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Old June 3, 2012, 08:59 PM   #1
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This works in theory....

So today at work I kept looking out and seeing a beautiful day and was anticipating some range time after I got home. Needless to say, I had one small project to get done first and right about the time I finish up the thunderstorms come rolling in.... Oh well, maybe tomorrow I can get out to test some of the ammo I made up last weekend. I ended up moving it from the zip-lock bags into the plastic ammo boxes I picked up at Cabela's yesterday.

Anyhow, while I was out there playing I started thinking about how to adjust COL once the rounds are made up. Going from longer to shorter would seem to be just a trip back through the seating die and pushing the bullet in a few thousandths more. But suppose you wanted to go the other way? How would you go about lengthening COL short of completely pulling the bullet and rebuilding the round from scratch? Hmmm....

Yes, I realize that it would be the easier path to just start off with the bullet seated to max COL and work it in from there. The thing is that a lot of load data lists COLs that are below maximum for various bullets. Maybe you want to adjust COL to fine tune the load for better feeding, accuracy, or some other reason. Maybe the manual only has generic bullet data, like the Lee 2nd edition, which has a lot of powder choices but only lists bullets by weight and lead or jacketed construction but gives COL spreads of up to 85 thousandths for any one bullet weight/type depending on which powder you use.

So anyhow here's what I came up with as a theory on how you could move the bullet out some, let's just say to a point beyond maximum COL, without actually pulling the bullet out of the case and dumping the powder. For this discussion I'm only talking about using an inertial impact (hammer type) puller.

Measure the depth of the cavity in the puller and subtract from that the amount that a round sticks down below the collet when at maximum COL. Then take off another what? maybe 50 thousandths for flex and clearance. Now cut a hardwood dowel to the length needed to fill the gap between the bottom of the cavity and max COL plus clearance. Put the bullet in, give it a good smack, and the bullet moves out past max COL but is stopped from coming all the way out by the dowel and still stays in the case. Now you can reseat to any depth desired.

I know, I'm coming up with a solution to a problem that doesn't exist (at least not for me, yet...). So what do you think? It works in theory......
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Old June 4, 2012, 07:19 AM   #2
Uncle Buck
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I use the impact hammer. Give it a few whacks and then measure the OAL.

I was reloading some .45 Colt ammo a few days ago and someone (Auntie Buck?) messed with my seating die. I actually set the semi wad cutter to so deep that it looked like a regular wadcutter with a point! A few whacks with the hammer brought the bullet out to where I wanted it and I then crimped it in place.

Never brought the hammer with me to the shooting range, although it is close enough, as I shoot from the back of the house.

I would think measuring and adjusting the catch pocket of the hammer would be a son-of-a-gun.
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Old June 4, 2012, 09:32 AM   #3
Brian Pfleuger
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Yep, it works fine. I've done it a few times.
You're right, it's easier to start long but sometimes we make mistakes.
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Old June 4, 2012, 09:59 AM   #4
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I too have used the impact hammer to move bullets out farther, it works fine.
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Old June 4, 2012, 01:42 PM   #5
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Measuring the depth of the cavity is really simple. Just use your calipers like you would to measure the depth of any hole. Insert the end of the slide into the cavity until the end of the caliper rests on the lip of the body of the puller where the flat side of the collet sits. Read the depth directly from the caliper.

Measuring the amount the round sticks out past the flat side of the collet is easy but not exact though you can readily get close enough. There is roughly 300 thousandths of engagement (bullet inside the case) on this .45 ACP round. Do a little bit of math and you come up with a plug length of 3.25" to unseat the bullet to over the max COL. You will still have plenty of engagement to hold the bullet in place. You would have to make a different plug to accomodate different rounds, though you would probably be able to use the same length of plug for similar rounds like .38/.357.

Thanks for confirming my theory, there's nothing like feedback from someone who has actually done it to confirm that I'm not way off base here.

Last edited by thedaddycat; June 4, 2012 at 01:51 PM.
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Old June 4, 2012, 03:58 PM   #6
Ideal Tool
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Hello, thedaddycat. Yes I have done this with a kenitec puller..on plain-base cast bullets..both rifle & revolver. However...there could be a major hidden problem that could go completly unoticed...whenever I try to hammer-pull my gas-checked matter if .22 or up to .30 (the largest G.C. size I use), I always have a few that leave the G.C. in case neck. there is a chance, if lengthining G.C. cast, a seperation could occure in there.
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Old June 4, 2012, 04:33 PM   #7
serf 'rett
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I have whacked away to lenghten the round for reseating when I overshot the initial setting. I few controled whacks, without unseating the bullet, allow me to reseat. Don't see why the dowel rod wouldn't work, but as mentioned, it would be a lot less work to start at max and work downward to shorter lengths.

I wonder if some of the neck tension could be changed during this process of seating, unseating and reseating? Other problems may occur if the round had been crimped?
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Old June 4, 2012, 05:06 PM   #8
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Ideal Tool, thanks for the heads up on gas checks possibly seperating. I have not yet used any GC bullets, just plain or plated lead and jacketed bullets.

So having my curiosity aroused, I cut a pair of plugs with slightly different lengths from a 1/2" dowel and tried it out. The plugs would not fully seat in the bottom of the cavity without being tapered a bit, which I did with a utility knife. The 3.25" one was a bit short for my chosen round to experiment with (.45 ACP) and the COL was over 1.4". Not only that, but the Rainier 230 grain RN plated bullet impacting on the end of the plug caused a flat spot on the nose of the bullet. It is kind of hard to see in the pic, but the flattened one is on the right while the one that was padded is on the left. The flat nose made consistent measuring of COL impossible as there was no way to assure uniform flattening of the bullets since the amount of flattening was dependant on impact energy. Hmmm.... OK, so I needed to lengthen the plug and pad it somehow.

This is what I did to achieve the desired result:

I cut a couple of pads from a bit of plastic material like that used to make the curtain in front of a walk-in cooler. You could use rubber or any similar material. You want it fairly thin and able to absorb impact energy from the bullet hitting the dowel. This eliminated the flattening of the bullet nose and reduced the excessive lengthening in COL. I suppose I could shim the pad up with some small washers to get COL of 1.280" to 1.300" but for now this will do. A trip through the seating die will reset COL to any desired length.

These rounds were crimped, enough to take the flare from the expander out of the case. There were some minor scratches on the copper plating of the bullet, but I did not recrimp as neck tension seemed to be fine.
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Old June 5, 2012, 04:38 AM   #9
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I like your idea and I use a hammer to lengthen some rounds. To keep the bullets from flattening out I use an old foam ear plug, it fits right into the body of the hammer and cushions the bullet very nicely.
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