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Old July 5, 2012, 07:13 AM   #1
Pond, James Pond
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Keeping on top of cases. What's your system?

I am not as organised as I'd like to be and it often takes me a little while to streamline any procedure I undertake to get it more efficient.

I often read here, and in literature, that it is important to keep track of how many times you've fired through your cases. This is perhaps less crucial with my .44 Mag revolver cases, but will come into play if I ever launch into CF rifle ownership with a .308.

With my .44s and .38s I hope to keep using the cases ad infinitum, unless they show signs of wear, all the same, I'd like to develop a good routine for keeping track of how often they been fired.

Note, that at the moment, despite having a turret press, I am likely to be doing batch loading for now, partly because I am having to prime the cartridges manually.

How do you keep track on the loading bench?

And

How do you organise any records of what you've fired, be it on PC or on paper?
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Old July 5, 2012, 07:31 AM   #2
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There are some guys who get truly organized with their case-management. One friend of mine keeps all cases segregated as to number of times they've been reloaded, with little bins based on the number of times a case has been used. He can glance at his bins and tell you how many times a piece of brass has been through the dies.

For myself, I'm not nearly as organized. I do well to keep mine separated by caliber. With pistol cases, it's not a big deal. I've got .38 special cases I've been using for a decade or longer, and they're all kept in a big bucket under my bench. If I see a crack or other defect, I toss it.

Rifle cases are a bit more problematic as problems can arise that are not nearly so obvious. The most worried-about problem is incipient head separation. This is checked by simply using a thin tool (I use a bent paperclip) and scrape along the inside of the case, just over the web. If there is a crack you'll feel it. Toss the case.

Another trick is to use your shell holder while de-capping. If you have any trouble putting the case into the shell holder, that particular case may have a loose primer pocket. Toss it. When priming, if the primer slips in too easily, toss it. Inspect the shoulder for cracks and the neck for problems. If you see a split, toss it. I've got .308 cases out there that I'm sure have been reloaded a dozen times. I've also tossed cases after the second or third loading.

The whole case-inspection thing is dependent on how thorough you want to be in your reloading practices. I don't load for bench rifles and I'm not chasing bughole groups. All my rifles are hunting rifles and as long as I can shoot at MOA levels, I'm happy. Were I playing other games, I might get a whole lot more interested in pure precision. You'll have to decide how much time you want to spend on case management.
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Old July 5, 2012, 07:32 AM   #3
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I keep it pretty simple for the most part, I shoot them until they crack or get lost.
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Old July 5, 2012, 07:37 AM   #4
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I only separate my once-fired cases from all others. 'Dunno exactly why... but it's what I do. After the first reloading, they go into the mix of general rotation until they fail in some way. Some of em are p r e t t y old now though, but still working great.
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Old July 5, 2012, 07:47 AM   #5
Pond, James Pond
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Quote:
The whole case-inspection thing is dependent on how thorough you want to be in your reloading practices.
Safety is my main driver. Being unexperienced, so far it all looks dangerous!!

No, but really, safety for me, any other shooter and my weapon are my main concerns when thinking of case management.
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Old July 5, 2012, 08:07 AM   #6
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If you pay as much attention to what is happening while you reload as you do while driving, it's just as safe.
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Old July 5, 2012, 08:10 AM   #7
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Quote:
Safety is my main driver.
Nothing beats a good visual inspection. If you're satisfied with the groups that are created by your reloads and you're not trying to set a record, then keep doing what you do. If you go to a 308 and only use one rifle than do a neck size only, it will extend the life of your brass greatly.

I believe that may over think the simple. KISS principal is the way to go.
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Old July 5, 2012, 08:28 AM   #8
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I have a real extensive system keeping on top of my cases.

I inspect them when I deprime them, inspect them when I resize them, inspect them when I reload them. If any defects show up during these 2 steps they get tossed.

Has worked for me for half a century.
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Old July 5, 2012, 08:48 AM   #9
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I keep all my brass stored in plastic bins, all labelled how many times they been fired. So yes I have separate batches of loaded ammo, meaning I go to range with single batch ( once fired vs three times fired) kinda over the top


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Old July 5, 2012, 08:54 AM   #10
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I should add I have 45 acp cases that have been fired so many times it difficult to read the headstamp, but they still work.
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Old July 5, 2012, 08:59 AM   #11
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Coffee cans.
I use the plastic ones that come in several sizes, 1/2 Lb, 1 Lb, & 2 Lb.
I stick tape to the lid saying what is in there & how many times it's been fired.
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Old July 5, 2012, 09:07 AM   #12
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Have a question here.

What is the point in knowing how many times a brass case has been fired?
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Old July 5, 2012, 09:09 AM   #13
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I'd probably be more exhaustive with the inspection of a piece of rifle brass that I knew had a half-dozen loadings already. Or, if I had enough brass, I might just toss them in the recycle bin after "X" loadings.
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Old July 5, 2012, 09:22 AM   #14
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I have a friend who shoot benchrest but not in compition. He has 6 BR cases that have been fired over a hundred times, he does have to bump the shoulder back at times. These cases are normally only neck sized.

I have the same experience with .223 cases, they also are only neck sized. I my case mine have been reloaded 70 some times.

In both cases the case length is frequently checked.
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Old July 5, 2012, 09:51 PM   #15
peter_s
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Check out this link:

http://headstampfinebrass.blogspot.com/

After reading this test data I quit trying to keep track of my pistol brass. If you page down about half way there is some testing of several brands of brass. I doubt I'll manage to reload my brass that many times in my lifetime.

There is also some interesting info about older A-MERC brass that suggests not all A-MERC is created equal.
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Old July 5, 2012, 11:43 PM   #16
Edward429451
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Quote:
Safety is my main driver.
You have the right attitude. I separate my brass in coffee cans also and tape the lids or toss a note inside the can. I stacked up an old VCR tape rack with 35 2 lb coffee cans. Virgin, once fired, and so on. Handgun brass I use until its cracked or lost and pitch the individual case into the recycle bucket, but bottleneck rifle brass I load until I get incipient case head separation on one or two cases then toss the batch. Brass is going up but is cheaper than rifles. When in doubt, toss it out.
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Old July 6, 2012, 12:36 AM   #17
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Since I only reload handgun ammunition right now, I don't have a system as such. But when I start to reload rifle, you bet I'll have some sort of system in place.

This thread should be helpful in gleaning info, thanks y'all!
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Old July 6, 2012, 03:13 AM   #18
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When I go shooting, I keep "tracked" brass separated from 'I don't care' brass. Generally, that includes putting the tracked brass back in its box, after firing (even for handguns). However, I don't bother if it's the only box of ammo for that cartridge, or if each box has a different head stamp.

When I get home, everything gets stacked up next to my tumbler in the "to tumble" staging area. When I run a load, I'll put in only brass that can be easily sorted, without mixing anything up (so if I have two boxes of identical cases, but one has been fired more, only one box will go in - the other box will go in the next load).

When it comes out of the tumbler, it goes right back in its box. Then, the clean, boxed brass is placed in my brass storage area. Most of my boxes of clean brass are stored in clear plastic bins, with new bulk brass bagged in the same bin. That way, there is only one place I need to look, when I need clean brass. (Okay, two places if the plastic bin is empty, and I need to check the staging area by the tumbler.)


I don't like scrounging for factory ammo boxes, and don't have very many lying around; so I use the Midway cardboard ammo boxes (example). They're cheap, work well, and last longer than most factory boxes (since they never get glued shut). Plus, I very much dislike the plastic ammo boxes. One clumsy hand, be it an adult's or a child's, and the box shatters when it hits the ground.


Actual tracking is done on the boxes, themselves. In addition to the Midway ammo boxes, I use Frankford Arsenal reloaders' labels. It makes it easy to standardize the method by which I identify my loads, and provides plenty of room for tracking times-fired, trim length, etc; and the comments section allows additional nonsense like times-fired-since-trimming, and anything else that strikes me as important (particularly useful for my "experiments" ).
I must say, though... the price on those labels has gone up considerably since I bought my last 300. I think I only paid $3.39 per 100.
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Old July 6, 2012, 04:19 AM   #19
Mike40-11
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Some cases I track more carefully than others. Pistol brass I sort by caliber and whether or not it's been tumbled. That's it. 4 buckets. 1 each clean and 1 each dirty .45 and 9mm. When the clean bucket is empty I tumble it all, reload and shoot for a 6 months or a year until the dirty bucket is full, repeat. I figure that way at least I'm cycling all my cases through approximately the same number of times.

Plinking rifle ammo is sorted by headstamp.

Match rifle ammo is sorted into batches and kept together. Headstamp, times fired, and for some, which rifle it's assigned to. I have separate 30-06 batches for Garand and 1903. Also different batches for my Enfield and my daughters.

For the sorted stuff I use a Harbor Freight rack of open Akro style bins I got a couple years ago. That's helped a lot. Before that I had 47 dozen bags, boxes, coffee cans, easter baskets (really!) and whatever filled with sorted brass. Can't find the picture of my rack full of brass, but it's this one.
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Old July 6, 2012, 07:22 AM   #20
Don P
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Quote:
How do you keep track on the loading bench?

And

How do you organise any records of what you've fired, be it on PC or on paper?
I don't. I reload my brass until the case no longer will hold a primer or until it cracks/splits.
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Old July 6, 2012, 11:55 AM   #21
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When I started reloading, I tracked how many time I reloaded a case. After about 15 reloads, I found one piece of brass that has cracked.

I no longer keep track of how many times I have reloaded my brass. It is inspected each time I reload and if I find any problems, or for some reason I do not like that piece of brass, I toss it in to the recycle bin.

I have an old coffee can that is full of brass (and used primers) and have started on my second can.
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Old July 7, 2012, 06:22 PM   #22
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I used to keep my loaded rounds in plastic ammo boxes and the empty cases in the same ammo boxes such that each batch of 50 rounds was always housed in the same box forever (when it wasn't actually in the gun or being handled while reloading).

In the lid of each box was a slip of paper with a grid on it.

Each horizontal row of the grid represented one loading/firing cycle. Columns showed the powder, the charge weight, the bullet, primer and the gun fired from.

It was all very organized and fairly easy to keep track of.

All that went away after a few years and my acquisition of an autoloader.

I discovered that my brass lasted many, many cycles of loading and the only ones that ever wore out were the one box of nickle-plated 38 specials I had loaded to +p pressures. They started splitting case mouths after the fourth firing. So, counting the number of cycles in the life of my revolver brass seemed kind of pointless, since the .357 Magnum and 44 Magnum seemed to be lasting forever (I tend to load light.).

The 45 ACP and 9mm brass had a different problem. It turned out to be impossible to keep each 50-count batch together. Invariably some would get lost and nearly as often some range pick-up brass of unknown life history would get mixed into my brass.

Now that I have a brass tumbler, it is even harder to keep my brass segregated into 50-round batches, so I don't bother at all with the handgun rounds.

If I ever get into shooting rifle for supreme accuracy (a pipe dream of mine), THOSE, I will keep track of.

I hope my experience is illuminating

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Old July 7, 2012, 06:37 PM   #23
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I don’t keep track of handgun brass, cause that gets crazy. Just shoot till they crack or primers wont stay in. For rifle I only keep track of the times trimmed not fired. Before the fourth trimming they go in the recycle bin.
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Old July 8, 2012, 03:12 PM   #24
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I use to track all the info years ago.My shooting is mainly for fun now so I just inspect the cases closely and reload them til the primer pockets get loose or they split.
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Old July 8, 2012, 07:40 PM   #25
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For pistol brass I have it in cans, and buckets depending on how much I have at the time. There are three cans, or buckets for each caliber. One for unprepped, one for sized/decapped, and one for sized/decapped, flared, and ready to prime. My revolver brass has gone more loads than I want to even try to count. After 3 years, and over 100 loading I had several .41 Rem Mag cases crack at the case mouth.

Rifle brass it depends on the caliber. I have some factory .221 Rem Fireball R-P head stamped brass that has been fired over 70 times. I annel the cases every 5 loadings to keep the mouths from cracking. Though some do any way. I do the paper clip test, as well as being careful of loose primer pockets.

.223 Rem brass I have so much range pick up. I trim once after full length resizing, and depriming. After that I neck size them. Once they need to be trimmed again I scrap them, and start over with more cases. I usualy do lots of 500 for prepping that will get me by for a few months.
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