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Thread: New versus Fired Brass

  1. #1
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    Default New versus Fired Brass

    Has anyone noticed a difference in accuracy, pressure, or Sight-In, betwixt New Unfired Brass, and Fired Brass?

    It's something I've always wondered about. I've got a buncha New Brass I'm workin on now, and want to use it for hunting.

    I could go hunting with all New brass, something I've done in the past, in this situation, OR is there a good reason to fire them once, first.

    Thanks for any of your thoughts on this, anyone.

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  2. #2

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    The rounds I have experience with regarding this, are the 223 rem, 454 casull, 338 lapua, and 458 socom... so as a disclaimer, this is only in regard to my experience with those particular rounds...

    It does not matter (For most practical purposes), as long as they are for the most part uniform.

    On the 223, 458, and 338, I run them through a neck sizing die, only if it's obvious that the necks have been banged up through shipping or whatever... if I check a handfull of them, and they seem "round", I run them (Seat bullets into them anyway), and have not ever had an issue with accuracy in thousands of rounds...

    After a quick google search, I'm sure you've read that many people find this method to be substandard... and if you are a competitive shooter, sending rounds on paper 800yrds or further, I would agree... but for conventional "hunting", as long as you don't notice any obvious issues with the brass, IME it is good to go in it's NEW condition (This is what SAMMI is for, right?)....

    I do, however, measure the OAL of the brass, prior to loading, to make sure they are all within .010 or so... and with good brass, that is on the extreme end of variance..

    All that being said, regardless of new or used brass, I do an initial sight in on ANY new lot of ammo I make, new or used brass... there are other factors that can contribute to variances in accuracy... (Powder lot, primers, bullet lots, etc.) but I am somewhat anal about what my realistic POI is.. regardless of my ability to reproduce the desired effects...

    Any box of fifty rounds I have that I intend to hunt with, that I loaded, I send at least 10 down range to confirm POI...

    Hope that helps...

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    I haven't noticed any difference but I'm not a bench rest shooter. There probably is a measureable difference if you have a good enough rifle and can shoot it good enough but neither I nor my rifles are that good. I usually partial full length size and load as it straightens out the neck dings.

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    Smitty - years and years ago a sagely old gunsmith I came to be friends with mentored me while I got started handloading - He told me flat out that I would never get any sort of accuracy from brass til it was fire formed so that's the way I did it for a long time but then i discovered that it depends on some variables, all of which I am not privy to - (I am assuming you are meaning brass only your rifle has fired) Last year my son and I got a deal on Kimber Montana's in 325 WSM and I bought 150 WW brass and prepped them, they shot better as new brass than as once fired - My point is that ya never know - If I can find it I always use Norma brass now and I have experienced much the same when using that brand - To take it a step or two further, Jarrett says that all loaded ammo is slightly "banana shaped" so you should use a concentricity gauge and find the low spot on each round and put a sharpie mark on it which I find a bit extreme but my best huntin' buddy, next to my son, practices this religiously, at least with the round he chambers to top the stack - what I DO practice religiously myself is to run each and every hunting round I am about to take with me on any hunt into and back out of the chamber (DO THAT IN A SAFE PLACE !!!) and I have found sticky ones that I used for sight in -

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    Has anyone noticed a difference in accuracy, pressure, or Sight-In, betwixt New Unfired Brass, and Fired Brass?
    Well, yes I've noticed. But for making new hunting loads, just neck size, trim to true up the neck and chamfer the case mouth slightly.
    Load your favorite load. I would prefer using only once fired cases for all needs and usually do my load up work in the new brass and finalize the accuracy with the once fired. It will take a good gun and a good rifleman to tell any difference in accuracy but it is there.
    I would not make hunting loads without at least neck sizing each new case.

    Pressure difference, no. Brass is like bubble gun at rifle pressures. It will shape to fit the container (chamber).......one reason it is more accurate after being fired.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  6. #6

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    I have several rifles, including a 7mm Rem Mag, a 25-35, a couple of 250-3000's and a 7x57 that have what could be called "excess" head space in one form or another. For first loadings I always use somewhat reduced loads with the bullet seated out to kiss the rifling, then set the shoulder forward on firing. After that It's neck-size only to keep the shoulder forward where it needs to be. Firing them with full power loads and "normal" case sizing greatly shortens case life and does seem to affect accuracy in both the 7 mag and 7x57.

    But other than that specific exmaple, I don't notice a difference in accuracy or performance for using new or once-fired.

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    Default New brass "plot"

    I think new brass giving better accuracy it is an evil rumor started by the brass sellers to sell more brass!

    Likewise for not using "range" brass i.e. range one finds on the shooting range vs. buying new brass. I've been using range brass for nearly 50 years now for most of my shooting and never had an issue. Of course common sense always prevails - I carefully check each piece before I use it.
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    On those 325 WSM loads I should have stipulated for THAT particular load and bullet the new brass shot better than once fired - I agree fully with the other statements and "recycled" brass is good brass if checked thoroughly before using (and I don't consider the "banana" thing relevant for the record, just being long winded (like I get) and who wants banana shaped ammo anyways ?? I bought some Federal "once fired" 308 brass last year on Gunbroker and for the life of me I could not get it sized small enough to chamber in my Kimber so now I use Nosler custom 2nds brass for that one, that Federal stuff must've been shooted from a machine gun or somethin'

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    Quote Originally Posted by back country View Post
    I bought some Federal "once fired" 308 brass last year on Gunbroker and for the life of me I could not get it sized small enough to chamber in my Kimber .... that Federal stuff must've been shooted from a machine gun or somethin'
    See if you can get near an SB sizing die for a little while to verify, but it might take care of the issue for you. I'd only buy one if you have a LOT of brass and confirm that it does the job however. They're not cheap.

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    I will not hunt with new Remington brass in my 35 Whelen. Once fired is no problem, but new brass (and this has only been an issue in my gun with Remington brass) has too-frequent head spacing issues.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    Has anyone noticed a difference in accuracy, pressure, or Sight-In, betwixt New Unfired Brass, and Fired Brass?

    Smitty of the North
    You are comparing new brass to once fired brass from your rifle.....right? Brass fired in somebody else gun has no real value except for practice or plinking, even though you can find usable brass on the ground at the range once in a while.
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    Default range brass

    I'll disagree with you on that one! I been hearing that myth for years from gun writers and others that get their brass from the manufacturers for free.

    I've been using range brass for close to 50 years now. After initially small base re-sizing it and firing it my gun I can tell no difference for the vast majority of uses.

    Like many of us I can mutiple guns in the same caliber esp. the common ones like .223, .30-06, .308, .243, 7mm Rem Mag, .300 Win Mag., etc. and it would be a real pain to segregate the cases for each gun anyway.

    Benchrest may be a different matter but I'm not into that. If I'm trying to determine the ultimate accuracy - or lack of it - in a gun I'll stick with the same brass and try different loads but after that I try to make loads that will work acceptably in all of my guns.

    7.62 / .308 rounds shot in M60s are a special case as they tend to be stretched but I don't run into many of those. I also watch for other military calibers as sometimes the headspace on some guns like the 8x57 can be a bit on the generous side.

    Most of us have to buy our brass and range brass offers a real savings. Until I see some problems with it or get new brass for free I'll keep on using it.


    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
    You are comparing new brass to once fired brass from your rifle.....right? Brass fired in somebody else gun has no real value except for practice or plinking, even though you can find usable brass on the ground at the range once in a while.
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
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    Thanks for all the replies, guys:

    Here's more to my story. I'm planning on using a load that was developed with brass fired many times.

    I am in the process of prepping 99 cases, (one outta the 100 was bad.)

    The plan is, to verify the sight-in with the loaded new brass, and if that's satisfactory, and I need no further load development, those are my hunting loads, for my 7mm Mauser. (Actually, we have 2 other rifles of that cartridge, but the OALs are different, and I FL resize the brass. My wife's rifle is called "7x57", and another gun is called, "95 Mauser". The loads are labeled as such for each of the three.)

    My rifle will be sighted-in for the rounds I'm using, of course.

    I've pretty much done this before, when I'm starting out with New Brass, so I foresee no problems, as long as I use what I'm sighted-in for. It's reely CURIOSITY, rather than concern, that I have.

    Can I count on the New Brass loads being the same as the ones in Fired brass, as in, should I not MIX them in future hunts?
    Will I hafta fire a lot of them to make sure the POI is the name?
    Is it possible that they will be less accurate than loads with the Fired Brass, assuming there are no other differences?
    Is it possible, the differences will create an unsafe load.

    I'm just reasoning that new brass may have more headspace, be looser in the chamber, and have less case capacity, as well as be softer, than Fired Brass, (much fired brass.) I'm sure there will be some differences, but will it be enough to matter.

    I'm not asking just what I can get away with, but more like, what is the prudent, thing.

    It looks like I mave most of the answers. I wanted to clear up any confusion, since my question was so brief.

    And Thanks again to All.

    Smitty of the North
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  14. #14

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    IMO you should separate by lot. That is, each time you load rounds, you should designate them somehow... whether by date, or brass type, or both, or whatever....

    When you start mixing and matching powder lots, brass types (New and used), bullets, etc., this is where you're most likely to run into variances...

    I don't think you'd have a problem safety wise mixing them (As long as you are not on the hottest edge, and you use common sense when evaluating/seating into brass, YMMV however...lol), but if consistency, and uniformity are in the equation (For that reliable POI)... there needs to be some kind of separation/designation...

  15. #15

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    Can I count on the New Brass loads being the same as the ones in Fired brass, as in, should I not MIX them in future hunts?
    If you're up near max for the individual gun, I'd be concerned if the lot numbers were not the same as the previous loads. You might weight a few cases from each, and if the new are heavier than the old you can anticipate the pressures going up somewhat due to reduced capacity.

    And I agree with dammdoggs that it's not a good idea to MIX them with the previous loads. For one thing case life will be different, and having the old cases in the fired mix will really cobble things up for you as you continue reloading the new stuff. In my own case I relegate the remnants from older loadings to practice, then only load half a dozen rounds in the new cases for verification. If all goes well on test firing, I load the remaining cases while leaving the first half dozen fired. That leaves me with a whole batch of new cases all with the same # of firings once I've shot up that batch. It's much easier on the record keeping and on my brain.

    With multiple rifles in the same caliber in the house, I'd continue to track and only use them in the same rifle, especially with minimal sizing. That will keep you from "overworking" the brass to accomodate small differences in chambers, and result in much longer case lives most of the time.

    I go one step further, and after half a dozen loadings I relegate the cases to use for practice rounds, almost always at reduced pressures to save on powder, and often for cast bullets for additional savings. Practice rounds don't have to ring your bell to provide meaningful practice. At the point I start feeling it's time to shift a lot of cases to practice status, I always start a new lot in much the same sequence I jsut recommended. I have a batch of 300 7mm Rem Mag cases that's about ready with only about 40 loaded rounds left, so I just picked up 200 more. I have a batch of 200 7x57 that I just started (and we have multiple rifles in that caliber too, coincidentally). I'm only three firings into a batch of 400 25-35 cases, but due to the nature of that particular rifle I might only get one more firing before they have to go to practice status, or maybe even discard. The chamber on that rifle is oversize, and I'm getting real suspicious about case stretch based on the amount of trimming I have to do after each loading- even with moderate loads and about half a molecule more than neck sizing to just barely chamber the rounds after reloading. Ah well.

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    Smitty - what you plan, to work up a "good" load with your 99 new brass and hunt with what's left after sighting sounds more than reasonable and safe to me - as far as "lots" of brass, with factory brass I have always found heavy and light ones, sometimes up to 11 or 12 out of 100 so lot #'s aren't relevant there that I can see as you should cull any new batch if you want to (I have done experiments where I culled one batch and not the next and compared accuracy and I have never seen anything noteworthy - I also have a suggestion (that isn't my idea) to lightly notch the rim with a file after each firing to keep a count, K Jarrett told me about that one and it does help keep track - My buddy's 300 Jarrett takes only Rem brass in 8mm mag, all he's ever used but I hate Rem brass myself

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    Default select and segregate

    Using range brass I first segregate the brass by brand and and then any other means I can use to seperate. Federal is now dating some of their brass and/or using different colored primer sealants. Some of the head stamps are slightly different also - some new cases are using flatter stamps.

    For pistol cases I then size and decap in carbide dies and then ultrasonically clean them with Lemi Shine. For most rifle cases I first decap them and clean them then size them afterwards.

    After cleaning a carefull visual inspection is done of all cases. The cases are weighted as a fast sort - some cases are clearly different either high or low for various reasons. For rifle cases I then size them and check for chambering in the intended gun or guns. For cases I use small base dies or bump the cases hard into the sizing dies to get the required headspace and base size.

    After these steps I load my normal loads and after firing treat them pretty much as I would brass I had bought as new then fired once. I may trim to size for critical loads but for most calibers I just shoot 'em.

    All in all I haven't seen any significant difference in my range brass and that I bought as new. Savings have been substaintial but I have used a bit more of my time - but if I was worried more about time than money I won't be reloading anyway.
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    OK, that's about what I needed to know.

    I'm not near Max, with this load.

    I won't MIX the New, and Old loads.

    I keep track of loadings by putting a dots on the case head with a Sharpie pen, one dot per firing, and also on the loading label.

    I've never weighed brass, but I spose I could start now, since I have that little Electronic Scale.

    I have no problem with "Range Brass" if I know what it is. I can usually tell "once fired" FLs for example, from that which is older. I'll pick it up,and use it for "Fill In", if nothing else. The same with brass that someone gives me.

    What I DO have a problem with, is brass that someone picks up, runs it through their Tumbler, and sells at a Gun Show. It's all shiny, and new looking, but there is not a good way to tell how many times it's been fired.

    Sometimes, I've FOUND OUT, when I started using it, so I don't play that game no more.

    I've bought brass at Gun Shows more than once, but it's been Fired FLs in the boxes they came in, but one hasta be careful on that, too.

    That's where I'm at. Thanks for the helpful, info, and ideas. I'll keep'em in my data base, and apply as needed.

    Smitty of the North
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