Have you guys had this problem with OAL before??


January 8, 2003, 08:57 PM
Hi all. I'm just about to try out my first batch of reloads. Kinda nervous, you know. First of all here's my data:
230cmj .45acp montana gold bullets
S&B brass
vhit powder N340 - 5.5 grains (minimum in speer's 13th edition)
oal: 1.26 (as per speer 13th)
Lee carbide factory crimp (3/4 turn)

When measuring oal, I got anywhere from 1.255 to 1.265. This was driving me nuts. Is there something wrong with my seater die?? It's a redding competition. Prior to installing, I disassembled and cleaned with hoppes #9 likes the folks at redding suggested.

Variances in bullet lenth wouldn't have an effect would it? I measured the MG bullets and they did vary in lenth by a few thousands.

Should I be worrying about this variance? Thanks for your help.

If you enjoyed reading about "Have you guys had this problem with OAL before??" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
January 8, 2003, 09:32 PM
Just a guess as I have never had that much variance. Maybe you are expanding the case mouth to much and some of the bullets are slipping into the case before they are crimped. The bullet should have slight resistance, it shouldn't just fall into the case when set on top of it.

Mal H
January 8, 2003, 09:57 PM
That is a larger than normal variance. The difference in bullet length shouldn't make a big difference in the OAL if your seater is pushing on the top or near the top of the bullet, but it might make a slight difference in the bullet ogive to land distance - usually not a problem to worry about.

Check TIR's tip, if the bullet is too loose in the case, it can go past the point you want it to stop.

You might want to seat and crimp in two separate operations. That can cure a multitude of ills in reloading.

To answer your question, "Should I be worrying about this variance?". Not really, just measure the OAL of a box of plinking commercial rounds and you'll see what I mean. The only reason to worry about it is if you haven't crimped or seated the bullets tight enough and they have a chance to move during recoil and cause an even shorter OAL. You should worry about that with any reload.

January 8, 2003, 10:42 PM
Check your seating stem against the tip of your bullets. I had large COL deviations loading FP bullets using the factory seating die because the stem was intended for round nose bullet profiles. The problem was apparent when I saw where the stem was contacting the bullet. I turned a flat ended stem on my lathe to solve the problem. I'm not familiar with the dies you are using, But some companies sell different stems to better match the bullets you're using. I was getting +/- .006 deviations until I replaced the stem.

January 9, 2003, 01:38 AM
I just got back from the range a little while ago. I'm still here typing with all my fingers so everything went okay. The rounds shot pretty light compared to my factory loads, but I guess that's expected.

Time to bump the grains up a little.

TIR - I'm only belling about 1/32 of an inch. The bullets definitely don't just fall in. =) The bullets more or less just barely hang out on top prior to seating. I'm feeling the "little bit of resistance" when I'm seating.

Mal H - I'm seating and crimping on different stations. Comp seater on one, lee carbide factory crimp an another.

vulcan - I'll check on that seating stem. Right now I'm using round nose bullets. I'll call redding about that.

Thanks all for your input. I greatly appreciate it. I'm taking diligent notes. :D

January 9, 2003, 12:05 PM
Did you trim all the brass to the same size? Are you using the same headstamp on all the brass?

Check your case sizes after sizing for consistant length.

Mal H
January 9, 2003, 06:10 PM
Blackcloud6 - Case length shouldn't affect the OAL. (Famous last words. ;) ) OAL is strictly the top-of-bullet to head-of-case distance. So a case can be 1/4" too long or short and still give a consistent OAL, that's a gross exageration, but you know what I mean.

mellow - another thought. What brand of press are you using? Are you giving the handle the same stroke and amount of pressure from case to case? If the press has some flex in it (read: Lee :) ), that can cause some fairly big variations in OAL.

January 9, 2003, 10:00 PM
You're right, On the Lee press, the stop isn't all that exact on the bottom of the stroke & can cause variations if consistent pressure is not applied. I missed the obvious:D . I also experienced that problem with the Lee press when banging into the stop.

January 9, 2003, 10:23 PM
I remounted my Dillon 550B after I had problems like that. They went away as well as my powder drop irregularities.

January 9, 2003, 10:53 PM
It's an RCBS pro2000. There's a little bit of play in the shell holder, so I pretty much figure that's the culprit. Anybody else with a pro2000 have this problem??

Mal H
January 9, 2003, 11:20 PM
Back to the drawing board. That's a first class press with regards to sturdiness. A shell holder with some play in it most likely won't cause .01 variation in OAL. The shell holder usually settles to the exact same dimension when in operation even though it may feel loose when there is no pressure.

As SodaPop pointed out, a rock solid mount is important for consistent loading. Maybe that's the solution.

Bottom line - I dunno.

January 9, 2003, 11:27 PM
Where do you get your vhit powder N340 ? I wish I could get ahold of that stuff but never see it at Gun Shows or at shops.

Freedom in theSkies
January 10, 2003, 02:02 AM
Soda Pop,
If the rounds will chamber, they should fire alright...
In regads to the lee die, did you have the locknut seated down completly? If not, there might be a bit of play in the die...

January 10, 2003, 02:29 AM
Freedom - Yeah, I'm pretty sure everything is locked down tight, but I will double check

Soda - yeah, I didn't find it at the gunshows either. I was just about to order 4lbs via mail when I was referred to this place that had it for $24. A little more pricey and a 20 min drive, but it sure beats paying the hazmat for just wanting to try out a pound

Mal - maybe my set- up isn't that rock solid. I'm kinda short on space, so I mounted on a Black and Decker Workmate - Not half bad to tell you the truth.

Thanks again guys for your input.

January 10, 2003, 06:55 AM

I haven't used that brand of bullet, but it may be worth your time to measure the OAL of just the bullets to make sure they are even. I have had problems with Sierra rifle bullets because my dies seat on the ogive of the bullet instead of the tip. Sometimes, bullets vary in OAL. If they are good, I would make sure everything is tight. S&B brass is pretty stiff stuff (at least what I"ve tried). If something gives, even the press flexing, you should see some variation, but the amount you are seeing is pretty extreme.

Also, I don't know if you are seating and crimping in one operation, but if you are, seat without crimping, then measure. Here's how I do it: Run a primed, flared case all the way up into the press. Screw the die down until you feel the die make contact with the brass, back it off 1/4 turn and lock it down. Then, put in your dummy round (if you made one) in the press, run it all the way up, and screw the seater plug down until it makes contact with the bullet. Tighten that lock ring. Now you are set to seat without crimping.

To crimp after seating, turn the seater plug all the way out, run your dummy round up in the press and turn by hand the crimp die down until it's tight on your round and tighten the lock nut. Now you are ready to crimp.

I have had accuracy issues crop up with seating and crimping in the same operation when using hard brass.

I hope this helps.


January 10, 2003, 03:00 PM
Just to eliminate a variable, I'd back the crimper off. In theory, length shouldn't matter especially with the .45, but if certain cases were overlength, and the crimp was set fairly tight, you may feel excessive resistance in seating-sort of reaching a "false bottom of the stroke".
You said this is your first reload batch-so that rules out my favorite culprit for OAL differences-wax or lube on the seater stem.

If you enjoyed reading about "Have you guys had this problem with OAL before??" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!