NewB reloading questions


December 18, 2011, 04:35 PM
Hi everyone. Google searches for questions kept turning up threads here, so I figured I'd join & go straight to the source. I've been shooting for 25+ years but just started reloading.

You probably get 100 questions a week like these so I appreciate your help and patience with a novice like me.

I'm reloading .223. I have a Lee classic turret press, Lee Dies, & assorted other tools (mostly Lee).

I'm not a hunter or competitive shooter. I'm reloading general target/plinking/training ammo. I have 2 AR's - one 16", one 20", both 1:9, and the rounds I load will come from/go into both. But I do want accurate & consistent ammo. I primarily shoot Fed XM193 & IMI 193. I want to load something similar but probably not as hot unless it has to be. My goal is to not have to change sights for ammo - I want a round of what I load to hit a target at the same place the XM193 or IMI will. I don't expect to put 3 rounds into the same hole at 100M with M193 (not that I'm that good anyway) and I don't expect what I make to do it either. I do expect it to group in a reasonably tight circle though, all at point of aim.

I have 1,000 Hornady 55 gr FMJBT on the way. I have on hand 1,000 CCI #41 primers, 4 lb H335 powder, & 1,000 rds "1x fired LC brass". That should be enough to load 1,000 rds minus anything I screw up or brass that gets rejected.

That leads me to my 1st question. I've gone thru about 1/4 of the brass so far. Cleaned, decapped, sized, & trimmed. My chamfer/deburr hasn't arrived yet so that's as far as I'm going this weekend other than maybe putting in primers. I never saved my brass so I bought some "1x fired Lake City" locally. Turns out that isn't what I bought exactly. First, it's a mix of LC and regular Federal commercial brass. Second, it's more than 1x fired - now that I see the ring that my FL resize die puts near the rim I notice this brass has it. The LC brass doesn't have crimped primers either. But no cracks, big dents, creases, smashed mouths, etc. so I really don't care if it has been fired 1-3 times. I don't think it has been fired more than a couple times based on extractor marks and brass deflector dings. Anyway, from what I've read so far is that if I do everything the same I'll have higher pressures with the LC brass due to thicker case walls. What I don't know is how much a difference in pressure that would be and how that would translate to FPS & where the rounds strike the target. I have a few thousand factory loaded M193 so other than recycling this stuff I bought that will be my future supply of brass. Should I segregate the commercial brass & get it out of the mix now? Or is the difference going to be so small it doesn't matter?

Next, I'm using an ultrasonic cleaner for the brass and RCBS case lube because it's water soluble (maybe they all are - IDK). The cases are coming out very clean. Maybe not as bright/shiny as tumbled, but I'm really happy with the results considering how easy it is. The primer pockets look new. Does that mean I don't need to do any further prep to them? Or do I still need to brush or run a primer pocket tool for some reason? Of course if I do come across some of the LC that is crimped I'll have to take care of that, but if the pocket is visibly clean can I start putting in primers? I haven't done the deburr/chamfer yet but I don't think chucking each case back into the drill would make that process any faster & would probably lead to over doing it. But should I wait until after that step to put the primers in?

I'm still experimenting with my ultrasonic cleaning solution of water, LemiShine, & Dawn. I've had some turn slightly pinkish/copperish in spots around the case mouth. Other than cosmetics, is that hurting anything? I think it indicates too much LemiShine - too acidic.

The 2 on the left are FC headstamps, the 2 on the right are LC headstamps. It seems to only be happening to the LC brass & not all of it -maybe 1/2. I'm guessing the annealing has something to do with it.

How accurate do I need to be with case length trimming? After trimming I'm at 1.751 - 1.752. Should I be chasing that last thou? I'd think with the Lee case trimmer I'm using they should all come out the same - I don't see how I'm getting variation but it could easily be my miking skills that are the defect. It's well within tolerance but I don't know how much variation I should have within the tolerance. I found a couple that the tool's cutter head never engaged and they were around 1.749 - 1.750. I segregated them. Once the load is worked up I'll load those & then next time they'll be longer I guess but didn't want them to end up being some of the first since they were shorter. Am I worrying about something insignificant - is just making sure every one is under 1.760 good enough or is holding them all to as close to the same length as I can get them the right thing to be doing? I'm using & A random pull of IMI shows 1.755 case length. Does it matter if I'm making mine .004 shorter?

I don't know how my case length translates to seating the projectiles. Looking at the press and how I think it will work is that it's going to put the base of the bullet the same distance from the head every single time regardless of case length - the finished rounds will come out at the same OAL regardless of individual case length variations. I'll see more or less cannelure depending on case length. From inspecting a random box of IMI I see (by my calibrated eyeball) .010 - .020 of cannelure. there is only .002 difference OAL between the round I can see the most cannelure and the one I can see the least so that means either the bullets or the cases are different lengths or the cannelure placement isn't consistent.

My book - Lee Modern Reloading vol 2 - doesn't give me a case length to go by - only a min OAL.

Lastly, when should I clean my FL sizing die? Will it eventually get mucked up with lube, carbon, & debris? How do I know it's time to clean it? I don't think the other dies will get dirty since only clean, dry stuff will go in them, but this one will probably be a slimy mess inside.

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T Bran
December 18, 2011, 05:08 PM
Sounds like you are using a lot of good common sense. The case legnth being exactly the same will only have an effect if you are using your seating die to crimp at the same time as you seat. If you have good neck tension there is no reason to crimp so just set up your die so that it doesnt. As long as you are below the max case legnth you will be fine. On some csaes I find that they are already shorter than the min legnth listed in the specs. Dont worry about it after a couple full legnth resizes they will legnthen out.
Be very cautious about brass that has been loaded an unknown number of times. At least take one of the suspect cases and cut it legnthwise to check for any thinning near the base of the case. I wont lecture but it really is best to reload only brass of known history as in either new or once fired in your own rifle. When brass is approaching the end of it's life span many other reloaders just leave it where it falls. If you then collect it and load it you could be headed for problems. Just a heads up.
Please wear your eye protection at all times loading or shooting.
Have Fun

December 18, 2011, 05:46 PM
i dont load .223, only .308 and 300win mag but the case prep is the same, after you trim you de bur outside and inside i do them manually no drill and then a brush inside the neck to clean the burrs out. other than deburring the flash hole (also done when deburring brushing out inside is last) you seem to have it down. when you size them too much lube is a bad thing the first case should have a little extra cause the die is dry inside. i stand them up and spray them with case lube you can do more quickly than rolling them on the pad. after sizing clean lube off before priming, trimming and deburring keeps burrs from sticking to case. i trim my cases + .001 to - .002 trying for .000 but thats probably closer than they come from the factory. i do have an bushmaster AR 16in barrel and shoot the xm193 (good stuff shoots thru 1/4 in steel), i purchased some fiocci with 40gr vmax (from cabelas on sale) this is the most accurate ammo i have tried so far. the 50gr are good too. i found some videos on you tube that helped me with the basics.

December 18, 2011, 08:41 PM
CMV, sounds to me that you are ready to load! I trim to 1.750", or as close as I can reasonably get, but I don't fret over a few thousandths either way. I quit separating the cases by headstamp and still find my reloads very consistent. I started reloading 223 Rem. using 24.5 grains of H335, with an OAL of 2.220" and 55 grain bullets. I got very good consistent point of impact in both my 16" and 20" barrel AR 15s. This powder load is about midway between minimum and maximum and I had such good results I never changed it - until I ran out of H335 locally. I am now using H322 and I have had equally good results with that (22.0 grains).

December 18, 2011, 10:24 PM
Sounds like you've pretty much got it!

Unless you find that the primers don't want to go in, I really don't think you need to do anything to your primer pockets or flash holes. Generally I don't bother with either unless I see a really obvious issue or I can't seat a primer due to a military crimp. Then again I'm not an OCD benchrest shooter trying to squeeze out the last .00000001 MOA from my $12M rifle. If you're shooting milsurp brass though, a Hornady primer pocket reamer is a darned good way to go. The Dillon swager is highly regarded in these parts, but expensive. I haven't tried it yet but I probably will soon, since I've got a big ol' stash of .45ACP mil brass I wanna run thru my Hornady AP press.

Running a thousand rounds through a turret press (I started with the same one, but loading 7.62x54R) is gonna get tedious. I highly recommend loading in 50 round batches and using a hand primer instead of priming on the press. I use an RCBS and love it.

As to the pink you're getting on the necks, that's the brass losing some of its zinc content. You're right in that it's usually due to an overly acidic environment, and it can cause the brass to become brittle. Odds are that your light staining is just on the surface and therefore won't really make a difference, but if I were in your shoes I'd back down on the lemi-shine a little. I just tumble mine in treated walnut and again in fine corncob with a little water soluble case lube thrown in. Saves me the mess and trouble of lubing them separately, and has worked well for me so far. Worth a shot anyways.

Good luck!

December 19, 2011, 12:36 AM
Thanks for the replies!

I plan to do the primers off the press & have the Lee Auto Prime XR. Took it out of the box & went to get started and realized I don't have a shellholder. I thought the one for the case trimmer was the same but it's a little too big to fit in the auto prime. I'll see if I can get one at the local shop but they mostly have RCBS stuff. Otherwise it'll be a few days until I can get one delivered.

I don't know if I'll get into reloading pistol rounds or not. Buying additional turrets, Lee die sets, & prep tools wouldn't be that much. I don't think I can use H335 though & would need to keep a different powder & different primers on hand. Sounds dumb as most people here probably have a large assortment of powders, but keeping things simple for now sounds safest to me.

But I'm thinking it would be smart to work up the loads at the same time because getting to a range here is very expensive and out of the way. The fewer trips for testing things the better. In fact, I've been searching for over a month & can't find a 100M rifle range less than an hour away. No idea where & how I'm going to work up the .223 loads yet. There are a couple indoor ranges that allow ARs, but at 30' I don't know that I'd get any good data other than velocity. I'm not sure if the rounds striking the target at the same place as factory loads tells me anything that close. For pistol loads it would be fine though.

December 19, 2011, 12:56 AM
As to the pink you're getting on the necks, that's the brass losing some of its zinc content.

Absolutely right. Lemon juice or other organic acidic solutions ( like white vinegar) will "leach" some zinc out of the "Copper + Zinc=Brass" case if left in the solution too long. A weaker solution allows a longer soak time.

I use a weak white vinegar solution that I can leave pistol cases in for about 15-20 mins with no pink showing. Longer and and the pink shows up. I just shoot them pink or not, bit it will shorten the life of the case, especially with high pressure loads.

Just my 1.5 cents worth.

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