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Thread: New VS Fired brass?

  1. #1
    Member bgreen's Avatar
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    Default New VS Fired brass?

    I've only been into reloading for about a year now, but up to this point I have only used brass that was factory loaded and fired in my rifle. I recently purchased a couple bags of winchester brass from Sportsmans and have started to develop a few loads with it. To this point I have only fired 12 rounds of this new brass for pressure testing so the next step is to start loading and checking for accuracy but I have a question that I've never seen covered in any of my reloading manuals...

    Will I see differences in accuracy and/or overpressure between new and fired brass? I use a full length die but run it up so it only sets the shoulder back a few thousandths, or more if I'm not having bolt lift problems.

    I can't imagine the new cases shooting as well as fired cases due to the change in volume once the case is fire formed to my rifles chamber but thought I would ask here before sending any more one dollar bullets down range.

    How do you guys handle this situation?
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    Member Big Al's Avatar
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    By the price you pay for bullets, you are using this for hunting. At that level it is not much of a consideration. You mention bolt lift, when a case starts to give you sticky bolt lift, It's not the shoulder that is going to need to be bumped back more. You have to get more sizing down to the base. Case set back is going to swell in the head area just in front of the base (case head). With stock off the shelf dies this may be a problem getting them to size down towards the base and not setting the shoulder back to far.

    Use up your brass that you have been using for development, save the new for loading for hunting, you will never know the difference.
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  3. #3
    Member bgreen's Avatar
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    Yes, 338 win mag and 243 win with Barnes TSX is what I'm working on at the moment.
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  4. #4
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    bgreen:

    I doubt you will see much difference in accuracy, much less overpressure, between new and fired brass when you use the same load.

    When you FL size unfired new brass, you probably wonít effect it much, as in touching the shoulder, or body. My practice with new brass is to load and use them for hunting, as long as they are accurate enough.

    I donít mix them though. If Iím using new brass loads, I have my rifle sighted in for those, and if fired, sighted in for those. Nor do I mix once fired with twice fired, etc. BUT, I wouldnít worry too much if I had to.

    When I feel the need to fire form cases first, I use a cheaper, lighter, bullet, and not the spendy ones, like Nosler Partitions for example.

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  5. #5

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    I definitely keep each new batch of brass separate from the previous ones. Differences in performance can occur due to different brands and lot numbers, and with those changes you can expect pressure changes. Some brands have more case capacity and some have less.

    But there's a bigger reason for keeping each batch separate, even if they are the same brand and lot number.

    Each time you fire brass and reload it, changes occur. Sooner or later the neck will need trimming. The neck will harden too, to the point that it will crack. You eventually need to anneal it to resoften it or discard it. If you've got newer brass all mixed up with older brass, each with a different number of reload cycles, there's really no way to determine which is which and take remedial measures. I'd rather not wait till a case neck cracks before discarding it, for obvious reasons. And once a crack appears in one, it's probably time to discard the whole batch.

    I just found a batch of 7x57 brass that had somehow slipped through my cycle without being annealed in time. On examining the batch after resizing, I found that eighteen out of 100 had neck splits and more were ready to do it. I dumped them all, but if I'd kept better track of their life history (better record keeping) I could have annealed them some time back and still be shooting them. That gets expensive. If I had been mixing new and old, I'd still have to dump the works, which would be worse.

    On the practical side, keeping newer batches separate from old lets you be selective about which you use for hunting. I use only once-fired cases for my hunting loads, and only after I've cycled every single one of the loaded rounds through the rifle to make sure there aren't any problems. Older cases are used for practice loads and such.

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