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Thread: Case prep Arghh!

  1. #1
    Member Akheloce's Avatar
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    Default Case prep Arghh!

    Ok, I'm a little frustrated at prepping cases, as I think it takes way too much time. Here's my standard for bottleneck cases (once fired- not by me)

    1. Clean cases in vib. cleaner
    2. Lube
    3. Resize/ Decap
    4. Anneal (if not already done)
    5. Uniform primer pocket (biggest pain)
    6. Uniform flash hole
    7. Trim
    8. Deburr
    9. Brush inside necks
    10. Resize neck (to compensate for trim pilot deformation)

    Am I overdoing it? Not enough prep? I'm just frustrated when I devote an hour per night to reloading, that I only get about 10-15 cases ready to reload.

    I guess I'm not really asking any real technical questions here, just venting a bit... I'm just kind of frustrated over the compromise between absolute perfection, and a feeling of accomplishment by filling a box of ammo in less than a week.

    Any others feel this way, or am I just being a whiner?

  2. #2
    Member AKsoldier's Avatar
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    I am by no means an expert, but here's my process for the .300 win mag:

    De-prime, trim for length, into the tumbler for cleaning, clean primer pocket and flash hole, neck-resize and load. I have no issues with accuracy and I'm getting very consistent velocity. (Loaded a run of ten rounds and had only a 12 fps. deviation!)

    I am not into competition shooting, and my accuracy is more than adequate for hunting purposes. It does take some time, but I enjoy it.

    The other 299,300,000 people can have it.

    Noone has a more intimate understanding of, or deeper appreciation for freedom, than a soldier who has fought for it in a country where it does not exist.

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    Member marshall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Akheloce View Post
    1. Clean cases in vib. cleaner
    2. Lube
    3. Resize/ Decap
    4. Anneal (if not already done)
    5. Uniform primer pocket (biggest pain)
    6. Uniform flash hole
    7. Trim
    8. Deburr
    9. Brush inside necks
    10. Resize neck (to compensate for trim pilot deformation)
    Skip 1, 4, 9 and 10.

    I don't tumble first because I don't have contaminated brass. Powder residue on the inside won't harm your dies. I don't use someone else's brass, not sure how many times it's been fired and mine isn't dropped in the mud.

    Why are you annealing once fired brass? It's overkill and it's difficult to do correctly?

    If you cleaned the cases in 1 why brush the necks in 9?

    You sized in 3, the correct pilot should not expand your neck on the trimmer in 10.

    As AKsoldier mentions, I'm not an expert either and I'm always looking for a better way.

    My steps are:

    Decap and resize for a shoulder bump of .002, that also gets the neck.
    Uniform the primer pocket.
    De burr the flash hole, only once not needed again.
    Trim to length and deburr necks.
    Tumbler to clean off lube and residue.
    wash and blow dry with compressed air.

    Sometimes I prime and store in a zip lock freezer bag so I can drop powder and seat bullets when I'm ready. Write information about prep and primer on the bag with a marker.

    I if have a few extra minutes during a day I prep cases so there ready when I need them. If you try and do everything at once and nothing is prepped it can require a lot of your time.

  4. #4

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    Like everyone is saying, you ARE overdoing it as an every-time process. I keep cases in separate lots so I can monitor the condition of the whole lot. And I generally buy either 100 or 200 cases at once. I've usually got two lots going at once in any one caliber- shooting one, and reloading the other at my convenience. I might do one of the steps on evening, wait a week and do two the next. It might take me a couple of weeks to get the cases loaded again, as I'm meanwhile shooting up the other lot.

    At some point along the line, some extra step beyond the basics may be needed (eg, annealing or trimming), but not every time. A lot depends on the particular rifle and cartridge, but as a rule I only trim or anneal every half dozen loadings.

    Some steps such as your primer pocket work may be needed on new cases, but never again.

    I guess the best thing to say is that I do whatever is necessary on new cases to make them perfect, then monitor them to see how they're "aging." Steps beyond the basics of sizing, priming, charging, and seating only happen on an as-needed basis.

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    Default Go powered...

    Handloading is something I do for fun and relaxation, so I'm not necessarily in a hurry.

    However, I do like efficiency, and I don't especially enjoy case preparation. A few years back I bought an RCBS power trimmer, and that was a great move for me. I can trim a stack of cases in no time. I then bought an RCBS power case prep station (it has a specific name, but I don't recall right now), i.e., it has five power stations on it that are all turning at the same time, so I can brush the case mouth, hit the flash hole, clean the primer pocket, deburr, etc. That also was a very good move for me, and it has made case preparation much less laborious.

    So now I take a specific caliber, prep a whole bunch of cases, and then put them in boxes waiting to be primed and charged. It is a thing of beauty.

    Doc

    P.S. I don't do #4 or #10.

  6. #6
    Member JoeJ's Avatar
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    BrownBear gave good points and as some have mentioned - use a little power to cut down on the time & effort put into doing a good job. For your primer pockets get a small cordless screwdriver, such as a Craftsman 4.0V lithium ion and use a cutting attachment - several out there but I get most of my stuff from Sinclair's - here's the site: http://www.sinclairintl.com/prod_det...se-Preparation

    After a couple of months or years you may streamline your process of reloading - call it a learning curve and most of us went through it, just as you are now.

  7. #7
    Member Akheloce's Avatar
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    I guess I should have been a little more clear... I do all of these processes to either new brass, or new to me brass. I was just in the middle of prepping a new bag of 223 brass, and was getting fed up with it. The reason I brush the neck after trimming is that the deburr procecss invariably lets a little bit of shavings get in the case (particularly on the lubed area inside the neck) that won't shake out. Also, on my RCBS timmer, with the spring loaded keeper, the brass is usually a little misaligned with the pilot, and I wanted to make sure that the pressure on one side of the neck by the pilot didn't deform it.

    I have several hundred new and a couple of hundred once fired cases, and the initial prep is what's killing me. I have yet to reload any of my prepped cases, so I figure, yeah, it won't be such a pain later.

    As far as annealing, I've been doing it to the new ones, but not to the once-fired, since it's all milsurp, and has been annealed already. I'm sure annealing probably isn't really necessary, but I want to get the most out of the brass.

    The primer pocket uniforming is definitely the worst part. I have a redding uniformer with both a handle and a drill adapter. I tried the cordless drill, but it didn't seem to work very well. The bit seemed to clog up quickly, and ended up taking longer than doing it by hand.

    I've considered getting the RCBS prep center, or the Hornady monster, but that's when the real money starts. Additionally, I'm on either generator, or inverter power when I reload, so I try to keep things mostly manual, so I don't have to run the genny all the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Akheloce View Post
    Ok, I'm a little frustrated at prepping cases, as I think it takes way too much time. Here's my standard for bottleneck cases (once fired- not by me)

    1. Clean cases in vib. cleaner
    2. Lube
    3. Resize/ Decap
    4. Anneal (if not already done)
    5. Uniform primer pocket (biggest pain)
    6. Uniform flash hole
    7. Trim
    8. Deburr
    9. Brush inside necks
    10. Resize neck (to compensate for trim pilot deformation)

    Am I overdoing it? Not enough prep? I'm just frustrated when I devote an hour per night to reloading, that I only get about 10-15 cases ready to reload.

    I guess I'm not really asking any real technical questions here, just venting a bit... I'm just kind of frustrated over the compromise between absolute perfection, and a feeling of accomplishment by filling a box of ammo in less than a week.

    Any others feel this way, or am I just being a whiner?
    I'll make a couple of observations. Case prep is the most overlooked key in producing accurate & dependable reloads and from your post you are expending a lot of effort to make certain that your ammo is as good as you can make it. I do not think you are doing any wrong steps per se, though I would change the order of a couple and the frequency of several of them.

    Here are the things I would change about your process or at least experiment with to see what the actual benefit is. Vibratory cleaning does no harm and it's nice to have clean, shiny cases, but I only clean my hunting cases every third shot (other ammo might get tumbled half as much) unless there is a compelling reason to do so more often. Same with trimming. I keep tabs on OAL of my cases, but in most instances I can get 2-3 shots without having cases too long for best performance. Let me recommend you trim before annealing as this will make cleaner cuts as you trim and debur. As for annealing, I anneal bottleneck cartridges every third shot. Annealing will increase case life and make the ammunition more consistent from one batch to the next. Annealing done properly after every shot will do no harm, but IME it provides no advantage. Brass must be work hardened to create tension issues and this takes multiple steps to expand and contract the neck. One firing/loading sequence will not overwork the brass. There are a variety of opinions concerning the flash hole/primer pocket. Some guys do it, some guys don't. I let the quality of brass dictate what I do. If I am using Lapua brass for example I've found zero benefit in these steps, but with cheaper brass sometimes an initial truing will provide better consistency. A word of caution about the pocket uniformer; it can & does cause misfires. In a lot of scenarios this is simply an aggravation (i.e BR, target shooting, plinking, etc.), but it could be a problem in the hunting field when the rifle snaps on a 60+ moose or such. I simply cannot recommend it for hunting or field ammo. I doubt your groups can tell the difference either if you are not using a BR rifle. If you choose to do it however, it's a one and done step. There is no reason to continue the step upon each firing. Separating your brass by weight would almost certainly prove a greater enhancement to your accuracy and takes less time to boot. I would not resize at the end either, just another step with no commensurate gain IMO. If your trimmer is causing issues with your case neck you probably have an issue with the trimmer.

  9. #9
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    It depends on what your goal's expectations are, but I can concur with you about consuming time as I've recently prepped 1500 223 cases, and it took quite a bit of time. I've found I can get loads that'll print 5 shots into 1/2" at 100 yds w/o going through nearly the effort you've been going to, and hence save alot of time, but if you load in large quantities, it still takes time. Most off all I'd say get 1000 cases and prep all in one batch. That way you'll have cases to load for some time.

    1) I vibrate/clean all fired brass. I used to avoid this, but I find that the cleaned cases take much less force to size, and don't need the inside of the necks lubed. This is an activity that doesn't take much time on your part, so don't skip it.

    2) I haven't tried carbide dies, so use imperial sizing die wax on the bodies of the case, and swapped out the std. expander ball with a carbide expander from Redding.

    3) FL size in the redding fl sizer, I shoot a couple different 223's so need the cases to fit all guns, and I've yet to see an accuracy benefit of neck or partial sizing.

    4) I should aneal every 4 firings but haven't. I've yet to see a problem with the hardened necks opening up groups, nor have necks been splitting.

    5/6) Asside from swaging crimps in military brass, I've never done anything to primer pockets or flashholes. Waste of time IMHO.

    7) I use a lee case trimmer and power it in my lathe. I've yet to time it, but figure I can trim 500 cases in an hour. I'm planning on getting an rcbs 3 in one trimmer/deburrer to further save time.

    8) I hate deburring more than other other task, see above about the 3 in one tool

    9) I tap the case mouth down to knock out the cuttings.

    10) I've never done this and would change my trimming process if it was damaging the necks.

    Keep it as simple and fun as possible. You can spend alot of extra time and see no benefit at the range. I look for maximum performance with minimum time at the loading bench. I have less and less free time, so try to be as efficient as possible and elminate any unecessary steps.

  10. #10

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    Akheloce I know where you are comming from. I also hated preping cases. It just took to much time. I purchased the RCBS Trim Mate Case Prep Center and it changed my outlook on case prep. I can do several cases in just a little time where it used to take much longer to do just a few cases. I bought a flash hole deburring tool that goes on the case prep center and after you get the depth set it only takes a few seconds per case. This is a one time deal only needing to be done to new cases. This tool with one collet was about $12 and each collet was about $5 each ( you will need a collet for each caliber you load, but a 30 cal. collet will cover all 30 caliber such as 30-06, 300 Win. Mag and so on).

    1st. step I do is resize brass. I full length size all hunting brass and usually neck size bench brass. I do this to new and fired brass.

    2nd. step I do is clean primer pockets. I keep a small and large primer pocket brush in my case prep center all the time and this only takes about 3-5 seconds per case.

    3rd step I do is put cases in tumbler for about 20 minutes to about one hour depending on how dirty the cases are. I tumble after using primer pocket brush because tumbler will not get primer pockets clean. By doing in this order the primer pocket get pollished and look as if they were new.

    4th step I do is trim ALL brass. I have a RCBS manual case trimmer and this takes a few minutes to do, but I think it is worth doing. I know I could get by by not trimming my hunting brass every shot but I still trim it. I opened a new bag of Winchester brass in 6mm Remington last night and got it ready to load. I measured about 15 out of 50 cases and saw a .005 difference in case length in the 15 or so rounds I measured. I trimed all 50 rounds so at least they will start out the same length. Some times when I trim my brass that I have already shot I will not cut over 1 or 2 thousands (or less) off each case but all will be same length when I get done.

    5th step I do is three steps in one. The RCBS case prep center has five rotating stations. As I mentioned earlier I have a small and a large primer pocket brush in mine and a inside and outside case mouth reaming tool in it that stays in mine all the time. The fifth station I switch between the flash hole deburing tool and a case neck brush for the caliber that I am loading. On this step I do the inside case neck then outside case neck then run rotating case neck brush inside case mouth. This only takes a few seconds to do all three steps.

    6th step I do is prime cases. I do this with a RCBS hand priming tool and it does not take long to do this step as well. I then store the primed cases in a plastic ammo box until I load them.

    I hope this information helps. My shooting has improved since I started doing a little extra to the cases before loading them. I would highly recomend a case prep center of what ever brand you like, mine has took a lot of work out of reloading and I don't mind doing this near as much now. Happy shooting!

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    1. Clean cases in vib. cleaner
    2. Lube
    3. Resize/ Decap
    4. Anneal (if not already done)
    5. Uniform primer pocket (biggest pain)
    6. Uniform flash hole
    7. Trim
    8. Deburr
    9. Brush inside necks
    10. Resize neck (to compensate for trim pilot deformation)

    I would skip 4, 5,6,9,10 I trim only the first time i load them or after 5 shots. I get sub MOA from all my good rifles with ammo loaded this way. Thats plenty good for me

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    Member marshall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Akheloce View Post
    I've considered getting the RCBS prep center, or the Hornady monster, but that's when the real money starts.
    Skip the Hornady Lock and Load prep center, it sucks!

    I got one from my wonderful wife for Christmas. The tools that come with it are very dull and the trimmer is unrepeatable, not square and leaves rough edges. Full review later.

    I have to act like I like it because the wife did what she thought was best

  13. #13
    Member gunbugs's Avatar
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    I'm a keep it simple guy.
    1.Roll cases over lube pad.
    2.Full length resize & deprime.
    3.Clean primer pockets.(RCBS Case prep center)
    4.Trim(Dillon power trimmer)
    5.Deburr(RCBS prep center again)
    6.Prime on the press with the auto feed tube.
    7.Throw charges from the measure.
    8.Seat bullets.
    9.Time to go to the range and burn powder.
    Note: I don't shoot "benchrest" guns so I don't spend time making "benchrest" ammo. Uniforming primer pockets and deburring flash holes,turning necks and the like seems like a lot of work for comparably minor gains. Just my 2 bits. Load, shoot, have fun! Whatever floats your boat.
    "A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind."

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    I will try not to be redundant with respect to the prior threads nor as lengthy - it is all good advice but once is enough.
    -flash hole and primer pocket procedures are a one time deal as far as uniforming but you will need to clean the primer pockets every reloading
    -necks are annealed for bottle neck cases initially so I usually don't anneal until after 5 or 6 firings
    -depending on the measured over all length I will trim every 2 to 3 reloads
    -I use an RCBS power trimer and have 3-in-1 heads for 7mm, 30 cal, and 338 = trim, chamfer and deburr all in one procedure - once set up it will really speed things up
    -I tumble and blow out cases before every reloading.
    -I chrono ALL shots, this has resulted in my usually purchasing powder in 5/8 lb. lots due to vel variations noted of up to 100 to 150 fps with different powder lots (I also tend to reload rather corpulent cases as a rule)
    -cases are purchased in 100 lots and segregated by weight - you will be amazed at the differences with different manufactures

  15. #15
    Member marshall's Avatar
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    In reference to case length trimming. I don't full length resize.

    I have tools that measure mid shoulder to head length and I adjust my dies to set that measurement back .002. That assures good feeding and a cartridge that doesn't rattle around in the chamber.

    Since the brass is not worked back in a full length resize step and the length is trimmed in that condition the most the neck will grow is .002 along with the shoulder. When I resize the next time it sets back to that measurement. If your shooting hot loads then the brass will flow towards the neck and of course you will need to trim more frequently.

    As mentioned by several others. They only trim when the length requires it. With my steps and less than max loads trimming after the first resize is rarely required but always checked.

    Even a fairly hot 375 Ruger load only grows .0005 after a 300gr load that I worked up recently. At that rate it would take 10 reloads to grow .005 and I would have loose pockets in that brass by then.

  16. #16
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    Default Do it MY way.

    You’ll get faster as you become more proficient.

    Here’s my exemplary method. Don’t use a case tumbler. That takes hours, and hours. I’d run outta coffee.

    1 Clean the carbon off the necks with steel wool.

    2 Brush inside necks, before sizing.

    (Skip 1 & 2 for new brass.)

    3 Lube, (Lube inside neck, a little at the shoulder junction.) resize, decap.

    4 Wipe the lube off both outside and inside. (Paper towel, and with a cleaning patches, and rod tip.)

    5 (New cases, deburr the primer hole.)

    6 Clean primer pockets with a uniformer. (New cases will be uniformed)

    7 Check case length, and trim if necessary, or to get them all the same length.

    8 Chamfer the insides, and outside of trimmed neck edges, then smooth them with steel wool, or something.

    Then I’m ready to cap and load.

    If I don’t finish a step, I leave the cases on the bench in the process. If I pause after a step is completed, on the bunch I’m working on, I put them in a Ziplock bag, with a note inside as to what has been done.

    Boy, that’sa lotta trouble. NO, like Doc says, it’s relaxing.

    If I didn’t clean primer pockets, I couldn’t respect my work. Uniforming them makes it easier to get the primers deep enough, and the uniformer is a great primer pocket cleaner. Make sure you check case length AFTER sizing.

    IME, accuracy is more a function of the rifle, than the loads, but one load will work better, than another, in a particular rifle. If you shoot like I do, you might not notice.

    I’ve never annealed.

    You’ll find something that works for you, or you’ll probably lose interest in handloading.

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  17. #17

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    I pretty much do it like Smitty for serious loads. I am pretty picky when loading most of my guns. However when loading 243's for coyote hunting I always buy once fired polished brass. I don't even care if they are mixed head stamped. I made a maximum length gauge for 243 cases years ago and I check the once fired cases with it and if they fit inside the gauge then they are good enough. I lube them with Hornady's "1 Shot"..I spray it from the top and spin the loading block as I'm spraying so that it not only gets on the outside but so that some gets inside the neck as well. Then I size and prime in one step and load powder and bullet the next. Target loads they ain't but coyotes don't know the difference! 99% of my shooting is at running coyotes and MOA can be thrown out the window. Even with the different head stamped cases, with variations in length, my old Ruger still shoots them all into an inch and a half at a hundred yards from the bench.

    Last year I loaded up 200 of these before the first snow and when we quit chasing coyotes for the year I had about 20 left. In the heat of the chase picking up spent cases seldom happens and thats why I go with the once fired stuff.

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