Loathing my 223 reloading


May 29, 2013, 02:02 AM
So I'm 6 months into my reloading journey/habit/hobby.

What are you guys doing to speed up your 223 reloading? I'm just really starting it and what I already hate is trimming the 500+ casings and then reaming the primer pocket. At least the primer pocket is a one time deal. I probably won't shoot a ton of 223, just got my first AR a couple weeks ago. Always wanted one and finally got a decent deal.

At any rate what are you guys doing to speed up the process since it always needs trimmed?

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May 29, 2013, 02:37 AM
The only way I know of to take away some of the tedious work is to automate the procedure. If you buy a motorized trimmer and a brass processing center you will speed things up A LOT!
Here are a few exapm;es of what you can use:

May 29, 2013, 04:01 AM
Hornady LnL AP Progressive with case feeder and a Dillon RT1200 trimmer.
A Double Alpha rifle bullet feeder will be along shortly.

May 29, 2013, 04:36 AM
lee three jaw chuck, lee pilot trimmers and an electric drill. I use a cordless makita because the battery lets it sit flat. trim and chamfer in 8 seconds per case, total. Use erwin razors to cut the primer pocket. Much faster than any tools ive found, erwin because they are far harder than most other brands, and wont slip out. One razor last hundreds of cases.

May 29, 2013, 05:13 AM
Lee trimmers, Lee Zip Trim/or flat based battery drill. That would be the cheapest for a newbie.
Less than 30.00 before shipping.

May 29, 2013, 06:38 AM
Another thing to think about is to have a metric butt load of brass saved to process. I have a couple 5 GAL buckets of 223 to reload. Then you spend your winter evenings/bad weekends prepping the brass doing the same thing for a few nights/days every so often. Soon you have a pile of brass ready to go.:D Then it takes a while to load and shoot that pile of it up. Next winter rinse and repeat. I do this with all my high volume bottle necked brass FWIW. Bottle necked brass is a lot more work to reload than straight walled handgun brass as a rule anyway, no way around it unless you have slave labor or the $$ for new brass each time.:( Also I use a cheapie Harbor Freight Drill press to hold my Lee cutter and trim gauge with the press table being used instead of the lock-stud to trim my casings. I just hold the brass against the table with my fingers. I find it easier than actually measuring the casings to just run them through and then just inside ream every time using a L E Wilson chamfer/deburr tool chucked into the drill press,after sizing down the outside some as a separate step afterwards. I own a Lee chamfer deburr tool and it would fit into a 1/2 inch drill chuck as well. You could use a standard countersink instead for the primer pockets and inside neck reaming. Using the drill press on the lowest speed, after a few casings you can tell just how long to touch them against the tool for the correct job.:) FWIW I do not crimp the necks of my 223 as I find this is more accurate IF you measure your charges well and have good neck tension to begin with. Don't forget to always check for case head separation using a bent paperclip or such after the first 5 reloadings when FL sizing the brass either.

May 29, 2013, 07:18 AM
At any rate what are you guys doing to speed up the process since it always needs trimmed?

When ever I buy/obtain a bunch of once fired 223 Remington cases, it is a daunting task to prep it for the first time. I break it up into smaller chunks and work through them a couple hundred or so at a time.

Primer pocket reaming only needs to be done once. Once the crimp had been removed, it does not magically grow back. Keep range pick-up[s separate from your cases and then you will not have to inspect al the cases for a crimp.

For cases that I have fired and trimmed, I measure each one for length but only trim those that are over the maximum length. Only about 25% to 35% or so of the cases need to be trimmed.

I find more, or all, of purchased once fired or range pick-ups required trimming the first time I process them.

The powered tools definitely make the tasks easier but some are pricey so you need to decide how much they will actually get used and will making the expense be beneficial.

Hope this helps.

May 29, 2013, 07:47 AM
Don't shoot so much and you won't have as many empties to reload......;)

May 29, 2013, 08:23 AM
New kid here. I have an idea. Rather than removing material from the case, you might want to swage the primer pockets. All it does is push the brass back to the pre-crimped position. Dillon Super Swage is the fastest but RCBS works perfectly well for $35



Also, when I first started reloading I found the process tedious but as time passed, I started to find it kinda relaxing. Hang in there.

May 29, 2013, 08:34 AM

This kit is the fastest way to swage those primer pockets. Cheap, made in the USA, and built like a tank. Once set up and PROPERLY adjusted you can easily swage several hundred cases in an hour on a single stage press. IMPROPER adjustment will result in pulling the rims off your brass, so there will probably be a couple sacrificed cases at first until you get the adjustment right.

As far as trimming, I bought a Lee trimmer setup and use a handheld drill clamped in a vise. I put the pilot (the long piece that sets the trimmed length) in the drill and used emery cloth to polish down the OD of the pilot so that it wouldn't be such a tight fit in the sized neck. This makes it much easier to trim without difficulty.

I also use the RCBS X-die which requires 1 initial trim and thereafter limits case growth. I modified the case length pilot pin on the Lee trimmer so that it would trim the case a little bit shorter than normal because this is required when using the X-die.

I've reloaded for 30 yrs or more and learned all this by processing many thousands of rounds of military brass. Nowadays I can afford to splurge a little and usually try to buy pre-processed brass when it's available. YMMV

May 29, 2013, 08:36 AM
When I acquire a bunch of .223 cases the first thing I do is dry tumble. Then I sort by headstamp. That usually creates small, manageable, non-intimidating batches. If batches are still big (say, over 300 cases), I split them into batches of no more than 300.

That done, it's pretty painless to size-decap, trim, decrimp, etc. by batch. Keep batches in separate containers and in various states of prep. Label each batch as to what's been done using a check-off sheet:

Cartridge _______________ Make/Lot __________

Initial tumble __________ Source ____________

DeCap _______________ Times Fired ________

Full Length Size ________ Neck Size __________

Trim length ___________

Debur Chamfer Flash hole Primer pocket

Second tumble ______________

Primed ______________

Belled _____________

Ready to charge ______________ Qty __________


This sheet is what I use, and it keeps me from wondering what needs doing and doing things twice. It also keeps me sane.

May 29, 2013, 08:54 AM
My setup is fairly standard, but not mentioned above. I use a regular RCBS Trimmer powered by a cordless drill. But more importantly, I use the 3-way cutter head which trims, deburrs and chamfers at the same time. http://www.midwayusa.com/product/145038/rcbs-trim-pro-case-trimmer-3-way-cutter-22-caliber
With this setup I can trim about 500 pieces an hour without breaking a sweat. If you have buckets of military brass, Dillons Super Swager 600 will make life worth living. LOL This was the single best $100 I have ever spent on reloading. http://www.dillonprecision.com/content/p/9/pid/25263/catid/8/Super_Swage_600

I work by the gallon zip lock bag, and prep all the brass ahead of time. When I am ready to load, they go into the progressive. Something else I can recommend is Dillon's carbide 223 sizer die. You still have to use some lube, but not nearly as much and they come with a built in case extractor. 223 was the most challenging of all the 26 calibers I loaded for, but now it's the easiest.

highlander 5
May 29, 2013, 09:05 AM
I use the Possum Hollow trimmer for large batches of brass you'll have to play with a bit to get the right length once it's set you're go to go. you'll need the power adaptor for your drill as well total cost $40. I use a Dillon Super Swage to clean up primer pockets. A buddy of mine decided to get an AR and bought a boat load of once fired brass and they needed to be trimmed and swage so I loan him my PH trimmer and the Dillon. Took him no time to trim and swage his brass. If you go to You Tube there are several videos of the PH trimmer.

May 29, 2013, 09:19 AM
I have a turret set up with a Lee universal decapping die and RCBS swager. Then I wet tumble. I then have a turret set up for each 308 and 223 to load. I use the LCT in manual mode with an Auto Disk Powder Measure for 223 and weigh out each charge for 308.

For trimming I use the Lee trimming gear in an extra portable drill.

May 29, 2013, 11:41 AM
I have not found anything that makes processing/loading .223 less sucky. There will always be a certain amount of suck in loading for rifle. :) I pretty much hate it.

May 29, 2013, 11:46 AM
I guess without knowing how you do it now, I can't really tell you how to speed up your operation.
One thing that works for me though is doing all the case prep work in smaller batches. I find around 200 or so at a time to be less irritating, and a good way to pass the time on rainy days when shooting is less likely to take place. The smaller batches make it seem like a less daunting task, and really doesn't take long to get caught up without getting burned out at it.

May 29, 2013, 12:42 PM
FWIW; it is said "There is only one way to eat an elephant; one bite at a time". I have processed large numbers of brass, but I did it in small batches. Have a few minutes until Gunsmoke comes on TV? De-crimp a hundred or so cases. Have a few extra minutes after dinner, buy before lights out? Process a few cases. Before you know it, they'll all be done. If that's too slow, or you need a bunch right now, buy some pre-primed brass....:p

May 29, 2013, 01:06 PM
Use your time wisely! I will punch primers on one occasion, then do the case trimming on another, clean and size pockets on another. I do it at times in the evening while watching TV, this allows me to have all my brass ready to load when I have a rainy day or its to cold for my thin blood to be out doors! In this way its takes some of the tediousness out of the whole process! And
Welcome to the reloading world, you have a lot to learn and it will never stop! When you think you know it all it's time to quit! :D

May 29, 2013, 05:21 PM
Do like my folks did when there was lots of work to be done... have a mess of kids!

dagger dog
May 29, 2013, 05:22 PM
Trying to feed an auto loader either hand or long gun is a chore, unless you enjoy producing the most absolutely accurate load possible, and don't care about volume.

You could (pre panic) buy 223 ammo for spraying out of 30 round magazines cheaper than you could put together a loading kit and buying the components, as 1000 rnds of Wolf steel case for 99 bucks.

You need to slow down and enjoy the process, you can do the menial tasks of case prep, chamfer deburr, measure trim, removing crimps etc., while watching Midways Wednesday Night at the Range. Then take the time to set up your dies as fine as possible setting your scale or powder measure to drop the exact weight and seat and crimp your bullet to precisely the length needed.

Strive to make the best product you can, the speed will follow !

May 29, 2013, 09:47 PM
Small batches is a good way to keep it from being tedious. Also, if you can trim while watching tv, that helps, just turn it off when it's time to start concentrating again.

I'm happy that my son wants to reload now. I think i'll start him off with the trimming :)

May 29, 2013, 10:01 PM
I HAD a Dillon Swage unit but I found that in thin-webbed cases the primer pocket was deforming, leaving the primers too high to allow the bolts on my AR guns to lock up. Any less pressure on the swaging tool and the pocket edges wouldn't taper enough to fit primers. Sold it, bought the reamers (large and small primer size) to fit my RCBS Case prep tool/center. I use this to process most all of my brass (primer end anyway), I own a Giraud case trimmer for .223, .308 Win and .300 Win Mag for my bolt guns.

May 29, 2013, 10:10 PM
1. Don't ream primer pockets. That removes metal where you don't need to do any removing. And it's easier on your hands to simply chamfer them.

2. 223 doesn't always need trimmed. If you can keep your brass straight and you aren't doing a roll crimp, it's quite possible you can get a few firings between trimmings.

May 29, 2013, 11:45 PM
I can only clean roughly 100 .223 cases at a time, so that is what I work on - groups of about a hundred. I do all the primer pocket prep at the same time and that is the most tedious part for me. Then, I do the resizing, followed by checking with a L.E. Wilson case gage to separate for trimming. Usually less than half need trimming, even on range pickups. I usually do the "paper clip test" at this time, as both tasks go fast.

Most of my .223 rounds get used in competition, so I mark them with a Sharpie. This also tells me they have been prepped. I keep these separated from the others and wash them altogether, then process as usual without repeating the prepping part.

Welding Rod
May 30, 2013, 12:25 AM
Bite the bullet and get one of these if you plan on shooting a lot, for the foreseeable future: http://www.giraudtool.com/prod02.htm

I wish I had bought one long ago. When I started shooting a lot of high power a few years ago I went ahead and bought one. Now it is so fast and easy to trim cases, I do so before every loading just for uniformity. I don't even bother to measure before hand, just stick 'em in the machine every time. About as easy as an electric pencil sharpener.

The time saved if you shoot much is really significant.

For me now, the bottle neck is how to prime the cases fast enough.

May 30, 2013, 11:35 AM
I've been working with about 2000 rounds of .223 for about 2 1/2 years. My process is like this: shoot, run through the tumbler (I use walnut shell media, Nu-Finish car polish, and strips of dryer sheets to absorb the dirt and dust). Size and de-prime, swage the primer pocket with my RCBS tool, trim with my Lee trimmer tools and cordless drill and then chamfer using my RCBS Case Prep Center (Geat tool!!). Nearly all of mine get primed with the Lee Hand Primer tool, the old round one. Next I run them through my Lee Classic Turret Press for Powder, Bullet seating and crimping. I keep batches of in-progress brass in 39 oz plastic coffee cans with marker sheets as to where they are in the process. That was the first time around. Now, after shooting, I tumble, check the case length and only trim the ones that need it, then inside chamfer the ones that don't get trimmed, and both inside and outside chamfer the ones that I do trim, and then run them through the Lee Classic Turret press and reload by sizing and de-priming, then prime on the press, then powder and seat bullets, and crimp. It really works well. The only time I get bogged down is after we go 'squeek' hunting and shoot most all of the reloaded stuff. Then I start all over again.

Patience Grasshopper.

May 30, 2013, 12:07 PM
I have trouble with my hands and trimming puts a lot of stress on them, so I bought a "Little Crow" trimmer for the rounds I have to trim in volume(308 and 223) best money I have ever spent on reloading equipment. Trimmed a 500 lot of 308 recently in less than an hour, I use a lyman case prep center for deburring ,chamfering and primer pocket prep. This is easy on the hands and still gives me a "hands on" satisfaction. Every step after trimming is broken down into small batches so I can complete before supper. I take my time and go for consistant rounds that will function to my expectations.

May 30, 2013, 12:08 PM
The new Lee Quick Trim is pretty darn nice. Trims, chamfers and deburrs in one step. It's press mounted too.

All you need is the deluxe cutter.

And the correct trim die.

It's remarkably consistent once you get it set. I used to use the Possum Hollow trimmer but it requires you to chamfer and deburr separately, the Quick Trim is much faster overall.

Do not get the Value Trim Cutter, it does not chamfer and deburr.

May 30, 2013, 12:09 PM
I've loaded thousands if .223

Satisfaction comes in success.

You've a way to go yet.

Tenacity and focus.

Complain less.
Nobody cares.

May 30, 2013, 01:15 PM
Just to add my .02.
Once you process the brass the first time the hard part is behind you. Depending on the brass and the type of shooting you do you may not have to trim each time.
I also use an electric case trimmer.

May 30, 2013, 03:53 PM
I don't know how primer pocket prep is "the worst part," for anyone. Takes about 2 seconds per case, with a drill and a chamfer tool/bit. You're done almost as fast as you can pick up and drop the case.

Giraoud might be awesome on a stick, but if you're on a budget you can still get the job done. For $25.00 you can buy a Zip Trim chuck and spindle. With a nice cordless drill you can trim and chamfer pretty fast, and additional calibers are only $5.00-6.00 each. Note I'm omitting the inside chamfer, cuz I use an M die.


I will trim and chamfer ~300 cases in an hour, while watching a video. Easy on the hands, too.

Comrade Mike
May 30, 2013, 04:04 PM
My only .223 is a bolt action so I don't get what all the fuss is about :D

Miata Mike
June 2, 2013, 12:36 PM
My only .223 is a bolt action so I don't get what all the fuss is about

That would be nice..... :D Still looking. ;) I do much the same as redclay,

Dillon Super Swager,
Possum hollow trimmer and Lyman prep center together since I have the case in hand,
then on to the Lee turret.

All are done in batches so that a guy doesn't go bonkers.

June 2, 2013, 02:22 PM
http://www.midwayusa.com/product/314017/hornady-lock-n-load-case-prep-center-110-volt all in one and you spend it only once

June 2, 2013, 04:18 PM
I'm with 1kperday. REloading rifle is tedious. Especially in mass. I've given up on reloading 223 semi autos. Wolf isn't much more expensive, and so much easier. I'll still load for bolt action accuracy, but I'm shooting steel from here out.

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