On our main AccurateShooter.com site, you’ll find an excellent article by German Salazar on the Basics of Neck Turning. If you’re new to the neck-turning game, or are just looking for good tips on improving your neck-turning procedures, you should read German’s article. Below we offer some highlights and photos from the article, but you’ll need to read the whole story to view all the illustrations and follow all the procedures step by step.
Why Should You Consider Neck Turning?
Let’s assume that your rifle doesn’t have a tight neck chamber that requires neck turning; if you have a tight neck chamber, of course, the answer to the question is “because you have to”. For the rest of us, and that includes the vast majority of Highpower shooters, neck turning isn’t a requirement, but it can be a useful way to bring your ammunition a small but meaningful step closer to that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: perfection. I’m not talking about a theoretical improvement, but a real one, an improvement that lies in equalizing and optimizing the neck tension of your loaded rounds. Inconsistent neck tension is a real contributor to increased muzzle velocity variance which itself is a significant factor in increased elevation dispersion at long range. So there’s our basic reason for neck turning: to equalize and optimize neck tension in order to reduce elevation dispersion.
The Tools of the Trade
Here you see everything I use and a bit more. The press, a cordless screwdriver (always plugged in, turning is tough on the old battery), a couple of K&M neck turners (one set up for 6mm, the other for .30 caliber) an expander for each size, some Imperial lube, an old toothbrush or two to keep the cutter clean, a handle with a caseholder (for those emergencies when the screwdriver dies and there’s just one more case to go!), steel wool and a tubing micrometer finish the list of tools. Hey, I left the dial calipers out of the picture! They’re always handy, keep them around, but they are useless for measuring neck thickness, so don’t try. I usually use an Optivisor magnifier while I turn necks, very handy for a clear view of what’s happening on the neck.
Expanding the Neck
Put some lube on the inside of the case neck and run it into the expander. Really, this isn’t hard. I prefer to expand each case immediately before turning it as opposed to expanding all the cases and then turning them. Brass is somewhat springy and will tend to go back toward its original size; therefore, by expanding and turning immediately, you are more likely to have all cases fit the mandrel with the same degree of tightness and to get a more consistent depth of cut.
Cutter Adjustment for Cut Depth and Length
All the tools I’ve seen have pretty good adjustment instructions. The only thing they don’t tell you is that you should have five to ten spare cases to get it right initially. Anything of the right diameter will do while you learn, for instance, just use that cheap surplus .308 brass to do initial setup and save the precious .30-06 for when you know what you’re doing. Be patient and make your adjustments slowly; you’ll need to set the cutter for thickness as well as length of cut (just into the shoulder). The depth of cut (brass thickness) takes a bit of fiddling, the length of the cut is generally easy to set.
The Finished Product — A Perfectly Uniform Neck
If you read the whole article, and follow the procedures using quality tools, you should get very good results — with a little practice. To demonstrate, here’s an example of my finished, neck-turned brass. You’ll see there is a perfect, 0.0125″ thick neck. It’s very uniform around the circumference, usually I only see 1 or 2 ten-thousandths variance. Now, with the necks uniformed like this, we can select the bushing size that will give us our preferred neck tension and experiment with various levels of tension, secure in the knowledge that all of the cases will actually have the desired neck tension.
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by German Salazar, RiflemansJournal.com
Neck turning isn’t a once-in-a-while operation at my reloading bench. I shoot a lot, go through a fair amount of brass and neck-turn every piece of brass I use. I like the K&M neck turner, it’s well designed, well made, affordable if you like to have more than one caliber permanently set up and so that’s what I use. The only flaw in the K&M is that the tool itself is small enough that holding it for long and frequent session of neck turning is literally a pain. If you happen to have arthritis, it’s even more so.
Pendergraft Holder for K&M Neck-Turner
Joel Pendergraft makes a great tool holder for the K&M that does away with the pain as it gives a much larger and more comfortable gripping surface. The tool holder is made from aluminum, nicely machined and knurled for a good grip. I thought it was well worth the price of $48.00 delivered in the USA (Price may have gone up since this story was written). Switching the tool holder from one K&M turner to another is a matter of loosening the set screw on the side, slipping out one turner, inserting the other and re-tightening. The Pendergraft tool-holder is simple, well-made, fairly priced and a real joy to use. Who could ask for more?
If you have questions or want to order the K&M tool holder, contact Joel Pendergraft via email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
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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.)
If you want to get started with turning case necks, check out our article on Neck Turning Basics, authored by German Salazar. As German explains, one of the keys to achieving a smooth, consistent cut on your case-necks is to use quality lube and lubricate both the inside of the case necks and the neck-turning mandrel. German uses Imperial Die Wax, the old standby. This works very well, as German demonstrates, but we know that many reloaders prefer to use a liquid lube, as they find that it is easier to apply and remove.
Dozens of different liquid neck-turning lubes have been used successfully, including blends of Mobil 1 motor oil and STP, as well as various “secret recipes”. This Editor’s preferred lube for “skim” neck-turning, where only a single light pass is required, is Prolix Xtra-T lube. This is a thick, blue-colored lubricant that contains a bit of paraffin. It is VERY slippery, yet because of the paraffin it stays in place on the mandrel (arbor). It comes in a 1.25 oz. plastic bottle with a handy extended “needle-nose” applicator tip. The long-nosed tip makes it easy to apply lube inside a case neck, or to very precisely add a small drop right ahead of the cutter tip on the neck-turning tool. Xtra-T lube is also a good general purpose lubricant that nicely fills the gap between a grease and a typical oil, and it works well on pistols too. In consistency, Xtra-T lube is similar to molasses. It flows like a thick oil, but it has good adhesion because of the paraffin component in the blend.
I’m not suggesting Xtra-T is the ultimate “miracle” neck-turning lube. There are many other good options. But Xtra-T applies easily, stands up to heat, stays where you put it, and works great as a general-purpose lube as well. You’ll find Prolix Xtra-T lube in many shooting supply stores or you can order directly from www.ProlixLubricant.com. The small bottle with applicator tip costs $6.99.
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