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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm curious how much variation in brass weight you allow in your handloadong process and sorting out your brass. Is it 1/10th of a grain, a grain, multiple grains, a certain percentage?

I know everyone has different purposes/uses for their ammo that drives how particular they are. So what is your purpose for the ammo and how does that impact your practice?

Thanks for your thoughts.

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Define your goals.

Making ammo that goes bang for a 30-30 might have different goals than a benchrest match.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That's why I ask your goals in my post.

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I do not weigh brass. What I do is check powder level in each after weighing the powder. Very seldom is there any fill difference noticeable with the same brand of brass. What tells me more is the chronograph.
 

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I always sort a batch of new brass by weight. The heaviest 10/20% are relegated to plinking loads, rarely used. The lightest 10% are for hunting. The remainder are for load development and general shooting. Sometimes the difference between lightest and heaviest isn’t great enough to pay it any attention but we don’t know till we weigh them. Buying cases in large lots simplifies things. Sorting cases simply by weight and not taking into consideration case design by different manufactures could be misleading. Dissimilarities will show up on the chronograph. But, we don’t need to go that far before dissimilarities become evident. Throwing weight out the window, all we’re looking for is case volume. The only time weight matters is when measuring a large number of cases from the same lot. There are a couple of ways to measure volume and can be found on the internet, it’s slow and tedious. What I did, mostly for personal entertainment and to see if it actually showed results, was to use small grained ball powder. Fill a case slowly to overflowing utilizing a drop tube, scrape off the excess and weigh the case contents. Do the same case a few times to measure your margin of error and to stabilize your technique. Don’t attempt this till you have a lot of time to waste or have an actual purpose in mind. It will be interesting.......

A while back, I was acquiring brass for which there was no source, I had to make it. The closest thing to what I wanted was the 6.5 Creedmoor since it is nothing more than a slightly blown out .250 Savage with a longer neck. I’d have been better off using the 6mm but didn’t figure that out till later. Anyhow, after acquiring several different makes of 6.5 Creedmoor and running them through the .250 die and trimming all the necks to the same length, there was so little weight difference between them, it didn’t matter. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s about case volume. When doing all this weighing stuff I did find two cases much heavier that the average of the same mfg/lot. When doing the volume check, I included these two cases and they proved to have less volume.

A very simple way to overcome all this procedural stuff is to be precise in your powder measuring and filling your cases with a long drop tube and slow pouring of the powder into the case. If a particular case has a powder level higher or lower than average, it should probably be discarded into its proper group. High volume vs low volume.

One thing I learned is, the larger the case, the greater the difference will be. Another thing, small volume cases will deliver close to the same velocity as high volume cases as long as the powder level in the case is the same. Less but close.

If your ultimate goal is accuracy, small volume cases might be best. “Might.” If velocity for hunting ammo is most important, high volume cases will deliver.
 

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I have never weighed brass. I started loading handgun ammo for plinkin'. But even with my hunting rifle loads, I've never started. Perhaps I should.

I do keep brass sorted by brand and lots. Check length after resizing, trim if needed.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I've usually sorted by weight and not used the heaviest and lightest 10% or 12%. But the batch of brass I'm working with has more variation than I'm used to. It made me wonder how much variation to accept and use.

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Depends on the brass. If I buy Norma, Lapua or Peterson, I don’t bother. For the few calibers I still use Winchester I do. I’ve done the full gamet on prep work.

I decided my time was worth something, and bought better brass. Now I just run an expander mandrel in the cases and I’m ready to prime, dump power and seat bullets. My groups have stayed the same or better. But I have also added a few other things in its place. Seems like I frequently cut out one step and add two more. Then every couple years cut it back to the basics:)

If you have the time, sorting certainly won’t hurt.
 

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If you buy good brass to start....
 

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Discussion Starter #10
In this case it's Norma brass. But I'm still curious how folks approach this.

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Before any weighing takes place we need to make each piece as close to the same as possible. I start by setting the sizer die .005 or so off the shell holder and run each piece of brass in to true up the neck. There’s always a few that aren’t round in any batch of brass we buy. Next I measure case length and find the shortest piece then set the case trimmer so every case can be cut to that length. Standard deburring of the case mouth is next. Now the brass is ready to weigh.

When I was making .250 cases I bought some Nosler brass because it is sorted by weight at the factory and wanted to see how consistent it actually was. It was on sale too. It did prove to be what it is advertised to be but it was a bit on the heavy side. It wasn’t so much more consistent that someone should go out and buy a bunch of it because of the advertising. If by chance a person could get their hands on an entire box of stuff that was on the light side, that would be the way to go but we don’t know what we’ve got till we open the box and weigh a few. I got to thinking they probably put away the light stuff and use that to load their own brand of ammo. If I was the boss at Nosler, that’s what I’d do. The only way to prove that is compare what they sell as a component to their loaded ammo. That would be kind of meaningless because their light stuff isn’t any better than another brand of light brass. You just get more of it without sorting.
 

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I tried weighing brass way back in the early 1970's, what a waste of time. Haven't done it since. Most all my rifle's go into under an inch, well under. I'm not a competitive shooter so accuracy I get is fine with me. I would think that if each case weighed the same, then the volume would be the same. Extra weight would tell me one case is heavier because there's more metal in it and as a result somewhat less volume. Heavier case's do effect velocity and pressure to some extent. When I did weight case's Norma was the heaviest I found and the max load was lower than other's. Remington was a bit lighter than Winchester but max loads were close. About max, not a clue what max was. Judged it by case appearance and ease of extraction. I've used a lot of different brands and my brand of choice is whatever I can find locally! Normally win or Rem. For me the proof of good loads is accuracy. I think chasing the best of pretty much any component is pretty futile. What makes a load good, mostly group size. Can't kill what you can't hit! And if you shoot competitively, smallest group usually wins. Extend the range and the smallest group get's bigger but generally the smallest group usually wins. Now all that said, you want to be sure, shoot weight the case's. see how many are actually the same weight and then with them divided up, shoot them. Where's the best accuracy? I did do that, very frustrating trip!
 

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Don is right. If we're not loading at or close to maximum, it doesn't make a hoot of difference for hunting loads. With that in mind, I've found case volume to differ as much as two grains. That's quite a bit when loading compressed loads.
 

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IMHO, it's one of my least concerns when using quality brass as mentioned above, Lapua, Peterson, Nosler, ADG have been those I personally use. I'm more concerned with brass length and cut them to .001", I've found that to be much more important.

I have tested the brass weight theory as well as measuring case capacity and matching those pieces of brass. I personally have not seen that reduce my Extreme Spread versus brass that was all prepped the same.

Keith
 

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Keith:


You are absolutely correct. Probably the most important thing in producing accurate ammo is how square the case mouth is. A person's technique in case trimming and the actual tool they use is extremely important. We've only scratched the surface of what some loaders are willing to do to produce competitively accurate ammo. At least hunters aren't plagued by this level of anal detail.


One reason I go as far as I do is because I enjoy the activity. Some may see reloading as a chore but to me it's fun. Probably the least fun activity is case trimming. Not exactly a necessary evil but sometimes it seems that way.



Case trimming can be reduced with proper adjustment of the sizer die. Factory chambers are pretty sloppy when compared to custom chambers. The average factory bolt action hunting rifle should not require full length resizing if accuracy is important to the shooter. We don't want a case that simply goes into the chamber, we want a case that fits the chamber. The amount of headspace we end up with should be held to a minimum, like zero or less. This includes belted magnums that should headspace on the case shoulder, not the belt. Look at it this way. If a belt were necessary, every cartridge would have them.
 

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Keith:


You are absolutely correct. Probably the most important thing in producing accurate ammo is how square the case mouth is. A person's technique in case trimming and the actual tool they use is extremely important. We've only scratched the surface of what some loaders are willing to do to produce competitively accurate ammo. At least hunters aren't plagued by this level of anal detail.


One reason I go as far as I do is because I enjoy the activity. Some may see reloading as a chore but to me it's fun. Probably the least fun activity is case trimming. Not exactly a necessary evil but sometimes it seems that way.



Case trimming can be reduced with proper adjustment of the sizer die. Factory chambers are pretty sloppy when compared to custom chambers. The average factory bolt action hunting rifle should not require full length resizing if accuracy is important to the shooter. We don't want a case that simply goes into the chamber, we want a case that fits the chamber. The amount of headspace we end up with should be held to a minimum, like zero or less. This includes belted magnums that should headspace on the case shoulder, not the belt. Look at it this way. If a belt were necessary, every cartridge would have them.
Agreed in most of this but I have found that setting headspace to .002" in consistency whether it's a factory chamber or custom does seem to affect my extreme spread. In my time spent reloading I've found full length sizing does reduce extreme spread versus not doing so. My goal has always been to be inside 10fps ES on my rifles..

Just my .02..

Keith
 

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Since the PRS stuff has been limited this year. At least the matches I used to frequent, I started shooting the local Fclass stuff a bit with my PRS rifle. Tons of very knowledgeable shooters. A lot of national level guys. If you want to go down an internet rabbit hole, check out Erik Cortina or F-Class John. I took a class from John a while back and was surprised at some of the stuff he does and doesn’t do. Weight sorting isn’t one of them. He does do flash holes, I had quit doing that a while ago. Just added it back in. Pretty quick/easy during my first trimming.

The class wasn’t expensive, but it sure cost me a lot of money;)
 

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Keith:


You are absolutely correct. Probably the most important thing in producing accurate ammo is how square the case mouth is. A person's technique in case trimming and the actual tool they use is extremely important. We've only scratched the surface of what some loaders are willing to do to produce competitively accurate ammo. At least hunters aren't plagued by this level of anal detail.


One reason I go as far as I do is because I enjoy the activity. Some may see reloading as a chore but to me it's fun. Probably the least fun activity is case trimming. Not exactly a necessary evil but sometimes it seems that way.



Case trimming can be reduced with proper adjustment of the sizer die. Factory chambers are pretty sloppy when compared to custom chambers. The average factory bolt action hunting rifle should not require full length resizing if accuracy is important to the shooter. We don't want a case that simply goes into the chamber, we want a case that fits the chamber. The amount of headspace we end up with should be held to a minimum, like zero or less. This includes belted magnums that should headspace on the case shoulder, not the belt. Look at it this way. If a belt were necessary, every cartridge would have them.
On the belted case, and include rimmed case here, this is pretty much right. Problem come's from manufacturer's making sloppy chamber's in the rifles but still headspace correctly. Way to fix it is partial re-sizing to make the case fit the chamber and pretty much move the shoulder forward to sort of move headspace to that shoulder. Information in the different manuals I don't think cover partial FL sizing! But as you learn to reload, you get directions from places just like this. What you'll see to tell you something is wrong and won't find an answer for in your manual is head separation starting, ring around the head in front of the belt. Then your stumped so you ask on a site like this and actually find the answer, partial sizing. Partial sizing is actually FL sizing that gives you a case that fit's your chamber. Don't do it in a rifle with a sloppy chamber and you can still make good loads but you give up case life! This has little to do with brass weight tolerance but I think it's good to know as the ring might suggest something to someone that doesn't recognize it for what it is and heavy brass.

Something about brass, no brass is any better or worse than the guy using it think's it is! I think it was PMC I had a problem with. four or five reloads and I'd start splitting necks. I think the problem was brass I'd have needed to anneal. Got hard and cracked. But I don't anneal much of anything. Tried a few time's and it would take a lot more learning for me! I live with that! I think I know the problem and ignore it.

Partial sizing and bumping the shoulder are actually the same thing.
 

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On the belted case, and include rimmed case here, this is pretty much right. Problem come's from manufacturer's making sloppy chamber's in the rifles but still headspace correctly. Way to fix it is partial re-sizing to make the case fit the chamber and pretty much move the shoulder forward to sort of move headspace to that shoulder. Information in the different manuals I don't think cover partial FL sizing! But as you learn to reload, you get directions from places just like this. What you'll see to tell you something is wrong and won't find an answer for in your manual is head separation starting, ring around the head in front of the belt. Then your stumped so you ask on a site like this and actually find the answer, partial sizing. Partial sizing is actually FL sizing that gives you a case that fit's your chamber. Don't do it in a rifle with a sloppy chamber and you can still make good loads but you give up case life! This has little to do with brass weight tolerance but I think it's good to know as the ring might suggest something to someone that doesn't recognize it for what it is and heavy brass.

Something about brass, no brass is any better or worse than the guy using it think's it is! I think it was PMC I had a problem with. four or five reloads and I'd start splitting necks. I think the problem was brass I'd have needed to anneal. Got hard and cracked. But I don't anneal much of anything. Tried a few time's and it would take a lot more learning for me! I live with that! I think I know the problem and ignore it.

Partial sizing and bumping the shoulder are actually the same thing.

Good info. One thing I’d like add clarify. When I say buy better brass, I’m talking about not only the quality of the brass material itself, but rather the tolerances from case to case. Hence the theory behind the initial weight sorting. The obvious goal of reloading accurate ammo is to make each loaded round 100% identical. Lapua, Peterson and Norma are generally more uniform then Rem or Win. The Lapua and Peterson are much tougher and generally last longer than the Norma brass. Although I’ve got Norma cases in .338NM with 16 reloads on them and still holding primers tight. The Winchester cases seem to be tougher than the rem cases and last longer overall. At least the stuff I’ve shot.

As far as annealing goes, it serves two purposes really through the same method. You mentioned the less you “work” the brass the longer it lasts. Annealing reduces the work hardening that occurs through the reloading process and keeps you necks from splitting. Your brass will generally last as long as it still holds primers. By softening the brass it also allows for more consistent neck tension. This is why most precision shooters anneal every time.

Consistent neck tension and reducing factors that induce runout are my main 2 goals in brass prep.
 
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