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Old 09-14-2020, 09:14 PM
Jwjarrett Jwjarrett is offline
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I shoot mostly 40 S&W and I have read a lot about bullet setback leading to overpressure and kaboom. So, here is my reloading question. What is acceptable variations in published cartridge overall length (COL)? For example, my load data calls for a COL of 1.125. If I have one measuring 1.120, 1.115 etc. At what point am I approaching trouble?

We've already established that I'm anal and I'd love to hit 1.125 every time, but I know that's not going to happen. I just want to make sure I establish safe habits.
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Old 09-14-2020, 09:39 PM
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That's easy. IT DEPENDS. A "normal" .40 cartridge is loaded fairly close to the edge of the envelope anyway so any significant set-back could get "interesting." I am guessing (and it is a GUESS) that 1.120 is not a big deal unless you are at a top load anyway, and 1.115 is probably moving into risky territory.
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Old 09-14-2020, 09:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jwjarrett View Post
I shoot mostly 40 S&W
For example, my load data calls for a COL of 1.125. If I have one measuring 1.120, 1.115 etc. At what point am I approaching trouble?
Keep in mind that when you are loading for most of the rounds in a semi auto handgun, you have no way of knowing what the pressures are with ANY changes to a load recipe. A flattened primer in that scenario would indicate you are way over the top.

With a die set to seat a bullet to 0.125", (or any other depth), variations in OAL will be in 0.000x range for variation with any commercially available bullet, (not a big deal). If you load to a reduced OAL with greater differences, you need to back the load down to prevent excess pressures from biting you where it hurts.

Without a lot of detail with respect to components, it's impossible to say how much is too much.

Be safe, don't shorten the OAL below spec, unless you cut the load back at least 10%, maybe more, depending.
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Old 09-14-2020, 09:56 PM
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I doubt that you'll see +/- .005 if your dies are properly setup and locked down. The 40 is a taper crimp and as long as you make sure you get it right, setback shouldn't be an issue.

Setback is really more an issue with a round that's chambered repeatedly, like the top round in a carry weapon that's loaded and unloaded every day.

The test for your crimp is to try pushing the bullet in with your thumb or against the bench. Play with a dummy round would be my suggestion.

Get the correct COL for the exact bullet your using, stay away from max loads until you master the taper crimp and you should be fine.
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Old 09-14-2020, 10:02 PM
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I don't think a hundredth of an inch really matters. At least it doesn't for me.

There are a number of signs that may indicate unsafe pressure. Neither of my loading manuals suggest that a small variance in COL affects pressure to any great degree.

I'm no pressure expert so I'm just going with what my Hornady and Speer manual says.
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Old 09-14-2020, 10:59 PM
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You will always have slight OAL variation and slight variation doesn't matter as long as you're not seating below recommended OAL. If you're seating deeper than what is recommended (and there is no good reason to do this), reduce the powder charge.

If you use mixed brass, the OAL variation will almost always be greater than when using uniform (same) brass. As for crimping, whether taper crimping or roll crimping, crimp just enough to hold the bullet in place both under recoil and as cartridges feed through a magazine and are chambered.

You won't get bullet setback if you do this right, but it takes some experimentation with your gun as there is no set rule on the degree of crimp. Most handloaders crimp too much and this can and often does affect accuracy adversely.

This is probably all covered in various paper handloading manuals, so you might check there if you haven't already done so. I'd avoid YouTube. Good luck-
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Old 09-14-2020, 11:11 PM
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I loaded 200 today. I measured each on with a quality (and calibrated) Mititoyo digital caliper accurate to 0.0001. I was certainly getting more variation in the COL than I would expect. Some of it was inconsistent technique on my part, but some I can't explain. I am using Lee dies. They are tightly locked in. I'll take a closer look tomorrow, clean and readjust. Something isn't quite right.

I set to nuts on 1.125. Most were +/- .003. Every once in a while (8 out of 100) I would get one below 1.120. I set them aside and used my homemade inertia tool to move the bullet out. If it were 1.120 to 1.127, I left it alone. I tested in my EDC. looks like I could get by with up to 1.130 but I'm not doing that.

My load is a 165 Berry's copper plated with 7.1grains of CFE Pistol. The load range on Hodgedon's site calls for 6.9 to 7.5. Pressures, according to Hodgedon, should be 28k @ 6.9 and about 33.9k @ 7.5. I think I am fine, but I want to be absolutely sure. These 200 rounds are the first I have ever reloaded. I'll do some range shooting this weekend.
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Old 09-14-2020, 11:28 PM
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If you're not trimming your brass, I wouldn't put a lot of worry into this. If you are, carry on.
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Old 09-14-2020, 11:31 PM
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Making dummy loads first is prudent.
Case tension holds the bullet in place.
If you are using a three die set, seat first then reset your die to remove the flair and how much to taper crimp is a topic unto itself.
If you are seating and crimping in one step... don't.

Once you have things under control with dummies then seat a bunch and reset the die and crimp.

Which model Mitutoyo gives you a .0001" readout?
thx
RT
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Old 09-15-2020, 01:01 AM
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Have you measured the overall length of the bullets (not cartridge OAL) ? You'll likely find they vary considerably which will account for some of the variance in cartridge OAL you are seeing.
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Old 09-15-2020, 02:54 AM
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Default It's better to have them....

... a few thousandths too long than too short, as long as they chamber right. I had some off brand round ball stuff that was ABSOLUTELY unforgiving of anything 1/1000" over.
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Old 09-15-2020, 03:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jwjarrett View Post
I am using Lee dies.
I set to nuts on 1.125. Most were +/- .003. Every once in a while (8 out of 100) I would get one below 1.120.
My load is a 165 Berry's copper plated with 7.1grains of CFE Pistol.
What style Berry's bullets is that? Flat nose, round nose, hollow point with a flat tip?

Lee's seating die is for round nose bullets but the majority of bullets I load are JHPs which actually have a flat tip.

Using a flat seating plug, on flat tipped bullets, will give you a lot more consistent COAL" than when you use a round seating plug.

Believe me, like you an inconsistent COAL" drives me crazy, especially with max loads seated to max. COAL.

You can order a flat seating plug from Lee, if that's what you require, no need to send a sample bullet for these.

Use this link:
Custom Bullet Seating Plug - Lee Precision

.
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Old 09-15-2020, 06:44 AM
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^^^^
In addition to the above, with different brands of bullets, the shape of the OGIVE on round nose or even Spitzers varies from the seater plug. If yours are not flat nose is there an indent on the sides or slight crush of the tip of the bullet?

Many loads cause flat primers and that is normal.

Just remembered that one brand of flat nose/truncated bullets required milling at bit off the edge of the flat seater die as it was hitting the ogive a wee bit.

What's the hardness of Berrys lead plated?
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Old 09-15-2020, 07:08 AM
Jwjarrett Jwjarrett is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BLUEDOT37 View Post
What style Berry's bullets is that? Flat nose, round nose, hollow point with a flat tip?

Lee's seating die is for round nose bullets but the majority of bullets I load are JHPs which actually have a flat tip.

Using a flat seating plug, on flat tipped bullets, will give you a lot more consistent COAL" than when you use a round seating plug.

Believe me, like you an inconsistent COAL" drives me crazy, especially with max loads seated to max. COAL.


You can order a flat seating plug from Lee, if that's what you require, no need to send a sample bullet for these.

Use this link:
Custom Bullet Seating Plug - Lee Precision

.
I do believe you have the answer! Yes, these are flat and didn't give that a second thought. I checked the length on a dozen or so bullets and they were too consistent to lead to much variance in OAL.

I've been using precision instruments for 40 years. I have grown picky, but this is more than me being picky. It is what should be a dialed in set of dies producing inconsistent results. the round seating tool vs. flat surface makes a whole lot of sense. Thanks!
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Old 09-15-2020, 07:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Imissedagain View Post
Making dummy loads first is prudent.
Case tension holds the bullet in place.
If you are using a three die set, seat first then reset your die to remove the flair and how much to taper crimp is a topic unto itself.
If you are seating and crimping in one step... don't.

Once you have things under control with dummies then seat a bunch and reset the die and crimp.

Which model Mitutoyo gives you a .0001" readout?
thx
RT
Mitutoyo Digimatic. They are great, except mine do not have an auto shutoff.

I did about half a dozen dummy rounds. I need to do more. I got tired of removing the bullet.
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Old 09-15-2020, 07:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogeronimo View Post
If you're not trimming your brass, I wouldn't put a lot of worry into this. If you are, carry on.
I bought this brass primed. My trim tool uses the primer hole to align. I have measured a few dozen. I can't remember the length off hand, but they were consistent to my satisfaction.
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Old 09-15-2020, 07:49 AM
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My boy bought that caliper not long ago as a gift, not a Corvette but still thoughtful.
.0005"/.01mm with .001" accuracy
500-752-20

Always better to be safe than sorry.
I've asked questions over the years, even if it was a topic I've mastered, just to hear how another, often older and wiser, person explained it in their answer.

We be grippin today.
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Old 09-15-2020, 08:02 AM
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Brass TRIM length has nothing to due with COL UNLESS you are setting to a specific point in a crimp groove or cannelure.


COL is not the sane as SET Back,
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Old 09-15-2020, 09:12 AM
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OP, are you using lubricated lead bullets? Is there maybe lube in your seating die? Is your measuring method consistent? Maybe lock your caliper to length on one round and see how the others compare.

Once that die is set, it should seat to the same depth every time. Unless there's a buildup of old lube inside the die.

Variance in the bullet length can lead to differences in case volume but it I doubt there's enough to be of concern to most reloaders.

As mentioned above, consistent case lengths are critical to a consistent crimp but that has nothing to do with COL.
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Old 09-15-2020, 09:29 AM
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And, as it sounds like you are doing, you can always arrange your variance so it's all *above* the minimum... i.e. 1.125 to 1.135, rather than 1.120 to 1.130.

Good call on the flat-nose plug, gonna get one of those.

Homemade inertia tool... I'm picturing a 12 ga shell firing a chamber gauge holding the bullet into a block wall... bullet out!
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Old 09-15-2020, 10:13 AM
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At times I almost wish they'd stop listing COL in load data as it causes more confusion that solves.

I set my COLs at the longest length possible that will fit the magazine, fit the chamber, and feed reliably. It is usually longer than published COL and sometimes significantly longer. It all works fine and concerns about seating too deeply are nonexistent.
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Old 09-15-2020, 11:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SMSgt View Post
At times I almost wish they'd stop listing COL in load data as it causes more confusion that solves.

I set my COLs at the longest length possible that will fit the magazine, fit the chamber, and feed reliably. It is usually longer than published COL and sometimes significantly longer. It all works fine and concerns about seating too deeply are nonexistent.

True, it is just the COL they happen to have tested it at.

SAAMI lists the MAX COL for the bullet they show but there are hundreds of other bullets.


On Hornady bullets I found if you did not trim the brass (handgun) to exactly what they did, the bullet will not match up to a Cannelure (if it has one) So all Hornady bullets I have loaded are a little bit different than the "manual"


What the OP needs to me concerned with is MINIMUM OAL especially with a dreaded 40 SW
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Old 09-15-2020, 11:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SMSgt View Post
At times I almost wish they'd stop listing COL in load data as it causes more confusion that solves.

I set my COLs at the longest length possible that will fit the magazine, fit the chamber, and feed reliably. It is usually longer than published COL and sometimes significantly longer. It all works fine and concerns about seating too deeply are nonexistent.
This is my standard setup for target rifle and pistol loads.
I will shorten the OAL in pistol loads if I want higher FPS, if needed but see no need for "Minimum OAL" for a bullet in 99% of my loadings........
since I usually get poor accuracy and sometimes LESS fps !!

Carry on.
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Old 09-15-2020, 11:26 AM
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In a perfect world, all my reloads would be the same OAL. Well, they're not :-(
I use the Lee 4 die set on my Classic Turret press. The variance is +/- .02", seldom more than .04". My target COL is also 1.125" with Xtreme 165 gr FP plated bullets. From data on Hodgdons website, my load is right in the middle of min/max. Chasing perfection can drive you CRAZY! And that would be a short trip for me LOL. :-)
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Old 09-15-2020, 01:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rule3 View Post
Brass TRIM length has nothing to due with COL UNLESS you are setting to a specific point in a crimp groove or cannelure.


COL is not the sane as SET Back,
I completely agree; however, this cartridge headspaces on the case mouth, and if the loader doesn't mind a few thousandths tolerance here, why blueprint the cartridge at all. Just a generic statement, and the OP satisfied my curiosity.
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Old 09-15-2020, 03:24 PM
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Default .40 S&W Headspace & Crimp

Straight wall auto pistol cartridges aren't really crimped. The case neck is swaged down to remove any bell mouth added for seating. It is simply re-formed in the seating die to a uniform diameter and never crimped lest the case lose its headspace index point. Crimping is for rimmed cases. All my auto pistol dies have a generous allowance in the "crimp" section of the seating die to accommodate differing case lengths, unlike rimmed case dies that roll the case mouth and are critically dependent on uniform case length for uniform crimping. Post #6 opined about COL varying if mixed length brass is used. That's a puzzler. The seating stem has no idea how long the case is.
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Old 09-15-2020, 03:46 PM
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Most Auto pistol loads set headspace on the length of the case for proper
OAL, for the action to close and the case to be in the correct position for the firing pin strike, which is followed by extraction, of the case.

Pistols use a taper crimp to remove the case belling that is made to accept the bullet and allow the finished load to fit into the chamber and also add a friction fit, to hold the bullet in place. This works in most loads but..............
If no sealer is used or the load is at maximum pressures, or loaded several times w/o being fired, the chance of bullet setback is increased in new ammo.

In revolvers, shooting bullets with a cannelure, set back is not possible if crimped correctly and if the crimp is at least medium in pressure and not too light.
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Old 09-15-2020, 03:49 PM
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I load on a turret press, so each step you feel the tension of the brass.

My brass is mixed headstamp and when seating a bullet I can feel the neck tension. If it feels weak, I check the round by pushing the round into the side of the press with the heal of my hand as hard as bearable. If measurements change after doing so I pull the bullet and ditch the brass.
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Old 09-15-2020, 04:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogeronimo View Post
I completely agree; however, this cartridge headspaces on the case mouth, and if the loader doesn't mind a few thousandths tolerance here, why blueprint the cartridge at all. Just a generic statement, and the OP satisfied my curiosity.

Yes, very generic. Most all semi autos "head space" on the mouth not just "this one. and have never trimmed one yet.
Head space has nothing to do with what I wrote. Some folks think a shorter brass length changes COL.
The OP can get different COL depending on how hard he squeezes the calipers,or a variance in the bullet.
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Old 09-15-2020, 04:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rule3 View Post
Yes, very generic. Most all semi autos "head space" on the mouth not just "this one. and have never trimmed one yet.
Head space has nothing to do with what I wrote. Some folks think a shorter brass length changes COL.
The OP can get different COL depending on how hard he squeezes the calipers,or a variance in the bullet.
Cartridges of uniform C.O.A.L. which headspace differently will throat their respective bullets differently, subsequently varying chamber pressure. If a loader isn't anal regarding case length, a few thousandths on seating depths is approaching pointless.
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Old 09-15-2020, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by ggibson511960 View Post
Straight wall auto pistol cartridges aren't really crimped. The case neck is swaged down to remove any bell mouth added for seating. It is simply re-formed in the seating die to a uniform diameter and never crimped lest the case lose its headspace index point. Crimping is for rimmed cases. All my auto pistol dies have a generous allowance in the "crimp" section of the seating die to accommodate differing case lengths, unlike rimmed case dies that roll the case mouth and are critically dependent on uniform case length for uniform crimping. Post #6 opined about COL varying if mixed length brass is used. That's a puzzler. The seating stem has no idea how long the case is.
I mentioned that in post #6 only because I've seen it happen. Another good reason to use like brass.
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Old 09-15-2020, 08:13 PM
Jwjarrett Jwjarrett is offline
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Homemade inertia tool... I'm picturing a 12 ga shell firing a chamber gauge holding the bullet into a block wall... bullet out!
No 12 gauge...16

I'll get a real puller soon enough, but in the meantime, necessity is the mother. When I wanted to pull a bullet the other day, I used my shell holder from my trim tool, taped it to a 16 in piece of pvc tube, put a piece of cardboard in the other end and then dropped it from eye level down a 1 inch diameter pvc on ro a paper on a concrete floor. Worked like a charm and saved me a trip to the store.

Now isn't that about as redneck as it gets?
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Old 09-15-2020, 10:57 PM
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Default No more OAL worries

All, I understand overall length, case mouth seating, proximaty to rifling much better. I am going to order the bullet seating plug from Lee. I am convinced that is the cause of the inconsistency. I checked the fit of the round in my EDC. Someday I will measure to the start of the rifling and determine my personal OAL for the round/gun combination. Someday.

In the meantime, I am going to adjust out to around 1.130 to 1.135 and rock on.

Thanks for all the input. It makes an interesting read!
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Old 09-15-2020, 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Jwjarrett View Post
All, I understand overall length, case mouth seating, proximaty to rifling much better. I am going to order the bullet seating plug from Lee. I am convinced that is the cause of the inconsistency. I checked the fit of the round in my EDC. Someday I will measure to the start of the rifling and determine my personal OAL for the round/gun combination. Someday.

In the meantime, I am going to adjust out to around 1.130 to 1.135 and rock on.

Thanks for all the input. It makes an interesting read!
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Old 09-16-2020, 10:27 AM
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For the 40 SW and all others it can all be found HERE


https://saami.org/wp-content/uploads...sting-Copy.pdf


The case, not cartridge is .850 minus .010 = trim length of .840
Hornady is even more anal and uses .845

Handgun brass does not usually "grow" so if folks are anal enough to worry about .010 then they spend to much time trimming rather than shooting.


For the OP the chart also shows the MAX and MIN length of the CARTRIDGE with a FP Nose) bullet.
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Old 09-16-2020, 01:30 PM
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I'm picking at gnats a little with this question, but does rifle ammo "grow" or distort when fired?
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Old 09-16-2020, 03:01 PM
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I'm picking at gnats a little with this question, but does rifle ammo "grow" or distort when fired?

The brass expands and then contracts but no back to original. Which is why you resize it. Rifle brass will "grow" in length which is why it needs to be trimmed after resizing. It stretches the brass due to the shoulder and neck.
I guess some necked hangun brass will stretch also but I do not load any of those.


Not gonna even try the FN 5.7. I priced it out and all dies, gauge, and projectile will cost more then factory ammo and it is a picky little cartridge.
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Old 09-16-2020, 03:11 PM
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I'm picking at gnats a little with this question, but does rifle ammo "grow" or distort when fired?
With Lambert's soil, water and Florida sunshine they do and rarely distort.

Our 458 WinMags and 223/5.56 do get longer and the bottlenecks also get thicker on the inside where the neck meets the shoulder.
I neck size those, in bolt or single shots, and ream the neck insides as necessary.
I trim everything but 45ACP and 380 plinkers, carefully inspect everything and do what's necessary.
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Old 09-16-2020, 04:43 PM
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I remember reading a post by someone who had decided to see just how many times a 45acp could be reloaded. Turned out to be a lot!

And in the end, the failure mode was stretching down above the rim... in between the rim end and where the case came back out to full diameter, it became too long to work right.
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