Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

TresMon

Gunny Sergeant
Dec 3, 2007
1,147
19
38
NW USA
#1
Let's look at our cartridge brass first. Everything we do in hand loading is in the name of consistency, shot to shot. (Technically not "reloading" which is quick & expedient for the likes of short range speed shooting such as IPSC & Steel challenge shoots.)

So there it is before us- a fine specimen of a fired case. We need to resize our cases as well as deprime them. But before we do that, our case has a vital piece of information it's dying to give us.

When we resize the case we want it to stay a precision fit to the individual rifle's chamber from which it was fired. If we go ahead and resize it we have lost this information of the rifle's length of headspace.

We need a tool for this.

But we are going to measure the case from it's head (where the writing is) to the datum of the shoulder. For this we need the above illustrated tool:
http://www.sinclairintl.com/product/5574/Case-Gauges-Headspace-Tools
this holds the insert onto your calipers. You'll also need the insert specific to your cartridge: http://www.sinclairintl.com/product/11264/Case-Gauges-Headspace-Tools

Her's a photo of measuring the freshly fired case form the rifle to obtain a headspace measurement:




So now we know this length of the fired case, we set up the resizing die in the press to "bump" the shoulder back to three thousandth's of an inch (.003") under/shorter than this length. This gives clearance for loading and unloading the unfired round, but maintains a snug fit in the chmaber so the round and bullet is held on centerline with the bore for ultimate accuracy. It also keeps us from over working brass. If we size it way back, and it stretches way out on firing, and continue this the brass case will seperate from the head!

Here we can see from the original measurement that we have moved or "bumped" the shoulder back .003":




Until you get the tool in the mail: take a fired case and wipe it off with a rag & alcohol etc. Use a candle or lighter and burn black soot onto the shoulder of the case.



Back out your resizing die a few turns on the press. Press the case up into the resizing die and withdraw it. Did you get lines on the shoulder of the case? No? screw in the die a little more and repeat. Continue this process until you get faint lines in the soot.

In this photo you can see the line in the soot where the neck bushing stopped on the neck, as well as a line and some dappled marks where the shoulder was just touched by the Resizing die:



Now wipe off the case and chamber the empty case in the rifle and see how the bolt feels as it closes. Was their any resistance? You want to bump the shoulder of the case back just enough that your borderline of having/not having a teeny bit of resistance in closing the bolt on the case. Now you have your resizer die set as well as you can until the proper tool arrives in the mail. Now resize all your cases.

Annealing:

If your brass has been fired a few times, it has & is hardening.
Brass work hardens. Shoot it, Resize it, Tumble it it all hardens it. Which means some will be harder/stronger on it's grip of the bullet than others and our consistency in everything we are trying to achieve went right out of the window; this example in known as "Neck tension" or the amount of grip of the case neck on the bullet.

Annealing: anneal your brass cases every 3 firings at least. I anneal mine every 2. You only anneal the neck and shoulder, not the HEAD! There are fancy case annealing machines, but I don't have that kind of money. Here's what I do:

Get you some 650 degree rated Tempilaq. Tempilaq basically looks like an over sized bottle of fingernail polish.



It comes in heat grades. We used it in Machine shops for various tasks. You basically paint a stripe on your metal and let it dry. Apply heat and when it gets to the temperature you wanted the Tempilaq liquefies and the color (yellow) disapeers.

I paint a stripe INSIDE the mouth of my cases.



After it dries I hold the head of the case in my bare fingers and turn the mouth of the case in the flame of a propane torch. When my yellow paint of the 650 deg. Tempilaq disapeers I drop the case in a bucket of water. When all the cases are done, I now have soft case mouths that are uniform. (in neck tension on the bullet after loaded.)



A word of Caution: you never want the Head of the case (the part that has writing on it) to get so hot you can't hold it. If you soften the head of the case you have created a very dangerous as well as troublesome situation. Like at the least shoot the case, even a light load and the primer falls out. And on from there with far greater personal risk/danger.

Cleaning:
And while we are babying our brass, I do what many benchrest shooters have switched too: I use an ultrasonic cleaner to clean my brass. Vibratory tumblers only "pretty-fy" brass. It does not clean the inside, the flash hole nor the primer pocket. I do not need or care if the outside of my brass is shiny. As a long range shooter, I need the inside, the flash hole and the primer pocket to be clean in the name of uniform combustion & burn, shot to shot. Also all the rattling together of cases in the vibrator peens the cases together work harding them all the more though minimal.

Get you a Ultrasonic cleaner (on the cheap from Harbor Freight.) Throw in your resized/deprimed cases. Cover the cases with distilled water. Then add 1 tablespoon of dish detergent as well as 3-6 tbsp of your favorite liquid brass cleaner. Birchwood-Casey, Lyman Turbo, etc. Any of the liquid products intended to be added into vibratory tumbling media.

Run the U.Sonic Cleaner 20 minutes to an hour depending on the size & amount of cases until they are totally clean on the inside and the primer pockets are all at least 95% clean. Rinse in a 5
gallon (etc.) bucket of distilled water and shake off. After they air dry or you hair dry(er) them your good to go. Tap water contains substances that can cause cartridge brass to oxidize. Stay with distilled.

[edit: after you clean your brass with your preferred manner, if you used Tempilaq to anneal them, you may need to use a bore brush to clean the burned tempilaq out of the case mouths. Make sure your case mouths are clean always in the name of consistent neck tension.]

Sorting:
So we'll continue by sorting all your brass by brand. Then I sort it by weight. Every body talks about Lapua brass being the best, but Winchester brass is at least 96% as good and cheaper.

Sort all your best brass cases <span style="font-style: italic">at least</span> into 2 grain lots. (All of this batch of cases weigh within 2 grains of each other.)
One grain lots is really splitting hairs. It's up to you if you think the accuracy gains is worth your time & depending your rifle's capabilities. In everything on this subject of hand loading I like to error on the side of overkill.

This let's you know each case has about the same brass content, which tell's us their of the same average dimensions, which means we have the same sized combustion chambers case to case, to give us consistent MV shot to shot.

Uniform all the primer pockets. Here's a dirty, uneven once fired primer pocket:


Primer pocket uniforming cuts all the primer pockets to exactly the same depth, in the name of consistent and uniform ignition. Here's the tools, a cleaned and uniformed pocket and the bulk of the material that was removed:





Deburr the flash holes.

The flash hole is the hole in the head of the case that the sparks pass through to ignite the powder. In the manufacturing process this hole is not drilled, it is punched and that generally leaves a burr on the inside, or the whole "flap" of metal that was punched out. This can shield a portion of the powder from the sparks and lead to inconsistent ignition, case to case. A deburring tool does just that- cleans up the powder side of the flash hole for consistent ignition. This particular type tool has the depth preset so the cutter (a common center-drill) can only cut so deep into the flash hole:




All the mail order companies and most local shops carry these simple tools. A primer pocket uniformer can be used after each firing to clean the carbon out of the pocket. But you should at least revisit the primer pockets of your cases every three firings as the brass flows with each shot and they will eventually no longer be uniformed.

Trim to length: upon firing of the loaded round the case greatly softens and inflates like a balloon to fill the chamber of the weapon. This seals the chamber and prevents gas leaks, etc. but with the brass nearing a liquid ("plastic") state it flows with the pressure of the propellant gas. Hence as stated before our primer pockets not staying uniform, the over all length of the case grows and the mouth of the case typically thins. Your reloading manual will give you the nominal "trim to length" measurement of a given cartridge case. So place said case in your case trimmer and trim it back correct? No.

NO!!! We are precision shooters for crying out loud. I have a friend that mows every case he get's his hands on back to minimum length and it gripes me to no end.

Historically & generally speaking the classic ultra accurate cartridges of the Bench Rest enviornment have longer than normal case necks. The typical case neck for a given cartridge is one caliber wide. Example: a 308 Winchester's bullet is a diameter of .308" so therefore the rule of thumb is the mouth of the case should be "about" .308" long minimum. This allows good bullet tension and support so our carefully assembled loaded round's bullet is sitting dead inline with the cases' centerline- which is inline with the centerline of the bore. All this leads to good shooting and smiles. The more we hack back the case mouth the less neck we have to make sure our bullet is held inline. And the benchrest cartridges I mentioned- they have caliber plus neck lengths for this reason.

So what do we do? If the case gets to long, it will engage the rifling at the same time the bullet tries to giving us a wild & very dangerous pressure spike. If we hack it back to bare minimum we may have given room for a little loss of accuracy, especially with rough handling of ammo in the field. But we HAVE TO maintain consistency from case to case for shot to shot.

The answer is to measure the chamber length in your individual rifle and stay trimmed back from that actual number. Small chamber plugs to get that measurement are sold by Sinclair and others.
http://www.sinclairintl.com/product/11241/Case-Gauges-Headspace-Tools

Here is one I whipped out on the lathe yesterday for 30 cal:




To use a gage like this:
1. thoroughly clean your weapons chamber.
2. take a scrap case and trim it WAY back with your case trimmer, say .050" SHORTER than book spec.
3. Seat you plug gage into the case- long.
4.ease this round into your weapon and fully close & lock the bolt.
5. remove the case gently without bumping the gage. It has hit the end of the chamber and been pushed back into the case by the action of locking the bolt.

Measure the overall length of the case, head of the case to end of the plug and note that measurement somewhere obvious & permanent in regards to loading for this particular rifle. It would probably be a good idea to repeat this measurement three times and average all three readings.
Now until this dimension were to change (barrel removal, etc.) trim your brass just short of this measurment, instead off BOOK trim to length specs.

Once we have our cases all trimmed to a uniform length to our specific rifle we now need to deburr the mouth.

I'm sure anybody that is reloading knows what a deburring tool looks like for handloading, others just do a google search. Deburr the outside of the case just enough to remove the burr and put the slightest bevel on the edge of the case- the most minimal possible. As far as deburring the inside, gently cut a bevel on the inside of the case untill it goes almost full diameter- that is the bevel cuts to the outside edge of the case mouth when looking from the end.

It is next to impossible to photograph but you can see this inside chamfer is cut almost, but not all the way to the outside edge of the case:


This is so that when we seat our precious bullet, the opening of the case mouth of the case does not cut,mar or peel back small portions of the soft bullet jacket.

And last but not least we need to prime our case. Practically every company that handles reloading components sell priming tools. For the wealthier individuals I'd point you towards Sinclair International and those type suppliers. But a good job of priming can be done with lesser priced tools.

The main thing is the tool have as much "feel" of the process as possible. You want to be able to clearly feel the primer bottom out in the primer pocket of the case, so you can keep the primers seated consistently case to case to case. This pre-loads the anvil of the primer the same for each round giving more uniform ignition shot to shot.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------
This instructional took considerable time & effort. It is presented here for free. Enjoy! However if any one feels motivated to express appreciation a donation can be sent to the paypal account nativemant@yahoo.com. No big deal. Thanks! TresMon



 

bohem

PVA's HMFIC
Jan 6, 2009
7,167
450
83
Southeast, PA
www.patriotvalleyarms.com
#2
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

Nice summary/instructions. I like the idea of making this a sticky, it would certainly help with reiteration of the same topic each time.

Do you have the capability to take pictures at each step to detail them?
 

TresMon

Gunny Sergeant
Dec 3, 2007
1,147
19
38
NW USA
#3
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

Yes, I'd be happy to add pictures, if I have reason to believe the all the work would be stickied and not get lost in the caverns of a large website.
 
Mar 23, 2009
207
0
0
kentucky
#5
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

Great write up. Wish I would have had that years ago instead of school of hard knocks.

Please add pictures and sticky it so I can find it. I still need help with annealing. Been to scared to try it.
 

TresMon

Gunny Sergeant
Dec 3, 2007
1,147
19
38
NW USA
#6
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

Lovestx,
I can't sticky it thats up to the mods after it is brought to their attention.

If you can change the oil in a vehicle, you over qualified to anneal brass. go for it.
 
May 8, 2003
3,037
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0
78
Mississippi
#7
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

I do take issue with full length resizing each time with bumping the shoulder back. That WILL cause premature stretching and case failure as the case grows. Neck sizing with a neck die or the Lee Collet die will give longer case life. When the cases begin to require a bit of force to chamber, then is the time to bump/anneal the fired cases. That is for a bolt gun. If you are using a gas gun, then FL size and bump away. The brass will be overworked (most of the time) anyway. Not my opinion, but my experienced wallet. For new brass!
 

TresMon

Gunny Sergeant
Dec 3, 2007
1,147
19
38
NW USA
#8
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep



FNP,

you clearly make assumption sir. If you will go back and read, I never suggested EITHER full length resizing OR neck sizing dies. I only stated how to set up A/ANY resizing die.

Thanks,
Tres
 
May 8, 2003
3,037
0
0
78
Mississippi
#9
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

How do you bump the shoulder without touching the brass otherwise? Do you use a neck sizing die that doesn't touch the body? It won't "bump" the shoulder back. A "body" die will resize the case leaving the neck alone and can be used to "bump" the shoulder back. It does squeeze the brass...and it will grow. A FL die will, in my experience, squeeze the whole body and neck, making the case longer and needing the case to be trimmed after a couple of loadings. Each time it is fired, and full length resized, the case gets longer with the sizing process. Where does that extra brass come from? I find that the stretching is usually just ahead of the web...which eventually separates. Am I wrong? Can you cite authorities? References? I still believe, until you can prove the statement wrong, that sizing a case and bumping the shoulder back will shorten the life of the case more than neck sizing only and only when it is needed, "bump the shoulder" back. And anneal when the neck gets too hard from repeated firing and sizing. I'm not raining on your parade...just educate me. Thanks. FNP
 

TresMon

Gunny Sergeant
Dec 3, 2007
1,147
19
38
NW USA
#11
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep






FNP,

Yes I personally prefer neck sizing dies and/to bump the neck back .003". For my 300 win mag, as advised by my serious Bench Rest competing friends I FL resize each time, and bump the neck the same.

The extra brass you mention that shows up is from the brass going plastic during firing and the associated flow. A secondary cause as you state is just practical mechanics; take a fat tube and squeeze it down and you will have a dimensional change- material moved form here (dia) must go there (length.) But this is secondary to to the flow of brass during firing.

Your right: Full length resizing works the brass all the more and in turn shortens it's life. Again I never mentioned the specific TYPE of resizing in my instructional, only how to set up EITHER type sizing die. However..

I assume your used to sammi max factory chambers. That is the chamber cut to maximum dimensions. I say that because if I am understanding you correctly you are communicating you can get away with not bumping the shoulder back, ONLY neck sizing for ___ amount of firings.

It has been my experience that when it comes to shooting a match with a match grade (read "tight tolerence") weapons and the match is hot and fast for generally 66++ rounds- you will start having issues with "fitted" cases. In my current 1000 yard competition rifle- The headspace is less than .001" from minimum specs- and just last night near the end of the firing string I had a case or two that felt a little sticky on extraction, and it was not from overpressure in the least. I'm sure I would have had a complete and significant stoppage had I not squeezed on the cases a little during the loading process. Also you have to admit- .003 is next to nothing.(It's actually LESS the diameter of the hair on an average man's head. I know-I measured head hair when I was machining student.)

The vast majority of guys grossly over size the case and move the shoulder WAY to the rear, which was the situation I intended on addressing and did. If you do even less to your cases than the average match competitor & are happy, I am equally for you.

Bench rest shooters sometimes use "fitted neck" cases. That is where the neck of the case is actually machined in a lathe to be a precise fit to the chamber. But these are loved and nutured rifles, shot a handfull of times and then cleaned. Not weapons that get drug around in the dust & dirt or shot clean-to-very- dirty in the duration of a high round count match. And the tactical operator has no room to chance difficult chambering & extraction of rounds.

So yes sir! Do as little to your brass as you can get away with and not have trouble with in your area and style of shooting, and it will last longer. Certainly, the less you do with your brass the longer it will last, especially if you do nothing with it. This is a great thing for you if you can neck size only indefinably but also a very isolated case and non standard, and unheard of in tight tolerance precision weapon systems that generally are not able to be cleaned every few rounds.
I have to get through a long range match without the possibility of stopping to clean. A stuck case disqualifies me. And in the realm of tactical shooting, add in more dust, dirt & debris and competent loaders & shooters choose to work the brass a wee bit more and have 100% reliability than to go the direction you illustrate.

And you are right as well that when a case seperates, it is just above the head. However this is not where all the "stretch" comes from you mention. The priming compound is a far more explosive & violent than the powder. Ad this literal explosion just forward of the head (gunpowder is not really an explosive, rather a "flammable propellant") with the vigorous ignition of the base of the powder column and you have immense heat and pressure there just forward of the case head where all these initial processes occur. The result is erosion; a ring is eroded around the interior of the case wall. With each firing the ring becomes deeper and wider. Generally when a case separates it is from MANY firings and loadings and the result is just a really deep eroded ring that is quite weak. If you take a paper clip and bend it in a "L" shape and use it to feel inside of the case down near the head I'm sure on some old bottleneck case or perhaps several you will feel this eroded ring. That's the cause of the separation. The vast bulk of case growth comes from the blow torch action of all the heat & pressure coming out of the constricted neck of the case.

If you wish to pursue this further please PM me. I'm moving on to my second installment: "How to sort and prep bullets for a long journey."
 

TresMon

Gunny Sergeant
Dec 3, 2007
1,147
19
38
NW USA
#13
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep


I have no problem being tested for conjecture!
Thank you & you as well sir.

Happy to help,
Tres
 
Mar 23, 2009
207
0
0
kentucky
#14
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

I full length size new brass then it is neck size only for four firings. At the fourth I find I MUST full length and it is real hard to size. The lever is REAL hard to lower. So my neck size die must not bump the shoulder. My neck sizer leaves no marks on the shoulder. Vary little trimming is needed with neck only. I write with a sharpie on the case to tell me how many times it has been fired. also how many grains and what powder. Wipe off with rubbing alcohol after sizing the next time. I don't tumble my bolt gun brass Never saw a need to.

I guess I should anneal at the forth firing then and full length.

Great write up. You guy need to put together the Sniper Hide reloading manual! I have learned a lot more here then any reloading manual I have read... Or the instructions that came with my dies... When I have E-mailed the manufacture with questions they just quote their instructions which I did not understand to begin with.
 

Deisel

Gunny Sergeant
Sep 10, 2007
1,040
0
36
Loveland, CO
www.colorproprint.com
#15
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

Tresmon, would this tool by Hornady do the same as the Sinclair tools you mentioned to determine how much to bump the shoulder back http://www.sinclairintl.com/product/8809/Case-Gauges-Headspace-Tools ? I have used it for a couple of years for this purpose and it seems to work well. Second, I would also suggest using the SS media and rotary tumbler as a way to get brass and primer pockets completely clean inside and out. I switched to this method and it really works great. There are several threads here on the Hide about it. Thanks for this thread. It is great info.
 

TresMon

Gunny Sergeant
Dec 3, 2007
1,147
19
38
NW USA
#16
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep



Lovetsx,
If your brass is so hard to resize at the fourth firing, why not FL resize at the third? Annealing won't make resizing easier, it just increases accuracy by keeping neck tension on the bullet consistent case to case. Thanks for the complimentary words. Their much appreciated.
-also I bet if you soot the shoulder of your case you can screw your neck die down enough to touch the shoulder as I desribed in the instructional...

Deisel,
yes, that Hornady product you linked is one of the brands of tool to measure the fired case and set up your shoulder bump. Keep truckin buddy. Your welcome and thank so much for the kind words.
 

clmayfield

Gunny Sergeant
Nov 14, 2008
2,066
1
36
43
San Antonio, Texas
#20
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

I know a lot of folks sort by weight. In the end, they are trying to get at a variable (case capacity) through a proxy variable (case weight). If you are going to sort by weight, you should at least do all of your brass-removing case prep first (deburring flash holes, trimming brass, etc.). The reason is that some of the weight difference might be found in the extra length that is trimmed off or in the flashhole burr, that is reamed out, etc.

Personally, I think that measuring neck wall thickness is a better proxy for case capacity. There, the assumption that you are making is that a thicker neck wall will be thicker all the way to the case head... probably a pretty good bet. What you are missing with this measurement is case web thickness.

The gold standard, which I haven't heard of anyone sorting by, but might be a good idea, is taking fired brass and measuring case capacity by weighing empty and then full of water. Because all of the cases have been fireformed, the external dimensions should match the chamber. The internal dimension, therefore, is the key dimension we would like to keep consistent. I haven't heard of anyone sorting this way, but it is probably a good idea. It will take a lot of time, but for someone who is annealing and sorting by weight, the time expenditure doesn't seem like that big of a deal and it only needs to be done once... and you are measuring the variable you actually want to measure and not a proxy.
 

TresMon

Gunny Sergeant
Dec 3, 2007
1,147
19
38
NW USA
#22
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

Carter,

All good points sir. Yes, I have had debated whether to weight sort before or after the various case preps that remove metal. I adopted to weigh before in the thought that overall brass content case to case as from the factory might be a little more accurate than after I have ALTERED and removed a variance of material from the cases. Example-Some primer pockets need almost no brass removed, some lose a shocking amount of material in the uniforming process. I opt to weigh them whole (material) content to whole material content, rather than this one had a little cut out, this one had a lot cut out.

Per case neck measuring: I actually have never had Winchester or Lapua brass with significant enough wall variation to think twice about it (in regards to a tactical format where no one is running a tight, turn or fitted neck chambers) To be honest I have never thought nor considered neck wall thickness comparisons in regards to brass sorting. I'll have to experiment with that and see how it lines up with my traditional sorts. Thanks for the info.

Lastly: yes if a man could pull it off efficiently & correctly h20 capacity would perhaps be the ultimate. But as you say no one does it. I think it is that (even as anal as I am regarding all this ) that the headache of the process vastly would outweigh the gains.

Thanks so much for contributing.
 

clmayfield

Gunny Sergeant
Nov 14, 2008
2,066
1
36
43
San Antonio, Texas
#23
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

Thanks for taking the time to write all of this out, I am just trying to make it more complete by suggesting other alternatives that are pretty common (and one that isn't). Glen Zediker advocated neck thickness sorting over weighing in his "Handloading for Competition" book. There are a lot of great shooters who weigh, so I am not about to call them wrong, but I feel that neck thickness sorting gives you all the information that weighing does and more.

One of the chief reasons to measure neck wall thickness is to control concentricity. If one part of the neck has a thicker neck wall than another part, the bullet will be seated off-axis. It has to. Further, with seaters that don't float, the bullet might try to compensate for this by sitting in the case off kilter.

There is an article about case neck measuring at 6mmBR here: http://www.6mmbr.com/casenecktools.html. I use a ball micrometer and take measurements at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock. You will need to be able to make very precise measurements. I measured 500 rounds of Lapua brass and found variations of the following:

<=.00025"_____4%
<=.0005"_____20%
<=.00075"____47%
<=.001"______71%
<=.00125"____86%
<=.0015"_____94%
<=.00175"____98%
<=.002"______99%

Less than .0005" of variation is pretty much benchrest quality. Less than .001" is good for long range. Greater than .001" should probably be reserved for sighters and foulers. So about 70% of Lapua brass is good. I haven't done this with Remington or WW brass, but my understanding is that those vary much more than Lapua.

People who decide to neck turn to clean up the necks also need to keep an eye on the minimum neck dimension. For instance, if you want to turn Lapua necks, which average around 0.0150" to .0145", then cases that have parts of the neck that measure .0145" or less need to be discarded. Long range shooters turn necks to try and minimize neck wall variation to control concentricity. But if you turn the neck down to .0145", and there are parts of the neck that are .0135", for example, then you will still have neck thickness variation of .0145" - .0135" = .001", defeating the purpose of turning necks in the first place.

As to neck sorting for case capacity, I found that about half of my brass averaged a thickness between .0145" and .015" and half averaged a thickness between .015" and .0155". The difference between these two categories is worth about 0.5% of case capacity. Is the difference in case web thickness the primary capacity difference? Who knows? I'll need to do some more measuring to figure that out.

On weighing, your goal is to find differences in the case dimensions. If two pieces of brass have the exact same dimensions and one weighs more than the other because it has a flash hole burr, then do you want to put those pieces of brass into different weight categories? You are going to remove the burr, so the cases will be exactly the same after burr removal and they should be in the same “bucket.” If you are removing a significant amount of brass during a prep operation, then all the more reason to weigh after doing the prep step than before. Your goal is to measure differences in case web or case wall thickness. Flash hole burrs, additional neck length (pre-trim), etc., are going to be noise in your measurement if you weigh before performing those operations.
 

TresMon

Gunny Sergeant
Dec 3, 2007
1,147
19
38
NW USA
#24
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep


Thanks again Carter.
for many months of our weekly 1000 yard league last year I was neck turning cases to 90-95% clean-up. I found no gains in my custom barrel from Compass Lake (Frank White.) It's been my (on target) experience that unless your dealing with a lot of case neck wall variance, it does not stunt accuracy in a standard SAMMI minimum spec chamber. I have thought of getting into snug neck chambers where a little more accuracy could be gleaned for tighter control of the bullet held on centerline, but the scope on this website is the tactical community who's weapons must function in a more hostile environ. I'm uncertain if I will tighten this tolerance any further. when I was/am writing these articles I just HAD TO make myself draw a line as to how fine & precise I suggested a detail or tip- I had to keep telling myself these are not zero tolerance bench guns!

However none of that is to unsay or refute your input! I do overkill tasks. A few may be unnecessary or the return hardly measurable - but it does not HURT accuracy! I encourage readers of this thread to go as far as they are willing to in the name of "perfect" ammo and your points & suggestions support this.

Thank you for the expanded detail on sorting cases with a micrometer. (you got yourself a REALLY NICE jewel micrometer to be measuring in fifty-millionth's-inch.)

As I said before I'm going to check out mic sorting my brass.

Thanks!
 
#26
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

TresMon,

I'm thinking out loud here so this is not a hit on your technique. Why do you anneal "after" you size? If one anneals after sizing could the necks dimensions be tweaked a bit out of round or intended size via the heat. Do you think it would be appropriate to anneal and then size?

Great thread by the way with very good pics.

Alan
 

TresMon

Gunny Sergeant
Dec 3, 2007
1,147
19
38
NW USA
#27
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep


Either I typed it wrong, or you read it wrong. Yes! you CERTAINLY anneal BEFORE you resize!

Thanks for you kindness,
T
 
Dec 10, 2009
52
0
6
30
#28
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

Ihave a couple of questions. Wouldnt you be better to let the cases cool naturally rather than droping them into cold water as droping something thats hot into cold water causes it to harden. also how would you go about weighing the cases with water in them. you would have a great deal of trouble filling the case while on the scales to full, without spilling any.
 

TresMon

Gunny Sergeant
Dec 3, 2007
1,147
19
38
NW USA
#29
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

Muffo,
Perhaps I did not go into detail enough about cartridge brass. Yes, heating and cooling cycles hardens a whole lot of steels. But the same SOFTENS brass.

And your referring to weighing brass & water: you misunderstood Carter's comments. You would fill a case full of water, then pour the water out of the case into a container onto the powder scales to weigh the water (capacity of that case.) This way you get a capacity comparison case to case...
 

clmayfield

Gunny Sergeant
Nov 14, 2008
2,066
1
36
43
San Antonio, Texas
#30
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Muffo</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Ihave a couple of questions. Wouldnt you be better to let the cases cool naturally rather than droping them into cold water as droping something thats hot into cold water causes it to harden. also how would you go about weighing the cases with water in them. you would have a great deal of trouble filling the case while on the scales to full, without spilling any. </div></div>

I had the same concerns about cooling the brass, but after further investigation, the metallurgical properties of brass are different from steel and other metals. A fast quench doesn't seem to harden brass. The key reason that you cool it quickly is to prevent the heat from travelling down to the case head, which is a big danger. You don't want that case head to be soft. It gets the brunt of the pressure.

In terms of measuring water capacity on cases, I haven't actually sorted on this method. It would obviously be time consuming. I have tried to make some plugs to fit in the primer pocket out of different kinds of sealant, but that doesn't seem to work. The best bet is to thoroughly clean the cases with the spent primer still inside, then weigh the case with the spent primer, fill on the scale with a pipette (like from a scientific supply store), and weigh again. Yes, you will overfill from time to time, so you need to be careful. You also need to make sure that all cases are trimmed to the same length and that the meniscus (the "bubble" of water on the surface) is in the same place every time.

What I would really like to do, given the time, is to track the same cases using weighing, neck thickness, and water capacity (the gold standard), and figure out which proxy is more suitable and whether the proxies are pretty close or not.
 
Dec 18, 2005
447
0
0
GA
#31
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

First of all, great write up!

My question concerns using a FL sizer to only bump the shoulder back .003". In using the smoked shoulder trick, I assume you remove the decapper/expander assembly. However, how do you keep the case from sticking in the die when attempting to bump the shoulder?
 

TresMon

Gunny Sergeant
Dec 3, 2007
1,147
19
38
NW USA
#32
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep


I'm not understanding your concern, or is it a question, or?

Yes I use my FL resizer die to bump the shoulder. Resizing lube prevents cases from sticking. To do the smoked shoulder trick- no I never remove the decaping stem.
 
Nov 17, 2009
56
0
0
48
AZ
#34
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Carter Mayfield</div><div class="ubbcode-body">
Muffo said:
In terms of measuring water capacity on cases, I haven't actually sorted on this method. It would obviously be time consuming. I have tried to make some plugs to fit in the primer pocket out of different kinds of sealant, but that doesn't seem to work. The best bet is to thoroughly clean the cases with the spent primer still inside, then weigh the case with the spent primer, fill on the scale with a pipette (like from a scientific supply store), and weigh again. Yes, you will overfill from time to time, so you need to be careful. You also need to make sure that all cases are trimmed to the same length and that the meniscus (the "bubble" of water on the surface) is in the same place every time. </div></div>

Decap the spent primer and flip it over and press it back in...hey presto a perfect seal.

Some of the top 50 cal shooters sort their cases by volume but they use alcohol after filling you empty it out and weigh the volume of it to determine the case volume.

I have not got to this stage yet!

~Mike
 
Dec 10, 2009
52
0
6
30
#35
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

Ok thanks for clearing that up. that makes a lot more sense now.
 

clmayfield

Gunny Sergeant
Nov 14, 2008
2,066
1
36
43
San Antonio, Texas
#36
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Dreamweaver</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Carter Mayfield</div><div class="ubbcode-body">
Muffo said:
In terms of measuring water capacity on cases, I haven't actually sorted on this method. It would obviously be time consuming. I have tried to make some plugs to fit in the primer pocket out of different kinds of sealant, but that doesn't seem to work. The best bet is to thoroughly clean the cases with the spent primer still inside, then weigh the case with the spent primer, fill on the scale with a pipette (like from a scientific supply store), and weigh again. Yes, you will overfill from time to time, so you need to be careful. You also need to make sure that all cases are trimmed to the same length and that the meniscus (the "bubble" of water on the surface) is in the same place every time. </div></div>

Decap the spent primer and flip it over and press it back in...hey presto a perfect seal.

Some of the top 50 cal shooters sort their cases by volume but they use alcohol after filling you empty it out and weigh the volume of it to determine the case volume.

I have not got to this stage yet!

~Mike </div></div>

I could see how this would be pretty effective with the large case volumes of the .50. I don't know why you would use alcohol, though. It has a propensity to evaporate easily and it has a lower specific gravity than water, giving it less resolution in detecting differences. The best would be mercury with its high specific gravity, but mercury tends to infiltrate metals and soften them, plus it is toxic, so maybe not such a great idea. I like water.

It is good to know that someone is doing this. This seems to be one of the variables we are trying to control through weighing and measuring case wall thickness.
 
Mar 24, 2010
34
0
0
28
Thief River Falls, MN
#37
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

Are all of these steps crucial to new brass? specifically Winchester? I'm assuming new brass comes rather undersized compared to a rifles specific chamber? Do you ever use new brass for actual competition loads, or do you shoot it once and then do the above steps so you know its all uniform?
 

TresMon

Gunny Sergeant
Dec 3, 2007
1,147
19
38
NW USA
#38
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep


J,

Winchester & Lapua brass seem to be the best when you look at it from an overall comparison AND don't forget to include case life from repeated firings. Sure somebody will show up and say they shot a jaw dropping group with X brass, but we are talking ALL things considered over the long haul.

For ultimate accuracy yes all these things are crucial to all brass- new & old. (even on used brass the primer pocket will need to be re-uniformed eventually, etc.)

Can you show up at a match with brand new unfired loaded brass? sure. And you'll do well if you have found your ultimate load, but not as well as brass that is more fire formed to your chamber with all things being even.
 
Mar 24, 2010
34
0
0
28
Thief River Falls, MN
#39
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

Thank you for the reply. I'm relatively new to reloading, and my dad has sort of been my teacher. Only problem is that he just loads simply to save money, not retrieve as accurate ammo as possible. He doesn't even seperate head stamp... scary, i know, and frustrating!!

I have a very close attention to detail. I almost don't get along with him sometimes because he has no attention to detail what-so-ever. Alot of my Winchester brass comes out of the package with dented necks, I'm assuming i should be running these through the sizing die just enough to re-shape the necks, but not bump back the shoulder?

I have been just loading the bullets and letting the bullets take out the flat spot because thats what my dad said to do, but I'm almost 100% positive this is not correct.
 

Iggy

Sergeant
Feb 21, 2010
645
0
0
Northern California
#40
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

I have a quick question about how you clean with the ultrasonic. Are putting them upright in a beaker or laying them flat in the basket?
 

TresMon

Gunny Sergeant
Dec 3, 2007
1,147
19
38
NW USA
#41
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep


I have read that it's best to put them in a beaker. But really I have great results with just throwing all the ones I want to clean in the tank any ol way...
 

Iggy

Sergeant
Feb 21, 2010
645
0
0
Northern California
#42
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

That's exactly what I was wondering. I got a cheap ebay one that is exactly like the Hornady one. I have been reading about the beakers, but I don't understand if the machine was designed to be used with a basket why won't it work.

I tried 50 308 brass using the method above and the pockets were not clean, just like your picture, but the inside was relatively clean. It's not as shiny as some of the ones I saw using the acidity method.

Did yours come out sqeaky clean on the inside? How picky are you about rinsing them off to avoid soap residue?
 

TresMon

Gunny Sergeant
Dec 3, 2007
1,147
19
38
NW USA
#43
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep


Mine is the harbor freight unit. It has a pre programmed timer with a max setting of 480 seconds.

So I set the thing in a traffic area of my home when I'm cleaning or cooking or something. (neither happens often!) and just reset the timer when I walk by.

Regardless of the recipe's and "pretty brass pictures" that came with them I have never gotten a batch to get glossy shiney like coming out of a vibratory cleaner. But they are always spotlessly clean, inside out & including primer pocket by the 60 minute mark.

I do not worry about a little soap residue, but I did have a batch of brass get etched pretty bad once when I was out of distilled water for rinsing. I used tap water. Won't ever do that again. I think the Lyman turbo cleaner (cheaper) is more prone to etch the brass, and it showed up when I did not rinse them in distilled. (this was the first case of etched brass with the turbo)

Lemme know how I can help..
 

Iggy

Sergeant
Feb 21, 2010
645
0
0
Northern California
#44
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

Thanks! I really appreciate the help.

Mine has the exact same settings. I put it in the bathroom next to the sink and run like 5 cycles at 480. I did notice that some did have some etching from the Turbo Cleaner, but I can't the the insides very clean or new looking. They definitely are cleaner than before no black on the inside, it just looks like slightly dirty brass. If I use a qtip and run it along the inside it picks up some carbon.

I'm going to try it again tonight with just water and dishwashing soap without the Lyman for about an hour and see how that goes. Like you said I don't care too much about the outside, but I want the inside to be really clean, without having to do anything crazy.
 

Rookie

Sergeant
Aug 10, 2004
655
0
16
56
D/FW
#47
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

Why not pain the tempilaq on the outside? Wouldnt it be easier to clean up?
 

badbot

Sergeant
Oct 28, 2008
361
0
0
Az
#48
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

I'm guessing that inside protects the tempilaq from direct flame.
your mesuring the metal temp. outside you mesure the flame temp.
 

mdesign

Gunny Sergeant
Nov 2, 2004
2,089
2
38
Nebraska
#50
Re: Hand loading for Long range 1: brass case prep

TresMon - do you ever chamfer or deburr the flash hole on the primer pocket side?
 
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