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Thread: reloading OAL gauge

  1. #1
    Member Daveintheburbs's Avatar
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    Default reloading OAL gauge

    I reload a lot of Barnes bullets which are kind of finicky about how far the bullet is off the lands. Figuring out the max OAL for a given cartridge lets you figure this out and is a good thing to know for any type of reloading. There are excellent OAL gauges out there, but they are spendy and caliber specific. However, there is an easy and cheap way to “build” one.
    Required items:
    One dowel small enough to go down the barrel.
    One bullet of the sort you will be reloading (bullet only, not the whole cartridge)
    One pencil
    One razor blade
    One marker
    Technique:
    Unload rifle, support it in a horizontal position. Cutting two slots in a box will work if that is all you have. Probably could lay it o a table if you had to.
    Close bolt. ( did I mention unload the rifle?) Push dowel down barrel until it contacts bolt face. Mark dowel at the muzzle. I use a razor blade flush with the muzzle for as much precision as possible.
    Remove bolt. Drop bullet ( once again, bullet only; NOT the whole cartridge) into chamber, hold against the rifling with a pencil. Push dowel down bore until it contacts bullet. Mark dowel again. Measure distance between marks with a micrometer. This is max AOL for that bullet. Your magazine may require a shorter AOL, but definitely you can’t go any longer.
    Works a whole lot better that the old “smoke the bullet“ method

  2. #2
    Member markopolo50's Avatar
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    Default OAL

    Dave, thanks for the good tip. You are right, much more economical than a purchased gauge. I might use a dial caliper for measuring between lines. Thanks, Mark

  3. #3
    Member pinehavensredrocket's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daveintheburbs View Post
    I reload a lot of Barnes bullets which are kind of finicky about how far the bullet is off the lands. Figuring out the max OAL for a given cartridge lets you figure this out and is a good thing to know for any type of reloading. There are excellent OAL gauges out there, but they are spendy and caliber specific. However, there is an easy and cheap way to “build” one.
    Required items:
    One dowel small enough to go down the barrel.
    One bullet of the sort you will be reloading (bullet only, not the whole cartridge)
    One pencil
    One razor blade
    One marker
    Technique:
    Unload rifle, support it in a horizontal position. Cutting two slots in a box will work if that is all you have. Probably could lay it o a table if you had to.
    Close bolt. ( did I mention unload the rifle?) Push dowel down barrel until it contacts bolt face. Mark dowel at the muzzle. I use a razor blade flush with the muzzle for as much precision as possible.
    Remove bolt. Drop bullet ( once again, bullet only; NOT the whole cartridge) into chamber, hold against the rifling with a pencil. Push dowel down bore until it contacts bullet. Mark dowel again. Measure distance between marks with a micrometer. This is max AOL for that bullet. Your magazine may require a shorter AOL, but definitely you can’t go any longer.
    Works a whole lot better that the old “smoke the bullet“ method
    thanks for the idea, and simple explaination. i will give it a try!

    this idea should go in the handloading column for others to use.

    jh

  4. #4
    Member Daveintheburbs's Avatar
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    Mark,

    Thanks, dial caliper is actually what I use as well, brief terminology amnesia.

  5. #5
    Member markopolo50's Avatar
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    Default OAL

    Quote Originally Posted by Daveintheburbs View Post
    Mark,

    Thanks, dial caliper is actually what I use as well, brief terminology amnesia.
    Hey, no problem. I am having that problem more and more lately. Thanks again for the tip, will be using it if I can remember it-wait I have already written it dwn someplace???? LOL Mark

  6. #6
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    The technique I use is to make up a dummy round for every bullet I load in a given chambering. Assuming a bolt action, remove the firing pin assy from the bolt. Seat a bullet in a sized case (no primer or powder) and seat it long. You should have trouble closing the bolt. Keep seating the bullet deeper until the bolt will just close on the round with light indentations from the rifling on the bullet, mark the bullet with a sharpie so that the indentations show up. Now you have a dummy with the bullet seated to the lands.

    Try loads with various seating depths. The beauty of the dummy is it gives you a refrence in the future. Back the seating stem out, run the round up into the seating die, then turn the seating stem until stopped by the dummy. Now you have a repeatable starting point and can run the seater in 10, 25, 50 thousandths or whatever works for that bullet in your gun.

  7. #7
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    Using a sized case, split one side with a 3 sided needle file.
    This gives enough grip to check OAL.
    Works on Hornet to H&Hs

  8. #8

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    Some good techniques here.

    I think this thread should be in the Reloading Forum, a lot of guys might miss this thread here.

  9. #9

    Default Frankfort Arsenal COAL Gauge

    You can get a very similar devise through Midway USA for about $13. (See: http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpag...eitemid=190644).

    A couple tips to using this procedure however:

    1. Be sure when you close the bolt that the firing pin is retracted. A firing pin in the "fired position" will give you incorrect measurements.

    2. I usually repeat the process at least 5 times with different bullets from the same batch. This is especially important for bullets with exposed lead noses, as the lead tip is subject to damage in shipping and storage. This is not quite so critical with plastic tipped bullets as they are not so easily damaged, but I do it anyway.

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