September 22nd, 2017

The Science of Annealing — Facts Uncovered, Myths Busted

Annealing Made Perfect Testing AMP cartridge Case hardness Lapua Norma Lake City

The science behind annealing during the manufacture of new cases is well-established. What happens after that, when we repeatedly reload and anneal those same cases, has always been somewhat of a “dark art”. To help separate scientific fact from fiction, the creators of the Annealing Made Perfect (AMP) Annealer machine have conducted detailed studies of cartridge brass. The AMP Team’s studies offer some remarkable insights, while disproving a number of myths about annealing. Will annealing tighten your groups? The evidence of these studies shows it could.

The test results are fascinating. The team compared brands of brass, sectioning brass to examine both alloy composition and thickness from case mouth to case-head (bottom). They also examined how carbon build-up affects next tension. And they determined how brass changes over multiple loading cycles. They even did a series of bullet-pull tests to analyze factors affecting neck tension. Here are some of the key subjects in the reports:

Brand by Brand Analysis — How the cartridge brass alloy varies among different manufacturers.
Bullet Release and Neck Tension — Tensile Bullet-Pull tests show factors affecting neck tension.
Neck Tension and Carbon — How carbon build-up inside the neck affects “neck tension”.
SS Tumbling and Hardness – How tumbling with stainless media affects brass hardness.
Case Cleaning (Ultrasound and Tumbling) — How case cleaning affects annealing.
Multiple Loadings — How brass performs when annealed every reload over 10+ cycles.

Annealing Made Perfect Testing AMP cartridge Case hardness Lapua Norma Lake City

You really should read the reports — there are some fascinating revelations. The AMP team made longitudinal sections of various cases to show different case wall thicknesses and head geometry. These examples also show how the hardness of the case varies from the case mouth to the case-head. Both virgin and used, annealed cases were examined.

Bullet-Pull Tests — Using advanced tensile test equipment, AMP experimented with different combinations of dies, reloading sequences, and neck hardness to ascertain the best practice.
Annealing Made Perfect Testing AMP cartridge Case hardness Lapua Norma Lake City

Carbon Inside Your Case-Necks May Be a GOOD Thing
AMP’s testers found carbon in necks can be beneficial: “Even with identical interference fit and neck hardness, as the carbon layer increased (microscopically), the force to draw the bullet decreased. It would appear the carbon acted as a lubricant. Interestingly, the [pull force] standard deviation also improved, i.e. the case to case variation in the force required to draw the bullets decreased.”*

Read the Full Test Reports

The AMP team’s objectives were to clarify some misconceptions on just what annealing does and does not do, and also to establish the best practices for consistent results. They have consulted with three independent certified metallurgy laboratories to produce some definitive information. So far, the Stage 1 and Stage 2 reports have been released. The studies include a report on the general physical properties of cartridge brass, including grain structures, hardness scales, time/temperature annealing information, and what can cause de-zincification.

The FULL REPORTS, including comprehensive appendices, are found here:

Stage One: https://www.ampannealing.com/articles/40/annealing-under-the-microscope/

Stage Two: https://www.ampannealing.com/articles/42/annealing-under-the-microscope/

Annealing Made Perfect Testing AMP cartridge Case hardness Lapua Norma Lake City

Examining Different Brands of Brass — What the Tests Revealed

Is Lapua brass harder than Norma? Is Lake City better than Remington? You’ll find answers to these and other questions in AMP’s annealing studies. One of the key findings in Stage 2 of Amp’s research is that brass from different manufacturers does vary in the distribution of material in the walls of the case.

Annealing Made Perfect Testing AMP cartridge Case hardness Lapua Norma Lake City

Stage Two Conclusions:

— Different brands of the same cartridge cases can require different annealing power settings due to differing case wall thickness in the neck and shoulder region. The greater the mass of brass to be annealed, the greater the power requirement. Lot to lot variation within the same brand can occur for the same reason.

— The bushing die used in this set of tensile bullet pull tests gave significantly more consistent results than the standard neck die with expander ball.

— Cases should be annealed every reload in order to get the best repeatability.

Case Variations: Brand to Brand, and Lot to Lot

Here is a sample from AMP’s test report:

Analyzing Different Brands of Brass
In our Stage One report, we demonstrated that there is insufficient variation in alloy composition between brands to account for the variations we experience when annealing different brands of the same cartridge case. We therefore sought to confirm that it is the mass of brass to be annealed which accounts for the difference. Below are sectioned samples of four different brands of .223 Remington cases.

Both the Lapua and Norma neck walls are 314* microns (0.01236”) at the mouth. The Lapua neck wall thickens to 348 microns at the junction of the neck and shoulder, and the Norma neck thickens to 325 microns. Through the shoulder, however, the walls of both cases thicken to 370 – 380 microns. Once past the shoulder, they both taper back to 314 microns, before starting to thicken again, moving towards the case head.

The Lapua case requires AMP Program 47 to anneal correctly. It is the heaviest of the four cases tested through the shoulder region. The Norma case, which is only slightly lighter through the same region, needs Program 43.

The Remington case is very similar to the Lapua and Norma cases in the neck region, but it actually thins fractionally through the shoulder and front section of the body. The AMP program setting for Remington 223R is P32.

The Lake City case is the thinnest throughout of all four samples. It only requires Program 28.

The above samples clearly demonstrate that the mass of brass to be annealed is critical to the power requirement for correct annealing.

To see how the AMP Induction Annealing Machine works, watch this video:

* However, in Stage Two of AMP testing, the testers experimented with clean, carbon-free necks with dry lube. There was some indication of greater tensile pull consistency with dry-lube, but AMP plans to do more testing.

Permalink - Articles, - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 7 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 »
May 24th, 2017

Optimize Neck Tension with Bushings, Expanders, and Annealing

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 3 Comments »
March 18th, 2017

Tool Time: Sinclair Cartridge Case Neck Sorting Tool

Case Neck thickness sorting gauge Sinclair accurateshooter.com

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, this can improve neck-tension consistency. 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. 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

Case Neck thickness sorting gauge Sinclair accurateshooterHow 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 the 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 dial indicator (item 749-006-612WB) is $59.99. The tool complete with dial indicator (item 749-007-129WB) for $89.99. IMPORTANT: This tool requires caliber-specific Sinclair Case Neck Pilots which must be ordered 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 Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Reloading No Comments »
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 »
March 14th, 2016

Try Ballistol Lube for Case Sizing, STP for Neck Turning

If you’re using a body die or a full-length sizing die, try using Ballistol (in the aerosol can) as a lube. It works GREAT without the tacky or gooey residue left by most case lubes. It will also clean off carbon residues on the neck as you lube the case. Just spray a little on a cotton patch (or your fingertips) and wipe each case before you run it up into the die. If you are using a steel neck bushing, be sure to wipe the neck as well. You can usually do a half-dozen BR-sized cases before you need to re-apply Ballistol on the patch. Ballistol is non-toxic, bio-degradeable, and will not harm your skin. It is very slippery, but can easily be removed with a rag or paper towel. Try it–you may retire your One-Shot. Ballistol can also be used to protect wood stocks.

Note, for heavy case-forming or necking up case necks, we still recommend a thicker lubricant, such as Imperial Die Wax. But for normal case sizing, after your neck has been expanded, Ballistol will do the job, and you won’t need to tumble the brass afterwards. All you need is a very thin layer of Ballistol, and this easily wipes off with a paper towel.

For Neck-Turning, Try STP Blend or Assembly Lube
For lubing the neck-turning tool mandrel while turning case necks, many folks use a blend of STP® Oil Treatment and Mobil 1 lube. Chuckw2 reports: “Try STP and Mobile 1 Synthetic oil in a 50/50 mixture. Very slick, you will need to tumble your cases after turning.” STP is a very thick lubricant, that flows and clings almost like honey. Jason reports the STP blend comes off easily in an ultra-sound bath, using a bit of detergent. STP is also now available in a convenient 7-ounce tube, so you don’t have to buy a large bottle.

Assembly LubeAnother even cheaper option is assembly lubricant. For turning his case necks, RStreich uses assembly lube from an auto parts store. He notes: “The brand I have is reddish in color and kind of sticky like honey. It’s far better than the Imperial die wax I was using before.” There are a variety of types, both with and without moly additive, and you can select the viscosity you prefer if you sample a few brands. Be sure to clean out any lube residue from the inside of your necks when you have completed your neck-turning.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 5 Comments »
January 4th, 2016

Why Carbide Mandrels Work Better for Neck-Turning

If you have ever turned a large quantity of case-necks using power assist, you know that a carbide mandrel can make the job go easier, with better end results. In our experience, when using carbide mandrels (as opposed to ordinary steel), the cases move more smoothly with less heat build-up. Pat Reagin of PMA Tool explains why carbide neck-turning mandrels work better:

Carbide offers several advantages over conventional steel and stainless steel when making any tooling, specifically neck-turning mandrels:

Dimensional Stability — Carbide maintains its dimensions indefinitely during heating and cooling. This eliminates the need to allow the mandrel time to cool every few cases.

Coefficient of Friction and Wear-Resistance — Carbide exhibits a low coefficient of friction value as compared to all steels and wears up to 100 times longer. This reduces (but does not eliminate) the amount of lubricant required.

Galling Resistance — Carbide has exceptional resistance to galling and welding at the surface. This basically eliminates the chance of getting a case stuck on a mandrel due to insufficient lubrication.

Given the benefits of carbide neck-turner mandrels, you may be asking “where can I get one?” Sinclair Int’l offers carbide mandrels for Sinclair neck-turners for $49.99, in a full range of calibers: 17, 20, 22, 6mm, 25, 6.5mm, 270, 30, and 338.

PMA Tools Carbide neck turning mandrel neck turner$49.95 Carbide Mandrels from PMA Tool
PMA Tools now also offers carbide mandrels in a full variety of sizes. At $49.95 each, PMA’s carbide mandrels are priced competitively with Sinclair’s mandrels. PMA offers carbide mandrels in .17, .20, .22, 6mm, 6.5mm, 7mm and .30-caliber. These will work with Sinclair Int’l and 21st Century neck-turners, as well as PMA neck-turners. PMA tells us: “We now have carbide neck-turning mandrels in stock. These mandrels are made with high-tech CNC grinding-machinery, and should give you excellent results. We hope to be add other larger-caliber carbide mandrels to our lineup in the future.”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product, Reloading 7 Comments »
November 4th, 2015

Neck Tension 101 — It Ain’t As Simple as You Think

If you want to load ultra-accurate ammo and shoot very small groups, you should read this article, which we are re-publishing by popular demand. Many novice handloaders believe that neck bushing Inside Diameter (ID) size is the only important factor in neck tension. In fact, many different things will influence the grip on your bullet and its ability to release from the case neck. To learn the ins and outs of neck tension, take some time and read this article carefully.

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.

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. 6mmBR neck vs. 6mm Dasher).
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. Time duration between bullet seating and firing (necks can stiffen with time).
10. How often the brass is annealed

— and there are others…

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.

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.

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 12 Comments »
September 9th, 2015

How to Turn Case Necks — Step by Step

neck-turning basics reloading salazar

On our main AccurateShooter.com site, you’ll find a good article by G. 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.

neck-turning basics reloading salazar

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.

neck-turning basics reloading salazar

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
July 30th, 2014

30BR Case-Forming Tips from Randy Robinett and Al Nyhus

30BR 30 BR case formingThe 30BR is an amazing little cartridge. However, 30BR shooters do have to neck-up 6mmBR brass and then deal with some issues that can arise from the expansion process. One of our Forum members was concerned about the donut that can form at the new (expanded) neck-shoulder junction. Respected bullet-maker Randy Robinett offers tips on how to deal with the “dreaded donut”.

The Forum member was concerned about thinning the brass if he turned his 30BR necks after expansion: “Everything I have found on 30BR case-forming says to simply turn off the bulge at the base of the neck caused by the old 6BR shoulder. I expanded my first case and measured the neck at 0.329″ except on the donut, where it measures 0.335″. Looking inside the case… reveals a groove inside the case under the donut. Now, it is a fact that when I turn that neck and remove the donut, the groove is still going to be there on the inside? That means there is now a thin-spot ring at the base of the neck that is .005 thinner than the rest of the neck. Has anyone experienced a neck cracking on this ring?”

Randy Robinett, who runs BIB Bullet Co., is one of the “founding fathers” of the 30BR who help prove and popularize the 30 BR for benchrest score shooting. Randy offers this advice on 30BR case-forming:

While the thinner neck-base was one of our original concerns, unless one cuts too deeply INTO the shoulder, it is not a problem. For my original 30BR chamber, thirty (30) cases were used to fire 6,400 rounds through the barrel. The cases were never annealed, yet there were ZERO case failures, neck separations, or splits. The case-necks were turned for a loaded-round neck diameter of .328″, and, from the beginning, sized with a .324″ neck-bushing.

The best method for avoiding the ‘bulge’ is to fire-form prior to neck-turning (several methods are successfully employed). Cutting too deeply into the shoulder can result in case-neck separations. I have witnessed this, but, with several barrels and thousands to shots fired, have not [personally] experienced it. The last registered BR event fired using that original barrel produced a 500-27x score and a second-place finish. [That’s] not bad for 6K plus shots, at something over 200 firings per case.

Check out the 30BR Cartridge Guide on AccurateShooter.com
You’ll find more information on 30BR Case-forming in our 30 BR Cartridge Guide. Here’s a short excerpt from that page — some tips provided by benchrest for score and HBR shooter Al Nyhus:

30BR Case-Forming Procedure by Al Nyhus
The 30BR cartridge is formed by necking-up 6BR or 7BR brass. You can do this in multiple stages or in one pass. Most of the top shooters prefer the single-pass method. You can use either an expander mandrel (like Joe Entrekin does), or a tapered button in a regular dies. Personally, I use a Redding tapered expander button, part number 16307. This expands the necks from 6mm to .30 cal in one pass. It works well as long as you lube the mandrel and the inside of the necks. I’ve also used the Sinclair expander body with a succession of larger mandrels, but this is a lot more work and the necks stay straighter with the Redding tapered button. This button can be used in any Redding die that has a large enough inside diameter to accept the BR case without any case-to-die contact.

Don’t be concerned about how straight the necks are before firing them the first time. When you whap them with around 50,000 psi, they will straighten out just fine! I recommend not seating the bullets into the lands for the first firing, provided there is an adequate light crush-fit of the case in the chamber. The Lapua cases will shorten from approx. 1.550″ to around 1.520″ after being necked up to 30-caliber I trim to 1.500″ with the (suggested) 1.520 length chambers. I don’t deburr the flash holes or uniform the primer pockets until after the first firing. I use a Ron Hoehn flash hole deburring tool that indexes on the primer pocket, not through the case mouth. — Al Nyhus

Permalink - Articles, Reloading 6 Comments »
March 26th, 2014

ABCs of Neck Turning — Salazar Shows How It’s Done

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.

neck-turning basics reloading salazar

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.

neck-turning basics reloading salazar

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.

neck-turning basics reloading salazar

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January 26th, 2014

PMA Tool Now Offers High-Quality Carbide Expander Mandrels.

Responding to customer requests, PMA Tool is now offering carbide expander mandrels in popular calibers. These carbide mandrels are listed as .22, .24, .26, .28, and .30 calibers, but they are sized for popular chamberings in .223, .243 (6mm), .264 (6.5mm), .284 (7mm), and .308 (7.62mm). PMA’s new carbide expander mandrels will cost $56.95 per item.

PMA’s tool-makers tell us: “Over the past several months we have received many requests to make expanding mandrels from carbide. Due to this popular demand we are now offering expanding mandrels from carbide. Carbide reduces galling and scratching both on the inside of the case neck and the mandrel itself. We still recommend the use of lubricant when expanding case necks to make the operation easier. These mandrels are ground from a 3/8” solid carbide blank and sized properly to expand case necks, preparing them for neck-turning. They can also be used to iron out dings and flat spots on new brass not destined to be neck turned, preparing them for loading and bullet seating.”

PMA Dual Taper Non-Carbide Expanders are Just $8.95
PMA also makes regular steel expander mandrels at a much lower price — $8.95. These regular Expanding Mandrels are designed to fit both the 21st Century Shooting and Sinclair Expander Dies. PMA states: “Our mandrels are longer than other expanding mandrels and feature a special dual taper which expands both on the up and down stroke of the press to more uniformly expand and straighten case necks.” These regular expanders are offered for all popular calibers, from .17 all the way to .338.

PMA Expander Mandrel steel carbide

PMA Specialized Necking-Up Mandrels for 30 BR and 6 PPC
Last but not least, PMA makes specialized “long-taper” expanders designed to expand 6mmBR brass to 30 BR brass, or expand 220 Russian brass to 6mm (for the 6 PPC). Priced at $9.95, these handy, effective tools make it easy to neck-up your brass for 30BR or 6 PPC.

PMA Expander Mandrel steel carbide

PMA explains: “So you want to make 30BR brass quick? Here’s the mandrel for you. A while back, while forming some 30BR brass for a customer’s rifle we noticed that after necking 6mm up to 30cal the neck fit on the turning mandrel was a lot tighter than we wanted. Regardless of how many steps we took to get there we had to run the case necks over the final expander repeatedly to get the fit right. After that experience we decided to set out and make a mandrel with optimum taper and diameter to neck 6mm up to 30 caliber in one step. We think is the best way to expand the necks of 6BR Lapua brass [for the 30 BR]. Remember to always use plenty of lubricant when necking.”

Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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December 2nd, 2013

Tool Tip: Optimize Your Cutter Angle for Improved Neck-Turning

When neck-turning cases, it’s a good idea to extend the cut slightly below the neck-shoulder junction. This helps keep neck tension more uniform after repeated firings, by preventing a build-up of brass where the neck meets the shoulder. One of our Forum members, Craig from Ireland, a self-declared “neck-turning novice”, was having some problems turning brass for his 20 Tactical cases. He was correctly attempting to continue the cut slightly past the neck-shoulder junction, but he was concerned that brass was being removed too far down the shoulder.

Craig writes: “Everywhere I have read about neck turning, [it says] you need to cut slightly into the neck/shoulder junction to stop doughnutting. I completely understand this but I cant seem to get my neck-turning tool set-up to just touch the neck/shoulder junction. It either just doesn’t touch [the shoulder] or cuts nearly the whole shoulder and that just looks very messy. No matter how I adjust the mandrel to set how far down the neck it cuts, it either doesn’t touch it or it cuts far too much. I think it may relate to the bevel on the cutter in my neck-turning tool…”

Looking at Craig’s pictures, we’d agree that he didn’t need to cut so far down into the shoulder. There is a simple solution for this situation. Craig is using a neck-turning tool with a rather shallow cutter bevel angle. This 20-degree angle is set up as “universal geometry” that will work with any shoulder angle. Unfortunately, as you work the cutter down the neck, a shallow angled-cutter tip such as this will remove brass fairly far down. You only want to extend the cut about 1/32 of an inch past the neck-shoulder junction. This is enough to eliminate brass build-up at the base of the neck that can cause doughnuts to form.

K&M neck-turning tool

The answer here is simply to use a cutter tip with a wider angle — 30 to 40 degrees. The cutter for the K&M neck-turning tool (above) has a shorter bevel that better matches a 30° shoulder. There is also a 40° tip available. PMA Tool and 21st Century Shooting also offer carbide cutters with a variety of bevel angles to match your case shoulder angle*. WalkerTexasRanger reports: “I went to a 40-degree cutter head just to address this same issue, and I have been much happier with the results. The 40-degree heads are available from Sinclair Int’l for $13 or so.” Forum Member CBonner concurs: “I had the same problem with my 7WSM… The 40-degree cutter was the answer.” Below is Sinclair’s 40° cutter for its NT-1000, NT-1500, and NT-4000 neck-turning tools. Item NT-3140, it sells for $12.95. There is also a 40° cutter for the NT-3000 tool, item NT-3340 ($13.95).

Al Nyhus has another clever solution: “The best way I’ve found to get around this problem is to get an extra shell holder and face it off .020-.025 and then run the cases into the sizing die. This will push the shoulder back .020-.025. Then you neck turn down to the ‘new’ neck/shoulder junction and simply stop there. Fireforming the cases by seating the bullets hard into the lands will blow the shoulder forward and the extra neck length you turned by having the shoulder set back will now be blended perfectly into the shoulder. The results are a case that perfectly fits the chamber and zero donuts.”

* 21st Century sells carbide cutters in: 15, 20, 21.5, 23, 25, 28, 30, 35, 40, and 46 degrees. PMA Tool sells carbide cutters in: 17.5, 20, 23, 25, 28, 30, 35, and 40 degrees.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 6 Comments »
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 »
August 11th, 2013

Gear Review: Pendergraft Holder for K&M Neck Turner

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.

K&M neck turner holder

Pendergraft Holder for K&M Neck-Turner
K&M neck turner holderJoel 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: joelpend@bellsouth.net .

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review 7 Comments »
August 7th, 2013

Sinclair Case Neck Sorting Tool On Sale for $49.95

Case Neck thickness sorting gauge Sinclair accurateshooter.comHe 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, this can improve neck-tension consistency. 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. 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

How 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 the 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 dial indicator (item 749-006-612WS) is currently ON SALE for $49.95, marked down from $64.95 — a 23% savings! You can also buy the tool complete with dial indicator (item 749-007-129WS) for $86.99. IMPORTANT: This tool requires caliber-specific Sinclair Case Neck Pilots which must be ordered separately.

Case Neck thickness sorting gauge Sinclair accurateshooter.com

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.

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January 6th, 2013

Gear Review: Paul Becigneul Case Turning Motor and Collet

On his Rifleman’s Journal website, German Salazar has done a nice review of Forum member Paul Becigneul’s Case Turning Motor. READ Full Review on RiflemansJournal.com

Becigneul Case Turning Motor, by German Salazar
Although there have been a variety of similar devices and ‘case lathes’ offered for sale in the past, they’ve been priced fairly high. Paul’s unit is reasonably priced ($220.00) and built like a tank. The motor turns at about 180 rpm which is just right for neck turning. What’s really nice is that the motor has enough torque to hold its speed throughout the whole operation and a/c power to run all day long!

paul Becigneul Rotary Power supply

The unit’s design is fairly straight-forward: a surplus electric motor turns a Forster case-holding collet. Paul makes a nice knurled collar to open and close the collet.Power is controlled by a household type wall switch attached to a long cabe. The whole assembly is mounted on a nice hardwood base.

Video of Paul Becigneul’s Case Turning Motor in Use

In operation, it works very well. The collet has enough clamping power to hold the case after a quick hand-tightening, no wrench is needed (although you can use one if you are so inclined). A quarter turn of the collar opens the collet and a quick turn of the wrist tightens it back up. As with any powered case neck turning device, the case wobbles a bit as it turns. This doesn’t matter a bit as the turning cutter is held in your hand (which is free to move) and the cutter’s arbor is the actual alignment device. The wobble is the same or less than what I had using a power screwdriver with a K&M holder.

For more information, email Paul Becigneul via: pbike4466 [at] directv.net. In 2012, the basic unit cost $220.00 each collet was $10 and shipping is $20 to most U.S. locations.

Editor’s Comment: In the video, Paul uniforms case flash-holes with a Lyman tool (from the inside) and then uniforms primer pockets (from the outside) with a K&M tool. While we do believe that flash-holes should be inspected to ensure there are no obstructions or flakes blocking the hole, we have not found that flash-hole or primer-pocket uniforming produced measurable improvements in accuracy with Lapua 6mmBR brass. In fact, in our tests using a manual K&M flash-hole uniformer, ES/SD actually got worse after the flash-holes were “uniformed”.

Keep in mind also that many deburring tools for 0.059 (PPC-size) flash-holes actually over-cut substantially, reaming the holes to as wide as 0.068″. The Lapua PPC/BR flash hole is spec’d at 1.5mm, which works out to 0.059055″. Most of the PPC/BR flash-hole uniforming tools on the market use a 1/16″ bit which is nominally 0.0625″, but these often run oversize — up to 0.067″. If you like to uniform your primer pockets, be our guest (this can be useful with lesser-quality brass). But before pocket-uniforming dozens of cases, you might do a comparison test (by shooting uniformed vs. un-uniformed ammo) to see whether this operation actually improves accuracy with the brass you are using.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product, Reloading 4 Comments »
November 13th, 2012

Get 10% Off All 21st Century Tools and Reloading Products

21st Century Shooting crafts some of the best precision handloading tools you can buy. This company’s neck-turning tools, priming tools, funnels, flash-hole tools, and other specialty tools are truly excellent pieces of kit. The 21st Century neck-turner, fitted in the company’s innovative neck-turning lathe, is an outstanding system for turning case-necks. Now holiday shoppers can save money on 21st Century’s entire product line. 21st Century is offering 10% off all products ordered through its website, www.21stCenturyShooting.com.

To get 10% off your online order, simply use the Discount Code 1210holiday25 during check-out, placing “1210holiday25″ in the box marked “REDEEM CODE”. With the money you save you can buy more cool tools, or set aside your savings for bullets, brass, and powder.

21st Century Shooting Concentricity Gauge

Discount Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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February 6th, 2012

Neck-Turning Lathe from 21st Century Shooting

if you turn your case-necks, here’s a tool from 21st Century Shooting that can can save time, and help you produce better, more consistent turned necks. 21st Century’s Neck-Turning Lathe system, introduced last spring, may revolutionize the way reloaders turn their case necks. Watch the video and you’ll see why. If you’re never turned cases before, you may become a convert after seeing how quickly and easily the new 21st Century Neck-Turning Lathe does the job.

The mini-lathe has unique fittings on the left and right sides that allow both the case-holder and the neck-turning tool to float. As a result this tool maintains near-perfect concentricity during the cut. 21st Century’s John Perkins explains: “The floating design of the neck turner and the case driver allows the case mouth (bore) to run on the arbor absolutely concentric, therefore allowing O.D. to be turned concentric with I.D. The tailstock creates a horizontal inline support for the base of the case. This also allows the operator to keep both hands on the power screw driver or drill, making it very easy to control the feed rate and to produce a very fine, turned finish.” Having the system float at both ends was key, according to John: “By allowing both the turner and the case to float, everything self-aligns. This maintains concentricity and allows the unit to work with very low torque.”

21st Century neck-turner lathe

Neck-Turning Lathe is Fast Yet Precise
Using power from a drill or electric screwdriver, this tool will turn necks fast — in a matter of a few seconds. And it produces beautiful, smooth necks that are extremely uniform. Tests show that the lathe, used with the 21st Century Neck-Turning Tool, will hold 0.0002 (two ten-thousandths) neck wall tolerances. And it will do that time after time.

21st Century neck-turner latheTurn Necks in a Single Pass
Using traditional hand-methods, turning case necks can be time-consuming and fatiguing. Many folks will experience hand pain or cramping after just a dozen cases. Watch the video, you’ll see how fast and easy neck-turning can be with the new mini-lathe. You get an exceptionally good cut in seconds. Very importantly, with this system, you may be able to switch from a double-pass cut, to a single-pass cut. Yes, even if you’re making a deep cut, we think there is a good chance you can turn all your necks in a single pass. That can cut your labor time in half!

21st Centure neck-turner lathe

21st Centure neck-turner latheWhy does the 21st Century Neck-Turning Tool cut so well? First, the Neck-Turning Tool employs ultra-sharp carbide cutters that are custom-ground to fit the shoulder angle of your cartridge. This allows you to make a perfect cut extending down the shoulder 1/32 of an inch. Second, the system aligns the case neck on the arbor (mandrel) so well, and the cutter is so sharp, that very little torque is required. This allows the cutting process to go very smoothly. The case-holder is also unique — it features a O-ring so it holds the case firmly in place without marring or bending the case head. The tailstock case-holder adjusts to accommodate cases from 17 Fireball to a .416 Rigby.

More Case Prep Tools for Lathe in Future
In the near future 21st Century will offer additional case prep attachments for the new mini-lathe. 21st Century plans to provide bullet-pointing system and other options. These will all work with the same lathe “chassis”, and will run with power. John states: “This is a modular system, all parts interchange. So if you have an existing 21st Century Shooting Neck Turning Tool or Bracket, everything will fit.”

The 21st Century Neck-Turning Lathe costs $245.00, complete with Neck-Turning Tool ($85.00 value) and one case-holder driver. The Neck-Turning Tool comes with a carbide cutter with user choice of shoulder angle (Arbors and Mandrels are sold separately). Perkins recommends using the Neck-Turning Lathe with power, but it will also work with an optional hand crank. NOTE: Currently the Neck-Turning Lathe works ONLY with the 21st Century Neck-Turner. It will not work with K&M, Sinclair, or Forster tools. But that’s not a real drawback because the 21st Century tool is certainly one of the best on the market today. You can purchase the Neck-Turning Lathe (complete with Neck-Turner and Case-Holder) through the 21st Century website, or call (260) 273-9909.

Disclosure: 21st Century Shooting advertises with AccurateShooter.com.
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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.

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