Ruger Forum banner

1 - 20 of 45 Posts

·
Retired Moderator & Gunsmith
Joined
·
16,671 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
We've had an ongoing discussion about "chamfering case mouths" so I thought I would list all the steps I can think of when I load rifle ammo on a single stage press with optimum accuracy in mind. I realize not everyone, including myself, does every step every time. I always start with a batch of presorted spent cases.

1. Inspect spent cases for damage, split necks, body dents, or anything that might render the case "not reloadable". The inspection process continues into all other steps.
1A Weigh all bullets and cull out any that are above or below acceptable weight limits.
1B. Weigh all primers and cull out those above or below standards.
2. With the proper shell holder installed, use a universal decapping die to deprime all cases.
2A. If cases have military crimped primers, use swaging tool to remove the peened rim the first time the case is reloaded.
3. Use ultrasonic cleaner or stainless pins in a tumbler to clean all cases ... inside and out, to include primer pocket.
4. Rinse all cases.
5. Allow cases to air dry or use a hair drier to speed up the process.
5A. Anneal cases if they are work hardened, typically every other reload.
5B After cases are clean, inspect again for damage to include stretched cases from excessive headspace..
6. Using the proper dies, (full length or neck only) lube and size all cases. Note: if loading for semi-auto, FL small base dies may be needed.
6A. If cases were neck sized only, test them in a rifle to make sure they will chamber.
7. Wipe the lube off all cases.
7A. Probe inside of all cases to check for potential case head separation and discard defective cases.
8. Use a 5/64" drill bit to test/uniform all primer flash holes (first time reload only).
9. Trim all cases to the longest uniform length possible that does not exceed SAAMI specs.
10. Deburr inside and outside of case mouth after each case is trimmed.
10A. Weigh all cases and cull out any irregular ones.
11. Place all cases in a vibratory case cleaner with corn cob media and Dillon's Rapid Polish. Run for about 1 hour.
12. Remove cases from vibratory case cleaner and remove all media from inside the case and primer pocket ... to include the flash hole.
13. Prime one case.
14. Check the case for a "high primer" by placing the primer end of the case on a flat surface to see if "wobbles". Correct if necessary.
15. Repeat steps 13 & 14 until all cases have been primed.
16. Use reloading manual to select the proper bullet, COL, powder, and powder drop for desired load.
17. Fill the powder hopper and trickler with the proper powder.
18. Adjust powder measure for a few tenths of a grain lower than the final charge weight, using a reloading scale.
19. Drop a powder charge in the scale's powder pan.
20. Trickle up the powder charge until it is the exact desired weight is achieved.
21. Pour powder into a primed case using a powder funnel.
22. With the bullet seating die installed and adjusted properly, seat a bullet to the desired cartridge overall length (COL) as noted in reloading manual.
23. Repeat steps 19~22 until all cases in the batch have been powdered and a bullet seated.
24. If ammo is to be used in a tube fed rifle or a semi-auto, install and adjust a crimp die, then crimp all cases.
25. Use a Hornady bullet comparator and caliper to measure all cases for a uniform bullet ogive seating depth, culling out any that are .002" too long or too short.
26. Using a runout gauge, test each loaded cartridge for bullet runout. If runout is more than .002", adjust as necessary until runout is .002" or less.
27. Do a visual inspection on each loaded cartridge and test each cartridge in a Wilson case gauge.
28. Box up all cartridges that passed the final inspection.
29. Label the box with: cartridge name, bullet type and weight, powder type and weight, primer type/brand, and date loaded.

Let's keep this to Rifle reloading only because there are a few different steps for handgun loads.

My questions are: Does anyone have additional steps that aren't included above?

Are there steps in the above list that you NEVER do?

Are there any steps in the above list that you don't know about?

Thanks, I'll be looking for your input.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
145 Posts
I know we're discussing proper practices but I feel there's absolutely one indispensable tool for case preparation. Since case prep is a time consuming yet critical factor for consistency I'll heartily recommend the RCBS Trim Mate Case Prep tool. The chamfering and primer pocket accessories really makes short work of these chores and obviously it will work for handgun case prep as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,188 Posts
Lowegan, I use all the steps you indicated except for the stainless steel balls that you clean your cases with. I use crushed walnut and Midway Brass Polish. Works for me, but Yes I do check the primer pockets after polishing the brass for any particles blocking the ignition.

Excellent article btw.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,907 Posts
Lowegan: I've reloaded for a good long while and your list is quite accurate. Like Loose Noose, the only steps I don't take are #3,4,5, I don't have a wet tumbler nor ultrasonic cleaner. I do however substitute the vibratory with dry media at this time as well in #11.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
3,167 Posts
Pretty comprehensive list, but:

1) I don't polish my brass, I used to, but dull brass shoots as well as pretty brass, so I don't spend the time or money doing it.

2) I have Wilson and RCBS gauges for headspace measurement for a number of my cartridges, but not all. I tend to use Hornady Headspace comparator instead.

I do, however, whole-heartedly agree with step 25, but with the caveat that I confirm headspace first. A loaded round can be the proper length from base to bullet ogive, but still have variability for bullet jump if the headspace isn't correct. Running the bolt hard with a shoulder that's too far back can "launch" the cartridge off of the bolt face to stop at the datum line on the shoulder (i.e. headspace on the shoulder), leaving a gap behind the tail. If you're running a minimal bullet jump, that gap might mean your bullets are jammed in the lands, or have less jump than you need, creating a higher pressure condition.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,723 Posts
Couple of comments...After sizing (neck or full length) I trim but I tend to trim a bit shorter (about 8 thousanths short) and the way I load (neck sized and medium loads) I seldom have to re trim on down the road...I've heard of folks trimming to .010 to .015 shorter...I find using the little cheap Lee cutter in a cordless drill that it cuts to about .008 short very uniformly. I use a Lyman uniformer to check and clean the primer pocket..just give it a whirl a time or two...may not do any good but I do it anyway.

I "test fit" all sized and trimmed brass as I neck size (I only shoot bolt action and only have one of each caliber) before I proceed...just want to make certain the brass will chamber...

After loading I (at your suggestion some time ago) use a Wilson gauge to just double check things.

One other thing...I use walnut media in a tumbler...before I begin anything after decapping I give all brass a bath in the citric acid soup...it tends to clean the inside of the cases and flash holes better than the walnut...I let them dry and proceed with tumbling,and so on...

I probably over inspect..I have one rifle that has a bit of a headspace issue...I neck size for it and check every case with a bent paper clip or dental pick to feel for any case abnormalities near the head inside to let me know if there might be a head separation issue coming on...that and look for the telltale "ring" around the brass above the head...I don't push the brass...even if it still looks ok and works ok after a number of firings..it gets recycled....I don't need to get 20 loadings...New PPU loaded ammo is down to about $15 for 20 and I can shoot it once then neck size the once fired brass and get a goodly number of nice loads from that brass...if my calibers were unusual I'd press the usage a bit more.

Only one other thing..I've used a 505 scale for many years and am very used to it....I dip a "short load" with a lee dipper ...put it in the pan and trickle with an RCBS trickler...I've learned to not only zero and level the scale side to side but front to back as well...at one point back a while I noticed the scale sort of acting up even after I cleaned the agate bearings..turns out I was sitting it in a location that allowed it to "lean forward and it would sort of "drag" while balancing....careful of that now.
 

·
Retired Moderator & Gunsmith
Joined
·
16,671 Posts
Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Varminterror, I'm not saying everyone should follow the above steps ... it's totally up to you. For this purpose, it really doesn't matter what equipment or special tools are used it's more about what steps are used or not used???

opos, Looks like I forgot about probing for case head separation. This step should be between steps 7 & 8. When you say ""test fit all sized and trimmed brass as I neck size", I assume you are actually chambering the case in a rifle .... or do you use a case gauge?
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
3,167 Posts
Varminterror, I'm not saying everyone should follow the above steps ... it's totally up to you. For this purpose, it really doesn't matter what equipment or special tools are used it's more about what steps are used or not used???
Agreed - other than the polishing, I follow the same steps, I just re-order them a bit for the headspace vs. ogive confirmation, and use different tools to confirm my headspace (mostly because they don't make Wilson or RCBS gauges for every cartridge, and I save a bit of money using a generic tool - although spend more time - since I reload a lot of cartridges).

I do like that you resize THEN trim, a lot of guys do it the other way around (I have a few older manuals that suggest that order too), but it has never made sense to me to trim to length, then remold the neck and shoulder.

EDIT:

I guess I did also leave out that I weight sort bullets, brass, and primers for my precision competition loads. I sort brass after trimming. Also for precision loads, I neck turn my brass, then anneal after neck turning, to ensure I get consistent neck tension around the bullet and eliminate the work hardening I created. This thread isn't dedicated to precision loading, but you mentioned concentricity run-out correction, which isn't really necessary for hunting ammo either, so I figured I'd mention those other steps that I do for precision ammo.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
420 Posts
I pretty much follow these steps. I do them in a slightly different order. After shooting an g collecting the brass, I sort them by calibre and then by headstamp. I inspect each case and like you discard any that are damaged. I full length resize any cases that are going in a semi-auto or lever action. When living the cases I use a wax type lube and lube the outside case body with my fingers. I used industrial cotton swabs on a stick (available from Midway USA) to lube the inside of the case neck. I wipe the outside of the case. I then measure the case length and trim as needed. I deburr the outside and inside off every trimmed case. I run the cases through my way tumbler with Dawn, Lemi-Shine, SS pins and water. I then air dry the cases before putting them through the vibrating tumbler with treated crushed corn cob for 30 minutes to an hour and out comes new looking brass, outside and inside including the primer pockets. I use a small punch and inspect each case looking for defects and removezanything that gets stuck in the flash hole. If there is a crimp in the primer pocket, I remove that as well. As you do, I load each case by hand. I use Lee powder dippers. With a little practice, I can measure each load as fast as I could with a powder measure and powder trickled. I seat the first bullet in the case and measure the COL and adjust the seating die. I label each box and write an entry in my reloading log stating what I did. I use to load a lot of large quantities of rounds, but now I'm at a point that I only have to reload what I shoot.
I found that tumbling after I have cleaned the cases, it cleans off the lube and any brass shavings. The reason I use the industrial swabs is to prevent any lube from getting further down inside the case.
I use a Lee hand trimming toll to seat the primers. This gives me a better feel when seating primers. L I have a 4X4 plastic sheet that use to check the seating depth.
For safe operation, I only have one Calibre on the bench at a time. The same holds true for powder, primers and cases. I log anything that's related to reloading. Before selecting any components, I check a reloading manual and make a note to myself and follow the recommended load value.
If I'm trying a new load,
I use a RCBS 10-10 scale. I find it measures far quicker than my digital scale.
If I'm trying out a new load, I measure the MV with my Chrony tend record it on my loads spreadsheet noting the AD and average fps.
 

·
Retired Moderator & Gunsmith
Joined
·
16,671 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Varminterror, I kinda did indicate precision loading in the very first sentence "with optimum accuracy in mind", so I should definitely add annealing and neck turning as options. I also forgot weighing bullets, brass, and primers because I never do this .... but I'll add them anyway. Uniform bullet weight is very important but I use high quality bullets that never vary more than a tenth of a grain. I can see weighing bullets if they are bulk grade or cast lead. Weighing primers never made much sense to me ... but others my find it important .... likewise with brass.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
541 Posts
GREAT list! My reloading is only for semiautos. Relative to these steps:

6. Using the proper dies, (full length or neck only) lube and size all cases. Note: if loading for semi-auto, FL small base dies may be needed.
6A. If cases were neck sized only, test them in a rifle to make sure they will chamber.

7A. Probe inside of all cases to check for potential case head separation and discard defective cases.
9. Trim all cases to the longest uniform length possible that does not exceed SAAMI specs.

GONRA suggests maybe adding to FULL LENGTH SIZE for all semiautos and
CHECK PREPARED CASE DIMENSIONS in a L. E.Wilson case gauge.
Idea is to promote free / "little bit loose" chambering for semiautos
as one item to guard against"slamfires".
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
773 Posts
Sounds like a great process for super high level accuracy ammo on a single stage. You've obviously worked this out over a long time. While I don't use a single stage I have reviewed your steps and have a suggestion of two.

You might consider reordering a step to eliminate bad cases before added processing. So I would move up step "7A. Probe inside of all cases to check for potential case head separation and discard defective cases." before "5A. Anneal cases if they are work hardened, typically every other reload." so that you don't spend the time and money annealing bad brass.

Further, I think a better process flow would be:

Step "2A. If cases have military crimped primers, use swaging tool to remove the peened rim the first time the case is reloaded." should be moved to after "8. Use a 5/64" drill bit to test/uniform all primer flash holes (first time reload only)." as a swaging tool like Dillon's Super Swage uses the inside base of the case as a stop for the swage and flash hole scrap impedes swaging at times.

What are the advantages of your process where you are skipping steps and/or reordering the process outlined in 6mmBR.com's "Preparing Cases for Long-Range Accuracy"? I'm no expert and not saying that they are right and you're wrong, just wondering why you're process is different?
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
3,167 Posts
Kinda gets depressing when you look at how many steps we really go through. Heck of a lot of work goes into every shot, then it's all gone in a matter of a fraction of a second!
 

·
Retired Moderator & Gunsmith
Joined
·
16,671 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
COSteve, The above list is in the order I typically do things and is certainly not cast in stone. There is a reason for probing cases for head separation AFTER sizing is ... it may not show up until the case has been run through a sizing die. I do agree .... get rid of bad cases before you spend much time on them.

I picked up that you have a Dillon 650. Do you use it for rifle reloading? The reason I asked is ... I have a Dillon RL550 and sometimes crank out 5.56x45 spray and pray ammo and occasionally 308 Win .... plinking loads only, nothing all that precision. I find case prep pretty much defeats the purpose of a progressive, plus it often results in excessive bullet runout.

I don't visit 6mmBR.com's web site so I don't have a clue what they recommend. Just wanted to get something started here. We have a lot of "old timers" that have been doing things the same way for decades .... right or wrong. They (I include my self in that word) may learn something, just as people new to the hobby.

Varminterror, Kinda gets depressing ... You're right ... we are up to 36 steps and I suspect there will be a few more.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
629 Posts
Good write up! But weighing primers? Please!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
541 Posts
Since most .50 BMG cases are "scrap dealer brass from widely varying headspace M2's"
GONRA checks for case stretch once cases are clean enough, before further processing.
Very large % are rejected!
(Adopted a commercial "granit chek dial indicator" to measure case wall thickness....)
 

·
Retired Moderator & Gunsmith
Joined
·
16,671 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
gunna1day,
But weighing primers? Please!!!
I feel the same way but some people actually do weigh primers. With nearly all the primer's weight in the metal cup and anvil, I'm not convinced a weight difference would equate to a detectable difference in the pellet. So ... I added it just to try and make the list as complete as possible.

Gonra, I'll add "check for stretched cases" to the list.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
773 Posts
Edited 11/1/15 to address Iowegan's apparent disdain of Dillon products I just noticed in post #14 above.

Iowegan - Yep, I handload 9 rifle and 7 pistol on my 650 w/casefeeder. All my ammo to include my long range stuff. It's accurate to the ranges I shoot, about 500yds max and my son uses my 68grn .223 loads in his Savage Model 10 w/Nikon Monarch 4-16 scope to produce at least 5/8" groups at 100yds (younger and better eyes). We also use those rounds in my scoped 20" RRA and his Savage to shoot medium sized red apples at 400-450yds as they are sub MOA targets at that range.

I believe your comment about “I have a Dillon RL550 and sometimes crank out 5.56x45 spray and pray ammo and occasionally 308 Win .... plinking loads only, nothing all that precision. I find case prep pretty much defeats the purpose of a progressive, plus it often results in excessive bullet runout.” shows you’re bias against progressives and that you are ignoring it’s capabilities; therefore wasting it’s potential. If it's just that you can't figure out how to make good brass on your Dillon, I'd be glad to teach you.
 

·
Ironhat
Joined
·
287 Posts
This Q is for all reloaders who get a kick out of accuracy. What do you use as standard deviation for each of the weighed components. For instance, for cases do you accept up to and including 2.0 gms, over and under and for bullets 3.5 gms over and under? (I just pulled the #s out of the air. I have never weighed components.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,723 Posts
Varminterror, I'm not saying everyone should follow the above steps ... it's totally up to you. For this purpose, it really doesn't matter what equipment or special tools are used it's more about what steps are used or not used???

opos, Looks like I forgot about probing for case head separation. This step should be between steps 7 & 8. When you say ""test fit all sized and trimmed brass as I neck size", I assume you are actually chambering the case in a rifle .... or do you use a case gauge?
when I neck size I chamber fit..in the case where I might do some full length sizing I use the Wilson Gauges you turned me on to .
 
1 - 20 of 45 Posts
Top