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Loathing my 223 reloading

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by tcanthonyii, May 29, 2013.

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  1. tcanthonyii

    tcanthonyii Member

    Dec 9, 2012
    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?
  2. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

    Nov 25, 2006
    Northeast PA, USA
  3. thump_rrr

    thump_rrr Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    The North Country
    Hornady LnL AP Progressive with case feeder and a Dillon RT1200 trimmer.
    A Double Alpha rifle bullet feeder will be along shortly.
  4. mjsdwash

    mjsdwash Member

    Jan 14, 2011
    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.
  5. 45lcshooter

    45lcshooter Member

    Oct 6, 2012
    Central of the Commonwealth of PA
    Lee trimmers, Lee Zip Trim/or flat based battery drill. That would be the cheapest for a newbie.
    Less than 30.00 before shipping.
  6. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

    Dec 7, 2008
    Mount Desert Island Maine
    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.
    Last edited: May 29, 2013
  7. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

    Oct 19, 2010
    East TN
    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.
  8. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

    Apr 24, 2008
    Hot and Humid FL
    Don't shoot so much and you won't have as many empties to reload......;)
  9. Mohave-Tec

    Mohave-Tec Member

    May 28, 2013
    Las Vegas
    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.
  10. mtrmn

    mtrmn Member

    Apr 22, 2011

    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
  11. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Member

    Jun 18, 2011
    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.
  12. warhwkbb

    warhwkbb Member

    Oct 13, 2011
    Knoxville, TN
    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.
  13. highlander 5

    highlander 5 Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    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.
  14. Beentown

    Beentown Member

    Jan 20, 2011
    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.
  15. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

    Jan 19, 2006
    Happy Valley, UT
    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.
  16. Searcher4851

    Searcher4851 Member

    Dec 20, 2010
    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.
  17. mdi

    mdi Member

    Dec 31, 2007
    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
  18. mrcylinder

    mrcylinder Member

    May 6, 2013
    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
  19. kelbro

    kelbro Member

    Nov 11, 2007
    Desert Southwest
    Do like my folks did when there was lots of work to be done... have a mess of kids!
  20. dagger dog

    dagger dog Member

    Jan 30, 2008
    SO. IN
    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 !
  21. wgaynor

    wgaynor Member

    Nov 9, 2009
    Western Kentucky
    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 :)
  22. NormB

    NormB Member

    Jan 16, 2013
    socialist occupied Maryland
    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.
  23. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

    Sep 16, 2007
    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.
  24. TexasShooter59

    TexasShooter59 Member

    Jan 11, 2008
    North Texas
    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.
  25. Welding Rod

    Welding Rod Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    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.
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