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Old August 18, 2018, 09:10 AM   #1
jetinteriorguy
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Calling all .223 brass experts!

I finally sorted through all my .223 brass today(about 5000-6000 pieces) and am looking for any opinions/expert advice on differences in the following head stamps. The largest amount is stamped LC which I take to be Lake City brass, next largest is FC .223 Rem which I take to be Federal Cartridge .223, followed by just plain FC, and last is PMC. I've been loading more for precision in my AR-15, its chambered in .223 Wylde in an 18" barrel with a 1/8 twist. So far I've had good results with the PMC and 68gr Hornady HPBT with H4895. But I'm starting to get really excellent results with the same bullet in a 75gr using RE15 and am thinking this will be my go to load and want to work up the load using either the LC,FC, or FC .223 brass since I have a lot of it compared to the PMC. So I'm looking for any opinions/impressions of your favorite of these three and why you like it. Thanks.
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Old August 18, 2018, 10:02 AM   #2
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So far I've had good results with the PMC
I can not help you, I do not have one PMC case in 223.

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Old August 18, 2018, 10:10 AM   #3
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The LC brass is usually a bit harder, so the rim stands up to extraction with less bending and it is more resistant to the primer pocket expanding, so you can get to higher pressures before pressure signs show up. The downside is that same hardness makes it easier to work-harden to excess and therefore a little more prone to head separations if you are resizing very far. The extra width of the Wylde and NATO chambers makes for a few thousandths of extra resizing, and that is exaggerated by if you use a small base die. The FC tends to be softer, but not as soft as Hornady, so if your loads are not causing pressure signs in FC, it may prove to have greater load life.

If you scroll down about a third of the way here, you will see there are weights and capacities between brands. That can happen with different years, too. Sort it by headstamp and then by weight for your match loads. You never know when a small difference will get you the odd extra scratch up score in a match.
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Old August 18, 2018, 12:11 PM   #4
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So far I have been full length resizing with an RCBS small base die but have been thinking of changing over to sizing with a body die and neck sizing with a Lee Neck Sizing collet die. I didn't realize there was more to the Wylde chamber than just difference in the throat length. Good information.
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Old August 18, 2018, 01:35 PM   #5
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have been thinking of changing over to sizing with a body die and neck sizing with a Lee Neck Sizing collet die
that's a good method, I get very low runout when using it
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Old August 18, 2018, 04:32 PM   #6
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You can also use the Lee Collet Die for the neck. I do because they intrinsically prevent an internal donut from forming. My only objection to them is they are a bit rough feeling as they come, so I lap the collets into the die bodies to smooth their action out.
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Old August 18, 2018, 04:50 PM   #7
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I honestly do not separate my brass for accuracy. I just weigh it and use 23.5 of RL15 with Hornady's 75gr hpbt bullets. It is all I load on my RRA it has a 20" heavy barrel and shoots .680 5 shot groups at 200 yards. I bought some BLC 2 but have not loaded with it yet.
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Old August 18, 2018, 06:29 PM   #8
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Question #1: Let's say you have a hundred pieces of brass and in that collection you have five different head stamps. Now you weigh each piece... if you group them by similar weights, are you ignoring the head stamps and simply grouping them by weight?

Question #thread drift: I understand that the Forster Co-Ax is an extremely high rated press, especially for run-out and consistency, but is there absolutely no issue whatsoever with the die that merely gets slid in and out of place and not at all threaded in like a standard press?

And since I've drifted anyway , I'm loving the shell holder on the Co-Ax, never having used one but clicking on unclenick's YouTube link, how does the shell holder work? The operator is effortlessly slipping cartridge cases in and out with seemingly no trick whatsoever.

It's an impressive press!
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Old August 18, 2018, 06:30 PM   #9
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I like the LC brass. It does require a little more case prep to get rid of the military crimp but I have found it to be a bit more durable.
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Old August 18, 2018, 07:11 PM   #10
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Yes I am ignoring the headstands and just separating them by weight. There is no issue with the die simply sliding in and out. Coupled with the shell holder which the jaws of the shell holder are spring loaded. The looseness of the shell holder and sliding of the dies allows for a self centering action to occur. I have owned my Forster for years. I do have a lee press but that is only used to de-cap the brass with a universal de-capper.

My way of doing things works for me it gives me the accuracy I desire for plinking and hunting. As I am not a competition shooter such as benchrest shooting, I do not take the extra step of separating by headstamp and weighing and than turning necks I want accuracy not precision.
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Old August 19, 2018, 06:33 AM   #11
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You can use the PMC brass for load work up/testing since you have it, and then when you think you have a good load, try it in the LC or FC if you rifle prefers it. Minor changes will probably be needed when you change to a different brass, but you can save the # of firings on the preferred brass by using the PMC for testing.

I use LC in one bolt action, FC in another bolt action, and do my load testing/plinking with the odd ball stuff range pick up that I fully process just for this purpose. Any LC or FC range pick up is processed for those bolt actions.
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Old August 19, 2018, 06:38 AM   #12
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All the brass in question has been cleaned, sized, trimmed, chamfered, deburred, and primer pockets swaged and cleaned. The only thing left to do is anneal it which I do every firing for consistency. So far with the load I've worked up a couple years ago for a different rifle, using any old brass I've averaged MOA accuracy with one round of five in just under 3/8" at 100 yds. So I know the potential for decent accuracy is there if I make good consistent ammo and do my part behind the trigger. I have 500 more bullets that will be here on Monday so next week I'll start getting serious about this. My goal is to make this a 600 yd rifle hopefully before the end of the summer. I haven't been able to get down to Quantico yet this summer between all the crazy rain and a busy summer schedule doing home repairs etc. to satisfy the Architectural Review Board and their stupid rules.
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Old August 19, 2018, 09:33 AM   #13
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Good to hear PMC is decent brass. I have about 2K pieces decapped, cleaned etc so maybe I will start loading them.
I've had nothing but good results with LC brass, both 223 and 308. I've used Lake City 223 brass from '10 on up to '17, even starting to get a few pieces of 18 LC now. My experience is the FC, Hornady, and Frontier (which may be made by Hornady) lasts about 3-4 loadings before the primer pockets loosen up, regardless of how stiff the load is.. Not that the FC or Hornady brass didn't produce good accuracy, they did, but far from brass nirvana.
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Old August 19, 2018, 10:44 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sevens
Question #1: Let's say you have a hundred pieces of brass and in that collection you have five different head stamps. Now you weigh each piece... if you group them by similar weights, are you ignoring the head stamps and simply grouping them by weight?
You actually want to sort by internal capacity, so you want both weight and headstamp. If you scroll down to the weight and water capacity chart at the link I gave in post #3, you will see a WCC99 case weighs 95.5 grains, yet has the same water capacity as an S&B case weighing just 92.3 grains. So case weight is not an accurate predictor of internal capacity. This happens because of dimensional variations within tolerances in the head below the powder space in the case, where a change in brass volume has no effect on case capacity. So you want matching headstamps as well as matching weight for the best probably case capacity match. However, since cases with a given headstamp are often made on mixed tooling, even that does not guarantee an exact match. For that you actually have to tare your scale with the empty case on it, then fill it level to the mouth with something that has consistent density. Water is most commonly used, but 0.09375" (3/32") ball bearings are too large to fall through a flash hole and give reasonably consistent comparisons with packing density of 5.783 times the density of water.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sevens
Question #thread drift: I understand that the Forster Co-Ax is an extremely high rated press, especially for run-out and consistency, but is there absolutely no issue whatsoever with the die that merely gets slid in and out of place and not at all threaded in like a standard press?
It's an advertised advantage of the press that the retaining slot is loose enough to let the die float so it self-aligns with the case it is operating on below it. Seems to work great.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sevens
And since I've drifted anyway , I'm loving the shell holder on the Co-Ax, never having used one but clicking on unclenick's YouTube link, how does the shell holder work? The operator is effortlessly slipping cartridge cases in and out with seemingly no trick whatsoever.
The holder is comprised of two hardened and ground spring-loaded sliding jaws with semi-circular cuts that fit a wide range of case heads that slide horizontally under a retaining plate. When the ram goes down (handle up), a fixed pin with a tapered nose drives the plates apart for unloading and loading. The case is then just sitting upright on its head on the flat floor of the ram. As the ram ascends (handle is pulled down) the pin is withdrawn from below the ram so the springs drive the plates back together, capturing the rim of the case.
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Old August 19, 2018, 10:57 AM   #15
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So case weight is not an accurate predictor of internal capacity.
The last time this went around I was told the diameter and length of the powder column had nothing to do with anything. For the very few reloaders that measure and weight the old saying military cases are thicker because they are heavier is at best a half/truth.

That was back when someone was declaring themselves the expert on cases and capacity.

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Old August 19, 2018, 11:21 AM   #16
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Unclenick is correct about sorting brass by internal capacity. I only reload 40 pieces of brass that I use for hunting only by actually using water. I mark this pieces of brass with a marker to separate from the rest. I know that the internal dimensions as well as exterior are as close a match as possible. Interestingly there is a mixture of Winchester,Hornady,Federal and Fiocchi in the mix. I do not not anneal this particular brass no reason other than laziness and this brass is shot out of the same AR so it is fire formed to chamber. I'll reload this brass between 3 to 5 times and than they get retired and converted to 300 blackout.
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Old August 19, 2018, 12:24 PM   #17
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To Mr. Guffey's point: yes! The 7.62 NATO cases made in the U.S. and in some foreign countries tended to be heavier than commercial .308 Win cases, but the spread was mostly about ten or twelve grains or so, averaging around 175 grains, and the difference in internal capacity was not enough to matter to most non-match shooters, much less to cause dangerous pressure when the same load was used in them all.

Then in 1988, Middleton Tompkins talked Sierra into designing the 155 grain Palma Match bullet and Winchester into designing cases for the Palma Match ammunition that had to be provided by the U.S. Palma organization for the 1992 Palma match, which was to be hosted in the U.S. Under the rules in effect at that time, the host country had to provide not only the ammunition to be issued at the match, but identical practice practice ammunition that had to be shipped to the participating countries around the world before the match.

Tompkins wanted maximum performance, so the bullet was the maximum weight allowed under the Palma rules in effect at the time to minimize wind deflection, and he wanted enough velocity so it remained reliably supersonic all the way to the 1000 yard Palma targets. The cases were to be made to maximize powder capacity. Winchester addressed that by coming up with their semi-balloon head design with a small trough around the primer pocket and making the head as low in height as they could get away with and the walls minimally thick.

The resulting case design weighed only 150 grains, which was 25 grains lighter than average cases and 30 grains lighter than average Lake City cases. It had 2.5 grains more powder capacity than an average case, and suddenly the big spread in .308 Case weight and capacity was on. Winchester must have liked their head design because it found it's way into their commercial cases and into other calibers over time. But as time passed, the weight started creeping up.

I bought some Winchester bulk .308 Cases about fifteen years ago that averaged 156 grains in weight. Recent reports have them back up over 160 grains and closing in on Remington's weight, which I last had in bulk at about 168 grains. Not all that weight difference is in actual capacity, as mentioned previously, but Metal God's recent measurements of case capacity have them all a good bit closer together in actual practice than they were when the Winchester Palma case was first out. I think the effects of the Palma design on brass spread have run their course, and now that International Palma rules have changed to allow 5.56 and handloads (IIRC) and still better bullets and powders are available than there were almost 30 years ago, it isn't as hard to stay supersonic to 1000 yards and there doesn't seem to be a lot of reason for the capacious cases anymore.
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Old August 19, 2018, 02:21 PM   #18
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Yes I am ignoring the headstands and just separating them by weight.
As Unclenick points out in that link , case weight has very little to do with the overall consistency from one headstamp to the next . IMO if you are going to separate cases buy anything it should start with headstamp . If separating LC cases I go the extra step and separate by year as well .


I've done a good bit of case volume testing but that's always been with all the same headstamped cases first . What I've never done is separate by headstamp then again by weight alone . After that weigh case volume . Then compare random same headstamp case volume to same headstamp & same case weight case volume and see if weighing the cases after separating headstamp creates a more consistent selection of cases . Sounds like I have some work to do , lol
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Old August 19, 2018, 04:17 PM   #19
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Too Mr. Guffey's point: yes! The 7.62 NATO cases made in the U.S. and in some foreign countries tended to be heavier than commercial
I measured case head thickness from the cup above the web to the case head; my military case heads measured .200", when compared to commercial R-P ammo the military case heads were thinner by .060", And then I weighed the cases, the military cases with the thin case head outweighed my commercial cases with thick case heads.

My military cases had thin case heads and thick case bodies. My commercial cases had thick case heads and thin case bodies. I did not need thousands upon thousands of cases for the 30/06, but for everything else I formed the 30/06 cases for any and everything.

Point? The case head that is .260" thick from the cup above the web to the case head is a safer case if any thought is given to case head failure or case head separation.

When choosing a short-fat powder column or a long powder column with a smaller diameter I choose the short powder column with the larger diameter.

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Old August 19, 2018, 04:45 PM   #20
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The STANAG drawings for 7.62 NATO are different from SAAMI in that they specify internal dimensions as well as external ones. The head height minimum from bottom to the top of the web for that round is 0.175" and the inside radius where the case wall meets the web of the head is specified as 0.06" minimum, and the case wall .201" forward of that point has to be at least 0.031" thick. And then, unlike commercial makers, they have hardness numbers for specific locations on a sectioned head that are higher than commercial brass heads meet. Thus the commercial brass actually needs to be thicker to match the tensile strength of the military product.
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Old August 19, 2018, 04:59 PM   #21
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So I annealed somewhere over a thousand LC cases earlier and am running them through my tumbler for a final cleaning. My plan is to first choose the cases that are dent free, then all the same length, then by weight. My question is how close in weight should they be? I was thinking I'd just weigh up a hundred or so, get their average weight and then choose cases that are within a certain range both over and under that average, I just don't know how much over and under the average I should allow.
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Old August 19, 2018, 05:32 PM   #22
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Just my opinion, but when I went down the weighing cases and bullets route and found it a gigantic PITA and a total waste of time. It may be worthwhile if you are shooting high end benchrest and trying to shave a hundredth of an inch off your group with your $15K custom rig at the World Cup but for us mere mortals I believe it is nothing more than a timesink.

I have not put a case on a scale in 18 months and consistently get velocity standard deviations in the low to mid single digits. But then I just a wannabe F class and PR shooter.

1000 cases ....ouch hope you had a automated annealing machine

edit I would also recommend ditching the PMC, when the primer pockets get loose after a few reloads they will leak gas past and etch your bolt. Guess How I know that
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Old August 19, 2018, 06:21 PM   #23
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I agree ^

I'd suggest sorting by headstamp and see if that alone allows you to accomplish your goals .
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Old August 19, 2018, 08:50 PM   #24
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I agree ^

I'd suggest sorting by headstamp and see if that alone allows you to accomplish your goals .
I do this for every caliber I reload.
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Old August 19, 2018, 09:29 PM   #25
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Jetinterior guy,

As explained earlier, sorting by weight really doesn't do a great job of predicting capacity unless the brass is all from the same lot from the same maker. You really want to sort by headstamp first. Then weigh them and you will find each tooling set that contributed to the lot will have produced a different bell curve peak. Just look for several weights that have higher numbers of cases in them than the others. 'there may be four to six. Each one of those weights should be a good candidate for keeping together for match loads. You will probably find a few outliers this way, too. two or three that are significantly lighter or heavier than the rest. Put the 15 lightest and the 15 heaviest together and load them and shoot a group with them and chronograph them. This gives you the worst case results for letting the brass be mixed up. Take the thirty most similar and repeat the exercise. If you can tell a difference you'll know how much the weighing is getting you.

The value weighing has is often swamped out by charge weight and bulk variation. It tends to be less important than eliminating runout and getting primers correctly seated and find the best bullet seating depth for your rifle. I say "tends" because every time you make a rule like this, someone whose gun's favorite load is an exception turns up. So, never say never, but don't have high expectations for making a big difference until you can prove it does.
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