Hand Loading for Precision Rifle (Pic Heavy)

#1
Let me first say that to some extent reloading is like cooking a gumbo. Ask 10 different people how they do it and you are going to get 10 different answers. Here is my recipe.

So you have a pile of brass that you picked up from your last range session. First thing is to put them in a tumbler and run it for at least 30min - 1hour, 4-8 hours and the brass get really shiny. I use corn cob media with Iosso brass polish which really helps shine the brass. With fresh media or after you have run several batches though the tumbler you can add more Iosso to freshen the media up. I add about 2 tablespoons without brass in the tumbler for the Iosso to mix before adding your fired brass.



They come out looking like this.



Now the next step is going to be to apply lubrication to the cases so that they do not stick in die during the resizing process. If I only need to do a few cases I use sizing wax and just apply it with my fingers but usually I do several at a time and just spray them with Dillion Case Lubricant. I spray a few squirts then shake the cardboard box and spray one or two more squirts. Then let the alcohol evaporate for a few minutes before sizing.



Now we need to set up our sizing die properly. Most sizing dies are going to be run down all the way until they touch the shell holder with the ram raised. Then you lower the ram and screw the die in an additional 1/8 to 1/4 turn before securing the locking ring. This is how I set up my dies for *general* loading purposes.

However in loading for precision we want to control the amount of set back we do to the shoulder. I always FL or Full Length size my brass. I had a neck sizing die which will only size the neck and not size the body of the case but you can run into feeding issues and I want the round to chamber every time. I was not able to see any appreciable difference in accuracy using a neck die so I sold it.

I use Redding Dies and prefer there type S bushing dies. They allow you to vary the neck tension of the round. I will get into this in more detail later. As stated I use FL sizing dies and I HIGHLY recommend the precision micrometer seating die in order to vary the bullet seating depth. If you are going to load different bullet profiles or will have a need to vary the bullet seating depth, spend the extra coin and get this seating die.





Now to set up your FL sizing die.
For a bolt gun you are going to want to take a piece of brass that has been fired in your weapon and measure the distance from the base of the case to the shoulder. We will use this measurement to then set the shoulder back 0.0015" – 0.002". In order to measure this you are going to need a special tool. I use one made by Hornday. It has several different inserts for different calibers. The gray piece (the insert) can be removed from the holder (red) for measuring different calibers / shoulder dimensions.



So with the tool attached to your calipers and the calipers zeroed take a piece of fire formed brass and measure the length from the base to the shoulder. As you can see it measured 1.624" and for a bolt gun we want to set the shoulder of the case back 0.0015-0.002" with our sizing die. (For a semi-auto 0.004"-0.005" is recommended).

 
#2
Now it is very difficult to adjust the die just a few thousandths at a time. It can be done with patience and VERY small adjustments but Redding makes a Competition Shell Holder set that makes this task very simple. The set consist of 5 shell holders that vary in thickness .002" at a time. The 5 holders are marked +0.010, +0.008, +0.006, +0.004, +0.002 respectively.





In order to set the FL sizing die correctly you place the +0.010 shell holder in the press and run the ram all the way up. Then you screw in the FL die until it touches the shell holder and lock the locking ring in place. There should be no need for an additional 1/8 to 1/4 turn.



Now take a piece of clean fire formed brass, place it in the shell holder and run the case all the way in the die until the handle and ram are bottomed out. Lower the ram and remove the brass and re-measure the case. The case again measured 1.624" so the shoulder was not setback at all. Next I removed the +0.010 shell holder and installed the +0.008 in the press.



Again run the brass all the way in the die until the ram and handle of the press are bottomed out and remove the brass and re-measure.



As you can see the shoulder has been set back 2 thousandths so we have found the correct shell holder.

One big note on checking head space. MAKE SURE THE OPPOSITE END OF THE CALIPERS IS NOT FLOATING ON THE SPENT PRIMER! It needs to be flat agianst the case head. Hold the calipers up to a light and make sure there is not a gap between the jaws and the case head via the caliper jaw being on a "proud" spent primer. I believe Sinclair makes a tool that clamps onto the other end of the caliper with a hole cut out for the primer so the case head rides in "the groove". Another way around this is I just run a few cases through a universal decapping die to knock out the primers on say 5-10 cases to get my baseline head space measurement then bump the shoulder 0.002" from there. You could probably set the decapping stem REALLY long on your FL die and just not bottom out the press handle to knock out a few primers before the die touches the shoulder to get the 10 or so primerless fired cases for the measurement. You would then need to set the decapping stem back to the proper length for resizing the rest of the fired cases. It may also take 2-3 firings before the cases fully expand to the true headspace of the chamber so check this again after a few firings.


Now more on neck tension:
If you do not have a bushing style FL or Neck sizing die then the amount the neck of the case is squeezed down will be fixed based on the dimension of the die itself. So the OD of the case neck will be the same no matter what manufacturer of brass you run through the die (neglecting any spring back). The issue is that different brass manufactures have different case wall thicknesses. Example: Winchester brass is thinner than Lapua brass, so this means that if the OD of the Winchester and Lapua were sized to the same dimension but the Lapua brass is thicker then the ID of the Lapua case neck will be smaller than the ID of the Winchester case. Thus the Lapua case will have more neck tension on the bullet. With a bushing style die you can change out the bushings which size the neck to get the desired neck tension on the bullet no matter what brass you have. In order to determine what bushing you are going to need you need to measure the OD of the neck of a loaded round.



As you can see the round measures 0.337". We want to select a bushing that is 0.002-0.003" under that measurement (Redding calls for 0.001" but most guys use 0.002"-0.003" under). So for this instance we would select a 0.335" bushing for the Lapua Brass (in comparison I use a 0.330" for Winchester).

So now that you have the dies / shell holder and the proper bushing installed in your FL die you are ready to size all of your fired brass casings.

One other note is that from the factory the Redding die comes with an expander ball installed in the die which is grey and a black piece which just holds the decapping pin in place is included in the box in a small Ziploc. You want to remove the silver expander ball and install the black piece. What the silver one does is as the fired piece of brass goes in the die the case mouth will be enlarged from firing and the silver expander ball will pass through the case neck without contacting it. At the top of the ram stroke the neck will be squeezed down by the bushing and as you lift the handle and lower the brass the expander ball which is now inside the case cannot pass freely though the now smaller ID neck. This will cause the expander ball to expand the neck on the way out of the case. Well this has just ruined your 0.002* of neck tension that was applied by the properly selected bushing. Here is a picture of the grey expander ball removed and placed in the bag that the black one comes in. The black one will not touch the case neck when exiting the case after the neck has been sized by the bushing.

 
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#3
The next step is to clean out the primer pockets. During the resizing process the decapping pin of the sizing die removes the spent primer. However, the primer pocket will have residue which is not easily removed during the second round in the vibratory tumbler which will come a little later. Also the primer pocket itself may become slightly deformed during firing. In order to have uniform primer pocket dimensions for both roundness and depth while simultaneously cleaning the primer pocket I use a primer pocket uniforming tool from Redding. I chuck this up in my drill for a quick cleaning. Here is a picture of the tool as well as a before and after.







Most brass manufactures use a punching / stamping process to create the flash hole. This can create a small burr that can remain inside the case attached to the flash hole. A flash hole deburring tool is needed to clean up this chip and ensure the hole is round. Lapua uses a drilling process to create the flash hole and thus round holes with no burrs exist. With Winchester brass I recommend cleaning up the flash hole to remove any burrs for precision ammo. This step is only necessary once to remove and uniform the flash holes. Again I do not perform this step with Lapua brass as it is not necessary nor for plinking ammo. But for precision rounds with brass manufactures who use the punch / stamping method I would perform this added step.

Trimming:
When a round is fired the case expands to take the shape of the chamber. During the resizing of the case the case is squeezed back down and the shoulder is pushed back toward the base. The case is enclosed on the bottom by the shell holder and on all sides by the die but not the top. So what happens is as the shoulder is bumped back you are taking what was a larger piece of brass and squeezing it down. Like if you put a partially filled balloon in your hand and squeezed it. The extra air and balloon have to go some place. Well the same holds true with the brass. The brass *flows* around the shoulder and the neck of the case elongates. So the OAL or Over All Length of the case will grow. This is the reason that it is necessary to trim brass back to length. This process may not be required after each and every firing as brass case lengths have a tolerance. IIRC for .308Win the range is 2.000" – 2.015" with a recommended trim length of 2.005".

There are a several different tools on the market to trim brass to length. I started out using a case trimmer by Possum Hollow which with a drill attachment chucks up in a drill and you insert the case and trim it to length.

After trimming you should have a shoulder that is square to the neck. The next step is to chamfer the inside of the case mouth. What this ensures is that during the bullet seating operation the bullet will slide into the case with minimal resistance and not scrape any jacket off the bullet. This can be done with a hand held tool. I recommend a VLD or Very Low Drag profile. The VLD tools cut the inside of the case mouth to a shallow angle which are usually 15 degrees. This removes any burrs left on the inside of the case mouth from the trimming process.

Next is called the deburring process where the outside of the case mouth is cleaned up from any burrs from the trimming process. This usually leaves a 45 degree bevel on the outside of the case mouth. Again this step can be performed using a hand held deburring tool.
I have a specialty tool made by Giraud Tool Company that trims, chamfers and deburrs all in one step. Here is some before and after pictures, notice the 15 degree chamfer on the inside of the case mouth and the 45 degree bevel on the outside.









At this point the brass has been fully prepped. I run them back through the tumbler one more time for about 5-10min to get the oil off of the cases from the sizing operating and remove any burrs or residue from the trimming and primer pocket operations. Once finished tumbling you need to inspect the flash holes for any media that may have become stuck in them. I just take a small screwdriver and knockout any media that has become lodged in the flash hole.

The next step is to prime the brass. I use a cheap Lee hand priming tool. (I now use an RCBS which is better). Fill the tray with primers and seat a new primer in the fully prepped and cleaned brass.




Congratulations you now have fully prepped and primed brass ready for loading.
 
#4
Now for loading:
You will need to consult a loading manual for recommended charge weights and powder selection. You should always start at the lowest recommended charge and work up the load in increments from there. A rule of thumb is 1% at a time. For instance if the recommended amount of charge for a particular powder was 40.0 – 43.0 grains in your caliber then you would want to start at 40.0 grains of powder for your first loads. I would then work up in 1% or 0.4 grain increments at a time. 40.0, 40.4, 40.8, 41.2 ect. You should find the load with the best accuracy and stop there.

During load development you need to be wary of any signs of pressure that the gun or the brass may exhibit. Some signs to look for are flattened primers, ejector marks on the case head or a sticky bolt lift. These are the beginning signs of pressure. Worse signs would be primers that are blown out of the primer pocket, cracks in the case near the case head or case neck and cases where the head has separated. These indicate that you are WAY over pressure. At the first sign of ANY pressure STOP! Pull any remaining loads with that charge weight or higher and drop the charge weight of your load.

Next we will remove the FL sizing die and install a bullet seating die in the press. As stated earlier I highly recommend a micrometer seating die to be able to easily vary the seating depth of the bullet. To install the die back out the micrometer adjustment all the way then raise the ram of the press and screw in the die until it contacts the die body then back it out a 1/2 turn so that the numbers are facing you. Secure the die by tightening the locking ring. (Note there are setscrews on the locking rings so that once you set the die’s height the first time you can secure the set screw to that the ring will no longer turn. Now when you remove the die’s and reinstall them the locking ring and die are already set to the proper depth every time).



So we have consulted our loading manual and have a desired charge weight to begin with. I use a loading block to hold the primed cases upright and place a funnel on the case in order to dump the charge.



Next I fill my RCBS Charge Master 1500 with powder. This machine allows you to select a powder charge and it will throw the amount you selected then stop. This machine is a real time saver and if you shoot enough to justify it I highly recommend buying one. This machine as well as the Giraud trimmer significantly cuts down the time of hand loading by about half.



Next I dump the charge into the case and seat a bullet on top and place it in the press. Run the case and bullet all the way up in the die until the handle stops.





Now we will need to remove the loaded cartridge from the press and measure the length to see how much we need to adjust the die so that the bullet is seated to the proper depth. If you are just loading plinking ammo you may just measure the OAL or Over All Length of the loaded round as shown here.



The problem with going off of OAL for precision rifle rounds is that the length of bullets will vary slightly and thus the OAL of your loads will as well. I only use OAL to ensure that the loads will fit into a magazine. The whole key to accuracy is consistency. Consistency in your shooting position, ammo, trigger control, breathing, ect. What we really want is for the ogive of the bullet to be the exact distance away from the rifling each and every time. Varying the seating depth of the bullet can and will affect accuracy so we want this to be consistent. The ogive is the start of the bearing surface of the bullet. The bearing surface is what contacts the rifling which induces the spinning of the bullet which leads to its gyroscopic stability. So really what we want is a consistent measurement form the base of the case to the ogive of the bullet. This ensures that the distance from the ogive to the throat of the gun remains constant as well. In order to measure this you will need a bullet comparator tool. I use one from Sinclair but Hornady as well as other manufactures make them. They fit on your caliper and you can change out the insert for different size bullets just like the Hornday tool used for measuring how much we bumped back the shoulder during the resizing process.

So to reiterate the OAL of the rounds will vary. It will depend on the consistency of the bullet manufacturer. However the length from the base to the ogive should be the same each round with quality dies. This is the important measurement.



When I received my rifle I did my load development and found that the gun likes a 2.091" base to ogive length. I ran the bullet in the die and measured and it was 2.102". So I adjusted the die 0.011" as each tick mark on the die is a thousandth of an inch and fifty thousandths per turn. So after moving the die 11 tick marks I ran the bullet and case back in the die and re-measured.



As you can see it is VERY easy to PRECISELY vary bullet seating depth with a micrometer seating die. If you do not have a micrometer seating die then you have to try to adjust the die itself. With the very coarse threads of the die and having to keep loosening the locking ring and retightening it gets frustrating quickly.

During load development you are going to need a starting length for your rounds. A decent place to start your lengths is 0.010" – 0.020" off of the rifling. Then do what is called a ladder test where you start at the low end of recommended powder charge and increase the charge weight 1% at a time. Once you have determined the load that shoots the best groups you can then vary the seating depth 0.005" – 0.010" at a time in and out. This will fine tune the load and usually decrease the group size by either increasing or decreasing the length. Be careful loading longer as once the bullet touches the lands this can cause the pressure to increase and what was a safe load before can become an over pressured load. It is recommended if you increase the length to drop the powder charge to the original weight and work back up.

We end up with a loaded cartridge that is very consistent round to round for brass uniformity, neck tension, powder charge and length. This ammo is custom tailored to your rifle and is cheaper and in just about all cases better than factory ammo.



I hope this has been informative.
 
#6
When you use the imperial sizing wax, how long do you wait between applying the wax to the brass and running the brass through your die?
 
#7


Most brass manufactures use a punching / stamping process to create the flash hole. This can create a small burr that can remain inside the case attached to the flash hole. A flash hole deburring tool is needed to clean up this chip and ensure the hole is round. Lapua uses a drilling process to create the flash hole and thus round holes with no burrs exist. With Winchester brass I recommend cleaning up the flash hole to remove any burrs for precision ammo. This step is only necessary once to remove and uniform the flash holes. Again I do not perform this step with Lapua brass as it is not necessary nor for plinking ammo. But for precision rounds with brass manufactures who use the punch / stamping method I would perform this added step.
Did you deburr the primer pocket side of the flash hole as well, or is the shiny ring around the flash hole in this picture a result of reaming the primer pocket?
 
#8
Hondo I rub it on and run it through the press.

Caccitore I see the shiny ring and can't tell you why it is there but I did not deburr the flash hole. I just cleaned the pocket. Debuting happens from the opposite side anyway. To deburr you would run the tool through the neck.
 
#9
Barney you have inspired me to buy some BR shellholders.
I don't think I need the bushing die though. It is like the neck die, I have never had a need for one. Then again I anneal often.
 
#10
Hondo I rub it on and run it through the press.

Caccitore I see the shiny ring and can't tell you why it is there but I did not deburr the flash hole. I just cleaned the pocket. Debuting happens from the opposite side anyway. To deburr you would run the tool through the neck.

Just making sure. I wanted to make sure it wasn't some new accuracy trick that I hadn't heard of yet. Roger that.
 
#12
Awesome post. I have a question with measuring headspace though. I have a LE wilson headspace gauge and I saw that you were using the Hornady headspace inserts with the comparator. Is there a huge difference between the two apparatuses?

Also, I was told that the Sinclair comparator set is "better" than the Hornady one. Can someone explain why?

Thanks.
 
#14
Quick question.....you mentioned you used a +.010 shell holder and adjusted the FL die till it touched. Ran a piece of brass and it didn't bump the shoulder any. You then swapped out the +.010 shell holder for the +.008 shell holder and were able to bump the shoulder 2 thousands. I'm confused, didn't you just decrease the amount travel? How did you bump it 2 thousands? I'm probably wrong, but learning is half the battle.
 
#15
This is an excellent post and I hate you for posting it. I didn't understand all of the finer points of reloading but you explained it so well that I will now have to purchase additional equipment. I really do hate you for this and please don't visit me when I am in the poor house.
All kidding aside thanks for the time and commitment your spent in posting this for the benefit of us non swimmers at the shallow end of the pool. Maybe now I can get that 308 down to .75 MOA.
 
#16
Dan, Wilson is good stuff and probably "better" than Hornady. It is just a quality, materials used (stainless vs aluminum) and finish thing but as long as you are getting repeatable numbers I'm sure they both would work.

One big note on checking head space. MAKE SURE THE OPPOSITE END OF THE CALIPERS IS NOT FLOATING ON THE SPENT PRIMER! I believe Sinclair makes a tool that clamps onto the other end of the caliper with a hole cut out for the primer so the case head rides in "the groove". Another way arounf this is I just run a few cases through a universal decappong die to knock out the primers on say 5-10 cases to get my baseline head space measurement then bump the shoulder 0.002" from there. You could probably set the recapping stem REALLY long and knock out a few primers before the die touches the shoulder to achieved the same thing.

Silvoman,

I agree the nomenclature is backwards but that is how the instructions with the shell holders indicate to do it. You start at 0.010" then go 0.008", 0.006", 0.004", 0.002".
 
#18
Quick question.....you mentioned you used a +.010 shell holder and adjusted the FL die till it touched. Ran a piece of brass and it didn't bump the shoulder any. You then swapped out the +.010 shell holder for the +.008 shell holder and were able to bump the shoulder 2 thousands. I'm confused, didn't you just decrease the amount travel? How did you bump it 2 thousands? I'm probably wrong, but learning is half the battle.
I thought the same thing, but after thinking about it, it makes sense. The thicker the shellholder, the less upward travel of the shellplate...so if the ram moves the shellplate 6.000" (totally made up measurement) without a shellholder, it would move it 5.990" with the 0.010 shellholder, 5.992" with the 0.008 shellholder, etc.
 

Rustybroadhead

Anschutz North America
#19
I too am just getting into reloading. As a matter of fact, I haven't even built my bench yet but that is another story.... Thank you very much for posting all of this step by step. I know it had to take a while but this info is extremely helpful to us newbies!

Now I have to go find my wallet as there is a lot of stuff I need to buy!

Thanks
 
#21
IMHO the shell holders are a waste of money, I have never found it hard to adjust my dies in very small incurements to achieve a .001-.002 bump, but I hate all of the set screw lock rings, Forster Hornady or Sinsclair lock rings that clamp the die in position are superior in everyway especially when making the small adjustments, and IME never come lose.
 
#23
Thank you! Awesome post.

Wish it was around when I first started out. Learned many of the things you pointed out via tedious trial and error, research and expensive mistakes on gear purchases. You've taught me some new tricks as well. Very clearly outlined and easy to follow. Looking forward to trying them out.

Nice work
 
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#26
Another stupid question to show my ignorance...If I am using a full length RCBS sizing die, is this process a waste of time? When you mention that when you lower the case from the die the case mouth will be expanded and basically ruin what we are trying to achieve?

Please advise. Thanks
 

sinister

Gunny Sergeant
#27
Very well done with good photos -- Bravo!

My technique is very similar with the exception of annealing after first tumble and before sizing. It seems to make neck tension more consistent. I don't bother to clean primer pockets.

I use a small base die for .308 since my ammo goes between a bolt gun and two auto loaders.

This factory Remington 700 Varmint barrel in 308:



shot this 100 yard, ten shot group off sand bags:

 

Deadshot2

Gunny Sergeant
#28
Also, I was told that the Sinclair comparator set is "better" than the Hornady one. Can someone explain why?

Thanks.
The Sinclair comparators, both the "Nut style" and inserts, have a beveled edge that gives a more consistent reading rather than the sharp edged inserts for the Stoney Point/Hornady type inserts. The "bevel" or chamfer simulates the shoulder area of a chamber better.

IMHO the shell holders are a waste of money, I have never found it hard to adjust my dies in very small incurements to achieve a .001-.002 bump, but I hate all of the set screw lock rings, Forster Hornady or Sinsclair lock rings that clamp the die in position are superior in everyway especially when making the small adjustments, and IME never come lose.

There is a definite advantage to using the shell holders rather than just relying on your press to yield a uniform "headspace measurement". When merely backing off or turning in the die, varying sizing pressures can yield varying measurements. By using the shell holders one can always have the ram fully against the bottom of the die and there is no effect from varying sizing forces.

Same applies for seating using dead-length seating dies.

Not everything is a waste just because some don't find it necessary in their operation.
 
#29
MissouriTrapper,

Again with any non bushing die you cannot set neck tension due to the fact that you cannot vary the amount the neck is squeezed by changing out a bushing. In your case the amount the neck is squeezed down is set by the dimension of the die itself, not a bushing. So in your case it does not matter as you can't do what I recommend anyway.

With bushing dies with a proper bushing selected if you have the expander ball installed which would mean you would feel resistance on the down stroke of the press as the brass is being lowered out of the die, as the expander ball passes through the neck then yes. You have just ruined the neck tension set by the proper bushing. If you have a bushing die take out the expander ball and put in just the decapping pin holder.
 
#31
Awesome post. Thanks for taking the time to do this. It is really helpful for guys like me just looking at getting into precision reloading.
 

1J04

Morale Officer
#32
Awesome. Your time to do this is appreciated. Also sold on the Redding Shell Holder Set. And yes, what makes some of this confusing to some is exactly what you stated, ask 10 people same question and get 10 different answers. Funny thing is, most of those answers will achieve the same end result. Too much fun and nice toys Barney.
 
#33
Thanks for doing the writeup I recently made the jump from reloading .223 to now reloading .308 also. This post will help me load some good stuff.
 

elfster1234

Gunny Sergeant
#35
damn! I need to get a Giraud! nice write up my friend!

The next step is to clean out the primer pockets. During the resizing process the decapping pin of the sizing die removes the spent primer. However, the primer pocket will have residue which is not easily removed during the second round in the vibratory tumbler which will come a little later. Also the primer pocket itself may become slightly deformed during firing. In order to have uniform primer pocket dimensions for both roundness and depth while simultaneously cleaning the primer pocket I use a primer pocket uniforming tool from Redding. I chuck this up in my drill for a quick cleaning. Here is a picture of the tool as well as a before and after.







Most brass manufactures use a punching / stamping process to create the flash hole. This can create a small burr that can remain inside the case attached to the flash hole. A flash hole deburring tool is needed to clean up this chip and ensure the hole is round. Lapua uses a drilling process to create the flash hole and thus round holes with no burrs exist. With Winchester brass I recommend cleaning up the flash hole to remove any burrs for precision ammo. This step is only necessary once to remove and uniform the flash holes. Again I do not perform this step with Lapua brass as it is not necessary nor for plinking ammo. But for precision rounds with brass manufactures who use the punch / stamping method I would perform this added step.

Trimming:
When a round is fired the case expands to take the shape of the chamber. During the resizing of the case the case is squeezed back down and the shoulder is pushed back toward the base. The case is enclosed on the bottom by the shell holder and on all sides by the die but not the top. So what happens is as the shoulder is bumped back you are taking what was a larger piece of brass and squeezing it down. Like if you put a partially filled balloon in your hand and squeezed it. The extra air and balloon have to go some place. Well the same holds true with the brass. The brass *flows* around the shoulder and the neck of the case elongates. So the OAL or Over All Length of the case will grow. This is the reason that it is necessary to trim brass back to length. This process may not be required after each and every firing as brass case lengths have a tolerance. IIRC for .308Win the range is 2.000" – 2.015" with a recommended trim length of 2.005".

There are a several different tools on the market to trim brass to length. I started out using a case trimmer by Possum Hollow which with a drill attachment chucks up in a drill and you insert the case and trim it to length.

After trimming you should have a shoulder that is square to the neck. The next step is to chamfer the inside of the case mouth. What this ensures is that during the bullet seating operation the bullet will slide into the case with minimal resistance and not scrape any jacket off the bullet. This can be done with a hand held tool. I recommend a VLD or Very Low Drag profile. The VLD tools cut the inside of the case mouth to a shallow angle which are usually 15 degrees. This removes any burrs left on the inside of the case mouth from the trimming process.

Next is called the deburring process where the outside of the case mouth is cleaned up from any burrs from the trimming process. This usually leaves a 45 degree bevel on the outside of the case mouth. Again this step can be performed using a hand held deburring tool.
I have a specialty tool made by Giraud Tool Company that trims, chamfers and deburrs all in one step. Here is some before and after pictures, notice the 15 degree chamfer on the inside of the case mouth and the 45 degree bevel on the outside.









At this point the brass has been fully prepped. I run them back through the tumbler one more time for about 5-10min to get the oil off of the cases from the sizing operating and remove any burrs or residue from the trimming and primer pocket operations. Once finished tumbling you need to inspect the flash holes for any media that may have become stuck in them. I just take a small screwdriver and knockout any media that has become lodged in the flash hole.

The next step is to prime the brass. I use a cheap Lee hand priming tool. (I now use an RCBS which is better). Fill the tray with primers and seat a new primer in the fully prepped and cleaned brass.




Congratulations you now have fully prepped and primed brass ready for loading.
 
#38
I've been reloading for my hunting guns for years, looking into precision loading. This is one great article. The write up and pictures are first class. I guess I have to rewrite that Christmas list. Joe
 

Drummerjay08

Short Action Super-Freak
#39
This is good stuff here! I've read and read and read until my eyes have bled about hand loading over the past three months. I've almost got everything in need to start working up my first loads. Sniper's Hide in general has been the biggest help I have ever came across for hand loading and anything else pertaining to long range and precision shooting for that matter. This post is no exception. Great write up!
 
#41
I have a question about the sizing process. If you take out the expander ball and rely solely on the bushing to size the neck, how can you ensure the inside is perfectly round? There's nothing rounding out the mouth after the bushing squeezes the neck...
 

Deadshot2

Gunny Sergeant
#42
I have a question about the sizing process. If you take out the expander ball and rely solely on the bushing to size the neck, how can you ensure the inside is perfectly round? There's nothing rounding out the mouth after the bushing squeezes the neck...
When using bushing dies to size the case neck you have to assume that the neck thickness is absolutely uniform, not just throughout it's circumference but from case to case. For most, this isn't an issue but if you want absolute consistency neck turning is necessary. That is unless you want to sort through hundreds, if not thousands of cases, looking for 30-100 that have he exact same case neck thickness and uniformity. THEN, when the bushing sizes the neck the ID of the neck will be nice and round. If the neck thickness varies by .001", because you are sizing from the outside the outside will be nice and round but the ID will vary by that .001" you started with.

To eliminate this most will turn their case necks. This is the only way to make sure that using one sizing bushing, every case will have the same ID (neck tension) and it will be concentric with the OD of the Case Neck.

I use a quick check for all my Bushing sized cases. I have a precision ground neck turning pilot with a "donut cutter" on it. I don't use it to cut the donuts that form out, I just use it as a plug gauge to check every sized case. If it just slips in with no slop I know that my neck tension is uniform. If it's hard to insert, or slides in with a lot of slop, those cases are tossed in another bin. The sloppy ones get sized with a smaller bushing and the tight ones get their necks turned again after expanding the neck with a Sinclair expander mandrel.

One thing I missed in the write up was annealing. Annealing is highly recommended for not just case life but uniformity of the brass and how it sizes. Work hardened brass springs back more than soft annealed brass.

It's such a big deal with me for accuracy, I anneal after every firing. I deprime all brass, clean it in SS Pin media, then anneal. Then I go about the rest of my brass prep of sizing, trimming, etc.
 
#44
Just a note , if anyone is going to buy the Sinclair comparator / shoulder bump gauge (green) body pictured here. If you intend to use the Sinclair body for measuring shoulder bump with the Sinclair shoulder bump inserts, this short body will NOT measure the shoulder bump on LOADED rounds. If you want to do this, you need to buy the Sinclair XL body

SINCLAIR INSERT STYLE BULLET COMPARATOR | Sinclair Intl

The reason is, Sinclair's shoulder bump gauges are made much shorter than the Hornady bump gauge inserts. In the photo, Barney is using a 30 cal. comparator, which works fine for what he is measuring, but I recommend you purchase the XL body. It will allow you to measure the shoulder bump on loaded ammo with Sinclair's shoulder bump inserts.
 
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Deadshot2

Gunny Sergeant
#45
Thanks for the explanation. It would be cool if Redding sold different sized expander balls to compliment that die.
You might give them a call and see if they will make one in the desired dimension. Forster offers some Oversize expander balls for "Soft Seating" like a lot of the BR competitors use. If you have a de-capping stem that will take a forster expander ball (same thread size/pitch) you can get one of those and merely polish it down to your desired OD.

I'm currently using a Sinclair "Oversized" .308 expander mandrel. It leaves my case neck ID's at .306 which is just perfect for my needs.
 

Deadshot2

Gunny Sergeant
#46
Just a note , if anyone is going to buy the Sinclair comparator / shoulder bump gauge (green) body pictured here. If you intend to use the Sinclair body for measuring shoulder bump with the Sinclair shoulder bump inserts, this short body will NOT measure the shoulder bump on LOADED rounds. If you want to do this, you need to buy the Sinclair XL body

SINCLAIR INSERT STYLE BULLET COMPARATOR | Sinclair Intl

The reason is, Sinclair's shoulder bump gauges are made much shorter than the Hornady bump gauge inserts. In the photo, Barney is using a 30 cal. comparator, which works fine for what he is measuring, but I recommend you purchase the XL body. It will allow you to measure the shoulder bump on loaded ammo with Sinclair's shoulder bump inserts.
It's a good idea to have two bodies anyway. One set up with the comparator bushings and the other with the shoulder bump/headspace bushings. That way you don't cuss as much when you loose that "itty bitty" allen wrench. :) :)
 
#47
Quick question.....you mentioned you used a +.010 shell holder and adjusted the FL die till it touched. Ran a piece of brass and it didn't bump the shoulder any. You then swapped out the +.010 shell holder for the +.008 shell holder and were able to bump the shoulder 2 thousands. I'm confused, didn't you just decrease the amount travel? How did you bump it 2 thousands? I'm probably wrong, but learning is half the battle.
Remember that you must readjust the die to touch the top of the new shellholder when changing between say +.004 and +.006. The thickness on the top of the shellholder varies, not under the cartridge. Just changing the shellholder will not change the headspace sizing.
 
#48
I have a question about the sizing process. If you take out the expander ball and rely solely on the bushing to size the neck, how can you ensure the inside is perfectly round? There's nothing rounding out the mouth after the bushing squeezes the neck...
First for 308 and 260 I buy Lapua brass in my 7SAUM I run Nosler so I have good brass to start. Next, in reguards to the ID, I don't care. Does it matter? Maybe, but I shoot in precision rifle matches and also load for hunting, both of which 1/2 MOA ammo is more than enough. Truth be told my ammo does better than that. In benchrest or in a rail gun it might matter. The vast majority of people that claim it matters can't drive the gun true enough to hold the difference anyway. If there is a slight dent in the neck usually from ejection on some cases, seating the bullet takes care of it. And that's the honest truth.
 
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