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How far away should a bullet be from touching the rifling?
there is no " set " answer ,some rifles have alot of freebore ...so much so that u cant get a bullet even close to the rifling yet these often show excellent accuracy , and then u can look at the benchrest shooters... some prefer seating into the lands and some prefer off the lands and sometimes it's what the barrel likes lolz as to the best way to find out is experiment ( thaz part of the beauty of being a hand loader ) either way ( off or on the lands ) the loads should be worked safely up ,as for measuring to the lands ...there are several ways ,from gauges and precision mic's to ramrods n a marker (tho the mic's are nice with numbers n stuff )
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With a standard cup and core jacketed bullet I always start at .030 off the lands when conditions permit. Without having any tools for accurately measuring the distance to the lands in your rifle drop a bullet into your chamber and hold it up against the rifling while you insert a cleaning rod into the muzzle and mark the rod. You might need to have someone hold the bullet against the rifling with a pencil or similar object. Next load a dummy round without primer or powder. Chamber the dummy round and mark the distance with your previously marked cleaning rod.The difference between the two marks is the distance your bullet is seated off the lands.
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if you are just loading 1 shell at a time, o.a.l. is tottally up to hoe the gun was set up. stoney point has a set up where you buy a tool and then get a modified case. then you drop a bullett into the modified case, insert it into the action and push the bullet into the rifeling. then pull it out and you can measure o.a.l at the tip of the bullett or you can buy another piece with a matching collar for the caliber to measure the ogive on the bullett. measuring the ogive is the most accurate but either way will help.
i then back off the bullet .0010 to .0015 from the rifeling to start. some guns like the bullett right on the groves and some like it aways off. you will have to play with it to find the best spot for the amount of accuracy you want. some times you are limited to just how long to set the o.a.l due to magazine size. i havent found a gun that i have owned that i couldnt get to shoot well and still fit in the magazine.
the stoney point o.a.l gauge can be found at midway and several other retail or online gun shops