Revisiting brass processing and loading order

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by jfseaman, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. jfseaman

    jfseaman Well-Known Member

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    We have not had a go around on this for quite a while. I have "adjusted" my processing and loading order over the years to include things like annealing and having only one piece of brass charged at a time so I never double charge. Double charging is not usually an issue but for me the "loading block" and charging multiple cases at a time is a spill=overcharge accident waiting to happen.
     
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  2. jfseaman

    jfseaman Well-Known Member

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    I'll go first:

    Decap only
    Clean
    for me this could be vibratory with walnut or corn media or wet tumbling with stainless steel pins.​
    Anneal
    At the moment, most of my brass, up to 338-378 goes into the Annealeez. I have a Ballistic Edge for "bigger" brass and things I don't have rollers for.


    I started annealing with a propane torch and the cases standing in water.​
    Size
    Whether you are a full length sizer or a neck sizer does not matter. I personally follow simple rules. Hunting is full length sizing with the goal of every cartridge loads easilly. Target/Precision could be full length with a target of .002 shoulder setback or neck sized.

    Also, I am removing the expander ball or using an undersized ball​
    Clean
    Get the sizing residue off the cases. Even if they were neck sized using moly​
    Expand necks
    This pass ensures that any dry media is knocked out of the flash holes.​
    Trim
    My brass does not seem to grow much but I always check it.​
    Chamfer
    There are lots of chamfer angles. This article discusses them: http://bulletin.accurateshooter.com/2018/01/inside-chamfer-tools-sorting-through-the-options/
    At the moment I am using a compound chamfer. First with a 22° cutter so that about 1/2 brass thickness is chamfered. Then with a 45° cutter to about 1/4.​
    Debur
    All I want to do here is knock any burs off the brass. Some shooters put a little bit of a chamfer on the outside as well. Works either way for me. ​
    Clean and perhaps uniform primer pockets.
    I am being more careful with primer pocket uniforming because of the small flash hole brass like some Lapua.

    Brush the primer pockets. This may or may not be necessary. If the brass was SS media tumbled, pretty much not needed.​
    Prime
    Simple, my only comment is to try to use the same brand and lot of primer in a batch of brass​

    At this point I have brass ready to load. I personally no longer use loading blocks, I keep the brass in yogurt cups. Of course treating those necks gently. Either way it's over to the press and powder station.

    Charge
    I am charging only one case at a time. No spills, no accidents.
    I use an RCBS 1500 Charge master with a GemPro 250 check scale. This winter with temperature fluctuation had a lot of drift so added the second scale. This really slows things down by precision went up.
    The case is charged and goes into the press.
    Set the bullet into the case.
    Seat the bullet.
    Measure the COAL or OOAL. I'm looking for +-.001 in length. ​
    Into the box to go to the range
    My load data for each batch is on a label in/on the box. Number of reloadings, charge weight, COAL/OOAL, bullet, powder, all that stuff.
    There is more on bullet preparation but that is for another discussion.
     
  3. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

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    That may be a better process for you. And I've read where others also consider it the safer method to avoid errant powder charges.
    However I much prefer charging all cases prior to seating a single bullet into any of them.
    All cases are positioned side by side in the loading block. I then visually examine the powder height in each case, compared to all adjacent cases. Any significant deviation is quickly apparent. The powder charge in any suspicious case is reweighed.
    Only after this visual examination do I seat a bullet in any of the powder charged cases. This method provides an additional QA/QC inspection that's not available if bullets are seated immediately after powder charging the case.
    My method has prevented me from seating bullets in mischarged cases in the past, and I will not readily sacrifice this additional QA/QC inspection, as a consequence. I consider this visual comparison of the powder columns in each casing to be amongst the most important QA/QC step in my reloading process.
    But I'm prepared to read about any perceived benefit to the - charge a case - seat a bullet - one at a time method. If the benefits outweigh my process, I can change - maybe... However painful changing can be.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
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  4. dok7mm

    dok7mm Well-Known Member

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    I also use this method, charging each case and moving it to a separate block. Then, I examine that block, under a good light source, for uniformity.

    I am more afraid of a no-charge case resulting in a squib, than an overcharged case, that is usually pretty easy to see.
     
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  5. jimbires

    jimbires Well-Known Member

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    I deprime with a universal die .
    I don't always tumble my brass . if my brass is dirty , or getting crappy looking I'll tumble in corncob .
    Anneal every time , using a ballistic edge machine .
    Using a RCBS case mate I brush primer pockets and brush the inside of the neck .
    Lube cases on a lube pad using RCBS case sizing lube. lube inside case neck too .
    Resize brass by bumping the shoulder about .002 . some die sets I use a full length die , other die sets I use a neck die with a body die . I never neck size only after I get my brass fully expanded .
    Check case length , trim as needed .
    Chamfer , using the RCBS case mate. inside case neck with a VLD angle tool , and chamfer outside case neck just enough to remove any burr that might be there .
    If I'm sizing with bushing dies , now I'll expand my neck with a mandrel die .
    Prime brass using RCBS hand primer . run my finger over the primer to be sure it's seated flush , or slightly below flush .
    *up to this stage I have not used a loading tray . I just use a couple small cardboard boxes as I do the step I move the brass from one box into another box . the box that disc brake pads come in work great for this .
    After I prime the case I use spray carburetor cleaner on a rag and wipe my lube off the brass and stand the cases up in a loading tray .
    Get my desired powder out . only one powder on the bench at a time .
    I weigh every powder charge to the kernel , using the A&D FX120i .
    I use the Lee powder spoons to get the bulk of my powder on the scale , then trickle up to my desired weight .
    I charge all cases . then I use a light to check powder heights in the cases .
    I dip my bullet base in graphite powder , and seat that bullet. Place finished ammo in cardboard box .
    Give ammo another wipe with rag to be sure no lube is on it . then set that round on the scale to check weight . this is my way of double checking for a missing powder charge in the finished ammo .
    Put ammo in a properly marked storage box .
     
  6. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

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    I use an adjustable beam flashlight to compare the powder levels. Moving it along each row of casings, row by row. Left to right, then right to left, and so on, until each row in the loading block has received visual inspection. I try to avoid alcohol while performing this inspection... :D
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
  7. dok7mm

    dok7mm Well-Known Member

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    Pretty much my exact sequences and steps, but you mentioned you're lubing inside necks with RCBS lube. Is that because you are using a expander ball? I ask because I prefer to use Imperial dry lube prior to running the mandrel for expanding.
     
  8. jimbires

    jimbires Well-Known Member

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    Dok , yes I get just a teeny amount of lube in the neck when using the expander ball . I usually can get enough lube by just putting the neck against the lube pad and giving it a twist , or I'll angle the neck a little and drag it across the lube pad . I try to get just a little wet look in the neck . I have used a Q-tip with lube and lightly lubed the neck . I seem to like lube better than graphite for use with an expander ball .
    if I'm using a mandrel to expand , I use the frankford arsenal case neck dipper . it's just mica ,or dry graphite on a brush .
    https://ads.midwayusa.com/product/1...MI9JiI5dXT2AIV0I-zCh3_PgK8EAYYASABEgKyrfD_BwE
     
  9. dok7mm

    dok7mm Well-Known Member

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    I understand you. I don't use the expander in my dies anymore, but figured that was why you were lubing inside. Thanks
     
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  10. jfseaman

    jfseaman Well-Known Member

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    That is why I started the thread. To get others to share.
     
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  11. Lpart

    Lpart Well-Known Member

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    I hope this isn't preempting this thread but I have a question re the mandrels as I am thinking of going that route and forgoing the expander ball. I want to experiment with this with my 6.5 CM. I am a little surprised at my measurements. My mandrel measures .262 bullet is .264. Sized case with my current Forster die with expander ball comes in at .256. A piece of fired brass without resizing is .255 from my rifle. The mandrel will open my sized case to .262. Is .002 difference between that dimension the .264 for the bullet enough tension? If so, should I be going to a bushing die with a bigger bushing, say .262 when I resize to work the brass less?
    Thank you for your help.
     
  12. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

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    Only way to know is try it. Would certainly depend on some variable factors - I would think. Such as temper of your case necks [annealed versus stiffer necks (no annealing after multiple reloads)]. Might also depend on neck wall thickness. Both could affect neck spring-back after use of mandrel.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
  13. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

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    You meant .265"?
     
  14. Lpart

    Lpart Well-Known Member

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    No, it is actually .255 for fired brass straight from chamber.