Finally getting geared up to reload, how to start "collecting" brass?


January 15, 2007, 08:48 PM
Well, I'm finally going to begin reloading. I have my Lee Classic Cast on order and I am picking up the rest of my components soon!

My question is, how does one go about starting to reload with regards to brass?

I shoot:

and eventually, .300 Win Mag.

I have ZERO empty, factory brass and only a limited supply of boxed factory ammo. I will probably start reloading with the .204 and .223 first. (I already have an acceptable factory hunting load for the .270, the .243 is not yet scoped, and I don't own the .300 Win Mag Encore barrel just yet!)

I am not a high volume shooter, instead I am looking for accuracy, consistancy, and flexibility out of my loads.

How do I begin? Do I buy 100 once-fired cases of each? Do I buy 20 brand new of each until I find brass my gun likes?

Eventually, I want to have a perfected load for each caliber that I can duplicate anytime, and I would like to have 500-1000 rounds of each on-hand.

I think that mixing brass would be detrimental to quality control, and having to weight and separate brass into different lots seems like it'd be tough to catalog. Is a large amount of just ONE type of brass the good way to start?



If you enjoyed reading about "Finally getting geared up to reload, how to start "collecting" brass?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
January 15, 2007, 09:14 PM
depending on how serious you want to get, buying a bunch of brand new brass wouldn't be a bad idea.

im not a bench rest shooter, so for me i'll take anything once fired. if your up for ultimate accuracy, a lot of people really like lapua.

January 15, 2007, 09:19 PM
I am sure you will get several different answers but, when I started reloading I purchased some new brass from the local gun shop. I also started saving my brass from factory ammo (6mm Rem)that I was shooting. Then I learn the value of scrounging the range brass for what I needed. I don't buy much factory ammo except for new caliber guns that I aquire now and then. But Range Scrounging is more fun. I also swap out scrounged brass that I don't use with friends.

January 15, 2007, 09:30 PM
Hey Duck, Unless you are different than most reloaders, you will become a brass scrounger. Everytime you go to a range you will look around for extra gold! Hey you get everyone's info and then make your own decision. If you want used stuff that I have scrounged, I think I can make a donation of some of all you requested. Just PM me and we'll work out something, you can get lots of brass in a flat rate shipping box. Mac

January 15, 2007, 09:35 PM
Pretty soon you will develop the reloaders disease, you will become a scounging garbage picker:what: .

You will drool when fresh brass hits the ground from a shooter you know who doesn't reload. At first you will look over your shoulder to make sure noone is watching as you go thru the garbage cans at the range. You will shead a tear when you find lots of empty boxes in that trash and the brass is gone. WELCOME to the club,:neener:

Read this thread

January 15, 2007, 09:39 PM
I agree with dtalley brass buzzarding is the way to go. I purchased my last gun based up on the amount of brass I had picked up at the range, 500+ .40 S&W. Unless you're a bench rest shooter using electronic triggers I seriously doubt you notice any accuracy difference in between different brass manufactures. It true that case capacity does vary from manufacture to manufacture but when you take into consideration bullet uniformity, humidity, temperature, powder lot variation, wind, your bench rest, your heart rate, and your ability to judge your arc of movement I doubt what little case variation will affect your accuracy or can even be identified but that is only an opinion not backed by any facts. I am not a bench rest shooter and if accuracy is what you're looking for search the bench rest forms there they can tell you from experience support it with data where you will see most gain for your effort.

January 15, 2007, 09:43 PM
New brass is probably the "best" route to go. However, if like most of us money is a factor to you, I suggest buying once-fired brass from a seller on Ebay.

If the seller has good feedback, you should be quite safe in buying from him.

Many Ebay sales are on a "Buy It Now" basis, so you can see exactly what the final price will be without waiting for an auction to run its course. Watch out for excessive shipping charges.

On the Ebay site, search for "fired reloading brass", and "reloading brass", and if you want, try your specific calibers, such as ".204 brass" etc.

I have bought many lots of brass on Ebay, and have been quite satisfied with the results. I've seen all of your calibers advertised there in the recent past. Take a peek, and see what you think. I do recommend that you buy larger'll see folks wanting to sell 19 rounds of .300, or 27 rounds of .257 etc....forget it. Get at least 100 identical (same headstamp) cases if you're going to buy. For handgun calibers, I buy at least 500 or 1000 at a time.

Having lots of brass on hand is a very comforting "warm-fuzzy"....I must have 25,000 on hand, and I NEED MORE!!!!

January 15, 2007, 09:53 PM
When I lived in Littleton, Colorado, I would go to the range during hunting season and bring a 13 gallon trash can and ask the range officer if I could leave it behind the firing line. I put a sign on it saying "Trashcan for Brass Only"
The range officer would tell me that's fine because a lot of people would just let it fall on the floor. When they see a sign they usually throw it away. I did this everytime I went to the range and shot.
I have yet to buy .223, .243, .270, 30-06, 7mm Mag ang .300 Win Mag. brass.
You would be surprised what people would throw away. Most, if not all were once fired factory ammo put back in the box.:)

January 15, 2007, 09:55 PM
hate e-bay, because of their apparent anti-gun bias, it is a good place to buy used brass. IF you know what it's worth, and if you get it in sufficient quantity to absorb the freight cost. Also, watch out for low prices but high freight costs. I've seen some freight charges (not necessarily for reloading supplies) on e-bay that were high enough that they could charge $.01 for the item and still make a profit on the combined item cost/freight charge after their actual costs.

.38 Special
January 15, 2007, 09:56 PM
I am not a high volume shooter, instead I am looking for accuracy, consistancy, and flexibility out of my loads.
IMO, if you are serious about accuracy -- meaning MOA for big-game loads and considerably less than that for varmint loads like the .223 and .204 -- you should start with fresh brass from a reputable manufacturer. Once fired is a bit of a gamble, especially if you do not know the gun in which those loads were fired. Moreover there is no way to really tell if the stuff has only been fired once.

Mixed brass, BTW, is good only for blasting. Any reasonably accurate rifle will shoot a variety of brass to a variety of different points on the target -- and I know this from personal experience.

Finally, most guns are not picky about brands of brass. That is to say, it is rare to encounter a gun that shoot Federal brass noticeably better than Remington, or somesuch. So you don't really need to worry about trying 20 pieces from this manufacturer or that manufacturer. In your shoes I would buy bags of 100 factory fresh brass when starting to load for a particular caliber and call it good. When you need more down the road, just buy more from the same manufacturer. (You will find folks that will tell you it is critical to buy all brass for an individual gun at one time, ensuring that it is all from the same lot. This is true with a bench gun capable of shooting groups in the .0 somethings, but is irrelevant, in my experience, for any factory rifles.)


January 15, 2007, 09:57 PM
I prefer using new brass to avoid problems inherited with the pickup brass. For rifles, I always bought 2-3 boxes of new brass and one box of factory ammo (same brand as brass). The only problem I ever had with rifle reloads was trying to load some mixed brand pickup brass in .270 for a friend. Nothing but problems with feeding and lousy accuracy. He bought new brass and reloads using exact same powder/bullet/primer combo then fed/shot great.

For pistols, I will "sometimes" use pickup brass for my .45 ACP plinking loads where I don't/can't recover the brass when shooting. But for top accuracy and best results, I prefer to start with new brass not fired in someone else's gun. I purchased several thousand new WW cases for .45 and am working my way thru them. This may be a lifetime supply because I can probably cycle thru this large batch many times.

Good shooting and be safe.

January 15, 2007, 09:57 PM
I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only "range scrounger"

January 15, 2007, 10:24 PM
Brand new brass + primer + powder + bullet is still cheaper than 1 factory round.

I use only fired brass when it orginally came from my guns but will start to use new brass, but I only shoot pistol right now and even the most expensive of my factory loads are generally less than a rifle load.

January 15, 2007, 10:38 PM
"...once-fired brass..." This can be found in some gun shops too. However, for working up a load use brass that has been fired out of your rifle or new brass. You have no idea how many times 'range' pick up stuff has been loaded or how it has been looked after. New brass isn't terribly expensive and you know exactly what has been done to it. It does entail a bit more case prep though.

January 15, 2007, 10:56 PM
A few others have mentioned it, but doesn't scrounging for range brass cause issues with knowing when a case has been reloaded enough times?

Being new to reloading, I'm not sure I could identify a stressed case, one that has seen the end of it's life span. (I don't have any reloading books yet, maybe they cover that?). Shouldn't it make me nervous to have 500 rounds of ammo for a 300 Win Mag and not know from one case to the next which are on their last load and which can go another 4?

It sounds like once fired brass or range brass is suitable for my needs from an accuracy perspective (I am not a BR shooter, but I am looking for minute-of-prairie dog with my .204), but the quality control still worries me!

Maybe the answer is once-fired - I know a little bit about the brass' history and can save a buck, too?

Thanks for the replies!


ps - Encoreman, thanks for the offer! Still not quite sure what I want to do yet...

January 16, 2007, 06:03 AM
You might try

Dr. Dickie
January 16, 2007, 08:30 AM
Hover, ask, search, scrounge, and find every single cartridge that hits the ground.
If I do not come home with more brass than I left with, it was only a fun day at the range.

January 16, 2007, 08:33 AM
I purchased my last gun based up on the amount of brass I had picked up at the range, 500+ .40 S&W.

I bought a .44 Spl. because I got some brass in a deal many many years ago. :)

Yeah, I bought some brass from the brassman and I got what I expected in a timely fashion, at a reasonable price, and it was what he said it was. Very nice once fired brass. I was happy. I got 2000 each of .40 and .45. I am still shooting range pickups and have not touched that brass yet.

January 16, 2007, 09:21 AM
Be careful of going in the brass cans. One range I go to. I was told they would kick me out. Have fun. :D

Brian Williams
January 16, 2007, 09:26 AM
I am not a high volume shooter, instead I am looking for accuracy, consistancy, and flexibility out of my loads.

What I do for my hunting rifles is to get 100 rounds of factory ammo. Shoot all 100 from various positions so I know I can shoot the gun and it works. Then I take the 100 rounds and do a load ladder to find the "load" my gun likes. Once I have the load, I load those 100 up as hunting loads, because I might lose one from a quick reload after I shoot. Then for the accuracy and consistancy at the range I buy new brass in 500 round lots of the same brand that I hunt with normally Remington, but Federal, Winchester and Starline are all great brass.

If I shot more target stuff I would be even more anal towards my brass using only new and I would keep much more accurate records of how often each lot was shot.

For my handguns, I shoot anything, I have even gone to the range just to mine the brass for 45acp, 38spec or 357. I only bought new brass for my BUG to go into moonclips for my S&W 65

January 16, 2007, 09:27 AM
Ask the range if they have brass they are going to get rid of. When I worked at Jensen's, we had 10 55 gal barrels of spent brass in the back. I wasn't a reloader at the time, or I would have enough handgun brass to keep me going for life...
We also encouraged brass scroungers, less for us to scoop up at the end of the day.
You might be surprised what you find - I came up with several Lapua brass in 7.62x54R at the outdoor range, once!

Ranger J
January 16, 2007, 10:36 AM
If you can’t wait to get reloading and only shoot a limited number of rounds at a time you might start with 50-100 rounds of new brass. On the other hand unless you are shooting a one of the calibers where ‘everyone’ reloads, like my 45/70, if you frequent a range often you will soon be able to accumulate a store of ‘free range’ brass. I personally have been known to catch someone else’s brass on the first bounce.:rolleyes:

January 16, 2007, 01:24 PM

you might want to do a little hunting around on the net for some good deals...just went to look around at Pats Reloading and found a few decent looking deals that can fill out at least two calibers your looking for...223 and 243. Also have good deals on bulk mil-surp powders and bullets for feeding hungry kids. :)


January 16, 2007, 07:20 PM

I looked there for some 45 ACP brass and found some nickel plated stuff. Are there any disadvantages to using this rather than plain brass?

January 17, 2007, 12:40 AM

Nickel casings are harder and more brittle. In .45 ACP I don't know of any disadvantages but in rifle they take more effort to trim and and seem to split long before their brass counterpart. I have been shooting some nickel in .40 S&W and 9 mm and haven't noticed any difference in longevity. I believe that is because the neck of the case doesn't get worked since there is no crimping.

January 17, 2007, 02:30 PM
The trick with once fired brass is to “make sure it is”. If you are just picking up brass with out checking for “incipient head separation” you are just looking for trouble… I now only pick up brass if is saw it come from a new box…
I recommend just buying some new brass…

.38 Special
January 17, 2007, 10:08 PM
Being new to reloading, I'm not sure I could identify a stressed case, one that has seen the end of it's life span.
I am unaware of any way to tell once fired from twice, three times, etc. fired. You can insert a dental or other sharp, angled tool into the case and feel near the base for a groove that indicates incipient case head seperation, but that doen't tell you anything other than that the case is about to fail. Moreover, even if the case truly is "once-fired" you don't know anything about the gun which fired it. If it's an old military surplus rifle with excess headspace, even once-fired is too many. And in the military rounds like .308 and .223, there's every possibility that the brass went through a machine gun, which is tough on brass. Again, my opinion is that used brass from unkown sources is fine for blasting, but a handicap if attempting to work up an accurate load in a varmint rifle.

January 20, 2007, 12:41 PM
You can get a pretty good idea if a case has been reloaded just by taking a real close look.

Find out what color of primers a company uses in their factory loads. (if you find a remington case with a silver primer...probably a reload)

Look for the primer sealant used by manufacturers, if its still there, most likely not a reload.

Check the length of the case, is it what you would expect to find for a once fired case. Look at the brass to see if there are any signs that it has been trimmed to length. Untrimmed brass almost has dimples on the casemouth, looking at it from the end instead of smooth (trimmed).

Look at the case head and see if there are multiple extractor groove marks, indicating reloads.

Are the primer pockets sloppy?

If its militarty brass, has the primer crimp been removed? If so probably a reload.

Some people only wipe the sizing lube off instead of tumbling. The brass still will have almost an oily feeling to it, another indication of reloads.

It is much easier to tell if a rifle case has been reloaded than a pistol, but at the same time when a pistol case has reached its useful life the neck will generally crack making it very easy to tell if it is safe to load again.

Since I don't keep track of the number of times that I reload my own brass, I use the same criteria to determine if a piece of picked up brass is suitable to be reloaded. To be honest using the "clues" that a piece of brass will give you , I have had zero problems. I mostly shoot bolt guns and revolvers, so feeding issues could come into play for those with auto loaders.

January 20, 2007, 12:56 PM
I can't remember the last time I went to the range and came home with less brass than I went with. I just pick up everything and sort it out later. I have a head start on calibers I don't even own yet.

January 20, 2007, 10:15 PM
+1 Rusty.
Shoot em, till they crack.
I just loaded some .357 mag. On the 8th reload.:D

January 21, 2007, 07:21 AM
My question is, how does one go about starting to reload with regards to brass?

I shoot:

and eventually, .300 Win Mag.

You did not pick anything real common. You might be able to pick up a few of these cases here and there discarded by other shooters at a range, but it might take you ten years to get enough of each to be useful to you.

I suggest buying factory ammo, shooting it, and using the empty cases. This will give you some factory loaded rounds to compare to your reloaded rounds.

Alternatively, you can buy unfired, new cases from various places like Midway USA.

If you enjoyed reading about "Finally getting geared up to reload, how to start "collecting" brass?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!