View Full Version : How well do you reload? Bullet Run Out.

Bass Ackward
06-10-2007, 09:54 AM
I have often gotten into experimentation like finding what anneal stage worked best for pistol cases. Or best sizing diameters for me. Or any of dozen of other projects. At the conclusion of these tests I settled on a logical explanation and I just accept the results. Have I really found out anything of value or just a simple work around?

I got ahold of a set-up to check how well I reload. The results were eye opening. I take pains like a lot of other people to mold, size and load good quality ammunition. Sometimes to the extent of being anal. But do I? I have to buy my own set-up now because I just had to give the original owners back. Don't you just hate when you borrow something from someone and they actually expect to get it back? :grin:

I concluded from my anneal tests that thick, 44 brass that was softer gave me a better chamber seal at low pressure and thus better accuracy. Maybe it does. But it also prevents damage to PB bullets and allows more concentric ammunition. Especially if you bell your cases. Who doesn't with PBs?

Ever believe that you have a bullet design that just won't shoot in your gun? Maybe, but I have found that I have bullet designs that don't load (I don't load) very well and as a result shoot below standard. When correctable, they come right in. Sometimes sizing is more about loading or concentricity. Like choking or seating into the lands. These techniques may have some benefits, but they also allow better alignment for poorly loaded stuff. So is choking for real or a work around? Well since some guys can shoot .001 above bore, makes you wonder huh.

Fliers and poor accuracy were directly proportional to run out. Indexing would help accuracy, but pick good, aligned, stuff out of the same ammo and it shot markedly better than even indexing. The higher the velocity and pressure you ran, the more critical it was. Ever wonder why 1600-1800 provides the "best" accuracy for cast?

All in the dies you say? Maybe yes, maybe no. I have three sets of 44 Mag seaters. One Lyman for larger diameter bullets, one RCBS, one Lee. All were susceptible in different ways. Some loaded different bullet designs better than others. We all know lube build up can affect seating depth. I never thought it would affect alignment too. My Lee's were very susceptible to lube buildup. But they are .... tighter too.

Take the 44 caliber, 240 PB plinker group buy from a couple of years back. Problematic and temper-mental is how it was described. We know Lee screwed those molds up. Took me a while to get a handle on it. A RNFP that wasn't. Mine had a slight 3 degree draft. No problem, use the flat nose seater plug right? Wrong. The flat nose seater plug allowed about .006 to .008 of run out. I had to use the round nose seater punch and modify it to load that one. Much, much better .... bullet now.

So do we pick bullet designs because they really shoot better in our guns or because we load them better? Who knows, but cartridge alignment for me played a big part. Anything you can do to improve alignment pays BIG dividends with cast. The higher in velocity you want to go, the more critical this is. It did in every case I tried. All my bottle necked cases for HV are inside neck reamed and turned for alignment. Take bevel base bullets too. Shoot better for you? Well, if you camphor in a 22 degree angle on the case, I don't have to bell, alignment was far superior to when you had to bell. Neck tension was superior obviously. But when I belled, alignment for bevel bases was terrible! Anneal helped any bell be uniform and thus case neck tension and alignment. The more I bell, the greater the chance for case error with alignment and the greater the error will be.

This wasn't meant to be a ground breaking tutorial or even all inclusive. Just another one of those ever wonder why things. Before I conclude, I want to go back to a discussion we had about crimp a few years back where the basic consensus was that crimp didn't have much effect on load as did case neck tension. Therefore crimps only purpose was to hold bullets back from recoil. WRONG. The biggest advantage to crimp is that it corrects bullet alignment for poorly loaded ammunition. Good news is that it corrects alignment for well loaded ammunition too as long as you don't over do it. In every case where I did seating and crimp in a different operation, the before and after run out favored the crimped cases. Now I understand why a lot of factory ammunition is crimped.

I hate research. Now I have to buy a descent spinner. [smilie=b:

Bent Ramrod
06-10-2007, 10:22 AM

You make some good and interesting points. I've always thought it was very weird that I can get good results with Ideal 457124, and yet the flat-nosed Marlin analogue, 457193 is a very mediocre performer for me. Never thought runout would be an issue with fat boolits seated with only one grease groove protruding. I'll check my seating punch before trying the latter next time.

06-10-2007, 10:28 AM
High power shooters have been spinning loaded rounds for years to aid total alignment using less than perfect chambers. Should be done when using any off the shelf gun, but most folks don't bother because it would result in the accumulation of wasted rounds good only for barrel warmers. The dies of choice have been the Bonanza brand for years past, with dimensions made exactly for that one gun. These dies are normal dies having a sliding seating stem. BR knock-out dies of BR fame are even better, but would be an overkill for any gun not requiring shaved brass to mate with a "tight" chamber. ... felix

06-10-2007, 11:33 AM
Yes, round nose punches have always been better for me in terms of runout, provided the punch is actually used without the sides of the boolit being gouged too much. A witness ring is OK around the boolit, and on top of it around the meplat. In fact, those rings, if very consistent in depth (marking) would indicate a round boolit. ... felix

Bass Ackward
06-10-2007, 12:03 PM

Absolutely. But with cast, you have to deal with .... slop or lose tolerances to accept larger than bore diameter bullets in dies. Plus most HPS or BRS don't have to bell. And more things than just die quality can and will affect this. That was my point. More than just bullet fit of a seating stem. And tighter spec dies, (if you can believe my Lee's are tighter) then lube became a problem after very few rounds. Actually the problem was LLA hardening in the die between use. Loading one round could be enough if you set the dies up for a month. So does a guy have trouble shooting LLA or is it a die problem because he can't he keep his dies clean?

I know about spinning. That was why I wanted to test myself. I ain't going to spin every round. No way. What I will do from now on is double check myself especially with new to me designs and such. Might help to answer when is the right time to anneal my cases?


I guess the real issue is how important alignment is to cast. Some people are paranoid about sizing. Then we trust everything else to believe it is correct and therefore the end result will be correct. It would seem to be a waste of time if you don't follow through and check the final product. I know sizing can make things work that didn't work the last way you sized them. But what were you actually correcting?

Kind of a different subject. I have always said, problems from shooting cast come from the gun and our failure as reloaders to provide conditions to correct or over come those short comings. There are cast bullet books out the wazoo. They all come up short. Why? Two reasons. First the author tries to answer questions as he saw the solution. And second, because the combinations of possible options are endless and nothing works in all cases under all circumstances. Especially if one thing corrects this, but causes something else a certain firearm.

What is an old wives tale? That is a one size fits all solution to a problem that statistically worked for many people, and many guns, over a long period of time that doesn't work in all cases. Thus causing us to forget other available options or choices because one method has become the method of choice. Old wives tales place limits on both reloading and shooting cast. That's is how I define an old wives tale.

What we have never seen put together is a list of "Root factors and problems" for cast and then listed the possible steps or the things that we as reloaders or shooters can do to work around them. A reference that you could look at that would break shooting cast down into simple to understand logic and problems down to basics where a list of options for workarounds could be developed BY YOU. This way we learn to diagnose actual problems and not to blame lube or bullet design all the time only to have the next guy along that swears by it. It would also show us relationships and how one thing might affect other things. It would not stigmatize that cast is only so accurate or only good to certain velocities.

That's what makes shooting cast more difficult than it has to be and why people accept limits.

06-10-2007, 01:40 PM
Thanks bass, GOOOD READING!!!!
I never checked my runout , but now I think it would be a good idea!!
Years ago I was loading for a 338 WIN MAG with condums. That gun would shoot hornady fine but my beloved sierras,and speers wouldnt group better than 2 MOA.
no matter what voodoo I did to those rounds.

ron brooks
06-10-2007, 02:02 PM

What do you mean by "witness ring"?


06-10-2007, 02:12 PM
Keep in mind, John, when custom dies are made, the exact fired cases are required for proformas as well as the projectiles to be loaded. You will have to let them know also if you want the dies to bump or not so a corresponding shellholder can be made or not, and the amount of neck sizing desired (amount of boolit compression). These dies will be perfect for cast without any belling whatsoever. But, the case necks will have to be inside turned at the mouth. Best to supply cases already fixed up and ready to load (without being sized on iota). Best thing to do is send them cases that have been fired several times and just feel good when chambered. ... felix

06-10-2007, 02:29 PM
Witness ring is a ring on the boolit where the boolit had been barely compressed by the punch. Harder the boolit, the less obvious the ring. Adjust punch to where the ring is just barely seen, enough for determination that the sizing was good. If the ring is not consistently around the boolit, then that boolit would be best used for a barrel warmer. Talking about long range stuff here. ... felix

ron brooks
06-10-2007, 02:41 PM

Thanks, much appreciated.


06-10-2007, 02:50 PM
I have always considered zero bullet runout one of the most important aspects of accuracy. I don't know how many Redding dies I returned with fired cases to be lapped for minimum sizing. Over sizing and over expanding has always been the reason for poor accuracy and large bullet run out. Many blame the seater, not so.
I had special bench rest dies made for my .44 because RCBS dies sucked. I have all kinds of measuring tools but believe it or not, Hornady dies make as accurate a load as all of my special tools.
I don't think a little runout is as important in the revolver as it is if rifles.
I just took out a bunch of loads for my .44 with my home made boolits and ran them through my runout checker. Since no mold casts a perfectly round boolit and mine run a few thousandths out of round, I was amazed to see no more then .002" to .003" runout with my loads. What that means is I can't get any better no matter what I do because of slightly out of round cast boolits. If you measure any runout with cast boolits, remember to check the boolit itself for being out of round. To try to get perfection with cast is a waste of time. If you have boolits .001" out of round and your runout is .002", you only have .001" runout.
Since I have shot several 1" groups with this .44 at 100 yd's I feel there is nothing more I can do. When a group opens, it is me, not the gun or load. That makes me enormously happy. I can live with the jerk behind the trigger but I can't live with a bad gun or load.

06-10-2007, 02:59 PM
One inch at a hunnert with a pistol, ransom rest or not, is an exquisite group, and most especially if all chambers were used for that group. 44man is de'man without doubt. ... felix

06-10-2007, 03:03 PM
Ron, the top punch should NOT hold the boolit firmly. The punch should allow the boolit to move to and fro at the mouth of the sizing die. How good is how good the boolit performs at the target at the most commonly used distance for that gun (and shooter). ... felix

Baron von Trollwhack
06-10-2007, 07:25 PM
It seems that with care, one can load ammo with greater concentricity than the unsized noses of the bullets cast for use in the ammo.BvT

06-10-2007, 10:04 PM
Using straight-line seaters and precision floating alignment dies is commonplace in producing match ammo with jacketed bullets. An alignment of .001 to .002 is what I shoot for and generally can crank out .004 or under.

Commercial ammo will range from .003 to .015 in a box of 20.

I've just started (with the .375 H&H and .375 Win) in measuring runout with cast bullets.

To do so, I'm switching all my seaters to Horandy New Dimension dies because of the floating support and the nose punch are simply made and I can duplicate them at the sizes required for cast bullets. That is to say that a cast bullet of .002 oversize often won't fit into a normal seating die because the clearances are too small.

Good to see someone else's findings on accuracy being correlated to runout.

06-11-2007, 06:59 AM
Get a whack-it Lee Loader kit and use it to seat bullets. It's like a cheap inline seating die.

06-11-2007, 07:51 AM
A couple of suggestions that I learned over the years.
I was bothered by the 'witness ring' showing up on my 45 Colt 255 grain SWCs. I drilled out the cup of the seating stem so that the edge of the cup pushes on the full caliber shoulder of the bullet.
A. With flat nosed rifle bullets I use a flat blank seating stem to push the
bullet into the case, letting the case mouth flare center the case in the die.
B. When installing the nose punch for a Lyman sizer I use a bit of bullet
lube to hold the stem in the ram rather then tightening the set screw.
The stem is wobbly and can easily be picked out of the stem with my
I size all of my bullets 2 or 3 thousandths to big. I polished down the case expander where the bullet base will show where it expanded the case when seated. This applies to revolver and straight walled rifle cases.
When sizing the case I rotate the case when sizing. I'll size the case pull it out, rotate, size, rotote, size. My neck expanding and flaring is done in a seperate step.
When seating the bullet is do a similar procedure as sizing when searing the bullet. I picked this up from Handloader many years ago.
With bottle necked cases , excepting those that are used in semi autos, I leave a minscule bit of flare from the case mouth flaring, to center the case in the chamber.


06-11-2007, 09:42 AM
Jim, anyway we can get an accurate spin on the final round is important. Whatever works should be used. What we are not willing to do (except in the extreme) is to throw out what we call good looking cases. The very best way to do that is by shooting with them, and selecting those as golden only after they have proven themselves on target. In other words, the tires are not in balance until they drive smooth and straight down the road. That would be a 4 shot group with a car, but contemplating a 18 shot group makes my head hurt. Notice the alligators (treads) on the road thrown off by those trucks. Flyers everywhere on the road, especially during the hotter months. ... felix

06-11-2007, 09:53 AM
Bass--Excellent description of an "old wives tale" as it applies to cast boolits!

06-12-2007, 12:02 AM
When I RUN OUT I cast more boolits... :)


P.S. I don't test for run out, just shoot groups and try again.

06-12-2007, 11:56 AM
Keep in mind, John, when custom dies are made, the exact fired cases are required for proformas as well as the projectiles to be loaded. You will have to let them know also if you want the dies to bump or not so a corresponding shellholder can be made or not, and the amount of neck sizing desired (amount of boolit compression). These dies will be perfect for cast without any belling whatsoever. But, the case necks will have to be inside turned at the mouth. Best to supply cases already fixed up and ready to load (without being sized on iota). Best thing to do is send them cases that have been fired several times and just feel good when chambered. ... felix

1. "..without any belling whatsoever..." How does that work, and does it work for flat base plain base bullets?
2. ...inside turned..." I turn case necks with a Forster trimmer, little milling machine apparatus. I have also Forster inside neck reamers, but long ago was convinced that the outside turning was better than inside reaming. Lately I've been castigated for using the Forster mill thing, and told to get a Midway etc. hand held blade type outside neck turner. I always thought the Forster outside turner worked great, but ?? I'd like to hear about whether I have to get that Midway ~$40 turner or not.

1. Several of the serious jacketed bullet guys at the range have and use the concentricity measuring apparatus with ball bearings and a dial indicator. And, they "fix" each cartridge by mashing the high side of the bullet down. And they claim that the mashing makes the accuracy better. I don't know why cartridges aren't concentric, but there are many possible reasons. What is the big reason? Is it the reloading dies?

2. With this thread and others, I'm suspecting more each day that breech seating the lead bullets in a SS or Bolt gun may provide better accuracy easier than with fixed ammunition. Breech seating eliminates most/all the variation associated with the cartridge case. I'm thinking that slow twist breech seating may be an approach. And Bass would? advise slow powders. ???
joe brennan

06-12-2007, 01:23 PM
Joe, chamfer the inside neck ridge only, and do that until the edge is somewhat sharp. That would be ideal for lead based boolits and bell the case ever so slightly to make it rub in the seating die. If neck turning, turn only the outside of the neck for a final cut. Inside neck turning is OK when getting the necks to within 0.001 of the final turn. Again, the final turn should be with hand held lathe. Not important unless you have a gun that can appreciate this kind of attention.

Breach seating will always be more obviously accurate, but only when using an extremely tight chamber. The BR gun must be made for riding the bags properly, and when made so would be unsuitable for any other sporting arrangement. BR guns are seldom dragged out of the closet after initial curiosity unless there is money on the table, or you are a diehard for extreme accuracy. Gets to be work damn fast, and the pleasure of shooting it goes away accordingly. Ownership, maybe not, because subconsciously you have a shooter when all else fails, at least mentally.

Most loading dies are worthless when it comes to BR work, and have to be specially made for the purpose. Keep in mind, we are talking true BR competition here, not game playing. The Bonanza/Forester guys do make custom dies to fit a normal gun with enough tolerance to allow the use of pickup brass. BR dies are much less tolerant on purpose.


Bass Ackward
06-12-2007, 02:24 PM
2. With this thread and others, I'm suspecting more each day that breech seating the lead bullets in a SS or Bolt gun may provide better accuracy easier than with fixed ammunition. Breech seating eliminates most/all the variation associated with the cartridge case. I'm thinking that slow twist breech seating may be an approach. And Bass would? advise slow powders. ??? joe brennan


BINGO!!! That's why breech seating is superior for accuracy! That's straight line seating and full, engraved, support perfectly aligned " in " the bore. When the cartridge ignites, the bullet is 100% supported by steel so " Zero" obturation / deformation takes place. Perfect alignment and perfect bullet balance is achieved. And the base remains square with the bore. But for breech seating, stay with faster powders.

Two different ball games entirely. Everything else we do from neck turning to indexing was designed to try and make alignment perfect which it will never be, so at least it can be uniform. Understand alignment is why breech seating works.

The reason for this Thread was that my assumption was I was reloading careful enough, with quality dies, and equipment, and proper techniques to guarantee good quality ammunition just because the last bullet design loaded well. And that wasn't true.

So now I will spin a couple when I first set up to ensure nothing is wrong before I get 200 rounds loaded and see poor results on a target. Components are getting too expensive to perform substandard. One more step to eliminate .... "waste".