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Precision Hand Loading For Long Range-Chapter One: Brass Sort & Prep

Precision Hand Loading for Long Range-Chapter One: Brass Sort & Prep

By Tres MonCeret

I have written an instructional article on some of the more advanced techniques of precision hand loading after teaching and answering questions on this subject time and time again. Many of these techniques are basic procedures in competitive bench rest shooting. We field shooters can squeeze all the more accuracy out of our equipment by incorporating many of these procedures even though we are not using zero tolerance rifles. However not ALL bench rest loading techniques nor ways of thinking are desirable for our purposes here as we are not on tidy cement benches, with “glued in” rifles having a specified neck dimensioned chambers and minimal tolerances throughout the weapon. Nor are our rifles or ammo protected entirely from dust, grit, rain as well as beats & bangs if not worse! In the following pages I explain the techniques I adapted from bench best competitive procedure that I feel are worthwhile and beneficial to the typical high-end field rifle & shooter.

Chapter 1: Brass Sort & Prep

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.

Precision Hand Loading For Long Range-Chapter One: Brass Sort & Prep

We are going to measure the case from its head (where the writing is) to the datum of the shoulder. For this we need the above illustrated or similar tool from Sinclair International or other supplier. This device holds the insert onto your calipers. You'll also need the insert specific to your cartridge.

Here's a photo of the freshly fired case from the rifle being measured to obtain a headspace measurement:

Precision Hand Loading For Long Range-Chapter One: Brass Sort & Prep

So now that we know this length of the fired case, we set up the resizing die in the press to "bump" the shoulder back to three thousandths 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 chamber 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 the brass way back only for it to stretch way out on firing over and over, in just a few firings the brass case will separate from the head!

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

Precision Hand Loading For Long Range-Chapter One: Brass Sort & Prep

Until you get the tool in the mail you can improvise: 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.

Precision Hand Loading For Long Range-Chapter One: Brass Sort & Prep

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? Thread in the die a little more and repeat. Continue this process until you get the very faintest 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 (heavy, for the sake of the camera) line and some dappled marks where the shoulder was just touched by the resizing die:

Precision Hand Loading For Long Range-Chapter One: Brass Sort & Prep

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