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Old August 11, 2013, 05:19 PM   #1
Swampman1
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Any merit in annealing brass?

I know it's done, just curious if the time and effort involved is worth it. How many people out the are annealing their .223 brass? Or any brass for that matter. And does it actually extend the life of brass?
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Old August 11, 2013, 05:35 PM   #2
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Hello Swapman1- I do not anneal 223 brass,as it is to easy to come by. All my other rifles, I anneal every 4th reload. It will extend your brass life and the neck seating is more even. My set up is very crude but makes due very well.
I take 2 torches, face them toward each other so flames meet. Grab brass with pliers and hold into flame for the count of 5. Since flames is wider than the case it does a very good job at getting all the way around the case evenly. Drop them in a tub of ice water and I am done. Never timed myself ,but I can fly through 100 pcs very fast. Brass is getting to be a very exspensive part of reloading latley,If you can find what you need first of all. I like to get as many reloads out of it as I can. I have gotten as many as 14 reloads on my 308 brass,18 reloads on my Norma 6MMBR brass, 10 on my 243 and 22-250 brass. I shoot a lot so I need it to last. As for pistol brass, Never done it,never will. I lose them long before they are shot.

You can tell very fast when you go to chamfer if you did a good job annealing. They chamfer real nice and the feeling you get while chamfering them is like cutting warm butter as apposed to cold butter. Smooth and easy.
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Old August 11, 2013, 05:36 PM   #3
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I only annel one caliber. That is .221 Rem Fireball. I have 300 pieces of factory brass for it. I have had less than 10 split on me. I was reforming them from .223 Rem for a while. They would give me 5 to 8 reloads before splitting. As finfances allowed I bought more of the factory .221 brass that is a wee tiny bit thinner, and softer. There is a group of the brass that I have that have over 40 reloads on them. The primer pockets are still tight as can be, and I have never had to trim them. They still shoot like laser beams.

I use a butane soldering torch, and a pan of water to do mine. I decap/size them, then put them in water stanging up. Heat till they glow, then tip them into the water. It has worked for those.

As far as everything else I just shoot it till it wears out. With .223 Rem shooting out of my bolt action the primer pockets will eventualy get loose then I scrap that lot, and go to the next. I keep 1K fire formed cases ready to go. I load in lots of 100 then use them till the first ones show signs of failure. I then scrap the lot. I do not annel the the others for the reason of I have other things to do, or I am just too lazy too (at least that is what my wonderful wife says anyway.)
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Old August 11, 2013, 05:47 PM   #4
jepp2
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Quote:
And does it actually extend the life of brass?
It can significantly extend the life of the brass IF DONE PROPERLY. You said you know how to. But realize it is a time/temperature relationship. Too hot is bad. Too long is bad. Not hot enough and you get no benefit.

I used to anneal my 22-250 brass. But since I started using the Lee collet die it significantly reduces the work hardening when sizing. So I don't bother with it any longer.

I have annealed some 223 brass, but that isn't my normal practice.
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Old August 11, 2013, 10:04 PM   #5
stubbicatt
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An annealing setup is on my list for next year. The benefits are many, including extending the life of expensive brass, and from what I have read, the practice will improve neck tension consistency and bullet pull.

A Bernzomatic torch is not terribly expensive.
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Old August 12, 2013, 07:11 AM   #6
oldpapps
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4runnerman hit on the head

Longer brass life and some (me included) say better accuracy.

It is a simple process. I use one 'torch'. I don't set it for a sharp hot cutting flame. I put a 'deep well' socket on a short extension, drop a case in and rotate. After a full rotation, into water (ice water would be better but I just use water). I prefer to do this in the late evening so I can watch the metal go from a crinkly surface to smooth. There are markers that can be used to tell the actual temp.

I feel it is a must before reforming .223/5.56 into .300 Blackouts.

Be safe,

OSOK

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Old August 12, 2013, 08:04 AM   #7
Rifleman1776
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I have done it successfully because it does extend the life of brass which is getting very expensive.
No fancy equipment is needed. I place the brass in a pan with about one inch of water standing up. I heat with a propane torch one at a time until the neck and shoulder glow red then tip over into the water. Simple and fast and it does the job.
If more than one case in a lot starts to crack that is when annealing is necessary and done. That's my take on the situation.
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Old August 12, 2013, 08:38 AM   #8
dahermit
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Quote:
It is a simple process. I use one 'torch'. I don't set it for a sharp hot cutting flame. I put a 'deep well' socket on a short extension, drop a case in and rotate. After a full rotation, into water (ice water would be better but I just use water). I prefer to do this in the late evening so I can watch the metal go from a crinkly surface to smooth. There are markers that can be used to tell the actual temp.
Ice water serves no purpose. The purpose for water quenching the brass is to prevent the heat from conducting from the area being annealed to the area (case head) of the case that should/must remain harder. Quenching has nothing to do with the process except as a convenient way of stopping the heat from migrating from the neck to the body to the head. If one wanted to anneal just a small piece of brass (not a cartridge case), it could just be heated and left to air cool...it would still be just as soft. "One full rotation", is ambiguous as to time and heat, and naught but a "guesstamate".

Annealing is not as simple as some are suggesting. The cartridge case should be fairly soft in the neck, a little harder in the body and harder still in the head. If the head becomes soft, the primer will blow-out on the next firing. If you wish to anneal your cases, do some research and find the correct temperature (not "crinkly to smooth") or red heat...that is too hot and the necks can become too soft, causing the cartridge necks to prolapse into the case when seating a bullet. To get the correct temperature, it is safest to get the temperature indicating crayons that can be found via the internet.
Uniformity is also important, the neck should be heated uniformly around its circumference, which is difficult to do with a hand held torch. If a case neck is rendered softer on one side more than the other, bullet-pull and accuracy will most certainly suffer.

If you are determined to anneal your cases, do research using credible sources (for instance, do a search on the "annealing temperature of brass"). A forum where anyone can post, is not the best of sources. Take everything posted here with a gain of salt. Some posters on the subject will consider themselves knowledgeable on the subject if they get away with if after doing it X number of years, but in fact are courting disaster. Some will be quite knowledgeable and will have perfected their methods in conjunction with good science...you will have to be able to tell the difference.
Here is a very good source:
http://www.6mmbr.com/annealing.html
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Old August 12, 2013, 09:10 AM   #9
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Water added to the process is done to keep The case head from being annealed too. Most of the folks that have a heat to some sort of "glow" generally use water.

If you do it right you dont need any water. You also don't need any "glow". In fact you really don't even want the flame to change from blue to orange.


This is too much


This is what you want. No change in flame color, good color around the neck and can be held right out of the flames.

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Old August 12, 2013, 09:14 AM   #10
Brian Pfleuger
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Dahermit is correct.

Any "glow" of brass is an indication that it is over annealed.

I've personally settled on a method that works for me and makes it nearly impossible to get the case head too hot. It does have the downsides of slightly inconsistent annealing because it's "feel" based but it certainly works for preserving case life. I have some rather old 6mm Rem brass that had neck cracks in about 50% of the brass after sizing. That brass made me decide to try annealing. After using this method, not a single case has cracked.

I simply hold the case abou 1/2-3/4" down the body and either rotate it in a propane flame or preferably use 2 torches so I can rotate it less. I place a pan of water below so I can just drop the case when it gets too hot for my fingers. I also use the water to cool my fingers so the starting temperature is somewhat consistent.

It's not perfect but the cases come out with a remarkably consistent appearance and it's virtually impossible to get the heads too hot, you'd blister your fingers long before.
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Old August 12, 2013, 09:23 AM   #11
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"Ice water serves no purpose. The purpose for water quenching the brass is to prevent the heat from conducting from the area being annealed to the area (case head) of the case that should/must remain harder. Quenching has nothing to do with the process except as a convenient way of stopping the heat from migrating from the neck to the body to the head. If one wanted to anneal just a small piece of brass (not a cartridge case), it could just be heated and left to air cool...it would still be just as soft. "One full rotation", is ambiguous as to time and heat, and naught but a "guesstamate".

Annealing is not as simple as some are suggesting. The cartridge case should be fairly soft in the neck, a little harder in the body and harder still in the head. If the head becomes soft, the primer will blow-out on the next firing. If you wish to anneal your cases, do some research and find the correct temperature (not "crinkly to smooth") or red heat...that is too hot and the necks can become too soft, causing the cartridge necks to prolapse into the case when seating a bullet. To get the correct temperature, it is safest to get the temperature indicating crayons that can be found via the internet.
Uniformity is also important, the neck should be heated uniformly around its circumference, which is difficult to do with a hand held torch. If a case neck is rendered softer on one side more than the other, bullet-pull and accuracy will most certainly suffer.

If you are determined to anneal your cases, do research using credible sources (for instance, do a search on the "annealing temperature of brass"). A forum where anyone can post, is not the best of sources. Take everything posted here with a gain of salt. Some posters on the subject will consider themselves knowledgeable on the subject if they get away with if after doing it X number of years, but in fact are courting disaster. Some will be quite knowledgeable and will have perfected their methods in conjunction with good science...you will have to be able to tell the difference.
Here is a very good source:
http://www.6mmbr.com/annealing.html "
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The above post is the reason I do not respond to annealing questions. I make annealing equipment. I have offered to work with one member from this forum to get started with annealing. He found nothing complicated about the techniques, there was nothing about 'time is a factor' he did not understand.

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Old August 12, 2013, 09:47 AM   #12
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Yes! If you heat to a red glow you ironically are weakening the brass, causing it to split in as few as three or four reloadings, thus necessitating annealing more frequently than you would otherwise have to do. There are some who anneal every load cycle for better bullet pull consistency rather than because of the threat of a split. That's when the machines start to look attractive. I don't have any quantitative data on the effect on interior ballistics of doing that.
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Old August 12, 2013, 09:56 AM   #13
Jimro
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I don't anneal 5.56 brass because I believe in the "four reloads and chuck it" method of feeding an autoloader.

If I were feeding a bolt or other manually actuated firearm, I would.

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Old August 12, 2013, 10:31 AM   #14
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Swampman1,

Follow what these much more experienced annealer say. They know bunches more than me.

Never the less, with my non-scientific methods, I still am getting 25 pulse reloads from split necked .223/5.56 brass that I cut and reformed to .300 BlackOut. There is a reason to anneal brass.

I wonder how many reloads I could get if I did it right?

Always error on the side of safety,

OSOK
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Old August 12, 2013, 02:15 PM   #15
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Quote:
there was nothing about 'time is a factor' he did not understand.
You seemed to have misunderstood what I was posting. Time in itself is not a factor with something as thin as a cartridge neck...but the heat reached by the case neck is. My statement was in regard to the post about holding the case neck in the flame for "...one full revolution...". The longer the case is in the flame, the hotter it will become. There needs to be some indication of how high of a heat the case has risen to. "One revolution" being ambiguous, can mean anything from one minute to five seconds or less or anything in between. A case that has been in the heat source (propane torch) for a full minute, would have likely been heated to, too high of a temperature.
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Old August 12, 2013, 02:45 PM   #16
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Yes, I anneal my brass. Especially when reforming it to another cartridge (308 to 6.5x308, 30-06 to 25-06 etc.).
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Old August 12, 2013, 03:47 PM   #17
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Nope. Stop doing it. Just never caught on to the technique of doing it right. Had a couple of problems with a few piece's I made up for my 300 savage I thought I did correctly. But didn't. So I decided to stop doing it altogether. If done correct. Annealing I'm sure is beneficial to a shells longevity. In my case it lead to their premature demise. (hello >junk box)
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Old August 13, 2013, 03:44 PM   #18
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Tried annealing but gave it up as too difficult for my feeble mind

However, I do lose a few cases out of every 100 to split necks. If this shortage thingie keeps going, I may regret not having perfected the process and made it part of the routine of loading.
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Old August 13, 2013, 03:46 PM   #19
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I do for a couple of calibers, but that's it.

I use Tempilaq to let me know when I've reached the proper heat range (600 dF if my memory serves). You paint it on the inside of the case neck, heat evenly with a torch (I prefer to do this in a darker environment so I can make sure I'm not overheating), then quench in water.

I'm not a seasoned expert, but it seems to work just fine. Chamfering the case necks after annealing becomes quite obvious that it softens the neck by the feel of the cut.
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Old August 13, 2013, 04:12 PM   #20
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In the July, 1996 Precision Shooting, Fred Barker's article on the metallurgy of annealing recommends these safe but slow methods that won't overheat the brass:

Quote:
(1) Lead Pot Method: heat lead to 725°-750°F; dip neck into powdered graphite and then—holding body of case in fingertips—into molten lead: when case body becomes too hot to hold slap case into wet towel; or

(2) Candle-flame method: Hold case body in fingertips, place case neck in flame and twirl case back & forth until case body is too hot to hold, then slap case into wet towel; wipe soot off neck % shoulder with dry paper towel or 0000 steel wool.
The powdered graphite prevents the molten bullet metal from soldering to the brass.
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Old August 15, 2013, 07:33 PM   #21
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Just to share some techniques on annealing.

My first attempts involved setting the brass in a cake pan with enough water to come half way up the case. I heated on one side with a propane torch in a dimly lit area. When the case shoulder/neck just started to turn to a glow of red (just barely) I would knock the case over in the water.

Shortcomings with this method are heat is applied to only one side of the case, and when you can see the brass start to glow, that is too hot. But the brass worked well for me.

The process I follow now is fully described here:link.

The Temp stick works much better if you have not polished your brass. I have excellent control over the heating and it is very easy to see the indicator melt. I just drop them into water at that point. The coloration is very even on the annealed cases. After following this process for a while, I can see the difference in the appearance of the brass so the indicator isn't absolutely required. But I still use it just for a check.

I'm not saying either of these methods are better than any other methods shared. I just thought the more you could see, the better you could make your own decision.
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Old August 16, 2013, 10:52 AM   #22
mehavey
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+1
^^^^^^^^^^^
What Jepp said ref
TempStik & website

Only added note is that water drop is not neceessary.
Just drop on old dish towel cushion and proceed....
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Old August 17, 2013, 04:13 PM   #23
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The Tempilstiks work much better if you heat the case a couple of seconds before applying them. You can also grind them up and mix a slurry with alcohol to dot onto a cold case, as one member did, but you might as well buy the liquid form (Tempilaq) then.

Dropping into water is not only supposed to keep the head from warming enough to start stress-relieving, but it's also supposed to stop grain growth, which weakens brass. But a board member who is a metallurgist points out that grain growth takes time, and he doesn't think the thin brass stays hot long enough after you remove the heat that to become a problem. Besides, if you don't get it too hot in the first place, grain growth never really begins to any significant degree.

If you want proof your heads are remaining strong, you can mark them with 250°C (482°F) Tempilstik or 246°C (475°F)Tempilaq just back of where you expect the annealing stain to stop on the shoulder. If it doesn't get hot enough to melt that, it's below beginning to stress-relieve the brass in that location. Set it down where you can see that lower temperature mark, and as long as it remains un-melted, you're good to go and don't need to quench.
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Old August 17, 2013, 07:25 PM   #24
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Old August 18, 2013, 11:15 AM   #25
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This page has a good, illustrated description not only of the difference in metal hardening mechanisms, but also of how work hardening reduces ductility making neck splits occur more easily. It also explains the differences in how heat acts to relieve hardening. Ultimately, the stress relieving temperature needed to relieve work hardening is not high enough to cause recrystallization, which must occur before grain growth occurs and does even more extreme softening. This is why getting red hot is not required. It is also why quenching is pointless for stopping grain growth if your annealing temperature was not beyond the stress-relief point; it wouldn't be hot enough to cause grain growth in the first place.
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