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Thread: DIY Hornady COAL gauge modified cases

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Default DIY Hornady COAL gauge modified cases

    When I purchased a 280AI I pretty much solidified the need to make my own modified cases for use with the Hornady COAL length tool.

    A little research showed that I would need a 5/16x36 die which I picked up from amazon for $11. I also found that a 19/64 drill was the correct size so I set out and bought a big drill kit from AIH that had the appropriate size mixed in amongst numerous others that will hopefully come in handy for other projects. A quick amazon search shows the drill bit can be had for under $10 on its own.



    I started with once fired cases from the rifles I plan to test and tossed them on a small press I keep loaded with a lee universal decapping die.

    I had read a number of posts on how to hold the casing to drill it and I tried them out.

    First up was using a inertia bullet puller. It worked pretty well for this purpose but would slip a bit.



    With the primer pockets drilled out to 19/64ths I set up the 5/16x36 die and started running it in. It worked for the first little bit then the die kept catching and would spin the case in the collet.


    Once it became apparent that process was a losing fight I decided to try another trick I had found on the interwebs. I grabbed out the micrometer and measured my case then pulled out the drill bit set and started measuring them till I found a close match for the 7-08 case.



    I grabbed a small scrap of 2x2 and drilled a hole through it then put it on the miter saw and cut it lengthways through the hole. I slapped the new wood jig in a vice and clamped the case down in it.



    This proved much more effective and I was able to finish threading it easily. The finished case threaded right onto the Hornady tool and works just like my factory made ones.




    In the future I will skip the bullet puller idea and go straight to the wood jig for both drilling and threading. A drill press with a vice would help this process meet much tighter tolerances but I was able to achieve satisfactory results using a hand held cordless drill.

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    thanks for posting...i have been unable to find a modified case for one of my guns and have been wondering how i might go about this.

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    Member akprideinvegas's Avatar
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    did you modify the neck in anyway to get the bullet to seat easier?
    NRA life Member JVJ

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    No, it is just a fired case. With the Hornady tool you just slide the bullet into the case and and insert it through the back of the action with the bolt removed. Once inserted you use the rod to push the bullet out of the case to engage the lands then lock the set screw down on the push rod. It is fine if the bullet falls out when you remove the case because you just drop the bullet back into the case and the rod stops it at the exact depth.

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    Member ekberger's Avatar
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    I too have made a number of modified cases for most if not all of my rifles from fire formed brass. Since I use an L.E.Wilson case trimmer (perhaps obvious from my avatar), I had the appropriate case holders to fit the various size brass I was using. To hold the cases while drilling I simply put a little rosin on the brass and dropped it into the appropriate case holder. This set up held the brass in place for drilling and tapping.

    When I did this, I set up the holder/brass on a milling machine and chucked the appropriately sized drill bit into the chuck on the machine. This way I was assured that everything was in perfect alignment. When it came time to tapping, I simply switched to the tap. The reason that I went to this effort was to assure myself that the holes were straight and that I was tapping them straight. It took out the guess work of doing it by hand. May have been over kill.

    One thing I found that I had to do was slightly oversize the neck so that the bullet would slide easily with the Hornaday tool (a question previously asked). This was a little trial and error and I don't know if you had this same experience. There are mandrils that are used to slightly expand the case neck for neck turning but I don't have many of these so I had to improvise.


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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    I didn't need to do anything significant to my once fired unsized case mouths. I just slapped a little lube on the boolit and she slipped right in there no problem. Imperial sizing wax is cheap and a little goes a long way.

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    I tried those tools when they were from Stoney Point, before Hornady bought them out. I didn't like them at all, for determining the distance to the lands on my rifles. I GAVE them away out of frustration.

    I used both the Modified Cases, and the ones from modified, FIRED cases. Lengthwise, the latter are probably more accurate, but I found there was more Slop in them compared to the Modified cases they sell, due to how tight, or the fit of the bullet in the case. Which, made them harder to keep them aligned and accurately measure them, all strung out as they were.

    There are quite a few ways to determine Length to the Lands, and the Link below is one that I have used a variation of, but it looks like a BETTER way, than I've used, too.

    You don't need special tools. To measure and record the distance to your lands.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=Jv-D1mEI514

    Smitty of the North
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    i guess that micrometer on his die is the next purchase i gotta make as it made the process look SO much easier (it probably also helped already knowing the distance to the lands). i just used a variation of this process a couple weekends ago and it didn't go nearly as smooth as that video made it look. sometimes i feel deceived by how straightforward things are "supposed" to go in some of those youtube videos. of course i gotta find all the ways not to do it before i finally get it right. i would like to hear how your experience with your diy coal gauge goes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    I tried those tools when they were from Stoney Point, before Hornady bought them out. I didn't like them at all, for determining the distance to the lands on my rifles. I GAVE them away out of frustration.

    I used both the Modified Cases, and the ones from modified, FIRED cases. Lengthwise, the latter are probably more accurate, but I found there was more Slop in them compared to the Modified cases they sell, due to how tight, or the fit of the bullet in the case. Which, made them harder to keep them aligned and accurately measure them, all strung out as they were.

    There are quite a few ways to determine Length to the Lands, and the Link below is one that I have used a variation of, but it looks like a BETTER way, than I've used, too.

    You don't need special tools. To measure and record the distance to your lands.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=Jv-D1mEI514

    Smitty of the North

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    Quote Originally Posted by ak-fang View Post
    i guess that micrometer on his die is the next purchase i gotta make as it made the process look SO much easier (it probably also helped already knowing the distance to the lands). i just used a variation of this process a couple weekends ago and it didn't go nearly as smooth as that video made it look. sometimes i feel deceived by how straightforward things are "supposed" to go in some of those youtube videos. of course i gotta find all the ways not to do it before i finally get it right. i would like to hear how your experience with your diy coal gauge goes.
    Wise words there, about "how straightforward things are "supposed" to go". But you'll get that with any of the Tools and any of the Methods. I'm not doing the DIY "modified cases" for the Hornady COAL tools, that was the OP.

    I'm sure I could get along fine WITHOUT the Micrometer Seating Die, and do it like the Video. I'm sure gonna try it.

    Smitty of the North
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    It's not a DIY method, but Hornady will modify your cases for you. I needed a custom case so I sent them two fire-formed cases along with $15 and got both cases back in a couple of weeks. I was expecting both cases to be modified, but only one was. I guess the second one is if they screw up the first one they have a backup.

    I've never used the method shown in the video; however, I like to check my work so I'll probably give it a try and see if I get the same answer as with the Hornady gauge.

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    Hmmm, I just use a fired brass, slightly resized so that the bullet when slightly seated is firm. Not loose, not too tight. Then chamber the round. I put sharpie on the bullet just for a visual. I try it a couple times until I get a firm bolt closure.

    Take the round out and put a caliper on it. I start there with my loads. Most of my bolt action rifles won't fit a round in the magazine that is seated to touch the lands. I end up having to back it off so that I don't have a single shot rifle. Then - I find my best reload(s) and start tinkering with seating depths. I am finding that the Barnes bullets like a little jump anyway.

    So, my question, what does the COAL guage depth gain over my procedures? Am I missing something important in my load development?

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    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    OK - just watched the linked video. Ya - like that, kind of, except I actually use the bolt to seat the bullet the final little bit.

    Seems odd to make a tool for something - well, so simple, that you only will use one time to record that rifle's COAL in your reloading notes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AK49er View Post
    I've never used the method shown in the video; however, I like to check my work so I'll probably give it a try and see if I get the same answer as with the Hornady gauge.
    Probably, won't be exactly the SAME. The measurements you get with the Hornady tool will vary a LOT.

    IME, anyway.

    I have ONE RCBS Precision Mic, but those are cartridge specific, and I didn't get along real well with it.

    I also have the tool that Sinclair sells, that they claim is more accurate than the Hornady and I'm sure it is. It's just a bit more complicated to use.

    The method that Bullelkkir just described, is IMO, Great way, to determine Length to the Lands. And far superior to the Hornady tool, any day of the week.

    Smitty of the North
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullelkklr View Post
    Hmmm, I just use a fired brass, slightly resized so that the bullet when slightly seated is firm. Not loose, not too tight. Then chamber the round. I put sharpie on the bullet just for a visual. I try it a couple times until I get a firm bolt closure.

    Take the round out and put a caliper on it. I start there with my loads. Most of my bolt action rifles won't fit a round in the magazine that is seated to touch the lands. I end up having to back it off so that I don't have a single shot rifle. Then - I find my best reload(s) and start tinkering with seating depths. I am finding that the Barnes bullets like a little jump anyway.

    So, my question, what does the COAL guage depth gain over my procedures? Am I missing something important in my load development?
    I don't think you're missin anything.

    Your method is the best I've ever tried, and was the ONLY way I did it for a lotta years. The tools I've used don't work any better for me.

    Still, I'm thinkin that the "refinement" of it in that Video MAY be a better way. Since you remove the firing pin, and screw down the seating stem a tiny bit at a time.

    Thanks
    Smitty of the North
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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    I haven't had any issues with the tool but have only done a couple rifles so far. There are certainly lots of ways to skin this cat but I just wanted to provide some info on what is needed to make your own cases if you have the tool and can't find a modified case.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullelkklr View Post
    Hmmm, I just use a fired brass, slightly resized so that the bullet when slightly seated is firm. Not loose, not too tight. Then chamber the round. I put sharpie on the bullet just for a visual. I try it a couple times until I get a firm bolt closure.

    Take the round out and put a caliper on it. I start there with my loads. Most of my bolt action rifles won't fit a round in the magazine that is seated to touch the lands. I end up having to back it off so that I don't have a single shot rifle. Then - I find my best reload(s) and start tinkering with seating depths. I am finding that the Barnes bullets like a little jump anyway.

    So, my question, what does the COAL guage depth gain over my procedures? Am I missing something important in my load development?
    Yup, I have tried numerous times with that procedure without repeatable results. The bullet "sticks" to the lands when you pull it out.

    I now do the Lujon method with very good results

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    Quote Originally Posted by heathkiks View Post
    Yup, I have tried numerous times with that procedure without repeatable results. The bullet "sticks" to the lands when you pull it out.

    I now do the Lujon method with very good results
    Yeah, that can happen, especially with VLD type bullets, the ones with long ogives. All it means is that the bullet is being forced into the lands because the neck is too tight on the bullet.

    Some people size the neck, then split it with a Dremel tool and a fine cutting disk of some sort. I've never gotten around to trying that, but I've intended to.

    The problem with the tool that Lujon is talking about, is that when you take it out of the chamber with the ramrod thingy tightened so the bullet length is saved and you measure from the case head, (the tube is halved so your caliper can get to the center) on the other end you have a Comparator attached to the blade the caliper.

    You have the case length plus the comparator length (including a changeable bushing for the correct caliber bullet.) All that can add up to enough inches, and everything has to be aligned properly, to get a correct reading.

    I just had trouble holding it straight all the time, and get a good reading. It was difficult enough to get a correct measurement in the first place, because you need to push the bullet against the lands with the same tension each time.

    Granted, that is the case with most any method.

    If you want the bullet off the lands, say .030, the Hornady will keep you safe enough. (Unlikely the bullet will be resting on the Lands) But when I bought my set, I was led to believe I could do much better than that, a few thousanths. I couldn't. Some folks have claimed they CAN.

    That guy, Zediker says the curved tool is best, no matter what kind of rifle you use. The tool I had was straight.

    Smitty of the North
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    I haven't had any issues with the tool but have only done a couple rifles so far. There are certainly lots of ways to skin this cat but I just wanted to provide some info on what is needed to make your own cases if you have the tool and can't find a modified case.
    Lujon:
    If you don't mind, is the thread size on your Hornady tool the same as what is used for the RCBS Universal Case Remover?

    If so, anyone who has the drill bit and thread tap for it could easily make a Modified Case. I THINK.

    Thanks
    Smitty of the North
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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    I haven't as of yet had the occasion arise that required a stuck case remover so I haven't purchased one. Perhaps someone who knows can post up what the RCBS tool uses.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    Yeah, that can happen, especially with VLD type bullets, the ones with long ogives. All it means is that the bullet is being forced into the lands because the neck is too tight on the bullet.

    Some people size the neck, then split it with a Dremel tool and a fine cutting disk of some sort. I've never gotten around to trying that, but I've intended to.

    The problem with the tool that Lujon is talking about, is that when you take it out of the chamber with the ramrod thingy tightened so the bullet length is saved and you measure from the case head, (the tube is halved so your caliper can get to the center) on the other end you have a Comparator attached to the blade the caliper.

    You have the case length plus the comparator length (including a changeable bushing for the correct caliber bullet.) All that can add up to enough inches, and everything has to be aligned properly, to get a correct reading.

    I just had trouble holding it straight all the time, and get a good reading. It was difficult enough to get a correct measurement in the first place, because you need to push the bullet against the lands with the same tension each time.

    Granted, that is the case with most any method.

    If you want the bullet off the lands, say .030, the Hornady will keep you safe enough. (Unlikely the bullet will be resting on the Lands) But when I bought my set, I was led to believe I could do much better than that, a few thousanths. I couldn't. Some folks have claimed they CAN.

    That guy, Zediker says the curved tool is best, no matter what kind of rifle you use. The tool I had was straight.

    Smitty of the North
    Very true with the Hornady tool. I was also expecting better accuracy. I am, however, able to repeat measurements within a .003" tolerance. Which is (maybe marginally) better than other procedures I have used.

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