonstrated.

The die body should be set in the press frame at an elevation that lets the SWAGE action take place near the end of the ram stroke where there is the highest mechanical advantage.

I have also found that it is better to manually set the mouth of the case up into and over the end of the back up rod with my fingers by feel, then ease the ram up to pick up the case and push it on in. The end of the back up rod is cup shaped so it tends to catch on the open rim of the case neck if I rely on the spud to carry the case all the way up.
Mugbug  [Member]
12/9/2009 10:24:40 AM
Originally Posted By CCW:
I am not so sure you got it.

The die body should be set in the press frame at an elevation that lets the SWAGE action take place near the end of the ram stroke where there is the highest mechanical advantage.

I agree with this but adjust the whole die not the rod.



CCW not say your way is wrong or will not work but that is not how I do it or described it....Here's the reason I find that the rod seems to work loose if I am just using just the threads to lock it in position but if it is ran into the die fully it also has the shoulder of the rod helping to stabilize it. I have not had it work loose yet.

I run the rod in the die fully and then use the die alone is used to adjust the depth. The die itself in this operation is solely the carrier of the rod and has no other function so there is no reason not to use the die to adjust the swage depth.

I went back and read the RCBS instructions and I think it could be interpreted either way.

ETA: What your aiming for regardless of how the adjustment is made is to complete the swage at the very top of your ram stroke without going to far and bending the rod. Small adjustments are your friend.

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