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Old July 22, 2012, 09:19 PM   #1
FlySubCompact
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New handloader...having troubles with seating die

I looked at another thread where a noob like me was concerned about a .002"'s OAL variance with his seating die. Most consoled him that inconsistancy was OK.

Just bought a new progressive Lee Loadmaster station, Lee dies. I literally spent 8 hours of valuable off time yesterday familiarizing with setting up this press. 5 of those hours were trying to get a consistant OAL of 1.065. BTW, trying to replicate stock Hornady XTP 9mm/124Grain bullets.

That one die station is driving me nuts. I'd follow directions and get to the part where you slowly crank in on the final AOL. That first bullet (no powder, no primer) would come in perfect. Grab another deprimed shell, another new Hornady XTP bullet. Shell deprimed, then flared then to the seating die. OAL would be 1.084". Run another case through the same steps and OAL was 1.047". Fourth one would be 1.064"

An OAL variance of .037 seems to be huge, even to my inexperienced self.

I know there are guys here who are gonna say "Shoulda got a Dillon."

Can't swing that one. Besides, the only common complaint I've read about the Loadmasters online is the primer feed/set. I'm going to hand prime all my shells, so that contraption is going to be out of the circuit anyway. As to the Lee dies, I've not read one complaint. Even had two experienced loaders tell me Lee dies are great.

Maybe you guys can point me in a good direction on how to fix this? Thanks.
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Old July 22, 2012, 09:22 PM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
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I'm going to guess that you're short stroking it. Give it a SOLID push, top and bottom.
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Old July 22, 2012, 09:27 PM   #3
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Which seating plug are you using?


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Old July 22, 2012, 09:52 PM   #4
FlySubCompact
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Quote:
I'm going to guess that you're short stroking it. Give it a SOLID push, top and bottom.
Brian,

Thought that too, but I can assure that is not the problem. I did one string of 10 in a row to make sure I was making full top to bottom strokes. Even flared five in a row, without indexing, and then seating those five without indexing. Still wide variances.

mrawesome,

I'm assuming that the seating plug is the top section of the die I have? It would be the one that came with the die. I also purchased the Lee Factory Crimp die for the final stage, but have not advanced past this regular seating die to fool with that one yet.
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Old July 22, 2012, 10:06 PM   #5
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The seating plug is the part that pushes against the bullet. Take the stem out and tip it out. It will either be flat or concave.

In my experience, XTP's are best seated with a flat plug. Concave plugs tend to bite into the XTP due to its sharp, straight angle after the ogive (secant bullet).

Hornady seat dies come with a flat and concave plug.

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Old July 22, 2012, 10:23 PM   #6
Brian Pfleuger
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Interesting problem. I use 125gr XTPs in 357sig and seat them with a Lee die with no troubles whatsoever.

Pretty much has to be an inconsistency in how the plug touches the bullet.
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Old July 22, 2012, 10:35 PM   #7
FlySubCompact
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I took the cap out. The plug is not flat. It is bullet shaped, concave. This press came with these dies mounted. That is the only plug with this set.

Did not know that about two types of plugs. Sounds logical, your explanation. When I get to work I'll have my machinist buddy make a flat nosed copy of the one I have.
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Old July 22, 2012, 10:38 PM   #8
Brian Pfleuger
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Have you measured the variance of the bullets?
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Old July 22, 2012, 10:51 PM   #9
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Brian,

I did not measure the individual length variance of the new projectiles I bought. I did measure some factory made XTP shells to get my intended OAL. That is where I got the OAL of 1.065". Those factory made shells were all dead on that OAL....like little clones. Had one in the box that was 1.064"
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Old July 22, 2012, 11:04 PM   #10
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I'd measure the bullets, specifically the from the base to the spot that the plug touches several of them. If that length is consistent, it pretty well had to be something in the function of the press.
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Old July 22, 2012, 11:58 PM   #11
FlySubCompact
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I can't see how to determine where the seating plug will set on the XTP's. Guess I could insert the bullets into the removed plug and measure the OAL's of those.
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Old July 23, 2012, 12:36 AM   #12
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You may want to make sure the plug is free moving in the die. If it binds it could seat deeper than expected.
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Old July 23, 2012, 01:09 AM   #13
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Have you cleaned your dies? Sometimes they get lube or trash in them and it can monkey with your OAL.

When your buddy makes the new plug, have him make it 0.050-0.060" shorter than the one in it. If he trues up the flat base on both plugs you can store the plug you're not using in the adjustment screw.
http://leeprecision.com/adjust-sc.rifle-pis..html
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Old July 23, 2012, 06:18 AM   #14
FlySubCompact
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rtpz,

It's free. And brand new.

Jim,

That is a good suggestion. The cap is hollow. Good hiding place. Thanks.
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Old July 23, 2012, 07:21 AM   #15
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"When I get to work I'll have my machinist buddy make a flat nosed copy of the one I have."

Generally no need to get another plug. Turn the plug around 180 degrees and use the flat end if necessary depending on the shape of the bullet.
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Old July 23, 2012, 07:46 AM   #16
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You can also use JB Weld to fill a hollow seating ram, then wax a bullet or hose it with Pam and set it into the JB so the JB takes the shape of the XTP nose more exactly. You want to put the back end of the plug in a variable speed drill and turn it slowly to look for wobble to get the bullet straight in it. You may have to check it a few times while it is setting to be sure it stays straight. When it's very firm but not yet dead hard, turn the bullet on it a couple of times to make any imperfections symmetrical around the clock and to give it just a little looseness for individual bullet variation. Your buddy can turn any excess JB off in the lathe or you can do it by hand with a flat file. You end up with a custom seater just for your bullet. Lee will sell you spares for other bullets.
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Old July 23, 2012, 02:01 PM   #17
FlySubCompact
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Utopia,

This deal has a rim on one end. The rim has to go up for the threaded adjuster to push it.

BTW, I have been to Utopia. Nice place.

Unclenick,

Interesting idea. The would for sure work, but my machinist buddy will make about whatever I'd need.

I was measuring the bullets (NIB ones) to check them today. I took one XTP and set it in the seating punch. The bullet tip is all that makes contact with the concave pocket in the punch. I also took another different 9mm cartrigde (WWB) and on that round nosed bullet the punch "grabs" it more securely. More of the angled face makes contact.
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Old July 23, 2012, 08:15 PM   #18
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I use a flat seater in my 38/357 , but I also use mostly flat profile meplat bullets even on rare occassion when I do load jacketed I use the flat seater.

Sometimes especially on softer alloys with my homecast or soft jacketed meplats(especially jacketed HPs) I seat then crimp, could the meplats be deforming from the seating/crimpin operation & causing the meplat to pucker in some way as to affect OAL ???
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Old July 23, 2012, 09:05 PM   #19
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Do you have a case in each station of the press when you check this? There may be a difference if you set it up only using the seating die and then check when seating, expanding, and sizing all at the same time.
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Old July 24, 2012, 02:15 PM   #20
FlySubCompact
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Sport,

I did do that. Tried it indexing and stationary.

To All,

Had my machinist freind make the new bullet pusher. We talked about making a flat nosed one, but he was able to make a concave one that matched the XTP nose angle perfectly. You can just set an XTP bullet or cartridge in it like you'd set a golf ball on a tee. No wobble. Perfect.

I put it in the seating die, readjusted slowly until the first cartridge was 1.065". Ran another new shell through.......1.063". Another......1.066".......Another....1.067".

All I can say is...... Problem solved.

Now I'm getting to the point of actually charging some live rounds. Having inconsistant powder drops for the Lee charger, but I did get two accurate charges, set and crimped, measured, loaded those in the Glock and popped those two rounds in the back yard. Got to actually shoot my first homemade bullets!

Still have my fingers! Fun stuff, reloading. Aggravating, but still fun.
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Old July 24, 2012, 02:17 PM   #21
Brian Pfleuger
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Congratulations... Kiss your disposable income goodbye.
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Old July 24, 2012, 02:37 PM   #22
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glad to hear you figured it out. I was trying to decide if I should send a few of my Berry's 124gr HBFP to Lee so they can grind me a seating plug. Thats pretty much all I load now, guess I might as well.

Does anyone know if a Lee custom plug comes out like the one the OP's friend did for him, an exact match for the bullet?
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Old July 25, 2012, 04:20 AM   #23
FlySubCompact
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TK,

When I do make a bulk bullet order I was leaning towards those same Berry's bullets.....the 124's. That is exactly what I'd like to reload for range practice. I only bought these XTP's because that is all Bass Pro had for me to start with.

If the stock Lee bullet plug doesn't fit well with the Berry's I'll get my machinist bud to make one for that too.
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Old July 25, 2012, 06:47 AM   #24
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Quote:
I took the cap out. The plug is not flat. It is bullet shaped, concave. This press came with these dies mounted. That is the only plug with this set.
The plug has two ends. The other end is flat. Turn it around.
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Old July 25, 2012, 07:04 AM   #25
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Try preloading the turret, then readjust two dies opposing each other then the rest.
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