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New reloader question

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by MoreIsLess, Aug 26, 2011.

  1. MoreIsLess

    MoreIsLess Well-Known Member

    I'm new to reloading, I won't even have my equipment until next week when it arrives via UPS. I realize some of my questions may be answered in the instructions that come with the equipment. I already have Lymans 49th that I have read a lot of.

    How dow I measure OAL (overall length) of a pistol cartridge and what to do if it doesn't meet the specifications in my Lyman's book.
  2. RandyP

    RandyP Well-Known Member

    You need a caliper. I use an inexpensive Harbor Freight digital unit (about $10) and the cost goes up from there. But I find the HF one is more than accurate enough for my needs.

    One of the dies you will be using seats the bullet and has a 'micrometer type' adjusting knob on top.

    You start seating a bullet longer than you want in the seating die remove and measure it, then set the die to seat a bit more, try it and measure etc. until you are at the correct length. Too short on the first stroke of the press? all you can do is use your kinetic bullet puller (you did buy one?) and start over.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011
  3. MoreIsLess

    MoreIsLess Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the quick response.

    I do have a set of calipers coming next week with the rest of the equipment. BTW, I also am getting a Lee Classic Turret press.

    No, I didn't order a kinetic bullet puller, but I can get one at Bass Pro Shop. I figure that won't be the last thing I forgot to get and will be ordering more stuff.

    So, it sounds like OAL is just like what it sounds like, from the tip of bullet nose to the back of the case, right?
  4. dagger dog

    dagger dog Well-Known Member

    I have the Harbor Freight Dial, it is as accurate as my Mititoyo metric dial and does not eat batteries for a snack.

    If you are shooting jacketed bullets without a cannelure the caliper is needed to get the oal within specs. If you are shooting lead cast, swaged bullets or jacketed bullets with a cannelure you seat the bullet to the crimp groove /cannelure, all the pressure factors are pre set in the design of the bullet and you don't have to worry about seating depth, unless you seat the bullet deeper.
  5. T Bran

    T Bran Well-Known Member

    You will need a set of calipers to measure COAL ( cartridge overall legnth ). I prefer the digital kind cause they are easier for my old eyes to read. They are also useful for the many other things you will need to verify. If you didnt order a set with your gear dont fret because they are not to expensive. When you seat your first bullet in the case you will also be setting the COAL so adjust your seating depth slowly till it matches the measurement provided in your manual. I would advise reading through the stickies at the top of the reloading forum to be sure you have everything you need.
    Have fun and stay safe.
  6. MoreIsLess

    MoreIsLess Well-Known Member

    So, are OAL and COAL synonomous.

    I do have some digital calipers coming, I believe they are Franford Arsenal
  7. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    Yes. OverAll Length and Cartridge OverAll Length.

    You should not obsess over OAL.
    If you are not using EXACTLY the same bullet as the book specifies, their number does not mean much to you. Your ammo must fit your chamber, it must fit the magazine, and it must make the run from magazine to chamber. And two brands of bullet will very often come out at different OALs to do that.

    If you are loading for a revolver caliber, a proper revolver bullet has a crimp groove or cannelure. Crimp in that groove and OAL is automatically set.
  8. T Bran

    T Bran Well-Known Member

    Yes same thing.
    I have cheap calipers and expensive ones and I cant tell the difference so good enough on the calipers. After reading the stickey youll probably get what you need in one trip after that its bullets,primers,powder and scroungin brass.Wellcome to your new addiction.
  9. MoreIsLess

    MoreIsLess Well-Known Member

    Whew, actually, I had been obsessing over it. You may have just answered my next question as well:

    For 200gr .45ACP load my Lyman book suggests Speer Gold Dot HP #4478. Can I substitute a similar 200gr .45ACP JHP from another mfgr, such as Hornady XTP Bullets 45 Caliber (451 Diameter) 200 Grain Jacketed Hollow Point

    I will be loading pistol ammo only for now, no cast bullets
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011
  10. MoreIsLess

    MoreIsLess Well-Known Member

    Thanks.....it's kind of overwhelming at first, lots stuff to keep track of.

    I've already ordered the stuff. I'm sure I'll ending up needing something else.
  11. dickttx

    dickttx Well-Known Member

    As a very tightwad retired CPA, I don't think if you pay attention to what you are doing and load in small batches until you are sure of your load, you could ever justify the cost of a bullet puller.
    Forty + years ago I did buy a Forester collet type puller, which is absolutely useless because of the radius of the bullet. The tighter you clamp down the further it pushes the bullet in.
  12. ranger335v

    ranger335v Well-Known Member

    Book OAL is what the book makers used to develop their data, it's not a law for everyone else. You can bet they simply loaded to allow crimping in the cannalure and you can do that too.

    Most handgun cartridges, especially those lower pressure ones with largish cases and big bores aren't touchy about seating depth. Small, high pressure loads with fast powders like hot 9mm, 10mm and .40 cals are sensitive to seating depth but if you stay off the hottest possible charges even they won't be twitchy. And, believe me, loading as hot as possible doesn't really get you anything but a beat up handgun.
  13. wharvey

    wharvey Active Member

    Don't know what the manuals say but one of the "tricks" I use the set my bullet seating/crimping die for first use or when change bullets.

    1. Screw the bullet seating part on the die very far in and back the crimping part out so no crimp will happen.

    2. Put the ready to go case in the press and seat the bullet but don't do a full stroke. Seat the bullet in a little, take the cartridge out and measure. Put it back in the press and seat it a bit farther the re-measure. Continue until you get the OAL to what you want.

    3. Now back out the seating punch and start screwing in the die bringing in the die until you get the crimp you want.

    4. Lock the die in and with the cartridge still up in the die, screw the bullet seating rod down until it presses firmly against the bullet and lock it down.

    5. Check OAL on your next cartridge.

    Works for both roll crimp used on most revolvers and a taper crimp sometimes used for auto loaders.

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