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Thread: Case Annealing

  1. #1
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    Default Case Annealing

    Ive been thinking about getting into Case Annealing lately...with the recent cost and availabilty of brass.. it can't really hurt. plus i enjoy testing. Has anyone here done much of this?

    Do you Anneal with simply a blow torch and water pan?
    Do you use a drill adapter tool or do you use one of them fancy new machines, they look fancy... but also costly.

    Have you measured a noticeable difference in case life or accuracy?

    In the past I've never much had a desire to anneal, partially because I've always heard very conflicting opinions on it.. Some guys claim its a waste of time while others swear by it.

    in the past I simply inspected my brass as best I could ( Randomly did checks on batches checking the inside shoulder area with a ye old trusty paper clip) and when groups started opening up or i started getting split necks id just take note of the round count on them and then pitch them in short order. then Id make sure not to load the next batch to that same count. Honestly my primer pockets seem to go long before i get split necks.

    The idea of re-softning work hard brass certainly makes since to me... and I'm familier with guys doing it before they size down brass to make obsolete cartridges.. I have however never bothered to experiment with it.

    what do you guys think? is there enough pros to this to pursue it? Or is it just a myth?

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    It works and there are several methods. Common brass like 223 or 30/06 may not be worth the effort as there is lots laying on the ground at shooting places and you can get several loadings before it's a problem anyway. Cases that are not so common make it more worthwhile. I just dip the necks in melted lead that is about 800 degrees for about 8 seconds and drop them in water. Lube the necks first or the lead can stick some. If you don't have a way to melt lead and control the temp a propane tourch will do but it's easy to over anneal that way. With annealing, careful sizing practices and not loading to the max, you can make cases last quite a while.

  3. #3

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    Do a search here on the site for annealing posts by Murphy, one of the ultimate authorities on reloading. He hasn't posted in quite a while, but a few years back he did a series of posts on annealing. The best I've seen by anyone, anywhere.

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    I made a little machine out of a cassette player to spin the case while I used a Bernzomatic to heat the brass. Once at the right temp I just plucked it off into a sink full of water. You can also just use your hands to twirl the case and drop it into the water. Either way works.
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    Hornady sells a case annealing kit. It contains three different sized case holders you chuck into a drill. It also contains a product called Tempilaq which you brush onto the case shoulder. You place the case in your drill/holder and start spinning it, then heat the case neck with a propane torch. When the tempilaq changes color on the case shoulder, you drop the case into a bucket of water.

    You could probably carve/cut a case holder out of wood and chuck into your drill. I only use the Temiplaq on one case and time how long it takes to change color. If I remember correctly, it usually takes about 9-10 seconds for the Tempilaq to change color and it is a bear to remove from the case shoulder. So, after the first case, I simply run all the remaining cases for 9-10 seconds under the torch and dump em in the water.

    Hornady cautions about heating the brass too long, claiming it can reduce accuracy and case life. The bottle of Tempilaq I am looking at right now says it will change color at 475 F or 246 C.

    Is it worth your time to anneal case necks? It is to me because I can feel the difference in resistance when seating bullets between cases I have fired 2-3 times and those I have just annealed. With annealed cases, the bullets seat smoothly and feel pretty consistent. I don't know how much affect varying case neck tension has on accuracy but I'll keep annealing cases after every two firings.

    I am currently only firing my 338 WM cases 4 times before pitchin em. The reason I am discarding them after four firings is because the primer pockets become somewhat loose and I have a lot of brass available to use.

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    I tried my first case annealing this past summer using a torch and drill method. I must have failed as some of the loaded rounds would not fire ( 358W ) with only a light primer hit. Looking at the cases my assumption is the necks became too soft and when seating the bullets the should gave some allowing the ctg to go forward a bit thus putting the primer farther from the firing pin. My 2nd round that did fire the case stuck in the gun and I had to lightly drive it out with a rod... There can be a learning curve. these cases probably had 5 or 6 firings before they were annealed. I pulled all the rest of the rounds, 28 , and pitched the brass. Will try again and reduce the heating time and see what happens...?
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    It's worth it - maybe. Depends on the gun and the purpose.
    I use tempilaq (750) a drill with a deep socket stuffed with a little steel wool to get the right case exposure, and a torch. NO WATER required. Cases do last longer, depending on your load (hot rodding will loosen primer pockets anyway...) - but more what I see is more consistent shoulder setback on the resizing, more consistent neck tension, and maybe slightly lower SD on velocity. Maybe - not 'for sure.'
    Would I do it for a basic hunting rifle with plentiful brass or an AR 'blaster'? Heck no. For eaking the last bit of accuracy out of my competition target rifle? Yea.

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    Keep in mind when loading max and near max loads will destroy your primer pockets and then annealing becomes irrelevant.
    If you really want to save money in the long run cry once and buy Lapua brass or even better RWS brass. I work with some competition guys and we can get 7+ shots per piece of brass before we anneal. We can get 15 reloads with the annealing. Lapua is hard brass and the primer pockets are just awesome. They just stay tight. RWS is pretty expensive but we have seen as high as 26 reloads. Cheap brass will take more maintenance. Also Lapua does make 30-06.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kruger View Post
    Keep in mind when loading max and near max loads will destroy your primer pockets and then annealing becomes irrelevant.
    If you really want to save money in the long run cry once and buy Lapua brass or even better RWS brass. I work with some competition guys and we can get 7+ shots per piece of brass before we anneal. We can get 15 reloads with the annealing. Lapua is hard brass and the primer pockets are just awesome. They just stay tight. RWS is pretty expensive but we have seen as high as 26 reloads. Cheap brass will take more maintenance. Also Lapua does make 30-06.
    That is different from my experience.

    I've used max and near max loads and I've never destroyed any primer pockets.

    How do you determine max? Surely, not from data in the loading manuals.

    Thanks
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    Default I love reloading

    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    That is different from my experience.

    I've used max and near max loads and I've never destroyed any primer pockets.

    How do you determine max? Surely, not from data in the loading manuals.

    Thanks
    SOTN
    Thats the data we are looking for Smitty...

    1) What type of Brass are you using?

    2 ) Brand of primer ? are you seating this with a hand primer? press primer? Uniforming primer pockets?

    3) Approx C.O.A.L

    4) Approx charge weight (if you feel its ok to post)

    5) please share what are you doing to judge pressures?

    Velocity? primer flattening? heavy extractor marks? headspace comparator? how much you have to trim?

    and more importantly... with all other factors being equal except for the annealing process what are your results with annealed brass vs non annealed brass? in relation to group size and case life.

    We are all enjoying the learning process so please.... be scientific as opposed critical.

    For me personally I have noticed with past batches of 223.... loading a 55 Gr V-max with 24.0 grains of Benchmark and RP brass and a standard Fed primer..(Thats a upper End load according to the load manuals ( but not over) ... However I haven't seen any above pressure signs such as I noted above).
    And considering I'm running a 5.56 chamber .. i am confident I could probably push that much farther and well beyond book. if the case capacity was willing with that powder. Ive just never seen the need
    .

    I have noted about the 6th and 7th shot the primer pocket ....is noticeably loosened.. maybe not so much that it can be bumped out by hand by tapping it on a table yet....
    However its enough that I've personally chosen to retire the brass.( right or wrong this has been one of the Main Tell tale signs I have traditionally used to let me know its time to retire .223 brass)..

    I have Used the Ye Old 25.0 to 25.3 Grains of h335 for 55 g 5.56 recipe quit a bit as well ....While using old LC military cases with almost identical results..

    That being said I also uniform all my primer pockets and use the same tool to clean them.. and this might have well attributed to the problem as well.

    I have noticed the same Trend on RP 22-250 brass as well...

    Ive never loaded any of my higher caliber stuff ( 30-06 , 45-70 Ext) enough to wear out the primer pockets. a lot of my 30-06 brass I still have and use were first loaded by my dad and I in 1991 ....I don't know how many times they've been reloaded but I'm guessing around 5 or 6 and I never uniformed those primer pockets and they still feel tight when I seat new primers.. However that isn't a true scientific comparison to anything either.... since I've never compared cases that have been uniformed.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    I've used max and near max loads and I've never destroyed any primer pockets.
    Same here. Probably a matter of definition. For me, if I'm swelling primer pockets at any point in the life of a case, my loads are OVERMAX by my definition and that of the manuals. I try to get a bare minimum of a dozen loadings out of a set of cases. I usually only use my hottest loads for 6-8 loadings, as determined by my records on case stretch. If the cases need trimming often, that extra brass has to come from somewhere. In my experience it's usually due to thinning in front of the web and a sign of eventual head separation.

    What do I do with cases after those 6-8 full power loads? They go to reduced loads and cast loads. I expect to get at least another dozen loads from those, even 20 loads.

    Even when holding pressures lower to avoid primer pocket expansion, none of that long life is possible without proper and regular annealing. Without annealing you're dealing with neck splits in pretty short order.

    As hard as brass can be to get at times, it makes absolutely zero sense to me to go and ruin cases with only 4 loadings. Your money, and your wails about case shortages.



    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    How do you determine max? Surely, not from data in the loading manuals.
    I'm betting it's that great big old manual on the magic internet. If it's on the internet, it must be true!

    I get my reloading data from the ballisticians with actual pressure measuring equipment, thank you very much. And I approach their max with all due caution. Often as not, their max turns out to be higher than mine. But I'm a wimp.

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    I'm with BB. head expansion enough to loosen primers is too hot for me.

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    I don't believe you will find anyone has done the scientific analysis you're asking for in your second post in this thread. Maybe the Frankford Arsenal, an ammunition manufacturer, outdoor writer or one of the many benchrest shooters would be able to relate their experience. The 6mmBR forum has a lot of benchrest info and may lead you to someone who has the information you are seeking.

    John Barsness wrote an interesting piece on reloading in general you may find interesting. You can Google it by searching for: John Barsness Factors in Accuracy, Part II Handloads. He covers a lot of ground in this one.

    Alternatively, you could start loading up ammo for group shooting and segregate it by annealed cases vs unannealed cases and shoot til you split case necks in the unannealed lots. Hopefully, you would then have a statistically significant number of groups fired to see if annealing affects accuracy or anything else.

    As far as max load development is concerned, since I don't have any pressure testing equipment, I just use one of my chronographs and the load manual. In most cases, I won't exceed published max book data because I don't think it's necessary for my purposes. My max velocities are generally pretty close to the max book velocity and that's good enough for me.

    For centerfire rifle, I shoot 338 WM almost exclusively (with a smattering of 30-06 and 7mm-08) and I don't shoot a lot of 338 WM each year so my supply of brass will probably last me a lifetime. I use mostly Winchester but have also stashed 100 pieces of Norma brass as Lapua doesn't make brass for 338 WM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaskanTides View Post
    Thats the data we are looking for Smitty...

    1) What type of Brass are you using?

    2 ) Brand of primer ? are you seating this with a hand primer? press primer? Uniforming primer pockets?

    3) Approx C.O.A.L

    4) Approx charge weight (if you feel its ok to post)

    5) please share what are you doing to judge pressures?

    Velocity? primer flattening? heavy extractor marks? headspace comparator? how much you have to trim?

    and more importantly... with all other factors being equal except for the annealing process what are your results with annealed brass vs non annealed brass? in relation to group size and case life.

    We are all enjoying the learning process so please.... be scientific as opposed critical.

    For me personally I have noticed with past batches of 223.... loading a 55 Gr V-max with 24.0 grains of Benchmark and RP brass and a standard Fed primer..(Thats a upper End load according to the load manuals ( but not over) ... However I haven't seen any above pressure signs such as I noted above).
    And considering I'm running a 5.56 chamber .. i am confident I could probably push that much farther and well beyond book. if the case capacity was willing with that powder. Ive just never seen the need
    .

    I have noted about the 6th and 7th shot the primer pocket ....is noticeably loosened.. maybe not so much that it can be bumped out by hand by tapping it on a table yet....
    However its enough that I've personally chosen to retire the brass.( right or wrong this has been one of the Main Tell tale signs I have traditionally used to let me know its time to retire .223 brass)..

    I have Used the Ye Old 25.0 to 25.3 Grains of h335 for 55 g 5.56 recipe quit a bit as well ....While using old LC military cases with almost identical results..

    That being said I also uniform all my primer pockets and use the same tool to clean them.. and this might have well attributed to the problem as well.

    I have noticed the same Trend on RP 22-250 brass as well...

    Ive never loaded any of my higher caliber stuff ( 30-06 , 45-70 Ext) enough to wear out the primer pockets. a lot of my 30-06 brass I still have and use were first loaded by my dad and I in 1991 ....I don't know how many times they've been reloaded but I'm guessing around 5 or 6 and I never uniformed those primer pockets and they still feel tight when I seat new primers.. However that isn't a true scientific comparison to anything either.... since I've never compared cases that have been uniformed.
    I've not given any "data". I'm just saying that it has been my understanding and experience that PPs don't get loose from max and near max loads.

    IF the Max loads come from loading manual data, rather than some WAG, or other speculation.

    SOTN

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    I've not given any "data". I'm just saying that it has been my understanding and experience that PPs don't get loose from max and near max loads.

    IF the Max loads come from loading manual data, rather than some WAG, or other speculation.

    SOTN
    Ive got 2 Hornady. Manuals, 2 Speer ,1 Lyman, (1 Sierra--my favorite ) then the hogdons manual ----the yearly magazine they publish. ramshot powder and Nosler lets you download and print there's manuals for free ... Both great manuals I also cross check all my loads with quickload....that program has paid for itself already in 2 years. I asuur you that ever tying I do is safe and usually conservite..... Now that you have my attention I'm going to quit uniforming primer pockets on the next batch .....see what happens at about the 8th reload


    good stuff guys

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaskanTides View Post
    Ive got 2 Hornady. Manuals, 2 Speer ,1 Lyman, (1 Sierra--my favorite ) then the hogdons manual ----the yearly magazine they publish. ramshot powder and Nosler lets you download and print there's manuals for free ... Both great manuals I also cross check all my loads with quickload....that program has paid for itself already in 2 years. I asuur you that ever tying I do is safe and usually conservite..... Now that you have my attention I'm going to quit uniforming primer pockets on the next batch .....see what happens at about the 8th reload


    good stuff guys
    I should mention that I always uniform pps .

    I'm satisfied that it doesn't make the pps loose. And, even if it did, the problem could be easily solved by lowering the pressure of the load.

    SOTN
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    I wasn't thinking it would.. but at the same time it always removes a bit of material every time I clean with that tool.(the brass might be well wore out before i ever noticed the primer getting loose from that) .. Most of the loosened primer pockets I have encounterd are on calibers that run upwards of 50k Psi even on the medium end of things 5.56 or 22-250 for that matter. Have you ever had much experience reloading for those 2? As you mention you suspect this is pressure related may i ask what calibers you normally load for and what you suspect the pressures might be?

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaskanTides View Post
    ...5.56 or 22-250....
    Up until about 5 years back I loaded a whole bunch of both for dinking prairie dogs at moderate to long range. Since it was fairly high precision shooting I did the uniforming and everything else- annealing, case trimming, logging and tracking case histories. Lotsa fun, because each of us took 4 rifles out with us- a 22LR, a 22WMR or17, a 223 or 222, and a 22-250 or 220 Swift. Start out shooting the smallest while the closest dogs were up, then switch to the next in power when everything was in range for that one. Ended up using the 22-250's/220's so far I won't even tell you the range, but we were using up to 2' of holdover to hit close. Whole lot of shooting over several weeks because there were a whole lot of dogs.

    Loads for the 222's/223's and 22-250's/220's never quite got to "book max" because all the guns shot best with loads a little shy of max- 100fps or so.

    The smaller cases were retired after 16-20 loadings due to the potential for head separations- lots of trimming made me nervous. The bigger cases were retired after 12-14 loadings for the same reason.

    Never a single loose primer. Zip. Nada.

    I'm betting the cases could have gone longer without head sep, but I'm conservative.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaskanTides View Post
    I wasn't thinking it would.. but at the same time it always removes a bit of material every time I clean with that tool.(the brass might be well wore out before i ever noticed the primer getting loose from that) .. Most of the loosened primer pockets I have encounterd are on calibers that run upwards of 50k Psi even on the medium end of things 5.56 or 22-250 for that matter. Have you ever had much experience reloading for those 2? As you mention you suspect this is pressure related may i ask what calibers you normally load for and what you suspect the pressures might be?
    Loose PPs would almost hafta be due to pressure. And, IMO, excessive pressure.

    Surely, the data published by reputable sources would not produce such pressure, that would loosen PPs. One could possibly encounter faulty brass.

    Nope, never loaded for those two cartridges.

    Smitty of the North
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    Surely, the data published by reputable sources would not produce such pressure, that would loosen PPs.
    For their guns, using specific lots of powder, primers, cases, with bullets seated to length for their particular barrel. Change ANY of those, and you can still get into overpressure at "book" max. That's why ALL the manuals tell you to start below max and work up, checking for signs of excess pressure all the way. I'm a reloading conservative and proud of it. Guys can be liberals all they want, but I prefer long life for my brass and guns.

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