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January 28th, 2024

Ten Ways to Dry Brass after Wet Tumbling or Ultrasonic Cleaning

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, Member Terry asked: “How do you dry your brass after Ultrasonic cleaning?” In a 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 No Comments »
December 30th, 2023

How to Prep Milsurp 5.56 Brass for Match Use — USAMU Tips

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit regularly published a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. One excellent “Handloading Hump Day” post covered preparation of once-fired 5.56x45mm brass. This article, the first in a 3-part series, has many useful tips. If you shoot a rifle chambered in .223 Rem or 5.56x45mm, this article is worth reading. You can obtain once-fired Lake City 5.56x45mm brass for less than half the cost of premium .223 Rem brass.

This week, Handloading Hump-Day will answer a special request from several competitive shooters who asked about procedures for morphing once-fired GI 5.56mm brass into accurate match brass for NRA High Power Rifle use. The USAMU has used virgin Lake City (LC) 5.56 brass to win National Championships and set National Records for many years. In this 3-part series, we’ll share techniques proven to wring match-winning accuracy from combat-grade brass.

GI brass has an excellent attribute, worth noting — it is virtually indestructible. Due to its NATO-spec hardness, the primer pockets last much longer than most commercial brass when using loads at appropriate pressures.

Preparing Once-Fired GI 5.56 Brass for Reloading (Part 1 of 3)

Assuming our readers will be getting brass once-fired as received from surplus dealers, the following steps can help process the low-cost raw material into reliably accurate components.

1. Clean the Brass
First, clean the brass of any dirt/mud/debris, if applicable. Depending on the brass’s condition, washing it in a soap solution followed by a thorough rinsing may help. [This step also extends the life of the tumbling media.] Approaches range from low-tech, using gallon jugs 1/2 full of water/dish soap plus brass and shaking vigorously, to more high-tech, expensive and time-consuming methods.

cleaning Lake City 5.56 brass

2. Wet-Tumbling Options (Be Sure to Dry the Brass)
When applying the final cleaning/polish, some use tumblers with liquid cleaning media and stainless steel pins for a brilliant shine inside and out, while others take the traditional vibratory tumbler/ground media approach. Degree of case shine is purely personal preference, but the key issue is simple cleanliness to avoid scratching ones’ dies.

If a liquid cleaner is used, be SURE to dry the cases thoroughly to preclude corrosion inside. One method is to dump the wet brass into an old pillow case, then tilt it left/right so the cases re-orient themselves while shifting from corner to corner. Several repetitions, pausing at each corner until water stops draining, will remove most water. They can then be left to air-dry on a towel, or can be dried in a warm (150° F-200° F max) oven for a few minutes to speed evaporation.

Shown below are Lake City cases after cleaning with Stainless Media (STM). Note: STM Case cleaning was done by a third party, not the USAMU, which does not endorse any particular cleaning method.

NOTE: The USAMU Handloading (HL) Shop does not RE-load fired 5.56 brass. We use virgin LC brass with our chosen primer already staked in place. However, our staff has extensive personal experience reloading GI brass for competition, which will supplement the Shop’s customary steps. In handloading, as in life, there are many ways to accomplish any given task. Our suggestions are note presented as the “only way,” by any means. Time for loading/practicing is always at a premium. Readers who have more efficient, alternative methods that maintain top accuracy are invited to share them here.

3. Inspect Every Case
Once dry, inspect each case for significant deformation (i.e., someone stepped on it), damaged mouths/necks and case head/rim damage. Some rifles’ ejectors actually dig small chunks of brass out of the case head — obviously, not ideal for precision shooting. Similarly, some extractors can bend the case rims so badly that distortion is visible when spinning them in one’s fingers. These can be used for plinking, but our match brass should have straight, undamaged rims.

Dented case mouths are common, and these can easily be rounded using a conical, tapered tool, [such as a .223 expander mandrel. A dummy 7.62 or .30-06 cartridge with a FMJ spitzer can also work.] If most of your brass is of one headstamp, this is a good time to cull out any odd cases.

4. Check the Primers Before Decapping
Your clean, dry and inspected brass is now ready for full-length sizing, decapping and re-priming. Historically, primer crimps on GI brass have caused some head-scratching (and vile language) among handloaders. Our next installment will detail efficient, easy and practical methods to remove primer crimp, plus other useful handloading tips. Until next week, Good Shooting!

Accuracy Potential of Mil-Surp 5.56×45 Brass
So, how accurate can previously-fired GI surplus brass be in a good National Match AR-15? Well, here’s a data point from many years ago that might be of interest. A High Power shooter who wrote for the late Precision Shooting magazine took a Bill Wylde-built AR match rifle to a registered Benchrest match. He had no difficulty obtaining consistent 0.5-0.6 MOA accuracy at 200 yards using LC brass and a generic “practice” load that was not tuned to his rifle.

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review No Comments »
November 12th, 2023

Sunday GunDay: .300 WSM Carbon Tech LR Hunting Rifle

300 WSM winchester short magnum carbon manners hunter hunting

High-Tech Hunter in .300 WSM

Since its introduction in 2001, the .300 Winchester Short Magnum (.300 WSM), has proven very popular for hunting and long-range competition. The case has ample capacity to drive the heavy .30-caliber bullets, and with proper case prep and annealing, the WSM is capable of outstanding accuracy. When Nebraskan Greg Anderson decided to build his “ultimate long-range hunter”, he selected the .300 WSM for its accuracy and its ability to drop large game at long distances. Teaming up with Chris Matthews of LongShot Rifles, Greg developed an impressive long-range hunting rig, with high-tech components to reduce weight. The 26″ barrel is a carbon-wrapped composite over a Rock Creek stainless blank. The carbon technology saved about 3 pounds over an all-steel barrel of similar length/contour.

300 WSM winchester short magnum carbon manners hunter hunting

The Manners Composite stock also features carbon fiber construction for stiffness and reduced weight. Greg’s carbon/carbon rifle tips the scales at just 10.8 pounds, including scope and bipod. A conventional rig could easily weigh 15 pounds or more. Greg’s carbon hunter has proven accurate as well as innovative. With 175gr Sierra MKs, the gun shoots well under 1/2-MOA out to 600 yards and beyond.

The Ideal Spot and Stalk Rifle

by Greg Anderson
The purpose of this project was to create a hunting rifle that would be inherently accurate at long range and have an acceptable weight for hunting in rough country. I researched the question of overall weight with several gunsmiths. The smiths confirmed that while fat-contour barrels could deliver improved accuracy, there was a price to pay and a lot more weight. With a heavy barrel, the finished rifle would be most likely weigh about 15 pounds. That’s more than I wanted to haul around in the field. To reduce barrel weight, the suggested “traditional” solutions were fluting, which would reduce barrel weight by at least one-half pound, or going with a smaller diameter barrel.

The Quest for Reduced Weight without Accuracy Loss
Fluting didn’t promise enough weight savings, and a slim, sporter barrel probably wasn’t going to deliver the kind of consistent accuracy I wanted (particularly as the barrel heated up). Accordingly, I decided to “think outside the box”. My research on lightweight barrel options lead me to Advanced Barrel Systems, (ABS) a company in Lincoln, Nebraska that once produced custom carbon-wrapped barrels. ABS President Mike Degerness could wrap a barrel to virtually any shape and diameter, allowing great stiffness even with a huge reduction in barrel weight. As the “core” for his carbon-wrapped barrels, Mike recommends a cut-rifled blank made by any of the quality cut-barrel makers. [NOTE: ABS is not taking orders at this time. You can now get excellent carbon-wrapped barrels from Proof Research].

Proof reasearch carbon barrel

Significant Weight Saving with Carbon
How much weight can you save with a carbon-wrapped barrel? Well a 24-inch, #7 contour ABS carbon-wrapped barrel will weigh about 2.5 pounds compared to about 5.5 pounds for a steel barrel of the same length and contour. So, this means that you can put a fat, stiff competition-contour barrel on your hunting rifle and save over half the barrel weight compared to an all-steel barrel. Saving three pounds is a blessing when you’re carrying the rifle all day long in the field. I placed an order for a 30-caliber Rock Creek barrel blank with an 1:11.25″ twist and a finished length of 26″. Mike wrapped the barrel and finished it to an M24 contour.

Carbon Can Also Improve Barrel Vibration Damping
One interesting benefit of carbon barrel-wrapping is that the carbon components have a vibration-dampening effect. According to ABS, the extreme rigidity of the finished composite barrel dampens the vibration nodes of the barrel making it shoot like a plain steel barrel of much greater mass. Carbon fiber has a high modulus of elasticity that has the effect of lowering the amplitude of the vibration of the barrel when fired. This is what makes the ABS barrels perform so well, according to Mike.

300 WSM winchester short magnum carbon manners hunter hunting

Impressive Accuracy For a Hunting Rifle
Looking at the targets below, one may ask, “Does the rifle always shoot this well?” The answer, not surprisingly, is: “it depends on the trigger-puller”. The rifle is capable of outstanding accuracy. But it took some time and effort for me to develop the skills required to shoot up to the rifle’s inherent accuracy. I nearly always practice prone from bipod. Initially, I was getting horizontal stringing until I changed my grip and learned to be more consistent from shot to shot. Shooting a heavy-recoiling .30-caliber rifle from the ground is not the same as shooting a .223 Rem from the bench.

3-Shot Group at 200 yards | 6-Shot Group at 500 Yards

300 WSM winchester short magnum carbon manners hunter hunting

Completing the Project Build
To smith the rifle, I selected Chris Matthews of LongShot Rifles, LLC because of his expertise with the WSM cartridges and long-range shooting equipment. Because cost was a factor, we decided to use a donor Remington long action that had been used on a Remington 7mm magnum. Chris trued the action and we had Dave Kiff from Pacific Tool & Gauge grind us a bolt to fit the action more perfectly. Chris chambered the Rock barrel and installed a .300 Badger recoil lug.

Carbon-Reinforced Hunting Stock from Tom Manners
Being a fan of carbon fiber technology, I selected an MCS-T stock from Manners Composite Stocks. These stocks have an extremely high strength-to-weight ratio and the high comb of the MCS-T gave an almost perfect alignment with the scope. The finished rifle was topped off with a Leupold 4.5-14x40mm LR scope equipped with M1 windage and elevation turrets. A Harris bipod completed the package. All up, including scope, steel rings, and bipod, my .300 WSM rifle with 26″ barrel weighs 10.8 pounds.

300 WSM Carbon hunting hunter rifle Manners stocks

Load Development for Accuracy
I developed a load using 63.0 grains of H4350, 175gr Sierra Match Kings with Federal 210M primers in Winchester-brand brass. This load gives 2960 FPS out of my rifle. The load would shoot sub-MOA from bipod from 100 yards to 600 yards and was adopted as the “go to” load. I have also tried the 208gr Hornady A-Max in this gun. The A-Maxs shot well but the Sierras work well for everything (paper punching and hunting) so the 175gr SMK is my bullet of choice.

300 WSM Carbon hunting hunter rifle

Brass Prep and Annealing Are Very Important
The Winchester-brand brass is good, but you have to prep it thoroughly if you want good results. My brass prep consisted of turning the necks, de-burring the flash holes (inside and out), and chamfering the case necks. Using a Sinclair neck-turning tool, I turn the necks to .0135″ per side. That provides a complete clean-up of the necks, which run about .015″ neck-wall thickness out of the box.

anneal annealing tempilaqOne thing I’ve learned to do is anneal the brass every 3-4 firings. I started to do that after I noticed that the force required to seat bullets became inconsistent after just a few loading cycles. I also experienced flyers that were going out of the group for no apparent reason. Annealing the cases every 3-4 firings has eliminated most of the unexplained flyers and annealing has also made bullet seating much, much more consistent. I’ve also noticed a significant improvement in my groups at 500 and 600 yards now that I anneal regularly. Group sizes at 600 yards can be as much as 2″ smaller with annealed brass than with un-annealed, work-hardened brass.

Greg Anderson was successful with his .300 WSM on his very first hunt, dropping a nice buck at 364 yards. Chris reports: This was on some private land in Nebraska. As daylight faded… there were a couple of bucks, but one looked to be the best of the lot. The buck gave me a broadside shot ranged at 364 yards. I settled behind the scope and took one shot. It hit right where I aimed and the buck just folded.”

deer hunting buck 300 WSM

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
October 8th, 2023

Optimize Case Neck Tension with Bushings, Expanders, 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 [one of the factors that controls the “grip” on a bullet]. 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?

Through 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 [for starters] 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″. 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 too 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 - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading No Comments »
September 18th, 2023

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 multiple times and I still find it fascinating. The camera work and editing are excellent — there are many close-ups revealing key processes such as annealing and head-stamping.

VERY Informative Video Show Cartridge Brass and Ammunition Production:

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

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

Video tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading No Comments »
February 23rd, 2023

Oven Drying of Wet Brass — How NOT to Over-Cook Your Cases

Oven anneal annealing Alpha Munitions Craig Arnzen Area419.com
NOTE: If you prefer drying your brass in an oven we recommend a temp setting no higher than 200° F. Better yet, use a dedicated case dryer that cannot possibly over-cook your cases.

Tech Tip by Craig Arnzen of Area419.com
As wet-tumbling brass has become more popular in recent years, guys have tried a LOT of ways to get their brass dry — towels, hair dryers, and even food dehydrators. (See Top Ten Brass Drying Methods). Another common method — albeit with some potential issues — is putting your wet brass in the oven to dry. Provided you monitor TEMP and TIME, this method is fast, effective, and easy (as long don’t use the wife’s favorite cooking pans — that’ll get you in trouble.)

With oven-drying, however, unexpected issues can arise, as illustrated by this worrisome story: “I put my brass in for an hour at 200° F and turned it off. Next thing I know I realize my wife has the oven pre-heating to 350° F. Is my brass ruined?”

Oven anneal annealing Alpha Munitions Craig Arnzen Area419.comIf you search the AccurateShooter.com Shooters’ Forum, you’ll find at least three threads with stories like that (i.e. higher-than-expected oven temps when drying brass), and answers on both sides of the line. I know this, because it happened to me — I had some 6XC brass drying and the wife pre-heated the oven. Concerned about my cases, I consulted a genuine annealing expert, Andrew Rixon.

Andrew is the Director of Engineering and Manufacturing at Alpha Munitions, makers of premium-grade rifle brass. I had baked a batch of Alpha’s new 6XC brass, which is exceptionally consistent and well-made.

Before Andrew would answer my question though, he gave me a little lesson on what really happens during annealing:

“Annealing is performed by heating the brass to specific temperatures. There are three phases of annealing: recovery, recrystallization, and grain growth. All of which have specific temperatures and or exposure times related to them. It is key for cartridge brass annealing processes to hit the recrystallization phase which allows for strain-free grains to grow. The growth of strain-free grains eliminate dislocations, drastically decreasing hardness and increasing ductility. For recrystallization to occur the material temperature must be within 600-1000 degrees Fahrenheit (F).”

Oven anneal annealing Alpha Munitions Craig Arnzen Area419.com

He then got into really answering the question, and was (fortunately) definitive in his answer: “If the temps do not exceed 450 degrees F then there is nothing to worry about as it did not exceed the critical temperature for annealing to occur.” Editor: Caution — do NOT assume that the temperature marked on the oven knob is the actual temperature INSIDE the oven, particularly near the back. Some older ovens can be off as much as 75 degrees F. Be conservative!

Well, there you have it. If you’ve baked your brass, you’re probably OK. If you got it hotter than 450° F then there can start to be some changes to the metal.

This TECH TIP brought to you by Area 419
Oven anneal annealing Alpha Munitions Craig Arnzen Area419.com

Want to learn more about Alpha Munitions? Visit AlphaMunitions.com.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »
December 28th, 2022

TEN BEST Methods to Dry Cartridge Brass After Wet Cleaning

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, Member Terry asked: “How do you dry your brass after Ultrasonic cleaning?” In a 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 - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review 1 Comment »
May 19th, 2022

Reloading Bench — How to Optimize Case Neck Tension

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 [one of the factors that controls the “grip” on a bullet]. 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?

Through 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 [for starters] 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″. 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 too 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, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
March 26th, 2022

Saturday at the Movies: Impact Shooting Videos from So. Africa

Pieter Piet Malan PRS NRL Impact Shooting video channel Youtube

Pieter “Piet” Malan is a South African precision rifle shooter and hunter who has created an impressive YouTube Channel with over 300 videos. While Pieter’s Impact Shooting Channel focuses primarily on tactical PRS/NRL type disciplines, his channel also includes dozens of videos of interest to hunters and anyone who handloads rifle cartridges. We particularly like Pieter’s tech review videos which explain important reloading methods and showcase new products.

Here are five Peiter Malan tech videos. Topics include annealing, hydro-forming, case priming, MOA vs. MILs, and how to record video with spotting scopes. As a bonus for you hunters out there, we added Pieter’s recent hunting video, Kudu Hunting Paradise Part 2. After watching that, you’ll probably want to book an African Safari.

Annealing Cartridge Brass with AMP Annealer

With premium cartridge brass for popular match cartridges now approaching $1.20 (or more) per case, you want that new brass to last. But after multiple firings, even the best cartridge brass will start degrading. That’s where annealing comes in. Proper, precision annealing can restore case-neck consistency, reducing ES/SD and improving accuracy. Some top shooters anneal after every firing to keep their brass in top condition. Others will anneal after every 4-6 firings.

Today with the advanced AMP microprocessor-controlled annealing machine, brass cartridge annealing is easier yet more precise than ever. The AMP Annealer provides advanced electrical induction annealing with ultra-precise temperature control set perfectly for your cartridge type and brand of brass. In this video, Pieter shows how to use the AMP Annealer to anneal 6mm Dasher cases and other cartridge types.

Hydro-forming Dasher Brass Using Hammer Method

In this video, Pieter Malan explains the hydro-forming process for Dasher brass and shows how he does the job using the mallet method with hydro-forming dies. He shows that it takes some technique (and multiple hammer blows) to get a good result, with a case that will fit in the chamber.

Fire-forming 6mm Dasher brass can be fairly costly if you factor in barrel life along with the cost of components. If you figure a new 6mm custom barrel, chambered and fitted by a top smith, could cost $650.00 and may only be good for 1300 rounds (in competition), barrel cost per shot is $0.50 (fifty cents). Add the price of a bullet, powder, and primer, and you are approaching $1.00 per round. Given those numbers, it makes sense to hydro-form your 6mm Dasher brass. In the USA, DJ’s Brass will hydro-form and then anneal your cases for $0.60 per case. That’s not much more than the barrel cost per shot alone for fire-forming.

MOA (Minute of Angle) vs MRAD (Milliradians)

This is a good basic introduction to the two types of angular measurements used in modern optics. Benchrest and F-Class shooters tend to favor Minute of Angle (MOA) scopes. One MOA is 1.047″ at 1000 yards. Scopes may be calibrated with 1/4 MOA or 1/8 MOA click values. Tactical and military shooters tend to prefer the Milliradian (Mil or Milrad) system, normally with 1/10 Mil click values. A Milliradian is an SI-derived angular measurement — one thousandth of a radian (0.001 Radian). At 100 yards, a 0.1 Mil click is 0.36″, while a full Mil is 3.6 inches. And practically speaking, 1 Mil at 100 meters is equal to 10 centimeters. MORE INFO: MOA and Mils Explained.

Primal Rights CPS — World’s Most Expensive Priming Tool

Seating primers can be a “dark art”. Many top shooters prefer to seat “by feel” using a hand tool. Others prefer lever-equipped, bench-mounted tools that offer higher work-flow rates and less strain on the hands.

There are many bench-mounted priming options — Forster has a tool, as does RCBS, and Lee. At the top of the heap is the $600 Primal Rights Competition Primer Seater (CPS). This may be the most precise bench priming tool ever created. It is certainly the most expensive at $600.00. But the CPS delivers something special — superb, repeatable depth control, along with the ability to prime up to 1000 cases per hour. For some reloaders, that precision + productivity will justify the high price. In this video Pieter reviews his Primal Rights Competition Primer Seater.

How to Record Video Through Your Spotting Scope

There are many things viewed through a spotting scope that you might want to record for posterity — a successful hunting shot on a game animal, or steel targets being hit in a PRS match. In addition, after a match, it can be useful to study the wind conditions and mirage that occurred during a match. This can help improve your wind reading skills as you watch what unfolded.

In this video, Pieter shows how to mount a smartphone to the eyepiece of a spotting scope with a plastic adapter. This allows you to record, for posterity, what the scope is “seeing”. In addition, this allows the viewer to see the scope’s magnified image conveniently without having to strain into the eyepiece and focus on a very small exit pupil.

BONUS: Kudu Hunting Paradise Part 2 (2021)

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February 24th, 2022

How Cartridge Brass (and Bullets) Are Made — Great Norma Video

Norma factory ammo production video

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

VERY Informative Video Show Cartridge Brass and Ammunition Production:

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

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

Video tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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January 1st, 2022

Ten Great Videos — 2022 New Year’s Day Movie Showcase

2022 New Year's video collection reloading AMP F-Class John Keith Glasscock

As a 2022 New Year’s bonus for our Bulletin readers we decided to showcase 10 of our favorite gun tech, reloading, and shooting technique videos for our readers. These videos were created by top YouTube content providers: F-Class John, Gavin Gear, Keith Glasscock, Erik Cortina, Thomas Haugland, and Pieter Malan. Consider this like an all-star gun channel collection. These videos will help you load more accurate ammo, improve your “mental game”, and shoot better in matches. Enjoy!

14 Reloading Presses — Ultimate Single-Stage Shootout

Winning Mindset — John Whidden Interview with Erik Cortina

Quick Tip — Check your Ignition (Spring and Firing Pin)

Henderson vs. Giraud Power Case Trimmer Comparison Review

Advanced AMP Computer-Controlled Press

Field Test and Review of SEB Mini-X Coaxial Front Rest

Annealing — Benefits, Procedures, and AMP Operation

How to Set Up the AutoTrickler V4 System

Field Shooting — How to Make Better Wind Calls

How to Use a Concentricity Gauge

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November 21st, 2021

Sunday Gunday: British Blue Beauty — F-Open 7mm-270 WSM

Ian Boxell UK F-Class rifle 7mm 270 WSM color

For today’s Sunday Gunday feature, we present a splash of color — the beautiful blue 7mm-270 WSM of Forum member Ian B. (aka “Elwood”) from Great Britain. A very knowledgeable guy, Ian has been one of the UK’s top F-Class shooters. And he’s the proud owner of a very “Flash” F-Class rig.

About the Shooter — Ian’s Background
Ian tells us: “I started shooting F-Class Open [many] years ago when a good friend invited me to Bisley to shoot with the Dorset Riflemen. I found it very enjoyable and a real challenge. The next year I attended the GB F-Class league’s Introduction to F-Class course, and soon afterwards started to compete in the GB F-Class league, while still shooting once a month with the Dorset Riflemen. In this short time frame, I’ve managed to finish 8th in the league last year, 12th in the Europeans, and I was a part of the GB squad that won the team event at the European Championship. I was then selected for the GB F-Open World Championship Team. Unfortunately, due to work commitments, I have had to withdraw.”

Ian Boxell UK F-Class rifle 7mm 270 WSM color

Ian’s Beautiful Blue 7mm-270 WSM F-Class Rifle

Report by Ian B. (aka “Elwood”)
Having spent my first year competing with a magazine-fed 7mm WSM tactical/sporting rifle (Surgeon action and AICS mag) and doing reasonably well with it, I then moved on to a .284 Shehane (.284 Winchester Improved). I love the Shehane and still use it but … I wanted something for those windy long-range days and so there was only one logical choice, the 7 WSM. This time I chose a 7mm-270 WSM as I quite enjoy case prep (just kidding). Actually, there’s not much to do really. The quality of Norma brass is well known and the Norma 270 WSM brass is quite easy to obtain in the UK.

Ian Boxell UK F-Class rifle 7mm 270 WSM color

The action is a Right Bolt, Left Port (RBLP) Stolle Panda F-Class action, with Jewell trigger. There wasn’t any particular reason behind the RBLP configuration — it was more of a case of that’s what I could get at the time. I had a 1.250″-diameter, straight-profile Bartlein barrel finished at 32 inches and chambered for the Berger 180gr VLD with a .313″ neck diameter. All my metal work and quite a bit of the wood work is done by the excellent Neil McKillop of McKillop Engineering. As with all top gunsmiths, Neil is meticulous to a point of obsessiveness and he’s the name behind quite a few winning rifles including several used by the GB Open and F-TR teams. Neil also inletted the stock from a blank and did the bedding for the action and the front bag runners.

Ian Boxell UK F-Class rifle 7mm 270 WSM color

Loading for the 7mm-270 WSM
I have one “tried and tested” load: 7mm Berger 180gr VLDs, seated .020″ into the lands, Vihtavuori N165 powder and CCI BR2 primers. This load is supremely accurate, but at 2990 FPS it’s a bit slow. To get more speed, I’m currently testing H1000 with good results, but it looks like I may have a slow barrel. I have another Bartlein barrel chambered and ready to screw on when the weather gets warmer. If that new barrel shoots well, the current barrel will probably be used as a practice barrel.

Loading Procedure
I do full case prep, neck-turning, uniforming primer pockets after the first firing, chamfering necks inside and out, and removing burrs around flash holes. Even the best brass sometimes suffers from imperfect quality control. I try to use Redding dies if possible, and will use bump dies, neck bushing dies, and competition seating dies.

I use an RCBS ChargeMaster 1500 to throw a charge just slightly under my desired weight and then trickle-up to final weight using the superb Dandy trickler and a Gem Pro 250 scale.

I anneal every other firing using a Bench-Source machine. Before this I used a Ken Light and also did them by spinning them in a drill. Never again will I do that after using the Bench-Source. After I have annealed, I always run a nylon brush wrapped in 0000 wire wool into the neck to remove any debris.

I keep to the same lot numbers of primers, powders, and bullets. Even the Bergers can vary from lot to lot — I have two different lots of 7mm 180gr VLDs that vary .020″ from bullet base to the ogive. I trim and point my bullets. Pointing may be a mental thing — I had a fantastic shoot while using trimmed and pointed bullets so I do it all the time now. ( A fellow GB team shot refers to them as “Pointless Dies” — I have witnessed him shoot a 99-14V at 1000 yards with bullets that weren’t trimmed or pointed). My next move will be to start measuring bearing surface…where does it all end?

Custom Wood Stock Was Modified by Ian and Treated to a Fancy Paint Job
The stock is a custom-made design crafted by Joe and Simon West of Joe West Rifle Stocks. I had several modifications done to one of their existing stock designs. Having done a lot of my shooting with the AICS, I was quite used to a thumbhole stock, so thought I would try one in F-Class. I told Simon what I wanted and he sent me down a prototype made from very inexpensive Tulip wood. We had a few discussions and then made some more mods..

I made two main changes to the stock. First, I removed the lip at the bottom of the pistol grip because I felt I might rest my hand on this and possibly disturb the rifle. Second, I had the protruding pistol grip base removed so that the bottom of the stock was completely flat like the Precision Rifle & Tool F-Class stock. Simon also made the finger grips to fit my hand and flattened them off to allow for a bit more movement. The stock was then sent to Hydro Graphics in the UK to have a custom exterior finish. The paint color is a Marbleized Candy Oriental Blue. As always, Hydro Graphics did a great job.

Ian Boxell UK F-Class rifle 7mm 270 WSM hydro-dip color

Ian Boxell UK F-Class rifle 7mm 270 WSM hydro-dip colorOptics and Rings
The scope is the excellent 5-50x56mm March with the MTR-2 reticle — far and away the best reticle I have used for F-Class. March makes great optics. During the 2012 European individual F-Class event, using another March (my 8-80x56mm), I could see my shooting partner’s impacts in the white V-Bull at 800 yards! And just recently at a club match I called two V-Bulls at 900 yards using the 8-80X (not at full power). Granted the light has to be perfect to be able to do this, but my highest praise for the Deon Optics glass is that it rivals that of Schmidt & Bender. Having owned both March and S&B scopes and compared them side-by-side, I feel that I can make this statement fairly.

UK-based Third Eye Tactical made the nice, 34mm rings. The UK is now producing some excellent products. We now have UK-made custom actions, rings, rails, stocks and more. It would be nice to think we could have a 100% British-made rifle, and not rely completely on USA-made products. I think all we need is the trigger? But I can’t see there ever being a UK-made scope!

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