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Old June 23, 2013, 06:51 PM   #1
Join Date: November 6, 2011
Location: West Virginia
Posts: 70
.223 range brass - coming up short (length)

I've run into a situation that I can't figure out a decent explanation for...

I am in the habit of buying, in bulk, range brass. This is typically once-fired, and sometimes more. I buy no less than 2k at a time. (Talking of .223/5.56 here.) This was to secure my storage of brass for SHTF scenarios, kinda like the ammo shortage that has been around now for a while. So, just recently, I started reloading this brass.

I am careful. Each batch is LSD cleaned, tumbled and inspected. I run them all through a size/deprime die, then I trim them. I use a very good and extremely accurate case trimmer.
I set the case length to 1.750 (the minimum length as stated by both my Hornady and Speer books) - so that every single piece of .223 / 5.56 brass that I load can be guaranteed to be at 1.750", that way my C.O.A.L. is dead on for each seated round.
Here is where things get odd:
Typically on this range brass the case length has stretched to somewhere between 1.755" to 1.770" depending on the original case brand and the number of times it was shot. But today I was thrown for a loop when I find that my trimmer isn't even touching several pieces - not shaving anything off... So I sequester those rounds and keep going until I have trimmed about 500 pieces. Out of those 500 pieces a good 75 were short. When I put them on the calipers they were all measuring in around 1.745" to 1.748" which is below the case minimum. Now, keep in mind that these are FIRED brass - so they should have stretched...that means that they were probably around the 1.740" to 1.743" range before being fired.

Why? Why such a short case? Is there a .223 type gun that likes a shorter case than the normal 1.750"? Or, is it more likely that someone just goofed up a batch and fired them anyway?
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Old June 23, 2013, 07:04 PM   #2
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Nothing to worry about, what you describe is pretty common with LC surpluss brass. Don't know why it happens, but it does and my recommendation is to do what I do.

Load them up and shoot.

Machine guns are awesome until you have to carry one.
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Old June 23, 2013, 08:01 PM   #3
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agree with Jimro. I trim mine to 1.743 on purpose. did a few tests and for my rifle ( Savage 223 FVSS ) that was the length that worked best. My trimmer is set to 1.743 always..
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Old June 24, 2013, 03:16 PM   #4
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I just ran through a bunch of Federal .223 brass that was below my normal TTL length. I just chamfered the case mouths & used them normally.
It happens occasionally.
Use 'em up.

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Old June 24, 2013, 03:49 PM   #5
Join Date: November 6, 2011
Location: West Virginia
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Ok - well, the general consensus is to "shoot'em."

My chrony is dead - another is on order - but I can't test currently.

Is a round that is .010" shorter going to cause any significant pressure spike from maintaining the same grain load of powder as it's longer cousins?

I am running a 16" RECCE barrel with a mid-length gas system...
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Old June 24, 2013, 05:57 PM   #6
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Will not affect pressure. You did not mention if these short ones were all from the same maker? Bet they were.
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Old June 24, 2013, 06:14 PM   #7
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Load & Shoot - No Problem.

1.730" is minimum SAAMI for usable brass. Trim to is 1.750" as you know.
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Old June 24, 2013, 06:27 PM   #8
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Were these short cases fired in your gun or an unknown one?
If an unknown gun, maybe that one had a generous chamber and caused the cases to go wider instead of longer.
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Old June 25, 2013, 08:46 AM   #9
Join Date: September 13, 2012
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Originally Posted by PA-Joe
Will not affect pressure. You did not mention if these short ones were all from the same maker? Bet they were.
Yup. I'm also willing to bet that it's Federal brass. Every time I get a batch of Federal most of them run between 1.740-1.750.
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Old June 25, 2013, 02:59 PM   #10
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I have federal american eagle once fired brass from my mini 14, and they are all at 1.740
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Old June 25, 2013, 04:06 PM   #11
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Similiar experience with federal .223 brass. Was given ~2k, 1.735ish.
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