Your reloading process. The long version.

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by 4ked Horn, Mar 21, 2005.

  1. 4ked Horn

    4ked Horn Writers Guild

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    I know this might be alot to ask but I was hoping a few of you reloaders would be able to outline your reloading process for those of us looking to improve or refine our own process.

    This question is directed to all of you ogive measuring, meplat trimming, brass weighing reloaders that are getting very consistant results already. Like a mini reloading clinic.

    I am not asking about the process of working up a load since that is covered about 6 times a year but rather all the mechanical steps taken to prepare the 4 components (bullet, brass, powder and primer)then physically assemble and adjust them. Sort of a "Step 1, blah blah blah. Step 2, then I yada yada yada."

    It might even help if you start a whole new post titled "My reloading process." by Goodgrouper or "My reloading process." By Fiftydriver or whomever. That way questions about a particular process stay in that persons topic thread.

    Like I said, it is going to take a little effort but I'm sure alot of people like myself that have been loading for years with good to slightly better than good results would like to see a few examples of the big picture from folks that have it working for them already.

    A great big thanks to those who take the time to reply to this tall order.
     
  2. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I myself would find this great to view. I've been reading presision reloading book and am amazed at what I have "NOT" been doing. I'm looking forward to the weather breaking here and getting to the range.

    Lab
     
  3. bucknutz

    bucknutz Well-Known Member

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    good quertion, mine was going to be a question on sorting primers? i've been noticing on fed210gm match that some have full red filler(or whatever it is)to some having none?thats why im assuming it is a filler?i have 5 of the best(full red) and worse(no red) loaded to test next time at the range maybe this evening.
     
  4. abinok

    abinok Writers Guild

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    4ked,
    here is my process for my LR loads, assuming I am working from a load known to be accurate, using the same componets.
    Im going to skip over most of the assembly steps, and let somebody else work on this aspect. If nobody else does, and theres a call for it, ill go over these too.

    Brass:
    Debur flash hole with RCBS tool, measure case neck thickness to weed out the extremely "out of wack" ones. I don't weigh, and I don't neck turn. I don't use cases with more than .001 variation in neck thickness for LR work. Im one of those guys that is of the opinion that variations in the neck thickness likley means variations in case wall thickness as well. I have been considering sorting by case volume after fireforming, mainly as a path towards low ES. I know others who are doing it, and having some success. I also know some for the guys who shoot regurarly around 2000 sort cases by MV consistancy on a single case Ie: cases with low ES, and like muzle velocity are batched together. Since doing this kind of sorting essentially requires a Oehler 43, or 35 with very long skyscreen spacing, im not going to start any time soon.
    Other than that, trim, debur, chamfer, and size....

    Bullets:
    As of today, and I say that because this is always changing,
    Open my box of 220SMKs
    sort into batches by bearing surfaceto the .001", then sort those batches into consistant base to ogive length. Trim Meplat either as little as possible so that all of them clean up to the same length (as long as possible) or to a predetermined length that I know will clean up all the bullets, regaurdless of the lot#. The "as long as possible" ones are used for targets at known distances, and the "so they all clean up" bullets are used for unknown distance targets where a reliable BC is more important than the absolute highest BC.
    Last of all, I run them across a scale. I don't sort them by weight, all im looking for is that the weight is not wildly different from the rest. Most will be somewhere between .2 and .5 grains in variation. If its off by 2 grains, its a fouler, if its off by a grain, its a sighter.... more than 2 usually means a short core (not enough lead). Ive seen short cores from green boxes that were 12 grains off the wt marked on the box. Rare, but nothing is perfect.
    Seat bullet length by bearing surface, and measure every round after its loaded, and stack them in the box accordingly. If a particular bullet seats harder or softer than its companions, its a sighter too.

    Powder:
    If its going to see more than 600yds of air, every charge is thrown into the case from the measure, then poured onto the scale to be trickled up to weight. I believe that unless you have a very expensive digital, its better to weigh powder on a mechanical scale. Other than that, mke sure its the same lot # as before, and double check that the powder on the label is what you want.

    Primers:
    I do a visual inspection, and thats about it. If it looks different, its a fouler.
    There are guys much more anal about primers than me. I know a few guys who weigh every one, and batch them by weight. They have better groups at 1000 than I do, so im not going to say its a waste of time, however, im not convinced that there is a guarantee that the variations in weight are priming compound, not in the cup, anvil, or foil.

    As for adjusting loads, The only thing I do, is check my throat length every time I do a batch (either 50 or 100 rds). It only takes a few minutes, and lets me keep track of throat erosion. It usually takes a few batches to have to readjust, but it makes me feel better, and thats important.

    Feeling confident about your rounds is the most important thing to improving performance.

    I have to know without a doubt, that when I squeeeeeze my trigger, and that striker drops, that this is the most accurate combination possible. I know that my bedding is solid, the scope bases, and ring screws are tight, and that the scope im peering through is a quality piece of glass, that I have proven to be dependable, and reliable with my own hands. I have to know that if a bullet pokes a hole in something other than what I wanted, that one of two things happened, 1. there was a change in conditions downrange that I missed, or 2. there is a loose nut behind the buttplate, and I have to be ablt to figure out which one it is.

    Some great groups have been shot without all of the prep I have listed here. I have 2 on the wall over my loading bench. That don't mean that all of this is in vain however. The more you shoot, the luckier you get, and you can quote me on that. If a guy had the resources, a one time, 5 shot 1000yd group of 2.000" is possible with a 22lr, but im not paying for the ammo.

    Some great groups have been shot with more prep than I have listed here. Lots of them better than what I have shot, many of them by much. Many of the things that I don't do have been shown to shrink groups(neck turning), and others would if tested enough (primer sorting???) it all comes down to how good are your componets, and how much time are you willing to invest in making them as perfect as possible?
    Its worth it to me to do the things I have listed because I can demonstrate that they shrink groups, and produce more first found hits, and at least for the time being, thats all I know.
     
  5. 4ked Horn

    4ked Horn Writers Guild

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    abinok thanks for taking the time to put all that in black and white for us.

    Questions:

    When you deberr flash holes are you touching the hole with the tool and trimming off snags or do you go a few thou deeper and put a clean little chamfer on the inside of the flash hole?

    Whe you talk about measuring neck thickness is it .001" thicker than the others or is it .001" difference from one side of the mouth wall compared to the other side or is it .001" thicker than the previous measurement on that same batch of brass?

    Semi related question:

    Tonight I was sizing .308 brass with my FL die but not all the way down. As I lowered the ram and pulled the mouth over the expander ball some of the cases gave almost no resistance and others pulled through tight. Why? Shouldn't they all give resistance if they were squeezed in the same die and expanded with the same ball? Is this a sign of my brass getting brittle at the mouth?

    All the rest was loud and clear.
     
  6. 3sixbits

    3sixbits Well-Known Member

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    Deburr flashholes. Something I've been doing since 1975. Now that I've said that, you need to research that issue. Some time back there was an article in PS magazine on this subject that indicated we might being doing more harm than good to accuracy using this practice. As I recall the article said that it changed the direction of the flame into the powder column from the center to the side. Well I quit doing this and could tell no difference in my bench-rest barrels. Uniforming primer pockets I still follow this as it does (after fireforming) as it does clean the pocket and flattens the bottom, gives the cases a uniform depth for seating. Primer seating. This I do by hand using the Sinclare tool, I love this tool as I have the control and feel with it to know that the primer is at the bottom of the pocket without crushing the pellet. Yes it's high cost, but I feel this to be one of the most important steps in the hunt for accuracy. Dies. This has got to be one of the most misunderstood subjects in accurate reloading and in general reloading that I know of. Remember the SAMMI spec. This is where the trouble all starts. To put it in simple terms get your sizer die cut to your chambers dimensions, minus. This is why when you start a new barrel project ask the fellow doing the barrel work if he has the re-size reamer for his finish reamer. You sure want him to cut the sizer for this chamber job. You will want him to make you up a gauge to check your shoulder set back also so you can bump back the shoulder and know your getting the set back you want when you adjust your die. If in your own mind you have found a ctg. that really suits you (and you know you will stay with), buy your own reamer set. to send out for the next barreling job. Powder. This is one of those deals that can be a hard one to make work out, cause you need to buy enough of what works best in your barrels at your location and conditions that you can burn the tube out and not have to worry about lot changes. This is why you will run into savvy shooters that buy a lot of the same surplus powder and learn to shoot that powder. Somewhere along the road it starts to dawn on some shooters that mass produced bullets just have to many variables to waste barrel time on them and some folks find a guy that runs a small shop and makes them on one set of dies, or they loose there minds and get pissed and start making there own. Some would say the last course is a road to madness (usually a spouse) In all my years of competitive shooting I have only known a hand full of shooters that have reached this level of frustration. These are the control freaks, the people that want to eliminate every last reason for inconsistency in there shooting. "Do not follow this path", "DO, BUY BULLETS FROM THEM"! Well as I'm sure you know this could go on forever. I have to get back down to the shop and load some ammo. More later, if you want?
     
  7. 4ked Horn

    4ked Horn Writers Guild

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    Thanks 3six. You hit on the reason I asked about the flash holes. I had a knoledgeable customer years ago that told me of this same problem with actually putting a small chamfer on the inside face of the flash hole. He claimed that he experienced this taking safe starting loads to almost unsafe pressures by this step alone. That dosen't mean it is conclusive but certainly worth the question.

    As a side note he also claimed that brass polishing fluid used in corn cob media caused all but the last 6 inches of rifling in his barrel to become abraded away. He believed that it loosened the powder residue from the inner walls of the case which in turn landed on the bore after each shot. This then laid down an abrasive surface for the following shot to bulldoze out while "Fire sanding" the bore on it's way.

    That last one sounded a little steep to me but he was an experienced loader and BR shooter. Who knows?
     
  8. 3sixbits

    3sixbits Well-Known Member

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    Most BR shooters clean there brass between reloads at the range using a product that is a treated wool like material, many use a neck brush on the inside of the necks, some use these on a cordless screw driver. Normally at the end of the match I throw my brass in the trash can, start with new prepped case for the next match. These cases will have a lot of reloads on them by the end of the match day. I've heard the same thing about the rouge in the polish media. I don't know. Most barrels (the really good ones) don't really loose accuracy as they wear. They just get harder to get clean before the next relay (that is your turn to shoot again) remember you have to get your ammo ready also for your next relay. The barrels that some shooters refer to as hummer barrels are a great example of this problem, once you hit over 2000 to 2500 rds in the PPC or 6BR there going to take to much time to get them clean enough to shoot before you run out of time. Competitive shooters are not looking for that once in a while small group, they are looking at how the barrel aggs for 5 five shot targets. Back to your other question about sizing your .308 brass. Try this, decap the cases in a separate die without any expander ball. Remove the rod from your sizer die and size your brass. Use a separate neck expander die to bring the necks back to size. Pain in the fanny huh ? remember those off the shelf dies are a mine fields of trouble. What your sizer die is doing is bring the neck down to small in size then dragging the neck back over the expander ball to get it to the correct size to hold the bullet. This is the manufacturer solution to the mass market of SAMMI spec rifle chambers, brass makers, bullet makers products. If you have a barrel that really shoots no BS groups, and don't have dies as I mentioned in the other post, well it's time to do a chamber cast with cerriosafe and get a die cut to size for your chamber. There are a few guys out there that can do this for you or you can ( for a small fee) have the sizer die you have now bored out to taker sizing rings. There is a fellow in PS mag that advertises that service. This is a good way to go. Now you can control the neck tension on your bullets, this is a great leap forward for you with this kind of control. I have left the seating die out of all this because it really doesn't matter until the brass is right. Necks straight, case mouths properly chamfered, brass you know is straight (not banana shaped) What all this is leading up to, is good measuring tools. You need a good case mic ie. tubing mic or a better way is a case spinner. Someway to measure the thickness of the case mouths. A side benefit is being able to tell if the case heads are square. They will allow you to check for runnout on the seated bullets also. The one I use is the NECO. That does not mean there are not others as good or better out their. What this does mean is without a way to check, you don't have a clue what your loads are really like, or where your problems with dies, components or press lie. ( By the way if you are wondering about that expander ball, it is a short road to crooked necks. Remember that funny drag and feeling you had when pulling the case out of the die? That sound is the got you sound the die just made telling you it made a crooked neck.) Back to the seating die! OK, "STRAIGHT LINE SEATING" ie. WILSON. Look at Wilson's drawing of there seating die and one picture is worth a thousand words. Well 4Ked Horn I've got to get back down to the shop as the boss has been throwing nasty looks my way, "WOMEN" ! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif
     
  9. abinok

    abinok Writers Guild

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    4Ked,
    I just take of the snags, all im after is a square edge around the hole. Its worth noting that chamfering the hole does nothing to cause pressure indicators in my experence, but enlarging flash hole diameter does. Its also worth noting that even this does not actually change the pressure, but only increases the apparent pressure due to the primer seeing a larger surface area of the same pressure.

    Whoops, I missed primer pocket uniforming, with a good tool (as was said), you can clean the primer pockets with the same tool, since after cutting the depth, carbon is taller, and gets cut on successive loadings just like brass in the initial loading.
    As for neck thickness, both. I will cull cases if they have more than .001 variation on a single case, or if they are consistantly within .001, but markedly thicker, or thinner.
    I set up my loading block and go through it just as if I was laoding them, left to right, top to bottom, and write on a sheet of paper what the max thickess is. Then after I have done 50 pieces, go back and look at what the most common thickness is, and cull the extremes. With my favored 300WM LR rig, I use only Federal brass, and it is very consistant. Out of 100 pieces, I rarely cull more than 2. After im out, ill likley go to Lapua... well see....

    As to your expander question,
    1. How are you lubing your cases?
    2. How are you lubing the case necks (inside)?
    3. How many finings?
    4. What dies are you using?
     
  10. Jim Hundley

    Jim Hundley Well-Known Member

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    Question on primer seating depth:I use the sinclare primer seating tool to seat the primer after I have uniformed the primer pocket and deburred the flashhole.The Forester catalogue says to seat the primer .004" deep.My primers are .010" deep after the above.I have the tool depth setting adjusted so that I can feel the primer bottom out(not forced,but a firm seating).I have never had any problems,excellent accuracy,low ES and SD.AmI doing anything wrong?On subsiquent loadings I use the Sinclare primer pocket uniformer with an electrical screwdriver to clean and reuniform the primer pocket.I am wondering if I am making the p.pocket deeper when this is performed?Thoughts?
    Thanks,
    Jimmy
     
  11. 3sixbits

    3sixbits Well-Known Member

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    Let's look at what is going on with the case durning firing to answer that question. The loaded round upon firing is expanding and moving in all directions within the freedom of the chamber and the breech seal ( bolt, breech block) alow. At the time this obdurating is going on the obstruction in the bore is moving away from the ctg. case and moving down the bore, the pressure is steady even though the fluid mass has been ejected in to the bore, pressure is still at work causing some setback that is felt on the web of the case head that is against the breech block. This can be measured as case head expansion. Well this set back in the primer pocket is what you are removing using your primer pocket uniformer. You are doing the correct thing because you are making the depth consistent for the primer. By seating the primers to just touch the anvil and not crushing the pellet, you've given the ctg the best you can help in the ignition department. Setting-up your pocket uniformer tool is a matter of just making a clean-up cut after the first firing (no deeper)this setting will remain the same for all other reloads for these cases. You will notice that sometimes you seem to cut more than others as you progress through out the life of the case. Never fear this is quit normal. I don't see where you can be going wrong, unless it would be on the set-up for the first reload by over cutting the pockets to deep. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif
     
  12. Jim Hundley

    Jim Hundley Well-Known Member

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    3SixBits,
    Thanks for the info.I assume that I am going about the primer seating properly,even though they are seated deeper than Forster states.No, I do not uniform the pockets any deeper on new brass,just square them up.Thank you very much for your response!
    Jim /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif
     
  13. 3sixbits

    3sixbits Well-Known Member

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    Jimmy, I do not touch the primer pocket with the reamer until the case has been fire-formed, and the set back has occurred the first time. This is when I set the cutter for the clean-up cut. You only want to remove one full cut that cleans up the whole bottom of the pocket. Sorry if I didn't make that clear in the last post. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/blush.gif
     
  14. 4ked Horn

    4ked Horn Writers Guild

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    [ QUOTE ]
    As to your expander question,
    1. How are you lubing your cases? <font color="red"> RCBS liquid case lube on a lube pad. Not too much, just enough for smooth FL sizing. No lube on case neck inside or out. </font>

    2. How are you lubing the case necks (inside)? <font color="red"> I clean the cases by tumbling with corn cob and midway brass polish then I run a plastic nech brush in and out on a RCBS motorized case prep station. I clean the dies every once in a while.</font>

    3. How many finings? <font color="red"> I don't know what finings are. If you meant sizings well I dont know exactly but it can be anywhere from 2 to 6 </font>

    4. What dies are you using? <font color="red"> The same ones I owned before I learned about the brand actually mattering. Any guess? RCBS. </font>

    [/ QUOTE ]