The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Skunkworks > Handloading, Reloading, and Bullet Casting

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old May 18, 2010, 10:03 PM   #1
k9cougar
Member
 
Join Date: February 21, 2010
Posts: 74
Pass on the wisdom!

I know this has been done before but I don't think it has been done recently....

OK reloaders, let's share your favorite hints, tips, and secrets that you havfound make your reloading efforts more succesful, fun, cheaper, or easier. Is there a technique you want pass on? favorite tool? Maybe you found a way to store or stage reloading supplies? A cheap place for supplies? Something you've discovered that you won't find in Reloading 101? C'mon! Pass along the wisdom!
k9cougar is offline  
Old May 18, 2010, 10:16 PM   #2
ScottRiqui
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 27, 2010
Location: Norfolk, VA
Posts: 2,905
When I want to lube a bunch of .223 cases quickly, I put them in a bowl, put on some latex gloves and rub some Lee case lube between my hands. Then I "sift" my hands through all the brass repeatedly, as if I were kneading bread dough. It leaves a thin even coat on all the brass in a matter of seconds.

This method does get lube on the case shoulders, which is supposedly a no-no, but I've never had a problem with the case necks being crushed in the die (which is what lube on the shoulders can supposedly cause.) It doesn't get very much lube on the insides of the necks, so I use a cotton swab dipped in lube on every tenth case.

I've never had a shell stick in the die, and the cases size smoothly and easily.
ScottRiqui is offline  
Old May 18, 2010, 11:13 PM   #3
Sevens
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 28, 2007
Location: Central Ohio
Posts: 8,775
We had a monstrous long one quite some time back, but I suppose a new one would be good.

--I use 2-inch by 2-inch post-it notes a LOT on my bench. I put the load info on them and tape them to the inside of my ammo boxes and use them to make notes on bullet boxes. I use 'em at my desk when I've decided on a particular load to try and I've triple checked it -- then take that 2x2 post it note down to the load bench and go to work. Having no 2x2 post-it notes for me would be like running out of primers.

--I reloaded for a couple of YEARS without keeping decent records... a tremendous amount of wasted effort so if you are new, don't make that same mistake. Log e-v-e-r-y single load you've ever built, even the craptastic ones (especially those!) to give you a knowledge base to refer back to.

--After a few years of reloading, I finally decided to join the folks who say "to hell!" with cleaning primer pockets on handgun ammo. Man, that was one of the best moves I ever made. Cleaning them sucks and I have never, EVER had a negative experience since. (I still clean rifle, because there's much less of those to clean and a little more accuracy that I'm asking for...)

--Everyone says to use little squares of used dryer sheets in the tumbler... but we don't use them in our house. So I cut little 2x2 squares of paper towel and put three of them in each tumbler load and they do a phenomenal job of gathering dust and filth. That and a shot of Nu Finish and 4-5 hours with a lamp timer does all my brass and does a fine job.

--Carbide dies don't need lube... everyone knows that, right?! Well, a tiny (TINY) touch of imperial on my brass makes sizing almost effortless. And sizing is the most physical lever throw in the whole operation. So folks may laugh when I add just a speck of lube before I size my pistol brass, but I sure as hell know what I'm doing and I'm not going to quit any time soon.
__________________
Attention Brass rats and other reloaders: I really need .327 Federal Magnum brass, no lot size too small. Tell me what caliber you need and I'll see what I have to swap. PM me and we'll discuss.
Sevens is offline  
Old May 18, 2010, 11:14 PM   #4
Sevens
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 28, 2007
Location: Central Ohio
Posts: 8,775
--Quit crying about die lock rings for the love of Pete! Just draw an index line on the top of your press and an index line on your (adjusted!) die body and then line them up: the die will be perfectly set, exactly where you want it no matter who makes your fancy or cheap die lock ring. (I prefer Lee rings to all others and I've used four different brands)

--Berry's makes a great little .30 Carbine bullet that just KILLS in my Blackhawk and is cheaper than any other jacketed .30 cal Carbine bullet I've ever seen. For hunting, probably not. For paper punching, these rock. In your Carbine -- I don't know, I don't have one. Berry's rates them to 1,600 FPS.

--Cool whip containers... I've got probably two dozen of these floating around in my man cave. If I'm not using one of these containers, I'm probably not anywhere near my load bench.

--Yeah I sort pistol brass by headstamp. If I have a lot of them in one stamp, they get their own little group. I don't need the kind of accuracy out of handguns where I only use one brand... but 50 of them in a box with all the same headstamp only makes sense to me. If I don't have a lot of them in one stamp, they go in the "mix" bucket and I use those pieces for my K-T Sub2k Carbine (which can really munch up brass) or I use them for ammo that gets used on days where I know I might lose a lot of brass... like indoor ranges with brass nazis that try to sweep up my stuff, or the brass that goes forward of the line where NOBODY ever gets to go.

--Targets: for me, it's usually paper plates. Cheap, quick, and just the right size for the short ranges that I usually shoot handguns at... 7-15 yards. Also a good size to keep when I punch a decent group. For those, I write down the pertinent info and then hang 'em on the door of the man cave.

--If your press has the luxury of an adjustable lever, adjust it! I move mine for leverage when I'm sizing and I change it to a short throw when I'm flaring case mouths. Originally I figured I'd put it in the "perfect" spot and leave it -- but the perfect spot changes depending on what I'm doing. Experiment with yours.
__________________
Attention Brass rats and other reloaders: I really need .327 Federal Magnum brass, no lot size too small. Tell me what caliber you need and I'll see what I have to swap. PM me and we'll discuss.
Sevens is offline  
Old May 18, 2010, 11:15 PM   #5
FEG
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 14, 2008
Location: Indiana
Posts: 324
1) New brass or really clean brass tends to stick with carbide dies, especially in something tapered like 9mm. Buy a cheap plastic plant sprayer. Mix one part Lee case lube to ten parts rubbing alcohol. Load up a block of cases, then mist them lightly. Spacing one of these minimally lubed cases in about every ten cases to be loaded (i.e. #s 1, 11, 21, etc.) makes sizing them much easier.

2) Kay-Kob dust free shredded corn cob (sold in pet stores) works better than the corn cob tumbling media marketed to reloaders. The pieces are larger, and they tend not to pack into cases.

3) Don't shoot mixed headstamps in a handgun, regardless of what other people might say. It makes more than enough difference to justify the effort, both from an ease of loading standpoint and accuracy.

4) Try to buy from the same lot of primers whenever possible. It does make a difference.

5) If you find a "perfect" load, you will likely be frustrated when altering one or more of the components. It's very difficult to improve on something that is nearly perfect.

6) Powder hasn't increased in price nearly as much as the other components in recent years. If you're not happy with your loads, trying a new powder is not only the best place to start, it is also the most cost-effective.

These aren't particularly "advanced" tips, but they are all worth the minimal effort or cost involved.
__________________
WARNING: CZs MAY BE HABIT-FORMING.
Consult your doctor if nursing or pregnant.
FEG is offline  
Old May 18, 2010, 11:26 PM   #6
ScottRiqui
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 27, 2010
Location: Norfolk, VA
Posts: 2,905
The Frankford Arsenal corn-cob media granules are *just* the right size that I almost always get them caught in the primer flash holes on my brass when I tumble. I'll definitely try the Kay-Kob that FEG suggested.

Also, pet stores sell Zilla brand "lizard litter" ground walnut-shell media that's supposed to be comparable to the special-purpose walnut-shell sold for use in brass tumblers, but costs much less. I haven't tried it yet, because after passing it up once in the pet store, I haven't seen it there again.
ScottRiqui is offline  
Old May 18, 2010, 11:27 PM   #7
Dave R
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 7, 2000
Location: Idaho
Posts: 6,073
It bears repeating: never tumble 9mm and .45acp together. Or .380acp and .45acp, either.
__________________
I am Pro-Rights (on gun issues).
Dave R is offline  
Old May 18, 2010, 11:30 PM   #8
Jim243
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 5, 2009
Location: Just off Route 66
Posts: 4,516
Take a small spray bottle, put in an once of Lee Case Lube and 4 or 5 oz of rubbing alcohol, shake well. Spray cases in a reloading block, let alcohol evaporate (5 Min) and you are ready to resize rifle cases.
Jim243 is offline  
Old May 18, 2010, 11:31 PM   #9
ScottRiqui
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 27, 2010
Location: Norfolk, VA
Posts: 2,905
Quote:
It bears repeating: never tumble 9mm and .45acp together. Or .380acp and .45acp, either.

Oh, that's a good one. When I started out, I tumbled a bunch of mixed brass together and had several instances where I ended up with a 9 mm case inside a .40 S&W case inside a .45 ACP case. With a couple of granules of tumbling media in there to stick things together really tightly.
ScottRiqui is offline  
Old May 18, 2010, 11:39 PM   #10
ScottRiqui
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 27, 2010
Location: Norfolk, VA
Posts: 2,905
Buy in bulk, buy in bulk, buy in bulk.

Not only will you save time and money (and reduce the chances of running out of components in the middle of a run), but you'll have a better chance of your components being from the same batch or lot number. You'll know that all eight pounds of powder in the jug is identical - you can't know the same about eight one-pound jugs bought over the course of a few years.
ScottRiqui is offline  
Old May 19, 2010, 12:47 AM   #11
FEG
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 14, 2008
Location: Indiana
Posts: 324
It's pretty interesting if you look at the timing of these posts. Several of us cross-posted, and we came up with several of the same points.

I can't believe I forgot to mention buying in bulk. That addresses my "same lot of primers" tip, but much more effectively. It applies to things other than primers, not to mention the savings. I think this is especially true now that shipping can be such a major cost factor.
__________________
WARNING: CZs MAY BE HABIT-FORMING.
Consult your doctor if nursing or pregnant.
FEG is offline  
Old May 19, 2010, 01:26 AM   #12
FrankenMauser
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 25, 2008
Location: 1B ID
Posts: 6,796
Use a chamfer and deburring tool (the chamfer part) to remove military-style primer pocket crimp from small lots of brass. Most people have the tool already, and it's a helluva lot cheaper than buying a reamer/swager.


Those plain white factory-style cardboard ammo boxes are worth their price. It sure does beat having to store and stack ice cream buckets, paint cans, cool whip containers, and plastic bags of ammo. However... if you leave any kind of solvent or lube on the bullets (stored bullet down in the trays) during long term storage, it will break down the styrofoam in the Midway version.


.... If you buy their bullets, buy their manual! A manual is usually cheaper than a box of bullets (which you'll be buying anyway, since the first box will be wasted with data that doesn't apply...). Online data is great, but some companies don't provide case type, barrel length, primer type, and other important factors online.
__________________
"Such is the strange way that man works -- first he virtually destroys a species and then does everything in his power to restore it."
FrankenMauser is offline  
Old May 19, 2010, 01:38 AM   #13
FEG
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 14, 2008
Location: Indiana
Posts: 324
Here's some more:

1) Powder is sold by weight, and load data is published by weight. This is a matter of convenience. Always find out the volume of your powder charge as compared to the relevant case volume. Thinking "volumetrically" is more important in the long run.

This is very important when using smokeless powders in blackpowder-era cartridges. IMR Trail Boss came out a few years ago, which is deliberately higher in volume than other smokeless powders. Always try it when developing lighter loads in .38 Special, .44 Special, etc.

2) Swaged bullets pretty much suck for anything other than their intended applications (low velocity). Hornady and 3-D swaged bullets should not be used in 9mm, period. The latticework used to hold the lube breaks up in the rifling of every 9mm pistol I have ever tried, regardless of velocity.

3) Buy one of the cheap tools for disassembling a loaded cartridge. It will pay for itself, no matter how careful you are at loading.

4) The Lee Auto Prime is the best tool on the market for the price, but the critical part (the "arm" or "post" or whatever its called) is a wear part. Keep an extra on hand. As soon as you feel something different or notice vertical stringing, replace it.

5) Containers, containers, containers. Save everything you can, and beg/borrow everything you can find. Now that coffee comes in plastic containers, these are great to use and easy to scrounge. Tobacco cans with metal bottoms are also very useful.

6) Label everything. The mind plays tricks on you at times.

7) Use the right tool for the job. That doesn't mean buying Sinclair over Lee every time; sometimes the right tool may be a bent paperclip.

8) Hold on to everything you can until you are sure you have no use for it. For example, I was considering using my last can of Bullseye for fertilizer right before someone asked me to load a few hundred .38 FWCs for them. I ended ip getting some powder I could actually use out of the deal.
__________________
WARNING: CZs MAY BE HABIT-FORMING.
Consult your doctor if nursing or pregnant.
FEG is offline  
Old May 19, 2010, 08:53 AM   #14
Legionnaire
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 25, 2000
Location: Western PA
Posts: 1,470
I'm a relative newbie, and I love threads like these. I consider it a sign of human intelligence that one can learn from someone else's experience! That said, here are a few of the tips I've learned in the last couple of months ... some by trial and error.

1. If you use dryer sheets in your media while tumbling, make sure they are USED dryer sheets! The fabric softener in new sheets can cause dust and debris to stick to your brass. (Yeah, I learned this one the hard way.)

2. A shot of Nu-Finish liquid car polish in your media does wonders.

3. A set of multi-colored Sharpie pens has lots of uses. I mark the primers of test loads in different colors and record a key on an index card (color = powder charge) that I put in the ammo box. When you decap the fired cases, the color code is gone.

4. Ditto the comments on small Post-It note pads. I use them for everything from temporarily recording load data to marking pages in my loading manuals.

5. A small clamp-on vise makes a great addition to your bench. I use mine to hold the base of my L.E. Wilson case trimmer (among other things).

6. Mink Oil (the solid in the shoe polish tin) makes a cheap and readily available case lube. Just rub your finger across the oil and wipe your cases.

7. A piece of foam ear plug shoved into the end of cavity in your kinetic bullet puller will protect soft pointed bullets from deforming (yeah, I learned this one the hard way, too).
__________________
Cogito, ergo armatus sum.
Legionnaire is offline  
Old May 19, 2010, 08:59 AM   #15
jaguarxk120
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 28, 2008
Location: Michigan
Posts: 1,943
When using carbide sizing dies give your brass a 2 second shot of furniture wax in a plastic bag, mix well. If you thing carbide was good, just a little bit of wax makes them even better. Nice thing you don't even have to clean the brass after sizing.
jaguarxk120 is offline  
Old May 19, 2010, 10:34 AM   #16
briandg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 4, 2010
Posts: 1,701
I doubt I have any wisdom that isn't already common knowledge among hundreds of other people about reloading. Sorry to disappoint.
briandg is offline  
Old May 19, 2010, 12:23 PM   #17
mongoose33
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 23, 2009
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 228
1. I use the cardboard ammo boxes Frankenmauser was referring to. I stick a 1" 3-ring-binder label holder on them, and then I can reuse them over and over just by replacing the label. It's organized, it's easy, and I don't have stick-on labels to deal with:





2. The Shellsorters sold by Midway and others (http://shellsorter.com) are expensive, but they are worth their weight in gold, IMO. Midway has them on sale for under $30 from time to time (how I bought them), so if combined in another order they're not too bad.

I just bought the .380 shellplate from shellsorter directly; the price ($19.96) includes first-class shipping.

I've found they work best for me if I tilt them about 45 degrees toward me, and simply rotate them. It allows for nested brass to un-nest.

3. If you're using a Chronograph, replace the metal rods that hold the screens with wooden dowels. Shoot a metal rod and you might destroy the chrono; shoot a wooden rod and it just snaps. You might need to sand the ends a bit to get them to fit, but it's well worth it.

4. I have a piece of stair tread to which I've attached a Hornady powder measure stand. It has the lock n load system in it, allowing me to easily switch from measure to measure (I have more than one). I also added a couple screw-eyes to it so I could hang it from a joist, out of the way:





The little funnel screwed to the front makes it easy to dump powder from the measuring tray into the case; easier than trying to pour it directly into the case.

5. I read this someplace else (maybe TFL?) and it works wonderfully for capturing spent primers from the LnL AP press:



6. If you put a narrow shelf just above your workbench, you'll be amazed at how much stuff you can get off the bench surface but still have within easy reach:



7. A super-heavy-duty workbench can be made cheaply and effectively with a solid-core door as a surface (sand and seal with polyurethane), and legs that are self-leveling. You can see the upper part in the pic above; the lower part, with the self-leveling legs, is seen below. Those leveled legs will make the bench rock solid, and if you tie it to the wall, as I have done, it's not going anywhere. The 2x4 legs make it heavy, the shelf below (esp if you store stuff on it) adds more weight.



<more>
mongoose33 is offline  
Old May 19, 2010, 12:28 PM   #18
mongoose33
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 23, 2009
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 228
8. To trim, chamfer and deburr my .223 brass I use the Possum Hollow trimmer with the power adapter. The adapter takes not only the trimmer but an RCBS (or similar) debur/chamfer tool. I chuck it up in my cheap drill, clamp it to the workbench surface, and off I go.



9. Consider making bench height around 38 inches. Perfect for standing and working at it, for me.

10. On my LnL AP press, I wanted a bullet tray. You can buy them for exorbitant prices, or make your own for the cost of a clamp. Just get a small box, as shown, and clamp it to the front support member of the press. Easy to grab a bullet, it's right there in front of you. The less wasted motion there is, the faster it can be.



I place the cases in a small box cut down for that purpose. I don't want to reach into anything if I can avoid it. Reaching into something is wasted motion.

11. You can buy empty Hornady LnL die boxes (the red ones) for storing non-Hornady dies that you're using the LnL bushings with.

12. I buy my walnut cleaning media at pet stores; it's called Lizard Litter in some places. PetSmart has it, and it's fairly cheap.
mongoose33 is offline  
Old May 19, 2010, 12:54 PM   #19
briandg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 4, 2010
Posts: 1,701
As was mentioned, build a tall workbench, and buy an adjustable bar stool. Various operations can be more easily performed in various positions.
briandg is offline  
Old May 20, 2010, 12:00 AM   #20
Dave R
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 7, 2000
Location: Idaho
Posts: 6,073
Mongoose, I like the bullet box!
__________________
I am Pro-Rights (on gun issues).
Dave R is offline  
Old May 20, 2010, 12:24 AM   #21
palabman
Member
 
Join Date: January 24, 2010
Location: Ohioville, PA
Posts: 75
Make your own bulge-buster

Take a Lee Factory Crimp Die and remove the innards. Fashion a tube out of paper to fit the the output (so the case doesn't bind on the threads). Push the case through with the proper sizing die ram and there you have it...
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_1644.JPG (195.4 KB, 93 views)
palabman is offline  
Old May 20, 2010, 04:33 AM   #22
Head-Space
Junior member
 
Join Date: May 14, 2010
Posts: 187
The 99 cent plastic shoe boxes at Wal-Mart, Home Depot are exactly the right size for the plastic 50 rd. large handgun shell holder that comes in the box of pistol ammo. The shell holders manage most rifle brass. 50 holes, so two holders adds up to one pack of primers, one box of bullets.

Then the 99 cent "shoe box" holds 200 rds of ammo in shell holders. And they stack up! You can see what's in them.

They also come in handy for components, bullets, lube pads, primers, etc. They stack, and "nest" for storage, are cheap, cheap, cheap, and sturdy too.

Out on the bench you have your ammo in 50 rd. "blocks" -- brass goes in another "block" and back in the box. Easy to keep count, organize.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

I bolted my press and powder measure to a 2" X 12" and secure it to the bench with large C clamps. Because sometimes I need a clear bench, and sometimes I need a press / powder measure.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

OK, and for accurate loading, Varmint Al's page just about covers it all:

http://www.varmintal.com/arelo.htm
Head-Space is offline  
Old May 20, 2010, 08:44 AM   #23
Sevens
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 28, 2007
Location: Central Ohio
Posts: 8,775
Head-Space, that web page is one heckuva collection of information!
I just spent about 20 minutes reading this part of it. It had led me to believe that it was about the mini-lathe that he uses but it's much more a story about his working life. Incredibly interesting!

http://www.varmintal.com/alath.htm
__________________
Attention Brass rats and other reloaders: I really need .327 Federal Magnum brass, no lot size too small. Tell me what caliber you need and I'll see what I have to swap. PM me and we'll discuss.
Sevens is offline  
Old May 20, 2010, 10:41 AM   #24
howlnmad
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 29, 2009
Location: Harriman Tn
Posts: 413
1- I use the Lee case trimmers. Instead of using the lock stud, I chuck the cutter in my drill press and use the table as the anvil.

2- If you use a whack a mole bullet puller, shell holders replace the 3 piece collets and o-rings nicely.
howlnmad is offline  
Old May 20, 2010, 12:43 PM   #25
jhansman
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 17, 2007
Posts: 624
Try Avery Easy-Peel labels for your plastic ammo boxes. They can be laser or inkjet printed, the software for designing them is free, and (as the name implies) they peel off easily.
__________________
Blessed is the man who has nothing to say, and cannot be compelled to say it.
jhansman is offline  
Reply

Tags
and secrets , hints , tips

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:35 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.15430 seconds with 8 queries