Inconsistent OALs

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by mofosheee, Sep 25, 2022.

  1. mofosheee

    mofosheee Member

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    Hello Forum
    Reloading 147gr RN Berry's 9mm...........I have been unable to obtain a consistent OAL using my Dillon 650
    While my desired OAL is 1.169", I'm recording a +/- of 0.008" deviation.
    The brass has been separated by manufacture.

    Any suggestion? Thank you!
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2022
  2. James Petti

    James Petti Member

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    I load on an RCBS Pro 2000 and fixed the removable die plate with bolts to stop the chatter. Also improved OAL. I have a 750 but never tried fixing the die plate with it. There is a company which sells a kit for this purpose but the local hardware store is a hell of a lot cheaper.


    https://www.uniquetek.com/product/T1230
     
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  3. mofosheee

    mofosheee Member

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    Sounds like a start. Visited my press and found a little play. Thanks!
     
  4. higgite

    higgite Member

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    .016” is a large spread to be blaming on the press. In my experience, a Pro 2000 is much better than that. A number of things can affect COL consistency or inconsistency. Before I started modifying die plates, I’d consider these things.
    1. Varying bullet OAL is quite common. Have you measured a double handful of bullets to see how much OAL varies for just the bullet?
    2. The proper seating stem for RN bullets pushes down on the ogive, not the nose of the bullet. The cartridge base to ogive (CBTO) measurement may be consistent even when the COL isn’t. That’s common and no big deal as long as they pass the plunk test. It’s the ogive that will contact the lands if the COL is too long, not the nose of the bullet.
    3. If using a combo seating/taper crimp die, improper adjustment of the die can make a big difference. If crimping too much and/or too soon in the seating process, you’ll get inconsistent COLs, even with the same headstamp brass.

    A good check on the process, if you have a bullet puller, is to back off on the crimp if you use a combo seating/taper crimp die, or don’t crimp if you use separate dies, and seat a dummy round (no powder, no primer) multiple times with the same bullet and same brass using the same slot in the shell plate each time. You can also do the same exercise using different slots in the shell plate to see if there is a significant difference from slot to slot. I’d be surprised if there is, but stuff happens.

    Without more details of your process, these are things I suggest you look at.
     
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  5. burrhead

    burrhead Member

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    0.008" is nothing. It ain't benchrest, it's a pistol. Until one starts buying $2 bullets, ogives vary.
     
  6. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    I’m glad you said it because it had to be said. Applying the same tolerance to $2/pc BR rifle and 25-cent pistol blammo-ammo is a recipe for frustration. If something is loose on the press, tighten it; but don’t expect plated lead to be consistent. Measure the bullets and see what you’re working with.
     
  7. deadeye dick

    deadeye dick Member

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    I also started getting inconsistant OAL on my LCT The problem was lube buildup in the seating stem. Cleaned it and was good to go.
     
  8. Kaldor

    Kaldor Member

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    My thoughts as well. Only time I could really see it being a factor is if you were shooting bullseye or some other target type gun game. And and that point? You wouldnt be shooting a cheap Berrys plated bullet. I would safely say you can blame this on the ogive of the bullet. When I seat cheap bullets, I just use a flat nose seater as that will make the OAL consistent across every round, even if the ogives are slightly different. Do I run the risk on a RN bullet of flattening it slightly? Maybe, but its a minor thing at the end of the day.
     
  9. sparkyv

    sparkyv Member

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    I don't load many upper crust bullets, and I load on a Lee Turret, but I get a little tighter COAL tolerance than ± 8 thou...about half of that, typically.
     
  10. higgite

    higgite Member

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    I agree .008" spread isn't bad, but OP's +/-.008" is a little much IMHO, even for 10 cent apiece bullets. I've only been reloading 9mm about a dozen years, but I've never seen that much variation. Maybe I'm just lucky.
     
  11. joneb

    joneb Member

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    Check your primers they should be seated just below the case head.
    If you are applying any crimp I do that in a separate step.
    Do you notice any difference in resizing effort or bullet seating resistance?
    What type of seating stem are you using? Is there any bullet nose distortion after bullet seating?
     
  12. Reeferman

    Reeferman Member

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    Yup I had the same and went to flat seater no more issue.
     
  13. mofosheee

    mofosheee Member

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    Thanks for all the responses.

    1) Yes, I measured about 30 bullets and found them to be 0.669" +/- 0.001
    2) I'll try the flat seater. Overlooked the fact that OGives can vary
    3) I'm positive I'm not over crimping and will back off on the crimp and test
    4) Yes, my primers are fully seated
    5) RCBS dies, No deformation/distortion on the bullets noted after seating
    6) No resistance while resizing or seating
    7) Will check for cleanliness (as suggested above)
     
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  14. Reeferman

    Reeferman Member

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    Kaldor is bang on. On my LNL before I finally figured out what was going on I tried loading one case at a time and was still way out. Once I started with a flat seater they went from .008 to .010 down to .002 or less. I only load handgun on the LNL and use WC, SWC or flat point bullets pretty much all the time.
    Hope this solves your issue though it could be something else as well.
     
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  15. kalielkslayer

    kalielkslayer Member

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    Loading at 1.169 doesn’t give you any room for error.

    I suggest going to 1.140. I can’t fix your OAL problem, but I’m trying to fix your FTF problem.
     
  16. Kaldor

    Kaldor Member

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    LnL has some deck flex to deal with as well which is always annoying. I generally run a single round around the press, get the OAL close, and then do the final adjustment with the press fully loaded.
    I tried to figure out a way to really solve it permanently but it would require a lathe and a mill and a steel plate. Way too much work. Its one of the places the Dillons are a little better as they are stiffer.
     
  17. lordpaxman

    lordpaxman Member

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    Welcome to THR!
    When I was using RCBS dies the seater die also performed the crimp. Try running some with the seater die adjusted so it does not crimp at all. Inconsistent case length can affect the final COL when you seat and crimp in the same step.
    You can wad up some tinfoil and allow the RN bullet to crush it into the seater die which may give you a better seater profile to contact your bullets. These are easy and cheap steps to check and see if it helps the COL deviation.
    I run mixed brass most of the time so I see +/- 3 or 4 thou and don’t worry too much with that spec.
    When you said you don’t feel any resistance when sizing or seating, that’s not really typical. Did you mean excess resistance?
     
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  18. mofosheee

    mofosheee Member

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    Yes, more accurate to say "excess resistance".
     
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  19. tightgroup tiger

    tightgroup tiger Member

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    I've only had the problem of that much varience when I was seating and crimping with the same die and was over crimping.
    After I separated the two it became much easier.
    I use round nose hollowpoints and flat points both. Usually .002-.005" with round nose using my Redding Comp setting die.
    With my Redding Comp seating die, I had to back off the setscrew in the center of the mic. It was causing me up to .010" variance.
    Once I backed the setscrew off so it didn't touch the seating stem the problem went away.
     
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  20. mofosheee

    mofosheee Member

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    Yes, I run a single round, get close then load up the plate. Roll a few rounds and measure. This is where I was picking up the deviation.
    The flat seater really helped!
     
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  21. tightgroup tiger

    tightgroup tiger Member

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    Is your shell plate tightened down?
     
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  22. James Petti

    James Petti Member

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    I'm glad I read thru all these posts. I almost decided to get the Dillon from the basement and set the thing up again to see what I may have missed with that press. I'm reminded that there's nothing about it that I miss.

    I also agree that fretting small OAL variation in other than precision shooting is unnecessary. I also load on a Green Machine, Not the yardstick by which consistency in OAL is measured, but with which OAL is measured with a yardstick.
     
  23. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    Your issue could be several things. One or more of these may apply....
    ► Large fluctuations in OAL are a common issue when the operator is new to the machine or reloading. It has to do with the smoothness of machine operation. Concentrate on your arm motion being slow, smooth, and consistent. Make a conscious effort to think about your arm motion on every swing. This usually goes away after ~1000 rounds after your arm develops the "muscle memory" on its own.
    b) Dillon suggests that the top of the op lever be close to the same height as your shoulder. Change your chair, stool or machine height to accommodate this height.
    c) If you learned to reload from watching YouTube videos, then most of those people are doing it exactly WRONG. Reloading is "careful, thoughtful manufacturing". It's not a "race". Slow down !!

    ► Lubricate your cases !! I know what the die maker's Marketing Dept said, but I'm asking YOU to think of something that doesn't feel better with lubrication. You can't do it. Everything is smoother with lubrications. Remember too, on a progressive you're Sizing and Seating at the same time. It's the Sizing operation that 's most likely messing up the Seating operation results.
    Case lubrication doesn't need to take a long time, be a thick coating, or cost a lot. In fact I'm a fan of the homebrewed alcohol and lanolin solution you can find on THR. Lay 50 cases on their side and give a single spritz from a spray bottle and they are ready to load immediately.

    ► Imagine trying to put on a glove without holding the opening toward the hand. That's a good mental image to have for my last suggestion.... While RCBS dies are very nice, I believe you would be better served by using a Seating Die that accommodates a wide variety of seating stems, or what I call "anvils". Dillon and Hornady are 2 names that come to mind. Then, you can make or modify existing anvils to straighten and center the bullet BEFORE the seating action starts. How the anvil "supports" the bullet is really important to the final cartridge dimensions and accuracy.

    YemepJem.jpg
    This graphic shows how the red anvil centers and guides the bullet
    much better by supporting the ogive rather than simply pushing on the meplat.



    Additionally, I would also suggest that you would be better served with an OAL of 1.150" when loading the Berry 147gr RN. The action inside the magazine will be improved and the retention of the bullet within the case mouth will be much better.

    Hope this helps.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2022
  24. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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  25. Laphroaig

    Laphroaig Member

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    I'll bet that at the top of the stroke, with all four stations engaged, there is no play. Even with a single stage you can jiggle the case in the shell holder until it is pushed up into the die. Loading only one round at a time on a progressive might allow the play in the shell plate to affect things. But that's not how it was intended to be used.

    Seating on the ogive supports the bullet straighter. Seating on the meplate might give more consistent OAL but more chance of a crooked bullet. I'd rather have the former.
     
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