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February 18th, 2021

Recover Cartridge Brass Easily with Caldwell Brass Retriever

Caldwell pistol rifle cartridge brass rake retriever handle

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

One owner praises this as a “very good tool” that is “a lot easier on my back.” While it can work on grass, gravel, and hard-packed earth, the unit works best on smooth, hard surfaces. The Brass Retriever is under $40 at Amazon.

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

Caldwell pistol rifle cartridge brass rake retriever handle

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

“This thing … does a terrific job of collecting the brass from a standing posture quickly and efficiently. It helps to have the cases on a smooth surface like concrete or dirt without a lot of vegetation. But we used it on open desert yesterday and it collected nearly every case with a single pass.” — Hans H.

“This WILL save your back. The only drawback is you can’t overload it with brass. After couple dozen pieces (or less) it will start dropping brass while you’re attempting to collect others. That’s the limitation (one of them). There is a short learning curve (15 min.) in which you’ll learn how much brass is too much and how you need to orientate the wires to pick up the brass. It doesn’t do as well on gravel or high grass as it does on a smooth, firm surface. Even with its limitations, it’s a keeper. Just empty every dozen or so pieces and it works very well.” — Jeff M.

“It’s not perfect. But neither is using a broom or picking it up by hand. Sure, a 9mm might drop out while you’re picking up a .45 ACP. But you roll back over the 9mm and pick it up again. I now pick up my brass in a fraction of the time it used to take me and I stand upright while doing it.” — Johnny C.

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October 24th, 2020

Loading Accurate Pistol Ammo for Competition — USAMU Tips

Accurate Reloading hand loading handgun pistol progressive 9mm .45 ACP
Photo courtesy UltimateReloader.com.

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) regularly publishes a weekly reloading article on its Facebook Page. In this article, the second in a 3-part series, the USAMU covers the process of loading competition pistol ammunition. The authors focus on two key elements — the taper crimp and the quality/uniformity of the original brass. If you shoot pistol competitively, or just want to maximize the accuracy of your handguns, read this article. The taper crimp tips are very important.

Pistol Reloading USAMU taper crimp Brass

Loading Accurate Competition Pistol Ammunition — Part 2 of 3

Today, we resume our series on factors affecting accuracy in pistol handloads. Readers who missed Part One can visit our USAMU Facebook Page. Scroll down to March 28, 2018 to find that first installment which is worth reading.

One often-overlooked aspect of handloading highly-accurate pistol ammunition is the amount of taper crimp used, and its effect on accuracy. (NOTE: this article pertains to loading for semi-autos – revolver crimp techniques involve some quite different issues.) Briefly, different amounts of taper crimp are used with various handloads to obtain best accuracy. The amount is based on bullet weight, powder burn rate and charge, plus other factors such as case neck tension. During machine-rest testing of experimental Service Pistol ammunition, many variables are examined. Among these, our Shop often varies a load’s crimp in degrees of 0.001″ when re-testing for finest accuracy.

How to Measure Taper Crimp on Pistol Cartridges
One question that often arises is, “How do I measure the taper crimp I’m putting on my cartridges?” Using the narrow part of one’s dial caliper jaws, carefully measure the case diameter at the exact edge of the case mouth on a loaded cartridge. It’s important to take several measurements to ensure consistency. Also, be sure to measure at several places around the case mouth, as case wall thickness can vary. After measuring 2-3 cartridges with a given crimp setting, one can be confident of the true dimension and that it can be repeated later, if needed.

Accurate Reloading hand loading handgun pistol progressive 9mm .45 ACP

However, for good results, one must use brass from one maker due to variances in case wall thickness. For example, the same degree of crimp that imparts a measurement of 0.471″ with Brand X brass may result in 0.469″ with Brand Y. Thus, for best accuracy, using brass from the same manufacturer is important — particularly for 50-yard Slow Fire. In a perfect world, it is better still to use brass from one lot number if possible. With the popularity of progressive presses using interchangeable tool heads, keeping separate tool heads adjusted for each load helps maximize uniformity between ammunition lots.

Brass Uniformity and Accuracy
Brass is important to pistol accuracy. While accurate ammunition can be loaded using brass of mixed parentage, that is not conducive to finest results, particularly at 50 yards. It is important for the serious competitor to pay attention to his brass – even if only for the 50-yard “Slow Fire” portions of “Bullseye” matches and practice. By segregating brass as described above, and additionally keeping track of the number of times a given batch of cases has been fired, one can ensure case neck tension and case length are at their most uniform.

Accurate Reloading hand loading handgun pistol progressive 9mm .45 ACP

Given the large volumes of ammunition consumed by active pistol competitors, using inexpensive, mixed surplus brass for practice, particularly at the “short line” (25 yards), is understandable. In NRA Outdoor Pistol (“Bullseye”), the 10-ring is relatively generous — especially for a well-trained shooter with an accurate pistol and load. However, for the “long line” (50 yards), purchasing and segregating a lot of high-quality brass to be used strictly for slow-fire is a wise idea. To keep track of your brass on the line, use a unique headstamp marking with 1 or 2 colors of marking pen ink.

Uniform Cartridge Overall Length is Important
Cartridge case Overall Length (OAL) uniformity as it comes from the factory is important to achieving utmost accuracy. More uniform case lengths (best measured after sizing) contribute to greater consistency of crimp, neck tension, ignition/burn of powder charge, headspace (rimless cartridges), etc. Cartridge case-length consistency varies noticeably by maker and, with lesser manufacturers, also from lot to lot. Some manufacturers are more consistent in their dimensions than others, and also in the hardness/ductility of their brass. Similarly, pay attention to primer brands, powder lot numbers, etc.

Consider Using a Lock-Out Die with Progressive Presses
When reloading pistol ammo with a Progressive press, we strongly recommend the use of a lock-out die, or other system that can detect double charges or low charges. If your progressive is manually advanced, the possibility of a double charge is very real — and that can have disastrous consequences.

On UltimateReloader.com website you’ll find an excellent two-part series on the function and set-up of the RCBS Lock-Out Die. This die prevents loading if a high or low powder charge is detected. The video below shows setup of the RCBS Lock-Out Die on the Dillon XL-650 progressive press.

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May 24th, 2018

SIG Sauer Now Offers Component Rifle and Pistol Brass

Sig Sauer premium elite performance brass reloading components cartridge cases

Sig Sauer premium elite performance brass reloading components cartridge casesHere is interesting news, particularly for pistol shooters and PRS competitors. You can now get premium, induction-annealed cartridge brass from SIG Sauer, the noted maker of Swiss-designed pistols and rifles. SIG Sauer is now manufacturing pistol and rifle brass at its state-of-the-art ammunition facility in Jacksonville, Arkansas. Notably, all Elite Performance rifle shell cases are induction annealed for consistent neck tension and case longevity. SIG states this brass is “engineered to exacting tolerances” and “the geometric consistency … ensures each primer is held tightly in its pocket. Flash holes are precise with no burrs and the superior metallurgical properties of the SIG Sauer cases enable repeated reloading.”

Rifle Brass Pricing is Attractive
We haven’t tried SIG Sauer rifle brass yet, but we are tempted as pricing is competitive. For example, a 50-count bag of 6.5 Creedmoor brass costs $33.95 on SIG’s online store. Varminters take note — 50 22-250 brass cases cost $25.95, while a 100-ct bag of .223 Rem brass is $35.95 (just 36 cents each).

SIG rifle cases are available for these cartridge types: .223 Rem, 22-250 Rem, .243 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, .300 BLK, .308 Win, .and 300 Win Mag. Coming soon are .270 Win and .30-06 Springfield brass. Cases for most rifle cartridge types are sold 50 to a bag (100 for .223 Rem).

SIG Pistol Brass Sold Both Primed and Unprimed
SIG’s pistol brass is offered either primed or unprimed, at affordable prices. For example, 100 .45 ACP cases cost $33.95 primed, or $27.95 unprimed. 9mm Luger is even cheaper — just $25.95 for primed cases, or $20.95 for 9mm unprimed. To save time, we’d be tempted to buy the primed cases.

SIG pistol cases are available, primed or unprimed, in 100-ct bags for the following cartridge types: .380 Auto, 9mm Luger (9x19mm), .357 SIG, .38 Special, .357 Magnum, 40 S&W, 10mm Auto, .45 ACP.

Sig Sauer premium elite performance brass reloading components cartridge cases

COMMENT: Honestly, we don’t see many Benchrest and F-Class competitors moving away from Lapua brass which is superb, and holds the vast majority of records in those disciplines. However, for other disciplines, such as 3-Gun and Tactical matches, where you may not be able to recover your brass, it makes sense to consider cheaper alternatives. Likewise, varminters, who may shoot hundreds of rounds in an outing, may favor less costly cartridge brass.

“Each brass case undergoes rigorous in-line and post production quality assurance testing to ensure a flawless casing”, said Brad Criner, SIG Sauer’s Senior Director of Brand Management and Business Development. “The result is unparalleled durability and dependability.” All SIG Sauer Elite Performance ammunition and components are manufactured at SIG’s new ammo plant in Jacksonville, Arkansas. For more information on SIG cartridge brass visit the SIG Sauer Brass Webpage.

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July 29th, 2017

Brass Bonanza — 6000 9mm Cases for $135.60

Monmouth Reloading 9mm luger 9x19mm cartridge brass sale
The Sig Sauer P226 Elite is one of our favorite 9x19mm pistols. Now you can feed your Sig, Glock, HK, or Ruger on the cheap. Monmouth Reloading is offering 6000 9mm cases for just $135.60.

Here’s just what you need for the Zombie Apocalypse, or, for those less doomsday-minded, here’s enough brass to let you shoot 100 rounds a week for an entire year. Monmouth Reloading is offering 6000 once-fired 9mm cases for just $135.60. That’s just two cents per case! (You can also get 3000 cases for $68.99.) CLICK HERE to order.

Monmouth Reloading 9mm luger 9x19mm cartridge brass sale

Just about everyone has a 9mm pistol. With modest recoil, and inexpensive ammo, the 9mm Luger (aka 9x19mm) is probably the most popular centerfire handgun cartridge. Now you can get six thousand (6,000) once-fired 9mm cartridge cases for just $135.60, with free cleaning (a $15.00 value). Find a friend with a Dillon 650 and you could load up enough to last a decade.

Lesser Quantities of 9mm Brass at Great Prices Also
If you don’t don’t really need 6000 pieces of 9mm brass, you can also get 3000 for $68.99, or 1000 for just $23.50. Whatever quantity you choose, that’s a serious bargain. Like the larger quantities, Monmouth is offering free tumble cleaning in corn/walnut media for a limited time. ORDER HERE.

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