For someone who reloads metalic cartridges, I’ve done it very little. Still, I’ve had problems, with several calibers, in seating bullets. The seating plug that comes with the die set (you only get one plug) doesn’t fit every bullet shape ever made, which means it doesn’t fit the bullet you’re actually using, even if the dies and the bullet were made by the same company. As a partner to this phenomenon, the loading manual (also written by the bullet company whose sister company made the loading dies) says very little about seating plugs, or the fact that a plug made for one bullet shape might be a real problem when seating a bullet of some other shape.
With some bullet/seating plug combinations, I find it impossible to maintain a cartridge OAL to within 15 or even 20 thousandths, yet the construction of the press should be capable of easily maintaining a seating depth to within a thou or two.
Another part of this cascade of problems is that depending on the bullet type, the bullet itself may be part of the problem. Softpoints can be distorted in packaging and shipping, can mash during seating if the plug touches soft lead, or a jacketed hollowpoint match bullet’s meplat can be inconsistent to several thousandths. The latter inconsistency isn’t all that much of a problem if the seater plug fits OK. The bullet’s ogive is still being seated to the same position and the base is still seating to a consistent depth inside the case because the seater plug doesn’t touch the meplat (assuming it fits OK) and you can always trim the meplats.
Today I got the primers I ordered last April or May, so I decided to load some of the 110 gr “Varminter” HPs I’d gotten to try out in .30 Carbine. Brand new cases, all prepped and flared the same, and I can barely hold C.O.A.L. to within 15 thousandths. The seater plug was made for the round nose 30 Carb FMJ, and the HP’s round nose, made by the same company, has a distinctly different shape from the FMJ, which makes the seater plug impinge on the soft lead corners at the very tip of the bullets. These HPs, by design, are very soft at the tip. Some of the bullets get swaged inward at the tip, narrowing the hollow tip opening, raising a burr at the tip and lengthening the bullet. Others don’t distort much at all. The phenomenon is binary– either I get a distorted nose and the OAL is 10 to 13 thou over, or the nose stays intact and the OAL is within a couple thou of nominal. Nothing in between.
Long story short; Die makers should be discussing seater plug issues a lot more, and they should offer a plug for just about every bullet shape, especially plugs that don’t impinge on the soft lead of hollowpoints and softpoints unless the plug is going to match the bullet shape perfectly. Another plug/bullet mismatch I’ve had results in the mouth of the plug cutting a circle around the bullet like a sharpened punch– the extremely small contact surface area isn’t conducive to repeat accuracy. As it is, I can always make my own seater plugs, but what a pain just so I can try out some different bullets as a lark. On a positive note; standard reloading dies are priced unbelieveably low. You may connect the dots.
We had a rep from Speer in at UltiMAK several weeks ago, setting up some M1 Carbines with our forward optic mounts and high-end combat optics for a LE demonstration of their new .308 110 gr Gold Dot loads (offered to LE only last time I checked). I’ve thought for a long time that the M1 Carbine would make a good patrol carbine or “truck gun” if one were to use good HP loads in it. Haven’t heard back from the rep about how the demo went, and I’d sure like to try some of those new Gold Dots. I guess when they release them to the public they’ll be backordered eight months within a week. I’ll take a thousand, please.