308 case processing


April 21, 2013, 03:00 PM
I've loaded 1000's of rounds for my 45 and AR using spent brass.

For 45, after a wash and tumbling, I just reload it. Don't care about case length.

For 223, after a wash and tumbling and pass through a Lee full length resizingndie, I check for length. Those over the spec 1.76 are trimmed to about 1.755 and deburred. Pocket holes are checked for tightness and crimp and fixed if found. I do a light camfer just prior to loading. I haven't worried that much about consistent case lengths for this since the AR is rather loose on spec anyway.

I picked up some once fired 308 cases and have washed and tumbled them.

A cursory check of 50 or so cases found only a few that were above max case length of 2.015. Most were in the range of 2.005 to 2.015 with a few below 2.005. I'll need to trim the longer ones of course.

The question is whether I need to pay more close attention to the case length than I have for 223 or is the COAL more important - get the bullet right next to the lands in the barrel.


If you enjoyed reading about "308 case processing" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
April 21, 2013, 03:11 PM
When I pick up spent 308 cases, I always check the inside of the case with a paper clip/dental pick for incipient case head separation:



Then I take all the cases that passed the test and deprime only using universal depriming die and tumble/clean the cases.

After full-length resizing and case trimming to length/chamfering, I sort by head stamp (military vs commercial) and internal case volume (http://riflemansjournal.blogspot.com/2011/01/cartridges-1000-yard-308-case-capacity.html).

April 21, 2013, 03:15 PM
Even if you file down every one of the brass cases you just started working with, the next time they get fired I would check the length on every one of them, and make it a habit to do it every time you fire them. I'm not talking about filing every case with every firing, but measure everything!!! Even if you bought brand new brass and trimmed them all to the same length, the first time you fire them you'd probably get a few over length.

April 21, 2013, 03:16 PM
I would also check the web for potential separation (not hard or laborious - run a bent large paper clip inside and pull the bent [make a hook] end up the inside, roughness just forward of the web, brass trash box it. I do this for my .223/5.56s and others, also. I don't like to have head separations.)

The way to the greatest degree of accuracy is consistency. Case length consistency is part of this. Just being shorter than he listed max lengths should keep the case neck out of the lands, so that is safety.

Type/action of 308 is not listed. Magazine lengths must be taken into consideration also. Single shot weapons or weapons only used as single feed may not have true length limits.

April 21, 2013, 03:35 PM
@bds - thanks for the case head separation check. Will do.

@hotajax - supposedly, brass fired in your own rifle can be treated differently than in other rifles, since the brass is now formed to your rifle chamber. It only needs a collet sizing and lengthens case life. Head separation check still.

@oldpaps - the rifle is a Savage Axis 308 bolt with 4 round magazine feed from the bottom.

Thanks for the info and advise. THR is great.

Edit - I picked up these picks from Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0048KGFHU/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1. For $6 they should work. Mainly got them for gun cleaning but can be used for this too.

April 21, 2013, 03:44 PM
Anything with a sharp point at an angle will work to check cases.


Yes, after firing in your rifle you can use a neck die (Collet or otherwise), if you want to, but if you are looking for accuracy, why use mixed range brass. At least sort them by weight and try to get a batch with similar case capacity and neck thickness. If case necks are not consistent, a neck die will give varying neck tension. If you are looking for case life, partial full length sizing is a good way to go as well.

April 21, 2013, 04:00 PM
On the cheap.
Click on both, one didn't display.



April 21, 2013, 04:06 PM
It's been my practice for more than 30 yrs. to check case length after every firing, and since I run my brass up to the last cycle before the heads develop incipient separation signs, I always, always, check the web for signs of incipient head separation.
There are a few other things I do to, but my primary focus is on making sure the brass is safe to load once again.

April 21, 2013, 06:52 PM
Your .223 might be "loose on spec", but it will stretch cases also. always check lengths and trim. The answer to your question about OAL is no, case length doesn't matter to OAL. If you are crimping your AR ammo, it will matter at some point. Even if your AR is loose, your ammo will outgrow it sooner or later. Better safe than sorry.

April 21, 2013, 07:02 PM
Witchhunter - I do check my 223 for max case length but don't care how short they are. I've had a few that are below 1.740 but only a handful out of about 8000 or so processes cases. I trim to about 1.755. I load to a OAL of 2.23 with a 55 gr FMJBT bullet.

I don't check my 45 cases for length but every reloaded round goes into a Lyman case gauge and if it doesn't fit, I figure out what's up and fix it.

April 21, 2013, 07:18 PM
FWIW I have never trimmed or length checked straight walled handgun brass. On rifle brass ---30 Carbine included, I do check length and for case head separation every time I reload every round also. I believe the more time you put into a round in prep the more accurate it will become. That said I usually will not be obsessive about it as far as accuracy because there is a point of diminishing return that I do not need to cross. I feel my personal goal of 1 MOA at 200 YDS in my rifles is fine as I can't shoot that good without a bench setup anyway.;)

April 21, 2013, 10:18 PM
Many once-fired .308 (especially mil-surp) were from semi-autos like the M14/M1A which are brutal on the brass and the headspace can be really off.
Get a headspace gauge.
Adjust your sizing die to give the proper headspace.
Then trim the neck to proper length and chamfer and deburr the case mouth.

April 22, 2013, 09:01 PM
How many reloads do you guys get out of FL sized .308 brass versus collet/neck sizing brass?

If you enjoyed reading about "308 case processing" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!