Yet another .223 question


April 12, 2007, 12:04 PM
I'll admit - loading bottle neck cartridges is a lot more difficult than straight walled cases. The case prep is quite a bit more extensive (but I absolutely love it!). So here's the question - I'm FL resizing 223 brass. Most of them size perfectly and fit the headspace gauge with no problems. Yet some will not. The ones stamped PPC(?) and LC will not. I realize they are military brass but is the base thicker? When placed in a gauge, they still stick up about .010 - .015" which means the neck hasn't been pushed all the way back. Why does it work on commercial brass yet not on Mil? Just curious. I could crank the die down a little bit more, but then the commercial brass will have too much head space. Right now it falls right between the min and max setting on the gauge, which is perfect. The mil stuff? It always ends up over max which means the bolt will not close. So, what am I missing?
thanks all....

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April 12, 2007, 12:23 PM
brass hardness and ductility vary a fair bit, so some of your brass may indeed size differently.

But another thing: I've found when loading for my M1 that extractor burrs and/or dings on the rim can keep the case from sliding freely into the gauge, even though it's otherwise properly sized. When I feel like bothering, I use a needle file and smooth away the burr, and the case slides right in and gauges correct.

Art Eatman
April 12, 2007, 12:47 PM
Keep the brass separated. Size each type differently, as appropriate. Labelling the boxes helps. Use only one type of the ammo at any shooting session; that way, it's easy to maintain the segregation...


April 12, 2007, 01:10 PM
Check closely and see if it's the shoulder that's not allowing the case to fully enter the gauge, or is the base oversize? A lot of surplus 5.56 ammunition is being fired through the M-249 SAW, and may be oversized from being fired through an automatic rifle. If this is the case, then a small base die might be required to use this brass.

I've also got several different sizing dies in most calibers, since there is variation in diameter between different dies. They are all within specifications for the caliber, with the exception of one .45 acp Lee die that barely touches a fired case, but there are minimums and maximums for each caliber. If your sizing die is at the maximum specifications for .223, that could contribute to what you're seeing.

You're right in not wanting to set the shoulder back and causing excessive headspace, since this would cause case head separations. If you have an accurate dial caliper, measure the inside of the sizing die at the opening, and then measure the same location of the case gauge and see how much tolerance there is at this point.

Hope this helps.


April 14, 2007, 02:53 AM
LC brass is thicker, and has less interior space as a result, resulting in higher pressures in some cases for given loads.
It has often been annealed. It will be a different color at the neck.
These may also be a factor. Check how deep you have set the sizing die, before you ran the decapper pin in. With a spent and trimmed round, (commercial brass) fully in the holder, ram it up into an empty press. Slowly screw the sizing die in until it just touches the shoulder of the case. This should be the spot. Follow your package instructions (the ones that came with THAT die set) for how much further or less you should set the die, and set the holding ring to that spot. Once you have it absolutely right for comercial brass, check it against LC brass. See the post above, for the reasons it may be different, and do indeed seperate all commercial from LC or other military brass.
I am in the process of discarding all LC brass, since any I load to the AR specs, will fail with a base sep when I shoot it in the contender. As noted above, slightly different chamber specs. Makes a cute little shell that looks like a .380 auto pistol case. When I shoot what I already have loaded up, I just don't pick up the LC stuff. I always bend over for the commercial stuff, and will police brass at the range when it has only been out there a day or two.

Since you are reloading, you are taking about 8 steps to make a new round. That makes you at least borderline compulsive, like the rest of us. Another step of sorting and seperating won't hurt a bit. Think of how organized your wife will think you are.
All those labeled plastic jars that you save from the kitchen....those flip top plastic mayo jars are great for brass. Same with the plastic nestle's quick boxes.

April 14, 2007, 08:03 AM
One thing to remember is that new annealed brass will push back and stay back when sized and work hardened brass will spring back which necesitates sizing down farther. If this is all once fired I don't see this as being the main problem, but might be part of the answer. :)

Like Fred said, make sure it's not case shoulder swelled way out. If it is and they are few, I would scrap em. If it's a lot of them, the small base die may be your answer.

April 14, 2007, 12:41 PM
Just for clarification, all rifle brass is annealed at the factory, prior to loading. If it wasn't, it would split with the first firing from being work hardened during the forming process. If you've never seen brass being made, they beat the crap out it before it gets to it's final shape. Most companies anneal the brass at least twice for rifle cases.

Commercial brass is tumbled to remove the stains left by the annealing process, just so it looks good to the consumer. Military brass shows the stains, because it's not tumbled prior to loading, other than enough to clean it, since grunts don't care how shiny the brass is, only that it goes bang.

Hope this helps.


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