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Trouble with my 223 OAL, any ideas?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Deavis, Dec 27, 2008.

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  1. Deavis

    Deavis Member

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    Having some trouble getting the OAL of my 223 rifle rounds to be consistent. I know why I don't like loading rifle as much as pistol!

    Here is what I'm doing.

    Trim Setup on a 650XL using Uniquetek's toolhead clamps-
    Redding Full Size (to size with max leverage)
    Dillon trim Die + 1200 (just to trim in station 3)


    Measuring 45 rounds targeting 1.750" I find the following:
    1.7508 average length
    .0008 stdev in length
    .0035 max variation (1.7490" max - 1.7525" min)

    So, the trim is generally within a thousandth statistically and a maximum difference of .0035". That seems like that is an acceptable difference given that the resolution I can measure to is 0.0005". All brass is the same headstamp but I tried with some LC and the few I measured were within the max variation as well. I think the trim setup is ok.

    Rest of the brass prep (tumble, chamfer, etc) is done. Then I start loading and the problems begin. I checked the rounds before loading and the last prep does not change the above results as one would expect.

    Load Setup on the same 650XL with a clamped toolhead
    Lee Decapping (flash hole junk)
    Dillon powder drop
    Redding Competition Seater
    Redding Crimp die

    I get the following results for my loades (10 random selections)
    2.2354" average
    0.0259" Stdev
    0.0800" max variation

    That is unacceptable I think, but when I measure some factory winchester rounds I get this
    2.2346" average
    0.0297" Stdev
    0.1050" max variation

    So, the loads are slightly less variable than factory loads but not much. That seems odd to me since I have read about people claiming to load to wqithin 0.001" OAL consistently. So I measured the bullets (Win 55gr FMJs). Here are the results:
    0.7415" Avg length
    0.0051" stdev
    0.0195" max varaiation

    Okay, well, the bullets aren't exactly as good in variation as my trim. My understanding was that the Competition seating die would help remove variation but, if anything, the variation in loaded rounds is higher than bullet variation and significantly so. The dies are tight, the seating die is setup per Redding's instructions (compress sleeve, back-off till numbers are on the front, which was 1/8 turn for me). Trim die doesn't influence it (removed it). For kicks I tried flaring the neck with an M-Die but that doesn't change things either. I haven't tried going back to an unclamped toolhead yet but given how well the trim turned out, I'm not inclined to think that is the issue.

    Any ideas? The only thing I can think is that the combination of the bullet variation and the seating die are giving me problems but the REdding die is supposed to be the cat's meow. Hmmm...
     
  2. Sagetown

    Sagetown Member

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    Deavis: You didn't mention the type of bullet your loading. Usually a soft point will be of inconsistent length because of the lead tip. You can actually see some of them are shorter than others. So your OAL will change with each round. Hollowpoints on the other hand prove to be the same length. When seating they tend to be consistent with one another.

    Edited: Oops; I overlooked the 55FMJ in your post.
    I'm glad I'm not the only one who's had that problem... Never loaded any FMJ's - yet.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2008
  3. Canuck-IL

    Canuck-IL Member

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    I assume the Redding seating die is seating on the ogive...? How consistent is that for the raw bullets you're using? I expect a lot of variation in gross overall length because of the variance in bullet noses, even Sierras. Measurement to the ogive of the bullet should be more consistent.
    /Bryan
     
  4. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Win 55gr FMJ's are very inconsistant in shape, length, weight, and ogive, as are most GI type FMJ bullets.

    All the case prep & hair-pulling in the world will not make them shoot better, because they aren't capable of shooting better in the first place.

    If you want to go to all that trouble & stress, you need to start out with higher quality bullets.

    rcmodel
     
  5. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    +1 what RC said
     
  6. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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  7. kelbro

    kelbro Member

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    Measure to the ogive, not the tip of the bullet. That's how your Redding Comp seater die works. I would bet that you would then see .001.

    If it's once-fired brass, you could also be seeing some case-head variation in the flatness or extractor/ejector blemishes. Once-fired LC brass is frequenlty harvested from fully automatic range sessions. A lot of that brass is not 'true' until you fire it in a bolt-action with a true boltface. That will often square it up. You can confirm this by setting up your measurement tool and rotating the brass. The high spots will become apparent.
     
  8. SSN Vet

    SSN Vet Member

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    if their FMJ bulk bullets...
    RCModel set you straight
     
  9. Deavis

    Deavis Member

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    Thanks Kelbro, that is the only comment I needed to see. I'm not loading match ammo, so I'm not concerend with perfect headspace/accuracy as much as I am consistency for function in a set of gas guns. The bullets aren't high quality, but the cartridge OAL variation should match their variation within reason, that was the issue. I took a lot more datapoints and by inserting the M-die into the flow and sizing the neck I got the variation down considerably. The Stdev dropped to 0.0056" which is inline with the bullet variation in OAL. If the ogive is indeed changing as well, then it is probably safe assume that it follows similar variation as the bullet length. Everything is as expected now and I think it lines up with not having the neck resized after the dillon trim die. Even through it doesn't touch the shoulder, it does touch the neck. A quick set of measurements showed the issue quite well and I ran a aset and confirmed the data.

    I'll break out my bullet comparator eventually and measure to the ogive on the bullets and see if the variation matches what I find in OAL. I suspect it will.
     
  10. Sunray

    Sunray Member

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    Make sure your dies are seated properly and locked tight. That causes more variations in OAL than anything else.
    Cartridges don't have headspace either.
     
  11. JDGray

    JDGray Member

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    +2 to RC! Them Win bullets are only good for upclose blasting. Using them on the bench will drive you crazy. At $69 per K, they look inviting, but you get what you pay for, and less:scrutiny:

    My Siera 60gr Varmint HPs, all seated within a few thousands of each other, with much more neck tension, and the best part, they produce groups:D
     
  12. dagger dog

    dagger dog Member

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    Are you using the shell holder designed for your press?

    The devitation between the shell holder and the cartridge case, and the shell holder and the press ram could cause your probelms.

    Is your seating die good and clean at the area where it contacts the ogive of the bullet?

    I too have went to .0000th's HELL :evil: the minute I brought home my new digital caliper.

    The way I whipped some of my deviation problem, I went back to my dial caliper:D
     
  13. 30Cal

    30Cal Member

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    You're using too many digits.

    Fodder bullets will vary quite a bit. Match bullets a little less so. The condition of the tips makes virtually no difference in where the bullet goes.

    Take 10rds and maul the tips of half with a pair of pliers and shoot them into the same target. You'll see what I mean.
     
  14. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    +1 to too many digits! :eek:

    Had to stop & ponder the question for awhile when I read the first post to figure out the meaning of it all.

    Never saw that small a measurement except on my machinists micrometer, and I don't use it for reloading.

    At least you didn't use metric measurements like some folks do! :D

    rcmodel
     
  15. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    you may find that the bullets were made on several different machines and then blende

    Seating Depth Variation << FROM REDDING TECH LINE

    There are many factors that can cause bullet seating depth to vary when using our Competition Seating Die. First, make sure you're comparing bullet seating depths correctly. You cannot check bullet seating uniformity by measuring cartridge overall length off the bullet point. You must use a bullet comparator, like our Instant Indicator, to compare bullet seating depths. A comparator contacts the bullet at the bore diameter contact point. This is important, as bullets can vary slightly in overall length.

    We have designed the seat stem in our Competition Seating Die to contact the bullet ogive as far down as possible. Our Competition Seating Die features a bullet guide that is only .0005-.001" larger than bullet diameter. This tight fit between the bullet guide and bullet ensures that the bullet is seated straight in the case neck. It also limits how far down the ogive the seat stem can contact the bullet. If the ogive of your bullets aren't uniform, you may notice a slight difference in seating depth. Generally, this isn't a problem as modern bullets are very uniform. In rare instances, when using inexpensive bulk bullets, you may find that the bullets were made on several different machines and then blended.

    If your loading press is worn, the ram may not stop in exactly the same spot each time you raise it. Obviously, this will cause variations in bullet seating depth. Although our instructions warn against it, raise the shellholder and adjust the outer, threaded die body to make light contact with the shellholder. (Make sure you keep the contact light, so you don't damage the die.) This creates a "dead length" seating chamber that is unaffected by where the shellholder stops. The only disadvantage to using the die adjusted this way, is that it may be awkward to read the micrometer if it ends up on the back side of the die.

    Inadequate or excessive neck tension can also cause bullet seating depth variations. If you're using a bushing style sizing die, make sure you've selected the correct diameter bushing to size the case necks. Our current recommendation, is to select a bushing tha t is .001" smaller than the neck diameter of your loaded cartridges. (See the bushingselection newsletter in the "Tech Line" section of our website for more information.) As cases are fired over and over, their necks become progressively harder. This can cause the necks to "spring-back" excessively when they are sized, which reduces the neck tension on the bullet. Either anneal the case necks after several firings, or discard the cases and start with new, soft ones.

    Heavily compressed loads can create problems when seating bullets. Our Competition Seating Die is not a powder compression die. The excessive force required to seat a bullet on a compressed load can damage the die and may cause seating depth variations. Switching to a faster burning or ball powder may eliminate the need to excessively compress the powder charge.

    If you have any further questions, please feel free to call our technical support line at 607-
    753-3331.
     
  16. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Cheap Bulk Bullets as RC said

    <<<from redding tech line
     
  17. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Rare? Nope, common place.

    Cheap is as cheap does, and there is no free lunch. You can find some deals with such bullets as Midways Dogtown bullets etc, but by and large you get what you pay for. There is no shortcut for making match quality bullets.
     
  18. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Last edited: Dec 28, 2008
  19. carbine85

    carbine85 Member

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    Man, I thought I was picky. This doesn't sound like a problem to me. Looks like you ahve some pretty tight tolerences if you're asking me.
     
  20. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    M193 Ball Ammo

    http://www.ak-47.net/ammo/ss109.txt
     
  21. Deavis

    Deavis Member

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    I wouldn't say picky, just trying to make sure that everything lines up as it should. Better to have a great setup that works across the board than a mediocre one that sometimes gives you the results you expect. Another positive is some good stuff was posted by 243winxb for future reference!
     
  22. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Check and double check, can't hurt. With 3 different chambers, many barrel rifling twist rates, and tons of different bullets, always pays to be careful and take lots of measurements.http://www.6mmbr.com/223Rem.html
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2008
  23. SSN Vet

    SSN Vet Member

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    On the bright side.... I just bought my first box of Hornady 55 gr. FMJBT bullets and they are FAR superior to the Winnies.

    $7/hundred for the Win

    $10/hundred for the Hornady
     
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