November 7th, 2009

Reloading Tip: Inspect Ammo Components with Magnifier

What is the most-used piece of equipment on this Editor’s reloading bench? No it’s not my Rock-Chucker press, or even my calipers. The one item in near-constant use is a small, folding magnifying glass. Mine folds into a square case and offers 4X viewing with an 8X bifocal insert. With this handy tool I can inspect case mouths for burrs, check flash-holes, and look for flaws on bullet jackets and bullet tips. I also use the magnifier to see rifling marks on bullets seated into the rifling, or check my bolt for galling. The number of uses is nearly endless.

When loading match ammo, here are some of the things you should check with a magnifier:

  • Flash Holes (make sure they are round and not obstructed)
  • Case Necks and Bushings (check necks for scratching; inspect bushings for embedded grit or brass shavings)
  • Case Mouth (check inside and out for small burrs or cuts — either can damage your bullet jackets)
  • Bullet Meplats (check meplats CAREFULLY — look for damaged tips and significant meplat size variations)
  • Plastic Ballistic Tips (check for crooked or broken tips; look at jacket edge where it meets the plastic — this can be very ragged with burrs or gaps so it doesn’t fit flush with the plastic tip)

    Ballistic Tips

    Folding magnifiers are so handy yet inexpensive that you should own a couple spares (including one in the range box). I bought my magnifier in a book-store, but you can also find them on the web at Edmund Scientifics and starting at just $1.97.

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