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Prepping Brass

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by kylec, Nov 19, 2013.

  1. kylec

    kylec Active Member

    I am interested to hear your process for prepping LARGE amounts of 5.56 crimped brass. I am about to start on my first large batch that I will load on my 550B :). I also want to hear what tools you use. I am currently using an RCBS Swager die in my RCBS Rock Chucker but am not happy with it. Also, what type of trimmer do you use and why? Thanks for all the help!
  2. oldpapps

    oldpapps Well-Known Member


    First processing of new [to me] 5.56 brass.

    I check the web with my fancy bent paper clip tool on all bottle necked cases, first. This also gives me a chance to inspect each case.

    Deprime with Lee Universal depriming tool.

    First time only. I have and use a C&H primer pocket swaging tool. It is very solid and does a good job, my opinion.

    First cleaning - SS pins, dawn and water. (double rubber tub unit from Harbor Freight) This step is not performed on my fired loads, they bounce on blacktop.

    Full length size. I no longer use small base dies. I never saw the real need with my weapons.

    Second cleaning - SS pins, dawn and water. You would be amazed how nasty the water is after breaking the powder shell on the inside of cases.

    Trim to length. I like the 'WFT' trimmer but also use the LEE shaft job and from time to time a hand cranked lathe type.

    Case mouth clean up as needed. I have one from Wilson but most all will do the job.

    Hand prime with a LEE unit.

    Depending upon how many I'm going to load.

    Option one is to feed the prepped/primed cases into my progressive (LEE Pro1000) first stage charge with powder, second stage seat bullet, third stage is empty [I use the same sequence for .223/5.56 as I do for .300 Blackout only I use a LEE taper crimp in the third stage.]

    Option two is to use my single stage press.

    Hope I helped.
  3. TenDriver

    TenDriver Well-Known Member

    What don't you like about that swager die? I've gotten to the point of needing something else to remove primer crimps in a small amount of brass.
  4. jmorris

    jmorris Well-Known Member

    I prep on a 650 with a Dillon trimmer. You can size/deprime and trim 1800 an hour with little effort.


    I load on a 1050 so swaging is done on station #3.
  5. juk

    juk Well-Known Member

    That right there makes me want to drink the Blue Koolaid! I don't even have 1800 cases, but I almost feel like I have to have that capability! That just looks like it would be so easy.
  6. kylec

    kylec Active Member

    I have to line the case up in the die, then lower the handle, raising the ram. Also, it is taking ALOT more force than I would expect to swage the pockets. To the point that last night I started worrying about the top of table.
  7. TenDriver

    TenDriver Well-Known Member

    Fair enough. Holler if you decide to get rid of it. I might like to give it a try if you want to work something out.
  8. Rule3

    Rule3 Well-Known Member

    I do not care for the RCBS de crimping die either. I would rather just ream them out. Better yet I put all my military brass in a bucket and bought a bunch of processed brass:D.

    I HATE removing crimps. What a PITA;)
  9. JonB

    JonB Well-Known Member

    I am working on 1000 rounds right now. My method is quite slow and nothing fancy.
    1. Tumble clean
    2. Lee hand press with decapping die
    3. Hornady primer pocket reamer or deburr tool to remove crimps
    4. Lube and size
    5. Trim with Lee trimmer/cAse length tool. I use an electric screwdriver with the shell holder and the Lee tool gives a perfect 1.75 every time. Deburr/chamfer.
    6. Tumble again to shine them up and remove lube
    7. Lee hand prime tool
    8. Power and bullets

    It's slow and I do a hundred or so at a time, but it's somewhat therapeutic to do the same manual steps over and over while watching tv in the evenings.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
  10. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Tumble clean.

    SS will clean inside better, but since we will be checking in there for signs of incipient case head separation, it isn't critical.

    Chuck up a Hornady crimp removing tool in my drill press or lathe and remove primer pocket crimps in all the cases that passed the test.

    Size all the cases.

    Tumble to remove lube. Some folks use other methods.

    Chuck up the Possum Hollow trimmer in the lathe and trim all the cases. The WFT trimmer is another excellent option here.

    Chuck up my RCBS deburring tool in the lathe at very low speed, chamfer and deburr all the cases. Just a touch does it.

    Prime them, load them.

    Visually inspect the cases at every touch, scrapping any that have obvious flaws.
  11. NeuseRvrRat

    NeuseRvrRat Well-Known Member

    starting with really dirty military brass, this is my process:

    1. decap with universal decapper in rockchucker
    2. wet tumble in thumler's w/ stainless pins for a few hours (i dry them with my clothes dryer/lingerie bag method)
    3. size on rockchucker (i use imperial wax on my fingers to lube)
    4. tumble in walnut or corn cob w/ nufinish to remove lube (this also puts some polish on the brass to keep it from tarnishing. brass straight out of the wet tumbler will tarnish easier.)
    5. swage primer crimps with dillon super swage
    6. trim with possum hollow trimmer and adapter in drill press
    7. chamfer with RCBS tool and adapter in drill press
    8. deburr with RCBS tool and adapter in drill press
    9. prime, charge, seat, (and crimp if i want to) on the 550B

    if the brass isn't really dirty, i'll skip the universal decap die and wet tumbling and just hit them with some compressed air to remove anything that might scratch my sizer die.

    i admit that it's a lot of steps. it could be improved with a better trimmer that trims/chamfers/deburrs all at once (like the giraud). however, i have more free time than i have money and it gives me something to do during the winter months when it gets dark so early.
  12. Rule3

    Rule3 Well-Known Member

  13. kylec

    kylec Active Member

    What I'm really trying to figure out is how I want to handle my trimming. Is there a tool other than the Giruad that trims and chamfers/deburs at one time? If not, what do you think is the best compromise between cost/time/accuracy for this process?
    I'm not shooting competition or anything like that so hunting accuracy is perfectly fine here.
  14. Rule3

    Rule3 Well-Known Member

    The RCBS Trimpro sells a 3 way trimmer that will do all at once. You can hand crank it or get a drill attachment, I tried it both ways. It works well but even with a drill it is not as fast as the LC WFT. Although the WFT does not chamfer and de burr. It hardly needs the deburring if you trim it correctly. I use a a deburr/chamfer tool and in the drill and it is still faster than the RCBS tool.

    The 3 way cutter for the RCBS costs about what the WFT does!

    Pick your poison!



  15. sexybeast

    sexybeast Well-Known Member

    I use a RCBS hand prime tool and CCI primers. So far no problems priming! Some are a little tight but they go in and go bang. I should say at least with LC brass.
  16. jmorris

    jmorris Well-Known Member

    The Dillon leaves a smooth finish unless it is time to index the carbide bit. No additional prep is needed if you are using bullets with a jacket (all I shoot in rifle competition). I do debur inside for my cast and coated rifle bullets.
  17. verb0s

    verb0s Well-Known Member

    I load with a single stage press, my process would change if i had a progressive press handy. actually no, a progressive won't save any time doing 223... well maybe like 45 minutes if you have an automatic case feeder, without one it'll take the same amount of time.

    1- sort brass (i have all my 223/5.56 in one bin)
    2- clean brass- depends on how dirty, I can wash (with birchwood casey solution), tumble or ultrasonic cleaner.
    3- put brass on the trays. 25 to a tray, I have enough trays to hold 3300 of them. covers two tables. (these are wolf/tula 9mm plastic ammo carrier thingies)
    4- lube brass with hornady one-shot.
    5- set up press and die. I use a Lee FL sizer/deprimer. I place a box next to the press to catch all the sized/deprimed brass
    6- run all the brass thru at maximum speed. it takes about an hour to size/deprime 3300 pcs.
    7- put brass back on trays. gt out dillon primer pocket swager
    8- run all brass thru the Dillion pocket swager. a little slower at about 1100/hr. toss processed brass into a bag.
    9- wash brass with birchwood casey solution to remove the lube.
    10 (optional)- sort brass to separate the ones needing trimming or chamfering. when the pile is large enough I'll do those in huge batches.

    I used to tumble brass, but i've found that in about 20% of the cases instead of removing the lube the media ends up getting glued together and stuck on the inside of the case and primer pocket. that was a nightmare to fix! washing is slower but at least there's no risk of media glued together and stuck in primer pockets, flash holes or in the case!

    I don't prime brass until I'm ready to load them. unprimed brass is easy to store and unlike processing, i don't load in huge batches.

    The process was originally developed for use with 9mm, which i do load in large batches with quantity over quality emphasis. lately i've been needing alot of 38 spl too so i'm working on getting that going too. working from prepped brass (primed) it takes 1 hour 46 minutes to do 500 rounds. it's just a temporary solution until I can get myself a dillon 650.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
  18. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    I have the RCBS swage die, but it is slow. I have never used the Dillon Super Swage, which is probably the best way to do it.

    It is self limiting as far as depth. I dulled the cutter on the sides so it will not open up the diameter of the pocket. If I were to design a cutter, there would be no cutter edge except for the part to make the cut to remove the crimp.

    It is fast if powered.

    I do not like the trim and deburr tools built into one. I do not take nearly that much brass off, all I do it cut off the corner. And I want to do that, even if the trimmer leaves the brass very smooth with almost no burrs. I still want to break that 90 degree corner.

    That said, if you are loading 1000's upon 1000's of .223 for match shooting, the Dillon setup jmorris has would be the way to go. I just don't shoot that much, and three gun ammo doesn't have to be match grade, so agonizing over little things like breaking that 90 degree corner for a jacketed 55 Gr FMJ would make no difference at all. (Match grade prep for a 55 Gr FMJ is an oxymoron.)
  19. Rule3

    Rule3 Well-Known Member

    Thanks. I use the WFT and then this Sinclair/Wilson tool. Even using that tool twice it still seems faster and easier than the RCBS 3 way cutter.


    I do not shoot thousands of rounds either but will do a batch a say 3-5 hundred.

    As long as it's power tool operated no problem. I first thought the RCBS hand crank would work for my bolt action shooting maybe 50 to 100 rounds. That got old real fast!.
  20. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    I usually load 500 or 1000 .223 at a time. Even 1K isn't bad.

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