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To Reload Or Not To Reload, That Is The Question

jumpinjoe

Custom
@jumpinjoe I tend to go MIA on here every now and then due to work, and then when I do have time, I have to weigh whether getting online or reloading is of more importance! You can probably guess which route I usually go :LOL: "................................. "
OK, since you've asked several questions, and in an attempt to make it a little easier to follow the answers, I'll answer each one inside your post.

Thank you for your input. The first time I started collecting brass not too long ago, I was picking up whatever I could get my hands at. One time I even started chatting with the fellow in the lane next time mine, and when I found out he didn't collect his brass, asked him if I could have his! While that may work for many, after much reading, I heeded to one of the things you warned about, of not knowing how many times a particular brass has been fired. Being so new, the more I read, the more I started worrying about the what if's. Now I collect what comes out of mine, and even then, I'm inspecting each brass before they go under the knife, so to speak!
A very wise decision, at least for the time being. Always, always be sure to closely inspect each and every case you intend to load. And a very important issue to keep in mind is how much better you can inspect if all your brass is spotlessly clean. You can tumble them dry, or wet, or use ultrasonic cleaning ….. the method is secondary to the final product. But clean brass (not necessarily shiny, just clean) is far easier to inspect than when it's dirty, corroded, etc. And here's a tip … if you dry tumble them with walnut shell or other hard buffers, always (ALWAYS) check to be sure the primer pocket/hole is not blocked with a piece of shell. And keeping track of the # of times reloaded is just as important. You can sometimes go a few loadings before needing to 'full length' resize if you're loading them for the same firearm they were first fired in. But if they're being loaded for use in another firearm, always 'full length' resize. It may not always be totally necessary, but it is always prudent.

While I probably have almost 1500 reloads under my belt now (plus still have all my fingers), I still consider myself a novice. I do check OAL, but can't say I do the same with checking case length on 9mm, though I'm always checking on 223 after trimming/chamfering/deburring. I'm sneaking a little forum time at work so don't have my note/cheat sheet, but I have come across a few brass considerably shorter than others. Which brings me to my question about seating depth, and you may have indirectly already answered it above, but I'll ask anyway. If my brass is too long, wouldn't seating the bullet deeper still give the same OAL necessary? Or are we now taking the chance of added pressure due to the bullet seating too deep?
A couple real important issues here ….. “OAL” is a critical measurement in all cases. And even more important in the 9mm case than the .223 case. Remember the 9mm headspaces on the case mouth, the.223 headspeces on the case shoulder. Maybe I shouldn't say 'more important', but it is everybit AS important. Most 'too long' cartridges will do one of two things, both potentially dangerous. One – if it's too long due to not having seated the bullet deep enough, some guns will actually seat the bullet deeper when it goes to battery. Especially bolt actions, some pump actions, and on rare occasions even a good strong auto-loader. But, when that happens you may, depending on the load data you're using may find yourself with a 'compressed' charge. That is where the powder charge has been squeezed down tight inside the case due to the base of bullet compacting it. There are cases where that's desirable, but in your case I would strongly advise against it. Sometimes the action on a semi-auto won't have enough 'ummmph' to close on a 'too long' cartridge, in which case you've spent a lot of time loading and now will have to pull each bullet and start all over. But even more important is when the cartridge headspaces on the case mouth, like the 9mm. If the case itself is too long, the action almost assuredly won't close. So I would for now encourage you to ensure the case Max. Length is according to SAAMI specs. Takes a tad longer to trim them to length, but the possible alternative can be catastrophic. If a too long case is forced into a chamber, it could squeeze the case mouth into the chamber throat and the result is almost (or can be) the same as a plugged bbl. More likely in rifles and other shouldered cases than a straight case like the 9mm, but can happen. Remember the 9mm headspaces on the case mouth so it's really critical just how long that case is, both before and after crimping. Somewhere in your loading manual, I'm sure there will be a section on SAAMI specs for various calibers. Pay attention to all the measurements, not JUST the OAL. The case length is every bit as important, maybe more so than the OAL. Yes, seating a bullet deeper in a too long case will get you to the OAL, but in a potentially very dangerous way. You answered that question yourself with this quote “Or are we now taking the chance of added pressure due to the bullet seating too deep?” See, you're learning more than you thought.
Now for just a bit of an eye opener ….. You mentioned you now have 1500 loads under your belt and that you still have your fingers. That's a fair number for now but at some point you might see just how few that really is to where you wil
l eventually get. An example is that back in the late 70's-80's and 90's, my wife and I shot an awful lot of competition around the SE. I would typically load >15 thousand (yeh, that's more than fifteen thousand) rounds per year just for our competitions. That didn't even include my and her plinking and hunting loads. Now you may never have a need to load that number, but try to make each and every load you do as perfect as you can make it.

One other hiccup I've run into that I thought I'd ask about is reloading 147gr. Up until recently, I've used Speer 115gr RN, Berry's 124gr Copper RN, and SNS 115gr RN with no issues. I happened to get my hands on some BlackBullets 147gr FN, and am having the most inconsistent seating depths on this group. Based on my initial testing, 1.130 OAL worked really good with the load I was using. I'll have 6-8 seat perfectly, then the next few will drop to 1.123ish. Then I'll have some go the opposite direction to 1.145. I measured a few brass to make sure I had the same length on them, but even then there was no consistency in my OAL. Could it be due to brass not resized to full length consistently? Variance in diameter of the bullet? The most logical explanation I've been able to find so far has to do with the ogive, but I wasn't fully convinced, so your thoughts would be much appreciated.
Let me start here with this one …. 1st a 147gr .355 dia bullet will be longer than either of the others you mentioned and will require you readjust your bullet seating die. The ogive may be affecting you, but if that were the case the variations should be pretty much consistent. Take a clean, empty case, no primer, and full length resized to use as your 'set-up'. Put a bullet in it and adjust/readjust your seating die until you get exactly the OAL you want (rely on SAAMI until you gain a little more experience). You may have to pull that bullet several times to get to the adjustment you want. And everytime you pull it, run that case back through the sizing die before you reseat the bullet. Why? Because the sizing die makes the case mouth just couple thousandths smaller than the actual bullet and each time the bullet goes in, it tends to stretch the case mouth out those couple thousandths leaving you a too loose seat to get a good setting on your seating die on your next adjustment. Now all this relies on your having been critical of all your die settings through the entire process. Sizer dies are important to get the overall size you're looking for especially concerning the case mouth. Also recognize that when you run a case through a full length sizing die, that very process will make that case a tad longer than when you started, just the same as shooting that case will also make it a tad longer than when you loaded it. The variation in some of your OAL's, leads me to believe you might not be checking the case length on all of them. If there's a difference in length of cases, or a difference in how the case was resized, or a number of other variations that you control, you will see variations in OAL. And I promise you these differences will make a difference in how they shoot, sometimes even how safe they are. I can't stress just how important it is to replicate the settings of each of your dies each time you sit down for a loading session. 'Replicating' what you're doing is the key to 'duplicating' your results.
I'll have to continue in the next post .....................................
 

jumpinjoe

Custom
Con't .................

As many forewarned, I'm really enjoying the process of reloading, and that feeling may have even surpassed my initial reason for getting into it, which was to never run out of ammo! Though I smirk with the comment because now I find myself shooting more BECAUSE I reload .............. "

Ha HA, and that my friend is only one of the many aspects you'll discover in the world of loading and shooting what you load. Today's factory ammo is probably every bit as accurate and consistent as anything we can load ourselves. Not so much 45-50 yrs ago. So the real gain in hand loading today is you will save a few dollars, but more than that you can experiment with many different load combinations till you find the ONE that your personal gun really, really likes. When you find that PET load, you'll actually see a real improvement in your shooting. You'll go from a 8” group at 50 yds to a 1/2” at 50 yds. LOL! Well, maybe not quite that much improvement, but it will be obvious when you find it. And every gun I've ever owned and loaded for has had a favorite (PET) load. So enjoy yourself with your new hobby and ask all the questions you come up with.

Hope I've answered most of your concerns and that it all makes sense for you. If not, let me (or any of us) know and we'll try to make it a little plainer for you. And to all those who might be following along with us..... if you see a mistake or a better way for him to understand our answers and suggestions, jump right in. You won't hurt my feelings at all.
 

jumpinjoe

Custom
Boy, I hate to keep on and on ..... but I need to address a couple things rather than leaving you hanging by not addrssing them.
1st - you mentioned that maybe the diameter of the 147gr bullets might be different or vary.
NOT likely. Every 9mm projectile should be .355 dia. The difference will be in the length. The only example of anything similar to a bullet being of a different diameter is the older bullets for the venerable old 30/30 Win. Commonly the 30 caliber bullets would all be .308 dia, except those 150gr and 170gr flat nosed bullets for the 30/30 which would be .307 dia. I can't tell you exactly why that was the norm, but it was. I think the attempt was to prevent using the .308 bullets in the 30/30 since there were far more examples of bullet weights (some requiring loads and pressures not so good for the weaker 30/30 rifles/actions) in the .308 choices. Still find some components today at .307 dia, but most have gone to standard .308 dia. I think.

2nd - The other thing I need to explain better is where I said you could experiment with loads till you find the PET load your gun likes ......... and that's true, but not unlimited. At this stage of the game you can experimnet with any load listed in your loading manual, not just any load you can put together. All the loads/combinations found in your manual have been tested and proven many times over and can be considered safe. On the other hand, if were to mix the wrong combinations of powder/primer, charge/bullet wt, or any other number of combinations, you might be OK and you might not. Just be cautious and dedicated to what you're doing and you'll be fine. Safe the 'wild catting' and any other type of UNKNOWN experimenting for later, after you have several thousand rounds under your belt ...... and then only if you still have "all your fingers"!!!! LOL! LOL!(y)(y)(y)
 

markr6754

Elite
Founding Member
Boy, I hate to keep on and on ..... but I need to address a couple things rather than leaving you hanging by not addrssing them.
1st - you mentioned that maybe the diameter of the 147gr bullets might be different or vary.
NOT likely. Every 9mm projectile should be .355 dia. The difference will be in the length. The only example of anything similar to a bullet being of a different diameter is the older bullets for the venerable old 30/30 Win.
Well, not nearly accurate. I can’t tell you the 10s of 1000s of Berry’s .356 9mm projectiles I’ve loaded. And Hornady’s 125gr HAP 9mm bullets are .356, to give just one jacketed example.
So yes, it’s quite possible, even likely that his 147gr projectiles were different.
 

gsapatka

Alpha
Founding Member
I load for every gun I own. But in this time of powder, primer, brass and bullet shortages...it is getting very difficult to steer someone into the reloading game right now. My suggestion is to wait until the supplies and prices come back down to earth, find yourself a single stage press to start with and give it a go. It is fun and relaxing.
 

jumpinjoe

Custom
Thanks for the correction markr6754. I wasn't familiar with "Berry's" bullets and had never noticed a .356 bullet dia in any others. But then I've not bought any new hi-tech projectiles either ................. Ha, in fact I've not bought any bullets at all in probably >20 yrs. Except for my .270 Win rifle. And those are the old standby of Sierra 130gr boat tail Game King. The only fodder that rifle has ever seen in the nearly 45-50 yrs I've owned it with maybe <dozen factory loads.

As for his 147gr bullets maybe being a bigger dia, it is possible as you suggested. But his problem related to inconsistent seating depths and that extra one thousandth of an inch wouldn't likely cause that problem. I'm thinking he may have to look a little deeper than a .356 dia for a cause to the issues he's seeing.

Thanks again ................ we live and learn ............... if we live long enough, huh?
 
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LRZ

Operator
@jumpinjoe Man, you've hit on a wealth of information for me; thank you so much. But it's only brought up several more questions, and if I can organize my thoughts in a pseudo-organized manner, I hope you'll indulge a while longer.

Once I learned that brass have a shelf life, I started sorting them based on the # of times I've cleaned them. I have them in boxes labeled starting at #1, and work through a specific batch before going to the next one. Since I've only been reloading for a just over a month, I'm only on box #2 for now!

When talking about resizing, are there ways to resize that won't go full length? I use the Lee Classic Turret Press, and got the 4 set carbide dies, which I believe has the full length sizing die. I run every brass through it when reloading, so is there something additional I should be doing? What about for rifles....I noticed when I got the rifle dies, they came with a full length-resizing AND a collet neck sizing die. I read a lot about always full length resizing, so why what purpose does the collet neck sizer serve?

As I mentioned before, I've never measured my 9mm brass; frankly haven't had any issues until I got to the aforementioned 147gr BlackBullets. But I took your advice and decided to check measurements on several dozen shells. Happy to say they all came in at/around 0.755 (+/-.003). Which brings me to my question about the SAMMI specs. Why is there a max length, but not a min? Is the latter less important? The final step of my reloading is putting the cartridge through a case length gauge, which is where my issues with the 147gr started. None of them seated properly; in fact, they all stuck out of the gauge like a sore thumb! After reading some of your notes and other articles online, I decided to put them through a plunk test. I already had roughly 250 made, and this is what happened (these were made a few days ago, so I hadn't checked case length on them, though they all ran through the full length resizing die):
- OAL 1.130 = 50 out of 200 got stuck in my barrel
- OAL 1.125 = 10 got stuck in my barrel
- OAL 1.119 = 5 got stuck in my barrel
- OAL 1.115 = all finally passed test
The problem remained that even at 1.115 OAL, they were still not seating properly in the gauge. Finally, when I got the OAL to 1.052, they started seating properly, but then I started worrying about the short length and pressure. Hence my reason asking why Max is more important than Min?

I began this response earlier today, but got side tracked and went to the range (with the 250ish I mentioned above). For starters, ALL reloads shot without any problems. Yes, from the 1.130 OAL all the way down to 1.052 (which I only had 10 of). The constant on all of them was the load-I used Winchester WSF and had loaded them all the same. The mistake I made was that their load data says to start at 3.7, and I was loading them at 3.5 I haven't quite figured out why I did that, let alone find anything about it in my notes-mystery yet to be solved!!! What I did notice was that the shorter the OAL, the better accuracy I had. Which brings me to the suggestion you made about getting set up for the bullet. If I get set up with the exact OAL I want, do I run too much of a risk if it's too short? I guess the question is, what's worse? Too short of an OAL, or not being able to seat properly in case gauge/plunk test?

I'm definitely interested in finding me that PET load. While my wife's permission for me to reload is so we don't run out of ammo, I'm very much into finding that perfect combo that will give me good accuracy and precision every time I shoot. For now, the WSF and 147gr combo I've tried does not feel "right," let alone it seems very dirty, in my opinion. On the other hand, Ramshot True Blue with the Berrys 124gr CPRN seemed to be most consistent for me. Unfortunately I haven't tried a plethora of combinations, considering much of reloading is dictated by availability of products these days, so I'm guessing it may be a while until I find my PET....but absolutely very exciting.
 

jumpinjoe

Custom
@jumpinjoe Man, you've hit on a wealth of information for me; thank you so much. But it's only brought up several more questions, and if I can organize my thoughts in a pseudo-organized manner, I hope you'll indulge a while longer. .................."
Certainly we'll indulge as long as we're being a help. I'll have to write this up separately and then post it. I think it will time out on me before I can answer it all if I don't.

Or, I'm willing if you want to msg via email. I'll start a 'conversation' private msg with address.
 
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