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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been making up some varied .223 loads for testing. Some of the variation is bullets, some overall length of cartridge, some different brass.

But I haven't been able to dial in the OAL so that it produces a consistent length for me. I might be aiming for 2.22 OAL, and getting results that go from as low as 2.21 to 2.222.

This despite the same cartridge headstamp and same bullet model.

Any ideas why? I'm looking for things to check--I thought I should be able to produce results to virtually the exact same length every time, and while many do, some do not.

The seating die is tight in the press.

Does it matter how hard and/or quickly I pull the press handle? Could the bullets themselves be different enough that they're seating to slightly different depths?

(Bullet differences: 10 Winchester FMJ bullets ranged in length from .731-.742; 10 Sierra FMJBT bullets ranged in length from .713-.720)
 

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Are you trimming all your cases to the same exact lenght before seating the bullet? Your getting pretty good results already, most factory ammo isn't even that close.
 

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in addition to trimming the cartridges you could also set it to slightly above your OAL and tap it the rest of the way down this has worked well for me.

normally just a few slight taps against my mounting plate puts me right where i want to be i just finished up a batch of 100 using hornady FMJ-BT 55gr and got all of them to exactly 2.20 which is what the manual says.

ETA- about the only way you are going to get more accurate is going to be to buy a set of competition die with micrometer attached to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Are you trimming all your cases to the same exact lenght before seating the bullet? Your getting pretty good results already, most factory ammo isn't even that close.
Yes, I am--but even if not, why wouldn't it produce the same OAL?

I suppose I should get some factory ammo and evaluate that and see how close I am to what they produce.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
in addition to trimming the cartridges you could also set it to slightly above your OAL and tap it the rest of the way down this has worked well for me.

normally just a few slight taps against my mounting plate puts me right where i want to be i just finished up a batch of 100 using hornady FMJ-BT 55gr and got all of them to exactly 2.20 which is what the manual says.

ETA- about the only way you are going to get more accurate is going to be to buy a set of competition die with micrometer attached to it.
So this is what you might consider normal variation in results?

I've just bought a chrono so I will take these to the range and see what kind of variation in accuracy and velocity they produce. In the meantime, I think I'll get a box of factory and see what's up with that (though the whole point of reloading was to *not* have to pay for factory ammo) :).
 

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FWIW:

I checked some Federal 55gr FMJ and got an extreme spread of 2.188" to 2.199": 0.011". (ten rounds at random) These typically chronograph with a spread of +/- 100-120 fps

With 55gr SP reloaded into prepped (cleaned, matched headstamp and lot, primer pocket and flash holes cleaned and uniformed, trimmed to length and deburred,) once fired cases the spread was 2.192"-2.198": 0.006". (25 rounds at random) These chronograph to a spread of +/-25 fps.

To improve the second set of numbers would require more case inspection, checking the bullet and neck run-out, neck turning and a change in measurement technique involving determining the bullet free 'jump' and sizing the cartridge OAL to the bullet ogive rather than the tip--a lot of work for plinking ammo.


I'm reluctant to draw conclusions from your results without more data.
 

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I've been making up some varied .223 loads for testing. Some of the variation is bullets, some overall length of cartridge, some different brass.

But I haven't been able to dial in the OAL so that it produces a consistent length for me. I might be aiming for 2.22 OAL, and getting results that go from as low as 2.21 to 2.222.

This despite the same cartridge headstamp and same bullet model.

Any ideas why? I'm looking for things to check--I thought I should be able to produce results to virtually the exact same length every time, and while many do, some do not.

The seating die is tight in the press.

Does it matter how hard and/or quickly I pull the press handle? Could the bullets themselves be different enough that they're seating to slightly different depths?

(Bullet differences: 10 Winchester FMJ bullets ranged in length from .731-.742; 10 Sierra FMJBT bullets ranged in length from .713-.720)
Sometimes its just a variation in the bullet and how it makes contact in the seating die. If it causes any cycling problems in your rifle "Doubtfull" then I'd invest in a match grade seating die. Otherwise your variation is minor and I wouldnt worry about it. Try measuring Mil Surplus bullets if you want a good laugh. It amazes me that they shoot as well as they do.
 

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So this is what you might consider normal variation in results?

I've just bought a chrono so I will take these to the range and see what kind of variation in accuracy and velocity they produce. In the meantime, I think I'll get a box of factory and see what's up with that (though the whole point of reloading was to *not* have to pay for factory ammo) :).
for ammo for my AR its more than acceptable to me. when i start reloading for my .308 (which will be here in about a month or so since i am still in the analytical portion of it IE reading everything i can get my hands on to better understand how to make a better mouse trap. im currently reading reloading for competition and so far i have had to go back and re read most of the first three chapters the go research some of what they were talking about as it was way over my head.

im a pretty simple man load it up pull the trigger listen for the bang repeat each step as necessary. i will say this reloading has saved me a ton of money with all this reading and reloading i don't make it to the range nearly as often i used to. im actually down to about once or twice a week now. before it was 3 or 4 times a week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
FWIW:

I checked some Federal 55gr FMJ and got an extreme spread of 2.188" to 2.199": 0.011". (ten rounds at random) These typically chronograph with a spread of +/- 100-120 fps

With 55gr SP reloaded into prepped (cleaned, matched headstamp and lot, primer pocket and flash holes cleaned and uniformed, trimmed to length and deburred,) once fired cases the spread was 2.192"-2.198": 0.006". (25 rounds at random) These chronograph to a spread of +/-25 fps.

To improve the second set of numbers would require more case inspection, checking the bullet and neck run-out, neck turning and a change in measurement technique involving determining the bullet free 'jump' and sizing the cartridge OAL to the bullet ogive rather than the tip--a lot of work for plinking ammo.


I'm reluctant to draw conclusions from your results without more data.
I guess I'm now just trying to find out what "normal" is. I'd had the impression I should be able to produce rounds within, well, 1 or 2 one-thousandths of an inch in OAL. Obviously not many people are, and you've indicated a lot of things that can affect performance.

In the end, if I'm producing what others are able to produce, then it's not the equipment or the bullets or anything I'm doing, it's the nature of the beast.

The variance you list above for the Federal cartridges is about what I'm getting. And they fired in my AR last time out, so I would presume mine would as well.

As far as that goes, I've already shot some of my handloads through it, so I know it all works. Just trying to make sure I'm not doing something wrong. :)
 

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It sounds like you are doing fine. Like I said if you want perfect ammo you have to be willing to pay out the nose for it. Berger or Bibbs bullets, Match grade seating dies, Neck turning and trimming equipment, Primer pocket uniforming tools ect ect adnauseum. My BR friends are so anal about their ammo that it verges on insanity. For the average person on average equipment and depending on the rifle handloads can get groups into the 1/2" range at 100 yds or so depending on your skill level with a reloader and rifle. I have 2 friends that routinely post 5 shot groups in that range or less at 200 yds and one of them has posted 1.5" at 500 yds with a custom built 6mm Br. So basicly it all comes down to you and what you want to put into the game as far as time, equipment expenditures, and learning what makes your particular rifle shoot.
 

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Mongoose33,

Little things can make a big difference; and then again, sometimes not.

Checking commercial ammo for length or velocity is often quite the 'eye-opener', even stuff labeled somehow as 'special', 'supreme' or maybe 'match'. The average home/handloader, with a little practice and patience can typically exceed all but the very best commercial ammo almost from the start of their reloading career. This is part of the allure of hand loading.

I would go so far as to caution you about accuracy and precision as the extra effort becomes a huge burden, to the point of stealing time from actual shooting just to squeeze-out another 0.001" of 'precision'. As for the cost, consider the aforementioned 'jump' and 'ogive' measurements I mentioned. The Hornady tools for that procedure instantly add $100.00 to the equipment bench. The 'run-out' tool is in the $50.00-90.00 range and depending on choices of full power or hand powered trimmer/turner it's another $80.00+. Some additional small costs are per caliber based.

If you're plinking: popping cans, punching paper for fun or competing in the typical 'run and gun' games or hunting, such accuracy is mostly a waste of time indoors at the reloading bench; you can make hundreds of additional good home loads instead. Then again, if three or five overlapping holes at 200+ yards is your goal, you've been pointing in the right direction and now know that learning curve is difficult, at least.
 
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