The Firing Line Forums

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

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old September 16, 2012, 10:15 AM   #1
Senior Member
Join Date: August 27, 2012
Posts: 321
Is mixed headstamp brass a wise buy?

My purchase habits for once-fired brass has been to buy cases with a single brand headstamp and they usually come in "speer" cases. My favorite supplier is out of stock for the same headstamp brass I am seeking to buy.

Should I be leary of buying mixed head stamp brass? All manufacturors should be bulding cases based on the same standard specs; right?

I have read where some manufacteror's cases are thought to be thicker/better than others (star-line brass, for example) although I have never measured the thickness or other demensions of different manufacterors.

If cases from different manufacterors are different, can this cause different pressure levels or poor accuracy, inconsistent loads issues, etc?

rajbcpa is offline  
Old September 16, 2012, 10:22 AM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: December 14, 2004
Location: Northern Indiana
Posts: 6,117
I wouldn’t let mixed brass bother you if it’s cheap enough. For new all I buy is Starline and I have had great experience with it.
There is some bad brass out there and if you do a search here on Bad brass you can find some good information on some you want to stay away from.
A-Merc CRAP is one.
Ozzieman is offline  
Old September 16, 2012, 10:32 AM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: July 28, 2007
Location: Central Ohio
Posts: 10,982
I applaud that you are considering this as you begin to compile components. Many simply don't care. It's long been my process that when I build a box of 50 rounds of handgun ammo, everything in that box is going to have the same headstamp. Part of that is simple pride and maybe a smidge of OCD that wants it to look "right" but when it comes to anything in this game, consistency is where the results lie.

The argument of internal capacity is real, but in most handgun rounds, it a non-issue, given the relatively small size we are talking about. You'd have much more chance of seeing tangible differences related to capacity when handloading rifle ammo.

For my buck, however, what it VERY important at the load bench when making pistol ammo is brass thickness (related to case mouth tension) and using a large load of similar brass allows me the exact same feel with every mouth flare and bullet seat. Truly and without a stitch of doubt, I can tell you for certain that if I run a 5 piecee of Winchester (any cal.) through a flare die or a seat/crimp die and then you sneak a piece of R-P in there on me, I will feel the difference. And if I can feel it in a press lever, I know it's constructed "differently" enough that it bothers me.

Sure, I'll load up 200 rounds using R-P brass (in most cals.), but I will adjust the flare settings on my die until I get the feel I desire, and I'll do it with my crimp as well. And priming these different cases is the same animal, you'll get a different feel across different headstamps. In my book, that's NOT consistency, and if I don't feel like I took the proper steps to make consistent ammo, I won't have the same level of confidence in it.

Now, after all that, I have to say two things:
1) There are folks that shoot different kind of competitions that have used mixed brass for years and years and their opinion may differ from mine and that's fine. I'm not saying they are wrong and if it works for them, it's all good. This is what works for me.

2) Even with that whole explanation -- I'd absolutely buy mixed lots of used brass. For sure. First off, that's pretty much how it's going to be sold 95% of the time. While I sort brass constantly, I realize that I do more of it than most folks would put up with. Guys that sell brass and often likely to separate out headstamps for you. So unless you wish to buy new brass ($$$!), you'll be buying mixed lots for the most part... or you won't be buying anything.

Secondly... just simply by picking up little gold mines at different range days, you are going to end up with a supply that includes 15 different head stamps anyway. You may as well start stockpiling different cans of it and using it as such. Some days when I make 9mm, I'm making 400 rounds with PMC stamps. Sometimes it's Blazer. Or Winchester. Or fill-in-the-blank. You are going to end up with a lot of the stuff the longer you keep at this game, so a nice purchase of a mixed lot is just a way to accelerate that process.

NOTE! All of that is my opinion in handgun brass and loading ONLY! Rifle loading is a different ballgame entirely.
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 September 16, 2012, 10:43 AM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: December 14, 2004
Location: Northern Indiana
Posts: 6,117
Rifle loading is a different ballgame entirely.
Ozzieman is offline  
Old September 16, 2012, 03:06 PM   #5
Join Date: March 6, 2012
Posts: 63
mixed brass

I use any old mixed range brass for pistol. Inspect it and make sure the primer pockets have no crimp remaining. If they do swage or ream.
As mentioned, rifles are a different matter and I match head stamps and inspect for stretching.
judgecrater is offline  
Old September 16, 2012, 05:11 PM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: September 22, 2011
Location: Middle America
Posts: 518
What cha loaden for...

For the kids/grand kid in my case, to poke holes in some targets with a .45 or .40 - who cares what the head stamp is, just as long as they work and are safe.

For business - sort and select.

For target used - sort, select, weigh and primp each one.

If the price is right, go for it. You can sort by head stamp if the need is there.

Be safe,

oldpapps is offline  
Old September 16, 2012, 06:01 PM   #7
Senior Member
Join Date: December 28, 2006
Posts: 3,438
Is mixed headstamp brass a wise buy?
Depends on the price and as others have said, what you're using it for. Last lot of 1000 once fired .45ACP brass I bought I sorted when I got it. All but 90 of them were either Federal, Winchester or Remington. Out of that 50 some were Starline with the other 30 some a Duke's Mixture. For $7 a hundred delivered(cleaned, sized and deprimed) I thought it was a wise buy. Similar experience with the last lot of 500 .38 Specials I bought. If you buy from a reputable source you shouldn't have a problem. If you're loading hunting loads for a magnum handgun, or rounds for competition, I'd definitely sort by headstamp. If you're loading range rounds not so much.
buck460XVR is offline  
Old September 16, 2012, 06:31 PM   #8
Senior Member
Join Date: December 4, 1999
Location: WA, the ever blue state
Posts: 4,678
I have shot a number of 1/2" groups with mixed head stamps.
That is in a heavy barreled .223.

I have shot a number of 6" groups with matching headstamps.
That is in a light barreled 30-06.

Based on my limited anecdotal experience, mixed headstamps makes groups a dozen times smaller.
The word 'forum" does not mean "not criticizing books."
"Ad hominem fallacy" is not the same as point by point criticism of books. If you bought the book, and believe it all, it may FEEL like an ad hominem attack, but you might strive to accept other points of view may exist.
Are we a nation of competing ideas, or a nation of forced conformity of thought?
Clark is offline  
Old September 16, 2012, 07:52 PM   #9
Senior Member
Join Date: December 3, 2011
Posts: 558
I can tell you for certain that if I run a 5 piece of Winchester (any cal.) through a flare die or a seat/crimp die and then you sneak a piece of R-P in there on me, I will feel the difference. And if I can feel it in a press lever, I know it's constructed "differently" enough that it bothers me.
This is a key point for me. I am not a salty veteran but I can feel the difference between cartridges when I make them. Even though I know at 25' it wont make a difference, for each box of 50 handgun rounds I load, I sort by headstamp and then while loading, I further sort by "feel". Those that are the "correct" feel go in the boxes unmarked, those that have a "different" feel go in the same boxes with a dryerase marker slash or X on them. I use the marked cases for barrel fouling or similar purposes.
tkglazie is offline  
Old September 16, 2012, 08:02 PM   #10
Senior Member
Join Date: August 9, 2011
Posts: 1,293
If its rifle brass and your shooting for sub MOA then I would say sort it. If its pistol / revolver brass then mixed headstamps are not going to make a measurable difference in accuracy @ 25yrds. Heck it wont make a difference @ 50yrds either.
TMD is offline  
Old September 18, 2012, 08:10 AM   #11
Senior Member
Join Date: February 20, 1999
Location: home on the range; Vermont (Caspian country)
Posts: 14,270
handgun-only experience

I recommend sorted cases in most everything but 45 ACP and low-power 44 Magnum.
In every other case () sorted cases enhance my accuracy.
For me.

I recognize most have neither the patience or the skill for it to matter.
To them.
"all my ammo is mostly retired factory ammo"
WESHOOT2 is offline  
Old September 18, 2012, 08:43 AM   #12
Senior Member
Join Date: July 18, 2010
Location: Independence Missouri
Posts: 4,142
I use my ammo for hunting, and I usually loose those suckers out in the field (from ejecting them frantically) so I don't take alot of stock in headstamp separation. I have a silly amount of .223 brass, some new some been loaded a few times, I like to keep that separate, but it will be mixed once its been loaded and shot. I try to always find brass at the range,, I once found 30 rnds of once fired .270 win brass, (Hornady) I use it today.
Thanks for coming!
hooligan1 is offline  
Old September 18, 2012, 11:29 AM   #13
Join Date: August 2, 2012
Posts: 61
As long as its a reputable source I say go for it. But to each his own. I get all of my .40 from a law enforcement range and its 99% federal. But for other calibers its mixed headstamps.
mxjunky78 is offline  
Old September 19, 2012, 09:19 AM   #14
F. Guffey
Senior Member
Join Date: July 18, 2008
Posts: 5,572
Rajbcpa, I had the opportunity to purchase 22,000 cases in Yonkers, NY, cheap, with 22,000 cases it is impossible not to be able to match a few thousands cases by head stamp, then there were the different firing pin marks etc..

Why match head stamps? I go to the firing range with 12 different loads of 10 rounds each, with out different head stamps how is a reloader going to get his cases back into the same box after tumbling, leads me to believe there are those that claim they sort their cases, keep up with the number if times they are fired etc..

Then there is the time I went to the range and found myself standing next to ‘another?’ reloader. He was doing everything he could do to pull the trigger on his Model 66 S&W, he could not pull the trigger, he could not pull the hammer back, he could not rotate the cylinder. And I ask “Can I help you?”. He explained he had a problem and all he needed to do was pull the trigger etc., etc.. I explained to him I knew why he could not pull the trigger, I explained to him my interest was in what caused the the pistol to lock up.

He had a bullet stuck between the barrel and cylinder, he had loaded one round without powder, he claimed he used a Dillon 550B, anyhow I upset him, another shooter and I drove the bullet back into the case and then immediately he wanted to resume without regards to safety to himself, and the two shooters on each side of him. He did not know if one case got no powder and the next one got all of it. He did not know if he got powder in any of the cases he loaded, so, we offered him all the ammo he could shoot for free, and that upset him more, I suggested he weigh the components as in primer, case powder and bullet, total the weight then use the weight to compare the weight to his loaded round, then we discussed scales, I offered to weight his cases, I offered to loan him a set of scales and I offered to help him become more familiar with with his Dillon 550B.

Back to sorting brass by head stamp, if the reloader does not know the weight of the case how are they going to randomly weight cases to see if they have enough powder or too much powder.

There is nothing like reloading without a plan, the shooter boxed his stuff up and left, the shooter on the other side of him is one of the most disciplined reloader I know, he was more curt than I was. He said that man was not going to shoot another round while he was standing next to him.

Back in the 60s a reloader purchases 500 rounds, same head stamp, same lot in bulk, he sorted, measured, fired, sorted and measured again, when he finished he declared 47 +/- a few cases were perfect, the rest had measurable difference, some of the rejects? could be indexed with predictable results.

F. Guffey
F. Guffey is online now  
Old September 22, 2012, 08:31 AM   #15
Senior Member
Join Date: August 25, 2009
Location: SW Florida
Posts: 103
Usually i buy my brass in mixed lots because often its cheaper,i do however usually sort them later into matched batches,it can be time consuming but its worth it to me. I shoot alot of .45acp and have to check them to weed out the occasional sp so i figure while i'm at it i might as well sort by headstamp also.
buffalo is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

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 09:56 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2017 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.10476 seconds with 9 queries