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Old January 20, 2007, 11:21 AM   #1
WhyteP38
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Is Guatemalan military surplus 5.56 Brass Reloadable?

I bought a boatload of the surplus Guat ammo and have been saving the brass, just in case. With ammo prices climbing higher and higher, the time has finally come for me to get into reloading. But I recently heard the Guat brass is not reloadable due to issues with primer pockets.

Any guidance and/or advice would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
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Old January 20, 2007, 05:34 PM   #2
Friiguy
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While I have no personal experience with the Guat brass, I assume the problem with the primer pockets are the crimp applied to the primer after it is seated during manufacture.

If this is the problem you are facing, there are several tools designed to ream the primer pocket and make it suitable for reloading.
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Old January 20, 2007, 06:02 PM   #3
WhyteP38
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Yep, that's the problem. I couldn't remember what the exact term was, but now I recall it had to do with the crimp put onto military ammo primers.
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Old January 20, 2007, 07:10 PM   #4
Dave R
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I crimped primer pocket does not make the cartride non-reloadable. If it Berdan priming, then it is essentially, non-reloadable, unless you want to do some serious work-arounds.

Get a bright light and look down inside the case. If you see two primer holes, offset from the primer, then you have Berdan priming. No joy.

If you see one priming hole, lined up with the primer, then you have boxer priming and the case is reloadable.

If the primer pocket is crimped, that just means you may have to work your press harder to get the old primer out. Then you remove the primer crimp with a special tool, or just with your garden-variety chamfer tool (which is what I use.)

If you have berdan priming, and you try to deprime the case, you'll break your decapping pin trying to force it through the solid brass web of the case.
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Old January 20, 2007, 07:53 PM   #5
WhyteP38
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Thanks, Dave R. I took a look, and there's one hole, not two, so the brass seems good to go for reloading.
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Old January 21, 2007, 12:11 AM   #6
Dave R
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I reload Lake City brass in .223, and get great results. Use it for my varmit load.
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Old January 21, 2007, 10:08 AM   #7
Mike Irwin
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I've heard from some friends who reload .223 that the Guatamalan brass tends to have rather hard necks, so an annealing step might be in order.
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Old January 21, 2007, 11:00 AM   #8
WhyteP38
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I'm familiar with red necks , but hard necks? I know what area of the case you're talking about but am not sure what annealing would entail. Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old January 21, 2007, 11:31 AM   #9
Mike Irwin
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Annealing involves heating the neck of the cartridge case so that it is softened, making it more... maleable is the right word, I think... maybe ductile.

Shooting and resizing work hardens the neck, making more resistant to resizing and more likely to crack, either during sizing or firing.

Essentially annealing involves putting the case in a container of water up to about 5 mm below the bottom of the shoulder and using a blow torch to heat the neck and shoulder until it's dull red, then tipping the case over into the water to quench it.

On a lot of military cases you'll see multi colored streaking in the brass in the shoulder and neck, blues, purples, and reds. This is evidence of the factory annealing process.

This normally isn't seen in commercial cases because after they are annealed commercial cases are cleaned to remove those marks. Civilian shooters like nice, bright brass colored cases.

NEVER EVER heat the main body of the case, nor the head. These areas of the case have to be hard to resist the pressures generated when the cartridge is fired.


Here's an EXCELLENT article about the whys and hows of cartridge annealing: http://www.6mmbr.com/annealing.html

While the author doesn't think much of the water pan method, it's perfectly suitable for someone who is shooting for fun, not for high precision accuracy, as the author of the article is.
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Old January 21, 2007, 11:45 AM   #10
Friiguy
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Annealing is not always necessary though.
It will make your cases last much longer and will be easier on your dies.
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Old January 21, 2007, 12:27 PM   #11
Mike Irwin
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I didn't say anything about it being necessary.

I said the step MIGHT be in order.

Oh, as for the primer pockets.

Two ways of dealing with it.

Swaging, or reaming.

You can buy the tools from Midway.
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Old January 22, 2007, 04:15 AM   #12
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Beware.....Guatemalan brass is boxer primed but it has small flash holes and may be difficult to decap. The holes are too small for the Dillon decapping pin and you are likely to break one in the process. I ran across a few in the last batch of .223 I did and the press stopped so abruptly that I thought it was berdan primed. It wasn't, it was a very small flash hole preventing the decapping pin from going through. Other than that, it looks to be good brass but the few I had got tossed. Not worth breaking a pin over.
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Old January 22, 2007, 01:16 PM   #13
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Just use a Lee decapper die to decap the Guat brass. The design allows the pin to back out if you run into a bad pin. No need to put high priced dies at risk when lee sells the decapping die so cheap.

Dave
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Old January 22, 2007, 07:32 PM   #14
Friiguy
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Sorry Mike,

I wasnt trying to infer that you thought it was necessary.
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