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Discussion Starter #1
I said I would post the process that I use to reload my used brass into useable ammunition, so here they are:

The following process is what I came up with shortly after I began reloading and had some of the "normal" malfunctions that new reloaders experience, like contaminated primers, hard chambering, and most important inaccuracy. Some of the processes may have to be modified to suit your gun or equipment. This is not the only way - it is my way.

My reloading method for bottle-neck cartridges used in single shot and bolt action rifles and pistols:
For new cases the first time and range brass the first time
1. carefully examine the brass for defects wiping it down as you do
2. lubricate the body and neck (inside the neck too)
3. full length size the case (for cases that have been fired from your rifle I only size the neck and only to about 80% of its length)
4. ream the primer pockets to uniform size and depth
5. ream the flash hole to uniform size
6. trim the case to the desired length (I use the maximum case length but most use the "trim to" size)
7. chamfer the neck inside and out to remove any burrs
8. clean the brass (I use a tumbler because I can do all the brass (up to 100 3006 cases) at once
9. carefully inspect the brass, clean out the flash hole if necessary, weight the cases and select those that are +/- 2 grains from the median weight. (set the others aside for plinking or general shooting when accuracy is not important
10. prime the brass without touching the primers (I use the RCBS or Lee hand primer for this)
11. set all the cases in the reloading block neck up
12. Set the scale to the weight of powder for the load you will use
13. adjust your measure to throw exactly that amount
14. readjust your scale to ten times the weight of powder for the load you will use
15. throw ten charges into the pan from your measure and weigh it
16. adjust the powder measure so it throws ten charges to the exact weight of 10 times your desired weight
17. throw a single charge and weigh it - if it is right then continue - if not then check it with ten charges again and adjust the measure accordingly
18. throw your charges into the cases in the block
19. when all the cartridges have powder in them inspect the level between the cases to make sure that they are all at the same level. Any high or low ones have to be emptied and recharged.
20. seat the bullets in the cases by seating them half way down and then turning them 180 degrees and finish the seating process.
21. pack the cartridges into the box and label them with the date, load information and caliber
That is all there is to it!

some explanations may help to understand the why of my method:
....Examining the brass multiple times helps to find the small imperfections, like minor splits or cracks that are not apparent until sizing.
....weighing the brass makes sure that all the internal volumes are within 2 grains of brass - that means that the powder space variance in the cases will remain within .25 grains so pressures will be kept uniform.
....Setting up the powder charge by using ten charges will keep the thrown charges (with small kernel powders) within +/- .02 grains - much tighter tolerance than your scale can measure with a single charge weighed.
....touching primers is the best way I know of to contaminate them - so DON'T!
....Comparing the powder level in the cases is the best way to assure that there are not light or heavy charges and that there is no foreign material left in the case from the cleaning process.
....Leaving part of the neck unsized helps to center the cartridge in the chamber. It is more accurate.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
My reloading method for straight-wall cartridges:
For new cases the first time and range brass the first time
1. carefully examine the brass for defects wiping it down as you do
2. lubricate the body
3. full length size the case (every time unless it is fired in a single shot gun)
4. ream the primer pockets to uniform size and depth
5. ream the flash hole to uniform size
6. trim the case to the desired length (I use the maximum case length but most use the "trim to" size)
7. chamfer the neck inside and out to remove any burrs and bell the mouth of the case slightly
8. clean the brass (I use a tumbler because I can do all the brass (up to 300 357 cases) at once
9. carefully inspect the brass, clean out the flash hole if necessary, weight the cases and select those that are +/- 2 grains from the median weight. (set the others aside for plinking or general shooting when accuracy is not important
10. prime the brass without touching the primers (I use the RCBS or Lee hand primer for this)
11. set all the cases in the reloading block neck up
12. Set the scale to the weight of powder for the load you will use
13. adjust your measure to throw exactly that amount
14. readjust your scale to ten times the weight of powder for the load you will use
15. throw ten charges into the pan from your measure and weigh it
16. adjust the powder measure so it throws ten charges to the exact weight of 10 times your desired weight
17. throw a single charge and weigh it - if it is right then continue - if not then check it with ten charges again and adjust the measure accordingly
18. throw your charges into the cases in the block
19. when all the cartridges have powder in them inspect the level between the cases to make sure that they are all at the same level. Any high or low ones have to be emptied and recharged.
20. seat the bullets in the cases by seating them half way down and then turning them 180 degrees and finish the seating process.
21. crimp the case as needed - taper crimp to remove the bell only for semi-autos and heavier roll crimps for magnums
22. pack the cartridges into the box and label them with the date, load information and caliber
That is all there is to it!

Do not over expand the case mouth - it will cause cracks in the neck. All you need is enough bell that the bullet barely rests inside the mouth - not down inside it.
on crimping the case - most semi-autos use the mouth of the case to headspace. too much crimp will not only cause mis-fires but it can cause dangerous over-pressure due to the step in the chamber at that point. magnum and cartridges that are used in tubular magazines need a heavy crimp to keep the bullets firmly in the case during recoil and under the spring pressure of the magazine.
Always follow the load information in the book. If you change ANY component reduce your load and work up. The only exception to this is if you use a longer overall cartridge length - DO NOT REDUCE CHARGES when you allow more room for the powder. That is a recipe for disaster.
Speer, Sierra, Hodgdon, Lyman and Hornady have safe, reliable, data - you won't find it on so-and-so's web page.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Feel free to post your own methods or critique mine. I have a pretty thick skin so don't soft sell it. I may have left out some information so feel free to let me know.

I look at reloading as a prep because I can store 2800 high velocity loads for my 357 in a container the size of an antifreeze jug. 8 pounds of powder. For your 40 S&W or 45ACP that would be over 4600 rounds. For a 30-06 it's a bit less at 1000 rounds. OK, that is not completely true because you still need primers and bullets to go with the powder but it does give you the advantage of extending your ammo to from 50% of what you have stored to doubling or tripling what you have stored in a much smaller, easier to handle, bundle.
 
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Thanks, PaulS, . . . I could not find anything really amiss, . . . it is of course a bit different with a progressive reloader. I just got mine a couple months ago, . . . we are in the process of building a "shop" for my belt/holster/kinfe sheath business, . . . and one end of it will be DEVOTED TO AND BUILT FOR reloading, . . . something I have never really had the privilege of having before. It has always been done in the "back room" so to speak.

Might mention to folks contemplating reloading, . . . start with a single stage reloader, . . . generally 40 to 75 bucks on Ebay, . . . get a good quality scale, . . . start out doing straight walled pistol cartridges (38/357/41/44/45/9mm/10mm etc) and when they offer them, . . . buy the carbide resizing and decapping die, . . . simplifies life immensely.

When you buy your powder measure, . . . do not go cheap. The better ones cost more, . . . but they are more accurate, . . . and some have features allowing you to change out the barrel (Hornady is one) thereby keeping that setting you just spent an hour to get right.

Do not experiment with reloading components and/or charges and/or powders. Use the data given by an authorative source, . . . such as a reloading book. You may wander around within their parameters, . . . but going below or above their recommended charges is asking for a trip to the emergency room as the guest of honor.

Reloading is fun, . . . can be exciting, . . . can even be thrilling when you "find" that exact load that works ohhhhh so well in your gun. It can save you a few bucks, . . . and it can be a good bonding adventure with siblings, children, parents, neighbors, friends, etc.

May God bless,
Dwight
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Good advice Dwight. I started with my 30-06 and then when I turned 21 I got a 357 and started on it but that was because I enjoyed shooting and wanted to reload to save the money - instead I found out that my old '06 could still shoot 1/2" groups at 100 yards.
 

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These are the steps that I use to load 5.56

1 Tumble clean.
2 Lube brass
3 Full resize and de-prime
4 Run all cases through a case gage and carefully examine.
5 Trim the ones that need it.
6 Clean primer pockets
7 Swage primer pocket.
8 Set primers
9 Throw powder and set bullets
10 Run through tumbler again.
 

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Paul
looks like you covered the bases, about the only thing I do different is I use a case gauge to set up my ( small base) sizing dies for bottleneck cartridges destined to be used in a semi auto rifle.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Semi-autos sometimes need different treatment. Since I don't load for them (the only one I have is an SKS ) I use throw-away ammo in it. Not all semis need small base dies but they do cure a lot of chambering problems. On the down side they also shorten case life by working the case so much more than even full length sizing dies.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
These are the steps that I use to load 5.56

1 Tumble clean.
2 Lube brass
3 Full resize and de-prime
4 Run all cases through a case gage and carefully examine.
5 Trim the ones that need it.
6 Clean primer pockets
7 Swage primer pocket.
8 Set primers
9 Throw powder and set bullets
10 Run through tumbler again.
Doomsday,
That last step concerns me. Tumbling loaded brass can rub the burn deterrent off the grains of powder making it burn a lot faster than it should. the other minor problem is that if you use a tumbler you might - someday - maybe - set off a live round when one pointy end hits the other flat end and sets off the primer. In a vibratory cleaner that is even less remote but both systems do the same thing to the powder.
Please be very careful - we can't afford to lose many shooters.
 

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These are the steps that I use to load 5.56

1 Tumble clean.
2 Lube brass
3 Full resize and de-prime
4 Run all cases through a case gage and carefully examine.
5 Trim the ones that need it.
6 Clean primer pockets
7 Swage primer pocket.
8 Set primers
9 Throw powder and set bullets
10 Run through tumbler again.[/QUOTE]

I would be very careful of doing this. I have never had a problem, because I don't tumble loaded rounds, . . . but one of the guys on another forum got some really unexpected pressure problems when he did this. I think it might have been with .44 mag rounds, . . . it's been a while, . . . and I don't remember the powder.

He explained that the powder acted in a manner that broke it up smaller, . . . enhancing the burn rate, . . . and seriously increasing the chamber pressure.

Not meaning to be over critical, . . . but just thought I'd throw a warning out that I had heard.

May God bless,
Dwight
 

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Thanks for the heads up dwight55 and PaulS! This has been my process for 30 years. Knock on wood haven’t had any problems. Will contact the powder manufacture and get back. Thanks again for the heads up.



Checked with the powder manufacture and they said that they have not had an event caused by tumbling, BUT do not recommend it.

In all my years of reloading I have not seen any increases in fps and I tumble all of them. I normally get the speeds listed in the reloading manuals. I have no way to test the pressures. I could just been lucky.
 

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I don't reload yet and right now supplies (especially primers) are not available. As this eases up I plan to start and I really appreciate you guys sharing in this area. Just proves a good forum is made of great people.
 

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Paul, looks like you've got yourself a pretty good system, in fact it's not much different from mine. First thing I do is drop all my brass in the tumbler and get it clean and shiny, this helps me when inspecting, much easier to pick out split cases this way. Then inspect, resize and trim then the brass goes back in the tumbler. When charging cases I weigh every charge unless I'm using a powder that throws very consistently (H335, red dot, unique). If I'm using one of those consistent powders I weigh every 5th charge to make sure it's still where it should be. A small mini mag light near the loading bench will help see down into the cases to make sure every case is charged and that the level inside the cases is consistent.

-Infidel
 

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Depending on if I'm using smokeless powder or black. Now for black powder I deprime with the Lee Universal deprimer then into a soap and water solution. When I get home I rinse in a water/vinegar solution for about 2 to 5 minutes then rinse again with fresh water and dry. For smokeless I simply deprime with no soaking. From this point on it is the same. Tumble for a couple hours using walnut media and set aside till needed.

Now when needed I size it using a Lee Classic Turret, trim it using a Lee Classic Cast using the new Lee Quick trim setup. Then back to the LCT press to prime on expand, powder bullet seat and crimp. Rarely need to trim 9mm or 45 ACP as I do it once with new brass. I do size 45 Colt, 454 Casull and 45-70 Gov.
 

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Semi-autos sometimes need different treatment. Since I don't load for them (the only one I have is an SKS ) I use throw-away ammo in it. Not all semis need small base dies but they do cure a lot of chambering problems. On the down side they also shorten case life by working the case so much more than even full length sizing dies.
All small base dies do is allow greater flexibility in sizing. Which means one can easily over size the brass as you describe. When using small base dies it's almost a necessity to use a case gauge (which measures sizing from a datum point on the shoulder) to set the die up to properly size.

So small base dies are a yes no depends proposition, some (a few) standard sizing dies will also oversize and shorten brass life most don't. In which case buying a small base die is not necessary. So there really is no way of telling if you need small base dies until you check the brass with a case gauge...
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I should reiterate that I only ream the primer pockets and equalize the flash holes once. That is done with all new brass and any range brass I get. I only full length size those cases the first time. My bottle-necked cases are neck-sized after that first firing to keep from working the brass and I always leave some of the neck un-sized because it centers the case in the chamber better.
I used to weigh each charge but after I was told that most of the bench rest shooters use volume measurements and do not weigh the powder for each case I looked into and picked up two powder measures and worked them over to get the best accuracy possible. My thrown charges give me 1/3 to 5/8" groups at 100 yards with an average for all my rifles closer to the 5/8" than to the 1/3" size.
I do use double base powders as a rule but I also have several that I use single base "stick" powders in so my experience tells me that accuracy is more a matter of technique rather than weighing each charge.

Checking the thrown charges on my laboratory scale they remain within +/- .01 grain while weighing individual charges it goes up to almost +/- .1 grain (which is what the scales are advertised to do).
My lab scale is a very good triple beam Ohaus lab scale that is normally kept in it's place in the chemistry set, covered and locked to avoid mishandling.
 
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