.223 volume loading


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ny32182
June 19, 2012, 03:45 PM
I've been loading .223 in small quantity (single stage) for years.

Some questions for those who load .223 in mid to high competition-level volume (say 10k rounds a year or greater):

1) How did you determine that it is economically worthwhile? Looks like current retail for brass cased PMC is about .30 a pop, and my loading cost seems to be about .20 a pop for similar load. I don't know what the brass goes for these days, but is it anywhere near .10? Given how much more of PITA rifle loading is than handgun, I would just like to hear your reasoning in the cost analysis. I'd have to invest in a nice trimmer of some kind and presumably a bit more Dillon gear as well.

2) What is your process?

I have a Dillon 650. I was talking to a 3-gunner about his process recently, and he has a Dillon trimmer. He said runs the following:

-First pass through the press he sizes and trims
-Swage primer pockets off the press if needed
-Second pass through the Dillon, load.

Expanding this to a bit more detail and accounting for things I like to do, I'm thinking about the following:

-Tumble brass
-Lube
-First pass on the Dillon: Size, and trim with press mounted Dillon trimmer. Manual case feed.
-Tumble to remove lube
-Swage primer pocket with Super swager
-Second pass through the press: load the ammo, use the casefeeder.

Currently all I'm loading on the 650 is 9mm. I believe I'd have to buy the following to run this process:

-Two new toolheads
-New powder die/measure/etc for easy swapping from 9mm
-.223 conversion kit
-Small rifle plate for the casefeeder
-Dillon trimmer
-Maybe a Dillion carbide .223 die if it makes sizing a lot easier

Is there anything I'm overlooking in the process or shopping list? Input from high volume .223 loaders would be appreciated. I don't think I'm going to do truly high volume for .223, but I do for 9mm, and would like to leave the press set up for that the vast majority of the time, which means I would like to do .223 in contiguous short runs of a couple thousand rounds at a time if I determine it is worth it. That way I would only need to switch the press over to .223 once every few months or so.

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kingmt
June 19, 2012, 04:16 PM
If I get the cases free it is about 8 cents a shot for the same thing Walmart sells for $7 a box. For 20 cents a shot I can load the same thing they sell for $30 a box.

jmorris
June 19, 2012, 04:26 PM
All of the .223 brass I use is free range pickup after 3 gun matches.

I tumble wet with stainless.
Run the through the annealing machine.
size/deprime and trim on a 650 and load on a 1050.
Into a corncob filled tumbler to knock the lube off.

It's worthwhile because I can't get someone to make the loads I do for the same price.

ny32182
June 19, 2012, 05:07 PM
My costs roughly:

8 cent bullet
8 cents of powder (I did buy an 8lb "surplus powder" that would cut this in half if it works (and if I could get it regularly); I have not done any development with it yet)
3 cent primer

I've got enough brass stash to where brass would be free for a while.

If the brass could be sold for .10 each I'd break even, unless I found much cheaper components somewhere. Looking on a once fired brass site, it looks like they sell for less than that however.

So say I could get it down to .15 a load, and save .15 a pop, if I spent another $600 on gear to get this shindig going it would pay for itself in 4000 rounds. I guess I could live with that.

Jmorris, what is your motivation for loading on the 1050, simply the built in primer pocket swager that I understand is on there?

I will be limited to the 650 and/or single stage.

MtnCreek
June 19, 2012, 06:15 PM
Maybe a Dillion carbide .223 die if it makes sizing a lot easier
IMHO, it's not worth the extra money in .223, assuming you already have good dies. It does make a difference in .308.

jmorris
June 19, 2012, 06:48 PM
Jmorris, what is your motivation for loading on the 1050

The primer swage station is one reason, the 1050 also let's you set the primer depth.

http://i121.photobucket.com/albums/o213/jmorrismetal/th_1050.jpg (http://s121.photobucket.com/albums/o213/jmorrismetal/?action=view&current=1050.mp4)

ny32182
June 20, 2012, 11:18 AM
Thanks.... If I currently have a 650 set up only for 9mm, how does my shopping list look:


Anything needed or really "nice to have" that I'm missing?

-Two new toolheads (one for size/trim, one for loading)
-New powder die/measure/etc for easy swapping from 9mm (won't need to change the charge bar)
-.223 conversion kit
-Small rifle plate for the casefeeder
-Dillon trimmer
-Maybe a Dillion carbide .223 die if it makes sizing a lot easier (feedback earlier in the thread indicates it might not make a difference vs. a steel sizing die)
-Super Swage 600

jmorris
June 20, 2012, 11:45 AM
That should do it. I use the carbide die but you certainly don't have to. You'll need a vacuum for thetrimmer and I would suggest some extra hose and a board with a hole in it if you have a window by your bench. Put the vacuum outside and just run the hose to the machine.

ny32182
June 21, 2012, 12:42 PM
Looking at the product descriptions it is not entirely clear, but do I need a Dillon .223 size/trim die for the trimmer to work, if I am sizing somewhere else?

The way I have it running in my head, I will size at #1, then trim somewhere else like #4.

Is the sizing and trimming done at the same time in the same station (would have to be #1), or is it kind of an optional thing like deciding whether to crimp and seat at the same time.

I guess if you needed to use the size die in the trimmer, you could have a "good" sizer set up at #1 to size it how you want, then just have the sizer in the trimmer backed off a hair to where it wasn't really doing anything, at #4?

Canuck-IL
June 21, 2012, 01:04 PM
How did you determine that it is economically worthwhile?
I just looked at the price of Black Hills or equivalent HP competition quality loadings.
/Bryan

mboylan
June 21, 2012, 03:02 PM
I tumble off the dirt.
Lube and resize in my single stage CoAx.
Tumble off the lube.
Do whatever case prep I need to.
Load on my 550.

mboylan
June 21, 2012, 03:06 PM
IMHO, it's not worth the extra money in .223, assuming you already have good dies. It does make a difference in .308.
You still, need to lube rifle cases with carbide dies. I don't see what it buys you.

jmorris
June 21, 2012, 05:52 PM
You are going to need a size/deprime die in #1 along with the trimmer die specific for caliber. You have to knock the primer out at some point and the trim die needs to hold the case to keep it from spinning in the shell plate.

Hondo 60
June 21, 2012, 06:11 PM
Given how much more of PITA rifle loading is than handgun


Reloading is a hobby unto itself, if you don't enjoy reloading, STOP doing it.

I reload because I like doing it.
I enjoy taking the right components & putting them together.
Then when my targets have one ragged hole :scrutiny: , I'm in heaven.
If you don't enjoy it, it's too easy to get sloppy or careless

My process?
Tumble brass.
Lube brass.
Resize & deprime - either on a single stage or my 550.
Measure & trim if needed.
Chamfer
Tumble again to remove lube.
Finish making rounds on my 550 - the Dillon powder measure works wonderfully with Varget (a stick powder)

hentown
June 21, 2012, 06:20 PM
I decided a long time ago to try the RCBS X die for my bulk .223 reloading for my ARs. Works as advertised. After an initial trimming, I don't do any more trimming. I lube the cases, throw them into the casefeeder and start pulling the handle. I'm still loading with AA2200 data powder that I bought for $48 per 8#, delivered. I use Wolf small rifle primers, currently @ $20 per thousand.

When I buy brass, I either buy it from l.e.o. brass or Scharch's. Scharch's has gone up lately, but their brass is 100% processed.

MtnCreek
June 21, 2012, 06:24 PM
You still, need to lube rifle cases with carbide dies. I don't see what it buys you.

Smoothness of operation when small base sizing surplus LC brass (most of which is MG fired). The 7.62 brass is big enough and shot out enough where the carbide die makes it noticable easier.
With 5.56 LC brass (50% + MG fired) I can't really tell much difference between a Lee FL (not SB) and a Dillon carbide (SB). I can tell a big difference on the expander balls.

jmorris
June 22, 2012, 12:51 PM
Reloading is a hobby unto itself, if you don't enjoy reloading, STOP doing it. I couldn't afford to pay someone that I would trust to load the ammo I do for myself. I do have a nice hobby building things that expedite processing and loading though, so hands on time is minimal.

ErikO
June 22, 2012, 04:08 PM
I'm using standard RCBS .223 dies but have replaced the decap spindle with the X-decap spindle and it works MUCH better than the standard spindle did. I am currently doing it this way:

1. lube and decap brass
2. trim brass and chamfer
3. prime, charge and seat the bullet
4. tumble clean the finished cartridge in walnut media.

ny32182
June 22, 2012, 11:42 PM
Reloading is a hobby unto itself, if you don't enjoy reloading, STOP doing it.

I like load development, but once that is done, if it is going to be a high volume load where I want 10s of thousands of rounds as fast as possible, efficency goes much higher on the priority list.

I decided a long time ago to try the RCBS X die for my bulk .223 reloading for my ARs. Works as advertised.

This is definitely something to think about, and I might give it a try. I think the main problem would be that I am not likely to get all my exact cases back, so unless I was shooting all by myself on a clean range, I'd still have to sort them by length, etc. Or just trim them all.

The way I have this working out in my head, I have separate stations for size and trim. Is that true, or is the sizing and trimming happening in the same station?

Is this piece required equipment for use with the Dillon trimmer, even if I am sizing in a different station, and does it do a FL resize?

http://www.grafs.com/retail/catalog/product/productId/3094

Also, can anyone confirm that the Dillon trimmer is chamfer/deburring as well at the same time?

jmorris
June 23, 2012, 03:27 AM
The motor/cutter part mounts to the "die", you have to have it. It trims smooth and flat, no chamfer inside or out but no burrs either (unless the cutter needs to be indexed, after many thousands). Also, you are correct about it taking longer to sort than it takes to just run them all. It takes longer to pick a case up and measure it than it does to size and trim one (1800 and hour to size/deprime and trim is not a problem).

esheato
June 23, 2012, 05:09 AM
I find 223 to be my most miserable process by far.

The process:
Pick up dirty brass
Tumble
First pass through the 650 for decap, lube and size (Lee Universal Decapper, RCBS Lube Die and Dillon FL die)
Tumble lube off (~15 min)
Swage (Dillon Super Swage, this is where I choke and everything piles up)
Trim (Giraud, very fast, and it chamfers inside and outside for me)
Second pass through the 650 (prime, charge and seat)

The reason for the universal decapper and lube die is because I'm stubborn. I don't want to clean lube out of the case feeder.

ArchAngelCD
June 23, 2012, 06:21 AM
Reloading is a hobby unto itself, if you don't enjoy reloading, STOP doing it.

I reload because I like doing it.
I enjoy taking the right components & putting them together.
Then when my targets have one ragged hole :scrutiny: , I'm in heaven.
If you don't enjoy it, it's too easy to get sloppy or careless.
While I would tend to agree with you, not everyone who reloads has to like reloading.

If you want to shoot competitively and you don't have an ammo sponsor reloading, like it or not, is a necessity. Hardly anyone can afford to buy factory ammo for practice and matches these days, especially since 2008. Factory ammo is just too expensive so reloading is necessary.

ny32182
June 25, 2012, 10:35 AM
Thanks again jmorris.

I find 223 to be my most miserable process by far.

The process:
Pick up dirty brass
Tumble
First pass through the 650 for decap, lube and size (Lee Universal Decapper, RCBS Lube Die and Dillon FL die)
Tumble lube off (~15 min)
Swage (Dillon Super Swage, this is where I choke and everything piles up)
Trim (Giraud, very fast, and it chamfers inside and outside for me)
Second pass through the 650 (prime, charge and seat)

The reason for the universal decapper and lube die is because I'm stubborn. I don't want to clean lube out of the case feeder.

Now this is something interesting that I had not considered. Will think about this in the future too.

esheato
June 25, 2012, 06:08 PM
I like it so far...but word to the wise, buy some extra Lee Universal Decapping Die decapping stems. The stem and the actual decapper are one unit. Lee will send you a new one when you break it, but waiting for the postman slows me up for a few days, so I stockpile a few.

winterhorse290
June 26, 2012, 05:29 PM
1-inspect brass, tumble if needed.
2-lube, size, tumble clean.
3-trim if needed, debur case mouth.
4 swage primer pockets if new to me.
5 prime, powder, and bullet.
6 shoot
7 start all over again, enjoy

gpjoe
June 27, 2012, 09:55 PM
I'm not a volume reloader by any stretch of the definition, but I buy new brass and skip the crimped primer pocket swaging all together. You can get new, un-crimped Lake City brass from Natchez Shooters for $110 per 1000 when they run it on sale. Add shipping and you're looking at 12-13 cents per case. If you get even 4 reloads out of each case the cost for brass comes down to a hair over 3 cents per load.

esheato
June 27, 2012, 10:26 PM
I swage every case, every time. As I pick up brass from all over the place, and dump everything in one bucket, I never know the source when it comes time to prep. Honestly, I only feel the swager doing anything 20/100 cases, but it needs to be done.

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