August 2nd, 2020

Expanding Cartridge Brass in Stages with Progressive Press

Darrell Jones DJ's Brass Service expanding brass 6mmBR 6BR BRX 30BR Hornady press
Photos from DJ’s Brass Service.

Have you ever expanded a .22 or 6mm cartridge all the way up to .30-caliber? If so, you know this can be a difficult procedure that stresses the case necks and neck-shoulder junction. A significant neck-size expansion done in one big jump can increase run-out, cause doughnuts, or worse yet, even split the brass. Therefore you want to proceed in increments, increasing the neck diameter in stages. One smart way to do that is to use a Progressive Press. This article explains how…

The most successful short-range brenchrest-for-score cartridge is the 30 BR. That cartridge, as well as 30 BR variants such as the 30 BRX, all start with the 6mmBR Norma parent cartridge, typically with Lapua 6mmBR brass. To get a nice 30 BR case you want to expand in stages, increasing the inside neck diameter incrementally from .243 to .308.

Darrell Jones of DJ’s Brass Service creates thousands of 30 BR cases each year. He has found a clever way to speed up the process — Darrell uses a Progressive Press. He runs his 6BR brass through four (4) separate Hornady neck-sizing dies with expander mandrels. First there is a .257 die, followed by .264 (6.5mm), .284 (7mm), and then .308. Then a fifth and final K&M die provides one last, slight expansion so the newly-fashioned 30 BR cases perfectly fit the arbor of Darrell’s neck-turning tool.

So to repeat, the case starts as .243 (6mm), then moves in up stages .257, .264, .284, and .308, with a final “finishing” step prior to neck-turning. You can see the expansion in this video, which starts with 6mmBR brass that was first hydro-formed to 6 BRX:

Watch 6mm Cases Expanded to 30-Caliber (6BRX to 30 BRX)

For this demo video, Darrell expands just one case at a time. However, he can also put multiple cases in the progressive — one per station. This takes a little more effort, Darrell says, but the results are still excellent. Darrell tells us: “I do put multiple cases in the progressive to save time. The results are the same — I just wanted to show a single-step process and how it reduces run-out by not stressing the shoulder with one big expansion from 6mm straight to 30 caliber. Doing the operation in multiple stages avoids binds and helps keep the shoulders concentric.”

This same multi-stage procedure can be use to expand other cartridge types. For example you could take .221 Fireball brass in stages up to .308 to create 300 Blackout brass.

Darrell Jones DJ's Brass Service expanding brass 6mmBR 6BR BRX 30BR Hornady press

Darrell uses caliber-specific, Hornady neck-sizing-only dies with elliptical expanders. Darrell tells us: “The Hornady elliptical expander has a reduced bearing surface that puts less strain on the brass when expanding the necks to the next size.” The fitting at the bottom of the die is the Lock-N-Load die bushing that allows fast die changes.

These particular cases used in the video were first hydro-formed to 6BRX then expanded to 30 BRX before neck turning. DJ’s Brass offers hydro-forming for many popular wildcat cartridges such as 6 PPC, 6mm Dasher, and .284 Shehane.

Darrell Jones DJ's Brass Service expanding brass 6mmBR 6BR BRX 30BR Hornady press

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May 22nd, 2020

Caldwell Brass Retriever — Handy Item That Saves Your Back

Caldwell pistol rifle cartridge brass rake retriever handle

Caldwell Brass Retriever
Tired of bending over or kneeling down to retrieve your fired cartridge brass? For older shooters (including this Editor) getting down on the ground to pick up brass is tough on the lower back and knees. Here’s a product that makes brass retrieval quick, easy, and pain-free. The Caldwell Brass Retriever works quite well with a little practice, once you apply the correct pressure. While it won’t always grab every fired case, it will capture nearly all, and that can really make the job go much faster.

One owner praises this as a “very good tool” that is “a lot easier on my back.” While it can work on grass, gravel, and hard-packed earth, the unit works best on smooth, hard surfaces. Currently priced under $37, it is a good value.

Caldwell states: “Spend less time bending over and picking up brass at the range and more time shooting. The Caldwell® Brass Retriever picks up brass, saving your back and time. Picking up spent brass is as easy as pushing a mop. The Brass Retriever can pick up rifle and pistol brass quickly and efficiently. The Brass Retriever works anywhere, even on grass and gravel. The retriever comes complete with a roll cage separator that allows you to dump the collected brass into a bucket quickly. It is collapsible as well, making it convenient to transport. The retriever’s handle expands from 28″ up to 57″ tall.”

Caldwell pistol rifle cartridge brass rake retriever handle

Brass Retriever Owner Reviews
Here are Amazon reviews from actual purchases. It’s clear the device is not perfect and can miss a case or two. However, as you can see from the videos, the Brass Retriever does pick the vast major of brass on the ground, sized .223 Rem or larger diameter. This will save time and reduces stress on your back and joints:

“This thing … does a terrific job of collecting the brass from a standing posture quickly and efficiently. It helps to have the cases on a smooth surface like concrete or dirt without a lot of vegetation. But we used it on open desert yesterday and it collected nearly every case with a single pass. It’s now a permanent piece of gear in the stuff we take when target or ground squirrel shooting.” — Hans H.

“This WILL save your back. The only drawback is you can’t overload it with brass. After couple dozen pieces (or less) it will start dropping brass while you’re attempting to collect others. That’s the limitation (one of them). There is a short learning curve (15 min.) in which you’ll learn how much brass is too much And how you need to orientate the wires to pick up the brass. It doesn’t do as well on gravel or high grass as it does on a smooth, firm surface. Even with its limitations, it’s a keeper. Just empty every dozen or so pieces and it works very well. It comes with a wire form that attaches to a bucket for easy emptying. I normally just use my fingers to spread wires and give a shake to allow the contents to fall out. Again not perfect but when used within its design capabilities, it does pretty well. I would buy again.” — Jeff M.

“It’s not perfect. But neither is using a broom or picking it up by hand. Sure, a 9mm might drop out while you’re picking up a .45 ACP. But you roll back over the 9mm and pick it up again. I now pick up my brass in a fraction of the time it used to take me and I stand upright while doing it. I should add the disclaimer that I’ve only used it to pick up handgun brass and it’s picked up everything from .22 LR to .44 Magnum. I have not tried it with rifle brass.” — Johnny C.

Caldwell pistol rifle cartridge brass rake retriever handleSpecialized Tool for .22 LR Brass
NOTE: The Caldwell Brass Retriever is designed primarily to recover reloadable rifle and pistol brass, with case diameters as fat as .223 Rem or larger. Some people state it can be used for smaller .22 LR cartridges too, but there is a much better product for that.

The UniqueTek Rimfire Brass Wizard is optimized for picking up .22 LR rimfire cases. It has a smaller basket with wires spaced closer together. It can also pick up pistol and rifle cartridge brass but will hold fewer cases than the original Brass Wizard or the Caldwell Brass Retriever.

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December 29th, 2019

How to Clean Cartridge Brass with Ultrasonic Cleaning Machines

Ultrasonic Cleaning RCBS Ultrasound .308 Winchester 7.62x51 brass casings

Tumblers and walnut/corncob media are old school. These days many shooters prefer processing brass rapidly with an ultrasonic cleaning machine. When used with the proper solution, a good ultrasonic cleaning machine can quickly remove remove dust, carbon, oil, and powder residue from your cartridge brass. The ultrasonic process will clean the inside of the cases, and even the primer pockets. Tumbling works well too, but for really dirty brass, ultrasonic cleaning may be a wise choice.

READ FULL UltimateReloader.com Article on Ultrasonic Case Cleaning.

Our friend Gavin Gear recently put an RCBS Ultrasonic cleaning machine through its paces using RCBS Ultrasonic Case Cleaning Solution (RCBS #87058). To provide a real challenge, Gavin used some very dull and greasy milsurp brass: “I bought a huge lot of military once-fired 7.52x51mm brass (fired in a machine gun) that I’ve been slowly prepping for my DPMS LR-308B AR-10 style rifle. Some of this brass was fully prepped (sized/de-primed, trimmed, case mouths chamfered, primer pockets reamed) but it was gunked up with lube and looking dingy.”

UltimateReloader.com Case Cleaning Video (7.5 minutes):

Gavin describes the cleaning exercise step-by-step on UltimateReloader.com. Read Gavin’s Cartridge Cleaning Article to learn how he mixed the solution, activated the heater, and cycled the machine for 30 minutes. As you can see in the video above, the results were impressive. If you have never cleaned brass with ultrasound before, you should definitely watch Gavin’s 7.5-minute video — it provides many useful tips and shows the cleaning operation in progress from start to finish.

Ultra Dry Necks After Ultrasonic Cleaning — Some Suggestions

The Ultrasonic cleaning process gets cartridge brass so “squeaky clean” that increased force may be required to seat your bullets, or they may “grab” as they go in the necks. To reduce bullet-seating effort, you may benefit from adding a little dry case lube inside the case-neck before loading (use a nylon brush). Another trick is adding a teaspoon of Ballistol lube to the cleaning solution. That provides a trace lubricant inside the necks, but does not interfere with powder ignition in any way.


The latest Gen2 RCBS ultrasonic cleaning machine has a large 6.3-quart capacity. That’s nearly 100 percent larger than the first generation machine in Gavin’s video. The Gen2 machine, $322.02 on Amazon, features a second ceramic heater and transducer to better clean brass cases and firearm parts. The LED is easily programmable, and the timer can be set for up to 30 minutes of cleaning. The original 3.2 quart capacity RCBS ultrasonic machine, as shown in Gavin’s video, is still available for $166.56 at Midsouth Shooters.

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December 26th, 2019

Case-Head Separation — How to Detect Potential Problems

cartridge case separation

We are re-publishing this article at the request of Forum members who found the information very valuable. If you haven’t read this Safety Tip before, take a moment to learn how you can inspect your fired brass to determine if there may be a potential for case separation. A case separation can be dangerous, potentially causing serious injury.

cartridge case separationOn the respected Riflemans’ Journal blog there was an excellent article about Cartridge Case-Head Separation. In this important article, Journal Editor GS Arizona examined the causes of this serious problem and explained the ways you can inspect your brass to minimize the risk of a case-head separation. As cases get fired multiple times and then resized during reloading, the cases can stretch. Typically, there is a point in the lower section of the case where the case-walls thin out. This is your “danger zone” and you need to watch for tell-tale signs of weakening.

The photo below shows a case sectioned so that you can see where the case wall becomes thinner near the web. You can see a little arrow into the soot inside the case pointing to the thinned area. This case hadn’t split yet, but it most likely would do so after one or two more firings.

cartridge case separation

Paper Clip Hack for Detecting Problems
The article provided a great, easy tip for detecting potential problems. You can use a bent paper clip to detect potential case wall problems. Slide the paper clip inside your case to check for thin spots. GS Arizona explains: “This simple little tool (bent paper clip) will let you check the inside of cases before you reload them. The thin spot will be immediately apparent as you run the clip up the inside of the case. If you’re seeing a shiny line on the outside and the clip is really hitting a thin spot inside, it’s time to retire the case. If you do this every time you reload, on at least 15% of your cases, you’ll develop a good feel for what the thin spot feels like and how it gets worse as the case is reloaded more times. And if you’re loading the night before a match and feel pressured for time — don’t skip this step!”

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November 23rd, 2019

Eyeball Your Brass — How to Diagnose Flawed Cases

Case Diagnostics 101 Sierra Bullets .223 Rem 5.56 brass cartridge safety

Ever wondered what caused a particular bulge or marking on a case? And more importantly, does the issue make the case unsafe for further use? Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Duane Siercks offers some insight into various issues and their causes in this article from the Sierra Blog.

Incipient Case-Head Separation
This is a Winchester .308 Win case that has a real issue. This case has a very obvious incipient case head separation in the process of becoming a complete failure.

Sierra Case reloading pressure safety inspection

This is most commonly caused by over-sizing the case causing there to be excess headspace on the case. After a few firings and subsequent re-sizing, this case is just about ready to come completely apart. Proper die adjustment is certainly a requirement here. Of course this case is not safe to reuse.

Excessive Pressure (Load Too Hot)
If you will notice in the picture of the case rim, there are two pressure signs to notice. First, look at the primer. It is basically flattened to about the max of what could be considered safe. If this was the only pressure sign noted, I would probably be fine with this load, but would constantly keep an eye on it especially if I was going to use this load in warmer temperatures. This load could easily cross into the “excess pressure” realm very quickly.

Sierra Case reloading pressure safety inspection

There is another sign of pressure that we cannot ignore. If you’ll notice, there is an ejector mark apparent that is located over the “R” of the R-P headstamp. This absolutely tells us that this load would not have been in the safe pressure range. If there were any of these rounds loaded, they should not be fired and should be dis-assembled. This case should not be reloaded.

Split Case-Neck
Here we have an R-P .22-250 case that has died the death. Everything looks fine with this case except the neck is split. This case must be tossed.

Sierra Case reloading pressure safety inspection

A split neck is a normal occurrence that you must watch for. It is caused by work-hardening of the brass. Brass cases get harder with age and use. Brand new cases that are stored for a period of time can become hard enough that they will split like this case within one to two firings. I have had new factory loads do the same thing. Then as we resize and fire these cases repeatedly, they tend to get harder and harder. Eventually they will split. The life of the case can be extended by careful annealing practices. This is an issue that would need to be addressed in an article by itself. Of course this case is no longer usable.

In the classes that I teach, I try to use examples like this to let the students see what they should be looking for. As always, if we can assist you, whether you are new to reloading or very experienced, contact us here at Sierra Bullets by phone at 1-800-223-8799 or by email at sierra@sierrabullets.com.

Dented Case Body
Here we have a Lake City 7.62×51 (.308 Win.) case with two heavy marks/dents in the case body.

Sierra Case reloading pressure safety inspection

This one may be a bit of a mystery. It appears as if this case may have been caught in the action of a semi-auto rifle when the firearm jammed or the case failed to clear during the cycling process. I probably would not reload this case just to prevent any feeding problems. This also appeared to be a factory loaded round and I don’t really see any pressure issues or damage to the case.

CLICK HERE for MORE .223 Rem Case Examples in Sierra Blog

It is very important to observe and inspect your cases before each reloading. After awhile it becomes second nature to notice the little things. Never get complacent as you become more familiar with the reloading process. If ever in doubt, call Sierra’s Techs at 1-800-223-8799.

Sierra Bullets Case Diagnostics Blog

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February 8th, 2019

Cartridge Brass Wisdom for Semi-Auto Shooters by Zediker

Glen Zediker reloaders corner midsouth book AR-16 reloading semi-auto brass safety primer resizing

Here are highlights from an article Glen Zediker wrote for the Midsouth Blog. In this article Glen focuses on cartridge brass for semi-auto rifles, AR-platform guns in particular. Glen notes that semi-autos are tougher on brass than bolt-action rifles, so you need strong, durable brass, that has been full-length sized. And you need to be careful about neck tension, and primers. The article starts with Glen’s recommendations for tough, hard brass, and then includes the points outlined below.

Glen is the author of many excellent books on reloading. This article is adapted from Glen’s books, Handloading For Competition and Top-Grade Ammo, available at Midsouth HERE. For more information about other books by Glen, visit ZedikerPublishing.com.

Handloading for Competition
by Glen Zediker

The Competitive AR-15
by Glen Zediker

Top-Grade Ammo
by Glen Zediker

ONE: Full Length-Size Cases with Adequate Shoulder Set-Back

This is a huge source of debate… amongst my readers, but, since now I’m strictly speaking of semi-auto needs I doubt there will be much dissent: full-length resize all cases! Most cases from most semi-autos will emerge with a pretty well-blown case shoulder [taming down an excessively functioning gas system can reduce this]. Make double-sure you’re sizing the cases down to at least 0.003 clearance. If you don’t there are safety and function problems ahead.

TWO: USE Sufficient Neck Tension

The case neck [must be] reduced an adequate amount to retain the bullet. There should be a minimum net difference of 0.003 inches (three-thousandths) between sized outside case neck diameter and loaded round outside case neck diameter. [Editor — that means at least three thou of “grip”.] Reason: don’t take a chance of inadvertent bullet movement during the recoil and feeding cycles. That movement can be back or forward! It’s easily possible for a bullet to jump ahead when the inertia from the bolt carrier assembly chambers the next round.

Glen Zediker reloaders corner midsouth book AR-16 reloading semi-auto brass safety primer resizing

THREE: Use Tough Primers

Choose a tough primer! There’s a floating firing pin on an AR15 (M1A also) that is supposed to be held in check but that system doesn’t always work! If you load and extract a round and see a little dimple in the primer, that’s from the firing pin tapping off of it (again, created by inertia of bolt closing). A combination of a high primer and a sensitive primer cup assembly can create a “slam-fire”. Brands? CCI has some mil-spec primers that work well, and I’ve had great success with Remington 7-1/2. Some of the well-respected “match” primers are a little thin. The CCI and Remington also hold up well to the (sometimes) greater firing forces working on the primer (again, from the quick unlocking).

Here’s what I use from Midsouth.

FOUR: Be Sure to Seat Primers Below Flush

And, finally, make double-sure that each and every primer is seated to below flush with the case head! That’s true for any firearm (because it also means that the primer is fully seated) but imperative for safety in a semi-auto. This is especially an issue for those who use a progressive-type loading press.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Reloading 1 Comment »
January 12th, 2019

GREAT Video on Making Brass and Precision Ammo — Watch Now

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 and loaded ammo 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.
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December 11th, 2018

Tech Tip: Shoot BR Cases with Rebated Rims in PPC Actions

PPC 6mm BR .308 bolt face Cutting Head for Rebating Rims

Butch Lambert of ShadeTree Engineering provided this tip. Butch notes that many 6 PPC benchrest group shooters also enjoy shooting in score matches. But to be really competitive in the BR for score game, that means shooting a 30 BR, which has a wider, .308-class rim (0.4728″ diameter). Likewise, if you want to compete in 600-yard registered BR events or in varmint matches, you probably want to run a bigger case, such as the 6BR, 6BRA, 6mm Dasher, or 6-6.5×47. Those cartridges also have the larger 0.4728″ rims.

PPC 6mm BR .308 bolt face Cutting Head for Rebating Rims

To convert a PPC-boltface action to shoot the bigger cases you can spend a ton of money and buy a new bolt. That can cost hundreds of dollars. The simpler solution is to turn down the diameter of the larger cases on a lathe. This is a relatively simple procedure with the right cutting tool.

Butch explains: “We’ve seen plenty of interest in rebating case rims. This lets you shoot a 30 BR in score matches using your PPC action. All you need is a new barrel. This saves buying another bolt, receiver, or rifle if you have a PPC boltface. Anyone who has access to a lathe can do this job pretty easily. Yesterday I turned 150 case in about an hour.” At right is the lathe form tool Butch uses to rebate the case rims.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
December 3rd, 2018

Peterson “Select” Brass Is Weight-Sorted and Length-Sorted

peterson brass casing cartridge select weight-sorted OAL consistent one grain weight

Here’s an interesting offering from one of the USA’s leading brass-makers. We all know that having consistent brass is an important factor in repeatable accuracy. That’s why some hand-loaders weight-sort their brass and why any serious shooter trims his brass to consistent case overall length (OAL).

Well those time-consuming tasks may be a thing of the past for Peterson brass buyers. Peterson is now offering Peterson Select Brass in nine popular cartridge type. According to Peterson:

“Peterson Select casings are weight sorted at the factory. All casings in a 50-count box are guaranteed to be within one grain of each other. They are also sorted by overall length (OAL) and guaranteed to be consistent to within .001 inch.”

Derek Peterson further explained: “If you weighed and measured all of the casings in the box, the highest weight and the lowest weight, and the longest casing and the shortest casing would be no more than one grain and .001″ apart from each other.”

Think about that — brass consistent to ONE GRAIN, right out of the box. And having OAL standardized to .001″ is remarkable. NOTE: After firing, case length may vary. AccurateShooter recommends you re-measure your brass after first firing and trim to length as needed before normal case neck prep (chamfering and deburring).

peterson brass casing cartridge select weight-sorted OAL consistent one grain weight

Peterson Select Brass is offered in FIFTY (50) Count Boxes for These Cartridge Types:

.243 Winchester (+SRP)
6mm Creedmoor (+SRP)
6.5 Creedmoor (+SRP)
.260 Remington (+SRP
7mm-08 Remington
.308 Winchester Match (+SRP)
.338 Lapua Magnum
.375 CheyTac
.408 CheyTac

“+SRP” Indicates Small Rifle Primer Option. Note that this brass is shipped in 50-count boxes, not 100 count boxes. Pricing is still attractive. For example Fifty Peterson Select 6.5 Creedmoor casings cost $49.50, about one dollar each.

Peterson tip from EdLongRange.

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December 1st, 2018

Save Those Lapua Plastic Boxes — They Work as Ammo Carriers!

Lapua brass Ammo box

Since 2010, Lapua has shipped its quality cartridge brass in sturdy blue plastic boxes. Here’s a handy tip for you — don’t toss the plastic boxes when you load up your brass! These are double-duty containers. If you’re not familiar with “Blue Box” Lapua brass, you may not realize that the boxes are designed to serve as 50-round carriers for your loaded ammo and fired cases. (Yes we know some folks who’ve been tossing out their blue boxes without knowing how the boxes work as caddies.)

Snapped in place under the box lid is a rectangular plastic grid that fits in the bottom of the box. Pop the grid loose and slide it into the box with the smooth side facing up. Side supports molded into the lower section hold the grid in place.

Lapua brass Ammo box

Voilà, instant Ammo Box! Each grid contains holes for fifty (50) loaded rounds or empty cases. The convertible plastic container/ammo box is a great idea that Lapua executed very nicely. Now you have even more motivation to purchase your cartridge brass from Lapua.

USER TIPS: When transporting ammo you may want to put some foam over the loaded rounds. That will protect the bullet tips. Also, with shorter cartridges, this will help keep your loaded ammo and fired cases from moving around. You can also tape the FREE Redding Ammo Box Labels on the underside of the lids to list your load information.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Tech Tip 5 Comments »
June 19th, 2018

New 6mm Creedmoor Cartridge Brass from Lapua

Lapua 6mm 6.5mm Creedmore cartridge brass prs tactical varmint annealed

In the PRS game, the 6.5 Creedmoor has ruled the roost. However more and more serious competitors are moving to the 6mm Creedmoor cartridge because it offers lower recoil and a flatter trajectory (with some bullets). If you are a fan of the 6mm Creedmoor — take heart. Lapua has started production of 6mm Creedmoor cartridge brass, which should hit American shores later in the year. Yes this 6mm Creedmoor brass has small primer pocket and small flash hole — allowing it to stand up to repeated loading cycles with stout pressures.

Here is the official announcement…

Lapua 6mm Creedmoor Cartridge Brass

Lapua is pleased to announce the new 6mm Creedmoor case, a necked down version of the extremely popular 6.5mm Creedmoor designed to produce higher velocities, flatter trajectories, and reduced recoil.

Lapua 6mm 6.5mm Creedmore cartridge brass prs tactical varmint annealedCustomer demand for a 6mm version followed almost immediately after the release of the original Creedmoor case. Aside from the neck dimensions, our new 6mm Creedmoor cases shares the same features and characteristics that make Lapua the standard for 6.5 Creedmoor brass. It is a beautifully-drawn case, properly annealed at the neck and shoulder, with head metallurgy specifically chosen for durability, and the same small rifle primer, small flash-hole design that delivers the ultimate accuracy edge. The smaller 6mm bore diameter offers an excellent selection of proven low-drag match bullets that offer outstanding long range performance with even less recoil.

While the original 6.5 Creedmoor was designed with NRA High Power competition in mind, other disciplines, including the Precision Rifle Series (PRS), were quick to see the positive attributes of this cartridge. We know Lapua’s latest offering will find a niche with discerning shooters in demanding competitive disciplines.

We expect Lapua’s new 6mm Creedmoor cartridge brass to be favored by High Power shooters and serious varminters as well as tactical competitors. The Lapua 6mm Creedmoor cases will be available in the USA later in 2018.

The new Lapua 6mm Creedmoor Brass will definitely be a hit with PRS Competitors…
Lapua PRS tactical varmint hunting 6XC 6mm Creedmoor cartrdige brass
Photo from Ramia Whitecotton’s GAP GRIND 2016 photo album.

New product tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product, News, Tactical 13 Comments »
April 18th, 2018

TECH Tip: TOP TEN Ways to Dry Wet Cartridge Brass

Wet Tumbling Brass Drier

Many shooters these days clean their cartridge brass ultrasonically, or wet-tumble their cases with stainless media (above). Both methods get brass clean and shiny, inside and out. However, when those wet-cleaning processes are completed, you’re left with a pile of soaking wet brass. How do you dry your brass quickly and efficiently, without unsightly water spots? Read on for some great answers…

In our Shooters’ Forum, Forum Gold Member Terry asked: “How do you dry your brass after Ultrasonic cleaning?” In an interesting Reloading Forum Thread, many smart suggestions were posted. A dozen fellow members outlined a variety of effective case-drying procedures, which work equally well for both wet-tumbled brass and ultrasonically-cleaned cases. Here are the Top 10 brass-drying suggestions from our Forum members.

TOP TEN Ways to Dry Cartridge Brass After Wet Cleaning

1. Food Dehydrator — Shake the brass in towel to get the bulk of water off. Next leave in the food dehydrator for 45 minutes or until there are no signs of moisture inside the cases. — Lawrence97

2. Lyman 5-Level Case Dryer — Rinse off cleaning solution(s), then load brass by type into racks in Lyman Cyclone Case Dryer. This is easier to load/unload than food dehydrators and holds more cases.

Lyman Cyclone Case Drier

3. Hot Water + Compressed Air — Rinse all your cases as a batch using scalding hot water from the kitchen sink. Hot water evaporates off of brass very very quickly. Then hit them with compressed air. Takes 10 minutes. Simple. — SG4247

4. Oven Dry in Pre-Heated Oven — After pre-heating to 200° or so, turn off oven and put brass inside on a tray. Most important! Tell your wife what you are doing so she doesn’t crank it up to 425 to heat pizza! — MClark

NOTE: Many other members suggested oven drying at 150-200°. We recommend turning OFF the oven so you don’t cook your brass if you forget to remove the cases.

Dry Cartridge Brass heat gun5. Towel Dry then Warm with Heat Gun — Roll brass in a towel until no more water shakes out. Lay out on cardboard box top and blow off with Harbor Freight heat gun. $9.99 on coupon. Two minutes of heated air and about half hour of wait and they are good to go. This is with primers removed. — Shaggy357

6. Compressed Air, then Sun Dry Outside – I rinse the brass, then blow them out with compressed air. Then, dependent on the time of year, lay them on a towel in the sun. — HogPatrol

7. Dishwasher on Dry Cycle – In the winter, I drop my wet brass cases neck-down on the rack pegs in the dishwasher, then turn on the dry cycle. In the summer…well, I’m in Texas. They go to the porch for a bit. — Toolbreaker

8. Alcohol Rinse then Air or Oven Dry — Rinse in 90% Isopropyl alcohol and either let air dry or stick in 175° oven for half an hour. Alternatively, use a dehydrator. — Zipollini

9. Slow Air-Dry in Loading Blocks — I have a reloading block with holes drilled in it. I simply load the block up and let it air-dry in the cupboard for a couple of days. — JCS

10. Wipe with Towel Then Anneal Normally — This thread is stirring my OCD side. Seems complicated for just drying — my brass dries just fine when I anneal it. This entire process can’t take an hour per batch. When finished, the brass is cleaned, annealed, and ready to size. — CHLuke

  • Deprime, then tumble brass with stainless media, water, Lemishine, and dish detergent.
  • Shake them easily in a strainer to knock out most media then grab 4-5 pieces, shake them over the bucket for the last of the media then inside a towel.
  • Finally blow out the primer pockets and wipe with a towel, load in the Annealeez.

Wet Tumbling Brass Drier

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 8 Comments »
March 30th, 2018

New Lyman Cyclone Case Dryer — Fast and Affordable

Lyman Cyclone Cartridge Brass drying Case Dryer

Here’s a new product that should please shooters who wet-tumble their brass with stainless media, or use ultrasonic cleaning machines to clean cartridge brass (and gun parts). Employing forced hot air circulation, the new Lyman Cyclone Case Dryer will dry a large quantity of brass in under two hours. Internal racks provide five drying levels. With “street price” under $60.00, the Cyclone Case Dryer is a very affordable and effective addition to an ultrasonic or rotary-tumbler cleaning system.

Lyman Cyclone Cartridge Brass drying Case Dryer

The Lyman Cyclone Case Dryer works fast. No need to wait overnight (or longer) to air-dry your brass. Lyman states that “The forced heated air circulation of the Cyclone will dry your brass inside and out within an hour or two, with no unsightly water spots.” The handy individual trays keep different types of brass separate. The dryer can also be used for gun parts that have been ultrasonically cleaned.

Lyman Cyclone Case Dryer Features:
• Holds up to 1000 .223 Rem cases or 2000 9x19mm Luger cases
• Works with cartridge brass cases or gun parts
• Fast drying time — Typically 1 to 2 hours
• Timer control can be set up to 3 hours
• Durable ABS trays with recessed handles

Watch How Cyclone Case Dryer Functions with both Cartridge Brass and Gun Parts

Cyclone Case Dryer 115V (Part #7631560) MSRP: $69.95
Cyclone Case Dryer 230V (Part #7631561) MSRP: $69.95

Permalink Gear Review, New Product 4 Comments »
January 18th, 2018

RCBS Has New Brass Work Station with Six Powered Toolheads

New RCBS cartridge brass chamfering deburring power tool head station Brass Boss six

RCBS has announced the successor to the venerable RCBS Trim Mate. The New-for-2018 RCBS Brass Boss features six rotating stations that handle all your brass neck-brushing, chamfering, deburring, and pocket uniforming chores. The new Brass Boss includes tools for all six stations: inside VLD chamfering tool, outside deburring tool, primer pocket cleaners (small/large), military crimp removers (small/large), primer pocket uniformers (small/large), case neck brushes (four diameters), and a tub of dry case neck lubricant. MSRP for the Brass Boss, RCBS SKU 90390, is $189.95. We expect “street price” to be around $155.00.

New RCBS cartridge brass chamfering deburring power tool head station Brass Boss sixThis machine has two different rotation speeds for the toolheads. Four stations run at 350 rpm, while the two other stations run 57% faster, at 550 rpm. That give you a choice of spin speeds. You can work fast for tougher chores like military crimp removal, and slow down for inside-neck chamfering, which should be done carefully.

Larger and taller than the older RCBS Trim Mate, the new Brass Boss has one more station (six vs. five), plus a more powerful motor. This should make the Brass Boxx more competitive with the popular Lyman Case Prep Express.

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July 26th, 2017

New Lake City .223 Rem Brass on Sale at Midsouth

Midsouth Lake City .223 Brass sale bulk
Great deal on NEW Lake City .223 Rem Brass at Midsouth Shooters Supply. This is new production, unfired brass in bulk packaging.

Need a large supply of .223 Rem brass for your next varmint safari or 3-Gun match? Midsouth has a great deal right now on bulk-pack, NEW (unfired) Lake City .223 Rem (5.56x45mm) cartridge brass. The 500-count bag works out to a mere 15.6 cents per case, a fourth what some premium .223 brass costs. That’s great value.

Midsouth Lake City .223 Brass sale bulk

.223 Rem Still Shines for Varmint and Target Work
Even with all the “new and improved” cartridges (such as the .204 Ruger and 22 Nosler, the plain jane .223 Remington remains an excellent varmint cartridge, and the mainstay of service rifle competition. Here’s an example of how well the .223 Rem can perform in a good factory gun. The Tikka T3 offers excellent performance in this chambering. Tikka guarantees 1 MOA (or better) at 100 meters.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hot Deals No Comments »
July 22nd, 2017

Big Brass Sale at Grafs.com — 10% Off Everything

Grafs.com cartridge brass sale

Need cartridge brass for your rifles and pistols? You can save ten percent (10%) on all brass now at Grafs.com. Graf’s most popular brands are on sale, including: Lapua, Norma, Nosler, Hornady, Weatherby and Starline. The brass sale ends on July 26, 2017 at 11:59 pm CT. Grafs.com has cartridge brass for more than 200 caliber/cartridge types. CLICK HERE for all rifle cartridge brass offerings at Grafs.com.

NEW: Starline Rifle Brass
You’re probably familiar with Starline’s excellent pistol cases, but did you know that Starline now produces bottleneck rifle cartridge brass as well? In the past year, Starline Brass has introduced a line of bottleneck rifle brass including .223 Rem, .243 Win, .300 BLK, 6.8 SPC, .308 Win, .338 Federal, and .358 Win. And yes, Starline offers 6.5 Creedmoor brass in both large primer and small primer version. Unfortunately, Grafs.com does not yet stock Starline’s 6.5 CM brass, but Graf’s does have Lapua, Norma, Nosler, and Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor brass.

Grafs.com cartridge brass sale

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June 22nd, 2017

Shiney Savings: Wet-Tumbling Cartridge Brass on a Tight Budget

Brass Tumbling stainless media cheap Harbor Freight Brass plated cartridge brass

Super Clean Brass Without Breaking The Bank

Posted on June 21, 2017 by Sierra Bullets
Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Gary Prisendorf

I recently purchased 1,000 rounds of once-fired 5.56 LC brass that was fully processed and ready to load. The brass had been wet tumbled, using stainless steel pins and looked great inside and out, including the primer pockets.

I had always used a vibrating tumbler with either corn cob or walnut media and I always thought my brass looked pretty good until I saw what the wet tumbling and pin combination did.

Being the budget minded reloader that I am, I started looking for a cheap way to wet tumble my brass using stainless steel pins. Harbor Freight had recently opened a store nearby and I had received coupons in the mail, one of the coupons was 20% off any one item.

So I headed for the Harbor Freight store and after roaming around for 20 minutes or so I found a dual drum rotary rock tumbler for $55.00 and thought it would do just fine for what I was planning. The drums are rather small and only have a 3 pound maximum load limit each, but I figured that was big enough for around 150 .223 cases or maybe 300 9MM cases at a time.

I pulled the wrinkled up coupon out of my pocket, paid, and walked out with my new $47.00 brass cleaning machine. I didn’t have any stainless steel pins and couldn’t find any locally. At our local hardware store I picked up some brass plated ½” finishing brads that I thought might work until I could get some pins ordered.

I bought two small packages of the finishing brads(1.75 oz.), for $1.69 each then headed to my local Walmart to pick up some Dawn dish soap (.99 cents) and a bottle of Lemi Shine ($3.27). I had read online that is what a lot of people use for cleaning their brass.

I bought two small packages of the finishing brads (1.75 oz.), for $1.69 each then headed to my local Walmart to pick up some Dawn dish soap (.99 cents) and a bottle of Lemi Shine ($3.27). I had read online that is what a lot of people use for cleaning their brass.

When I got home, I started depriming .223 brass for my new toy, I mean brass tumbler. I deprimed 100 cases, put 50 in each drum, dropped a package of brads in each one, filled them ¾ of the way with water, gave each drum a small squirt of Dawn dish soap and a tablespoon of Lemi Shine. I sealed up the drums and fired up the tumbler.

After an hour and a half, I just couldn’t stand it any longer and had to see the results. The water was filthy but the cases were super clean, I couldn’t be happier. For a total investment of around $55.00, I can now get my cases looking almost new.

Here are the before and after pictures of my first run of brass:

Brass Tumbling stainless media cheap Harbor Freight Brass plated cartridge brass

I have since ordered two pounds of stainless steel pins, I put one pound in each drum. To be honest the brass really doesn’t look any better, but the pins don’t seem to get stuck inside of the cases near as bad as the brass-plated brads did.

Tip: Make sure to inspect your cases and look inside each case to ensure all of the brads/pins are removed.

Just lay the brass and brads/pins out on a towel and let them dry. Mine were dry after about 12 hours.

If you want your cases to look like new without breaking the bank, give it a try. You can’t clean 1000 at a time like the $200.00 tumbling machines that are made for specifically for brass, but this is a much cheaper alternative and the results speak for themselves. — Gary Prisendorf, Sierra Bullets

EDITOR: Actually you can get a machine for a whole lot less than $200.00! See the next paragraph.

Lyman Cylone Rotary Tumbler with Factory Rebate
Sierra’s Technician got his rotary tumbler and brass media for $55.00. For about twice that you can get a much better, higher-capacity system from Lyman. The Lyman Cyclone Rotary Tumbler features a large, polymer drum that holds up to 1000 .223 Rem cases. The kit includes media separation trays, plus five pounds of correct STAINLESS media. The Lyman Cyclone system costs $156.54 delivered from Amazon but this product qualifies for a $25 REBATE from Lyman. That puts your net cost at $131.54 for a complete Cyclone system. To be honest we think that’s money well spent, compared to the “El Cheapo” Harbor Freight unit. The Lyman will run six times as many .223 Rem cases, and get the job done faster. We suspect long-term durability will be better with the Lyman tumbler as well.

Brass Tumbling stainless media cheap Harbor Freight Brass plated cartridge brass

Permalink Hot Deals, Reloading 5 Comments »
June 8th, 2017

Advanced Reloading: Sorting Brass by Neck-Wall Thickness

neck sorting tool case-neck Sinclair caliber neck tension

He who dies with the most toys wins — right? Well Sinclair has another interesting gadget you can add to your reloading bench. The Sinclair Case Neck Sorting Tool lets you quickly sort brass by neck-wall thickness. For those who shoot “no-turn” brass, sorting your cases helps achieve more uniform neck tension and, thereby, more consistent bullet seating. Large variances in neck-wall thickness can cause inconsistent neck “grip” on the bullet. Generally, we’ve found that more consistent neck tension will lower ES and (usually) improve accuracy.

Get Better Results with No-Turn Brass
We know some guys who shoot no-turn 6mmBR brass in competition with considerable success — but their secret is pre-sorting their brass by neck-wall thickness. Cases that are out-of-spec are set aside for sighters (or are later skim-turned).

Watch Case Neck Sorting Tool Operation in Video (May not load on mobile devices)

Case Neck thickness sorting gauge Sinclair accurateshooter.comHow the Case Neck Sorting Tool Works
Here’s how the Sinclair tool works. Cases are rotated under an indicator tip while they are supported on a case-neck pilot and a support pin through the flash hole. The unit has a nice, wide base and low profile so it is stable in use. The tool works for .22 through .45 caliber cases and can be used on .17- and .20-caliber cases with an optional carbide alignment rod. The MIC-4 pin fits both .060 (PPC size) and .080 (standard size) flash holes. Sinclair’s Case Neck Sorting Tool can be ordered with or without a dial indicator. The basic unit without indicator (item 749-006-612WB) costs $59.99. Complete with dial indicator (item 749-007-129WB), the tool costs $89.99. IMPORTANT: This tool requires caliber-specific Case Neck Pilots (sold separately).

Editor’s Comment: The purpose of this Sinclair tool is rapid, high-quantity sorting of cartridge brass to ascertain significant case-neck-wall thickness variations. Consider this a rapid culling/sorting tool. If you are turning your necks, you will still need a quality ball micrometer tool to measure neck-wall thickness (to .0005) before and after neck-turning operations.

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading 4 Comments »
March 3rd, 2017

Inspecting Your Brass — What Case Flaws Reveal

Case Diagnostics 101 Sierra Bullets .223 Rem 5.56 brass cartridge safety

Ever wondered what caused a particular bulge or marking on a case? And more importantly, does the issue make the case unsafe for further use? Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Duane Siercks offers some insight into various issues and their causes in this article from the Sierra Blog.

Incipient Case-Head Separation
This is a Winchester .308 Win case that has a real issue. This case has a very obvious incipient case head separation in the process of becoming a complete failure.

Sierra Case reloading pressure safety inspection

This is most commonly caused by over-sizing the case causing there to be excess headspace on the case. After a few firings and subsequent re-sizing, this case is just about ready to come completely apart. Proper die adjustment is certainly a requirement here. Of course this case is not safe to reuse.

Excessive Pressure (Load Too Hot)
If you will notice in the picture of the case rim, there are two pressure signs to notice. First, look at the primer. It is basically flattened to about the max of what could be considered safe. If this was the only pressure sign noted, I would probably be fine with this load, but would constantly keep an eye on it especially if I was going to use this load in warmer temperatures. This load could easily cross into the “excess pressure” realm very quickly.

Sierra Case reloading pressure safety inspection

There is another sign of pressure that we cannot ignore. If you’ll notice, there is an ejector mark apparent that is located over the “R” of the R-P headstamp. This absolutely tells us that this load would not have been in the safe pressure range. If there were any of these rounds loaded, they should not be fired and should be dis-assembled. This case should not be reloaded.

Split Case-Neck
Here we have an R-P .22-250 case that has died the death. Everything looks fine with this case except the neck is split. This case must be tossed.

Sierra Case reloading pressure safety inspection

A split neck is a normal occurrence that you must watch for. It is caused by work-hardening of the brass. Brass cases get harder with age and use. Brand new cases that are stored for a period of time can become hard enough that they will split like this case within one to two firings. I have had new factory loads do the same thing. Then as we resize and fire these cases repeatedly, they tend to get harder and harder. Eventually they will split. The life of the case can be extended by careful annealing practices. This is an issue that would need to be addressed in an article by itself. Of course this case is no longer usable.

In the classes that I teach, I try to use examples like this to let the students see what they should be looking for. As always, if we can assist you, whether you are new to reloading or very experienced, contact us here at Sierra Bullets by phone at 1-800-223-8799 or by email at sierra@sierrabullets.com.

Dented Case Body
Here we have a Lake City 7.62×51 (.308 Win.) case with two heavy marks/dents in the case body.

Sierra Case reloading pressure safety inspection

This one may be a bit of a mystery. It appears as if this case may have been caught in the action of a semi-auto rifle when the firearm jammed or the case failed to clear during the cycling process. I probably would not reload this case just to prevent any feeding problems. This also appeared to be a factory loaded round and I don’t really see any pressure issues or damage to the case.

CLICK HERE for MORE .223 Rem Case Examples in Sierra Blog

It is very important to observe and inspect your cases before each reloading. After awhile it becomes second nature to notice the little things. Never get complacent as you become more familiar with the reloading process. If ever in doubt, call Sierra’s Techs at 1-800-223-8799.

Sierra Bullets Case Diagnostics Blog

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 5 Comments »
February 13th, 2017

Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor Brass Has Arrived at Graf & Sons

Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge brass

The most hotly-anticipated cartridge brass, the new-for-2017 6.5 Creedmoor cases from Lapua, arrived late last week at Graf & Sons. With the strength and uniformity for which Lapua brass is famous, this new brass should definitely “raise the bar” for 6.5 Creedmoor and 6mm Creedmoor shooters. Note — the new Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor brass features a small flash hole and small primer pocket. As of 9:00 am Monday morning this brass is in stock at Grafs.com priced at $119.99 per 100-ct box, with a max order of five (5) boxes.

UPDATE: The 6.5 Creedmoor brass sold out after we posted this story. But there will be more coming. You can ask Graf’s to be notified as soon as the next shipment arrives.

Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge brass

TECH TIP: For those who have been loading Hornady or other-brand 6.5 Creedmoor brass with large primer pockets and large flash holes, you may need to reconfigure your reloading tools. Check your sizing die — you may need to change to a smaller-diameter decapping rod. In addition you’ll need to use a small primer size “pusher” on your priming tool.

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