September 13th, 2009 07:32 PM
I am getting into reloading 5.56/.223 as well as some basic pistol calibers. I have been picking up equipment on Craigslist and am ready to start preparing for my first batch of rifle reloads.
My questions are:
1. Should I use virgin brass or is once-fired ok to use?
2. Anything I should be warned about?
3. What are the names of the vendors who have the best deals on brass and supplies?
Thanks for your help.
September 13th, 2009 08:17 PM
I've been reloading .357, 38, 9mm, and 380 ACP for about a year now, so I guess I'm still kind of a noob myself, but for what it's worth:
1) Get some nice carbide dies for the pistol calibers, saving a few bucks isn't worth the hassle of lubing the cases.
2) Get some good books (maybe the library, don't know what you'll find) I can recommend the ABCs of reloading. I also like the Lee reloading manual.
For the pistol calibers once fired should be fine. Pistol brass can be reloaded quite a few times. I don't know much about the rifle brass, but from what I hear you might want new brass or brass fired from your rifle. For either, look into the price of loaded ammo and see if it would be cheaper to scavenge the brass (of course checking to make sure they're boxer primed) I'm sure someone else will crop up with better advice.
September 13th, 2009 09:32 PM
Once-fired rifle brass is best if it was fired from YOUR rifle. Life isn't always that easy. Get what you can get while you can find it! If it was properly resized, it should be close to factory specs. If the dead primers are still in the pocket, even better. This way, you can resize them and make sure they're done right. I've been reloading rifles for 25 years and pistol for two.
The best case is for you to acquire as much new ammo as you can find/afford. Shoot it and reload your own. Failing that, you should be Ok with once-fired after it's resized. Speer has a good reloading manual. Call RCBS - the tech's LOVE to help noobs get into reloading. Let them know you plan to use RCBS equipment. I hear Dillon offers advice too. My experiences with Lee are mixed. It all depends on who you get on the phone as to how helpful they'll be. Welcome to the club & good luck in your reloading venture!
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September 13th, 2009 11:30 PM
Once fired is fine; however, once fired may not be once fired if it is range brass. It usually is, but someone may have dumped their brass after reloading it a few times. Just inspect it carefully for pressure signs before you decap. You may want to go ahead and trim it all to a uniform length as you'll be getting different headstamps - especially pistol brass to ensure consistant crimping. If you are playing with max loads I would stick with at least the same headstamps or virgin brass.
Take your time. Use a flashlight to check for consistent powder levels (no double charges or missed cases). If, at any time, you think you messed up, start over even if it means pulling the bullets.
September 13th, 2009 11:46 PM
Military brass has crimped in primers which will need the crimp removed before seating a new primer,Wideners.com sells milspec 55 grn bullets for 370.00 5000 shipped,also I like powder valley for powder and primers
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September 14th, 2009 10:05 AM
First, read, read, read. Buy or borrow reloading books, ABCs of reloading is a good primer. And ask questions.
Second, you might check out (and post) in the regular reloading forum. There are lots of friendly, (obsessed) reloaders in the reloading forum who are happy to answer your questions.
Buying once fired brass is very economical esp. for the .223/5.56 ammo. Make sure your rifle is chambered for 5.56 and .223 before you use military brass (the overwhelming majority of that size brass). There is a slight but important difference between them. What rifle are you loading for?
If you decide to get once fired military brass I suggest you buy brass that at least has the primer crimp removed. TJ Conoveras is a good place to get brass and bullets. If you want cleaned, sized, TRIMMED, ready to load brass w/ the crimp removed, I highly suggest looking at Scharch Manufacturing Co. (Top Brass). It is ~1/3 more expensive then Plain Jane from the military brass, but well worth the time savings, esp for the first time loader.
As previous post state, once fired handgun brass is usually easy to find and has a much longer life then rifle brass. Check for pressure signs and cracked cases, and try to keep the head stamps sorted.
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September 14th, 2009 01:42 PM
What I do.........
Originally Posted by Siafu
Used brass is fine, just examine it for cracks, damaged necks, etc. If you use military, you'll have to swage the primer pocket. To help with feeding, use RCBS small base dies. Be sure and trim to the proper length.
I second carbide dies, they save a lot of mess.
Try Midway for components. They always seem to be well stocked.
Just get a good manual and excercise care, you'll really enjoy your self.
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Edge of Darkness
September 14th, 2009 02:35 PM
1. If loading for accuracy, once fired is o.k., but I'd make sure that it is all the same headstamp (manufacturer). Brass from different manufacturers can be different enough to cause slight variations in point of impact and thus affect group size. If you're loading plinking ammo, then mixed headstamps are o.k.
Originally Posted by Siafu
2. Military brass is sometimes thicker which means less internal volume. Most sources will recommend that if using military spec brass that starting charges be reduced by as much as 10% when working up loads. Some sources say that for 5.56/.223 there is very little difference between commercial and military case volume. Just be cautious.
If you have more than one loading manual, the one thing you may notice are wildly different data for the same caliber. One thing I have started doing is that when confronted with different data, I always default to the manufacturer of the powder that I use. Every major powder manufacturer (Hodgdon, Accurate Arms, Alliant, Ramshot & Vihtavuori) have load data on their web site. One thing I like about Nosler is that they actually have some loading data for their bullets on their web site. It seems that most bullet manufacturers are more interested in selling loading manuals than they are in providing easy access data so that you'll use their bullets.
3. For supplies, I do the most business with Midway for equipment and bullets. For brass, powder and primers, Powder Valley usually has good prices if it's in stock. Others I've done business with and had good luck are Mid-South Shooter's Supply and Natchez Shooter's Supply. Dillon Precision has great equipment but there components always seemed over-priced to me.
You didn't say, but if you are loading for an AR type rifle, you may find that you need a small base sizing die (if you don't already have one) to guarantee feeding in your AR.
For lubing your cases, I highly recommend Hornady One-Shot in either the aerosol or pump bottle.
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September 14th, 2009 06:31 PM
September 14th, 2009 07:42 PM
I loaded 10K 223 last year. There are some great reloading sites in addition to this one.
EOTAC forum has Charlie Petty from Handloader Magazine as the mod.
I get some simple tools;
1. The lyman brass length checker. A piece of aluminium that is set to quickly check the oal length of 50 or so different calibers. Mabe 15 bucks.
2. A caliper, you must check the oal of the final product.
I use once fired brass by the kaboodle I just make certain it is the proper length. All rifle brass will have to eventually be trimmed.
3. I use the small base RCBS X Die, it really works and I get 4-5 loads before I trim again.
I've found that Winchester brass bleeds more than others except with the X die.
For matches I purchase 300 pieces of Lapua once a year and use it 3-4 matches. I don't practice with it.
I use TAC for practice loads, Varget and RE15 for real loads.
I get pull down 62 grain and Golden West 62 grain for trigger time loads. I use Sierra 77 grain bthp for real loads.
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