Quantcast

Trouble with Lee 30-30 Seating Die

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by DMW1116, Oct 19, 2020.

  1. DMW1116

    DMW1116 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2020
    Messages:
    157
    So I just spent a couple hours chasing the overall length of my 30-30 110 grain loads. I started long, about 2.5 inches and walked down to the 2.475" length I want. Once there, it would not stay consistent and varied from 2.465 to 2.479. This is the first rifle cartridge I've reloaded, but didn't have this issue with the 9mm i tried before.

    Is there something wrong with the die? Is there some technique I need to develop? I ended up backing the die out after each round and walking it in with quarter turn increments. Even with all that, it would sometimes overshoot from 2.485 to 2.468. I took the seating die apart and didn't see any trash in there.
     
  2. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2014
    Messages:
    10,060
    Location:
    Middle Tn
    Check your seater stem and your bullet profile. It sounds like you may have a mismatch there that’s somehow causing some irregularity. If your only loading a few 30-30s it’s not a big deal... when you feel pressure start as you seat, back off and lose contact with the bullet and come back down on it. A started bullet should be located and straight up/down and your due without tension should be relocating the same every stroke. If you have a loose stem AND a mismatched nose profile for your seating stem then you can have seriously erratic seating. That’s what it sounds like to me.

    Next round of questions is what does your seater look like. Lee has made a couple different types over the years. What bullet are you loading? Typical round nose bullets should work with just about any die set for 30-30 but if your loading a FTX or some other pointy bullet then you may have issues. The 2 stroke seating approach should fix this issue. Are your bullets flat based or boattail? Most 30-30 are flat based but can cause issues when seating if they hang on the case and deform during seating. 110 gr... lead intended for 30 carbine maybe? Are you shaving as you seat?

    And welcome to THR. Looks like your not necessarily new, but pretty recent.
     
    Ru4real and DocRock like this.
  3. PWC

    PWC Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2018
    Messages:
    849
    Location:
    Central AZ
    Are you measiring base to datum (headspace) or base to tip (COAL)?

    COAL will vary the most, just measure a few bullets. Base to lands minus whatever you choose to seat short of the lands is, I think, you are trying to do.

    Otherwise, pretty much what WestKentucky said.
     
  4. DMW1116

    DMW1116 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2020
    Messages:
    157
    Thanks. Yes just a few days ago.

    I'm loading 110 Hornady FMJ. They are flat based, and look like a 115 grain 9mm FMJ, just smaller diameter.
     
    Ru4real likes this.
  5. Ru4real

    Ru4real Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2017
    Messages:
    495
    Location:
    Utah
    A couple things. Yes, there is something wrong with the die, and yes you need to change your technique to get OAL plus or minus 0.001”.

    First, pull your Lee die apart and look at the face of the surface that seats the bullet. Lee usually uses a concave / curved surface. Grind the concave surface flat and square to its side. Reset your die to correct OAL using a round you’ve already made and are happy with.

    And / Or

    Add a step to your technique, if using a single stage press. Put the charged case with bullet sitting on top into the shell holder. Drop the handle lifting the ram part way to seat the bullet part way. Lift the handle a little to drop the ram some, spin the case in the shell holder some and then seat the bullet the rest of the way.

    The reason you are getting varying OAL, is the bullets are not being initially seated straight, and the concave surface of the Lee die limits how much the bullet can right itself as it slides into the case mouth. The hitch step in technique should be done anytime you want the best chance of getting the bullet concentric and parallel to the centerline of the case. So bench rest type accuracy. This hitch step gives the case and bullet tip a chance to get a different surface to bear on for the final seating. Once this becomes your routine, it adds about a second to each bullet seat time.

    Similar to what WestKentucky said, two stroke seating approach, but spin the case some in the middle of your two stroke.

    Shh. Don’t tell anyone you’ve learned the secret of why $100 precision seating dies are a waste of $100.

    I’ve ground the concavness out of Lee dies for the simple fact that they were changing the shape of the bullet nose. I would bet if you look close, the nose on your JHP bullet tips are being distorted slightly because the concave curve is not an exact match to your bullet nose.

    Long post, complicated answer, but that’s learning. If you incorporate both above, grinding and hitch step, all of your 30-30 rounds OAL will be plus or minus 0.001”.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2020
  6. DMW1116

    DMW1116 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2020
    Messages:
    157
    I thought about flipping the die around. Its flat on the other end. I'll try that trick about turning the case too. I think there might have been some confusion. I'm shooting FMJ round nose bullets, not flat/hollow point. The die is concave though. The round nose seems to fit ok, but i can see how its inconsistent if the bullet is crooked in the case.
     
    Ru4real likes this.
  7. PWC

    PWC Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2018
    Messages:
    849
    Location:
    Central AZ
    Spin first, grind last.

    I always spin 1/3 at a time.
     
  8. DMW1116

    DMW1116 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2020
    Messages:
    157
    I started reloading the FTX bullets today. I tried the 1/3 rotation trick and it seems to work pretty well. My first group came out at 2.541" give or take 0.001". Measuring those softer tips adds another 0.001" of error too. It probably won't matter, given I'm using the factory iron sights, but it was measurable.
     
  9. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2008
    Messages:
    9,045
    Location:
    Mount Desert Island Maine
    You could always get another seating stem from Lee and modify it to seat your 110 grain bullets. Just wax or grease the bullet nose of a round that is the way you want it well and put some JB weld in the cavity. Then put the bullet and die into your press and raise it to make the shape you want and let it set. Dont forget to grease the walls of the seater body eather. This has worked best for me as a cheap alternative to getting a custom seater stem made.
     
    Stevel likes this.
  10. mdi

    mdi Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Messages:
    3,476
    Location:
    Orygun!
    There's a lot more to consistent OAL that the seating stem/die. First is variations in the bullet length/nose. I have had bullets from the same box vary in ogive and length. Same box from a large manufacturer, but slightly different profile/ogive. Also there are other parts of the cartridge besides bullets that affect OAL. I once had problems getting .009" variation out of some 30-06 rounds. After fighting the problem I discovered the rims were not consistent, some were dinged enough to throw the OAL off. And once, early in my reloading I had some priming problems; inconsistent depth from a sloppy stock primer arm on a single stage press. One out of 8 or 10 would be up to .005" high also throwing off my OAL. And don't forget method. Inconsistent operation will more often than not result in inconsistent handloads. Check these before you condemn your die...

    I had a bunch of problems with my 30-06 ammo and I succumbed to the "poor Lee products" thinking and bought a Redding seating die. Nope, no difference. None the problems were from my dies...
     
  11. edwardware

    edwardware Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2010
    Messages:
    2,916
    If you're measuring a lead nose bullet, from the tip instead of the ogive, then that's about the variation I'd expect. If the seating stem seated from the tip, the tip would consistent; fortunately it doesn't, and you should be measuring from the ogive.

    For a poly-tipped bullet, they might be slightly less variable from the tip, but still not good enough to bother controlling from there.

    For FMJ bullets. . . tip consistency varies widely. I have Sierra FMJ that are nearly as consistent in length as their OTM, and some from other mfg's that vary more than lead SP.

    Use a comparator, measure from the ogive.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2020
  12. kelbro

    kelbro Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2007
    Messages:
    1,354
    Location:
    NC
    There is some very good advice in the responses that you can apply to anything that you load. I'm not sure that little bit of variance on a 110gr FMJ 30-30 would be discernible on target.
     
    mdi likes this.
  13. DMW1116

    DMW1116 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2020
    Messages:
    157
    No I doubt it would. It was in large part for practice though, so i wanted to make sure I could get what I wanted out of my gear. I loaded the second powder charge tonight and had the same results of being within 0.001". They ranged from 2.540 to 2.542. Hopefully I can get the rest tomorrow. I'm home on covid quarantine for 13 more days.
     
  14. SSN Vet

    SSN Vet Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2006
    Messages:
    6,237
    Location:
    The Dark Side of the Moon
    Just out of curiosity... did you trim your brass?

    and...

    Do the bullets you are using have a cannelure?

    Given that a typical sheet of paper is 0.003" thick, you can see that 0.001" is a very, very small distance and a difficult tolerance to hold.

    For reference, when I job out parts for machine builds I'm working on, the price goes up significantly when I require less than 0.005" tolerance. And that's for parts cut on a CNC or a Bridgeport in a machine shop.

    I personally won't chase 0.001" COAL as I don't shoot bench rest or long distance competitions and for me, it takes the fun out of reloading.

    YMMV
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2020
  15. DMW1116

    DMW1116 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2020
    Messages:
    157
    I did trim most of the brass. Some were already short enough. I also chamfered whether or not they were trimmed. The 110 gr FMJ bullets do not have a cannelure. I'd be happy with 0.005". These varied 0.01" or slightly more. Does it matter in accuracy, given I'm shooting iron sights? Doubtful. But if there is something I am doing or not doing to prevent it, I'd rather learn on plinking ammo and know how to fix it before I start loading more expensive and critical hunting loads.

    To further answer the question, all the Hornady brass was trimmed and the 160 gr FTX bullets do have a cannelure. Coincidently these were much more consistent.

    When I get some more 110 gr FMJ projectiles, I'll see how they go. I'll try turning the case as above and maybe put a little case lube on the dome of the seating die.
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice