Hornady OAL Gauge

Discussion in 'Reloading Forum (All Calibers)' started by centershot, Sep 8, 2019.

  1. centershot

    centershot Silver $$ Contributor

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    Just bought one of these and did not realize that it was plastic and had a thread size that was uncommon. Was going to make my own cases. Does anyone make a similar product that does not seem so flimsy and has a bit more quality in it? I think I will return it and go back to the old trial and error method.
     
  2. pirate ammo

    pirate ammo Guaranteed to take the wind out of their sails Gold $$ Contributor

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    Been using the same thing for a year.For your cases get a 9/32 drill bit from any hardware store, for your threads a 5/16x36tpi tap at Amazon.
     
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  3. JimSC

    JimSC

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    unless you have a lathe to maintain center it is easier just to drop 5 or 6 bucks on the Hornady case, they will even do a custom one using a case fired in your rifle for $15. That is so minimal of a cost compared to rifle, scope and other gear it is laughable to try and save money by making your own. Mine has held up for ten years with no issues
     
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  4. centershot

    centershot Silver $$ Contributor

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    Were they plastic when Stoney Point owned it?
     
  5. David Christian

    David Christian Gold $$ Contributor

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    That gauge is garbage. Go with the manual method,
     
  6. Poor Shot 65

    Poor Shot 65 Silver $$ Contributor

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    You can easily buy the drill bit and tap on amazon. The only plastic portion of the device is the push rod. I decided to try out the LTL gauge (and sell my Hornady gauge), but I didn't have any issues using it.
     
  7. K22

    K22

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    In my opinion the simplest, easiest, and cheapest method to accurately measure COL is the Frankfort Arsenal tool.

    I made my own based on their concept. All you need is a cleaning rod, two nylon spacers (donuts) that will slide through the cleaning rod, and caliper that's accurate to .001". The spacers need to be drilled in tapped for a nylon screws to hold the spacer in place on the cleaning rod.

    First you set one spacer on the cleaning rod at the length from the muzzle to the bolt face ( bolt cocked).

    Second you insert a bullet into the lands and secure it with a small rod to hold it in place. I use a bore guide to make it easy to insert the bullet and using a small pistol cleaning rod lightly tap the rod against the bullet's base to hold in the land.

    Third you set the second nylon space on the cleaning rod at the length from the muzzle to the tip of the bullet.

    Fourth you calculate the COL by measuring the distance between the spacers (using a caliper) adding the thickness of second space. OR

    Use their tool and follow their instructions. Either way is simple, easy, and accurate. I know of one top long range rifle mfg that uses Frankfort's Tool their own rifle reloading.

    Due to variations in bullet ogive, I like to measure at least three bullets from a given lot and use the most conservative value to select a COL that will avoid jamming the bullet into the land. Typically I start load develop at .020" from the lands provided I the cartridge will fit the magazine and have sufficient bullet depth in the case neck but never go below .010" from the lands.
     
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  8. jepp2

    jepp2 Gold $$ Contributor

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    Same here. After using mine for many years, I would gladly challenge anyone to find touch more accurately than I can.
    COL 5.jpg
     
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  9. K22

    K22

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    Good job on the picture - it clearly shows how the tool works - I agree - it's the most accurate and simple way to measure max COL.
     
  10. jepp2

    jepp2 Gold $$ Contributor

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    I can easily vary the COAL by 0.020" by just varying the finger tip pressure I put on the dowel that I seat the bullet with. The length I want to record, is when the ogive just "touches" the lands. I can now get readings within 0.001-0.002", and I know which I will get my based on the touch I used.

    I'm not bashing the Hornady tool, I have 2 myself. The curved and straight. But I can't replicate the accuracy with it. And for the custom ctgs, threading the base correctly was easy (but I can't swear how straight I was since I don't have a lathe), but getting the neck tension I wanted was more challenging.

    And I am certainly not saying the way I find works best for me, will work best for you. Just providing another way to "skin the cat" for folks to consider. And the results you want can be different:
    -touch
    -jam
    -hard jam
     
  11. dmoran

    dmoran Donovan Moran Silver $$ Contributor

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    If your finishing seating the bullet on bolt closer, repeatable consistent results are subjected and skewed by neck tension variation.
    Use to use your method for many years. The Wheeler / "stripped bolt method" surpasses it to accuracy and repeatably - IME

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2019
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  12. B23

    B23 Gold $$ Contributor

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    I haven't used the stripped bolt method like in the Wheeler video but I plan to try it and compare the #'s to what I get with the Hornady tool. I always try and use consistent light pressure to push the bullet in so it doesn't manipulate my measurement #'s and I also take multiple measurements so I know I'm using the same amount of pressure to push the bullet up in till it touches. Also, I always have a case gauge made from a piece of brass that was fired in that particular chamber. I've tried using the modified case gauges from Hornady but they never seem to fit my chambers very tight and give me inconsistent and un-repeatable #'s so I just always have one made from fired brass shot in my specific gun.
     
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  13. trental

    trental

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    Just keep in mind that the stripped bolt method measures from the bolt face to the lands while the Hornady tool technically measures from the shoulder to the lands. Both methods have their pros and cons.

    If you are bumping your shoulders back then the case isn't actually against the bolt face when the bolt is closed because the ejector is pushing the case forward into the chamber (as much as the extractor will allow anyway). Something to keep in mind with the stripped bolt method of finding the "touch".

    With the Hornady tool we are pushing the case forward into the chamber until the shoulders contact but then turn around and measure from the base of the case. This is a bit weird because we are actually setting the dimension from the datum to the ogive, but measuring from the base to the ogive. It works though because we are using the same tool over and over, and just making a comparison. This is where using a fired case from your chamber that has been resized with the same bump you reload with is important. That way when you seat bullets and check the seating depth from the base to ogive it's the same as your modified case you use with the Hornady tool.
     
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  14. trental

    trental

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    Drilling and tapping a fired case for the Hornady tool doesn't need to be super precise and concentric. Just needs to be relatively straight as it has no effect on the use of the tool. Just be sure to chamfer the hole so your caliper is sitting on the case head and not on a raised edge.
     
  15. bigstick6017555

    bigstick6017555 Silver $$ Contributor

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    A stripped bolt means pin and ejector. Using this method there is no guessing how hard am i pushing each time. Use for seating depth and shoulder bump, no guessing with the Wheeler method. No fuss no muss and no added expense.
     
  16. garandman

    garandman Bolt Gun Bodacious Gold $$ Contributor

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    Mines aluminum. Its only a few years old.
     
  17. charliegrba

    charliegrba Gold $$ Contributor

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    I spent most of an afternoon measuring with the Hornady OAL gauge and using the Stripped bolt method. After many measurements the results of the two methods were within .002" for me.
    The Hornady tool relies on touch (how hard you push the rod) and the stripped bolt method also relies on hearing a click and also on feel when opening the bolt.
    It was more time consuming using the stripped bolt method because I had to remove the ejector. I would be very confident with either method since my results were so close.
     
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  18. Texas10

    Texas10 Gold $$ Contributor

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    I tend to subscribe to the K.I.S.S. principal whenever possible (keep it stupid simple), more often than not, because as I advance in age, I feel like I'm getting stupider.

    With that in mind, we are using the sensation of touch to "feel" when the bullet is in contact with the lands, regardless of the method we use, we seek to measure that distance from the shoulder of the cartridge case so we can reliably seat a bullet at a given relationship to those lands.

    So the two relative datums are the lands and the shoulder of the cartridge, unless it's a belted cartridge. Later we'll measure the CBTO to allow a practical measurement during seating operations.

    So imagine holding a barrel not installed on an action, or just a piece of a barrel, the chamber, throat and about 1 inch of lands, that's all.

    You place your ready to fire cartridge in the chamber with a firm push, and then remove. It will either stick because the bullet is in the lands as you try to remove or it will remove easily. If it sticks, you can seat the bullet a bit further in the case and test it again until you find that position where it just fails to want to stick upon removal. Presuming the throat and barrel are free of any fouling, this would be your touching lands dimension.

    Now, instead of using a ready to fire cartridge, use a properly sized and ready to load cartridge case that has been drilled and tapped to fit a rod. Could even be drilled to fit the Hornaday tool. I prefer to use a section of 3 piece 6-32 cleaning rod.

    And now with bullet seated push this hot dog on a stick looking contraption into the chamber of a barrel installed on an action and repeat the test. What you have now done is to eliminate all the extraneous moving parts of other processes, and reduced it down to the element of the human sensation of touch.

    The whole process takes about 5 minutes, less if you have a selection of pre drilled cases in the chambering of your choice. Best of all, you can keep your just created case with bullet seated to touch as a Tool for setting up dies, or checking throat erosion, or use it to compare CBTO to the next lot of bullets. Lots of uses for that little tool.

    I hope this helps.
     
  19. 338 dude

    338 dude Silver $$ Contributor

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    Ask your gunsmith mine made one for my 338 lapua and my 6.5 x 2 84 for free
     
  20. 338 dude

    338 dude Silver $$ Contributor

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    Mine too
     
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