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Thread: Good Article on Brass Life and Pressure in Handloader Magazine

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    Default Good Article on Brass Life and Pressure in Handloader Magazine

    Thought I would start a thread on a very good article I just read in the April 2011 Handloader Magazine, Pg 68, "Mistakes and Misconceptions, The Reality of Brass Life and Pressure" by John Barsness. I imagine it would be a boring read by many on here who have heaped up so many years of experience reloading rifle rounds. For me (only been loading rifle rounds about 6 years, started loading handgun over 25 years ago), it was a very enlightening read. I still have a lot to learn I guess!

    I never knew not to full length resize my new brass before measuring and trimming up to minimum OAL for consistency. I've resized many a new brass not knowing I could well be ruining them, I thought I was trueing them up? Also have always weighed each powder charge thinking I would have the most consistent loads. He swears powder charges can vary by as much as a full .5 to 1 grain without problems and states it is all about harmonics of the barrel vibrations! He says you don't believe it, just try varying powder charges on a proven accurate load up and down .5 grain and you will see no effect? I plan to test this theory!

    I think over the last few months, I've learned a few things that will change my rifle loading practices (some learned here on the forum).

    1. Going to start neck sizing my brass and just bump the shoulder back enough to chamber the round with little resistence. I've always full length resized and probably been shortening my brass life in doing so not to mention stretching my brass causing more trimming.

    2. After testing, going to start using my powder measure to throw charges and not worry so much about hand weighing each charge, at least with powder the meters well.

    3. Going to stop wasting my time loading three rounds of each powder charge to shoot groups and start doing the "ladder"'"Audette" method to find the sweet spot before going to shooting groups. I've seen posts here with guys who do this and it seems logical. I wish I had a quarter for all the three round groups I've tested over the last 6 years!

    I see a lot of guys post on here looking for information myself included. One piece of advice I think is well worth saying is besides multiple reloading manuals, books, and internet forums, a guy can't go wrong by reading Handloader Magazine each month. Good Stuff in it each month!

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    Quote Originally Posted by HUNTERKJL View Post
    ...Also have always weighed each powder charge thinking I would have the most consistent loads. He swears powder charges can vary by as much as a full .5 to 1 grain without problems and states it is all about harmonics of the barrel vibrations! He says you don't believe it, just try varying powder charges on a proven accurate load up and down .5 grain and you will see no effect? I plan to test this theory!
    BTDT & I agree with Barsness 100% in sporting cartridges that use 40+ grains of powder. Cartridges like the 22 Hornet, .222 Rem, .223 Rem, etc. can show significant difference with a .5 grain charge--certainly be cautious in small capacity cartridges with maximum loads. My Uniflow measure will keep all powders ±0.2 of a grain and most powders will be ±0.1 consistency.
    Foolishness is a moral category, not an intellectual one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1Cor15:19 View Post
    BTDT & I agree with Barsness 100% in sporting cartridges that use 40+ grains of powder. Cartridges like the 22 Hornet, .222 Rem, .223 Rem, etc. can show significant difference with a .5 grain charge--certainly be cautious in small capacity cartridges with maximum loads. My Uniflow measure will keep all powders ±0.2 of a grain and most powders will be ±0.1 consistency.
    Yes Sir, you are right on with what he said (I failed to mention that). So basically, all the normal big game hunting rounds holding say 50 or more grains of powder will not be affected by a .5 gr variation in powder charge unless perhaps a guy was really pushing the maximum limits. Heck, I have checked my RCBS Uniflow many times and it will throw most powders within .1 to.3 gr. Wish I had a quarter as well for all the charges I've hand weighed using the measure to get close then the trickler to top off! Waisted a lot of time there!

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    It'e be great to read Handloader every month, but isn't it published only every 2 months?

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    Yea, I believe you are right. I have thought about buying all the back issues in CD format. I find myself anxiously awaiting each new issue!

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    Is there a link to this article to be read online?

    I'll try searching it out, just thought it would be easy if anyone had the link.
    Hopefully i can read it without having find the magazine somewhere?

    Interesting thread and discussion for sure

    Ok, short edit,
    I tried to get there, can only find up to page 51 online,
    Can someone who is subscribed, maybe go and Copy/Paste it over here ??
    would be a good advertisement for subscribing maybe,
    (that's for the HDLDR mag execs who are reading this...)

    I found this thread about four times in my search, by the way..........
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    It’s an interesting article, but I think you’re putting entirely too much faith in it. Some of the “misconceptions” are his own.

    You’re not ruining, or shortening the life of new brass when you FL resize it. IME, new brass is barely touched by the die. You can often resize it without lubrication, although I don’t recommend it.

    You should resize it before trimming it.

    Sizing to where you FEEL little resistance, when you chamber is an IFFY practice. For example, there may be resistance anyhow, especially if your rifle is push feed, with a plunger type ejector. I suggest that you resize until you get easy chambering.

    I think most people weigh powder for safety reasons. Some powders/measures, are not consistent enough to be safe, when you’re at the Max load.

    The Audette method MAY work for you if you have a very accurate rifle, and you never pull a shot.

    I’ve subscribed to Handloading and Rifle magazines for quite a few years now, and they’re great compared to most others, IMO.

    Smitty of the North
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    Yea Smitty, I here you. I have never noticed a problem with brass stretching in my small rifle collection, but have always wondered about the neck re-sizing thing. My manuals, Speer if I remember says for hunting rifles, the FL re-sizing option is the best bet for a hunting rifle. I've read on here others that would argue that though. Have read about adjusting sizing die to only neck size or partially re-size, but have never tried it. If I had the money to blow, I would buy some sets of those Redding shell plates that come in .002 increments to precisely bump the shoulder back a known amount as I think that would help dummy proof the process for me.

    Would also be nice to have a RCBS electronic powder measure/scale combo. I'm thinking for my '06 s and win mags, the powder I use would not meter real well with my powder measure as the longer grains tend to crunch a bit. I'm going to do some testing and weighing to see exactly how many grains off it throws over several dozen rounds and go from there.

    Lastly, I never thought about pulling a shot while shooting a ladder and basically screw up a dozen rounds! A guy could be back to square one if he pulled one ruining the whole test. I'll still give her a whirl though as I have always been curious about developing loads in this way. Just want to see if it really works. First, I've got about a dozen different test loads to shoot (loaded 3 per powder charge of course!!) Looking forward to start hitting Birchwwood more to just get some shooting in with this nice weather we are having.

    Thanks for the info.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HUNTERKJL View Post
    Yea Smitty, I here you. I have never noticed a problem with brass stretching in my small rifle collection, but have always wondered about the neck re-sizing thing. My manuals, Speer if I remember says for hunting rifles, the FL re-sizing option is the best bet for a hunting rifle. I've read on here others that would argue that though. Have read about adjusting sizing die to only neck size or partially re-size, but have never tried it. If I had the money to blow, I would buy some sets of those Redding shell plates that come in .002 increments to precisely bump the shoulder back a known amount as I think that would help dummy proof the process for me.

    Would also be nice to have a RCBS electronic powder measure/scale combo. I'm thinking for my '06 s and win mags, the powder I use would not meter real well with my powder measure as the longer grains tend to crunch a bit. I'm going to do some testing and weighing to see exactly how many grains off it throws over several dozen rounds and go from there.

    Lastly, I never thought about pulling a shot while shooting a ladder and basically screw up a dozen rounds! A guy could be back to square one if he pulled one ruining the whole test. I'll still give her a whirl though as I have always been curious about developing loads in this way. Just want to see if it really works. First, I've got about a dozen different test loads to shoot (loaded 3 per powder charge of course!!) Looking forward to start hitting Birchwwood more to just get some shooting in with this nice weather we are having.

    Thanks for the info.
    IMO, Neck Sizing should be done with a Neck Sizing die.

    I would use a Neck Sizing dies, on something like a 7mm RM, where FL sizing is hard.

    So-called, Partial F L sizing hasn't worked for me, with any of the particular die and chamber combinations I've tried.

    There are a number of things to consider if you do it, and I think there is little reason to do it, since FL Sizing is just as accurate.

    When using a FL die, it sizes the neck first, but also contacts and sizes the shoulder, and when the shoulder is sized, it can also lengthen it, but it is shortened again, when fully sized.

    Some cartridges, have more taper on the sides, than others, and some dies fit differently than others, so like with most things having to do with handloading, you don't know til you've tried it.

    I think I could make it work, on some combos, because reportedly, others have, if I sized only a small portion of the neck. I've just had it not work, maybe because I wanted most of the neck sized, and not just the tip.

    I've heard good things about the "electronic powder measure/scale combo" thingys by both Lyman and RCBS, but I've never tried one. I got a cheapy electronic pwdr scale recently, and it's fast, so weighing charges is easier, than I had imagined.

    I would definitely TRY the Audette method, if I were you. It couldn't hurt?

    Even if it doesn' work for you, you'll have, at least learned that.

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    Smitty of the North
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    I still haven't found the entire article, but think I know what the Audette method is,

    and I still can't figure that as being definitive enough, just thinking it through,
    the idea that if you Might be pulling a shot, even a little bit, how would you know it wasn't working?
    You'd just have bad info, just a little bit

    Yeah, I do probably waste a lot of powder, starting with three shot groups,
    but even if they aren't the right combination yet,

    I still have fun, trying as hard as I can, to make 'em group tight,

    More Shooting, More Powder,.....................Awww, not really wasting it I guess
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Good points Smitty and kodiakrain. I have been very fortunate with the few rifles I have owned in being able to usually get 3 shot groups down to an inch and sometimes in the 3/4" range. Not bad for factory stock Rugers, Winchesters, Marlins. Maybe I've just been fortunate to buy rifles and die sets that are well mated to each other?? It is interesting seeing how increasing powder increments changes point of impact (I guess the whole theory of the ladder/Audette method) I reckon however a guy goes about it, if he's out shooting and practicing, it is time well spent!

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    Oops, I meant to add something to these two paragraphs.

    "When using a FL die, it sizes the neck first, but also contacts and sizes the shoulder, and when the shoulder is sized, it can also lengthen it, but it is shortened again, when fully sized."

    (If you try and chamber a case that has a lengthened shoulder, it may not chamber, or chamber easily, for that reason. In which case, you'd need to size a smaller part of the neck, and some cartridges don't have much neck.)

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    I have never FLR any of my bolt guns, hunting ammo included. Just neck size. Why would you? You've got a case perfectly fireformed to your chamber-why set the neck back and increase headspace? Enough of that and a tell tale ring will show up above the web.

    Just take fired, unsized empty case from that gun and chamber it. If it's difficult I would more suspect a out of round chamber then shoulder interference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jim in anchorage View Post
    I have never FLR any of my bolt guns, hunting ammo included. Just neck size. Why would you? You've got a case perfectly fireformed to your chamber-why set the neck back and increase headspace? Enough of that and a tell tale ring will show up above the web.

    Just take fired, unsized empty case from that gun and chamber it. If it's difficult I would more suspect a out of round chamber then shoulder interference.
    I understand and agree, with your facts and your reasoning.

    Smitty of the North
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    Whether to full or neck size should also depend on the caliber and intended use. If you are hunting non-dangerous game a cartridge that is a bit tight isn't an issue but for big stuff I want to be certain the round is going to chamber even if their is a bit of dirt, unburnt power grain etc. in the chamber. The military takes the same attitude.

    My cases usually fail with split necks and for many of my calibers like the .30-06 I have multiple guns in the caliber - I don't want to segregate my reloads by which gun they belong. If you have really vauable cases then get the dies with the interchangeable bushing so you resize the neck the bare minimum.

    I don't but a lot of faith in all the gun, shooting, and reloading articles written nowadays. Not really that much new to say and most everything is semi-facts and mis-information that just keeps getting repeated over and over with no confirmation. The Nationa Rifleman articles of the 1920s to the 50s or 60s seem to be the high point of gun writting IMO. A lot of the writers also get favors and perks from the various companies so their writing is not totally unbaised.
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    Quote Originally Posted by HUNTERKJL View Post
    I never knew not to full length resize my new brass before measuring and trimming up to minimum OAL for consistency. I've resized many a new brass not knowing I could well be ruining them, I thought I was trueing them up? Also have always weighed each powder charge thinking I would have the most consistent loads. He swears powder charges can vary by as much as a full .5 to 1 grain without problems and states it is all about harmonics of the barrel vibrations! He says you don't believe it, just try varying powder charges on a proven accurate load up and down .5 grain and you will see no effect? I plan to test this theory!
    Mr. Barsness is a very experienced shooter, hunter, reloader and writer. Nonetheless my own experience has apparently been different from his. I don't think you "ruined" any new brass by FL resizing it before trimming, if that's what his article said. I've done it and it made no difference in case life. Many other factors have far more impact on case life than a single FL sizing of a new case for the reasons others have explained.

    Also in my experience powder charges of .5 grain and sometimes much less can and have had an appreciable effect on accuracy and pressure experienced in my shooting, even in charges of 60-70+ grains of powder. This is, again in my experience, particularly true as you approach maximum charges and pressures. A full grain of charge differential at maximum charge levels can have disastrous results.

    I suggest you use this particular piece of Mr. Barsness' advice very cautiously and not at maximum charge levels. If YOU find that no appreciable difference in accuracy and pressure occurs in YOUR rifles with charges varying by .5 to a full grain and decide not to bother weighing charges with more precision WITHIN MODERATE CHARGE LEVELS, then I think it's fine if you want to adopt Mr. Barsness' strategy for weighing charges. But I recommend that you NOT do this as charges approach maximum charge levels. It will be YOUR ass and eyes and fingers on the line in those instances and not Mr. Barsness'. He will not live with the consequences of your possibly disastrous results. YOU WILL.

    Just my opinion based on my experience. Your mileage may vary (as, apparently, has Mr. Barsness'.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chessie View Post
    Mr. Barsness is a very experienced shooter, hunter, reloader and writer. Nonetheless my own experience has apparently been different from his. I don't think you "ruined" any new brass by FL resizing it before trimming, if that's what his article said. I've done it and it made no difference in case life. Many other factors have far more impact on case life than a single FL sizing of a new case for the reasons others have explained.

    Also in my experience powder charges of .5 grain and sometimes much less can and have had an appreciable effect on accuracy and pressure experienced in my shooting, even in charges of 60-70+ grains of powder. This is, again in my experience, particularly true as you approach maximum charges and pressures. A full grain of charge differential at maximum charge levels can have disastrous results.

    I suggest you use this particular piece of Mr. Barsness' advice very cautiously and not at maximum charge levels. If YOU find that no appreciable difference in accuracy and pressure occurs in YOUR rifles with charges varying by .5 to a full grain and decide not to bother weighing charges with more precision WITHIN MODERATE CHARGE LEVELS, then I think it's fine if you want to adopt Mr. Barsness' strategy for weighing charges. But I recommend that you NOT do this as charges approach maximum charge levels. It will be YOUR ass and eyes and fingers on the line in those instances and not Mr. Barsness'. He will not live with the consequences of your possibly disastrous results. YOU WILL.

    Just my opinion based on my experience. Your mileage may vary (as, apparently, has Mr. Barsness'.)
    Good point and well received! I am thinking my future reloading at some point will involve the RCBS powder scale and dispenser. For now, I still have my trusty beam scales. I do intend to test his method, but probably not on anything near max loadings.

    I think the point he was making on the full length resizing of new brass was if you happened to have a rifle with maximum dimension chamber and a set of dies that were minimum diminsion per SAMI specs. In this situation, a guy would be bumping the shoulder back far enough that when firing, the brass would stretch. (I think I have that right??) Anyway, I have never had that problem with the few rifles I reload for.

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    Chessie:

    Your post #16 is right on the money, IMO.

    I usually enjoy Barsness's articles, but sometimes I think he's reaching to find something to write about.

    Smitty of the North
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    To Barsness' credit, in case anyone has not read the article, he did NOT say you can vary ANY accurate load by .5-1gr with no effect. He said you could do that on a load that had been selected through the ladder or Audette method which inherently sets you on a load range where accuracy is essentially unaffected by small changes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by evandailey View Post
    To Barsness' credit, in case anyone has not read the article, he did NOT say you can vary ANY accurate load by .5-1gr with no effect. He said you could do that on a load that had been selected through the ladder or Audette method which inherently sets you on a load range where accuracy is essentially unaffected by small changes.
    Go back and read page 73 of the article.
    "The main point, however, is varying the charge .2 grain in rounds the size of the 223 Remington, or .5 grain or more in cartridges that hold 75 to 90 grains of powder, won't make any noticeable difference in groups size. We can even prove this to ourselves after developing an accurate load, whether by a ladder test or shooting groups."
    "Let's say the "magic load" for our .30-06 and 180-grain Partitions turns out to be 58.5 grains of Hunter. We can then load up several rounds with 58.0, 58.5 and 59.0 grains of powder and shoot some more groups. Those groups will average about the same size as with charges of prcisely 58.5 grains. (Go ahead, try it.) This means that all the time many handloaders spend on precisely weighing charges is pretty much wasted, especially when loading for a typical big game rifle." Quoted.

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