Quick Tip: Indexing Your Dies

If you are reloading rifle ammunition on a progressive reloading press, you just may be one of those “attention to detail” kind of guys. Rifle reloaders tend to be a bit obsessive about their reloading supplies, equipment, and processes. But some times we overlook the simple details that can make a difference.

If you’re loading rifle ammunition on the Hornady Lock-N-Load AP 5-station reloading press, you probably appreciate the Lock-N-Load bushing system. It’s quick, easy to use, and provides a bit of “float” which mimics other benchrest style reloading equipment in order to enhance alignment of case and die.

Here’s a quick tip from friend Bruce Gary: to optimize repeatability for things like bullet seating depth, make some marks on the Lock-N-Load bushing and press so that the die indexes in the same splines each time you install it on the press.

Simple die indexing on the Hornady Lock-N-Load AP - Image copyright 2012 Ultimate Reloader

While this won’t be a “game changer” for your loading, it’s an easy thing to do that will help maximize consistency. Isn’t that what accurate reloading and rifle shooting is all about: consistency? 🙂

Got other quick tips that you’d like to share? Please drop a comment!


7 thoughts on “Quick Tip: Indexing Your Dies”

  1. I index my LNL busings the same every time so that the same bushing lugs locate on the same press lugs for consistency. I do this for all calibers I reload just because it is easy enough to do in order to eliminate that variable. Instead of marking the press and bushings I follow the following process:

    1. Orient the assembled die and bushing with the flat of the die lock ring normal to the center hole of the press. The flat that is normal to the center of the press is the side of the lock ring without the set screw, so the set screw head is pointing away from the press.

    2. Rotate the die counter-clockwise until the die bushing drops into the press.

    3. Rotate the die clockwise to lock the die bushing in the press.

    This process would only work for die lock rings that have flats, otherwise you could still locate off the lock ring set screw as your starting point. The marker method you mentioned does seem simpler. If someone didn’t want to put marks on their press, this other process could work for them.

    Thanks for your great site and for sharing these tips!

  2. I hope this hasnt been asked before… I appreciate your response (Pay it forward right?)

    I’m considering buying a LNL-AP very soon. I’ve used a 550B at a reloading class our group had and loved it, but have higher hopes for the LNL considering all it’s nifty auto features.

    I was hopping you guys might be abel to help me out.
    Brian Enos has a website that is so easy to use, and lists everything you need to get up and running with your Dillon 550B. I dont know if I want a 550B because of the lack of auto Indexing and all the videos I’ve seen of guys cranking out .223 like it’s nothing.

    I plan to reload .223/5.56 and would like carbide dies. What is the most compatible die set, power drop, crimper etc… for the Hornady LNL AP?

    Links if you got em would be so helpful!

  3. When I read this, I thought this was the most ridiculous thing I’d heard of…but I decided to experiment to confirm my suspicions. I’ve reloaded 3 different handgun calibers to experiment and tried indexing my seating dies in each possible position w/ a resultant max deviation in OAL of +/- 0.001.”

    I use LnL bushings in my RCBS RCII press for match rifle loads and tried the same experiment for .223, .308, and 30-06…same result: max deviation +/-0.001″ I also used some dykem on the bushings to check for go/no-go engagement on the splines’ mating surfaces. Out of 9 bushings I checked, only 1 had any sign of non-engagement against even a single spline.

    I’m convinced of extreme consistency of the LnL bushing system, but if indexing them makes you feel better…go for it.

    1. Brian, thanks for sharing the results of your study. I don’t doubt that the bushings are machined consistently considering the lug engagement face would be a result of being turned on a lathe, with all of the lug faces of each bushing being cut at the same time. It is good to see that the LNL design lends itself to consistent manufacturing, confirmed by the study you completed.

  4. Correct me if I’m wrong but wouldn’t you want to rotate the dies to help eliminate uneven wear of the die surfaces presuming the press has even the smallest fraction of a degree of alignment issue. Given that its a circular die if there is a alignment issue thats independent of the die you, but you can eliminate its effects on the die through random or even organized rotation.
    For better terms let’s say that the press plate leans 0.03 degrees toward the front of the press. Now whenever you re-size a case the case is leaned in the toward the front of the die (nowhere near enoiugh to cause a seating issue in a 2 or even 4 inch catridge) and always contacts the front facing surface of the die first and at the bottom of the stroke will always have more pressure applied to that side. Since we know that the bushing system for the die itself is of good tolerances any misalignment is independent of the die. If you always put the die facing the same direction you will cause extra wear in the same location every time.

  5. Not all die bushing are created equal. Some will rise a few thousands when the shell plate comes in contact with the die. In some cases, especially the powder measure, the die can work itself loose and come out of the press. Hornady has recognized this problem and now has die bushings that fit around the bushing under the rubber o-ring that will eliminate the problem. The bushings come two to a package one is .005″ thick the other is .010″ thick. These will completely eliminate the problem and when you insert a die with the bushing it makes a satisfying solid click and will not come loose. Hornady will send you a package if you call CS.

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