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Tech Line & Tips (FAQs)

Seating Depth Variation

There are many factors that can cause bullet seating depth to vary when using our Competition Seating Die. First, make sure you're comparing bullet seating depths correctly. You cannot check bullet seating uniformity by measuring cartridge overall length off the bullet point. You must use a bullet comparator, like our Instant Indicator, to compare bullet seating depths. A comparator contacts the bullet at the bore diameter contact point. This is important, as bullets can vary slightly in overall length.

We have designed the seat stem in our Competition Seating Die to contact the bullet ogive as far down as possible. Our Competition Seating Die features a bullet guide that is only .0005-.001" larger than bullet diameter. This tight fit between the bullet guide and bullet ensures that the bullet is seated straight in the case neck. It also limits how far down the ogive the seat stem can contact the bullet. If the ogive of your bullets aren't uniform, you may notice a slight difference in seating depth. Generally, this isn't a problem as modern bullets are very uniform. In rare instances, when using inexpensive bulk bullets, you may find that the bullets were made on several different machines and then blended.

If your loading press is worn, the ram may not stop in exactly the same spot each time you raise it. Obviously, this will cause variations in bullet seating depth. Although our instructions warn against it, raise the shellholder and adjust the outer, threaded die body to make light contact with the shellholder. (Make sure you keep the contact light, so you don't damage the die.) This creates a "dead length" seating chamber that is unaffected by where the shellholder stops. The only disadvantage to using the die adjusted this way, is that it may be awkward to read the micrometer if it ends up on the back side of the die.

Inadequate or excessive neck tension can also cause bullet seating depth variations. If you're using a bushing style sizing die, make sure you've selected the correct diameter bushing to size the case necks. Our current recommendation, is to select a bushing tha t is .001" smaller than the neck diameter of your loaded cartridges. (See the bushingselection newsletter in the "Tech Line" section of our website for more information.) As cases are fired over and over, their necks become progressively harder. This can cause the necks to "spring-back" excessively when they are sized, which reduces the neck tension on the bullet. Either anneal the case necks after several firings, or discard the cases and start with new, soft ones.

Heavily compressed loads can create problems when seating bullets. Our Competition Seating Die is not a powder compression die. The excessive force required to seat a bullet on a compressed load can damage the die and may cause seating depth variations. Switching to a faster burning or ball powder may eliminate the need to excessively compress the powder charge.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call our technical support line at 607-753-3331.

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