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Old 09-26-2010, 14:58   #1
The Machinist
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Bullet seating depth mystery

Hi all. I've been looking for some concrete information regarding the widely varying COL and powder charge numbers I'm seeing in various manuals.

As an example, I'm looking as some Speer and Hornady data for .223 55gr FMJ. I can only assume they bullets are all but indentical.

With H335, Hornady says 23.2 gr max @ 3100 fps, whereas Speer says 26 gr @ 3092 fps.

The only difference I see is in the COL, in which the Speer is .015" longer. Does an extra .015" really mean you need to add almost 3 more grains of powder to achieve the same velocity? (And a rifle magnum primer) That seems huge to me, novice though I am.

And this kinda ties into the next part of this reloading black art: If I were to buy some bullets from Ranier or Leadhead, for my pistola, how do I determine what my powder charge and COL are supposed to be without a manual to hold my hand?

I've had people recommend looking at the powder mfgr website, but they honestly don't tell me anything I think I can use. I feel like I'm wandering in the darkness without concrete numbers. Hope I was clear with my questions.
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Last edited by The Machinist; 09-26-2010 at 14:59..
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Old 09-26-2010, 15:07   #2
Kentucky Shooter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Machinist View Post
Hi all. I've been looking for some concrete information regarding the widely varying COL and powder charge numbers I'm seeing in various manuals.

As an example, I'm looking as some Speer and Hornady data for .223 55gr FMJ. I can only assume they bullets are all but indentical.

With H335, Hornady says 23.2 gr max @ 3100 fps, whereas Speer says 26 gr @ 3092 fps.

The only difference I see is in the COL, in which the Speer is .015" longer. Does an extra .015" really mean you need to add almost 3 more grains of powder to achieve the same velocity? (And a rifle magnum primer) That seems huge to me, novice though I am.

And this kinda ties into the next part of this reloading black art: If I were to buy some bullets from Ranier or Leadhead, for my pistola, how do I determine what my powder charge and COL are supposed to be without a manual to hold my hand?

I've had people recommend looking at the powder mfgr website, but they honestly don't tell me anything I think I can use. I feel like I'm wandering in the darkness without concrete numbers. Hope I was clear with my questions.
If your actual results are like mine, you are going to find the published velocities in the manuals will vary widely in your guns. There are so many variables including barrel length, type of bullet, seating depth, even the air temperature on the day you are testing your loads. The published velocities in reloading manuals are accurate for the test gun on the given day in which they were conducted, but that doesn't amount to squat in terms of how they will perform in your guns at home.

I do like the Speer manual since it does give cartridge OAL for all loads--I rely on this information most of the time anymore. If you really want to get technical, you can buy one of the gadgets from Stoney Point, Hornady, RCBS or others to measure the distance to the rifling lands in your particular rifle and tune tailor made loads for your particular gun. I have done some of this, but seldom do anymore, as it takes a fun hobby for me and turns it into work. The OAL data in manuals like Speer or published from the bullet manufacturers like Hornady or Nosler is close enough for me.

To your other question about different brands of bullets...If I can find no data for my particular bullet brand, I will find a published load for the weight and style of bullet I am using (even if it is a different brand) and will use the starting load data to work up a load. The Lyman and Hodgon manuals are also manuals I refer to in addition to Speer, and they are not that Brand specific when it comes to bullets. Often if your manual comes from a powder company, they are not brand specific when it comes to the bullet.

The only solution to your velocity question is get a chronograph and test your loads. This will be the only thing that matters, not what the manuals say. And you may be surprised in the differences you see with the same load in the same gun if you test in January and then come back and try it again in July. Every reloader needs a chronograph, and the Chrony brand can be had for around $100 and they give excellent service. Best of luck!
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Old 09-26-2010, 16:21   #3
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You can NOT reload safely w/o several data sources. OAL seems to be a mistery for many but it's pretty simple.
For rifle, determine how long you can load a round by the cleaning rond methode.First, it must not be any longer than your magazine length. Close the bolt, put a cleaning rod or small wood dowel down the bbl, mark it w/ a Sharpie. Now open the bolt & drop just a bullet into the bbl, point first, hold it there & measure w/ the dowel again. Subtract 0.01" & that is your max OAL for THAT bullet. Make sure that OAL fits your magazine. Reducing OAL in rifle rounds affects pressure very little if at all. Pushing the bullet into the rifling however, raises pressure dramaticly.
Pistols are sim, w/ magazine length being critical. Revolvers are the easiest, load them to the crimp groove, done. When using book data, match the bullet in the data as closely as possible to the bullet you are using. OLA w/ a RN is not going to be the same as a FP even if they are the same weight. Deep seating a handgun load, especially w/ uberfat powders & heavy bullets is a KB waiting to happen. SO loading as long as possible helps keep you out of trouble.
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Old 09-26-2010, 16:29   #4
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you will not find concrete information about anything in reloading but with time and a little experimenting you will find what works for your guns. as kentucky shooter said there are so many variables that reloading info should be used as guidelines. I like to think of the data as my start and stop points I start with a powder charge and work up to the stop point if i find somthing that works well for me then good if not i try a diffrent powder or bullet. with time you may decide that you feel comfortable with going over or under the start and stop points. As far as COL goes bullet shape and weight are the biggest factors find the data for the shape closest to what you have and go with it.
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Old 09-26-2010, 16:57   #5
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It's been many years since I've reloaded for a rifle so this is drawn upon memory. Best I recall I use to barely size the neck to hold a given bullet and seat it way out, smoke the bullet and chamber. The bullet will be forced back into the case by the rifling(lands). Measure that length, smoke the bullet again(using a candle) and rechamber. This time you should see marks from the rifling on the bullet. Measure the OAL and reseat another .015-.030" and that should be you your best OAL in terms of safety and overall accuracy.

This all done, of course, with a case with no primer, needless to say.
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Old 09-26-2010, 21:04   #6
The Machinist
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You guys are great. Things are looking much clearer now, and thank you!
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Old 09-28-2010, 16:12   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Machinist View Post
Hi all. I've been looking for some concrete information regarding the widely varying COL and powder charge numbers I'm seeing in various manuals.

As an example, I'm looking as some Speer and Hornady data for .223 55gr FMJ. I can only assume they bullets are all but indentical.

With H335, Hornady says 23.2 gr max @ 3100 fps, whereas Speer says 26 gr @ 3092 fps.

The only difference I see is in the COL, in which the Speer is .015" longer. Does an extra .015" really mean you need to add almost 3 more grains of powder to achieve the same velocity? (And a rifle magnum primer) That seems huge to me, novice though I am.

And this kinda ties into the next part of this reloading black art: If I were to buy some bullets from Ranier or Leadhead, for my pistola, how do I determine what my powder charge and COL are supposed to be without a manual to hold my hand?

I've had people recommend looking at the powder mfgr website, but they honestly don't tell me anything I think I can use. I feel like I'm wandering in the darkness without concrete numbers. Hope I was clear with my questions.
This is not a hobby that is mastered overnight. You will continue to gain knowledge as long as you care to. You will never know it all. As has been said, you will become more comfortable with the process in a relatively short time if you work at it.
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Old 09-29-2010, 01:26   #8
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Reducing OAL in rifle rounds affects pressure very little if at all. Pushing the bullet into the rifling however, raises pressure dramaticly.
+1 This.
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Old 09-29-2010, 09:25   #9
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Quote:
If I were to buy some bullets from Ranier or Leadhead, for my pistola, how do I determine what my powder charge and COL are supposed to be without a manual to hold my hand?
For plated bullets like Ranier, use the load data for a comparable weight lead bullet.
http://www.rainierballistics.com/mainframe.htm
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