Question for Kevin Thomas re .338 Lap brass

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by jmden, Apr 20, 2010.

  1. jmden

    jmden Well-Known Member

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    Hi Kevin,

    I, and I'm sure many others, appreciate your participation on this site.

    I was wondering if you would compare/contrast the various other 'brands' of .338 Lapua brass (Hornady, Norma, etc.) with actual Lapua made brass. What are the general differences?

    On another note, I ran across some .338 Lap brass with an 'HP' on the headstamp some time back at a local gunshop and have been unable to ID the company that made it. Would you take a stab at it? See below pic:

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Kevin Thomas

    Kevin Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Hey Jmden,

    A bit broad of a question here, and I'm not entirely sure I'm the right guy to be answering it anyway. I'll admit to being just a tad biased here! Honestly, I don't know enough about the actual manufacturing process of some of the other makers to comment on them. As I'm sure you're aware 70/30 cartridge brass is pretty much the industry norm, and pretty well used by most everyone. Ditto with bullets, where the standard jacket material is 95/5 gilding metal. The real difference between makers here, both in cartridge brass and bullet jackets comes down to in-house specs, grain structure, annealing or heat treating processes and the steps in the various draws during the forming operations. As I said, I don't know what those specs might be for other makers (nor are they likely to share that information; it's normally considered proprietary) so can only comment on those that I have first hand experience with. That said, the original quality of the brass or gilding metal that begins the process is critical to what follows. Grain structure must be matched to the process if you're going to come out with a proper finished product, and there needs to be constant monitoring and QC checks done throughout the production to ensure that everything is as it should be. Bottom line, even if you start with good materials, an improperly set up draw or press can undo everything. So can any of about a dozen other steps or operations during the production process, and each and ecvery one of them has to be monitored closely. As far as finished specifications, that's really nothing more than a maker deciding what is, and is not acceptable. The tighter the tolerances, the better the finished product. Unfortunately, the tighter the tolerances, the higher the reject and scrap rate, hence the higher the price of the finished product. I don't know any real good way of saying this other than the old standby, TINSTAFL; there is no such thing as a free lunch. Most of the finshed physical parameters can be (and are) easily measured by the reloader, and variance in jacket wall/case mouth concentricity, weight or (in bullets) ogive variation comes to light pretty quickly. Given our internet access today, and sites like LRH, it now takes about 38 seconds for every shooter from Key West, FL to Fairbanks, AK to hear about such problems. That's a good thing, as long as the information being disseminated is accurate and correct.

    As far as things you can't readily see, just bear in mind, quality stuff almost always costs more. You may have two apparently identical cases from different makers, and both may measure very well in comparison to one another. The difference there may come down to things you can't see; the quality and uniformity of the grain structure of the raw materials, the various annealing processes that may or may not have been done, that sort of thing. These, will normally show up in how well the brass performs, especially in terms of durability and service life. I don't know if that's quite what you're looking for here, but it's about the best explanation I can give you. As you know, Lapua's primary production facilities are in Finland, and I'm not working in that area every day. While I've spent time in the plant, I'm not actively involved in production operations, unlike some of the bullet makers I've worked for in the past. Within those limitations, feel free to ask whatever you'd like, and I'll do my best to answer your questions. If I can't, I can probably find an answer for you with a few emails or phone calls.

    Hope this helps,

    Kevin Thomas
    Lapua USA
     

  3. jmden

    jmden Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the reply, Kevin. It gives yet more insight into the process.

    Can you ID the manufacturer of the brass in the pic above, that piece that's not yours obviously?

    Thanks again,

    Jon
     
  4. Kevin Thomas

    Kevin Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Hi Jon,

    I'm still stumped on this one! I thought possibly Hornady or Hirtenberger, but neither of these explains the "P" in the "HP" headstamp. Adam suggested that it may have been a special run for Hirsch Precision, our Canadian distributor, but a phone call to Peter Dobson dispelled that notion. At present, I can't tell you who's it is.

    Kevin Thomas
    Lapua USA
     
  5. Boss Hoss

    Boss Hoss Well-Known Member

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    Kevin---after reading that I am going to take my "Green Box" of bullets out from under my pillow and put a box of Lapua Brass!!!!!!!!

    Shhhhhhh---don't tell Rich!!!!

    David
     
  6. jmden

    jmden Well-Known Member

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    This is the best someone came up with last time I asked this question:

    Headstamp Codes on Small Arms Ammunition

    Scroll down to 'HP'.

    But, I was hoping you might be able to confirm that.

    Not a big deal...just curious.

    Thanks,

    Jon
     
  7. Kevin Thomas

    Kevin Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Well Jon,

    by the source that you located here, it looks like it is in fact Hirtenberger! Hirtenberger Precision to be exact. Well done, sir!

    Kevin
     
  8. jmden

    jmden Well-Known Member

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    Well...managed to contact a Sales Manager ( Ing. Karl-Heinz Goluch) for: Hirtenberger Defence Systems in Austria. He confirmed that the .338 Lap case in the picture with the "HP" headstamp is theirs. But, he's said that this was a strange situation as to his knowledge:

    "yes, we had a .338 Lapua Magnum round with a 300gr. Match bullet in our cartridge program but we didn´t produce a lot of them. Just test and qualification rounds were produced till we closed down our small arms ammunition production in 2004."

    He seems to think that the fact that I ran across a bulk bin of the unprimed brass was quite interesting given the above. How'd that end up in a little gun shop WA state? Anyway...little mystery solved. I'll have to quiz the owner at Kesselring's next time I'm down there. At the time I picked up this piece, they didn't seem to realize that there was more than just Lapua making .338 Lapua brass.
     
  9. B23

    B23 Well-Known Member

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    As the late Paul Harvey used to say "and now you know the rest of the story". :)
     
  10. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

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    Interesting stuff. Better go buy some more of that head-stamped brass - they could be collector items. Take it to Antique Roads Show and see what they have to say!
     
  11. Boss Hoss

    Boss Hoss Well-Known Member

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    Kevin----the Lapua Brass I have been sleeping on instead of the Green Box Bullets got a little dented----can you please send me some more??????????????? I need some 220 Russian----would feel better than the 6.5x284…LOL