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Lee 9mm dies and OAL varies

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by saleen308, Apr 1, 2011.

  1. saleen308


    Oct 13, 2007
    Katy, TX
    I have some assorted 9mm brass with Hornady 115gr FMJ that I'm reloading. The spec is for a OAL of 1.125 and I'm +/- .004" on that number using Lee dies and a Lee turret press.

    Question 1, Is +/- .004" ok? This is just plinking ammo

    Questino 2, Why does the OAL very like this?

    I was at BP today and was comparing the Lee dies the RCBS ones. The Lee had a big concave compared to the much shallower RCBS one.

    A guy at work is trying to convince me that I'm wasting my time with the Lee dies and should buy some RCBS ones.
  2. Loudcherokee

    Loudcherokee SouthPawGlocker

    Oct 17, 2004
    the buffet
    I think .004 is neglible, especially for pistol plinking ammo, and probably due to the bullet tips not all being exactly the same shape. It's likely not caused by the die unless you don't have the lock ring snugged down tight enough.


  3. cowboy1964


    Sep 4, 2009
    My OAL is set to 1.155" and it varies maybe +/- .001. I wish powder measuring was anywhere near that good!

    Lee dies have a good rep for a reason. I see far more complaints about RCBS dies.
  4. sig357fan


    Apr 8, 2008
    SW OH
    Using the Lee AutoDisk?

    Check how much flare your using, if your still on the upswing of the stroke after the disk is aligned with the powder drop opening in the powder measure body, you may be putting too much flare in your case.

    I’ve found that if you chamfer the I.D. of cases and flare just enough for bullet alignment, you minimize COL when using the AutoDisk.

    Also using mixed brass can add to COL variation due to how hard/soft each case is.


    LASTRESORT20 LongTerm-Guy

    Aug 10, 2010

    This ^^^
  6. Colorado4Wheel


    Nov 2, 2006
    My lee 9mm die is more consistent then a Redding Comp Die with my lead bullets. Down to .001" good. If your getting that must variation it's probably not the die. But first just to be safe you need to put the seating stem in a drill to spin it and polish it up a little with some 400 grit wet dry paper.

    Besides that you have a good amount of variation in a lot of presses. Even my 550 would do it if I didn't have a full shellplate for instance. But if I did everything the same when I load in batchs I almost had zero variation.
  7. PCJim

    PCJim Senior Member

    Aug 4, 2008
    .004 variance is negligable for plinking rounds, and as stated earlier it is probably due to bullet manufacturing variances. It could also be due to a poor fit between your seating plug and the bullet profile - that could be fixed but is not worth the trouble for plinkng rounds. I've also seen COL variances using match grade bullets from Sierra, but not with Hornady. So, that in itself would rule out the Lee die.

    Lee dies are good. Don't let someone steer you wrong.

    If manufacturers were keen enough to box up their product from a single machine instead of from multiple machines, the tolerances we reloaders would find would be kept much closer.
  8. squirreld


    Jan 15, 2006
    US of A
    I get +/- .005 in my dillon 650.
    Your good.
  9. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    THis ^. Th variation means nothing accuracy or pressure wise. When yo uget to .050", start worring. As noted, the bullet noses/tips will vary from run to run, Boring a dead center hoel in the Lee seating stem allows the bullet to deat on the ogive, much better bullet fit & closer tolerances.
  10. Colorado4Wheel


    Nov 2, 2006
    All of my bullets seat on the ogive with my Lee dies.
  11. mteagle1


    Oct 17, 2008
    Great Falls, MT
    Whether the bullet is seated using the nose or the ogive it is still a matter of pressing the bullet into the case. Different brands of cases have different wall thicknesses and volumes meaning there is different pressure trying to force the bullet out of the case between the seating and crimping. To minimize OAL differences use one brand of case and take the same amount of time doing each step of the operation.