No Tool Seating Depth Method

spladi

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2021
Messages
110
Location
USA
A bullet is seated long into an empty case. With bolt removed from the gun, the round is pushed into the chamber with a pinky finger pressing the case into the chamber as far as possible. Seating depth is reduced .002-.003 until the round falls freely from the chamber when the gun is tilted muzzle upward. So, essentially, you're finding that spot where the bullet no longer gets held in the rifling. Until that is found, each stuck round is lightly tapped out of the chamber with a cleaning rod.

In order to make this method as accurate as possible I would think one would need their brass sized and head spaced uniformly. However, there seems to be a universal standard of giving some length of bullet jump usually starting with .010 to .020. I can see this pinky procedure having an error of .002 with the jacket crushing ever so slight if one bullet were reused for all the measurements. However, I think it might be so slight to make no appreciable difference since it is common to adjust bullet seating depth in increments of at .010" to find that bughole grouping round.

I'd like to see some input on this. Pros and cons. Thanks!
I think your method is a good one as long as you keep up with recording measurements and for myself I usually fine tune seating depth in increments of a a bit less than .010"
 

StanB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2011
Messages
140
Location
PA
Seat the bullet where you want to get started. Color the bullet all round with a black sharpie, and chamber the round. If its touching the lands, you will see it. A little trial and error, and its good to start a new bullet after few attempts, but you can always find the edge of the lands within a few thou, then measure the cbto / oa, and go from there. I think this actually works better than the hornady tool, which has given me poor repeatability using Bergers. Carbon rings show up really well too, which is nice if you don't have bore scope.
 

Reelamin

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2012
Messages
1,011
Location
West
I've been reloading rifles for 40+ years and was initially taught how by an old timer who had been doing it probably for 50-60 years. Only about 5 years ago did I get a Hornady OAL gauge and it works faster but not any better so far. Load until the round fit the magazine or just long for single shots. What is crazy for me is I would just load the bullet long ready to shoot powder, primed and slowly close the bolt. It would obviously be too long and I would then just start seating it deeper until the lugs could just be engaged. Smoke the bullet with a candle I still have sitting on my bench shelf and continue and could feel it was tight. Then mic the mark on the bullet in the black, and back it off almost the same distance and try it again. Repeated this until there is absolutely no marking on the black and go to shooting. Once I found the best load I still to this day back it off 20K more and test again. Then adjust to the best OAL. For me it is enjoyable, funny, and some HOLY HECK I should have been doing that all the time. OAL....I could go back to the old way any day and I would have no worry about final results.
 

spladi

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2021
Messages
110
Location
USA
I've been reloading rifles for 40+ years and was initially taught how by an old timer who had been doing it probably for 50-60 years. Only about 5 years ago did I get a Hornady OAL gauge and it works faster but not any better so far. Load until the round fit the magazine or just long for single shots. What is crazy for me is I would just load the bullet long ready to shoot powder, primed and slowly close the bolt. It would obviously be too long and I would then just start seating it deeper until the lugs could just be engaged. Smoke the bullet with a candle I still have sitting on my bench shelf and continue and could feel it was tight. Then mic the mark on the bullet in the black, and back it off almost the same distance and try it again. Repeated this until there is absolutely no marking on the black and go to shooting. Once I found the best load I still to this day back it off 20K more and test again. Then adjust to the best OAL. For me it is enjoyable, funny, and some HOLY HECK I should have been doing that all the time. OAL....I could go back to the old way any day and I would have no worry about final results.
I'm always very leery about loading a ready to go round with a long seated bullet to find seating depth lengths. I never know if my sear will hold every time even though I have done what you describe. It can be done as well with an empty case that's been FL resized and with a well steel wooled shiny bullet that will show marks to go by.
 

Silent Hammer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 26, 2018
Messages
53
Location
Pa
On some rifles you can never get to the lands. I have a Rem 721 270W, with 150s that is still over 1/4" away.
It's waiting for a Remage job.

Also many opinions of seating bullet about a caliber deep.
In my others, I like the sharpie method on the bullet. Fired case using Lee neck die, just give enough tension to move bullet by hand.
You can also get very close by dropping bullet into chamber and holding it there, and measure difference with cleaning rod to closed bolt face and marking the rod.
Works for me, groups prove it!
 

skipglo

Well-Known Member
LRH Team Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2015
Messages
2,787
Location
Alberta
It takes about 5 seconds to cut a case and the n your done, put a bullet in, close the bolt , open and measure, No bolt removal and no pinky finger involved, Fast, simple and accurate
You thankfully have never seen my garage! You are right on about the 5 seconds to cut the case......but have overlooked the 1 hour it takes me to find my Dremel! Still the best hour and 5 secs spent...it's the way I've done it for years
 

Reelamin

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2012
Messages
1,011
Location
West
I'm always very leery about loading a ready to go round with a long seated bullet to find seating depth lengths. I never know if my sear will hold every time even though I have done what you describe. It can be done as well with an empty case that's been FL resized and with a well steel wooled shiny bullet that will show marks to go by.
I get it. Worst I have ever had to do was tap lightly on the bolt and never had to hit it. For other people I have driven them out of guns with a old cleaning rod I have and a hammer, and again the worst I ever had was the bullet driven back into the case. When that wouldnt work I had to buy a stuck case puller (slide hammer style) and obviously that works the best. My best was blowing a stuck loading jag and cotton cleaning patches out with a powder charge and no bullet. Again maybe old school and oh my gosh dangerous and it worked perfectly.
 
Last edited:

J-B welder

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2020
Messages
199
Location
Selkirk
You can also get very close by dropping bullet into chamber and holding it there, and measure difference with cleaning rod to closed bolt face and marking the rod.
Works for me, groups prove it!
That's the way I've been skinning the cat. Everyone seems to have their preference, but they all work. Not something worth wasting a lot of energy on trying to convince someone their way is wrong.
 

crashlanding

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2012
Messages
141
Location
Western Colorado
I'd like to see some input on this. Pros and cons
Honestly, if it works for you, why not go with it. Most who have responded are saying how they do it. I have my own way, but am always willing to give another’s methods a try, so next time at the bench, I will try yours and see how it matches up to mine. Back when I first got started, didn’t have fancy tools, I would take a bullet (boat tail) and seat it upside down in a case, remove the firing pin from the bolt and start seating in increments until the bolt dropped, then begin experimenting with loaded ammunition at various depths. Maybe not bench rest quality, but dang accurate hunting ammunition
 

Lionel Boyd Johnson

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 12, 2019
Messages
79
Location
Adams County, PA
A bullet is seated long into an empty case. With bolt removed from the gun, the round is pushed into the chamber with a pinky finger pressing the case into the chamber as far as possible. Seating depth is reduced .002-.003 until the round falls freely from the chamber when the gun is tilted muzzle upward. So, essentially, you're finding that spot where the bullet no longer gets held in the rifling. Until that is found, each stuck round is lightly tapped out of the chamber with a cleaning rod.

In order to make this method as accurate as possible I would think one would need their brass sized and head spaced uniformly. However, there seems to be a universal standard of giving some length of bullet jump usually starting with .010 to .020. I can see this pinky procedure having an error of .002 with the jacket crushing ever so slight if one bullet were reused for all the measurements. However, I think it might be so slight to make no appreciable difference since it is common to adjust bullet seating depth in increments of at .010" to find that bughole grouping round.

I'd like to see some input on this. Pros and cons. Thanks!
I've used this exact method on several rifles. I agree that there may be a couple of thousanths error, but so what? All you are looking for is a starting point to move the bullet back from. Since no two chambers are identical, the datum point is for you and you alone. The next guy can establish his own starting point. -Ed
 

Calvin45

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2019
Messages
1,394
Location
Nipawin, Saskatchewan, Canada
My method tells you EXACTLY where touch is…..this may not be important in an off the shelf factory hunting rifle, but in my precision custom rifles it makes a world of difference knowing measurements to .001”.
Heck, I even measure primer depth AND crush measurement to .001”.

Cheers.
Holy smokes….I don’t foresee myself ever being this committed…but if you derive some satisfaction from this degree of meticulous attention all the power to ya! That’s what it’s all about, finding satisfaction in the work you’re doing (Ecclesiastes talks a lot about that :) ).

I’m probably a heretic here but I stopped trying to seat anything right up to the lands a long time ago when I realized that with my hunting accurate but not usually target accurate rifles, combined with my not bad but not at all professional level of shooting ability, it didn’t make enough difference to count. That and discovering some bullets like jumping.
 

Muddyboots

Well-Known Member
LRH Team Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2013
Messages
3,813
Location
Michigan
My method tells you EXACTLY where touch is…..this may not be important in an off the shelf factory hunting rifle, but in my precision custom rifles it makes a world of difference knowing measurements to .001”.
Heck, I even measure primer depth AND crush measurement to .001”.

Cheers.
Which is why you have a precise measurement because the throat erosion can be easily documented and tracked with this method. Precision loading is all about consistent process for which precise measurements are basis. Quality is stated to be unknown unless you measure and test which is what we do.
 

Calvin45

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2019
Messages
1,394
Location
Nipawin, Saskatchewan, Canada
A bullet is seated long into an empty case. With bolt removed from the gun, the round is pushed into the chamber with a pinky finger pressing the case into the chamber as far as possible. Seating depth is reduced .002-.003 until the round falls freely from the chamber when the gun is tilted muzzle upward. So, essentially, you're finding that spot where the bullet no longer gets held in the rifling. Until that is found, each stuck round is lightly tapped out of the chamber with a cleaning rod.

In order to make this method as accurate as possible I would think one would need their brass sized and head spaced uniformly. However, there seems to be a universal standard of giving some length of bullet jump usually starting with .010 to .020. I can see this pinky procedure having an error of .002 with the jacket crushing ever so slight if one bullet were reused for all the measurements. However, I think it might be so slight to make no appreciable difference since it is common to adjust bullet seating depth in increments of at .010" to find that bughole grouping round.

I'd like to see some input on this. Pros and cons. Thanks!
I did something pretty similar when I was trying to get real close to the lands. I’ve also heard a lot about the split neck method mentioned on here and suspect that once it’s working for you it’s more precise and less time but when I got into reloading I didn’t have a dremel or anything like that and just working with what I had came up with something very similar to what you’re describing. It works.

As I replied to another post on here, I don’t mess around with this much anymore simply because I’ve been satisfied with the results of just seating target/long range profile type to maximum mag length (with the exception of my 225 eld m 300 Winnie load, and that’s still not about kissing lands as much as not having the special seating stem and crushing the nose if I seat them any deeper haha) and seating more conventional profile bullets to standard book length. I’m not a good enough shooter to realize great benefits from finding the lands precisely.

Long story short your method works, makes sense, is a bit time consuming but requires no equipment at all really. Worked for me
 
Top