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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I don't expect to ever shoot competition or own hi-end weapons. I would like to know reloading appreciably better than I do, having a good balance of accuracy & economics. Brass management (@ this point) seems to be where I need clarity. What equipment, and what order to get it. I shoot Rem 700 vssf 22-250, & Savage m10 .223. I have others just not focused on them now, only interested in hunting apps.
I have RCBS dies & and Lee case trimmer. From what I can tell from the forum(s) i read, the Lee collet die, concentricity guages, neck trimming/turning tools (properly used) will give my brass longer life and accuracy appropriate with gun limitations+ load development. I guess what i need to prioritize (& budget 4) is a procedural progression; i.e.,start ; sorting, fireforming, annealing, guaging, trimming, turning,etc. I have read soooo many threads and I can't seem to decide what eq. to get or the procedure as to get optimum life/performance from avg. to hi-end brass. Is it possible to agree on procedure without debating necessity? Is there a publication that covers brass management? Can the "elite" reloaders succinctly describe their step by step approach to brass management. If @ a procedure you have a preference to Eq. brand list it. Thanks for your input. LB
 

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Lakebilly; Rule number one...keep it simple. Keep all your brass sorted and packaged by lot. Keep a good record of how many times the brass has been shot. I usually mic the wall or neck thickness of new brass, and after every shooting I mic it again, but, just a random sample to keep tabs on case stretching. I add that info to the "record" for that lot. When I load my brass I follow the same procedure every time be it for handgun or rifle. I clean (primer pocket, and the inside and outside of the case) and do the random measuring of the wall thickness...size the case, trim to lenght and deburr, and then go through the normal loading process. If I find that one lot of cases is getting a bit "worn", or, if I experience cracking of necks, or a head seperation (which has been very, very rare in my case), then I trash that lot of brass and buy new (If you shoot low powered "target loads" ...I dont.... the older brass can also be relegated to that purpose, and that info added to the "record" as well)..................Many years ago, I was told by an old timer, that if I always use Winchester brass for handguns, and Remington brass for rifles that I would get long brass life and no problems...I have always done that and have never experienced any brass "issues'. Depending on the cartridge I am shooting, and the purpose behind it, I use Lee crimp dies, RCBS press dies, custom made hand dies, neck trimming, turning and reaming tools...just depends. There is probably no one rule for all occasions. Everything we use in reloading is expendable to one degree or another, so if you shoot a lot, dont expect that brass to last forever, and NEVER sacrifice the quality of reloading components to try to save a buck....That could end up being a serious safety issue!!!
 

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I'll start where I just came home from the range. And note that I use a single stage press so if you have a progressive this isn't all going to work for you.

I put the cases in the tumbler and let them spin for a while until they are clean. Then I inspect them and put them into the first bin on the shelf. The next stage is decapping and FL sizing. (These are for a lever .308 so the FL size is necessary.) Then they go in the second bin on the shelf. When I get the time, I prime those cases and they go into the third bin. I have several bins that are for the different stages. Mainly because I usually shoot 50 to a 100 at a time and little boxes don't work well. If they are to be used for cast bullets they go into the fourth bin after they are belled. If not that fourth bin is skipped. and they go right to number 5.

When I load the powder I start out with all the cases mouth down in the case tray. None of my cases are ever mouth up unless they have powder in them, and are ready to seat a bullet. The powder can stays right next to my dispenser so I know exactly what it is and wont make a mistake. And I check an extra time to be sure it is the correct powder. Plus, I also write the tag for the ammo box and stick on the powder dispenser until they are loaded, crimped and ready to go in the box. That may seem excessively careful, but I've been doing it this for 40+ years and I haven't messed up yet.

And I NEVER have more then one can of powder out of the cabinet at any one time. When I am done loading whatever is left in the dispenser is immediately put back in the can. Don't wait till tomorrow or later in the day. Put it away when you are either done, or have to stop for any length of time.

Once all the bullets are seated, I crimp them, and I do it as a separate stage simply because there is less chance of crushing a case.

And I try to keep 500 cases for each rifle. I shoot each of the 500 before I start loading them again. That way it's easy to keep track of how many times they have been loaded using the bins because cases from bins 3 or 4 don't go into bin 5 until it is empty. I tried doing it with small batches and it turned into a horrendous bookkeeping job, so this is easier for me. Once all 500 have been cycled thru loading and shooting 4 or 5 times I anneal them and trim them to the suggested length in my Lyman manual. (It's a good idea to check length randomly after each 500 have been fired though.)

And I do all this exactly the same way every time.

Hopefully this will be some help.

Edie: Pete reminded me. I'm one of the ones that does clean primer pockets and deburrs the case mouths. But to each his own.
 

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I am a self confessed lazy reloader. Thus, I am always looking to cut out unnecessary operations in the reload process. Less case handling means more time at the range.
I do, however, like accurate ammunition.
In my experience, many of the steps that are possible - and frequently recommended - are not needed unless you are, maybe, a high master shooter and the difference of a point or two or an X on that 600 yard target spells the difference between winning and not. For instance, I have not cleaned a primer pocket in 20 years. No fall off in accuracy. I have never uniformed a primer pocket.
I do, occasionally, anneal cases - especially expensive cases that I want to preserve (.416 Rigby for example).
I do shoot a single type of brass in rifle match loads. I clean and box those empty cases separately. I do not do any other prep on the cases. For pistol match loads - far and away what I shoot most - I shoot mixed brass and do nothing to the brass, ever, except clean it. Ammo loaded with that brass shoots very nicely and accurately thank you.
None of this is intended as a criticism of the great care that other shooters take in assembling their ammo. That attention may well be an important part of the hobby of reloading for some; it isn't for me. I am very careful about loading; I do, however, keep operations to a minimum. I do keep a written record of each loading session.
Pete
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I like "simple", though I am too anal for some things. I clean primer pockets cuz a "clean load is a happy load" couldn't give reason one other than that. I shoot mid budget guns so I am not sure where my "getting" will get. I just like to know. I am currently unemployed and stir crazy. gathering info to make a frugal and informed decision for when I can afford I will decide then. Performance @ a reasonable price is the goal. thanx 4 the input. Lb
 

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The best procedure for making your brass last is not to over-size it! The next best thing is not to run high end loads through it, around 2gr's under max is all that's needed in most instances.

In regard to not over-sizing your brass, the best piece of equipment you can own is a case headspace measuring tool such as the RCBS Precision Mic, it measures your fired brass and you set up your die to 'bump' the shoulder .002" less than that measurement. This gives minimum 'working' of your brass.

I have found that this tool, used correctly, gives longer case life than Neck sizing alone.
If you FL size after every 4-5 firings after Neck sizing only and, you are over-sizing your brass then Neck sizing serves no purpose in extending the life of your brass.

The best tools for doing this are Redding Body dies, and the next best thing is a 'bushing' die, either a Neck or FL die works in conjunction with your body die.
I use a Neck 'Bushing' die for my target rifles, and a FL 'Bushing' die for my hunting rifles. I use the body die to bump the shoulder without it performing anything on the necks, this is taken care of by the Neck 'bushing' die.
The reason is that neck tension plays a significant role in accuracy, the least amount that still holds the bullet firmly is what you want.
I run my neck tension at .0015"-.002", this gives me the lightest tension but still holds the bullet securely. It also has an affect on how consistently the powder burns from shot-shot.


For extreme accuracy in my target rifles, with new brass, I sort cases by weight first, fireform with a light load, then sort again by case volume. I pick out all the cases that are close to being identical in case volume, within 2/10's +/- of the specified average weight. The rest go into my hunting rifles!

The next step is to de-burr the flash holes of all cases, trim to minimum length, chamfer case mouths inside and out, neck size, prime and load up.
BTW, I only neck size new/fireformed brass to make sure the necks are round and at my specified neck tension, sometimes new brass is much tighter than the neck tension I want, that's why I also fireform my brass first, the other reason is that my target rifles are belted magnums, and I headspace off the shoulder for the life of that brass!
I do not crimp any of my loads except on my 416Rigby, not even my 375Weatherby gets a crimp! I have only ever found it to be detrimental to accuracy!
Cheers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Magnum, I understand the reason for weighing cartridges, being uniformity. how does that work for working up loads, say lighter cartridges to heavy? do you add more powder to heavier cartridges to start? Lb
 

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I hate to answer a question with a question but here goes. Which loading manuals do you have? There is a good basic description of what you are asking in all of them, I think. I like the Hornady manuals basic section myself. Even saying that I do not follow it to a tee. I reload for hunting and I do less than most as far as brass prep. Load development is a necessary evil for me. I enjoy it but I have other things to do and spend my money on so that is why it is evil for me. Now that I have loads that are my hunting loads, load development is over unless a component becomes unavailable. This happens often. What I do now is try to eliminate the things that I do that do not need to be done to achieve the ammo that suits me. For economy of time and money, it is what I have to do.

All that being said, that reasoning works for me because I load to hunt, not to shoot. A shooter has to wring the most out of his brass for the same reasons, I do not have to. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy shooting and my range time and load development and stuff. I just have other things to do with my time and money.

I hope that made some since.
 

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Billy,

I think the way you reload or manage your brass will reflect your nature and shooting interests. The more detail-oriented you are, as a person, the more meticulous you will be with case preparation and load development. All you really need to do is examine your brass carefully for cleanliness and potential flaws, then size/trim as appropriate and follow load recipes carefully. Like one poster said: "Keep it simple".

I have several wildcats that I have to create brass for and then manage that for good case life. I keep records, but I don't get consumed with it. I enjoy hunting the most, but also enjoy shooting and, quite frankly, find reloading to be a very relaxing, yet mildly challenging and definitely rewarding pastime. I don't skip steps or hurry through things so I can do something else. I always make sure I have ample time to do what I have in mind so that I can thoroughly enjoy my time at the bench. Above all else, try to keep that perspective in mind and don't turn reloading into some kind of "chore" that you begin to worry over or dread. Remember; it's fun and relaxing to turn four piles of components and a handful of tools into very useful, custom-tailored ammunition!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Broom, "I enjoy hunting the most, but also enjoy shooting and, quite frankly, find reloading to be a very relaxing, yet mildly challenging and definitely rewarding pastime." I concur.

Chief, Manuals; Hornady, Sierra, Speer, Lyman, Nosler. I have gotten bigger answers than I expected on some questions, but i read & re-read because I am an info junkie. retaining info and practicly applying is another thing. I find myself asking questions, then reading manuals, catalogs, forums, & watching video's. Most people my age, in this area that used to reload, now don't have the time. I don't expect to ever do more than hunt so I gather info because I just like to know. My son may want to be a BR shooter. Thanks for your input. Lb
 

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This may or may not help in any ideal situation, but here goes anyway.

Years ago the by and far easiest brass for me to get my grubbies on was Winchester. Just thats what most of my family members shot and when they had empties, I grabbed them up. Most of these were of 30-06 shot in various rifles but some were also 30-30 and .243. Years later I found I had acquired some decent amounts of Remington through range pick up and such, as well as a decent number of Federal and Hornady. Simply put I was a brass hound and if someone didn't want it I did. It all came home and went into a bucket with the caliber written on the side. Most of this was done in my late teens and early twenties.

Later in life I decided like you, I wanted to squeak out a bit of accuracy from my rifles or at least see what I could do. So I cleaned up all those cans and jugs of brass, and separated it all by brand, and went to work. I weighed out a hundred or so of each, then pulled out twenty and started working up loads in them, thinking all the time that which ever proved the most accurate I would go with.

They were all sized, trimmed, and a mentioned weighed to within some spread I don't even remember,(sign of general importance), pockets cleaned and uniformed as well as the flash holes. Then the powder was chosen by pulling dozens of loads from various manuals, sorted according to velocities and load densities, accuracy noted in the manuals, and above all else availability to be used in more than one caliber load.(last part very important)

Anyway after hours of loading and shooting the thing that came out above and beyond everything else was this, using a medium to slow powder, a standard primer, and a mid weight bullet for caliber, I got just as accurate load from one brand brass as I did any of the rest. The prep was nice, as it satisfied me in knowing I did all I could to initially to make the case the best it was going to be. But in the end, after all the weighing and sorting, I simply dumped them all back together and shoot them as I need them. I do try and keep the brands separated, but now I just grab out what I need, load them, and shoot them. Then when I get through with one brand or a bunch in one caliber that needs to be reloaded, I tumble them, size them, check the lenght, trim and clean the pocket, if needed, and load.

I only have two guns that I know for a fact will shoot a given load noticeably more accurate using "match prepped" cases, These are both custom rifles as well so that I am sure is the differences between them and the off the shelf ones. Even at that, the differences are only at ranges longer than most folks in their right minds shoot anyway, and hardly ever at game.

So my suggestion is pick out which ever case brand is easily available, and follow what has been mentioned about keeping up with them. As for the extras, pull out 10 or so and check it out for yourself with your guns. If you notice a difference in a side by side comparison, it might be worth it, if not, well just keep "X" lot of cases for "X" rifle and be done with it.
 
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