My reloading process.

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by AJ Peacock, Sep 17, 2008.

  1. AJ Peacock

    AJ Peacock Well-Known Member

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    I thought I'd document the process I use to reload LR rounds, as someone might be able to point out something I'm missing or do differently than they do. I don't claim any of this process as new/different or created by me. The steps in this process have ALL been documented in books (like "HandLoading for Competition" by Glen Zediker) and articles (like Jerry Teo's great article on this forum). These steps are just the ones I use and have found this process meets my needs.


    Starting with new brass, I use a primer pocket uniformer in a cordless drill to make the primer pockets square on the bottom and consistent depths. I inspect each piece of brass at this point and toss any piece that looks odd in any way.


    I then use a flash hole deburring tool. I use the Sinclair tool because it indexes against the inside of the cartridge head instead of the neck. The tools that index off the neck require brass that is identical in length to work correctly and I don't trim brass until after it's been fired at least once.

    I then resize the brass. This rounds the necks, many times you will find that new brass has been beat up a bit in transit and the necks take the majority of the abuse. Although I full length resize, if the new brass will cycle in my rifle, I won't touch the shoulder at all. I use Redding full length bushing dies and only resize about 1/2 of the neck. I only use the expander ball on new brass (to make the necks round), I remove it from the die when resizing previously fired brass. I use Imperial sizing wax as a lubricant.

    I wipe the resizing wax off of each piece of brass, using a paper towel.

    Now that the necks are round, I'll lightly deburr the inside and outside of the necks. I use a VLD deburrer for the inside.

    I then run a nylon brush in/out of the case necks several times to remove the residual sizing wax from inside the case necks. I clean the nylon brush every 10 cases or so by simply squeezing it in and rolling it around on a paper towel.

    I'll prime the brass using a Lee or RCBS hand priming tool.
    [​IMG]

    I use an RCBS chargmaster to throw/weigh each charge. I always calibrate the scale before I use it.
    [​IMG]

    Seating the bullet. I have found that seating the bullet very slowly and rotating it a 1/3 of a rotation a couple times during the initial 1/2 of the seating operation helps with runout.
    For example I'll seat the bullet 1/10" and rotate 1/3 turn in the shell holder, then another 1/10", then rotate again and then slowly seat the bullet the rest of the way. Although I have no way to prove it, I think that slowly and gently seating the bullet, allows the bullet to slide into the neck without deforming the concentricity of the neck/shoulder junction.

    I then measure the concentricity and seperate the loaded rounds into 3 piles. 1) those with less than .0005" runout. 2) those with less than .002" runout but more than .0005" 3) those with more than .002" runout.

    I keep the rounds segregated in my ammo boxes and use those with most runout as foulers and for fun shooting. The others are used as needed. I mark the worst ones with a sharpie marker. A small mark on the primer denotes the shells with the most runout.
    [​IMG]


    There are a couple differences when I reload already fired brass. I remove the expander button from my dies and only resize about 1/2 of the neck. I believe the other 1/2 of the neck will help orient the case into the center of the chamber. I also adjust my sizing die to move the shoulder of the cartridges back about .001" from a crush fit. I've been told that a crush fit is the way to go, but I haven't had consistent results with it. Once I figure out how much to push the shoulder back, I'll write it down in my log and duplicate it with future loads using a Hornady headspace gauge and calipers.

    I will also trim the entire lot of brass to the same length which will square the necks. I trim after the first firing and then keep an eye on the length of the brass and trim as required. I have been told that the length isn't as important as the squareness. After trimming, the inside and outside of the neck must be deburred again.
    [​IMG]

    I've made one change to my presses that helps with concentric ammo. That change is removing the C-clip that holds the shellholder in place. I let the shellholder float in the slot, this keeps the shellholder/shell from being forced off center. Some folks will put an O-ring around the slot to keep the shell holder 'in the press', but I've found it is not needed and more trouble than it's worth.

    Here are the tools I use to prep the brass. cordless drill with Sinclair primer pocket uniformer, Sinclair flash hole deburrer, Nylon brush, Sinclair VLD inside neck deburring tool, outside neck deburring tool.

    [​IMG]

    Thats about it.

    AJ
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2008
  2. Slopeshunter

    Slopeshunter Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for taking the time to write that up AJ!
     

  3. Bravo 4

    Bravo 4 Well-Known Member

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    For my .338 I use a full length sizer to partially full length size the case. I don't have a concentricity gauge (next on my list) but get pretty accurate ammo. I tried to take out the sizer stem and the necks were tight enough to shave the bullets when they were seated. I after a few rounds i put it back in. Can you only get away with this with the bushing style full length sizers? I'll probably just send a couple of fired brass to Lee and have a collet nick sizer made and bump the shoulder back when needed.
     
  4. AJ Peacock

    AJ Peacock Well-Known Member

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    Pretty much, unless the brass thickness in the neck and your sizing die are 'perfect for each other'. Otherwise, it over sizes the neck down and with no expander to open it up, you will get the shaving you describe.

    AJ
     
  5. boomtube

    boomtube Well-Known Member

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    "Although I have no way to prove it, I think that slowly and gently seating the bullet, allows the bullet to slide into the neck without deforming the concentricity of the neck/shoulder junction."



    I suspect that if you use your concentricity gage to check progress after each step, you may find that a "rotational seating" process accomplishes nothing. A bullet that starts tilted tends to stay tilted.

    No sizer or seater can correct for non-concentric necks so the cases must be good or turned to be good. Or at least better.Straight bullet seating is more dependant on straight necks than any other single factor. Straight necks depend more on the nature of the expander, or the sizer itself if no expander is used, than most folks assume. That's the prime reason for the success of Lee Collet Neck Sizers, they produce straight necks quite well.

    For sure, no electronic powder dispensing system adds anything to the accuracy of the finished product.
     
  6. AJ Peacock

    AJ Peacock Well-Known Member

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    I don't turn the cartridge to make the bullet line up better, I turn the cartridge to remove any misalignment in the cartridge/shellholder. I just turn it a little to remove any stress/misalignment that might have occurred. Sometimes you can feel the cartridge is a little (.001" or so) off center in the sleeved seating dies. Spinning it a little seems to perfectly center the cartridge under the bullet (at least thats how I see it).

    I have seated the bullets quickly without turning, and slowly without turning, and the best concentricity measurements I achieve are with the process I've documented above. Take some of your perfectly straight necks and seat the bullet quickly with a lot of force and see what happens to them. My process certainly doesn't fix bad brass, but I believe it limits additional runout. If you have a better way to 'limit additional runout during the reloading process' please enlighten us.

    As far as the electronic powder dispensing system adding or subtracting, you are probably right. I do believe it is accurate enough for anything I am doing. I've weighed several small items repeatedly with this scale. I've written the weight on the items with a sharpie marker. Every time I weigh them, they register the EXACT same amount. That amount may not be the 'actual mass of the item', but for my loads, as long as I can recreate the load EXACTLY, I am happy. Repeatability is the key, and the Chargemaster lets me do that quickly. I know the chargemaster is faster for me than any other accurate method I have used.

    AJ
     
  7. anachronism

    anachronism Well-Known Member

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    Why do you store ammo point down? I always box my ammo with the bullet up, so theres no weight on the bullet to potentially change the seating depth. This also helps me identify the ammo in a box at a glance without having to handle the ammo.
     
  8. AJ Peacock

    AJ Peacock Well-Known Member

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    I normally do the same thing, however the 338AM ammo won't fit the other way around and they don't make an ammo box big enough for it stored the other way! I write out the load info on a slip of paper and tape it to the inside of the box, unless I have a single load for a caliber (like the 338AM), then I know what they are, because that's the only load I have.

    When I travel with ammo, I always store them on their side, so no jiggling either way happens.

    AJ
     
  9. boomtube

    boomtube Well-Known Member

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    "My process certainly doesn't fix bad brass, but I believe it limits additional runout. If you have a better way to 'limit additional runout during the reloading process' please enlighten us."

    No enlightenment or correction is needed, you are aleady getting good results so I have no suggestions for you to change. My point is that I have found that rotatinga case after the bullet starts off axis rarely does anything to correct it.

    For sure, no good comes from a rapid lever action! I just use a clean, smooth stroke and find maybe 80% of my ammo has a run-out/tilt of less than a thou IF the cases and dies are good. I cull those cases with run-out over one thou and after awhile it's ALL good!

    "As far as the electronic powder dispensing system adding or subtracting, you are probably right. I do believe it is accurate enough for anything I am doing."

    Again, not a challange, accuracy of dispensing wasn't my point. It was just an observation for others that while a digital powder system is simpler and may even be faster, it is expensive and adds no accuracy to the the final product. IF the loader uses good technique, anyway!

    Sloppy loaders can't seem to produce good ammo on any tools but good loaders will find out what's wrong and make their ammo good! :)
     
  10. AJ Peacock

    AJ Peacock Well-Known Member

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    Boomtube,

    I've never played with the Lee Collet Dies, since your message, I've been doing a bit of research and may order a set for my .338 Edge.

    Thanks for your input.

    AJ
     
  11. linksmechanic

    linksmechanic Well-Known Member

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    Aj, I do pretty much what you described except I use dry neck lube(graphite) on the inside of the necks to get what I feel is even more consisent neck tension.
     
  12. winelines

    winelines Well-Known Member

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    Thanks very much AJ, that's a very good summary.

    A couple of points of clarification -

    1. It sounds like you do not cull new brass by weight or runout. Correct?
    2. After you resize once fired brass without the expander ball, do you have to perform any other steps before the seating process?
    3. You made no mention of measuring neck thickness or neck turning. Do you ever perform these steps? and, if so, under what conditions?
    4. I have never used bushing dies. What are their benefits vs drawbacks?

    Thanks so much for your help. I have to get the book you mentioned.

    Jack
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2009
  13. AJ Peacock

    AJ Peacock Well-Known Member

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    1) Nope, only for obvious flaws. I sort my brass by weight after they have been fired and preped. I keep real heavy or light brass and use it for other things (foulers, random shooting etc).

    2) Depending on the cartridge, sometimes I'll square up the mouths with a trimmer as I mentioned in the initial post. But I'll always resize before I trim (then deburr again).

    3) I measure the necks with a ball mic and will occasionally sort out ones that are more than .001" difference side to side. To be honest, I have several rifles that can shoot more accurately than I can. I haven't been able to tell any difference in the neck wall thickness stuff with my rifles. I've neck turned to make everything perfect and still get the old sub 1/2moa group when I do my part. But I only have hunting scopes on my rifles, none of that 36x ... stuff that the target boys use, so I'll probably always stay around the 1/2moa crowd. On the other hand, I've experienced really bad brass that not only had a really thin side, it was also impossible turn into straight ammo. I use my run-out gauge to sort my shells and then will sometimes check the cartridges that had run-out after I shoot them (use the mark on the primer) for thick/thin/uneven necks and toss them if I'm convinced that is why they where bad.

    4) If you are going to resize with an expander ball, then it is tough without bushing dies, because normal dies will resize the neck too far down and you will have WAY too much neck tension on your bullet. I like the bushing dies because they give me a bit more flexibility with my sizing and neck tension. It's yet another variable that can be pondered when it's too cold to shoot outside.

    Hope this all helps,
    AJ