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Shell holder variances

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by Dyjital, Mar 7, 2016.

  1. Dyjital

    Dyjital Albany, Ore Flavorite Member Bronze Supporter

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    So today I decided to get out the Lee Hand Press kit and prepare myself for the next range trip where I plan to go and load rounds at the range for the Remington 700 on some load development etc.

    As I placed the shell holder in the hand press I noticed something....

    For some background, I have three presses at the house a Lee Breechlock, a Lee Classic Turret and now the hand press. While I have my own personal issues with the Hand Press and BreechLock having different variances of .171" between bases so if you use one, you cannot place the bushing in the other press and expect the exact same results, even if they both are using the bushings.... yeah... well that's another topic.

    Upon setting one shell holder into the press I looked over and I still had one of my other .308 shell holders in the breechlock on the bench. Hmmm...

    I have two for the .308 base cartridges.
    Hornady #1
    Lee #2

    There was a difference between the two.

    Untitled-1.jpg

    Lee:
    Bottom of shell holder to bottom of base: .254"
    Case base to top of shell holder: .126"
    Case Rim: .479"
    Shell holder height: .498"
    Base Height: .121"
    Base bottom to case bottom: .375"
    Base Width: .557"


    Hornady:
    Bottom of shell holder to bottom of base: .252"
    Case base to top of shell holder: .127"
    Case Rim: .478"
    Shell holder height: .499"
    Base Height: .124"
    Base bottom to case bottom: .388"
    Base Width: .557"

    You may ask yourself.. "Why Mr. Dyjital are you making such a fuss out of this?" Take a look at the two measurements that matter how far apart they are:
    Lee: .375"
    Hornady: .388"
    Case base to base of holder.

    I'm loading .020" off of the lands. If I ran the wrong base, I would be either .013" closer or .013" further away from the lands. Very important to me when I'm loading in a fixed press vs a turret/progressive/semi-progressive press. I'd hate to be suddenly .007" off the lands or assuming even a .005" margin of error from the ogive and end up with a .002" off lands situation. I do measure every other round when loading this way but this explains a lot.

    The last batch of ammo I produced ended up not being the proper length, it was .012" shorter..... Problem found. Issue is now going to be resolved by putting up one of the bases so I don't confuse/switch the two of them.
     
    ogre and Goosebrown like this.
  2. PaulB47

    PaulB47 Hillsboro Well-Known Member

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    At first I also thought that was the dimension that matters, but it really doesn't if you think about it (the caseholder does not sit on its base). Anyway, any time you put a caseholder in, you have to adjust the die in the press to it. The real dimension that matters is the red one, and that is consistent between the two caseholders. That and only that controls how far the case goes into the die.

    The inconsistencies that have bothered me is that some cases don't even want to go into the caseholder - something is too tight.
     
  3. Dyjital

    Dyjital Albany, Ore Flavorite Member Bronze Supporter

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    If you run your base up until it touches the mouth of the die.

    These are for rifle rounds and my main issue is shoulder bumping and bullet seating.

    My preferred headspace on my .308 is 1.624" which requires just a little bump when I do it (rare).

    None of my bases touch my die in the single stage. I used to have one touch when I did .223 for the AR in full length, but I don't load that anymore and I actually only neck size my .308 brass.

    My measurements would be from top of stroke to die, not bottom of die to top of shell holder which is why the other measurement counts.
     
  4. Velzey

    Velzey Estacada, Oregon Gunsmith Gunsmith Bronze Vendor Bronze Supporter

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    I've discovered this exact issue a few years ago when I started loading close to the lands such as yourself.

    I started measuring my Lee shell holders. Oh boy they varied .015 a few of them even more, so I started measuring all my RCBS holders, and all my old Pacific and Hollywood shell holders. Most of them varied .003 between brands...and I have some RCBS that are 40 plus years old, sheesh they measured the same as new ones.
    Im not going to bash Lee, they have improved allot.. Some folks swear by them. Not me. I've broken one of their single stage presses and had a ram that was slightly undersized on another, and then the shell holder issues.. They did replace everything for free!! I reload allot, and there is no room for .015 variation in new mfg shell holders.
    For awhile I was keeping certain shell holders with that set of dies.. That was getting expensive.

    I went thru and measured all my shell holders. Actually found 2 rcbs that varied .020. Called them and they sent me new ones no problem. Since I've sold off everything Lee.
     
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  5. PaulB47

    PaulB47 Hillsboro Well-Known Member

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    I have tried the other method, coming up short, but have read that you don't get a consistent result doing it that way. It didn't inspire confidence.

    Now I always run my shellholder up to the die with enough extra so I feel the press cam over. If I want to get my headspace just right, I use the Redding competition shellholders.
    http://www.brownells.com/reloading/...s/competition-shellholder-sets-prod39926.aspx

    Even if you use your method, I still don't think the base bottom is relevant. The shellholder sits on the top of the ram, not inside the ram where the shellholder base is. You could grind .020" off the bottom of the shellholder and it wouldn't affect anything. Unless I'm mistaken! :confused:
     
  6. Goosebrown

    Goosebrown Beaverton Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter 2015 Volunteer

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    LEWilson dies and an arbor press.
     
    Dyjital likes this.
  7. Dyjital

    Dyjital Albany, Ore Flavorite Member Bronze Supporter

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    Yes, I'm more concerned about OAL and not headspace since I only neck size my brass.
     
  8. fxdc

    fxdc Da Valley USPSA, SPEED STEEL, IDPA, 3 GUN

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    Well said....