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Thread: OAL, Seating to Ogive and Bullet Tips

  1. #1

    OAL, Seating to Ogive and Bullet Tips

    Quick question for anyone who can give me a hint one way or the other.

    For better or worse, I use a Lee seating die. It was impressed upon me very early in my reloading career that a consistent OAL is as important as being consistent in other ways, if one wants to load consistent, hopefully accurate ammunition.

    I've since learned that seating to ogive is harder (i.e. more tools) but tends to give improved results.

    I have a box of 35-odd rounds which were the first reload I came up with. These were all constructed with OAL within 0.001"-0.002" as I'd been told. The thing that's been bugging me though, is that they're all soft-points and the tips on them are all slightly different lengths ("slightly" meaning a lot more variation than 0.002"). This means that though my OAL for these rounds is consistent, the seating depth probably varies quite a bit.

    It occurred to me that the Lee Die operates on a sort of "blind" seat-to-ogive principle. I.e. the tip of the bullet falls within a cylinder in the die and it pushes not the tip, but a ring around the jacket lower down the bullet.

    Am I likely to get better results if I set the die with the first few rounds and then seat all of the bullets to that depth, not worrying if the OAL varies a lot because of the differences in bullet tips? Or is it better to load every round to the same OAL, compensating for the differences in tip length?

    I was thinking that if it's the former, I could part-extract the bullets from those rounds and then re-seat the bullets in all of them using one setting on the die and hopefully improve their accuracy. I wasn't happy with the way they performed when I zeroed the rifle before my stalk yesterday - adequate to kill deer, but not accurate enough to do so if a long shot was required (c. 2" group at 100m). They performed better on the range when I tested them as I worked them up, but that may have been lucky shooting and I want to do better.

    Thanks for any insights anyone can offer.

    Adam.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by neutron619 View Post
    Quick question for anyone who can give me a hint one way or the other.

    For better or worse, I use a Lee seating die. It was impressed upon me very early in my reloading career that a consistent OAL is as important as being consistent in other ways, if one wants to load consistent, hopefully accurate ammunition.

    I've since learned that seating to ogive is harder (i.e. more tools) but tends to give improved results.

    I have a box of 35-odd rounds which were the first reload I came up with. These were all constructed with OAL within 0.001"-0.002" as I'd been told. The thing that's been bugging me though, is that they're all soft-points and the tips on them are all slightly different lengths ("slightly" meaning a lot more variation than 0.002"). This means that though my OAL for these rounds is consistent, the seating depth probably varies quite a bit.

    It occurred to me that the Lee Die operates on a sort of "blind" seat-to-ogive principle. I.e. the tip of the bullet falls within a cylinder in the die and it pushes not the tip, but a ring around the jacket lower down the bullet.

    Am I likely to get better results if I set the die with the first few rounds and then seat all of the bullets to that depth, not worrying if the OAL varies a lot because of the differences in bullet tips? Or is it better to load every round to the same OAL, compensating for the differences in tip length?

    I was thinking that if it's the former, I could part-extract the bullets from those rounds and then re-seat the bullets in all of them using one setting on the die and hopefully improve their accuracy. I wasn't happy with the way they performed when I zeroed the rifle before my stalk yesterday - adequate to kill deer, but not accurate enough to do so if a long shot was required (c. 2" group at 100m). They performed better on the range when I tested them as I worked them up, but that may have been lucky shooting and I want to do better.

    Thanks for any insights anyone can offer.

    Adam.
    People on this site agonize over seating depth more than any other I've frequented. The Lee die is seating off of the ogive. You can't change the ogive: the consistency is what it is. Pick a depth and seat your bullets. Shoot and be happy. Quit trying to brain work it so much.
    JMHO. ~Muir

  3. #3
    So, at the risk of going too far with the brain work again, what you're saying is effectively "don't adjust your die for each round you load" but rather "set it once and do the whole batch".

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by neutron619 View Post
    So, at the risk of going too far with the brain work again, what you're saying is effectively "don't adjust your die for each round you load" but rather "set it once and do the whole batch".
    Good Lord, Yes! Look, seating depth -which is controlled by that ogive the seater die hits on- is far more important than OAL**. Always has been. ~Muir

    (**And yes, they are different as you've correctly surmised)

  5. #5
    See - I thought that was a novice's mistake, but I thought it would be better to check rather than alter 35 decent rounds to make them worse. It appears however, that re-seating them might give an improvement in consistency which is exactly what I'm after.

    Many thanks for your help.

  6. #6
    OAL is a spec for fitting into the magazine and feeding properly. Most RN or very pointy HP or polymer tipped bullets can be measured consistently OAL, but as you note, there is a large variation in semi-spitzers, etc.

    More important than a few thousands of jump to the rifling is seating the bullet in alignment, so it is straight, especially a short shank boat tall one. You need to fill up the neck of the case with bullet.

    If you have a load shooting well in your rifle, say a .308 Win with a 150-gr SST at 2.800 inches, and you want to load a semi spitzer with the same powder, just leave your seating die where it is, and seat the bullet to the same ogive length. It may come out to 2.775 inches. Go shoot it. I bet you will be 98% there. If it is not as accurate as the SST, is the velocity the same? Does a 1/4 MOA matter for its hunting use?

    Somehow, hunters have gotten all exercised over trying to load the way they see target shooters loading, , but a target shooter may only have one pet load for that rifle.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by neutron619 View Post
    See - I thought that was a novice's mistake, but I thought it would be better to check rather than alter 35 decent rounds to make them worse. It appears however, that re-seating them might give an improvement in consistency which is exactly what I'm after.

    Many thanks for your help.
    Consistency of seating depth is important but... it is only one part of the picture. While this probably doesn't apply to you, you can imagine that mixed vintage or LOT or maker of brass will derail any precision you try to put into seating depth trials. I have often posted that my initial seating depth with any bullet is to seat the parallel side of the bullet to the base of the neck. I simply hold a bullet along side the round I'm adjusting the initial seating on. When it visually looks right (deep enough), I record the length and go from there. Scientific? No, but it's as good a place to start as any and in most instances, I never change the seating depth more than a few inadvertent thousandths of an inch.~Muir

  8. #8

  9. #9
    Thank you both for your assistance. I've had my instinct that I'd made a mistake confirmed which makes me feel that I'm getting the hang of reloading in general and I've got a way of improving those rounds without having to test them and find out the hard way. I appreciate that, thank you.

  10. #10
    I am a very recent convert to the 'Muir school of reloading'. I now seat them deep and use the Lee Factory Crimp Die. The crimp has dramatically reduced the extreme spread of my hand loads to 15fps on a round that is travelling at 3,050fps. I think that is pretty good by anyone's standards.
    Avoid the mistake that I made and keep a count of how many times your brass has been fired too.

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