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Can bullets cause inconsistent OAL?


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I'm using a Dillon Square Deal B, loading 38 special.  The first 1000 rounds I loaded used 105 grain coated bullets I picked up from Sportsman's Warehouse.  When I switched to some prelubed lead I was given, I noticed the OAL was off.  I started checking every cartridge, and they vary by as much as 4/100 from one to the next.  As far as I can tell, the bullets are the only variable that changed.  Is that possible?  Is there anything I should be doing to fix this until the coated bullets I ordered arrive?  Is there something on my loader I should be checking?

 

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4/100 or 40 thousandths sounds extreme to me. 4 thousandths is possible due to variations on how the seating die hits it. On my SDB die it doesn't push on the end of the bullet, but rather on the sides. With plain lead lubed bullets, lube will start to build up in the die and they will gradually seat deeper. I check every hundred rounds with a small mirror when I put in a new tube of primers. Easily cleaned with Gun Scrubber on a Q-Tip without disassembly. YMMV

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As suggested clean seating die.

THE reduce the expansion of the case so there is more bullet tension when setting.

The bullet is slipping down before final crimp being pushed by lube in die.

Edited by Cliff Hanger #3720LR
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I agree with Reb and Horg.  Check for lub buildup in the seating die.

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Let me clarify, that the OAL is sporadic, not creeping.  That said, I will definitely check/clean the die.  

 

What Cliff Hanger wrote makes sense to me.  I can decrease the flare and see if that helps.  I think that's what you are saying.

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Fretless We dont know your level of experience at reloading or the SDB, so we may be stepping on toes ,and dont mean to. If you are flaring the case more than .015-.025 you are probably doing more than is necessary. The ID at the lip only needs to be a few thousandths larger than the billet diameter. .040 variable in OAL is a little extreme with the SDB. I usually find consistency of +/_ .002 Check your seating die, be aware the dies locate on the flank of the bullet and will definitely change with changes of bullet type/weight/shape. 

PM me for my phone if you want to talk 

 

Imis

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I had an issue with inconsistent OAL on a 45 ACP setup. It turned out the bullet nose didn't exactly match the  seating die and it would sometimes deform the bullet slightly while seating, thereby causing an OAL issue. I removed the die and filled it with JB Weld and then lightly pushed a well-lubed bullet in place. The resulting seating die now matched the bullets precisely and my OAL is perfect each time.

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I've used my SDB for a lot of .38 loading.  

 

+1 on the cleaning of the die.

 

Also, if there is any difference in the shape of of the cone or the diameter between your two bullets, that might account for your variance.

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It could have one other [not too likely] contributor. If your brass is slightly different length and then a slightly dirty die, the combination could happen too. For example, the 38 brass I sent you was range pickup, once fired stuff, some from JHP carry ammo and some from wadcutters.

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19 minutes ago, Branchwater Jack SASS #88854 said:

And, I know the dillon seating dies in my 650 have a reversible plug in them, depending on bullet shape. 

That's interesting.  I'm new and not the first owner of this press.  I don't think the die is reversible, but I will check on that.

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39 minutes ago, DeaconKC said:

It could have one other [not too likely] contributor. If your brass is slightly different length and then a slightly dirty die, the combination could happen too. For example, the 38 brass I sent you was range pickup, once fired stuff, some from JHP carry ammo and some from wadcutters.

I considered some kind of variance in the brass.  To rule that out I compared OAL with the lead lubed bullets and both matching/varying head stamps.  All stamps showed similar sporadic differences in OAL.

 

Thanks again for that brass.  We'll be passing some of it through our guns this weekend.

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I have had bullets purchased from the same manufacturer where the same bullet has a little variation in the nose shape. I don't know if it's a slight variation in the moulds or what. That can change where the bullet seater contacts the bullet affecting overall length. Some dies have seaters that can be reversed that are intended for either flatnosed or roundnosed bullets. Sometimes one or the other will work better.

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49 minutes ago, Branchwater Jack SASS #88854 said:

And, I know the dillon seating dies in my 650 have a reversible plug in them, depending on bullet shape. 

Exactly. This is a Dillon feature. I have not seen this in my other dies.

 

The profile of the seating die is most likely generic or matches a certain bullet profile. RCBS is going to match a bullet they produce, Lyman is going to match a bullet they produce, etc. A RNFP bullet made by one company may not have an exact profile to another manufacturer's RNFP. If a case is thicker, longer, less belled, it is going to take more pressure to push the bullet home. The more pressure the press has to overcome, the more likely the bullet will swage to match the seating die. As it deforms, it will change how deep it seats into the case.

 

If you have a correct, perfect matching seating die, the case length should not matter as long as you take the ram all the way up to the die each time.

Edited by Cholla
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26 minutes ago, Fretless said:

That's interesting.  I'm new and not the first owner of this press.  I don't think the die is reversible, but I will check on that.

SDB dies are not reversible.

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Unless you are shooting an untuned 92 oal consistency should not be a problem. I can run 38 special with the 105 g and 357 magnums with a 158 g rnfp in the same rifle. Don't "fret" about things that do not matter.

kR

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Sometimes inconsistent seating depth is caused by applying no crimp or a very loose crimp.  Then some of the bullets can stick to the seater stem and be pulled out of case slightly.  This will make a longer-than-average OverAll Length (OAL).  Can also happen if you have some brass that is short.  With that problem, there is not enough mouth to the case to have the crimp die press the mouth into the bullet.

 

OP - you did not specify what DIRECTION your OAL was off.  That is important information for folks trying to troubleshoot over the Wire.

 

good luck, GJ

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Fretless,  the bell on the case mouth has to be consistory the same for any bullet so that only 1/2 of the bullet base can be set in the flared mouth.  Differences in the size of the flare will allow different neck tension for the the bullet to be seated deeper into the case.

Also, a clean cup or gum in the seating die will produce reload OAL’s to be different.

Further, seating die plug cavities are generic, so for a given bullet nose to fit exactly in the cavity, I fill it with hot glue, spit on the bullet, twist it in the glue and cut the excess off the rim ... perfectly seated bullets and no buggered noses

 

Edited by John Boy
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If it helps.

We use these truncated.

You can see slight difference in the two...but the SDB likes them.

(You may want to send back to Dillon for a refurbish, if you're looking at using it a while)

0305211127.jpg

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2 hours ago, Fretless said:

That's interesting.  I'm new and not the first owner of this press.  I don't think the die is reversible, but I will check on that.

 

Dillon supplies two different seater plugs with dies sets for the SDB. One is designed for SWC and the other for RN and RNFP. Which one do you have installed?

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4 minutes ago, Sedalia Dave said:

 

Dillon supplies two different seater plugs with dies sets for the SDB. One is designed for SWC and the other for RN and RNFP. Which one do you have installed?

That is something I never knew.

Shanley probably does...boy, will he be in trouble when he gets home!

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15 minutes ago, Sedalia Dave said:

 

Dillon supplies two different seater plugs with dies sets for the SDB. One is designed for SWC and the other for RN and RNFP. Which one do you have installed?

I have no idea.  It was used, and already set up for 38 special.  I have whatever was in it.

 

That said, I haven't changed bullet shape, and the variations I'm getting in OAL are all using the same box of lead prelubed bullets.

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It is possible that the Dillon is set up to automatically do this, but on my old press this can happen if I fail to run the handle all the way through the cycle, and doing so randomly, can result in variable length ammo.

 

 

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44 minutes ago, Fretless said:

I have no idea.  It was used, and already set up for 38 special.  I have whatever was in it.

 

That said, I haven't changed bullet shape, and the variations I'm getting in OAL are all using the same box of lead prelubed bullets.

This may be the reason for the difference in seating.

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Unless you measure from the ogive...even factory Nossler, Sierra, etc...full jacketed bullets will be off in OAL from factory  and with just a micrometer being used, especially the ones we use that are not calibrated themselves .  Drove myself crazy at first when reloading both pistol and rifle rounds with OAL being off from each bullet I made...then someone told me about ogive and using a comparator for precision seating. 
With the soft lead we use in cowboy, each bullet is deformed differently and will give a different OAL if measured from the tip.

Do yourself a favor and set one then load...dont worry about those little inconsistencies with pistol, then get and use a comparator for precision rifle.

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If those bullets you were given were sized .355 for use in a 9mm that would let them shift in the case while being crimped, affecting OAL thereby.

 

Duffield

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This has nothing to do with the OP's issue, but is another answer to the original question "Can bullets cause inconsistent OAL?"

 

This one is pretty strange.  I had loaded thousands of  45acp on a Lee Turret with Lee dies including the factory crimp die, great ammo with never a jam in my 1911's.  These were lead 230gr RN.  Then I started to load 230 RN coated bullets (Cimarron).  When they go into the crimp die, it squeezes the bullet back out of the case (going up into the die, not coming out)   Sometimes a thousandth or two, sometimes visibly longer, and sometimes it would actually squirt the bullet completely out of the case!  Weird.  Different amounts of belling didn't matter.  I had to switch to an RCBS crimp die.  

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23 minutes ago, Abilene, SASS # 27489 said:

This has nothing to do with the OP's issue, but is another answer to the original question "Can bullets cause inconsistent OAL?"

 

This one is pretty strange.  I had loaded thousands of  45acp on a Lee Turret with Lee dies including the factory crimp die, great ammo with never a jam in my 1911's.  These were lead 230gr RN.  Then I started to load 230 RN coated bullets (Cimarron).  When they go into the crimp die, it squeezes the bullet back out of the case (going up into the die, not coming out)   Sometimes a thousandth or two, sometimes visibly longer, and sometimes it would actually squirt the bullet completely out of the case!  Weird.  Different amounts of belling didn't matter.  I had to switch to an RCBS crimp die.  

That might be worth a post all it's own. I'd sure be curios as to what others have to say about it before I order coated ones myself. I use an SDB, so can't switch out the crimp die.

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4 minutes ago, Eyesa Horg said:

That might be worth a post all it's own. I'd sure be curios as to what others have to say about it before I order coated ones myself. I use an SDB, so can't switch out the crimp die.

I wrote about it a while back on the Wild Bunch Wire.  Some folks saying whatya using a factory crimp die?  Shouldn't  need that.  And others say they always used the FCD.  But no real theories.  I think it has something to do with how slick the bullets are.  Maybe the increased air pressure in the case from seating is pushing it back out?

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3 hours ago, Eyesa Horg said:

That might be worth a post all it's own. I'd sure be curios as to what others have to say about it before I order coated ones myself. I use an SDB, so can't switch out the crimp die.

 

I've loaded tens of thousands of coated bullets on a SDB and have never had an issue with the seating or crimping die pulling bullets back out of the case.

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On 3/5/2021 at 10:07 AM, Ozark Shark said:

I've used my SDB for a lot of .38 loading.  

 

+1 on the cleaning of the die.

 

Also, if there is any difference in the shape of of the cone or the diameter between your two bullets, that might account for your variance.

 

Fretless as OS posted, do both the pre-lubed and coated bullets have the same shaped tip (i.e. RNFP, RN, etc.).  Again as OS said check the diameter of each.  If the diameter between lubed and coated bullets is different you may have to adjust the cartridge bell.  With all things being equal your SDB should/will give you rounds within .001 +/-, were you getting inconsistent OALs before changing bullets?  

Pistols are very forgiving as to OAL, but you never said what kind of rifle.  Marlins in small calibers can be very finicky as to a rounds OAL, ‘66/‘73s are more forgiving.  Remember Dillon has a lifetime guarantee even if you’re not the first owner plus they’ll also refurbish your machine (as Singin Sue mentioned), at a very reasonable cost.  When I bought a used SDB I sent it to Dillon, I paid the shipping to them they took care of the rest including the cost of shipping it back.  They sent the machine back looking like new and running like snot from a 2 year old’s nose.  If you decide to send your machine in call or email them first, there might be a very long wait time.  

Keep us posted, sometimes it’s hard to diagnose things without being there or seeing pictures.

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