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All factory brass ok to reload?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Potatohead, Jun 19, 2013.

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  1. Potatohead
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    Potatohead Member

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    awesome. thanks for being so helpful to us rookies. the gun world can be a bit intimidating for those of us green guys
     
  2. Potatohead
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    Potatohead Member

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    nice pics walkalong. thx
     
  3. Potatohead
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    Potatohead Member

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    im definitely going with ziploc for my cases from now on-im having a whale of a time getting these thing out of these federal trays that i had them in!
     
  4. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    Thanks for asking our advice

    Good on you for asking questions. Your search for knowledge will be more orderly if you start by buying a loading manual and reading through the early chapters (which always contain descriptions of the loading process) or "The ABC's of Reloading".

    I have thought of a few things I think are useful for handloaders to know or to consider which seem to be almost universally mentioned, so I put together this list of 10 advices.


    Much is a matter of personal taste and circumstance, though. So, all advice carries this caveat, "your mileage may vary".


    So you can better evaluate my words, here is the focus of my experience. I load for handguns (44 Mag, 45 ACP, 45 Colt, 454 Casull, 9mm, 357 Mag, 480 Ruger) a couple hundred per sitting and go through 100 to 500 centerfire rounds per month. I don't cast....yet.


    When I bought my first gun (.357 Magnum Dan Wesson revolver), I bought, at the same time, a reloading setup because I knew I could not afford to shoot if I did not reload my own ammo. My setup was simple. A set of dies, a press, a 2" x 6" plank, some carriage bolts and wing nuts, a scale, two loading blocks. I just mounted the press on the plank wedged into the drawer of an end table. I did not use a loading bench at all.


    It cost me about 1/4 of factory ammo per round and paid for itself pretty quickly.


    I still believe in a minimalist approach and and try to keep my inventory of tools low. I do not keep my loading gear set up when not in use, either, but pack them away in small toolboxes until the next loading session.


    Now, here are my Ten Advices.


    Advice #1 Use Reliable Reference Sources Wisely - Books, Videos, Web Sites, etc.


    Study up in loading manuals until you understand the process well, before spending a lot of (or any) money on equipment.


    Read as many manuals as you can, for the discussion of the how-to steps found in their early chapters. The reason you want more than one or two manuals is that you want to read differing authors/editors writing styles and find ones that "speak" to you. What one manual covers thinly, another will cover well so give better coverage of the subject; one author or editor may cover parts of the subject more thoroughly than the others. The public library should have manuals you can read, then decide which ones you want to buy. Dated, perhaps but the basics are pretty unchanging.


    I found "The ABC's of Reloading" to be a very good reference. Containing no loading data but full of knowledge and understanding of the process. I am told the older editions are better than the newer ones, so the library is looking even better.


    There are instructional videos now that did not exist in the '70s when I started, but some are better than others. Filter all casual information through a "B.S." filter.


    Only after you know the processing steps of loading can you look at the contents of of a dealer's shelves, a mail-order catalog or a reloading kit and know what equipment you want to buy. If you are considering a loading kit, you will be in a better position to know what parts you don't need and what parts the kits lack. If builging your own kit from scratch, you will be better able to find the parts that will serve your into the future without having to do trade-ins.


    Advice #2 All equipment is good. But is it good FOR YOU?


    Almost every manufacturer of loading equipment makes good stuff; if they didn't, they would lose reputation fast and disappear from the marketplace. Generally you get what you pay for and better equipment costs more. Cast aluminum is lighter and less expensive but not so abrasion resistant as cast iron. Cast iron lasts practically forever. Aluminum generally takes more cleaning and lubrication to last forever. Just think about what you buy. Ask around. Testimonials are nice. But if you think Ford/Chevy owners have brand loyalty, you have not met handloaders. Testimonials with reasoning behind them are better. RCBS equipment is almost all green, Dillon-blue, Lee-red. Almost no manufacturers cross color lines and many handloaders simply identify themselves as "Blue" or whatever. Make your own choices.


    About brand loyalties, an example: Lee Precision makes good equipment, but is generally considered the "economy" equipment maker (though some of their stuff is considered preferable to more expensive makes, as Lee has been an innovator both in price leadership which has introduced many to loading who might not otherwise have been able to start the hobby and in introduction of innovative features like their auto-advancing turret presses). But there are detractors who focus on Lee's cheapest offerings to paint even their extremely strong gear as inferior. Ignore the snobs.


    On Kits: Almost every manufacturer makes a kit that contains everything you need to do reloading (except dies and the consumables). A kit is decent way to get started. Eventually most people wind up replacing most of the components of the kit as their personal taste develops (negating the savings you thought the kit gave you), but you will have gotten started, at least.


    On building your own kit: The thought processes you give to assembling your own kit increases your knowledge about reloading. You may get started a couple weeks later than if you started with a kit, but you will be far ahead in knowledge.


    Advice #3 While Learning, don't get fancy. Progressive, turret or Single Stage? Experimental loads? Pushing performance envelopes? Don't get fancy.


    While you are learning, load mid-range at first so overpressures are not concerns. Just concentrate on getting the mechanical steps of loading right and being VERY VERY consistent (charge weight, crimp strength, bullet seating depth, primer seating force, all that). Use a voluminous, "fluffy", powder that is, one that is easy to see that you have charged the case and which will overflow your cartridge case if you mistakenly put two powder charges in it.


    While learning, only perform one operation at a time. Whether you do the one operation 50 (or 20) times on a batch of cases before moving on to the next operation - "Batch Processing" or take one case through all the sequence of operations between empty case to finished cartridge - "Continuous Processing", sometimes known as "Sequential Processing", learn by performing only one operation at a time and concentrating on THAT OPERATION. On a single stage press or a turret press, this is the native way of operation. On a progressive press, the native operation is to perform mulltiple operations simultaneously. Don't do it. While you can learn on a progressive press, in my opinion too many things happen at the same time, thus are hard to keep track of (unless you load singly at first). Mistakes DO happen and you want to watch for them ONE AT A TIME. Until handloading becomes second nature to you.


    Note: A turret press is essentially a single stage press with a moveable head which can mount several dies at the same time. What makes it like a single stage rather than a progressive is that you are still using only one die at a time, not three or four dies simultaneously at each stroke.


    On the Turret vs Single stage the decision is simpler. You can do everything on a Turret EXACTLY the same way as you do on a single stage (just leave the turret stationary). That is, a Turret IS a single stage if you don't rotate the head.


    Learning on a progressive can be done successfully, but it is easier to learn to walk in shoes than on roller skates.


    Also, a good, strong, single stage press is in the stable of almost every reloader I know, no matter how many progressives they have. They always keep at least one.


    Advice #4 Find a mentor.


    There is no substitute for someone watching you load a few cartridges and critiquing your technigue BEFORE you develop bad habits or make a dangerous mistake. (A mistake that might not have consequences right away, but maybe only after you have escaped trouble a hundred times until one day you get bit, for instance having case lube on your fingers when you handle primers; 99 times, no problem because primers are coated with a sealant, but the hundredth primer may not be perfectly sealed and now winds up "dead")


    I started loading with the guy who sold me my press watching over my shoulder as I loaded my first 6 rounds to make sure I did not blow myself up, load a powderless cartridge or set off a primer in the press. I could have learned more, faster with a longer mentoring period, but I learned a lot in those first 6 rounds, as he explained each step. I educated myself after that. But now, on the internet, I have learned a WHOLE LOT MORE. But in-person is still the best.


    After you have been mentored, mentor someone else. Not necessarily in loading or the shooting sports, but in SOMETHING in which you are enthusiastic and qualified. Just give back to the community.


    Advice #5 Design your loading space for safety, efficiency, cleanliness


    Your loading bench/room is tantamount to a factory floor. There is a whole profession devoted to industrial engineering, the art and science of production design. Your loading system (layout, process steps, quality control, safety measures, etc) deserves no less attention than that.

    Place your scale where it is protected from drafts and vibration and is easy to read and operate. Place you components' supplies convenient to the hand that will place them into the operation and the receptacle(s) for interim or finished products, too. You can make a significant increase in safety and in speed, too, with well thought out design of your production layout, "A" to "Z", from the lighting to the dropcloth to the fire suppression scheme.


    Advice #6 Keep Current on loading technology


    Always use a CURRENT loading manual. Ballistic testing has produced some new knowledge over the years and powder chemistry has changed over the years, too. They make some powders differently than they used to and even some powder names may have changed. However, if you are using 10 year old powder, you may want to check a 10 year old manual for the recipe. Then double check with a modern manual and then triple check with the powder maker.


    Read previous threads on reloading and watch videos available on the web. But be cautious. There is both good information and bad information found in casual sources, so see my advice #10.


    Advice #7 You never regret buying the best (but once)


    When you buy the very best, it hurts only once, in the wallet. When you buy too cheaply it hurts every time you use the gear. The trick is to buy good enough (on the scale between high quality and low price) to keep you happy without overpaying for features you don't need. "The delicious flavor of low price fades fast. The wretched aftertaste of poor quality lingers long."


    Advice #8 Tungsten Carbide dies (or Titanium Nitride) rather than tool steel.

    T-C dies instead of regular tool steel (which require lubrication for sizing your brass) for your straight-walled cartridge cases. T-C dies do not require lubrication, which will save you time. Carbide expander button for your bottlenecked cases. Keeps lube out of the inside of the cases.


    Advice #9 Safety Always Safety All Ways.


    Wear eye protection, especially when seating primers. Gloves are good, too, especially if using the Lee "Hammer" Tools. Children (unless they are good helpers, not just playing around) are at risk and are a risk. Pets, too unless they have been vetted (no, not that kind of vetting). Any distractions that might induce you to forget charging a case (no charge or a double charge, equally disturbing). Imagine everything that CAN go wrong. Then imagine everything that you CAN'T imagine. I could go on, but it's your eyes, your fingers, your house, your children (present of future - lead is a hazard, too. Wash after loading and don't eat at your bench). Enough said?


    Advice #10 Take all with a grain of salt.

    Verify for yourself everything you learn. Believe only half of what you see and one quarter of what you hear. That goes double for everything you find on the internet (with the possible exception of the actual web sites of the bullet and powder manufacturers). This advice applies to my message as much as anything else and especially to personal load recipes. Hare-brained reloaders might have dangerous habits and even an honest typographical error could be deadly. I heard about a powder manufacturer's web site that dropped a decimal point once. It was fixed REAL FAST, but mistakes happen. I work in accounting and can easily hit "7" instead of "4" because they are next to each other on the keypad.


    Good luck.


    Lost Sheep
     
  5. Potatohead
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    Potatohead Member

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    Wow Lost Sheep. Thats all i can say...I very much appreciate that, well said-can somebody sticky that..?!!

    Thx so much-cant say it enough..

    (i have read ABCs also, and plan on getting more books)

    I pasted that into my Word file
    Thanks again
     
  6. hgte2001

    hgte2001 Member

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    I LIKE COFFEE cans. I use whatever is available. I use old trays to inspect 45ACP brass for small primers that sneak into my stock of Large primer cases. So keep a few they make good inspections trays. Sometimes I use them for cases after I drop powder as they take up less room and they are to inspect.

    I use new car finish and fine walnut designed for an air blaster to tumble with. I purchase this from Harbor freights for 20.95 for 25 lbs. Currently I have corn cob and Walnut mixed. Works well!


    AMERC is the only thing I found that I sale for scrap Automatically. In 10mm AMACOR brass does not work and that gets sold for scrap brass as well. a 5 gallon bucket nets about 115 dollars.

    Enjoy!
     
  7. Potatohead
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    Potatohead Member

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    Good to know. Thanks for the info gentleman-gotta hit the sack now-alarm set for 3:45 am OUCH
     
  8. TfflHndn

    TfflHndn Member

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    A couple of things that have made a difference for me: First, if you have cats, or know someone who does, save a few of the 30-40 pound litter containers. Heavy plastic, hinged lid, and strong handle. Since they will hold 40# of litter, they will hold your brass. One for each caliber you load. I pick up range brass, tumble it clean right away, and dump it into the containers. When I am ready to load some up, the large hinged opening allows for easy access.

    If you go to Costco, or know someone who does, treat your self to some chocolate covered macadamias or peanuts, whatever you like, and save the container. It holds a couple hundred cases and is clear so I can see what's in it. Fits nicely on a shelf or bench. I de-prime cases and toss them in these containers so I have a ready supply of cases to flare and load when I want to. And they have a large screw-on cap for easy but secure access. I find that butter tubs or tupperware will lose their lid if dropped and then you are doing the hands-and-knees case hunt under and around all the crap near your bench.

    Have fun, stay safe!
     
  9. bds
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    bds Member

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    If you are recycling brass, make sure you recycle the spent primers. They are brass too.

    I collect them in the Folgers coffee can and take them along when I recycle the brass cases I can't reuse. ;)
     
  10. Kernel

    Kernel Member

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    Good question. I'll take a shot at an answer.......

    Between 5 and 10 times, in general. 9mm and .380 likely to the lower end of that. Depends on a lot of things. Semi-autos can chew up brass. If your .308 is a semi-auto the brass will likely wear out faster than if it was a bolt action.

    High pressure loads put more stress on the case. How it was made and annealed at the factory. Finish and headspace of the chamber. A million other things.

    Some might split on the first firing, .303 Brit is notorious for that. I've got some old .38 SPL that I've loaded at least 30 times, and it was well used ex-police reloads when I got it.
     
  11. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    .380, 9MM, .38 Super, .40, all last many firings, you may lose it before it wears out. .38 Spl brass will last a long time, and a long, long time with light loads. Higher pressure stuff like .357, 41 & .44 mag will wear out sooner. Rifle brass will vary from 4 to 5 firings to 10 to 15, and even more.
     
  12. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Yep. These days I keep nothing but primers in this can, and put brass in a bucket in the shed.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. 788Ham

    788Ham Member

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    Larry Ashcraft,

    I'm glad to see your posting on the Federal cases NOT being prone to uselessness after just a few reloadings. I've got probably 80 brass with FC stamp on them, all cleaned and ready for priming, glad to hear this was not in vain !! Once fired factory brass, '06 caliber, hope to get at least 8 or 10 reloads out of them. Thanks again ! ;)
     
  14. kerreckt

    kerreckt Member

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    I have heard the rumor about FC rifle brass being inferior, in some way, and prone to early failure. I have reloaded many thousands of FC rifle brass. Some of it 6-8 times and have never experienced a brass failure. These are calibers.223/5.56, .308, 30-06, and 30-30. I am working my way through 2k 2.23 marked FC NT with a crimped primer and so far it appears to be good brass. I suspect it came from a military range because all the other brass mixed in bears the NATO stamp.
     
  15. TenDriver

    TenDriver Member

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    I would agree that modern production Federal brass isn't the best. Necks seem to split before other brands, but I can still get a couple of firings out of one.
     
  16. Potatohead
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    Potatohead Member

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    Tendriver,
    What part of town are you in? (weve talked/posted before-i was formerly Colonel Kernel)...PM me if you dont want everyone knowing
     
  17. Potatohead
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    Potatohead Member

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    Thanks for your posts everyone
     
  18. PCCUSNRET

    PCCUSNRET Member

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    Do you mix silver colored and brass primers for the scrap yard? Are the silver colored primers nickel plated brass? How about nickel plated brass, do you mix these when taking to scrap yard? Thanks.
     
  19. TenDriver

    TenDriver Member

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    No worries. I'm in south HSV near Weatherly.
     
  20. Potatohead
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    Potatohead Member

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    Awesome, im in the Piedmont area (whitesburg and airport rd). you had mentioned once that if i needed an extra set of eyes on something one day that you'd be glad to help (pretty sure that was u)...well, i will definitely need to take you up on that at some point. thx
     
  21. brickeyee

    brickeyee Member

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    Dependws on th epresure the cartridege operates at.

    Some lower pressure rounds like .45 ACP you are far more likely to loose than wear out.

    Cneter fire rifle rounds with aless than max oad?

    Often at least 4-5 times.

    Very high pressure rounds (especially rifle)?

    Only a couple time.

    The primer pockets start getting loose.

    NEVER reload brass originally used in blanks.
    It is often sub-standard stuff.
     
  22. FrankB1948

    FrankB1948 Member

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    Advice #9 Safety Always Safety All Ways.


    Wear eye protection, especially when seating primers. Gloves are good, too, especially if using the Lee "Hammer" Tools. Children (unless they are good helpers, not just playing around) are at risk and are a risk. Pets, too unless they have been vetted (no, not that kind of vetting). Any distractions that might induce you to forget charging a case (no charge or a double charge, equally disturbing). Imagine everything that CAN go wrong. Then imagine everything that you CAN'T imagine. I could go on, but it's your eyes, your fingers, your house, your children (present of future - lead is a hazard, too. Wash after loading and don't eat at your bench). Enough said?


    #9 is critical. Don't watch TV, BS with a friend etc when you are reloading. It demands your full attention.
     
  23. Potatohead
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    Potatohead Member

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    thx for advice
     
  24. TenDriver

    TenDriver Member

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    Absolutely. Holler anytime and I'll see what I can do.
     
  25. Reefinmike

    Reefinmike Member

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    I dig through the range trash can and steal the plastic trays people throw away. I toss the cardboard but keep the tray. My favorite for trays for 38/380/357 are the trays that come in boxes of federal/blazer 380,9mm, 38, 357. They fit nice and snug 4 to a layer in a 50 cal can. I can fit 16 boxes of 38 or 357 in a 50 can and 24 boxes of 380. 45 trays are harder to come by but my favs are tula and american eagle trays. just small enough to fit 4 per layer in a 50 can and you can fit 20 boxes in a can!

    My load data never changes for all my loads, so I just put the date of production on a little sticker and put it on the tray before I box it. Then I shoot the oldest ones first.
     
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