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Newbie Q: Pistol Brass Case Prep?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Dave R, Nov 5, 2003.

  1. Dave R

    Dave R Well-Known Member

    I'm new to pistol reloading...just got my first set of carbide dies.

    I know you don't lube pistol brass before decapping/resizing, but you do need to clean it, right? I mean, I don't want powder fouling in my dies.

    Let me know if you do anything special to your pistol brass, other than tumble, then decap/resize.

    [Edited to specify its 9mm semi-auto. Future intentions are .380acp and 32acp]
  2. 444

    444 Well-Known Member

    Yes, I clean mine. You don't have to, but you run the risk of scratching your dies. If I am loading on a single stage press I take the time to clean the primer pockets after depriming. Again, this isn't madatory and may not even be nessessary. I don't worry about it on the progressive press, but with the single stage it only takes an extra couple seconds for each case so I do it in the interest of turning out the best handloads I can.
  3. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    I concur with 444, and would like to add this: it's worth your while to clean your all your dies from time to time. I use a few cotton patches and Hoppe's No. 9, as well as Q Tips, first wet, then dry, then with a little oil. Dies collect dust and dirt no matter how clean your brass, and they'll corrode just like blued guns.
  4. MoNsTeR

    MoNsTeR Well-Known Member

    You should lube them anyway. Hornady One-Shot.
  5. Dave R

    Dave R Well-Known Member

    Good suggestions. Especially the "clean your dies" thing. Will do. Any others tips on pistol case prep?
  6. Black Snowman

    Black Snowman Well-Known Member

    Bottle necked cartridges are really where case prep becomes more critical to performance. On the straight-walled pistol cartridges you're shooting it should be just a matter of cleaning, loading, and maintaing your equipment.

    My personal suggestion is to not lube brass going into carbide dies because the lube can collect dust and dirt making more frequent cleaning of the dies nessisary to prevent unnessisary wear. Just seems like a lot of extra work for minimal to no benefit. Especially in the cartridges you're loading.
  7. m1911joe

    m1911joe Well-Known Member

    I have to disagree with Black Snowman there is a benefit to lubing pistol
    cases. (45acp) I am just getting my right arm over tendionits. Wanted to see if I was ready to start shooting again but was out of ammo. Tried to reloadabout 100 rounds and had to use both hands on the lever to work the press. Got out my Dillon spray case lube and sprayed about 50 cases.
    Ran those 50 with just my right hand.

    So there is a benefit to lubing even small pistol cases.
  8. Dave R

    Dave R Well-Known Member

    I've been loading bottleneck rifle cartridges for 6 mos or so. Have a good case prep routine for them. Just new to pistols and carbide dies.

    Ran around 100 9mm through the resizer tonight. Cases were cleaned, but not lubed. Pressure on the press was very moderate. So I'm inclined to continue with the clean-but-no-lube regimen.

    HSMITH Well-Known Member

    Dave, use the One-Shot. It will change your reloading life. 9mm is one that I will not load unlubed and I use a 550B that has TONS of force, literally. The operation is smoother and faster, less wear and tear on your equipment too.

    If you wear out a carbide die you are doing something. Carbide does not wear or scratch without something on the order of a diamond chip scratching it. Carbide is simply too hard. If your brass is likely to get silica type sand or something similar on it then clean, otherwise don't worry because your dies will not get scratched or worn.

    With steel dies you had better clean the cases or there will be problems in a hurry.
  10. 444

    444 Well-Known Member

    I think lubing the cases is a good idea. I don't lube the cases like I am using steel dies, just a little spritz over all the cases with a spray lube. Some carbide dies even tell you to lube in the instructions, such as .30 Carbine dies. Redding profile crimp dies advise you to lube the cases. I see no reason not to lube the cases and it takes only a second. You have a pile of brass and just direct a quick spray over the cases. Not all of them get anything on them, but you only want a little bit of lube to keep things running smoothly with little friction.
  11. mete

    mete Well-Known Member

    I first deprime , then I clean the cases in detergent and hot water. Lightly lubing the cases makes it easier, just put a bit on your finger tips and you will get enough on the cases. One of the urban myths is that nickel plated cases scratch and wear out steel dies. This is pure BS. It is dirt especially sand that wears out and scrathes dies, it will do that to carbide dies too.
  12. dodgestdshift

    dodgestdshift Well-Known Member

    I use the RCBS universal depriming die. First I deprime, then I tumble clean, and then I size without using lube for pistol cases. A dirty case will not get to my sizing die.
  13. Dave R

    Dave R Well-Known Member

    I'll clean before I deprime, since the decapper is also the resizer in my RCBS set.
  14. larryw

    larryw Well-Known Member

    Clean before I deprime, that's it.

    I did an experiment a while back where I did the same prep on my 45 cases as I did on rifle (trim to square/deburr mouth, ream pocket, deburr flash hole): lots of work, no improvement.

    Regarding lubing pistol: on those rare occasions I lube pistol cases (new brass, for example), I'll lube about 1/4 of the cases, mix them in with the rest. Lube sticks to the dies and smooths things up just like all were lubed, only there's less goop to clean off the cases afterwards (I don't tumble loaded ammo).
  15. Dave R

    Dave R Well-Known Member

    Just an update. Fired my first 30 rnds of hand-loaded 9mm at the range tonight. A min. load, mid load and max load. Had 2 FTE's on the max load. 1 each on 2 different pistols. Is that a pressure sign? Couldn't see a difference in primers. Could hardly tell a difference in recoil. No FTFs.

    Groups were best with min load. 2d best was max load, though. Of course, with only 10 rnds ea, that's prolly not statistically significant.

    Time to consider how to load the next batch(es).
  16. HSMITH

    HSMITH Well-Known Member

    Yes FTE can be a pressure sign, but was yours? Hard to say. Did you measure the cases from each load and see if they were different? What did the extractor marks look like?

    FTE could be a pressure sign, excessive pressure causes the case to grip the chamber walls VERY tightly. Sticky extraction is a sure sign of excessive pressures if the chamber is smooth and the brass is in good condition.

    Primers are a VERY POOR way to read pressures until you have a history and a "feel" for what that particular primer does in various pressure situations. CCI primers for instance will show flattening at a much stronger load than when the Winchester or Federal started to show pressure, CCI mag primers will be hard to see pressure signs on period. Federal show pressure before Winchester IME. Pistol primers are quite difficult to read and nearly impossible in some cases.

    Keep an eye on the cases themselves, compare the extractor marks to the mark left on factoy cases. High pressure will show up as a deeper extractor mark, and even a bent case rim. If your ecxtractor marks are deeper than factory rounds and you want more speed use a different powder. Compare case expansion, and use the primers as a "back up" check.

    Seldom have max loads worked out best for me in handguns. Typically I end up somewhere around 90-95%% of the top loads for a "hot" accuracy load with jacketed bullets. The best loads with jacketed bullets for me have been with the slower end powders and a case nearly full or full of powder. With lead bullets top loads have not worked well at all.
  17. Tony Z

    Tony Z Well-Known Member

    I have both a Dillon SDB and the Dillon 550B and have never lubed any of my pistol cases before resizing them. My SDB doesn't require much leverage with any of the cases from .380 to 45 APC. I agree with the clean-but-no-lube regimen.

    I do use a dry lube on .30 carbine. I should try the the spay lube on those, I am sure it will make them much easyer to resize.

    My .02 Worth,

    Tony Z
  18. Dave R

    Dave R Well-Known Member

    HSMITH, thanks for the info on reading pressure signs. Mine are inconclusive. Of the 10 brass loaded to max, 2 had deeper than normal extractor marks. The two that got stuck? Chamber and brass are good.

    OTOH, some of the brass loaded to lower levels had deeper extractor marks, too. No bent rims or anything like that. And the marks are at the FRONT of the groove, on the case, not the rim. And some of my cases that were only fired with the factory load, and never reloaded, have similar marks. May be a difference in the extractor marks between my two pistols, rather than a pressure sign.

    Like I said, inconclusive. I may have to load up a few more and try 'em under more controlled circumstances.

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