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I was given a single stage loader, dies for .223, case trimmer and everything else necessary for reloading. However I want to make my loads better and by better I mean to be more accurate. I have a Remington 700 and I plan to shoot out to 600yrds since that's the max distance at my range. My question is how do I determine the length of my case that works best for my rifle before I seat my bullet and then determine the OAL that works and the necessary seating depth? I have a loading book but I know things vary from gun to gun. Also, should I invest in seating dies that have a micrometer? I hope my question is clear and what I am asking is coming across well.
Thank you.
 

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Find Max LOA

Try one question at a time. One thing you ask about relates to MAXIMUM LOA. Length overall includes the length a primer that is not fully seated and LOA at MAXIMUM is when the ogive of the bullet touches the rifling in the leade of the chamber. Any longer causes chambering problems and pressure danger. You only need a reliable caliper and a flat ended rod that will fit in your bore and a pencil to determine MAXIMUM LOA for any specific bullet in your rifle.

You don't need any special tools to figure your MAXIMUM LOA for any particular bullet/rifle combo. Find the MAX LOA then shorten the LOA .005-.020" from MAX and check magazine function with a dummy round made to the length range. You may need shorter for magazine fit, function and feed.

To find your MAX LOA:

Empty rifle and close bolt, be sure the firing pin is in the cocked, retracted position and not protruding.

Insert a flat ended rod in from muzzle till it touches the bolt face. Rotate the rod against the bolt face and mark the muzzle end of the rod flush with the muzzle while rotating, use an extra fine sharpie or razor to mark the rod.

Remove the rod and rifle bolt. Drop your bullet of choice nose first into the chamber with the muzzle pointed down and slap the receiver a few times firmly with your hand to settle the bullet ogive in contact with the taper of the rifling lands starting in the chamber leade.

Place a pencil or short dowel in from the chamber and hold the pencil with about 1-2 pounds pressure (no more) against the base of the bullet. A helper is good for this while you do the next step.

With the bullet held in place, return the longer rod in from the muzzle and rotate it against the bullet tip while marking the rod flush at the muzzle again. Push the bullet out after marking the rod.

The distance between the 2 marks is the MAXIMUM LOA for that bullet in your rifle with the bullet touching the leade. Use a good dial caliper and measure the distance between the marks on the rod. Record the measurement and make a dummy load with the bullet to an LOA .005-.020" shorter.

Check magazine function, feed.

Best accuracy with jacketed bullets is usually .005-.020" shorter than the MAXIMUM LOA you have found.

Book LOA numbers are from the authors rifles and are just a recommendation. However do locate book data that indicates MINIMUM LOA and do not seat your bullet shorter than MINIMUM LOA recommendation as that will increase ballistic pressures of your loads significantly.

Gary
 

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Reloading manuals will state that the correct trim length for brass is .010" shorter than SAAMI MAXIMUM case length. This is where pre-set trimmers like the ones from Lee are designed.

If your trimmer is adjustable, just look up a SAAMI drawing on your caliber brass and adjust your trimmer to trim .010" shorter than MAIMUM, that is the standard. Consistency is more important than the length if you choose different than .010". However consider your error potential, this makes the .010" very reasonable. I check case length after EVERY sizing with my Lee ZipTrim and trim/chamfer/de-burr as needed every loading cycle. Never chamfer and de-burr more than 1/4 wall thickness of your case mouth thickness. Just break the edge sharpness after trimming....don't taper your brass and make it weak at the case mouth Also, over trim/chamfer makes considerable error in a crimp's ability to hold the bullet..

Gary
 

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The Shadow
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I want to make my loads better and by better I mean to be more accurate.
1) My question is how do I determine the length of my case that works best for my rifle before I seat my bullet and then determine the OAL that works and the necessary seating depth?
2) Also, should I invest in seating dies that have a micrometer? .
More accurate than current, needs explained as to what your current baseline is. Many times the shooter/rifle are what's holding you back, not simply the ammo alone.

1) By testing. Set a dummy case up. Trimmed and sized, NO primer or powder. Begin seating your bullet, just enough to be centered in the case. Color the bullet with a sharpie, so you can tell if the bullet backs out. Drop it in the barrel fully, then in a firm similar movement, ram the bolt home and lock it closed. Then carefully and slowly open the bolt. Make sure you carefully catch the case and inspect. You should see where the bullet makes contact with the rifling, and make sure the bullet hasn't backed out of the case. Take your calipers and measure the cartridge overall length ( COL).
That is the length for that bullet, where you contact the rifling. Seat your low see ammo deeper by 0.03125" and test your loads. You can also try deeper as desired, OR needed to function in your magazine length.
2) Not unless you want to.
 

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A micrometer seating die is a convenience, they are not more accurate. You can do the math and get equal accuracy changing seating depths. Loading dies are 1" in 14 turns thread so one turn changes seating depth .0714285" now divide that by 8 and see 1/8 turn gives a .0089289" or about .009" change and so forth. A 1/16th turn gives .0044642 or about .004" change.

It really helps when doing this to have a reference proving line in ink on the outside of the die, lock ring and press for reference before changing.

Of course your measurements will be all over the place if you measure from the case head flat to the bullet tip instead of the ogive. Tip measurement variance is generally +- .010" and a brutally inaccurate, time wasting and confusing beginner mistake.

Gary
 

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I say just start reloading and shooting those reloads, following guidelines set out in reloading manuals and die instruction sets. Before trying to get ammo to shoot accurately at 600 yards (which yes, I understand is your long-term goal), see what you're doing at 50 and 100 yards. No micrometer adjusted bullet seating die will make inaccurate ammo noticeably more accurate - the reloaded ammo must be refined before you get to where specialty tools will begin to show results. As time passes you will reload more, read more, shoot more, and learn more. Many of the answers to your questions will become clear and so will the knowledge of what you're asking about.

Welcome from New Mexico, Ribzorama.
 

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The following advice applies to bolt action of single shot rifles.

I like the RCBS competition die's, and especially because they come with the micrometer seating die. Some will opine that the micrometer seating die offers not advantage regarding an accuracy improvement, or the potential there of. However, when seating bullets, and especially small bullets in the .22 cal class, it can be quite difficult to get them started straight and held straight during the seating process.

The RCBS micrometer seating die has a window to drop the bullet in while the brass is already up in the die. Not only is this very convenient, but it also has a collar that keeps the bullet aligned and centered with the case mouth throughout the entire seating process, this right here is crucial in helping to reduce run out. Is a micrometer seating die necessary in order to make accurate hand loads, the answer is no, one can make very accurate hand loads without one, I managed for a long time without one.

The FL resizing die that comes with the competition set also has a raised expander, which is a nice feature as well, it helps to reduce run out. My Competition dies have a different expander than the standard dies, which reduces the amount of resistance when entering and exiting the case mouth / neck, which reduces the problem of pulling necks out of alignment, and helps in preventing shoulders from getting pulled up. Again though, these potential issues can be managed by using other methods, such as lightly lubing the inside of the neck, by also making sure the internal neck shoulder junction is lightly lubed. One can also just replace the expander stem and plug to replace the one that comes with the standard FL die.

I also like the micrometer feature, it provides a reference number I can document for future loading with a given bullet. But I could honestly live without it, as there are other ways to measure and document oal that are just as reliably accurate, as well less expensive.

Brass length from head to mouth isn't something I've ever manipulated beyond just maintaining brass trim length. I've been using the simple, as well inexpensive Lee case length gauge trimmer for decades, never found a need for anything else. IMHO, as long as the brass is all trimmed to the same length and is within SAAMI specification, there's no specific need to go beyond that. I will add though, that at the absolute very least, one must maintain brass to within SAAMI maximum spec. In other words, trimming is not optional, if the brass exceeds SAAMI max it can result in extreme pressure spikes, even catastrophically so. If the mouth intrudes into the throat / lead according SAAMI spec for a given chambering, the mouth can't adequately expand during firing, thus causing a constriction that could delay the time it takes for the bullet to leave the mouth.

The way I determine distance of the ogive off the lands is probably more time consuming than what most hand loaders prefer, but it works very well for me. There are one of two ways I've approached it, remove the bolt, begin by holding the rifle with muzzle pointed up and using a piece of resized brass. I jam the brass hard into the chamber with my finger, it needs to freely drop out when my finger is removed. Holding the rifle with muzzle pointed up, I then seat a bullet long enough so that it will stick lightly in the lands and won't fall back out without needing assistance from a rod. To remedy the need to push it back out, I lightly and carefully push the cartridge up into the chamber while being careful to not stick it hard, just enough that I can detect a light sticking, tap on the barrel in it will usually drop out. Then I begin incrementally seating deeper in increments of no more than .010". more if I can obviously see that it's way to long. Once I'm seeing that I'm getting close I decrease the increments to .005" and continue until the cartridge will stick but can be dislodged with by tapping on the barrel. When I get to the point that contact with the lands is barely detectable, I consider this as zero / .000" distance to the lands.


Once at .000 distance to the lands, I develop my powder charge at this OAL, this assures you won't encounter higher pressures throughout the seating adjustment process. I seek out the most accurate powder charge at this oal, once this has been determined I begin backing off the lands in .005" increments or until I've found the oal that's providing best accuracy. Once achieved, I'll tweak the powder charge at the new oal. The above applies only to that bullet and rifle.

Document anything related the above procedures, this will make future operation go much faster.


HBC
 

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More accurate than current, needs explained as to what your current baseline is. Many times the shooter/rifle are what's holding you back, not simply the ammo alone.

1) By testing. Set a dummy case up. Trimmed and sized, NO primer or powder. Begin seating your bullet, just enough to be centered in the case. Color the bullet with a sharpie, so you can tell if the bullet backs out. Drop it in the barrel fully, then in a firm similar movement, ram the bolt home and lock it closed. Then carefully and slowly open the bolt. Make sure you carefully catch the case and inspect. You should see where the bullet makes contact with the rifling, and make sure the bullet hasn't backed out of the case. Take your calipers and measure the cartridge overall length ( COL).
That is the length for that bullet, where you contact the rifling. Seat your low see ammo deeper by 0.03125" and test your loads. You can also try deeper as desired, OR needed to function in your magazine length.
2) Not unless you want to.
This is how I do it. From the end point here it's just a matter of playing with the seating depth to find what your rifle likes
 

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1) Buy the reloading manual for the specific, high-quality bullet you plan to load.
2) Load the bullet to the recommended length specified in the load recipe.
3) Adjust powder volume (weight) until you find an accuracy node near the top of the range listed.
4) Learn to shoot well enough at 100, 200 and 300 yards, that you are no longer the limiting factor.

All of these things will get you a lot closer to where you want to be at greater distances. Obsessing about cartridge OAL this early in the game is probably a fool's errand. Hopefully your rifle has a fast enough twist to shoot some of the longer, heavier bullets suitable for the 223.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
1) Buy the reloading manual for the specific, high-quality bullet you plan to load.
2) Load the bullet to the recommended length specified in the load recipe.
3) Adjust powder volume (weight) until you find an accuracy node near the top of the range listed.
4) Learn to shoot well enough at 100, 200 and 300 yards, that you are no longer the limiting factor.

All of these things will get you a lot closer to where you want to be at greater distances. Obsessing about cartridge OAL this early in the game is probably a fool's errand. Hopefully your rifle has a fast enough twist to shoot some of the longer, heavier bullets suitable for the 223.
My 700 has the standard 1:12 twist. From what I have been told it can handle up to 60gr bullet but I plan on using 50-55 to be on the safe side. What would be a good barrel twist if in the future I want to upgrade my barrel?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I say just start reloading and shooting those reloads, following guidelines set out in reloading manuals and die instruction sets. Before trying to get ammo to shoot accurately at 600 yards (which yes, I understand is your long-term goal), see what you're doing at 50 and 100 yards. No micrometer adjusted bullet seating die will make inaccurate ammo noticeably more accurate - the reloaded ammo must be refined before you get to where specialty tools will begin to show results. As time passes you will reload more, read more, shoot more, and learn more. Many of the answers to your questions will become clear and so will the knowledge of what you're asking about.

Welcome from New Mexico, Ribzorama.
Yeah 600yrds is the final goal. Every reload that I have done I shoot at 50 to 100yrds. I'm trying to make sure that I am not the cause of error or try to minimize it. At my dads gun club all the guys there who shoot out at long distances were telling me what I needed to reload because all the stuff I have is "archaic" and telling me that I need the micrometer die sets and all this other equipment because it is what they have, which is why I took to online forums to get my answers in hopes that people would understand that I am starting out and not tell me that I need to spend $1000 if I have already been given equipment even if it is on the older side.
 

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Seating depth is probably one of the LAST things to fiddle with.

Seat the bullets STRAIGHT (it's harder than you think) and work up your loads a little at a time (maybe half a percent change in the charge weight per step) and the rifle will, for sure, tell you what it likes.

If you don't get a good load doing that, you probably need to start over with a different bullet.

When you get a good load the prints small groups at 100 yards, you can start fiddling with seating depths and see how it shoots farther out. If there is a lot of vertical stringing beyond 200 yards, you may have to go to a different powder and / or primer to get the velocity spread down.

If you don't find a bullet the gun 'likes' and learn to seat them straight in the case, it will be all for naught and none of the fiddling with seating depths or any other voodoo is likely to help much, in my experience.

Micrometer seating die? Hah.... yeah if someone gave me one, I'd for sure use it. If I REALLY thought I needed one, I'd make a dial that fit the seating stem, and calibrate it for the thread pitch of the seating stem (NOT the thread pitch on the die body). That's all they are, a convenience. I grant you, a nice convenience, but you can skin the cat in a dozen different ways. I can seat bullets to any depth I want, it just takes longer to set up. All you need is a dial caliper and the ability to use it. One of the little 'doo-hickeys' that measure the bullet on the ogive (Sinclair makes one) is for sure handy. I can make my own, so don't need to buy one.

I would buy a concentricity gage before I spent money on any other 'special' gear, and probably a GOOD competition seating die next (no need for micrometer adjustment). You might luck out and get great results with a 'regular' seating die, but it you don't have a concentricity gage, you'll never know. If you do get good results with an inexpensive seating die, it will be fun to point that out to people who spent more money on equipment than you ;)

Good luck.
 

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If you don't get a good load doing that, you probably need to start over with a different bullet.
or powder;). my 6.5cm luvs superformance powder, but it hates h4350.
 

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A factory load is a reloaded cartridge using new unproven components by folks that would rather be doing something else.

A reloaded cartridge is "improved" greatly just by giving a dam about what you are doing. The "re-loader" has skin in the game!

Would you rather jump out of an airplane with a "factory loaded" parachute, or a personally reloaded parachute?
 

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Seating depth is the last thing I worry about and the first thing I worry about.The direction' give by Darkker confused me just a bit. Post by onondagga is pretty much how I get my initial measurement. Something to keep in mind putting the rod down the barrel is that after you get your measurement and seat the bullet to that length, the bullet will be touching the lands! Which gives you a place to start now. Seat the bullet to that depth and put it in the chamber, close the bolt slowly until you feel the bullet hit the lands. Don't push to hard, you might stick the bullet in the lands. Pull the round out and seat the bullet a quarter turn more, then try it again. Keep doing that until you can no longer feel the contact and, imporant, can see the little scratch's from the lands at the ogive. These scratches are awfully apparent. When you can close the bolt and feel and see no problem, your bullet is just off the lands. No feel and no land marks on the barrel. Now I don't fool around shooting different bullet's in rifles much. So when I've got the seating depth I want, I lock my seating die in Each of my rifles has it's own set of dies.

Once you get there you could still measure the difference to the lands. Simply measure the OLL and subtract from that how far off you want The measurement from the bullet tip to the ogive will never vary! Give yourself just a bit deeper than you think you want as the distance from the bullet tip to ogive can vary on different bullet, once that bullet is seated in a case, it will never vary! I don't remember the second question!
 

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My 700 has the standard 1:12 twist. From what I have been told it can handle up to 60gr bullet but I plan on using 50-55 to be on the safe side. What would be a good barrel twist if in the future I want to upgrade my barrel?
You should be good on cup-n-core bullets up to 55 grains, but keep in mind it's really the length of bullet that matters, not the weight. Many shooters have found the Sierra 52gr HPBT to be extremely accurate, but I don't know if it will reach out to 600 yards from the diminutive 223 case. One of the A-Max bullets might be a better choice for what you're wanting to do.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Seat the bullets STRAIGHT (it's harder than you think)

I would buy a concentricity gage
So these two follow up questions might sound stupid and I apologize for that but, how does one make sure that their bullet is seated straight? Do I need anything special for that? and what is a concentricity gauge and what is it used for? Sorry if these are stupid questions or something that I should already know before reloading.
 

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If you're ready for a concentricity gauge and order one, then great. For now, just start your bullet with fingers while raising the ram, press a little, lower the ram a bit, turn the case a few degrees, and press a little more, repeat that a couple of times and your bullet will be going in as straight as you can get it. Should be more than fine. Later, your concentricity gauge will tell you many things, most of which are out of spec (or not?) before the bullet seating process even begins.

ON EDIT: I know you quoted MikeG and directed your question toward him, but Mike comes and goes, and it could be awhile. So there's some temporary info for you :)
 
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