I have been reloading for several years. For rifle rounds I always use a single stage press and load one round at a time. But for hand guns I use a Lee turret press. I don't load to max and I'm not that good of a hang gun shooter to think I can change much by using a different means. I believe I read here (thing it was fredj338) that he doesn't bother much with primer pockets on handgun ammo. If I am wrong I apologizes fredj338 . Anyway I also do not trim my handgun ammo either (??) What I am seeing is lots of variance in OAL. Now before you say brass needs trimming, what different does it make as in seating bullet you push on bullet. Case length should have nothing to do with it with the exception of seating bullet farther in case. Which is not a good thing either. I would think that pushing from bottom of case and top (ogive) of bullet should give OAL distance pretty much uniform, right? What am I missing? Oh yeah all bullets are bulk with most coming from Everglades.
Overall lengths of pistol rounds or rifle vary several thousandths mostly due to tip shape. Hollowpoint bullets have irregular tips causing as much as .010" variance. Even round nose pistol bullets vary. Some a little blunter tips than others. Bulk bullets can vary due to them being made from multiple batches. Measuring the length of the bullet themselves can show where a lot of the overall length comes from. As far as cases and case length, some difference can be seen from case neck thickness, hardness, or length, I think mainly from press linkage slop or free play? I load to an overall length with the longest at the length I want and let the shorter bullets seat shorter.
It has been a while since I last posted in reloading, but there seems to be a lot to cover here.
Cleaning your handgun brass is a must. Individually cleaning the primer pockets after the brass has been cleaned (unless there is grit in the primer pocket) is a waste of time.
As for trimming your handgun brass, well that depends. You failed to mention the caliber, and certain calibers need to be trimmed, but usually after a few firings. There are of course exceptions. The 357 Sig needs to be measured at least every other firing. Cases with moderately fast burning powders will exact more stress on the case, and bottlenecks naturally stretch as a result of focusing the expanding gasses.
If you are talking about a 9mm round, I have some brass that had been fired 9-11 times before the primer pocket gave out. There was virtually no case stretch. Now, if you have a loose chamber and run the cases through an G-RX die, and you may have an issue (typically more pronounced on one side).
Now you can argue that if you need to trim pistol brass, you probably need to toss it, and I would agree. The reason for this is because nobody, and I do mean nobody, anneals their pistol brass after firings, meaning the brass's ability to actually hold the round in place is compromised. IF the bullet does not generate the pressure, or worse of all, is pushed back and containing the powder more, both are really bad. Needless to say, the brass is meant to hug the bullet, and if it is getting to thin, it will not do that properly. IF you see your 9mm brass grow, you are doing something wrong. Those areas would be 1) Pressure, 2) primer, 3) bullet weight, 4) slide spring, 5) chamber, or 6) sizing.
IF your brass is too long, and crimped, it could (in theory) squeeze the brass between the bullet and the barrel at the lands, and go BOOM.
Furthermore, all loaded rounds should be set with a dummy, and the dummy should be set for the chamber. Not all reloads are universal to each gun.
Nut up or Shut up!
Has anyone EVER tested for improved accuracy with clean primer pockets? I mean, I have cases that have been fired well over ten times and the black soot in the primer pocket is no thicker than ever. Primers still seat under the case head by a couple mils.
Without proof, why bother?
The wiping off of the case exterior is a must if you don't want to ruin your sizing dies, and that is as far as cleaning MUST be done.
The top (meplat) of a bullet is NOT very consistent (measure your bullets and you'll see a lot of the COL variation is in the bullets) and measuring from case head (if it isn't also a bit dinged) to a known datum on the bullet's ogive is the best.
Next, sweating over COL of less that 0.015" from max to min is a waste of time in both MY rifles and handguns, and handguns don't have the accuracy needed to show ANY improvements with benchrest and long-range rifle tricks.
Really, you are reloading, so do some testing.
Some may find something that works and most won't.
After 45 years, this is what my guns have taught me (off the top of my head):
1) Always starting at the starting load and working up is the best policy
2) Always beginning with the COL as long as possible has always produced better or, at worst, the same accuracy as shorter COL, in my rifles and handguns. YMMV.
3) Trimming all my cases to the same length had NO effect on accuracy. My 0.75-1.25MOA .30-06 shoots the same range with random cases/lengths. If you are shooting at or below 0.5 MOA, this probably doesn't apply.
4) For handguns, I have shot a lot of targets with matched cases vs totally mixed cases and, if I only go by the average group size and Std. Dev., the mixed lot is about 0.05" more accurate at 25 and 50 yards.
5) the fastest way to completely clean cases, inside and out, is to deprime and clean 10-20 minutes in an ultrasonic cleaner. The cases aren't as shiny as SS pin tumbling, but they are 100% clean.
6) exceeding max case length only happens with bottleneck cases. I have heard reports of .45-70 cases stretching, but I wonder what pressures they were fired at.
7) Cases that head space on the case mouth need to be as long as possible and, ideally, should the the same length as from the breech to the head space "ledge" of the chamber. ALL my straight wall cases have ALWAYS been shorter than that.
If you trim straight wall cases that head space on the case mouth, you are increasing head space gap and MY guns all show worse accuracy. In fact, if I was to enter Bullseye competition with an accurized 9x19, I would buy 9x21 cases and trim them to match my gun's chamber, minus 0.001-0.002".
8) Plated bullets have NEVER been very accurate in my guns. I find lead bullets are more accurate.
With the existence of Precision Delta and Zero (see Powder Valley) for great jacketed bullets and excellent prices, I can't see buying plated bullets.
Note: when I test for accuracy, I do it over a rest and I don't know the details for the round I'm about to fire so I can't prejudice the results the way I "want."
So, VERIFY that some tool actually does something positive and it isn't just snake oil from some magazine for their sponsor/advertiser.
Thank you for all your replies. Round in question was 9mm but I suspect it holds true for all my hand gun rounds.I was seeing about 0.015 difference in oal. Recently had a Kaboom with a Walther PPQ .45 and that caused me to question everything I was doing even though that was with a factory round. My procedure for pistol brass is tumble clean and that's it. I de-prime and prime on press. If there "feels' to be a problem with seating primer I pull that case and inspect. I am using a lee turret press for most all pistol rounds and have found it acceptable for my needs. I suppose because of happened with the Walther I started inspecting everything and found differences I could not explain. Just wanted to run it past some other to see what ya'll had to say.
Oh FYI Walther replaced the pistol, no problems. Only question they asked was if I was shooting lead and followed with jacketed rounds. Not sure why?
That is because lead builds up, and will significantly increase pressure when you fire plated or jacketed bullets after firing lead. If you plan to fire lead from a barrel, stick with it. If you shoot plated, stick with that. You can always fire plated after jacketed, but not the other way around.
Nut up or Shut up!
Always press down on the seated bullet with your thumb or finger and any bullet that moves is a rejected round. KBs can be easily caused by bullet set-back during feeding (besides wrong powder and wrong weight)
A case that's too long can be getting forced into the lead or throat of the chamber. Sort of acting like a constant crimp. Also leaving no room for the expanding neck to move into, also acting like a none expanding crimp. This can cause pressures to spike. Especially in rifles, I've seen it first hand with bolt guns locking up with otherwise normal safe loads. (a chamber with a throat too tight can do the same things.)
How much this same thing would effect a handgun would have a lot to do with the chamber specs and pressures. Theoretically different case lengths will have different internal capacities and different pressures. (unlikely you're be able to tell). Of course with an auto pistol that's head spacing on the case mouth, you can be changing the lockup ever so slightly with too long cases. Again, could you tell? Probably not. As I said, a lot depends on what you're using. Things will shot up sooner in a gun with a tight tolerance match chamber than it will in a sloppy off the shelf chamber/gun.
Sliced bread, the greatest thing since the 1911.
Just remember this: Accuracy is all about getting rid of as much variances as you can. First decide what kind of accuracy you need . Do you shoot bench rest matches, shoot paper targets, or just want good enough accuracy for hunting deer. My brother hunts deer and if he can hit a paper plate at 100 yards he is good to go. He almost never shoots more than once and has taken over seventy bucks in 69 years. I always keep the length of my rifle brass three thousanth under the max length. Pistol brass about the same. I have a Kimber 1911 that shoots 1-1/2 inch groups at 25 yrds. I have won many PPA matches with it. I have found that seating of the primer correctly affects accuracy perhaps more than anything. Tools to measure col and case length, tools to measure the run out of the bullet to make sure it will enter the barrel straight. These are only two tools that make a big difference in accuracy. I can name more if you want.
I would appreciate learning about any and all manners of assessing the 'seating' of a primer in the case that can yield such uniformity. For example, would one use a dial indicator to measure the depth of its face into the primer pocket on each round? Or should one measure some attribute after it is fired only in the chosen firearm? Or does one measure the height of each primer before loading, and then as well ensuring the primer pocket is at its exact dimensions? How should one handle the primer pocket's hole? Should it be checked for dead center and diameter as I have observed the primer removal pin of resizing dies often slightly deforms, (hence enlarging it) the primer pocket hole? Thanks for your very interesting observation and insight. A primer on how you insure such uniformity will be much appreciated.
If you want to check primer pockets it's faster to run a pocket uniforming tool which will cut the pockets the same depth. There is a gauge out there that can be used to check the primer pockets too. I would not bother for handgun ammo. The bullet has a larger effect on the degree of accuracy. For match grade ammo used at long distances 600+ yrds that up to you. I know some that do and some don't. As far as flash hole goes if your match shooting you want them all the same size. Different size flash holes can and does impact the burn performance. Use the size used for you load development. Once you have a good load that is extremely consistent you can test small variables like this. Primer selection has a big play in setting of the powder. I always test different primers after I have found the load and OAL I'm going to use. Every once and awhile you find a better combo.
P229R 9mm, Nitron, Beavertail Frame, Night Sights, DA/SA, SRT & Short Reach Trigger
I have learned more from watching other people who have better success than I do. Bench rest shooters are very picky and fussy about their loading habits and two of the things they are picky about are properly uniformed primer pockets and flash holes on the inside of the case. If you look inside you will see that there are sharp protrusions that need to be cleaned out. And there is a tool to do that. When seating primers I suggest a hand operated priming tool. You have a much better sense of feel when the primer is seated right than with most presses. Most reloading eqp. manufactors have them in their lineup. I know a lot of people say all that fussing is not necessary and they are right. I have always looked at reloading as a hobby and I enjoy it and have filled many cold winter evenings at my loading bench just fussing around with very good results. I have several rifles including an 8mm Mauser that will shoot 1/2 - 1/4 inch groups more often than not. By the way I don't shoot bench rest matches!
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