Hornady OAL Gauge is Driving me Crazy(er)!

Patriot007

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Sep 14, 2019
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301
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South Ga.
I spent a couple hours today trying to get consistent CBTO readings on my Ruger Hawkeye 270 and some Nosler ABLR bullets. The readings are all over the place. I've had more consistent results with some other bullets. I try to be consistent, firm but not too firm, give it a couple taps. I got a few clumps of measurements, but the SD on 30 measurements was .02, if I remember right, and the ES was 67 thousandths! I didn't try burning incense or chanting mantras, but what's the frigging secret for getting repeatable readings with this thing? It must work or people wouldn't have used it all these years. I'm ready to put it away and try Erik Cortina's "Jam Method".
I have use the Jam measurement method for years before Eric ever said a word about it. Jamming the bullet into the lands is a REAL measurement. Find your JAM, Back off 20 or 30 thou and start your seating there. Any other measurement is like chasing a UNICORN, a big waste of time. As long as you don't seat on top of your jam measurement, you can never go wrong. If you listen real close to Eric and F-Class John, they are giving away very accurate Trade secrets.
 

cajun

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Dec 11, 2007
Messages
445
I find when using the hornady tool it helps to insert a dowel or coated cleaning rod in the muzzle. Then you can work the bullet back and forth and find when it just touches. Some of the variance comes from how hard you are pushing into the lands. Also you can measure the hornady case and your fired brass with a headspace comparator and just account fir the difference.
 

C1Pro

Active Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2011
Messages
25
I spent a couple hours today trying to get consistent CBTO readings on my Ruger Hawkeye 270 and some Nosler ABLR bullets. The readings are all over the place. I've had more consistent results with some other bullets. I try to be consistent, firm but not too firm, give it a couple taps. I got a few clumps of measurements, but the SD on 30 measurements was .02, if I remember right, and the ES was 67 thousandths! I didn't try burning incense or chanting mantras, but what's the frigging secret for getting repeatable readings with this thing? It must work or people wouldn't have used it all these years. I'm ready to put it away and try Erik Cortina's "Jam Method".
 

C1Pro

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Joined
Apr 7, 2011
Messages
25
I had issues with consistency and like Dog Rocket says, touch can be an issue. The rod on the Hornady is plastic, which IMHO, has not feel. I switched to Brownells, Sinclair Seating Depth Gage #59-4000, which is a steel rod, absolute feel and no sacrificial case. Problems solved.
 

freddiej

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Aug 10, 2010
Messages
671
Location
Carson City, NV
I have questions due to the fact I was a long range target shooter back in the early 1990's and this always came up. I had the same frustrations with my 300 Win Mag back in 1,000 competition. Have you ever thought of measureint eh the individual lengths of your slugs? if not, try it and see how much they vary in your box of 100. Sierra, and yes I am going to name names on this, used to use 3 to 5 different sets of dies for their match slugs in each box. this caused varying lengths from the 0.300" diameter to the tip and to the rear. this caused all wholly hell with certain guys I knew. now if the projos in question are made like the old Sierra slugs are then I would say that your frustration is not the jig but the slugs. I have used this gauge for many years and found it to be within 0.0005 to 0.0015" each time with the same slug. I recently used 4 slugs to get an aggregate with the 500 piece box I have of HPBT Hornady slugs. they came out as I expected.. 0.022" meaning they were a mix of several different sets of swaging dies in the same box. not a big deal with hunting slugs. now I did that with some other slug brands, Barnes, Nosler, and Speer. Speer was average at 0.019" Nosler was good at 0.009" and Barnes was super at 0.004". I also measured the over all length of the slugs themselves and found about the same variation in their length as overall cartridge length. I understand the frustration but when you have gone through this and found the cause, the solution is obvious. don't worry about COAL variation, where the slugs hit the lead will be pretty consistent since the seating die uses a consistent diameter to seat the slug/projo. your lead to ogive should be within 0.005". this is coming from many years of reloading and long range target.
 

B1s BmagX2

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Joined
Oct 30, 2020
Messages
14
Location
Ohio
I use the split case like Dog Rocket wisely suggested in my 22-250. I seat the bullet relatively tight so I "jam" the lands. I also use the old "smoke" the bullet trick, (probably just because that's what I was taught years ago) as an extra added touch. That way I can see just how far into the lands I'm "forcing" the bullet. I "guestimate" and usually give it about a .0010" leeway just to be on the safe side. I also have the Hornady gadget and it is a piece of crap, (quoting Dr. Sreve). That thing gave me more headaches trying to figure out what I was doing wrong?? Turns out trying to use the darn thing is what I was doing wrong!! I went back to my old method and got 3 measurements all within .005" and used the average, which worked as well as it ever did. I'm not big on "chasing" the lands, I usually give the bullet at least a .0020"-.0030" ogive to lands jump, I'm not a bench rest shooter, just want to be able to hit a groundhog at 500 yds. The split case will give you a good basic starting point.
 

Patriot007

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Sep 14, 2019
Messages
301
Location
South Ga.
That tool is crap.

Take a sacrificial case and use a dremel tool to make a slit down to the neck/shoulder junction. Finger seat a bullet and chamber the round a couple times. Done.

If you don't have a dremel, then size the case just enough to catch the very rim of the case mouth and proceed as above.
This is almost, how I use to do it, also. 3 months ago I acquired the 21centruy expanding mandrel kit for my 6.5CM.
I use a Fire Formed case.
I anneal The case.
I use a Redding Body die to reset just just below the shoulder about a Thou.
I bump the shoulder back 2 thou.
Then I use a lee collect die to collect the neck down about .2620.
I then use the .2650 expander to expand the case neck out. "Slowly when expanding anything."
Depending on the case that you use, I use Lapua, with annealing, the bullet has just enough tension to slide with out any unwanted slipping or binding in the case neck.
I seat the bullet Long. I remove the bolt from the rifle. Insert the bullet in the chamber and push it forward into the chamber. I use a wooden dial about a foot long that fits the action of my Howa to push the case into the final position into the rifle lands. DO NOT push hard, you can feel the bullet seating itself in the lands. Once my shoulder has bottomed out in the chamber, I remove the wooden dial and take my BoreStick with a jag on the end and insert from the muzzled end and very lightly push the bullet point backwards.. The cartridge will easily move backwards with out the bullet sliding back into the case, 98% of the time , if you take your time, Fineness is your friend. After the cartridge is out of the rifle I am looking for LIGHT, LAND MARKS on the tip of the bullet, Not hard gouges cut into the bullet tip. That defeats the purpose. Then I take a measurement with my Hornady Ogive comparator "CBTO" and a measurement from the tip of the bullet to the base, "OAL". I Repeat this three times because I'm OCD and If I'm Lucky, so Far, my numbers come out the same every time. Then I subtract 20 or 30 thousandths and start my seating test from there.
This sounds like a lot, But it's not. This is how I prep my brass for loading except my final expanding mandrel is
.2620, not .2650. All I'll say from here is. This is how I do It and it works for me. I had to figure out other usages for that expensive Kit from 21Centrury. They could of at least put it in BIG LETTERS that the Mandrel Die was not included in the KIT. Yep I didn't read the small print.. Yes I had to turn around and order the expanding die. LOL :)
 

epags

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Mar 7, 2018
Messages
152
Location
Oxnard, CA
One thing many are missing when measuring from barrel to bullet when on lands is that the bullet ogive may not be consistent. I took some 64 Speer bullets ( an old lot I bought a while ago) and using a Sinclair comparator I measured from ogive to tail. length varied from 1.542 to 1.558" with the average at 1.549"
Knowing my rifle's desired jump I then reloaded the batch that was closest to the average. Threw away the 10 extreme high and lows of the batch. See my avatar for results....I was not interested in scope setting at the time Just group size.
 

DrSteve

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May 20, 2020
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Virginia
This is going to sound crazy but it works buy a wood dowel small enough to go down you barrel with the bolt closed push dowell to face of bolt mark it with a marker /pen mark at top of the barrel then what ever bullet your using push the bullet in the chamber take the wood dowel down the barrel till the dowel touch’s the bullet the hold your finger on the bulletise the dowel to push the bullet the push bullet back into lands mark the dowel again this will give you your oal remover to seat your bullet at least 0.20 lower from the tip or once you get your oal get bullet comparater and that will tell you where the ogive is and seat your bullet accourdingly
Thanks for your insights.
 

DrSteve

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May 20, 2020
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Virginia
That tool is crap.

Take a sacrificial case and use a dremel tool to make a slit down to the neck/shoulder junction. Finger seat a bullet and chamber the round a couple times. Done.

If you don't have a dremel, then size the case just enough to catch the very rim of the case mouth and proceed as above.
Dog Rocket, have a question. Do you slit the neck on one side only or slit both sides?
 

Muddyboots

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Feb 7, 2013
Messages
1,424
Location
Michigan
I have been using the Stoney Point Gauge since it came out many moons ago. I use to have some differences until I developed a procedure that I follow every time no different than each loading step is recorded to insure consistency.
1 - Its been said but this is most important requirement for consistent ogive to land measurement IMO. The throat HAS to be absolutely crystal clean so spend some time to clean down to steel. Before I did that, measurements were not consistent at all. Now they are and usually within 0.001 of each one. Throat is dirty , don't bother measuring anything.
2 - Use a fired case from the rifle being measured to insure the specific fired brass headspace is perfect alignment for that rifle. I purchased a tap so I do my own. I also clean the brass so there is no residue in neck and insures the brass is headspacing tightly to chamber. Plus it looks pretty.:eek:
3 - I went back to using dial calipers just for measuring the Ogive land measurement since I believe it gives me more consistent measurement.
4 - Set the base on the caliper blade in same exact point every time and securely lock in place. Make sure the right comparator is used and is clean. Also make sure it is tight to base and securely locked into place with set screw.
5 - When I press the rod forward to push the bullet into the lands, I do it with enough pressure that the bullet stays in lands until I push it out with rod from muzzle. I also mark the bullet with a sharpie to give me a visual reference of marks on the bullet. After a while, you do develop a sense by observation if the bullet marks look consistent to what you are trying to do.

The real problem with finding the lands is that the measurement that you are taking is a snapshot in time. You have to realize this measurement moves as the throat deteriorates which depending upon cartridge and loads can be faster that you think. Hot loads and it can be 100 rounds and it has moved a lot. I remeasure every 100 rounds for that reason.

The next problem is when dealing with cup core bullets is the ES on them for the ogive to lands measurement within the same box and lot number can be frustrating as well.

Mono style bullets seem to be much better in their consistency. I recently started to use Hammer Bullets more and their consistency is a real eye opener.

The last comment I will make is we sometimes go crazy over measurements when in reality some rifles will shoot at SAAMI COAL just fine so the ogive to land measurement is irrelevant. Nosler ABLR taught me that one when my best accuracy was just about at SAAMI so the jump was actually a leap! Hammer bullets was another example for me where they don't care how far they are off lands for most part. My Sendero 300WM shoots 1/2 MOA with the 196 HH that is 0.095 off so it can feed properly. Sierra Gamechangers are another that shoot much better closer to SAAMI than getting close to lands. I still measure every bullet just so I know what the jump or leap will be for that specific bullet at that specific time I measured them.
 

Patriot007

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Sep 14, 2019
Messages
301
Location
South Ga.
Listen you dont like it i get it but O.P was trying to measure his so I was trying to explain to him whats the most accurate way like others you dont want well thats fine.
Reason I do it is I wanna know how much my throat moves every 100 rounds and I can adjust my seating depth Accordingly you dont want to more power to you.
Next thing is we weren't talking about reassemble now were we.
I know it's funny, we all use different methods in achieving the same out come. "or close, as some may think." Heck, I'm still using one of my old Tactical boot strings to disassemble the bolts out of a couple of my rifles.. That's trick has worked well for decades for me.
As far as knowing how much my lands are deteriorating. To me, that falls under the term chasing the lands.
For instances, My groups are under a half inch. After 200 rounds my group opens up to say 1.5in. My ED and SD are still the same, single digits, per LabRadar. Common sense tells me that I need to adjust my seating dep up or down or find a different Node. There fore, there is no need for me to measure anything regardless of lands ware and tare, or erosion on my lands. My groups, ED's & SD's, Velocities, and BORSCOPE will tell me when my barrel is shot out.
Just me and my two cents worth. To show what I know, I didn't know they made a tool as you showed in your post.
I will be getting one of them. Thank You.
 

DrSteve

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May 20, 2020
Messages
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Location
Virginia
I find when using the hornady tool it helps to insert a dowel or coated cleaning rod in the muzzle. Then you can work the bullet back and forth and find when it just touches. Some of the variance comes from how hard you are pushing into the lands. Also you can measure the hornady case and your fired brass with a headspace comparator and just account fir the difference.
Thanks! I measured my fired brass and the Hornady prepared brass and they were both at 0.000.
 

jrg

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Joined
Sep 3, 2013
Messages
33
Location
N.East Texas
I spent a couple hours today trying to get consistent CBTO readings on my Ruger Hawkeye 270 and some Nosler ABLR bullets. The readings are all over the place. I've had more consistent results with some other bullets. I try to be consistent, firm but not too firm, give it a couple taps. I got a few clumps of measurements, but the SD on 30 measurements was .02, if I remember right, and the ES was 67 thousandths! I didn't try burning incense or chanting mantras, but what's the frigging secret for getting repeatable readings with this thing? It must work or people wouldn't have used it all these years. I'm ready to put it away and try Erik Cortina's "Jam Method".


I could take 10 measurements with the Hornady OAL gauge & never come up with the same measurement. I prefer the stripped bolt or the Alex Wheeler method, works every time!
 

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