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This will take some telling before I get to the Best Buy. I'm in the middle of two projects, just getting started actually. Over the last 10-15 years I have been scarfing up new or once-fired brass whenever I found a deal. Call it overcompensation for the days when I had to nurse the same few cases because that's all I had. I didn't really know how much had accumulated in the garage until I started cleaning it up a few months ago. Everything in the plastic coffee cans and bags is new or once-fired rifle brass, mainly in .223 and .308 but a few other calibers in smaller numbers. The first project is to process that brass, and that's pretty daunting to think about. (The metal cans are pistol brass.) So far, everything has been thoroughly cleaned and decapped.



The other project is to work up some primo loads for a few new or neglected guns. I've made loads for these over the years, but not the very best I could. You know how it is - too many projects, not enough time.

I'm working on new brass right now to use in load development for the new guns. A few years ago I adopted a new process for new brass. Instead of automatically running it all through a F-L die, I'll run just a few cases through and see if I'm actually doing anything. I've found that with most brass the die hardly even touches the cases. Dropping them into a case gauge shows that they are all under spec in every measurement.

One problem with new brass is that the necks are under-sized like everything else - so small that seating a bullet is part seating and part resizing. Bullets make poor resizing tools, especially the fancy ones that run $50 a box. Since the necks usually need cleaning up to get rid of dings and make them round, I kill two birds with one stone by running an expansion mandrel into them. I'm using a small press and a Sinclair expansion die for this ($25). They sell the expansion mandrels for each caliber separately ($9). The mandrels run about .001 smaller than the diameter of a bullet, so you end up with about .002 neck tension to seat the bullet into. If you wanted a little more tension, you can use a neck turning mandrel, which is about .002 smaller than bullet diameter. Although you often read that brass will rebound .001 after coming out of a die, I've found that the actual amount of rebound will vary from brand to brand along with some other factors. One factor is how long you leave the mandrel in the case. I like to take roughly a 5-count before pulling it out.

An extra advantage of this method is that you center the I.D. (inside diameter) of your neck concentric with the case, and you push any neck wall irregularities to the O.D. where they won't affect your bullet as much, if at all. Real important for the anal guys. The biggest pain in this process is putting a tiny amount of lube inside each neck.

My tools for this step: A Harrell short-stroke steel press (I don't think they sell it any more) with the expansion die off to the right.


Die and mandrel:


I just finished running 500 Winchester and 500 Lapua cases through the mandrel. Although the brass is already at the 'trim to' length or shorter, I like to run it through a trimmer just to clean up the mouths and square them off. Plus they need to be chamfered before seating bullets. I set my trimmer to just touch the case mouths, not trying to shorten the length. I hope you can see from the photo that the Win case mouths are pretty ragged and definitely need cleaning up. The Lapua (on the left) aren't as bad (some of what you see there is residual sizing wax left over from pulling the mandrell out).


I'm getting to the Best $20 Tool. What the cases need now is the trimming, flash hole deburring, flash hole uniforming, and primer pocket uniforming. With 1,000 cases on the table and more waiting, my fingers are aching already from all the pinching and pushing they'll have to do. This is made worse because I'm using a Gracey trimmer that works like a pencil sharpener, but only if you pinch and push the cases into the hole. Here's the setup:


That's the Gracey up front, a Sinclair pocket uniformer in the drill, and an RBCS Case Prep Center. I'm using the two long tools on the prep center - one has a cutter to make sure all the primer holes are uniform and the minimum size and the other cuts a little funnel shape around the hole.

The Gracey deburs, chamfers, and trims in one step, using the case shoulder to control depth and keep the case straight in the hole. It's a poor man's Giraud. Here are the cutter blades:


Now the Best Tool. I took a tool that came with a Sinclair neck turning set and it has been a life-saver. It's a Sinclair neck turning handle and it's worth lots more than the $20 it costs. You just tighten the knurled knob and it grips the case tight without leaving any marks. You've got leverage for the twisting and plenty to push on without jamming the end of the case into your palm. Get one. The only negative is that the serrations on the knob will rub a sore spot on your thumb after a while. I have been using a cotton work glove on one hand to take case of this, but after several hundred cases I'm thinking of going to a leather glove. Michael Jackson would be proud of me. More info on the project as it progresses.

 

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Very nice setup, you're about as anal as me when it comes to brass prep.

I like to use Imperial dry neck lube (with the small ceramic ball application media) for neck sizing. Just stick the top of the case in the media and swish it around to apply lube. Takes about a second to lube a neck, inside and out.

www.midwayusa.com/product/892537/imperial-dry-neck-lube-application-media-1-oz
 

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About those containers . . .

Have you ever thought that your choice of containers might be causing your OCD brass collecting and reloading rituals? GI3

Good God Man, save yourself! Switch to Decaf!

Thanks for the detailed photos and the tool tips.
 

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Cool set up. I have at least a couple of thousand each of 5.56 and 7.62 cases that I "acquired" while on AcDu back in the day. Every time the Marines had a qual, they invited their pet squid (me) to join them, shoot their weapons (even for score), and then pick up as much brass as I could carry. Great guys those Marines. Anyway, I have to do the same type of thing eventually, and your setup looks like a good starting point. Thanks.
 

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man and i though i was back logged w/ brass and all i have is a few 25mm cans full, I dont even reload LOL
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Have you ever thought that your choice of containers might be causing your OCD brass collecting and reloading rituals? GI3

Good God Man, save yourself! Switch to Decaf!
If that caffeine worked like it should, I wouldn't have all that brass backed up on me. RNGR2

I can say this after finishing the prep on the first couple thousand pieces of .308 brass: The brass destined for plinker and SHTF loads isn't going to get the same degree of prep as the good stuff.
 
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