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Re: Reloading series

PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 12:08 pm
by Doug Coulter
Here's another thing that is crucial to safe ammo reloading - neck length. Many just measure the overall case length, but that's the wrong way, as it's not really what matters. Rifle chambers are cut to accomdate a certain length neck, after which there's a sudden reduction in diameter to about the bullet size - usually 30 or more mils smaller. If you jam a case neck into this smaller diameter, the bullet will be pinched, hard. Sure, it'll come out of the rifle - maybe with part of the neck, but pressure will be high, accuracy totally shot, it might leave a piece of the neck in your gun for the next shot, which will either blow up or damage the barrel - it's not worth it to ever skip this step. Even though it's yet another tool, my preferred way is to use a case gauge.
A pro ammo maker I know, using all new components, does this as well - and she's had a block set up as a way to test multiple rounds at a time to save labor. I can settle for just doing one at a time. The case gauge also checks that you sized the case right from either end - so it's also a check on how well you set up your sizing die. Everything in a bottleneck rifle should be gauged off the shoulder of the case, since that's the reference point where the round seats in there. We'll talk more about headspace in a more specialized thread of course, but this is the safety part of it. Short version - too long, very bad - dangerous. Too short, bad because the brass WILL then stretch to the chamber/bolt length, and due to excess working and sizing, fail young.

Remember, click the pix for full size, and/or full screen the video to see any detail.

Showing the base of the case in the gauge.
Showing that I set up the die pretty well for overall length.

Showing a correct length neck.
Neck the right length, or a little short - OK.

Showing a too-long neck. You'd normally trim this down, but for this, I just won't use these this time. Normally if I trim, I trim the entire lot for uniformity. But this is not for competition, this is just plain, reliable, safe ammo, and I don't need as much brass as I have for the weekend anyway. Note, out of all the culls, only one was truly a cull - it didn't fit the gauge easily - it had been bent, and had sprung back bent somewhat after sizing - those you just ditch.
Neck too long - don't use without trimming!

So, out of a couple hundred rounds (I wasn't anal enough to count them precisely) we've culled a few, and most of this last culling wasn't really required - we could have simply trimmed the too-long ones.
Final result of all this checking, along with a couple special tools just for fun (we'll show them later as well, in use)

And here's how the checking looks in action:

You will need a set of good calipers for other things whether you have this case gauge or not. Pro Tip - get them at midway, since they are less expensive and just as good there. We've seen harbor freight ones not be accurate, and the super good ones from the machine shop supply are just too darned expensive. In fact, the same model midway sells goes for about twice as much at a machine supply place, and the really good ones are astronomically priced. Another Pro Tip - take out the batteries when not in use. These darn things have a "soft on" and they have a nasty tendency to turn themselves on in the middle of the night and eat batteries. Yet another pro tip, buy your batteries, in particular the L-44's these use, and the Cr2032 types the red-dot sights use, in bulk at either DigiKey, or McMaster car and save way over half the money over the retail stores. They really get ya on onesies prices retail.

Re: Reloading series

PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 1:26 pm
by Doug Coulter
Finally! Good to go! At this point, this brass is better than factory new stuff. I couldn't resist displaying the similarity to another yellow metal we think is kind of cool around here:
Well? Valuable stuff.