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Old October 3, 2012, 01:24 PM   #1
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Military brass vs Commercial brass, which would you choose?

I was reading around and came across some interesting posts on some other forums which spoke of the differences between commercial and military brass casings.

If I understood correctly, Commercial brass typically is thinner and can hold a slightly greater volume of powder but also comes at the cost of not being able to be reloaded as much, vice versa with military brass, they can be reloaded a few more times before they are no longer viable to do so and due to being thicker, tend to hold up a little better to rifles that really give spent casings a beating (Such as the PTR91/HK91 series of rifles)

I was wondering what you all prefer. Eventually I want to get into reloading, particularly for .308 (I'm looking at an FAL or a PTR91 for my first .308 rifle) and I was wondering if the trade off of case durability over being able to load hotter rounds is noticible at all (I'm a noobie, so please bear wth me)
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Old October 3, 2012, 01:38 PM   #2
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If I understood correctly, Commercial brass typically is thinner and can hold a slightly greater volume of powder...
While that may be true for .308/7.62, that is not the case with .223/5.56 brass.

I personally use LC brass for both my M1A and my AR.
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Old October 3, 2012, 05:31 PM   #3
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Use whatever you can get the best deal on.

After you have some experience with it, try the other type.

Go from there.

Don't ever look at different cases thinking, "I'll be able to load XXX brand hotter than YYY." It doesn't work like that, and you'll be chasing a fantasy. There are a few special exceptions; but they generally only involve soft brass, such as Federal and Norma, which see case head stretching before many other brands.

Personally, I consider (US) military .308 and .30-06 to be some of the best brass available, short of premium stuff (Norma, Lapua, etc.). But, that's just my opinion, and it's not based on case life or pressure tolerance -- It's much more consistent than most commercial brass.
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Old October 3, 2012, 06:38 PM   #4
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Amen Frankenmauser we have some 30-06 Match brass from Lake City that we use for 30-06 and .270 win that has lasted the test of time.
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Old October 4, 2012, 10:11 AM   #5
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I always prefer military brass. It seems to me to last longer (I don't load hot) and is more consistent year to year than commecial brass is, company to company. Plus it's generally less expensive to purchase the first time. But there's the primer crimp that has to be removed once. if that's a consideration to you. It's not to me.
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Old October 4, 2012, 12:28 PM   #6
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Let me clarify a slight misunderstanding for you as it might help.
You won't be "loading hotter" (or colder) for military Vs Commercial brass. What you'l be doing is compensating for different internal volumes to produce the same pressures & velocities with both.

The thicker brass has the same external dimensions so the thickness intrudes into the internal volume, reducing capacity or increasing pressures if loaded the same. Military cases typically need a reduction of 1~2 grains of powder to compensate.

Military cases are a little more durable in the hard extraction cycle of semi-automatic rifles & will handle the dings a hair better than thinner brass. However it comes at a price. Military primers are usually crimped in, & so harder to remove, plus you'll need some way of removing the crimp, so there is more work involved in the first cycle of case prep.
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Old October 5, 2012, 03:19 PM   #7
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Mil Surp Brass

I am on a miser's misson. I am just starting to develop loads for a new (to me) 30-06 Howa 1500. Since I have picked up about 20 lbs. of mil surp -06 brass in the last few years, I decided to play. The primary reason was to determine if the reduced internal capacity of the mil-surp cases would deliver higher pressures/higher velocities than commercial cases. Remember, I'm cheap at heart - more pressure/less powder!

Deprime and de-crimp
Trim to OAL listed in manuals
Clean ultrasonically
Clean primer pockets
First load - 29 rounds 165gr Sierra Spitzer Boattails with loads ranging by .5gr from 47gr to 50.5 gr of Varget (yes, it's not the best -06 powder, but I've got 10 lbs. of it to use)
Max COAL of 3.30"

Three shots at each load (only two at max) fired at 100yds, 95deg F, 95% humidity in Galveston, TX in late August,

no adjusting of scope, just looking for grouping, 5 minutes plus dry patch down barrel after each set

Chrono died of humidity before first string, so now I'm down to accuracy.

everything was spread at 1" to 1-1/2" until I hit 48.5 gr. Three shots under 1/2". Next best was 49gr = just over 3/4" group.

Started to have bolt lift issues at 50.5 gr. so glad it was over.

just finished reloading these 29 cases, and under extreme inspection, no evidence of case deterioration/deformation/primer pressure signs, etc.

I am open to comments and am not overly sensative, but I do bite back in the clinches.

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Old October 5, 2012, 05:13 PM   #8
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Semi auto rifles... use military brass.
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Old October 6, 2012, 09:04 PM   #9
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I processed (deprime, remove crimp) 1k of mixed milsurp 7.62x51 brass over two miserable weekends to feed my FALs and custom Garand. I haven't had to trim the brass since getting the 'X' die set up. There has been no sign of internal problems in the brass either. I loooove milsurp brass (except when it has been fired in a loosely headspaced machine gun).
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Old October 7, 2012, 07:45 AM   #10
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I choose the ones that are free. Most of my brass is range pick up. I watch for the mall ninjas to come with cases of new ammo. They blast away, and leave huge piles of once fired brass. Most times they leave the boxes, and the bag with the receipt from the store they bought it at as well.

Oh and as of late I have seen lots of LCC head stamps on Federal Ammo. Also all seem to be staked, or crimped in place. A few seconds with a Lyman tool then they are good to go.
No matter how many times you do it and nothing happens it only takes something going wrong one time to kill you.
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Old October 8, 2012, 01:25 AM   #11
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My expensive Lapua brass had issues staying concentric with the long Barnes LRX 175s (for .308) but the Lake City was perfect. I was only off the lands by .010" and most of the Lapua loads runout would be off enough to not chamber. No runout problem with the LC brass. [it took a while to figure out what was going on]

In fact I even got more consistent velocity spreads with the LC (under 10fps). After hunting season, I'm going to do more tests. If the LC performs consistently with match bullets, then I might not even go back to Lapua (which I cringe at having to trim the brass and reducing it's expensive lifespan
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Old October 8, 2012, 10:13 AM   #12
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My experience with military brass vs commercial mirrors the others here. I get more consistent results with LC brass than any other in my M1A.
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