by: Phil Hoham
We recommended that when loading a Very Low Drag (VLD) bullet, Hybrid bullet, or any bullet that has a secant ogive, that you use a VLD seating stem or a reloading die that was made specifically to match a secant shape. While traditional bullets have a tangent ogive (nose) shape, a VLD bullet has a secant ogive shape and a Hybrid bullet has a blend of both. Traditional seating stems will have an inside chamfer to meet the angle of the tangent ogive, while a VLD seating stem will have a more aggressive shape to meet the more aggressive design of a secant bullet. If you load a VLD or Hybrid bullet using a traditional seating stem, you may find that you are having a hard time keeping your loads at a consistent seating depth, see small marks on your bullet ogives after seating them, or even end up deforming the ogive of the bullet.
When looking at the image below, you can see that a seating stem made for a traditional tangent ogive does not give the support necessary to a bullet that has a secant ogive. This mismatch will affect how your ammunition loads. We recommend that you perform this easy test at home to determine if your seating stem is adequate for any bullet you are loading.
A VLD bullet put into a traditional seating stem (left) and a VLD seating stem (right).
Most die manufacturers sell some seating stems that are made for loading secant ogive bullets. Below are links to some examples.
- Redding Reloading VLD Seating Stems
- Wilson VLD Drift Seating Stem
- Whidden Gunworks Custom Bullet Seating dies WITH VLD bullet seating stem
- Forster Bench Rest and ULTRA SEATER – VLD AND TANGENT OGIVE COMBINATION BULLET SEATING STEM
- RCBS Custom VLD Seating Stems (available by request only)
- Hornady Custom Bullet Seating Stems (ELD and ELD-X stems are comparable)
Be advised that even though your die has a VLD bullet seating stem. If you notice big variations ( over +/- .003) in a box of bullets .Or across LOTS of the same bullet. This indicates that the bullet tip is hitting the base of the seater stem cavity. And the stem needs to be drilled deeper ( Whidden dies are already deeper than most) . This can be done by the manufacturer, your gunsmith. Or a buddy with machine experience that has a lathe.