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Old March 23, 2007, 10:34 AM   #1
Fiddler 5.56
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Winchester .223 Brass Quality

Having a bad Brass week. Received a 1000, .223 Winchester cases from Midway and proceeded to load.

Just curious, but thought case length should be fairly consistant on new Brass.
Began to measure random cases, after I saw, that the bullet cannelure, was sometimes visible and sometimes not after seating the bullet. (bullets are all the same length )

1.752" - 1.760" is the range. Lot of the case mouths look angled and a few cases , of the ones I've looked at had splits in the case mouth.

What is the highest quality (Dimensionally speaking) Brass available ?. Not to concerned about how many times it can be reloaded.
Appreciate any opinions/guidance. Thanks.
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Old March 23, 2007, 10:50 AM   #2
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Did you prep the cases before you loaded them? Sounds wrong but if you think about it it makes sense. Most reloaders have told me to prep my new brass as if it were once fired brass. They tell me to do the resize, trim, and uniform routine on them because they can get bent out of shape during shipment. That might help.
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Old March 23, 2007, 11:03 AM   #3
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I had some problems with Win. brass (7.62X39) case length and mouth splits particularly. I don't use it for 'accuracy loads' anymore.
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Old March 23, 2007, 11:57 AM   #4
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I started to prep , then stopped ,as some were actually to short to have the case mouth squared up. Theoretically, should be able to set the die to allow for the .008" range, as the the crimp groove is about .053" wide. Doesn't seem to work out to well though.
Looking more closely at the cases overall, there are visual differences in the extractor groove (angle/depth) . Looks like there were made on different machinery, transported to a packing plant and just all mixed up and sold.
Don't know if that can happen or not.

Recently got back into loading after some years of just buying and shooting.
Don't recall having these issues historically with Winchester, or any brand for that matter. Maybe I'm just getting "picky" in my "old age".

Checked out Lapua Brass on the Midway site last night, a friend said it's the best. Have you seen the PRICE on that stuff ?. Approx. $400 + per Thousand !
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Old March 23, 2007, 11:59 AM   #5
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All factory brass should be trimmed for length the first time you load it. After forming, the brass is saw-cut to length. This process has a variation of about +/- .005", which is what you are seeing. The most common thing I see is case mouths out of square, with length variation next. Additionally, you will often see case mouths dinged to some extent, since the brass falls into hoppers at the end of the forming process. Trimming to length and running the cases through a sizing die will solve these problems (I use a Lee collet die so I don't have to lube the cases).
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Old March 23, 2007, 02:04 PM   #6
Fiddler 5.56
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Variation of thickness of case head rim appears to be .039" - .045".

What is recommended Minimum case length ?. I read, that once a case reaches (after firing) , 1.760" it should be trimmed or discarded.

The 1.52" length cases , are already below recommended Minimum length aren't they ?
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Old March 23, 2007, 02:40 PM   #7
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First, it is perfectly safe to shoot right out of the box. This is the condition they are in when the factory loads them. If you have a sizing die with a carbide expander ball, you can run them all over that expander once without even lubing them, just to get the dents out for loading. Used like this, it just won't be at maximum potential for accuracy.

For match and precision shooting, I start by sizing the brass, cleaning it, then doing a first-time trim to SAMMI maximum minus 0.015", or 1.745", then chamfer. I use 1.750" trim length thereafter. Any time your cases exceed 1.760", trim them again to 1.750" and chamfer. This will likely be about every 3 reloads if you full length resize and are using near maximum loads. I do this long trim first, precisely because I will find a few that are more than 0.010" short out of the box. As Scorch said, they are cut with a spread of about 0.010", and the factory has to be sure not to cut them exceeding SAMMI maximum, they set the center of that spread a couple thousandths on the short side. This is normal. My sizing probably exaggerates the unevenness slightly. Dinged necks from polishing and shipping are normal. Your own observation that they mix brass coming off different machines and tooling and from runs done by different operators is correct.

The forming dies don't squirt exactly the same amount of brass up where the neck is formed each time. This means, after trimming, they won't be the exact same weight or have the exact same powder capacity. So, you need to size, trim, chamfer, uniform primer pockets, deburr flashholes or do any other case prep work you are planning to get the external dimensions identical as a first step. If you can see a physical difference, sort first by appearance. Then use a scale to sort by weight within the visual groups. Usually cases off different tooling will fall into different weight groups anyway. I further recommend you invest in a tool like the NECO case gauge to sort them by neck and web runout. This makes a big difference for long range shooting, in particular.

I use Winchester exclusively in long-range loads for its extra powder capacity, but find only about 20% of bulk purchased Winchester passes my wall runout and weight criteria for long range match loads. All the rest go in the short range and practice pile. A small number are so bad, I set them aside for firelapping loads. I don't turn necks if cases are to be fired in a commercial size chamber or fed from a magazine, and rely on gauge sorting selection instead. The reason is that a wall variation in the neck is usually reflecting about twice as much variation in the web back near the case head. This causes uneven bolt face thrust on firing, so I set aside cases with much runout from those destined for loading for 600 to 1000 yards.

The best, most uniform cases are Norma and Lapua. They cost a lot more, too. In .308, they don't have the capacity of Winchester's semi-balloon head design. That said, I bought 700 new Norma 6.5-284 cases and couldn't really sort them. All met my weight (+/- 0.7 grains) and runout criteria (0.001" or less on the neck). There weren't any flashhole burrs to be removed at all. Primer pocket depth was extremely uniform. At $0.70 each, they should be good, and they are.

Most people shooting .308 and .223 swear by Lapua. Same dimensional near-perfection as Norma. Some say better. Slightly harder brass, and, from most suppliers, not quite as pricey in the military chamberings as my Norma was.

With either Norma or Lapua bulk brass, you will still find some dents from shipping. The neck straightening step is unavoidable.
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Old March 23, 2007, 03:23 PM   #8
Fiddler 5.56
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Thank you all very much. Guess I'll do what needs to be done and stop my whining about a bulk order not being "perfect".

Really appreciate the tips. Think I might get a few Norma or Lapua just for the heck of it .

Thanks again.
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