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Thread: Matching Head Stamps... How important??

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    Default Matching Head Stamps... How important??

    So, just how important (or not) is it to have matching head stamps? I'm not reloading match grade ammo. Will non-matching brass make much difference in say 44mag, 357 mag, 38 spc, 40 sw, 10mm, 45 auto? Or even rifle calibers for that matter.

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    Hey Perry,

    Let me try to put this as easy as I can. If matching headstamps don't matter, maybe matching primers or powder or bullets don't either. So the exact amount of powder charge isn't important either. You probably see where this is going. A handloader is and should be a very particular and precise individual. All the little things matter including the length of the case and how clean they are. The pictures on the wall all hang true and the door hinges do not squeak.

    On the really practical side there is probably no distinguishable difference between two different brass headstamps but if you are not particular enough to sort them out, are you really that particular about what you put in them.
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    Well that esplains it then...

    I'll keep sorting. Besides, I like things to match anyway. My wife says I'm an anal perfectionist. I guess when it comes to things that go BOOM!! that's a good thing huh

    Thanks Murphy

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    Member Dan in Alaska's Avatar
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    I agree with Murphy 100% when dealing with rifle brass. I sort by headstamp for every rifle caliber I shoot, and I've done enough testing to know that it can make a difference.

    When it comes to pistols, however, I don't bother sorting my brass by headstamp. I tried it with my Les Baer 1911, the most accurate handgun I own, over the course of several range sessions. I didn't notice any difference between groups shot with sorted brass vs. mixed brass.

    Rather than make a broad claim that sorting by headstamp doesn't matter, I will say that sorting MY pistol brass doesn't improve MY shooting.

    For my reloading needs, my rifle ammo is all about precision and my pistol ammo is all about quantity. I consider my pistol shooting skills to be above average, but I am still not good enough to realize anything meaningful from a minor component change, like sorted brass. Of course, YMMV.

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    I don't think it matters as much with pistol cases.

    Rifle cases are another story.

    Brands (RP, WW, Fed, etc) vary in wall thickness and thus internal volume. Case capacity variances of 5% are not uncommon - this based on my weight-of-water measurements.

    If you've worked up a load in a high-volume case (such as WW) and switch to a low volume case, you could be in for an unpleasant surprise. BTDT.

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    If you're putting together plinker ammo, and aren't loading it to max levels then you can get away with mixed headstamps. Don't expect steller accuracy.

    My preference is to sort by headtamp.

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    For plinker loads I dont match brass. I work up the load with all the different brands and stay with a load that works for all the brass. It has worked well in the 30-06, 300win mag and 300ultra mag.

    For rifle hunting loads I match brass because I load my hunting loads to max or close.

    My favorite hunting load for my 454 uses unmatched brass though. I found it to shoot well with mixed brass as this load is not max.
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    Murphy's answer is "right on the nose."

    Handloading is about uniformity, and uniformity is not just for accuracy, but also for knowing what's goin on with your loads.

    There's nothing wrong with loading different brands of brass, in batches, and shooting them the same way. Putting them all in the same box and shooting them all the same time, mixes in another variable that doesn't help you know what's right or wrong when you need to know.

    Even with handgun ammunition, different components are gonna shoot different whether you notice it or not. Just because you don't notice any, doesn't mean that will always be the case.

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    This is a can of worms.

    Do what works for you.

    I think reloading is about performance. I know I can reach into my bag of 454 ammo and grab one out and it will do exactly what I want it to no matter what is written on the case. Same for my practice ammo.

    Every gun is an individual.

    I once had a 300 win mag that on a single deer hunt I shot deer with 5 different types of bullets I did not even have to match bullets or loads..never mind cases. I used 165 speer boattail, 165 sierra boattail, 180 nosler ballistic tip, 180 failsafe, 200 partition. I also had 165 barnes XBT bullets but these would not group with the others so they were not used. Individually the Nosler Ballistic tips grouped the best and the failsafes the worst but altogether the whole lot of bullets only made a verticle string with the 200's being right on at 200 and the 165 being a couple inches higher.
    "You have given out too much reputation in the last 24 hours, try again later".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan in Alaska View Post
    I agree with Murphy 100% when dealing with rifle brass. I sort by headstamp for every rifle caliber I shoot.

    When it comes to pistols, however, I don't bother sorting my brass by headstamp.
    Dan,

    I would have to agree with you on these two statments.

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    I can not comment on pistol calibers but here is some rifle data I collected recently. From what I have seen matching head stamps will only get you so far.

    I was given a box of old mixed ammo. It contained odds and ends my landlord had collected over the years and some was over 50 years old. I fired all the 30-06 and saved the brass. Only a few rounds of the 48 in the box where identical in bullet and head stamp. In hind sight it was stupid to shot this stuff as there could have been hand loads in there. I got lucky and all fire with no pressure signs. I also had 18 range found Federal and 11 range found Remington brass as well as a box of 20 once fired Federal brass I bought loaded.

    Since I am starting hand loading and I did not have dies yet, I decided to sit down one night with a 6 pack and my balance scale and weigh all the not yet deprimed brass.

    It seems that brass varies a great deal even with in a given manufacture over time. Here are the results, I can clearly see now why Benchrest shooters weigh and sort all there brass even when from the same lot. Assuming a brass specific gravity of 8.56, one would need to divide these weight differences by 8.56 to get the difference in water volume weights.

    Here are the results:

    Type: Minweight: Maxweight: Extreamspread:
    Fed New 205.9 208.1 2.2
    Fed Old 193.3 202.8 9.5
    Fed Range 205.7 208.4 2.7
    Win New
    Win Old 182.5 190.9 8.4
    Win Range
    Rem New
    Rem Old 200.5 207.4 6.9
    Rem Range 197.9 202.3 4.4
    Misc. Old 185.8 205.3 19.5

    As you can see the new and range found federal brass was fairly consistant. The remington range brass was slightly less so, however the old brass was all over the place even when it had the same headstamp. Iterestingly, if one assumes that the range brass is new relatively speaking. Then Federal brass has gotten heavier over the years, and Remington has gotten lighter. I need to shot up my box of new Winchester and see if there is a change there.

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    Member Darreld Walton's Avatar
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    Default Sorting Brass?

    Well, yeah, I've been accused of doing such things. Only problem is that I enjoy using reclaimed brass, and NOTHING is more annoying, to the point of not being able to relish my vittles, than having a box of shells with ONE or TWO rounds short. So I've got these coffee cans going with mixed headstamps in them. On cold winters' nights, I've been known to scrounge around in there for that ONE or TWO Lake City 73 National Match .308 cases that I just KNOW are in the bottom of the can so's I can finish up that box with only eighteen rounds in it...........
    Fer priairie dog, rock chuck and tin can plinkin' loads, though, them mixed headstamp cans get loaded up and they go to the hills with me. If I ain't a havin' to brag on my or my rifle's abilities, them mixed loads bust varmints just fine.

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    Everything for hunting or full power loads is rigidly sorted/batched and marked for the number of firings. I use once-fired only for hunting (previously fired once in the same rifle.)

    I will admit to having a bag of less well sorted .270 and 6.5 brass that I use for plinking at well under max loads. ie my .270 plinker is a 130g at 2600fps. once this is gone I will only have only the ziplocs of rigidly sorted brass left so it will be mute.

    So what do you think is a resonable case life for full length resized brass? 4-5 full power loads and then 2-3 at the plinker level? I know there are a number of variables nevertheless what do you think?

    Cheers

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    Quote Originally Posted by Darreld Walton View Post
    Well, yeah, I've been accused of doing such things. Only problem is that I enjoy using reclaimed brass, and NOTHING is more annoying, to the point of not being able to relish my vittles, than having a box of shells with ONE or TWO rounds short. So I've got these coffee cans going with mixed headstamps in them. On cold winters' nights, I've been known to scrounge around in there for that ONE or TWO Lake City 73 National Match .308 cases that I just KNOW are in the bottom of the can so's I can finish up that box with only eighteen rounds in it...........
    Fer priairie dog, rock chuck and tin can plinkin' loads, though, them mixed headstamp cans get loaded up and they go to the hills with me. If I ain't a havin' to brag on my or my rifle's abilities, them mixed loads bust varmints just fine.
    So I'm not the only one with that can't stand to be one case short disease. The worst is when you've been working with say 100 cases and say you get a bit speedy in the resizing and damage the case mouth and there you are with 99 cases.

    One thing I like about Rem bulk brass is they seem to be a bit generous in the 50ct bags. In both 22-250 and .243 I ended up with a couple of extra cases. Just the thing for those who don't want to be one case short.

    I pick up as much .223 (5.56) as I can. I load mixed headstamp a bit under max, and that way I don't mind if my kids don't keep track of the empties.

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    Default Nope, NOT the only one!!!

    And we ain't bad....yet! Friend of mine back over in Cheyenne has it BAD. He's ADD, ADHD, whatever combination of letters it is that describes someone who stays three feet in the air in hover mode most of the day. Love Jim to death, but man oh man, he can be a bit of a challenge to hang around with sometimes. He don't settle down till he's put down his second pot of coffee. No kiddin'!!!
    He picked up a Savage 99 carbine in .303 Savage a few years back, before he understood how tough it was to find ammunition or brass for the thing. After a year or so of looking, we found two boxes, one WW, the other Federal, both missing one round. He passed on both boxes and sold the rifle!!!

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    Default I agree, but

    This question has been in my mind lately too.

    What if you took 100 mixed rifle cases, FL resized them, uniformed the primer pockets, de-burred the flash holes, out-side trimmed the case necks to the same thickness, annealed the necks of the whole lot, and then sorted them into groups according to weight?All this completely without regard to headstamp.

    I totally agree that reloading is all about uniformity, but it seems like once this is done the only real world difference between cases in the same weight group after the "full treament" would be the headstamp. Am I wrong?

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKArcherdaddy View Post
    This question has been in my mind lately too.

    What if you took 100 mixed rifle cases, FL resized them, uniformed the primer pockets, de-burred the flash holes, out-side trimmed the case necks to the same thickness, annealed the necks of the whole lot, and then sorted them into groups according to weight?All this completely without regard to headstamp.

    I totally agree that reloading is all about uniformity, but it seems like once this is done the only real world difference between cases in the same weight group after the "full treament" would be the headstamp. Am I wrong?
    They would probably make great loads but the headstamp would not allow me to put them in the same magazine or cylinder. I just cant do it, I'd sort them out by head stamp and shoot them with the same head stamp on every one in the magazine or cylinder.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Quote Originally Posted by AKArcherdaddy View Post
    This question has been in my mind lately too.

    What if you took 100 mixed rifle cases, FL resized them, uniformed the primer pockets, de-burred the flash holes, out-side trimmed the case necks to the same thickness, annealed the necks of the whole lot, and then sorted them into groups according to weight?All this completely without regard to headstamp.

    I totally agree that reloading is all about uniformity, but it seems like once this is done the only real world difference between cases in the same weight group after the "full treament" would be the headstamp. Am I wrong?
    The thing that you can't do anything about is the inside shape of the head. Some are flat, the pocket protrudes into some, and so on. I don't know how much difference it makes unless you are match shooting at 1000 yards. I think wind and temp have more ballistic influence than the case.

    I'm also like some other guys and can't stand to have mixed head stamps, or a box that is one round shy. I know in my head that it don't make a hole lot of deference for the shooting I do, but it's one of those "what If?" things that nag at me.

    Andy

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    I have lots of boxes that are anywhere from 16-19 cartridges per box. If I have a case that needs tossed it gets tossed no skin off my back.
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    My rifle brass is sorted by headstamp and I try to only load one head stamp per rifle. Pistol brass is sorted per nickle or brass. I don't think anyone could show me the difference on paper between mixed or sorted in cases such as 38spl or 45acp. Maybe with 357max or 454, but I doubt that. It's like weighing or throwing powder charges, bench rest shooters use both methods with great success and claim that only their way will work. Use what works for you and don't worry to much what others do.

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