"in-line" brass prep. for bottle neck rifle cartridges....


October 4, 2012, 03:26 PM
For some reason, I really don't like to prep. my .223 and .30-30 brass in batches. Even though I can both trim stretched cases and chamfer crimped primer pockets on the drill press.... I just don't like doing them as an "offline" process.

So here's how I do it...

I tumble my brass with a dash of car polish and a cut up laundry sheet and then store in big coffee cans.... that's it for case prep.

I have my little Lee zip trimmer mounted onto a 1x6 board about a foot long, and I clamp this board to my bench about a foot to the left of my Lee cast turret press.

I have a second work bench right behind my press with a large vice on it. I load a chamfer tool in a 1/2" hand drill and mount the drill into the vise.

My reloading process then goes like this.

1. lightly swipe finger across Imperial wax, grab a case from the can and smear on the wax with a final scrape of my finger pad across the mouth.... load onto press.

2. size/deprime the case on the down stroke, load primer cup from safety prime and lower the ram ....

3. pull case and check with case length gage (I use an old vernier caliper, locked to the correct length)

if the case is long, go to 4, if it's clear, go to 5.

4. put case on zip trim... trim, chamger OD & ID, swab mouth with Q-tip & wipe off wax w/ rag....five quick pulls on the "rip cord"

5. inspect primer pocket.... if crimped, go to 6, if not crimped go to 7.

6. pivot on stool, and chamfer primer pocket on drill

7. load brass on press, and seat primer.

8. drop powder @ station 2

9. seat bullet @ station 3

10. crimp @ station 4

11. pull and inspect loaded case, then drop into recycled foam tray.

What I like about this system...

> I don't have to do a dedicated brass prep session (which I hate)
> Because there's inspection and decision making, it's less rote (aka boring)
> I leave the bench set up & over the course of a week, I sneak down to my shop and load some here and there as time permits (i.e. I'm not helping someone with algebra homework).
> If something comes up (i.e. dinner :) ) I finish the case I'm working on and nothing is left "in process". So I always know exactly where I'm at.
> Most of my crimped brass is already chamfered... so step 6 is usually skipeed.
> 2/3 of my brass gages "go" for length... so step 4 is also usually skipped.
> EVERY case is gaged for length
> I have several opportunities to look a the brass, so I'm more confident.
> I can load ~50 cartridges in an hour... poking along at a leisurely rate (this includes re-loading primers and powder and tossing about one powder charge per box on the scale).

What I don't like about this system...

> Because there's inspection and decision making for each case, you have to have your head in the game.
> There's a lot of hand dextarity required.
> I'm not breaking the land speed record :o

So am I an odd duck? Or is there anybody else who does their brass prep "in-line"

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October 4, 2012, 03:45 PM
Call me old school, and slower maybe.

But if I can't powder charge 50 cases setting up in a loading block so I can look at & compare all the powder charges before seating bullets?

I'd be afraid to shoot them.

Charging one case at a time while seating bullets will sooner or later result in a mistake.

I prep brass in large batches, and load them in large batches.
In loading blocks.

Pretty sure I can beat 50 / hour, even on a really bad day.


October 4, 2012, 03:58 PM
Charging one case at a time while seating bullets will sooner or later result in a mistake.

certainly a legit. concern...

So far the only error I've made (that I know about) has been stuffing a bullet into the rifle charging die.

I seldom have time for a lengthy (and uninterupted) reloading session...

so I don't batch load, as I don't want to leave a tray full of cases on the bench in mid stream...

October 4, 2012, 04:05 PM
What I do in that situation is inspect the powder charges in the ones I have done.
Then drop bullets, tip down in all the case mouths to "plug" them.

I do that even when loading normally.
So if a drop a charged case while picking it up, it won't spill powder in a bunch of other charged cases in the loading block.
If that happens, all you can do is dump all the charges and start over.

With bullets in the cases, you only have to worry about recharging the one you spilled.


October 4, 2012, 04:22 PM
Nothing wrong with slow going- as long as you are focused and keeping your head in the game.

I too, load one at a time. If you don't set the case down after its charged correctly, and immediately cap it with a bullet- its not significantly different from RC's explanation/process using the tip-down bullet. The largest difference being that its done, not pre-done.

I'm about to ( hopefully) enter the world of progressive reloading for the first time very soon... I can only imagine the hell that new process is going to take to learn.

Doing one at a time allows you the freedom to get up and walk away if you need to, at any time. Thats hard to do with a block of charged cases- it was for me, anyway.

Follow your process you know is safe, do it the same way every time, and I can see little fault. If there was only one way to do everything, there would be only one color, one type of car, and one caliber of gun. We're all different... we just use similar tools and sometimes similar methods to end up in roughly the same place. Nothing wrong with having your own way.

When you finally have space and or time to do batch preps- or just decide you want to... proceed slowly, and very carefully. Old habits die hard, and you'll make mistakes in the weirdest places...even if its left to right, and right to left- and it gives you nightmares, believe me.

October 4, 2012, 05:21 PM
I batch shoot so I batch load. My trimmer & loading blocks are growing cobwebs. I US clean, deprime, size, hand prime and toss into the ready jug. Then I can drop, lube(for cast) seat and crimp, if needed. I can do 100/hr on a SS without breaking a sweat and don't get anymore squibs. If I have to stop, just walk away, easy to tell where I was. I use those plastic bakery goods trays with a lid, move the case from one side to the other when the task is complete, like priming & inspecting. I do check for a primer when dumping powder, missed that a couple times.

poco loco
October 4, 2012, 05:48 PM
I am with RC on this, I use 2 blocks empty cases upside down in a yellow or wood block and once charged they go mouth up into a red block.

Then ck all 50 for evenness then seat (and crimp if needed).

This way, anything in a red block is charged period, while having the empty block loaded upside down prevents a double charge....

most often I process and prime my brass separately and store it in zip lock freezer bags with the space to write on and label them with how far along the process they are....

October 5, 2012, 06:02 AM
Charging one case at a time while seating bullets will sooner or later result in a mistake.
Esp with many common rifle powders being stick powders that can bridge. It's all too easy to glance at a case and figure it's ok, then on the next one find yourself second guessing. "Is it my imagination, or was that last case higher/lower?"

> If something comes up (i.e. dinner ) I finish the case I'm working on and nothing is left "in process".
I see what you're saying here. With a batch process, you might come back and not be able to tell if a case on the floor has been measured and passed, or if it just hasn't been trimmed, yet. But OTOH, when you're interrupted, you have all your stuff still out: primers, powder, bullets, trimmer/chamfer, etc. I would love to have that much space dedicated just for reloading one caliber for entire weekends at a time!

Other than that, I have to wonder why you use the Zip trim, then follow it with a chamfer tool in a hand drill? Seems like a waste. You could leave the brass in the Zip trim, hold your chamfer tool over it, and give it another zip. Or buy the Zip trim drill chuck accessory and use the drill for trimming and for chamfering, leaving the case in the drill for both operations. Now you don't need to pull that cord, at all.

October 5, 2012, 06:09 AM
Batch work may be tedious and boring for brass prep. But the method you described sounds like a recipe for something bad to happen. To many steps along the way for something to go wrong. Just do small batches of brass prep at a time. A hundred at a time isn't bad. It's when you push 1k that it gets annoying :)

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October 5, 2012, 09:07 PM
I have to wonder why you use the Zip trim, then follow it with a chamfer tool in a hand drill?

I use the Lee chamfer tool to clean up the case mouths after trimming...

I have a second, RCBS chamfer tool mounted in the drill, that I use to chamfer crimped primer pockets...

October 5, 2012, 10:03 PM
I agree with RC 100% on the need to load in loading blocks so you can inspect a batch with a bright light to ensure consistency, i.e., powder levels neither too high or too low.

Re chamfering/deburring. The little Wilson finger-operated tool is actually faster than a drill-chucked tool. And it takes off less metal, prolonging case life.

October 6, 2012, 08:54 AM
I have 3 and 5 gallon sized buckets full of cleaned/prepped/primed brass that I prep, usually in smallish batches ahead of time. Then the two trays, work from left to right, primers up to full cases up routine etc. is the way I work my bench. Every one has their "way" and I just might modify mine someday but haven't for 25 years now with great results unless you count using SS media to clean the brass instead of walnut.:D A tip for those of you that use loading blocks---I have a spare (all MTM yellow plastic universal ones) that I can put over the charged cases if I am interrupted for any reason before the loading block is full and I give it a final powder level inspection. If you only have a few cases charged put them in all 4 corners and then set the other loading block down over the casings. I also will dedicate the time it takes to actually reload the ammo to the process so there are minimal distractions when charging/seating my ammo for safety reasons. The case prep is not as critical IMHO so I just work on it as I can piecemeal. YMMV

My big concern is mixing the brass shavings with the propellant or the wax on the bullets and do not with my method.

October 6, 2012, 03:41 PM
I have 3 and 5 gallon sized buckets full of cleaned/prepped/primed brass
That's how I would do it, if I had that much rifle brass, anyway. I would never prep and load one case at a time, even setting aside the lower efficiency and debatable safety factor. For my rifles, I like having a batch of cases prepped and ready to load, as close as possible to finished ammo but without having to commit the components or put the bullet puller into play. I never know when I might accidentally stumble upon a better bullet/load, or a new endeavor/competition/shooting distance, or even a better rifle. Maybe for neck-sizing, only, I would more or less load 'em as I prepped 'em, but I'd still do it in batches. But generally speaking, I will usually have more prepped brass on hand than loaded ammo for my centerfire rifles.

October 6, 2012, 06:22 PM
Sounds good if it works for you and your attention span. You have a process. That is good. With experience, you learn to tweak and tune your process for deviations as they arise.

While you may pick up some good tips when others share their process, what works for others may not be ideal for your own personal situation.

I have handloaded for nearly 40yrs and my processes have not deviated much since I started. The few changes that I have made were learned from this fine page and the fine folks that post here.

October 6, 2012, 07:24 PM
I'm with RC on this one and have not had a mis charged case slip by in more than 30 yrs. of doing it as RC does. I simply feel that how fast I can load has little importance in comparison to how precise and reliable my ammo is.


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