October 2nd, 2016

Norma Factory Tour Video is a “Must-Watch” for Hand-Loaders

Norma factory ammo production video

Guys — honestly, if you do anything today on this site, watch this video. You won’t be disappointed. Guaranteed. This is a very informative (and surprisingly entertaining) video. Every serious hand-loader should watch this video to see how cartridge cases are made. Your Editor has watched the video 5 times now and I still find it fascinating. The camera work and editing are excellent — there are many close-ups revealing key processes such as annealing and head-stamping.

VERY Informative Video Show Cartridge Brass and Ammunition Production:

Norma has released a fascinating video showing how bullet, brass, and ammunition are produced at the Norma Precision AB factory which first opened in 1902. You can see how cartridges are made starting with brass disks, then formed into shape through a series of processes, including “hitting [the cup] with a 30-ton hammer”. After annealing (shown at 0:08″), samples from every batch of brass are analyzed (at multiple points along the case length) to check metal grain structure and hardness. Before packing, each case is visually inspected by a human being (3:27″ time-mark).

The video also shows how bullets are made from jackets and lead cores. Finally, you can watch the loading machines that fill cases with powder, seat the bullets, and then transport the loaded rounds to the packing system. In his enthusiasm, the reporter/narrator does sometimes confuse the term “bullets” and “rounds” (5:00″), but you can figure out what he means. We definitely recommend watching this video. It’s fascinating to see 110-year-old sorting devices on the assembly line right next to state-of-the art, digitally-controlled production machinery.

Video tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink - Videos, Reloading 1 Comment »
July 27th, 2016

DJ’s Brass Can Anneal, Turn Necks, Hydro-Form Cases and More

DJ's Brass Restoration Service

Bench Source Annealing machineWith the price of premium brass topping $1.00 per case for popular match cartridges, it makes sense to consider annealing your brass to extend its useful life. You don’t want to chuck out brass that costs a buck a case (or more)! Forum member Darrell Jones offers a full range of brass prep, brass forming, and brass restoration (annealing, ultra-sonic cleaning) at very affordable prices. Starting at just $20 per 100 cases ($25/100 for magnum cases), Darrell’s company, DJ’s Brass, will anneal your used brass using state-of-the-art Bench-Source annealing machines. Annealing plus ultrasonic cleaning starts at $35 per 100 cases ($45 for magnum cases). For a bit more money Darrell can also uniform the primer pockets and chamfer the case necks.

Custom Neck-Turning Services
Another great service DJ’s Brass provides is precision neck-turning. Darrell can neck-turn any size case to your specified neck-wall thickness. The price starts at $60.00 per hundred for standard cases or $75.00/100 for magnum size with a $25.00 minimum order. And if you’ve got a bucket of brass to neck-turn, that’s fine with Darrell — he recently neck-turned 1500 pieces of brass for one customer!

DJ’s Brass can process everything from .17 Fireball all the way up to the big magnum cases. And the job gets done quickly. Darrell normally offers a 10-day turn-around. For most jobs, Darrell tells us, he gets the processed brass to the Post Office within three business days. For more info, visit DJsBrass.com or call Darrell Jones at 205-461-4680. IMPORTANT: Contact Darrell for shipping instructions BEFORE sending any brass for processing. ALL BRASS MUST BE DE-PRIMED before you send it.

DJ's Brass Restoration Service

• Anneal Case Necks Only ($20.00/100 normal or $25.00/100 magnum)
• Ultrasonic Cleaning, Check Necks, and Annealing ($35.00/100 normal or $45.00/100 magnum)
• Full Service: Uniform primer pockets, Chamfer case mouths, Ultrasonic cleaning and Polishing, Anneal case necks (Starting at $50.00/100 call for quote)
• Neck Turning or trim-to-length Custom Order Service (Starting at $60.00/100 for standard cases and $75.00/100 for magnums)
• Hydro-Form Specialty cases (such as Dasher) $0.60 (sixty cents) each minimum of 100 pieces plus actual return shipping cost
• Expand Case Necks and Anneal brass (Call for Price)
• Create False Shoulder for Fire-Forming (Call for Price)
• Ultrasonic Cleaning of Muzzle Brake, $5.00 plus actual shipping

Hydro-Forming Cartridge Brass
Hydro-forming by Darrell costs $0.60 per case with a minimum order of 100 pieces. After hydro-forming, Darrell can also neck-turn the case for an additional charge (call for combined quote). In addition to the 6mmBR-based cases shown below, Darrell can now hydro-form 6PPC cases from .220 Russian brass.

hydroforming hydro-form Dasher 6mmBR PPC Darrell Jones

With Darrell’s hydro-forming service you don’t have to buy any special dies or other equipment. Darrell says: “Simply send me the brass you need or have it dropped-shipped to me along with a fired case that has not been sized. If you need formed brass for a new build (gun not yet fired), let me know and I will size the brass to fit within .001″ of a PT&G GO gauge.”

DJ’s Brass Offers Specialized Custom Services
Darrell tells us: “At DJ’s Brass, we can handle all your brass refurbishing needs. From ultrasonic cleaning to custom annealing for specific wildcat cartridges. We can expand your necks from .22 caliber to .30 caliber and anneal shoulders for consistent bump-back. We can turn your case-necks and trim the brass to your specs. For some cartridge types, I can pre-form cases to assist in fire-forming a wildcat cartridge. We also remove the carbon build-up in muzzle brakes. Don’t lose your accuracy by having carbon build up and close off the clearance required for the most accurate bullet release through a muzzle brake.” Note: Extra charges apply for neck-turning and neck expansion operations, or specialized cartridge-forming operations. Please call Darrell at 205-461-4680 for special services pricing.

DJ's Brass Restoration Service

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
June 27th, 2016

AMP Induction Annealing Machine Review by Bill Gravatt

Annealing Made Perfect New Zealand Anneal Annealer Induction Review Pilot Findlay Bill Gravatt Gear Review Product Test

Annealing Made Perfect (AMP) Annealing Machine Review

Review by Bill Gravatt
Annealing Made Perfect New Zealand Anneal Annealer Induction Review Pilot Findlay Bill Gravatt Gear Review Product TestI had been following the progress of Alex and Matt Findlay with Annealing Made Perfect for almost three years as they pursued making the best annealing product for the private reloading market. The short explanation of why we anneal brass is to return the brass to a softer and consistent hardness after the brass has work-hardened from repetitive firing and sizing. As the President/co-owner of Sinclair International for over 21 years I saw a lot of products come through our doors that annealed brass but these products always seemed like they had very little supportive data and research behind them. Most of them were based on some type of torch system. The New Zealand-based father/son team of Alex and Matt spent these past three years addressing the challenging questions about annealing:

- What is the correct temperature to reach when annealing?
– How long should you take to get to that temp and how long should you remain there?
– How frequently should you anneal?
– Can you ruin your expensive brass?
– How do we make the process repeatable for the handloader?
– How do you accurately measure the case hardness?

They worked closely with the Electrical Engineering Department at the local University of Technology and invested a lot of capital into detailed metallurgical research. Their decision to use induction heating was because of its repeatability and the ability to reach exacting and consistent temperatures. Induction annealing is achieved by placing the cartridge in a magnetic field thereby inducing eddy currents within the brass and heating the brass without contacting the brass physically. To learn more, I suggest you visit the AmpAnnealing.com website. It is very informative.

Why should you anneal? If you are just a casual reloader, than annealing isn’t necessary but if you a serious wildcatter or competitive shooter you may want to consider it. More and more competitive shooters anneal their cases (not necessarily for adding life to the cases) to achieve more consistent pressures and velocities.

My first favorable impression was received by just opening the extremely well-packed shipping box. You could tell these guys take a great deal of pride in their product. The unit comes with three cartridge-specific pilots (you decide on which pilots), a shellholder collet, a power cord, a thorough, well-written, easy to follow instruction manual, and a USB cord for future software updates.

Annealing Made Perfect New Zealand Anneal Annealer Induction Review Pilot Findlay Bill Gravatt Gear Review Product Test

This machine is so easy to use that I was up and running within a few minutes. All I had to supply was the shells, the correct shell-holder and an aluminum pan to drop the hot cases into. I started annealing some unturned .308 Winchester cases (Lapua headstamp) that had four firings. First I screwed the pilot for .308 cases (#11) into the machine, placed my .308 shellholder into the supplied shellholder/collet and turned the power on. The display fired up right away and soon registered the program level that the machine was set to.

Annealing Made Perfect New Zealand Anneal Annealer Induction Review Pilot Findlay Bill Gravatt Gear Review Product Test

Since the machine uses induction heating, you need to set the heating level for the correct setting for the brass you are using. The alloy being used isn’t as important as the thickness or amount of brass in the neck and shoulder region. For example, Lapua and Norma have more brass in that area so the setting would be higher for these brands than Winchester brass. Also, if you have neck-turned brass, the setting would be reduced from the standard setting because there would be less mass in the air gap.

This manufacturer-produced video shows how the AMP annealing machine operates:

The settings are obtained by referring to the “Settings” section on the AMP website and are broken out by cartridge, brand, standard unturned cases, and then neck-turned cases with various amounts of wall thickness removed. A great service that AMP provides to the handloader is that you can send sample cases of your brass to them (U.S. location in Wolcott, Indiana) and they will test the hardness for you and send you the exact setting for your specific lot of brass.

My setting for unturned Lapua .308 Winchester brass was “92”. The buttons on the front of the machine allow you to adjust the setting quickly. After you set the program number, the setting is locked in after the first use until you change it again. I placed the first case in the shellholder, lowered the assembly down through the pilot and into position. I then hit the start button which illuminated immediately and then about 6 to 7 seconds later, the light went off signaling that heating was completed.

Annealing Made Perfect New Zealand Anneal Annealer Induction Review Pilot Findlay Bill Gravatt Gear Review Product Test

Now, be aware, these cases are extremely hot. I lifted the case out using the shellholder/collet and then dropped it into my aluminum pan. I then placed another case into the holder, put it into the machine and then repeated the process. Once I got the coordination down, I did 100 .308 Win cases in about 24 minutes. I did some 6mmBR cases later (Lapua) and annealed 100 cases in about 15 minutes at the “75” setting. I found myself raising my shop stool a little higher than normal so I was at a comfortable height in relationship to the top of the machine. Very easy to do — I actually had a student do a few cases with me and she had no problem at all following the instructions.

Annealing Made Perfect New Zealand Anneal Annealer Induction Review Pilot Findlay Bill Gravatt Gear Review Product Test

Annealing Made Perfect New Zealand Anneal Annealer Induction Review Pilot Findlay Bill Gravatt Gear Review Product Test

There is a thermal cut-off that prevents the machine from overheating. Depending on the setting, this can occur after 20 to 35 minutes of continuous use. When this has occurred, simply leave the machine on and the fans will cool it down so you can resume annealing. This isn’t surprising considering the amount of heat being generated.

All in all, I found this machine extremely easy to setup and operate. Now, does it work? I have test batches of brass that I am going to run over the chronograph in 10-round strings. I plan on running at least 10 strings of annealed brass and 10 strings of unannealed brass out of the same lot, same number of reloadings/firings and out of the same gun. I plan on alternating annealed strings and unannealed strings with a cooling off period every 20 rounds. When I do testing, I have my wife pre-label my batches as Batch A and B so I won’t know what rounds I am shooting until I get back from the range. I’ll make the results available as soon as I can. My expectation is that velocities will be more consistent based on my understanding of the lab results that the Findlays have achieved with their Annealing Made Perfect machine. For more information, visit their website at AmpAnnealing.com.

Permalink Gear Review, New Product 3 Comments »
June 16th, 2016

Reloading Basics: Neck Tension, Expander Balls, and Bushings

Case Loading Neck Tension Sierra Bullets Paul Box

by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Paul Box
One thing that plays a major role in building an accuracy load is neck tension. I think a lot of reloaders pretty much take this for granted and don’t give that enough thought.

So, how much neck tension is enough?

Thru the years and shooting both a wide variety of calibers and burn rates of powder, I’ve had the best accuracy overall with .002″ of neck tension. Naturally you will run into a rifle now and then that will do its best with something different like .001″ or even .003″, but .002″ has worked very well for me. So how do we control the neck tension? Let’s take a look at that.

First of all, if you’re running a standard sizing die with an expander ball, just pull your decapping rod assembly out of your die and measure the expander ball. What I prefer is to have an expander ball that is .003″ smaller than bullet diameter. So for example in a .224 caliber, run an expander ball of .221″. This allows for .001″ spring back in in your brass after sizing, and still gives you .002″ in neck tension. If you want to take the expander ball down in diameter, just chuck up your decapping rod assembly in a drill and turn it down with some emery cloth. When you have the diameter you need, polish it with three ought or four ought steel wool. This will give it a mirror finish and less drag coming through your case neck after sizing.

Tips for Dies With Interchangeable Neck Bushings
If you’re using a bushing die, I measure across the neck of eight or ten loaded rounds, then take an average on these and go .003″ under that measurement. There are other methods to determine bushing size, but this system has worked well for me.

Case Loading Neck Tension Sierra Bullets Paul Box

Proper Annealing Can Deliver More Uniform Neck Tension
Another thing I want to mention is annealing. When brass is the correct softness, it will take a “set” coming out of the sizing die far better than brass that has become to hard. When brass has been work hardened to a point, it will be more springy when it comes out of a sizing die and neck tension will vary. Have you ever noticed how some bullets seated harder than others? That is why.

Case Loading Neck Tension Sierra Bullets Paul Box

Paying closer attention to neck tension will give you both better accuracy and more consistent groups.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 2 Comments »
May 15th, 2016

The 6.5 Guys Review Bench-Source Annealing Machine

benchsource bench source anneal annealing annealer machine 6.5 Guys Review Gear

The 6.5 Guys, a dedicated duo of Pacific NW rifle shooters, have created an interesting series of shooting-related videos on their 6.5 Guys YouTube Channel. In a pair of YouTube videos, The 6.5 Guys set up and demonstrate the Bench-Source cartridge brass annealing machine. The videos offer valuable tips on setting up the machine, attaching and adjusting the torches, and fine tuning the flame and dwell time to achieve best results.

To complement their videos, the 6.5 Guys (aka Ed and Steve) have published an Annealing Tech Talk article on 65guys.com. If you own an annealing machine, or are getting started with cartridge annealing, you should read that article. It covers basic annealing principles, and gives useful tips on temp control, dwell time, and frequency of annealing. After the video, we feature highlights from this article.

Read Full Annealing Article on 65Guys.com.

Temperature Control
We use 750° Tempilaq applied inside the case neck to indicate that the proper temperature has been achieved. If you turn off the lights, you will notice that the brass just barely starts to turn color. As you go beyond the 750° mark we observed that the case mouth will start to flare orange — you can see this with the lights on. From our research, we understand that this is the result of zinc burning off. We adjust the time on our machine between the point that the Tempilaq turns liquid and the flame starts to turn orange. In other words, if the flame is starting to turn orange reduce the time. We let the cases air cool — we don’t quench them in water.

The case starts to flare orange here, during a set-up test. Dwell time was then reduced slightly.
6.5 Guys Benchsource Annealing machines

Read Full Annealing Article on 65Guys.com.

Flame Orientation
We aim the flame at the neck-shoulder junction. Some folks like to aim it at the neck and others the shoulder. When you see how the two flames meet and spread out vertically, it probably doesn’t make that much of a difference.

Here you can see the flame points aimed at the neck-shoulder junction.
6.5 Guys Benchsource Annealing machines

Case Coloration
Cases will turn color after annealing, but the degree of color change is not a reliable indicator. We have noticed that the appearance of cases will vary depending on brass manufacturer, brass lot, light source, and how long ago the case was annealed.

How Often Should You Anneal?
Some shooters anneal every time while others choose a specific interval. We noticed work hardening around five firings that resulted in inconsistency in shoulder setback and neck tension, so we choose to anneal every three firings. Your mileage will vary depending on how hot your loads are and how aggressively you resize.

Who are the 6.5 Guys? They are Ed (right) and Steve (left), a pair of avid shooters based in the Pacific Northwest. They have released 22 Videos on the 6.5 Guys YouTube Channel.

6.5 guys 65guy.com annealing video YouTube shooting

Permalink - Videos, Gear Review No Comments »
January 19th, 2015

SHOT Show Product Previews — Pick of the Litter

SHOT Show kicks off tomorrow, January 20th. As a sneak preview, here are some new (or newly marketed) products that will be on display in Las Vegas. We’ve reviewed nearly 500 featured products and here are some cool items that caught our eye. The AMP annealing machine is a break-through technology, and we’d love to have one of those AG Composites Carbon stocks for an M1A. The Bix’N Andy trigger isn’t really new, though most American’s haven’t seen one yet. It really is a gem. Enjoy these product snapshots. We’ll provide more “hands-on” reporting over the coming week.

AMP Induction Annealing Machine
Source: Bullet Proof Samples LLC, AmpAnnealing.com
Annealing Made Perfect (“AMP”) is a pre-programmed, fully-calibrated induction annealer. Extensive metallurgy testing has laboratory verified the temperature/time program settings, allowing precise and repeatable neck hardness every time. The AMP can handle cases from .17 to .338 caliber. Change from one cartridge size to another in seconds. The sophisticated calibration eliminates guesswork, so you don’t have to just “burn-off” lacquers and a stop-watch. Just select the correct program, set the pilot, and start annealing. Proper annealing provides more consistent neck tension and that translates to lower ES/SD and better accuracy, particularly at long range.

X-15 Side Charged Upper (SCU)
Source: X Products
The standard AR rear-pull charging handle is annoying, particularly when shooting prone. The folks as X-Products have a smart solution, an upper with a side-charging handle. We’ve seen side-charge uppers before, but these were custom mods. The $299.00 X-15 Side Charged Upper is a turnkey solution that works with a standard AR-15 bolt and carrier. No machining or modification is needed. The elevated charging position allows the bolt carrier to be operated with a proprietary cam pin that is included with the upper. The manufacture claims its X-15 upper offers “Increased performance with a gas slide that covers the charging port preventing gas and debris from hitting the operator when suppressed”.


Bargain-Priced Composite Stock with Bedding Block
Source: Stocky’s Stocks
This $199.00 stock combines the latest glass-filled nylon composite technology with Stocky’s proven AccuBlock aluminum bedding technology for Remington 700 barreled actions. These stocks are offered in varmint, target, tactical, and hunting rifle models. All variants offer a “drop-in” solution for Rem 700 actions. The $199.00 price is makes this a bargain solution for hunters and varminters who want to upgrade from a flexy “tupperware” stock.

Bix’N Andy Match-Grade Triggers
Source: BulletCentral.com
Bix’n Andy is an Austrian company that crafts some of the best triggers on the planet. Gunsmith Andy Atzl uses a unique ball bearing mechanism that allows for incredibly precise trigger pull weight adjustments. BulletCentral’s owners says: “Andy’s work is consistently top quality and we are lucky to be the exclusive North American importer and distributor for his products.”

Peterson Cartridge Brass
Source: Peterson Cartridge Co.
We welcome any company that’s jumping into the brass marketplace. Competition among brass-makers is always a good thing. For 2015, Pennsylvania-based Peterson Cartridge Co. will offer “match-grade” rifle brass for four (4) cartridge types: .308 Winchester, 7mm Remington Magnum, 300 Winchester Magnum, and 338 Lapua Magnum. On Peterson’s website, you’ll find a page that illustrates each stage in the brass-making process, from cupping to final trim and annealing. If you’ve ever been curious about how brass is made, check out Peterson’s Cartridge Manufacturing Process Page.

AG Composites Carbon Fiber Components
Source: AG Composites LLC
AG Composites specializes in the design, development and production of high performance composite components. AG makes carbon fiber rifle stocks, handguards and buttstocks, and AG can also provide carbon fiber OEM components for manufacturers. Check this handsome AG carbon fiber stock on an M1A. That brings an old Battle Rifle design into the 21st Century.

Bulletproof Safari Vest
Source: Miguel Caballero
This “discrete” bulletproof Safari Vest was originally created for celebrities, VIP clients, and business executives. However, this product could also benefit those involved in firearms training or range operations. (It only takes one Accidental Discharge by a newbie to spoil your whole day.) This vest features light, flexible, yet strong ballistic materials that meet NIJ 0101.06 standards. The Safari Vest features a front overlap that functions as an anti-trauma plate protecting the thorax. For increased comfort, the vest is engineered to distribute the weight evenly front to back.

Smith & Wesson Ported M&P Pistols
Source: Smith & Wesson
New from the Smith & Wesson Performance Center are four new Ported M&P pistols. What makes these pistols unique is the fact that they have ported barrels for reduced muzzle flip, as well as an adjustable trigger stop. Stop by S&W SHOT Show Booth #13729 to have closer look at all the features.

Swab-Its 17-Caliber and 22-Caliber Bore-Whips
Source: Super Brush
The Swab-its folks have just made it even easier to clean .177 air rifles, .17 caliber rimfire or centerfire rifles, and .22 caliber lever action and semi-auto rifles. Bore-Whips feature a 45″ polypropylene cord tipped with a durable, reusable swab. This handy, pull-through design allows for cleaning the proper way, from breech to muzzle. The bright-colored Neon Orange (.17 cal) and Neon Green (.22 Cal) plastic cords do double-duty, acting as Empty Chamber Indicators (ECI) at the range. Swab-its Bore-whips are available in 3-packs for both .17 and .22 calibers. Check out samples at SHOT Show Booth #1241.

Thanks to Forum member M500 for Product Tips.
Permalink Gear Review, New Product 1 Comment »
December 29th, 2014

Squeeze Play — The Many Factors Involved in Neck Tension

Redding neck bushingsIn our Shooters’ Forum a reader asked: “How much neck tension should I use?” This prompted a Forum discussion in which other Forum members recommended a specific number based on their experience, such as .001″, .002″, or .003″. These numbers, as commonly used, correspond to the difference between case-neck OD after sizing and the neck OD of a loaded round, with bullet in place. In other words, the numbers refer to the nominal amount of interference fit (after sizing).

While these commonly-used “tension numbers” (of .001″, .002″ etc.) can be useful as starting points, neck tension is actually a fairly complex subject. The actual amount of “grip” on the bullet is a function of many factors, of which neck-OD reduction during sizing is just one. Understanding these many factors will help you maintain consistent neck tension as your brass “evolves” over the course of multiple reloadings.

Neck Tension (i.e. Grip on Bullets) Is a Complex Phenomenon
While we certainly have considerable control over neck tension by using tighter or looser bushings (with smaller or bigger Inside Diameters), bushing size is only one factor at work. It’s important to understand the multiple factors that can increase or decrease the resistance to bullet release. Think in terms of overall brass-on-bullet “grip” instead of just bushing size.

One needs to understand that bushing size isn’t the beginning and end of neck tension questions, because, even if bushing size is held constant, the amount of bullet “grip” can change dramatically as the condition of your brass changes. Bullet “grip” can also change if you alter your seating depth significantly, and it can even change if you ultrasonically clean your cases.

Bullet grip is affected by many things, such as:

  • 1. Neck-wall thickness.
  • 2. Amount of bearing surface (shank) in the neck.
  • 3. Surface condition inside of neck (residual carbon can act as a lubricant; ultrasonic cleaning makes necks “grabby”).
  • 4. Length of neck (e.g. 6BR neck vs. 6BRX).
  • 5. Whether or not the bullets have an anti-friction coating.
  • 6. The springiness of the brass (which is related to degree of work-hardening; number of firings etc.)
  • 7. The bullet jacket material.
  • 8. The outside diameter of the bullet and whether it has a pressure ridge.
  • 9. The time duration between bullet seating and actual firing (necks can stiffen with time).
  • 10. How often the brass is annealed

— and there are others…

Seating Depth Changes Can Increase or Decrease Grip on Bullet
You can do this simple experiment. Seat a boat-tail bullet in your sized neck with .150″ of bearing surface (shank) in the neck. Now remove the bullet with an impact hammer. Next, take another identical bullet and seat it with .300″ of bearing surface in another sized case (same bushing size/same nominal tension). You’ll find the deeper-seated bullet is gripped much harder.

PPC lapua brassNeck-Wall Thickness is Important Too
I have also found that thinner necks, particularly the very thin necks used by many PPC shooters, require more sizing to give equivalent “grip”. Again, do your own experiment. Seat a bullet in a case turned to .008″ neckwall thickness and sized down .003″. Now compare that to a case with .014″ neckwall thickness and sized down .0015″. You may find that the bullet in the thin necks actually pulls out easier, though it supposedly has more “neck tension”, if one were to consider bushing size alone.

In practical terms, because thick necks are less elastic than very thin necks, when you turn necks you may need to run tighter bushings to maintain the same amount of actual grip on the bullets (as compared to no-turn brass). Consequently, I suspect the guys using .0015″ “tension” on no-turn brass may be a lot closer to the guys using .003″ “tension” on turned necks than either group may realize.

Toward a Better Definition of Neck Tension
As a convenient short-cut, we tend to describe neck tension by bushing size alone. When a guy says, “I run .002 neck tension”, that normally means he is using a die/bushing that sizes the necks .002″ smaller than a loaded round. Well we know something about his post-sizing neck OD, but do we really have a reliable idea about how much force is required to release his bullets? Maybe not… This use of the term “neck tension” when we are really only describing the amount of neck diameter reduction with a die/bushing is really kind of incomplete.

My point here is that it is overly simplistic to ask, “should I load with .001 tension or .003?” In reality, an .001″ reduction (after springback) on a thick neck might provide MORE “grip” on a deep-seated bullet than an .003″ reduction on a very thin-walled neck holding a bullet with minimal bearing surface in the neck. Bushing ID is something we can easily measure and verify. We use bushing size as a descriptor of neck tension because it is convenient and because the other important factors are hard to quantify. But those factors shouldn’t be ignored if you want to maintain consistent neck tension for optimal accuracy.

Consistency and accuracy — that’s really what this all about isn’t it? We want to find the best neck tension for accuracy, and then maintain that amount of grip-on-bullet over time. To do that you need to look not only at your bushing size, but also at how your brass has changed (work-hardened) with time, and whether other variables (such as the amount of carbon in the neck) have changed. Ultimately, optimal neck tension must be ascertained experimentally. You have to go out and test empirically to see what works, in YOUR rifle, with YOUR bullets and YOUR brass. And you may have to change the nominal tension setting (i.e. bushing size) as your brass work-hardens or IF YOU CHANGE SEATING DEPTHS.

Remember that bushing size alone does not tell us all we need to know about the neck’s true “holding power” on a bullet, or the energy required for bullet release. True bullet grip is a more complicated phenomenon, one that is affected by numerous factors, some of which are very hard to quantify.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
December 11th, 2014

Bench-Source Annealing Machine — Video Review by 6.5 Guys

6.5 Guys Benchsource Annealing machinesThe 6.5 Guys, a dedicated duo of Pacific NW rifle shooters, have created an interesting series of shooting-related videos on their 6.5 Guys YouTube Channel. In this video, The 6.5 Guys set up and demonstrate the Bench-Source cartridge brass annealing machine. The video explains how to set up the machine, how to attach and adjust the torches, and how to “fine tune” the flame and dwell time to achieve best results.

Read Full Annealing Article on 65Guys.com.

To complement this video, the 6.5 Guys (aka Ed and Steve) have published an Annealing Tech Talk article on 65guys.com. If you own an annealing machine, or are getting started with cartridge annealing, you should read that article. It covers basic annealing principles, and gives useful tips on temp control, dwell time, and frequency of annealing. After the video, we feature highlights from this article.

Temperature Control
We use 750° Tempilaq applied inside the case neck to indicate that the proper temperature has been achieved. If you turn off the lights, you will notice that the brass just barely starts to turn color. As you go beyond the 750° mark we observed that the case mouth will start to flare orange — you can see this with the lights on. From our research, we understand that this is the result of zinc burning off. We adjust the time on our machine between the point that the Tempilaq turns liquid and the flame starts to turn orange. In other words, if the flame is starting to turn orange reduce the time. We let the cases air cool — we don’t quench them in water.

The case starts to flare orange here, during a set-up test. Dwell time was then reduced slightly.
6.5 Guys Benchsource Annealing machines

Read Full Annealing Article on 65Guys.com.

Flame Orientation
We aim the flame at the neck-shoulder junction. Some folks like to aim it at the neck and others the shoulder. When you see how the two flames meet and spread out vertically, it probably doesn’t make that much of a difference.

Here you can see the flame points aimed at the neck-shoulder junction.
6.5 Guys Benchsource Annealing machines

Case Coloration
Cases will turn color after annealing, but the degree of color change is not a reliable indicator. We have noticed that the appearance of cases will vary depending on brass manufacturer, brass lot, light source, and how long ago the case was annealed.

How Often Should You Anneal?
Some shooters anneal every time while others choose a specific interval. We noticed work hardening around five firings that resulted in inconsistency in shoulder setback and neck tension, so we choose to anneal every three firings. Your mileage will vary depending on how hot your loads are and how aggressively you resize.

Who are the 6.5 Guys? They are Ed (right) and Steve (left), a pair of avid shooters based in the Pacific Northwest. They have released 22 Videos on the 6.5 Guys YouTube Channel.

6.5 guys 65guy.com annealing video YouTube shooting

Permalink - Videos, Reloading, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
July 13th, 2014

Tempilaq and Green Label Thinner

Tempilaq is a temp-sensitive “paint-on” liquid coating which can be used to gauge case temperatures during the annealing process. Tempilaq is offered in 43 different temperature ratings from 175°F to 1900°F (79°C to 1038°C).

Tempilaq quickly dries, forming a dull, opaque film. Then, when heat is applied to that surface and the rated temperature is reached, the film liquefies, letting you know that you’ve reached the target annealing temp. Because you can ruin brass by over-annealing, we recommend using Tempilaq when annealing, at least when you are setting up your torch position and calculating the amount of time your cases should be exposed to the flame. To prevent premature “burn-off” you can apply the Tempilaq to the inside of the necks.

Thinner for Tempilaq
One of our Forum members from Australia was concerned about some 700° F Tempilaq he had recently obtained. He explained that it was thick and glue-like, making it hard to apply. He wondered if there was a thinner he could use with the 700° Tempilaq.

Yes there is such a product: Green Label Thinner from Tempil (the manufacturer of Tempilaq). Forum member Gary M. (aka gmorganal) tells us: “You can buy Temiplaq thinner from McMaster Carr, and they will have it on your doorstep about the time you hang up the phone. I just ordered from them this week, and [the thinner] was delivered the next day. The thinner is about half the price of the [Tempilaq] paints — roughly $5.00 or so per bottle.” Tempil explains: “Use Green Label Thinner to dilute Tempilaq G® or to replace evaporated solvent. For use only with Tempilaq G® temperature indicating liquid.”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
October 4th, 2013

Bring Your Brass Back to Life with DJ’s Brass Restoration Service

Bench Source Annealing machineWith the price of premium brass topping $90/100 for many popular cartridges, it makes sense to consider annealing your brass to extend its useful life. Forum member Darrell Jones offers a full range of brass prep, brass forming, and brass restoration (annealing, ultra-sonic cleaning) at very affordable prices. Starting at just $15 per 100 cases ($20/100 for magnum cases), Darrell’s company, DJ’s Brass, will anneal your used brass using state-of-the-art Bench-Source annealing machines. Annealing plus ultrasonic cleaning starts at $25.00 per 100 cases ($30 for magnum cases larger than 0.473″ rim). If you just want your cases ultrasonically cleaned (no anneal), that costs $15 per 100 ($20/100 for magnum).

Custom Neck-Turning Services
Another great service DJ’s Brass provides is precision neck-turning. Darrell can neck-turn any size case to your specified neck-wall thickness. The price is $0.30 per case (normal size) or $0.40 (magnum size) with a $20.00 minimum order. And if you’ve got a bucket of brass to neck-turn, that’s fine with Darrell — he recently neck-turned 1500 pieces of brass for one customer!

DJ's Brass Restoration Service

DJ’s Brass can process everything from .17 Fireball all the way up to the big magnum cases. And the job gets done quickly. Darrell has a 10-day turn-around guarantee. For most jobs, Darrell tells us, he gets the processed brass to the Post Office within three business days. DJ’s Brass charges only actual shipping fees, using USPS flat-rate boxes. For more info, visit DJsBrass.com or call Darrell Jones at 205-461-4680. IMPORTANT: Contact Darrell for shipping instructions BEFORE sending any brass for processing. ALL BRASS MUST BE DE-PRIMED before you send it.

DJ's Brass Restoration Service

• Ultrasonic Cleaning + Annealing ($25.00/100 normal or $30/100 magnum)
• Ultrasonic Cleaning and Polishing ($15.00/100 normal or $20/100 magnum)
• Anneal Case Necks (after checking for splits) ($15.00/100 normal or $20/100 magnum)
• COAL Trim and Chamfer Case Mouths ($0.20 per case, $20.00 minimum order)
• Uniform, Square, and Chamfer Primer Pockets ($0.15 per case, $20.00 minimum order)
• Expand Case Necks and Anneal brass (Call for Price)
• Create False Shoulder for Fire-Forming (Call for Price)

DJ’s Brass Offers Specialized Custom Services
Darrell tells us: “At DJ’s Brass, we can handle all your brass refurbishing needs. From ultrasonic cleaning to custom annealing for specific wildcat cartridges. We can expand your necks from .22 caliber to .30 caliber and anneal shoulders for consistent bump-back. We can turn your case-necks and trim the brass to your specs. For some cartridge types, I can pre-form cases to assist in fire-forming a wildcat cartridge. We also remove the carbon build-up in muzzle brakes. Don’t lose your accuracy by having carbon build up and close off the clearance required for the most accurate bullet release through a muzzle brake.” Note: Extra charges apply for neck-turning and neck expansion operations, or specialized cartridge-forming operations. Please call 205-461-4680 for special services pricing.

DJ's Brass Restoration Service

Darrell has cleaned and annealed cases for shooters from across the country. Here are testimonials (this Editor reviewed all the original emails so I can confirm these are real):

“Your services were good with a quick turn-around time. Quality of the case annealing looked great[.]” — Tom, in Alaska

“The [300 Win Ackley] batch you did for me came back looking great.” — Chuck, in Arizona

“Since I started using Lapua brass, I’ve gotten gotten enough reloads out of them to notice that the necks were no longer sealing as well as I’d like. A friend suggested annealing them. I remembered seeing DJ’s ad on AccurateShooter.com and thought I’d give him a try. Not only did my [.308 brass] come back sorted exactly as I had sent them out, all had been so thoroughly cleaned that I realized I had been leaving lube on them after forming. DJ had taken the time to enclose a note cautioning me to brush the inside case necks and do a full-length resize for the first loading. And all 200 cases were back in my hands in DAYS, not weeks! Great service, great price, great follow up.” — Jim, in Alabama

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 2 Comments »
January 3rd, 2013

The Complexities of Neck Tension — Why Bushing Size is Only One Factor to Consider

Redding neck bushingsIn our Shooters’ Forum a reader recently asked: “How much neck tension should I use?” This prompted a Forum discussion in which other Forum members recommended a specific number based on their experience, such as .001″, .002″, or .003″. These numbers, as commonly used, correspond to the difference between case-neck OD after sizing and the neck OD of a loaded round, with bullet in place. In other words, the numbers refer to the nominal amount of interference fit (after sizing).

While these commonly-used “tension numbers” (of .001″, .002″ etc.) can be useful as starting points, neck tension is actually a fairly complex subject. The actual amount of “grip” on the bullet is a function of many factors, of which neck-OD reduction during sizing is just one. Understanding these many factors will help you maintain consistent neck tension as your brass “evolves” over the course of multiple reloadings.

Neck Tension (i.e. Grip on Bullets) Is a Complex Phenomenon
While we certainly have considerable control over neck tension by using tighter or looser bushings (with smaller or bigger Inside Diameters), bushing size is only one factor at work. It’s important to understand the multiple factors that can increase or decrease the resistance to bullet release. Think in terms of overall brass-on-bullet “grip” instead of just bushing size.

One needs to understand that bushing size isn’t the beginning and end of neck tension questions, because, even if bushing size is held constant, the amount of bullet “grip” can change dramatically as the condition of your brass changes. Bullet “grip” can also change if you alter your seating depth significantly, and it can even change if you ultrasonically clean your cases.

Bullet grip is affected by many things, such as:

  • 1. Neck-wall thickness.
  • 2. Amount of bearing surface (shank) in the neck.
  • 3. Surface condition inside of neck (residual carbon can act as a lubricant; ultrasonic cleaning makes necks “grabby”).
  • 4. Length of neck (e.g. 6BR neck vs. 6BRX).
  • 5. Whether or not the bullets have an anti-friction coating.
  • 6. The springiness of the brass (which is related to degree of work-hardening; number of firings etc.)
  • 7. The bullet jacket material.
  • 8. The outside diameter of the bullet and whether it has a pressure ridge.
  • 9. The time duration between bullet seating and actual firing (necks can stiffen with time).
  • 10. How often the brass is annealed

— and there are others…

Seating Depth Changes Can Increase or Decrease Grip on Bullet
You can do this simple experiment. Seat a boat-tail bullet in your sized neck with .150″ of bearing surface (shank) in the neck. Now remove the bullet with an impact hammer. Next, take another identical bullet and seat it with .300″ of bearing surface in another sized case (same bushing size/same nominal tension). You’ll find the deeper-seated bullet is gripped much harder.

PPC lapua brassNeck-Wall Thickness is Important Too
I have also found that thinner necks, particularly the very thin necks used by many PPC shooters, require more sizing to give equivalent “grip”. Again, do your own experiment. Seat a bullet in a case turned to .008″ neckwall thickness and sized down .003″. Now compare that to a case with .014″ neckwall thickness and sized down .0015″. You may find that the bullet in the thin necks actually pulls out easier, though it supposedly has more “neck tension”, if one were to consider bushing size alone.

In practical terms, because thick necks are less elastic than very thin necks, when you turn necks you may need to run tighter bushings to maintain the same amount of actual grip on the bullets (as compared to no-turn brass). Consequently, I suspect the guys using .0015″ “tension” on no-turn brass may be a lot closer to the guys using .003″ “tension” on turned necks than either group may realize.

Toward a Better Definition of Neck Tension
As a convenient short-cut, we tend to describe neck tension by bushing size alone. When a guy says, “I run .002 neck tension”, that normally means he is using a die/bushing that sizes the necks .002″ smaller than a loaded round. Well we know something about his post-sizing neck OD, but do we really have a reliable idea about how much force is required to release his bullets? Maybe not… This use of the term “neck tension” when we are really only describing the amount of neck diameter reduction with a die/bushing is really kind of incomplete.

My point here is that it is overly simplistic to ask, “should I load with .001 tension or .003?” In reality, an .001″ reduction (after springback) on a thick neck might provide MORE “grip” on a deep-seated bullet than an .003″ reduction on a very thin-walled neck holding a bullet with minimal bearing surface in the neck. Bushing ID is something we can easily measure and verify. We use bushing size as a descriptor of neck tension because it is convenient and because the other important factors are hard to quantify. But those factors shouldn’t be ignored if you want to maintain consistent neck tension for optimal accuracy.

Consistency and accuracy — that’s really what this all about isn’t it? We want to find the best neck tension for accuracy, and then maintain that amount of grip-on-bullet over time. To do that you need to look not only at your bushing size, but also at how your brass has changed (work-hardened) with time, and whether other variables (such as the amount of carbon in the neck) have changed. Ultimately, optimal neck tension must be ascertained experimentally. You have to go out and test empirically to see what works, in YOUR rifle, with YOUR bullets and YOUR brass. And you may have to change the nominal tension setting (i.e. bushing size) as your brass work-hardens or IF YOU CHANGE SEATING DEPTHS.

Remember that bushing size alone does not tell us all we need to know about the neck’s true “holding power” on a bullet, or the energy required for bullet release. True bullet grip is a more complicated phenomenon, one that is affected by numerous factors, some of which are very hard to quantify.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 8 Comments »
August 2nd, 2012

Innovative Vertical-Feed Annealing Machine from Giraud Tool

This report was first published in 2011. Due to numerous requests, we are republishing the story. The time is right because the Giraud Annealer is currently on display on vendors’ row at Camp Perry. Doug Giraud will be at Perry through the morning of August 4th.

Doug Giraud of Giraud Tool Company has created a new bulk Cartridge Annealing Machine that uses an innovative vertical hopper feed. Giraud’s patent-pending design allows the machine to process as many as 700 .223 Rem cases with no hand-feeding required. The new Giraud Cartridge Case Annealer, using a single propane torch, will anneal most cases in 6-8 seconds (that dwell time will melt 750° Tempilaq inside the neck). Annealing dwell times can be adjusted using a simple rotary knob on the right side of the machine. During annealing, each case is rotated in the flame through the motion of a Trolley Plate which moves right to left under the case. At the left-most limit of Trolley Plate movement, each case drops vertically down for air cooling. CLICK HERE for Giraud Annealer Users’ Manual (PDF)

Giraud Cartridge Case Annealer

The Giraud annealer uses a large, V-shaped hopper to hold up to 700 .223 Rem cases or 450 .308 Win cases for annealing. You can switch from small cases to larger cases by swapping out the rotary Feeder Wheel below the hopper. Changing Feeder Wheels takes a couple minutes. Five available Feeder Wheels (with different size cartridge slots) let you anneal pretty much any size cartridge — from .17 Remington all the way up to .50 BMG. The common .223 Rem and .308-sized cases used by High Power shooters are served by the Red Feeder Wheel and Blue Feeder Wheel respectively. The Blue Wheel will also work with 6mmBR, .243 Win, and .30-06 cases. The three other Feeder Wheels are: Black (.300 Win Mag); Purple (WSM, RUM, RSAUM, Lapua and Norma Mags); and Green (.50 BMG). For the large mags you also need to switch to a wider Trolley Plate.

Watch Video to See Giraud Annealer in Action

Giraud Annealer Can Process Hundreds of Cases in One Session
The biggest advantage of this machine is its ability to run with minimal user “intervention”. Once you’ve determined the right dwell time for your cartridge type, you can stack hundreds of cases in the V-shaped hopper, turn on the torch and let the machine do its thing. With a typical 8-second dwell time, the Giraud annealing will process about 450 cases an hour. While other multi-torch annealing machines may be faster, Giraud prefers the single-torch design: “With a single torch, you can control total heat input over a longer time. You don’t over-cook the case in a half-second — you have a lot more leeway with a 6-9 second dwell time.”

Giraud Cartridge Case Annealer
Yes the case spins in the flame — the Trolley Plate running under the case rotates it. The user may wish to experiment with the speed control knob on the right side panel near the power switch. Typical annealing operations will require the cartridge cases to be positioned in the torch flame for between 6 and 9 seconds.

Much smart thinking went into the Giraud Annealer design. Doug Giraud tells us: “We went through a couple different ideas. Our key goal was to vertically stack a large quantity of cases that would self-feed. The automatic feeding capability of the machine means that the operator can perform another task while the machine is running. The user doesn’t have to load cases one by one. I would caution, however, that you don’t want to turn on the annealer and just walk out of the room… but you can be doing some other reloading task while the annealer is running nearby.”

Giraud wanted a machine that could process lots of cases cheaply and efficiently. The machine’s single torch is optimized to run on inexpensive propane gas. Doug says: “You can process 15,000 cases on a single $2.00 disposable propane bottle.” If the user wants faster processing, the torch is rated for MAP gas, but Doug cautions that, “with more heat, you’ll have to adjust the dwell time accordingly.”

Giraud Annealer Impresses High Power Shooters
The new Giraud Cartridge Case Annealer has already attracted considerable interest. Doug took some early production models to Camp Perry in 2011, and he immediately got orders for 50 machines. Doug told us: “The response from the High Power guys was amazing. There was a pent-up demand for a simple, robust annealer that can process hundreds of cases without having to feed them one by one, and that’s what we created. We’re selling these units as fast as we can build them.”

Giraud Annealers Cost $435.00 — Delivery in Six Weeks from Order Date
Doug has components for 100 more machines, and he’s producing them at a rate of 15 units per week. He’s been back-ordered, but if you order soon, Doug believes he can ship the Annealing machines in about six weeks from date of order. The basic price, with one Feeder Wheel and one Trolley Plate, is $435.00. Additional Feeder Wheels cost $20.00 while extra Trolley Plates are $10.00. For more information, visit GiraudTool.com. To place orders, call (281) 238-0844 Monday through Friday between 9am and 5pm CST. You can also email doug [at] giraudtool.com.

Giraud Tool Company, Inc.
3803 Dawn Lane
Richmond, Texas 77406
281-238-0844 (orders)
281-232-0987 (fax)
Website: www.GiraudTool.com

Permalink Gear Review, New Product, Reloading 6 Comments »
March 8th, 2012

Brass Restoration Service Extends Life of Cartridge Brass

Bench Source Annealing machineWith the price of premium brass topping $90/100 for many popular cartridges, it makes sense to consider annealing your brass to extend its useful life. Forum member Darrell Jones offers a full range of brass prep, brass forming, and brass restoration (annealing, ultra-sonic cleaning) at very affordable prices. Starting at just $15 per 100 cases, Darrell’s company, DJ’s Brass, will anneal your used brass using state-of-the-art Bench-Source annealing machines. He can also ultrasonically clean cases for $15 per 100 ($20 per 100 for magnum cases larger than 0.473″ rim).

Custom Neck-Turning Services
Another great service DJ’s Brass provides is precision neck-turning. He can neck-turn any size case to your specified neck-wall thickness. The price is $0.30 per case (normal size) or $0.40 (magnum size) with a $20.00 minimum order. And if you’ve got a bucket of brass to neck-turn, that’s fine with Darrell — he recently neck-turned 1500 pieces of brass for one customer!

DJ's Brass Restoration Service

DJ’s Brass can process everything from .17 Fireball all the way up to the big magnum cases. And the job gets done quickly. Darrell has a 10-day turn-around guarantee. For most jobs, Darrell tells us, he gets the processed brass to the Post Office within three business days. DJ’s Brass charges only actual shipping fees, using USPS flat-rate boxes.

DJ's Brass Restoration Service

• Ultrasonic Cleaning + Annealing ($25.00/100 normal or $30/100 magnum)
• Ultrasonic Cleaning and Polishing ($15.00/100 normal or $20/100 magnum)
• Anneal Case Necks (after checking for splits) ($15.00/100 normal or $20/100 magnum)
• COAL Trim and Chamfer Case Mouths ($0.20 per case, $20.00 minimum order)
• Uniform and Square Primer Pockets ($0.15 per case, $20.00 minimum order)
• Expand Case Necks and Anneal brass (Call for Price)
• Create False Shoulder for Fire-Forming (Call for Price)

Muzzle Brake Tax Break Special: FREE cleaning of up to two (2) Stainless Muzzle Brakes with a minimum $50.00 order. Special good through April 17, 2012 (Tax Return Deadline for 2012).

DJ’s Brass Offers Specialized Custom Services
Darrell tells us: “At DJ’s Brass, we can handle all your brass refurbishing needs. From ultrasonic cleaning to custom annealing for specific wildcat cartridges. We can expand your necks from .22 caliber to .30 caliber and anneal shoulders for consistent bump-back. We can turn your case-necks and trim the brass to your specs. For some cartridge types, I can pre-form cases to assist in fire-forming a wildcat cartridge. We also remove the carbon build-up in muzzle brakes. Don’t lose your accuracy by having carbon build up and close off the clearance required for the most accurate bullet release through a muzzle brake.” Note: Extra charges apply for neck-turning and neck expansion operations, or specialized cartridge-forming operations. Please call 205-461-4680 for special services pricing.

DJ's Brass Restoration Service

Muzzle Brake – Tax Break Special for AccurateShooter.com Readers
Now through April 17, 2012 (Tax Due Date), Darrell is offering a Muzzle Brake – Tax Break Special for our readers. For all case prep/restoration orders of $50.00 or more, Darrell will ultrasonically clean one or two stainless muzzle brakes for no extra charge (offer does not apply to blued or coated muzzle brakes). For more info, visit DJsBrass.com or call Darrell Jones at 205-461-4680. IMPORTANT: Contact Darrell for shipping instructions BEFORE sending any brass for processing. ALL BRASS MUST BE DE-PRIMED before you send it.

Darrell has cleaned and annealed cases for shooters from across the country. Here are recent testimonials (this Editor reviewed all the original emails so I can confirm these are real):

“Your services were good with a quick turn-around time. Quality of the case annealing looked great[.]” — Tom, in Alaska

“The [300 Win Ackley] batch you did for me came back looking great.” — Chuck, in Arizona

“Since I started using Lapua brass, I’ve gotten gotten enough reloads out of them to notice that the necks were no longer sealing as well as I’d like. A friend suggested annealing them. I remembered seeing DJ’s ad on AccurateShooter.com and thought I’d give him a try. Not only did my [.308 brass] come back sorted exactly as I had sent them out, all had been so thoroughly cleaned that I realized I had been leaving lube on them after forming. DJ had taken the time to enclose a note cautioning me to brush the inside case necks and do a full-length resize for the first loading. And all 200 cases were back in my hands in DAYS, not weeks! Great service, great price, great follow up.” — Jim, in Alabama

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading No Comments »
August 25th, 2011

Learn about Eye Dominance in August Shooting Sports USA

6.5 Creedmoor AnnealingThe August 2011 digital edition of Shooting Sports USA is available online — free for the reading. This issue contains a “must-read” expert symposium on the subject of Eye Dominance, as it affects both rifle and pistol shooting. No matter whether you have normal dominance (i.e. your dominant eye is on the same side as your dominant hand), or if you have cross-dominance, you’ll benefit by reading this excellent article. The physiology and science of eye dominance is explained by Dr. Norman Wong, a noted optometrist. In addition, expert advice is provided by champion shooters such as David Tubb, Lones Wigger, Dennis DeMille, Julie Golob, Jessie Duff, and Phil Hemphill.

6.5 Creedmoor Annealing

Development of the 6.5 Creedmoor Cartridge
Also in the August Edition of Shooting Sports is a feature on the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge. This story covers the origin of the cartridge and its performance both as a match cartridge and as a hunting round. Hornady Chief Ballistician Dave Emary explained: “the original intent of the cartridge was as an across-the-course match cartridge. We envisioned it as an off-the-shelf round that would produced the accuracy and ballistics to compete in all match disciplines right out of the box. At the same time we realized that the same characteristics would make an exceptional hunting cartridge with the right bullets.”

6.5 Creedmoor Annealing

6.5 Creedmoor Annealing6.5 Creedmoor Brass No Longer Washed After Annealing
Here’s an interesting update on Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor brass and loaded ammo. In a move to improve case quality and neck uniformity, Hornady recently changed the 6.5 Creedmoor production process, eliminating the case-washing step after annealing. So now you will see annealing coloration on 6.5 Creedmoor brass, just like on Lapua brass. Dennis DeMille of Creedmoor Sports wanted to improve the consistency/uniformity of 6.5 Creedmoor case-necks. At Dennis’ suggestion, Hornady conducted tests which showed that the “standard industry practice” of washing brass could potentially alter the necks in undesirable ways. Bottom line, unwashed annealed brass was determined to have an accuracy edge over washed brass. Looking at these results, Hornady decided to forgo the post-anneal washing process. As a result, the latest 6.5 Creedmoor brass now displays the distinctive coloration left by neck/shoulder annealing. Learn something new every day, eh?

Permalink - Articles, Shooting Skills, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
July 18th, 2011

Revive Your Brass with DJ’s Brass Service & Restoration

With top-quality cartridge brass approaching $1.00 per case, it’s more important than ever to get maximum life from your match brass. Annealing can extend the useful life of your brass, and ultrasonic cleaning allows you to eliminate carbon build-up inside cases that have been fired numerous times. You can certainly do annealing and ultrasonic cleaning yourself, but to get the best (and most consistent) results, you’ll need to invest in quality equipment and spend a good deal of time and effort learning how to use it properly. Likewise, turning case necks requires expensive tools, and it takes time and practice before you’ll get perfectly-turned necks.

DJs Brass Offers Annealing, Cleaning, and Neck-Turning
If you don’t have the resources to purchase annealing and ultrasonic cleaning machines, or if you don’t have the time to neck-turn hundreds of cases — don’t fret, there is an affordable option. DJsBrass.com, run by benchrest shooter Darrell Jones, offers annealing, ultrasonic cleaning, neck-turning, and complete brass prep services (including OAL trimming) at very reasonable rates. Darrell will anneal 100 cases for $15, and he’ll neck-turn your cases (any caliber), starting at $30.00 per hundred. Even if you’re a skilled neck-turner, if you just acquired a new caliber, it might make sense to send the work to Darrell, instead of purchasing new expander mandrels and turning arbors.

False-Shoulder Forming for Wildcats
Do you shoot an “improved” short-necked wildcat like the 6mm Dasher? Want your fire-forming to go without a hitch? Darrell can take your parent brass and create a false shoulder so you get a good crush fit in the chamber. If you’re running a tight-necked chamber he can create a false shoulder AND turn the top half of the neck to fit your chamber.

Video Shows Annealing Process
In the video below, Darrell explains the wide variety of brass restoration services he offers. Darrell says he can “bring your brass back to life” and we have found that to be true. We had some 6mmBR brass with no-turn necks that started to lose their “competitive edge” after just 7-8 loadings. The neck tension had become inconsistent from case to case, and bullet seating force (measured with a gauge-equipped K&M arbor press) varied widely. We were seeing unexplained flyers, and ES had nearly doubled compared to when the brass was fresh. Annealing the cases really made a difference. The neck tension was much more consistent and bullets seated more uniformly with less “spiking” of seating force. Paying $15 for annealing is a lot cheaper than buying a new box of brass for $80.00 or more!

Darrell offers a variety of services at affordable rates. To order work by Darrell, visit DJsBrass.com, or call (205) 461-4680:

Case Annealing Only
Cost: $15.00/100 for standard cases; $20.00/100 for magnum cases.*

Combination Service (Cleaning and Annealing)
Ultrasonic Cleaning, Check for split necks, Anneal case necks.
Cost: Starting at $20.00/100 standard and $25.00/100 for magnum cases.*

Full Service (Case Prep, Cleaning, Annealing)
Uniform primer pockets, Chamfer, Ultrasonic cleaning/polishing, Anneal case necks.
Cost: Starting at $30.00/100 and up.*

Neck Turning or Trim-to-Length Custom Order Service
Cost: Starting at $30.00/100 for standard cases.*
(Darrell can also resize necks or false shoulder your cases. Call for quotes.)

Muzzle Brake Ultrasonic Cleaning
Removes carbon buildup to restore critical bullet clearance requirements.
Cost: $15.00 + flat rate USPS actual shipping.

*Add USPS flat-rate return shipping. Call (205) 461-4680 for quotes on miscellaneous, military bulk brass or high volume discount. Note: Prices subject to change.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product, Reloading 1 Comment »
May 19th, 2010

New Annealing Machines from Ballistics Edge Mfg.

model 200 annealing machineForum member and long-range shooter Jerry Brandon has launched a new company, Ballistics Edge Mfg., which produces cartridge annealing machines for use by home reloaders. Brandon, a talented designer and fabricator, first tried annealing to maintain the quality of his own match brass. Brandon then built and tested a series of prototype annealing machines, working with a variety of brass sizes. Now Ballistics Edge Mfg. offers a full line of four annealing machines: the manually-operated Model 200 ($250), the motorized twin-torch Model 300 ($345), the motorized triple-torch Model 350 ($395), and the motorized Model 400 ($475), a beautifully-machined carousel design.

Brandon’s most versatile machine, and the one he recommends for annealing both normal- and magnum-sized cases, is the Model 350. Like the Model 300, the Model 350 features all-metal construction and motorized case transport. The Model 350 uses three torches rather than the Model 300’s two. The triple-torch system does a better job heating the large-diameter necks on .338, .416 and .50-caliber cases. The triple-torch design also ensures fast, uniform heating of the case-necks on smaller cases. The video below shows the Model 350 in action, annealing jumbo-sized .50 BMG cases.

YouTube Preview Image

model 200 annealing machineFor PPC, 6mmBR, and .308-sized cases, you can use the Model 200, the Model 300, or the Model 400. The Model 200 is a simple, one-at-a-time annealer that works remarkably well using a sliding arm. Simply slide the case into the flame, then slide it out after the required dwell time. For the average reloader, the Model 200 may be more than adequate. If, however, you plan to anneal hundreds of cases a week, you may want to consider the beautifully-machined Model 400 carousel, which will anneal 100 cases in less than 15 minutes. The Model 400 features both .308-size and magnum/ultra magnum-size holes to accept both .47X and .56X diameter cases. Just choose the correct size hole and adjust the torch height to match your case. The .75″-thick shell-plate top acts as a heat-sink to protect the lower case body. View the Model 400 carousel annealer in the video below.

YouTube Preview Image

Ballistics Edge Website Offers Good Technical Advice on Annealing
Anyone interested in learning about cartridge annealing should visit www.AnnealingMachines.com, Jerry Brandon’s website. There you’ll find a helpful, authoritative discussion of annealing, including the all-important factors of time and temperature. As Brandon observes, much MISinformation about annealing can be found. Brandon will set you straight. Read Brandon’s How to Anneal article and you can avoid making costly (and potentially dangerous) mistakes, whether you anneal manually or use an annealing machine. In the video below, Jerry Brandon reviews the features of Ballistics Edge annealing machines. He also provides some good, basic advice for shooters who are looking to try their hand at annealing for the first time.

YouTube Preview Image
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product, Reloading 1 Comment »
April 19th, 2010

Darrell Jones Offers Annealing and Ultrasonic Cleaning Service

We talked recently with our friend Darrell Jones, a talented benchrest shooter from Tennessee, who operates a brass processing business, DJ’s Brass Restoration Service. Darrell ultrasonically cleans old cartridge brass then carefully anneals each case, using temp-sensitive lacquers to ensure the brass is neither over-annealed or under-annealed. As far as we know, DJ’s Brass Restoration Service is the ONLY business in the country offering combined ultrasonic cleaning and annealing. And now Darrell can process your brass with even great efficiency.

Darrell told us he has just received his new, automated dual-torch, carousel annealing machine from Bench-Source. This microprocessor-controlled unit may be the most advanced bench-top annealing machine ever created. Two torches are used to provide intersecting flames for uniform heating. The micro-processor precisely controls the heating time, and a special motor spins each case around its axis while in the heating position. This ensures that the neck and shoulder are annealed evenly.

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Combined Ultrasonic Cleaning and Case Annealing
If you have “tired” brass with inconsistent neck tension from case to case, give Darrell a call. His cleaning/annealing process will extend the useful life of your brass, and his service is quite affordable. Darrell’s Basic Service starts at $20.00 per hundred cases — and that includes ultrasonic cleaning AND annealing. (Flat rate USPS shipping is extra.) Note: very large cases (such as the .338 Lapua) or damaged, dented cases may cost more.

DJ's Brass Restoration

In addition to the Basic Service, Darrell offers a 4-Step Full Service starting at $25.00 per hundred cases (plus shipping). Darrell’s Full Service brass restoration includes: Uniforming primer pockets; Chamfering Case Mouths; Ultra Cleaning and polishing; Annealing case necks.

Ultrasonic Muzzle Brake Cleaning
In addition to cleaning and annealing cartridge brass, Darrell offers Ultrasonic Cleaning for muzzle brakes. This removes carbon buildup to restore critical bullet clearance requirements. The price is $15.00 per brake (plus shipping).

For more information, visit DJsBrass.com, or call Darrell at (901) 826-1503. IMPORTANT: Contact Darrell for shipping instructions BEFORE sending any brass for processing. ALL BRASS MUST BE DE-PRIMED before you send it.

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January 25th, 2010

SHOT Show Report: New Bench-Source Case Neck Annealer

Now that Zephyr Dynamics’ “Brass-O-Matic” rotary case annealer is no longer in production (Zephyr Dy’s owner received a “job offer he couldn’t refuse”), we were excited to learn that Bench-Source is bringing out an all-new, micro-processor-controlled, automated annealing machine. Bench-Source, based in Mississippi, currently produces high-quality scope bases for Savage target actions. The annealing machine is a new direction for Bench-Source, but it displays the company’s trademark attention to detail and superb machining.

The new Bench-Source automatic case neck annealing machine processes 500-600 cartridges per hour, from 22 Hornet up to the big magnums. Heating time from 1.5 to 10 seconds is precisely controlled by a microprocessor with both a manual mode and “Automatic” mode. Note that the cartridge spins in place when it is at the annealing position, giving a uniform anneal. After annealing, the case exits via a gravity-fed drop port, so you don’t have to handle hot cases. Note: In the video below, the flame you see on some cases is burn-off of temp-indicating marker. Watch carefully and you can see that the case being annealed spins while being heated.

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You can use either one or two heat sources. Torch tips are adjustable in height, angle, distance and vertical tilt by two clamp knobs. Unlike some other units, the flame height is quickly and easily adjustable. We were pleased to see all the top surfaces are metal (no plastic to warp or melt). The solid aluminum table top and index plate are also cooled by a 50-cubic-feet-per-minute fan — they will not heat up significantly during use. Additionally, the table acts as a heat sink to maintain hardness in the cartridge case head.

The unit goes on sale in March 2010. Anticipated retail price is $449.50. To order, visit Bench-Source.com, or contact Vertex Mfg. at (662) 895-0803.

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December 15th, 2009

New Brass Restoration Service Launched — Combined Ultrasonic Case Cleaning and Annealing

Darrell Jones, a talented benchrest shooter from Tennessee, has launched a new business that will provide a much-needed service for precision shooters. Darrell’s company, DJ’s Brass Restoration Service, will take your old, many-times-fired brass, and help bring them back to life. Darrell first cleans the cases inside and out using an ultrasonic bath. Then Darrell carefully anneals each case, employing temp indicators to insure the correct amount of heat is applied for the proper duration.

DJ's Brass Restoration

Combined Ultrasonic Cleaning and Case Annealing
The Basic Service starts at $20.00 per hundred cases — and that includes ultrasonic cleaning AND annealing. (Flat rate USPS shipping is extra.) Note: very large cases (such as the .338 Lapua) or damaged, dented cases may cost more. In addition to the Basic Service, Darrell offers a 4-Step Full Service starting at $25.00 per hundred cases (plus shipping). Full Service brass restoration includes:

• Uniform primer pockets
• Chamfer case mouths
• Ultrasonic cleaning and polishing
• Anneal case necks

DJ's Brass Restoration

Ultrasonic Muzzle Brake Cleaning
In addition to cleaning and annealing cartridge brass, Darrell offers Ultrasonic Cleaning for muzzle brakes. This removes carbon buildup to restore critical bullet clearance requirements. The price is $15.00 per brake (plus shipping).

Restoring Your Brass Can Save Time and Money
Your match-quality brass represents a significant investment of money and prep/sorting time. With 100 pieces of new premium brass costing as much as $100.00, we think Darrell’s service is a great deal for shooters who want to extend the life of their brass. We expect his cleaning/annealing service will soon be in high demand. (In addition, on a custom-order basis, for an additional fee, Darrell can trim cases to a specified OAL.) Also, if you have spent many hours turning necks or forming wildcat cartridges, DJ’s Brass Restoration can save you the hassle of trimming, sorting, turning and prepping new cases. You have a lot of time invested in those turned necks and fire-formed cases… you don’t want to toss the brass after a few firings.

For more information, visit DJsBrass.com, or call Darrell at (901) 826-1503. As a special benefit for AccurateShooter.com members, Darrell is now offering free return shipping on any order over 500 pieces (limited time offer). IMPORTANT: Contact Darrell for shipping instructions BEFORE sending any brass for processing. ALL BRASS MUST BE DE-PRIMED before you send it.

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April 5th, 2009

How Cartridge Brass is Made

[This item last appeared a year ago in our Daily Bulletin, generating considerable interest among readers. By popular request, we’re reprinting this story, in case you missed it the first time around. — Editor]

Precision shooters favor premium brass from Lapua, Norma, or RWS. (Lake City also makes quality brass in military calibers.) Premium brass delivers better accuracy, more consistent velocities, and longer life. Shooters understand the importance of good brass, but many of us have no idea how cartridge cases are actually made. Here’s how it’s done.

The process starts with a brass disk stamped from strips of metal. Then, through a series of stages, the brass is extruded or drawn into a cylindrical shape. In the extrusion process the brass is squeezed through a die under tremendous pressure. This is repeated two or three times typically. In the more traditional “draw” process, the case is progressively stretched longer, in 3 to 5 stages, using a series of high-pressure rams forcing the brass into a form die. While extrusion may be more common today, RWS, which makes some of the most uniform brass in the world, still uses the draw process: “It starts with cup drawing after the bands have been punched out. RWS cases are drawn in three ‘stages’ and after each draw they are annealed, pickled, rinsed and subjected to further quality improvement measures. This achieves specific hardening of the brass cases and increases their resistance to extraordinary stresses.” FYI, Lapua also uses a traditional draw process to manufacture most of its cartridge brass (although Lapua employs some proprietary steps that are different from RWS’ methods).

RWS Brass Cartridge Draw process

After the cases are extruded or drawn to max length, the cases are trimmed and the neck/shoulder are formed. Then the extractor groove (on rimless cases) is formed or machined, and the primer pocket is created in the base. One way to form the primer pocket is to use a hardened steel plug called a “bunter”. In the photos below you see the stages for forming a 20mm cannon case (courtesy OldAmmo.com), along with bunters used for Lake City rifle brass. This illustrates the draw process (as opposed to extrusion). The process of draw-forming rifle brass is that same as for this 20mm shell, just on a smaller scale.

20mm cartridge brass forming

20mm Draw Set Oldammo.com

River Valley Ordnance explains: “When a case is being made, it is drawn to its final draw length, with the diameter being slightly smaller than needed. At this point in its life, the head of the draw is slightly rounded, and there are no provisions for a primer. So the final drawn cases are trimmed to length, then run into the head bunter. A punch, ground to the intended contours for the inside of the case, pushes the draw into a cylindrical die and holds it in place while another punch rams into the case from the other end, mashing the bottom flat. That secondary ram holds the headstamp bunter punch.

Lake City Brass bunter

The headstamp bunter punch has a protrusion on the end to make the primer pocket, and has raised lettering around the face to form the headstamp writing. This is, of course, all a mirror image of the finished case head. Small cases, such as 5.56×45, can be headed with a single strike. Larger cases, like 7.62×51 and 50 BMG, need to be struck once to form a dent for the primer pocket, then a second strike to finish the pocket, flatten the head, and imprint the writing. This second strike works the brass to harden it so it will support the pressure of firing.”

Thanks to Guy Hildebrand, of the Cartridge Collectors’ Exchange, OldAmmo.com, for providing this 20mm Draw Set photo. Bunter photo from River Valley Ordnance, RVOW.com.

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