C.O.A.L. variation problem

This is a discussion on C.O.A.L. variation problem within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; On a progressive press, how much C.O.A.L. variation is normal? I have a Hornady press that has more than I like (I am picky). I ...

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Thread: C.O.A.L. variation problem

  1. #1
    Member Array showmebob's Avatar
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    C.O.A.L. variation problem

    On a progressive press, how much C.O.A.L. variation is normal? I have a Hornady press that has more than I like (I am picky). I sent the press in for repair (they replaced the ram) but the lengths after repair seem to vary more than I think is acceptable. If you load a box of ammo on your press, what variation do you get and what brand do you own? I am loading 380, 357, and 9MM. On the 9 and 380 I am using Lee 4 die sets.

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    VIP Member Array Sticks's Avatar
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    How much variation are you getting?
    Sticks

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  4. #3
    Member Array showmebob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sticks View Post
    How much variation are you getting?
    Since receiving the press back after repairs I've only loaded 9MM in the Lee dies. Last night late, I tried a few different things as I believe the problem stems from the resistance caused by the sizing die. So......I loaded 50 rounds using every other station (size die not in use while seating bullet) and got +.005 -.004
    Next I just ran one case through till complete. Results were +.004 -.005.
    It seems that when used as designed in full progressive mode, the first and last few bullets will have to be adjusted for length some being short by .010 or more.
    I am going to try the same routine today with .357 Mag to see what happens with different (RCBS) dies and caliber.
    What do you get for variation? The folks at Hornady don't seem to have specs for variation.
    I know, for practice pistol rounds the variation I'm experiencing probably won't make a difference but some day I may choose to load some caliber/load that needs to be precise.

  5. #4
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    what press are you using , BTW? I have not noticed the variation on my Dillion 550b , but do single round load my precision hunting loads ( more for exact powder charge ) .
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    Member Array showmebob's Avatar
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    Rocky

    I'm using Hornady LNL AP. The next time you load how about measuring the first and last 10 rounds and getting back to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by showmebob View Post
    Rocky

    I'm using Hornady LNL AP. The next time you load how about measuring the first and last 10 rounds and getting back to me.
    Will do. Hopefully sometime this week I can get a hour or 2 to reload. However it may be affected by the type of loader and dies . I use a 4 die set from Dillon typically.
    Are you using carbide dies? If not do you lube the cases? With what?
    I do find it takes a bit more effort when all stations of the press are being used to pull the lever fully.
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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    You realise .004 is the thickness of a piece of printer paper,I just checked a bunch of .40 cal I loaded a couple days ago and OAL varies from.002 to .004 difference,might make a difference if your loading rifle rounds for accuracy but as far as pistol rounds It ain't gonna make a difference.I just checked some factory loaded ammo and some of it was longer by .004
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    Member Array showmebob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocky View Post
    Will do. Hopefully sometime this week I can get a hour or 2 to reload. However it may be affected by the type of loader and dies . I use a 4 die set from Dillon typically.
    Are you using carbide dies? If not do you lube the cases? With what?
    I do find it takes a bit more effort when all stations of the press are being used to pull the lever fully.
    Rocky

    I am using Lee 4 die set (carbide). I'm suspicious of them because sometimes its very hard to lower the ram after sizing (to the point I'm afraid of a stuck case in the die). I'll know more after loading 357s with the RCBS dies tonight or tomorrow. I will check the COAL on them and see how they turn out.

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    Member Array showmebob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dukalmighty View Post
    You realise .004 is the thickness of a piece of printer paper,I just checked a bunch of .40 cal I loaded a couple days ago and OAL varies from.002 to .004 difference,might make a difference if your loading rifle rounds for accuracy but as far as pistol rounds It ain't gonna make a difference.I just checked some factory loaded ammo and some of it was longer by .004
    dukalmighty

    I do realize how much thickness we are talking about here. I'm a former master automobile technician of 30 years and have a drawer full of micrometers and feeler gauges etc for rebuilding engines etc. And I agree with you as I stated in the OP that for practice pistol rounds it won't make much difference.
    Thank you for measuring your rounds. What brand loader do you use? Your rounds vary up to .004. My rounds vary .009 after excluding the first/last 4 rounds. (.021 withour excluding first/last 4 rounds) Before Hornady replaced the ram (.004 undersize) I had variations of .028.
    I am just trying to make sure my new press is working to its design capabilities. Since Hornady doesn't seem to have an offical specification I decided to post to see what other folks are getting for COAL variation.
    When I have a long cartridge and place it into the press and run it into the bullet seating die again it will usually come out .010-.014 shorter than desired length. This seems to me to indicate excessive flex somewhere in the system.
    Maybe I'm just expecting too much out of a progressive press?

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    VIP Member Array Blackeagle's Avatar
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    Hmm. Anyone taken their calipers to a box of factory ammo to see how much variation it has?

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    I have a pro1000. The three hole head had more vertical play than I liked. This made for interesting variations in OAL. So, I drilled and tapped setscrews in three positions around the head. Problem fixed. I do not know if this is the issue you are having. Just a possibility ya know.

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    VIP Member Array cvhoss's Avatar
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    I just took calipers to a box of factory Federal Premium LE HST 40 S&W. Only had to measure the first 6 rounds to come up with variances of .006. You're worrying about nothing. For pistol rounds, any variances measured in hundredths of an inch are inconsequential. For precision rifle rounds, you'd use something like this on a single stage press for controlled seating depth. Notice in the product description:
    The Competition Seater Die features a micrometer for super accurate bullet seating depths in increments of .001". The bullet inserts through a side window instead of the bottom of the die and a special seating guide ensures correct alignment before and after seating. Not for use with progressive presses.
    There's probably enough manufacturing tolerance from one shell station to the next on a progressive press to give the variation you're seeing. Total non-issue.

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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackeagle View Post
    Hmm. Anyone taken their calipers to a box of factory ammo to see how much variation it has?
    I did and most were pretty close to the same but like I said varied up to .004 on several of them.I load on a dillon 550 with lee dies,I wonder if by not trimming pistol cases which I do not ,that the difference in length when the seating/crimp die comes down on the longer cases isn't crimping a little quicker which is causing the bullet to set out a little longer and same on shorter cases maybe letting round set a few thousands deeper.
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    Distinguished Member Array kazzaerexys's Avatar
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    I just ran a hundred rounds yesterday and I took the calipers to them today. The rounds are .45 ACP round-nose FMJ. The machine is a Dillon RL-550B with Dillon dies in the first three spots and a Lee factory crimp die in the fourth. The OAL was 1.215 when I was adjusting the bullet depth, seemed to be around 1.217 after I tightened down that die position, and I ended up with the following:

    1.2145 Min
    1.2181 Mean
    1.2205 Max

    So, that was a variance of (+0.0024/-0.0036) with a std. deviation of 0.00106. By the way, the shortest cartridge, at 1.2145, was a real outlier; if I drop that one, I get +0.0024/-0.0021.
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    Member Array alfack's Avatar
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    I think it is due to slop in the tool head to frame fit, but not a big enough deal to be concerned about for pistol rounds.

    You could always try one of these, if you are concerned about it:

    550/650 Toolhead Clamp Kit™

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