How do you manage your brass?

GW Hunter

Well-Known Member
May 2, 2015
Orangevale, Ca
So you have 100 pieces of new unfired meticulously prepped brass. You decide to shoot two 10 shot ladder tests for two different powders. You load up and shoot them. You then decide to do two more ladder tests for two more different powders. What do you do? Load up 20 of the unfired pieces or do you prep the 20 you just fired to reload? How do you go through your brass?
I've been mulling over the same thing. I have picked up a bunch of different bullet makes and weights, all of which I'll just use for trigger practice. I also have a bunch of different brass. The conclusion I've come to is to use one bunch of brass with one kind of bullets. For instance, I have 102 new primed Winchester cases, which I'll use with maybe the 100 ct box of Hornady 80 gr FMJs. First 20 or so will be used to determine a good seating depth and charge, and then the remaining 80 will all be loaded the same for shooting. After that, those 100 once primed cases will be used in the same manner with the next box of bullets.
I do not do load development with new brass. I do seating depth tests with new brass and primer testing while doing seating tests.
Then, once the brass is fired twice and annealed again, I start load development.
If this is my hunting rig and I have worked up a load and it is proven in stable brass, I then load up NEW brass to hunt with, as I find this to give me the best accuracy and a little less velocity and pressure but stays in the node.
My comp rigs use thrice fired brass that is tight to chamber, then measured with my RCBS Precision Mic and the shoulders are bumped for .0015” clearance then load development is done, including seating depth and powder/primer tests.
Primer testing is a big part of my load development, a primer can make or break a test, so I test them all, BR, Match and standard and magnum, regardless of cartridge. I even test SR brass against LR brass, if available if course.

Agree with others, I don't do ladder tests on virgin brass. Do seating, rough powder, and primer tests on virgin brass. Do final work up on once or twice fired brass. By this point, load development goes pretty quick. In short, do your ladder with the once fired brass.
I guess my example wasn’t the best...we’ve gotten side tracked on the ladder test. How do you use your 100 pieces? Do you you shoot through all of them before reloading them again or do you use the first 20 for 5 reloads ( or whatever ) before moving on to the next 20?
For my hunting rifles that don't have large volumes of shots put through them i'll do load development with new brass and then hunt with that load in new brass. Once I get close to running out of virgin brass I'll go back to the range and check velocity in once fired brass and tweak the load a bit if necessary to find the accuracy node.

My latest rifle is a 6.5x284 and I've broken in the barrel, done seating tests and found a 0.25 MOA load in 34 shots. The remaining 66 pieces of virgin brass will use this load for the time being.
Yea, I fireform all 200 cases with a start load using a mid range burn rate powder and a cheap bullet like a Nosler BT for my comp guns, this is also how I run in my barrel.
Factory guns don’t need 200 cases fieformed, but I load 50-100 at a time and go through batches while testing loads.
Then I load 50 new cases and fire them while hunting. We can shoot deer all year round, so I only have downtime during the really hot part of the year.