So far, my reloading endeavors have been pretty limited- .38/.357 and .45. I like my loads, and they shoot well enough for practice. I haven't made any ammo in almost a year, (moving twice, just got all the equipment out) so I started with some .38s. I'd say the bunch of brass I'm using is about 50/50 once-fired/twice-fired, very mixed with respect to brands.
Therein lies my question... I have a single-stage RCBS kit, so I "feel" each piece of brass as it goes through the press. Not only as in touching it repeatedly, but each pull of the press is only one piece of brass. I have begun to notice some patterns in "feelings", and wonder what they mean.
"Winchester 38 spl" brass resizes a little tougher than most, but bells easily, with little effort.
"CBC" (magtech) seems the most consistent with respect to the amount of effort required to resize, bell and seat.
"S&B" seems to resize with more effort, but the belling is VERY light.
"R-P" (first time on this stuff, once-fired) had so little resistance while belling, that I had to check to see if it actually belled the case- it did.
Both the "S&B" and the "R-P" had lines just below the case mouth- kinda like a cannelure, but in the case rather than the bullet. By "feeling", I'm saying the CBC is the best brass in the bunch. It feels the most solid, and goes through all operations consistently. The winchester looks better, but it bells with so little effort that I don't have quite as much confidence in it...
Please confirm or deny my suspicions, or teach me... I am ready to learn!
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July 7, 2005, 06:33 PM
I guess what I meant to ask was, is the CBC brass as good as I think it is?
July 7, 2005, 10:04 PM
I don't load it...I don't even pick it up at the range....
July 7, 2005, 10:23 PM
I pick it up and reload it.
Decent brass in my experience. No off-center flash holes, reloads many times without any deterioration that I can detect. Quite a bit better than much of he Federal brass I have seen over the last few months.
If any of you guys who pick up range brass, are tossing your S&B, CBC or *I*, drop me a PM or an e-mail. I will be most happy to pay shipping and take it off your hands.
July 8, 2005, 10:15 AM
Just be careful to not be mislead. Different brands of 38 brass will vary in length by around 0.010 inches. That's enough to make it feel different when belling. Also, if the brass was used for a very light load it will resize easier than a max load, because it expanded less.
I have noticed the different feel too on some brands. Some have tighter primer pockets and some feel looser in the shell holder.
As far as which is best, the only time I have used CBC brass is from range pick ups so I can not really judge it. I use most of the other brands (no S&B either, same reason) and slightly prefer Starline. But all are useful, even the odd brands get used for lost brass situations. As for other prejudices I dislike the "case cannelure" and the easier to split nickle plated brass.
July 8, 2005, 11:38 AM
I already tossed all my S&B 9mm - re priming is a PITA. The only other brass I refuse to use is A-Merc. I only found two, and they both had off center flash holes. Garbage.
July 8, 2005, 12:25 PM
I hadn't considered that the cases might be of different lengths. When I get one that doesn't feel like it belled, I always touch the lip of the case to make sure it *did* bell, and sometimes place a bullet to make sure it belled *enough*. Different case lengths make as much sense as anything I've thought of or heard.
Gotta go get some calipers...
July 8, 2005, 01:03 PM
It kind of surprized me too. It didn't occur to me that they could vary that much. Then THR member Callgood posted a question about case lengths (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=140258) that got me interested enough to check. If you closely compare two cases at the extremes of variation, you can actually see the difference in length. It didn't change my method of crimping (I can't see the difference in the crimp) but it did make me do careful sorting when loading 38's for accuracy.
July 9, 2005, 03:22 AM
I like BCB (MagTech) brass. In fact it is just about the only brass I use in my S&W N-Frame .44-40. The thin necks seem to last a little longer thasn Winchester or Remington.
I have a loaded a lot of it in .45ACP, .45 Colt and .44 Magnum. For me it's been as good as Starline or any other big name brand brass.
July 11, 2005, 01:53 AM
A very good practice for reloading any brass is to sort it by manufacturer and keep each manufacturer's brass as a separate lot. Checking case length and trimming as needed for uniformity is an XLNT idea, and since it only needs to be done once in the life of a straight-wall pistol case, it is not too much of a PITA.
To improve the quality of your brass, toss all the nickel-plated brass into yr scrap bucket. The nickel plating sometimes flakes off when resizing, and the plating process makes the underlying brass more brittle. Barring a desperate situation, I would not load Ni plated brass. The metal recycler who buys my scrap brass doesn't quibble with a little nickel-plate mixed in; he pays the same for the weight.
The best pistol brass is generally acknowledged to be Starline. Some years back I quit fooling around with various manufacturers' brass and just bought a lot of Starline cases. Haven't yet had a failure of any sort. And that gets around all the problems of different manufacturers, different case cannelure patterns, different case lots, etc, etc, all that :barf: kinda stuff. The $$ for the Starline brass was, I feel, VERY well spent!
July 11, 2005, 10:18 PM
In a couple of weeks I and one of my horses will be in the mountains for a long period of time. Because American leather is tanned with a form of acid it will be necessary to use nickle plated brass to keep the cases from corroding. It is a good practice to keep a few sets of nickle plated brass for those times when rounds will be in leather belt loops. :banghead: Oh by the way. I haven't had any trouble with nickle plated cases and some of mine are left over from when I purchased my SAA Colt in 1966. And of all things, they are Remington nickle plated cases. ;) Yup...They do split on occasion, but so do unplated brass. :scrutiny:
July 11, 2005, 11:25 PM
Curious question...How do you determine what is once fired brass that you pick up at the range? Do you have any visual inspections and can you tell what has been loaded before?
July 12, 2005, 01:31 AM
Bushmaster: ID'ing once fired brass from range pickups is the easiest thing in the world. If it was fired, and left on the ground, it was left by a non-reloader. Ergo, it was factory brass from the store, fired once.
A reloader with more-than-once fired brass would take that brass home, resize it, and make it into once-more-fired brass. Simple, no?
The few exceptions I can think of would involve (1) cases reloaded by a friend for a non-reloader, who unthinkingly fires those cases and leaves them on the ground. He will do this exactly once. So it's not much of a problem. Or, (2) cases fired "for the last time" by a reloader who knows they're completely shot (pun intended! :D ) but usually a reloader will have a scrap brass collection @ home so he'll pick 'em up anyhow. And old, old cases can be seen on examination after you've gone to the trouble of picking them up and taking them home: filthy, splits, gas leaks around primers, worn primer pockets, etc. (Then they go in YOUR scrap bucket!) Other than once-fired brass on the ground @ the range is, IMX, extremely rare.
The biggest surprise I ever got from free range brass was an unbelievably large spider that came out of one of the cases while I was inspecting them. :eek:
BTW, on those nickel cases, I was stating the standard wisdom. You're right; they are good in leather cartridge holders on gun belts. You're perfectly right abt. the acid in the leather vs. the brass case, plus the nickel cases looked nicer on the black police Sam Browne gunbelts back when LEO's carried revolvers. I do keep hearing that some people have good luck with reloading them. If they work for you...
July 12, 2005, 02:39 AM
Thanks Smokey Joe. I have my own way of determining once fired cases and it is rather stringent. Reloaded brass that has been fired more then once will still have the sizing die marks just in front of the case head where it begins to thicken. Also if you look into the case at the bottom you will note that the bottom is relatively clean and has little or no soot. This system has worked for me for years. Most of the cases that I have loaded new have shown the same cleanness on first firings. On second firings they seem to start sooting up. I am just curious as to how the rest of you determine this.
And thanks for the remark of support on the nickle plated brass. I have had good luck with Remington, Winchester, Speer and WW Super nickled brass. So far....
July 12, 2005, 04:42 AM
I buy a lot of the cheap $4 Miwall reloaded .38 special. I use it for plinking.
The cases they use for their $4 ammo has already been loaded several times.
I re-reload it, but I only use it for plinking ammo.
I know several people who by this ammo and because it's so cheap they just shoot it and leave the brass behind.
So by someone's logic it's once fired. :confused:
And since it's been cleaned and tumbled before they reload it the cases are as clean inside as once fired.
I can reload good cases five or six times and then process it so you won't be able to tell it apart from new ammo.
Now I admit that I use range brass. I inspect each and every one before I consider it worthy to reuse.
But I never guess as to whether it was once fired, twice fired or thrice fired.
There is no room for guesswork in reloading!
Unless I shot it myself, or unless I know for a fact that it was factory fresh new ammo before it was fired, I consider all pickup brass to be well used.
And I treat it as such.
Y'all can do as you see fit.
July 12, 2005, 02:43 PM
Bluesbear--I shoot rifle @ the public range where I pick up brass; pistol ranges are something else. Where I shoot indoor pistol league the rule is like some trap ranges: If it hits the floor it belongs to the range.
I don't know of rifle cases that are so cheap that people can leave them on the ground, unless they have no access to reloading. So in my situation, my logic holds. This would be true I think for the vast majority of rifle ranges: If it's on the ground, it's once-fired. Your pardon, but I think this is mostly true for pistol brass as well.
I certainly inspect each and every piece of brass before I deem it qualified to go through my Rockchucker; only a fool would fail to do so. Bushmaster commented on sizing die marks on used brass; I should have.
I hope you don't think that I use every piece of brass I pick up--see my remarks below on old cases.
During the 30 years when I used a lot of free range brass I never any sort of problem traceable to the brass' age, gender, or prior condition of servitude. Mostly due to rigorous inspection. When the brass is free, you can be quite severe in rejecting imperfections.
After all the urging to new reloaders that I have done on these forums, to study up, to learn safe methodology before plunging in, to use published load data from a standard source, I would dislike it extremely to be thought of as any sort of wild, careless, seat-of-the-pants sort of operator.
July 12, 2005, 05:43 PM
I hope you don't think that I use every piece of brass I pick up Of course not.
SmokeyJoe, I have read enough of your posts to know that you are not a fool. However, I felt compelled to throw a small monkey wrench into your logic just in case a beginner might take it verbatum.
I have read many posts by beginners regarding their reloading methods that have just plain given me the Heebie-Jeebies! :uhoh:
Perhaps I am just getting overly cautious in my advancing age.
But reading about people who have never seated a single primer before, commencing to crank out a few thousand rounds on a brand new Dillon (some before they even buy a loading manual), makes about as much sense to me as a dumb kid's first driving experience being a Lotus Formula One in downtown Seattle traffic.
July 12, 2005, 08:23 PM
:) Ok, Bluesbear, point taken, no hard feelings.
And I HEARTILY agree--people who (1) get a Dillon, (2) set it to Internet spec, and (3) proceed to crank out 1K rounds, prior to reading The ABC's of Reloading (which I just discovered today is out in a new edition!) and/or getting any sort of manual--scare me, too!
July 12, 2005, 10:25 PM
Thank you gentlemen. It's nice to know that we see eye to eye on this. I also inspect new brass with the same rigorous requirments.
July 13, 2005, 10:04 PM
Not much to add here-but here goes:
IME: Remington brass in pistol calibers is JUNK. To many early case failures, too much inaccuracy. Too many instances of insufficient crimp retention. I finally threw ALL my remington pistol brass in the junk about a year ago.
Good: Winchester-usually goes a half dozen loads before trouble.
Better: Federal-loads a dozen full-house loads before trouble.
Best: Starline-Takes +p+ loads plenty of times before trouble.
All I load is usually faster hotter end stuff, so YMMV, but the above is what works for me.
July 13, 2005, 10:30 PM
Ben...Because of my belief in the freedom of choice such as Kellogg Corn flakes or Poste Toastes. Ford or Chevy. and other such brand nouns. I have not had much trouble with Remington/Peters cases in brass or nickle plated. I, however, will agree. Winchester and federal cases, especially Winchester are excellent cases. I have a limited supply of Star line and haven't tested them as of yet.
July 13, 2005, 10:54 PM
Some of you will certainly disagree with this, but I have gotten to the point of tossing Federal brass in the hold bin for trading to those who prefer it.
The last four boxes of factory Federal ammo (two in 32H&R mag, one in 10mm and one in 38 Special) I have opened and shot have split several cases on the first firing. Not the first reload, split case right out of the factory box.
I know not every case from every box can be bad, but for me, it's now trading fodder.
I stick to closely inspected once fired from Brassman, as much as I can get from a KNOWN once fired source or range pickups for loading with plinking loads.
I use Starline in the 500 and 10mm for reloads. I will use once fired factory brass for reloads, but no more Federal in pistol for me.
I heard on the 'net that their primers produce more lead residue than others too, but that's just a completely unsubstantiated hearsay rumor :D And we all know lead is dangerous to your health... especially for reloaders.
July 13, 2005, 11:13 PM
BigSlick...Will the lead scare ever die??? I only have 38 more years to argue this subject and I would like to see it buried before me... :D :neener:
July 14, 2005, 02:59 AM
I love Remington brass.
You can send all of yours to me I'll gladly take it.
In fact except for A-MERC I'll gladly accept any brand of boxer primed cases I can get.
Over the years I have come to the conclusion that it's the way different people reload that determines which brass will work the best for them.
Some people neck/mouth expand too much.
Some people crimp too much.
Some people shoot guns that allow the brass too expand too much.
Some people use junk loading dies.
Some people just are sloppy reloaders.
Different brands of brass have different tolerances and consequently they will react differently to certain procedures.
As in many factets of the shooting sports find out what works the best for you and run with it.
But don't lose sight of the fact that what's right for you is not going to be right for everyone else.
July 14, 2005, 10:34 PM
Hummm..I guess some of the Great Northwest Has rubbed off on you, BluesBear. :) I agree with what you said, for what it's worth. And you are not getting my R-P cases!! :D
July 15, 2005, 12:41 AM
Not calling anyone out or saying you lie. As a matter of fact IF you have ANY explanation please post.
MY "LAST STRAW" INCIDENT WITH REMINGTON BRASS:
Took some 44 loads to the range for testing. All loaded on the same dies/press(rcbs press, redding dies) minimal belling(as in almost none) finished with a moderate crimp with a redding profile crimp die, at the same sitting with the die settings NEVER moved, cases trimmed to identical lengths, primers(federal large magnum pistol) from same box, slugs from same box(lazer cast 240 HCSWC), powder from the same container trickled to the 1/10 of a grain(2400). The only difference? The brass brand. Results?
Winchester brass: 5 shots under 2 inches at 25 yards generally.
Federal brass: Roughly the same as winchester.
Remington brass: About one in four keyholed about 6 inches out side the group.
THESE RESULTS WERE REPEATED IN 4 DIFERENT 44 MAGNUMS PRESENT THAT DAY.(9.5" SRH, 2 different 7.5" redhawks, and one 5.5" blackhawk)
That was the day ALL my R-P pistol cases went in the junk.
Any ideas folks?
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