Loading for Long Range minimum group size, how I do it

Hummer

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I have won two US Palma Trophy Matches (800, 900 and 1000 Yard) and several other long range awards and this was not done with factory ammo. Precision ammo is required and this is how/why I do what I do.

COMMERCIAL WEAPON DESIGNERS/MANUFACTURING


In reloading primer storage is VERY CRITICAL. Primer engineers told me to place primers in GI ammo cans as soon as it was brought home. My primers go in a 20MM can as soon as they come home. I remove one carton at a time and place it in a 30 cal can. I remove one box from the sleeve at a time and it is reloaded.


This becomes more critical to do when you reload as most commercial cases have softer heads than military and the result is the case swells outwards and most reloading dies won't size the case back to original size. It therefore follows that if the outside of the case get larger the primer pocket will as well.



Military cases are my favorite as they have five different hardness ranges. Brass work hardens the more times it is moved in production and military and some commercial vendors won't to make their cases very durable. Other commercial vendors want to save money in production so they don't use as many forming steps and the brass never gets that hard. As above soft brass easily expands along with the size of the primer pockets.


The finest commercial brass I have ever had the pleasure of reloading is DWM, next is IMI as I know they load commercial stuff like their military as we gave Israel a reloading line out of Frankford Arsenal. Personally I have no use for US made commercial cases as the heads open very quickly thus the primers do not seal the pressures in as well. Some I have loaded 5 to 7 times and some on the third firing I leave it laying. When the primers leak you will start seeing gas cuts on your bolt face consistent with the edge of the primers.



I refer to brass movement as the "ANVIL PRINCIPLE". Why doesn't a anvil wear out? Nothing moves on it. The least amount your brass moves the longer it lasts.


The give hardness ranges are as follows:


1. is the case mouth/shoulder which is the softest as they get the biggest movement upon ignition and they are then run through gas flames for about six seconds while rotating. THEY ARE NOT DUMPED IN WATER ! ! ! ! !

2. the area just below the shoulder is next hardest.

3. going lower it is harder.

5. is the area .200" up from case rim and they are very hard/tough and this is known as the "web area".

4. is slightly softer than the web area above.


When I was at Picatinny there was a ammo engineer (Marty Tyska) that came from Frankford Arsenal and he was also a highpower shooter and a reloader and he taught me about how to care for my cases.


I don't know how many times I can reload military cases. For instance I have a Mod 70 Winchester I dedicated 500 cases to as that is about how many rounds you have to take to National Championships. They have already worn out two barrels and are on their third barrel and the primer pockets are still nice and snug.


Gun manufacturers don't help as they make chambers to SAAMI tolerances which means the chambers of some calibers and expand around .007" on firing. For instance all the 30.06 ammo I have ever measured unfired is .465-.466 at the web area. I have measured cases fired in commercial rifles that were .475" at the web area.


This allows the manufacturer to start reaming with a big reamer and they can resharpen them and can cut many more chambers as the reamers get smaller and smaller and the re-sharpening causes them to get smaller as well.


I have custom reamers for my chambers and for instance I have three reamers for 30.06. One is SAAMI spec , the next one cuts the web area at .469" and the next one cuts at .467". This last one and similar I refer to as 2 2 2 reamers which means the neck doesn't expand over .002 on firing, the shoulder does not move forward over .002" and he web area only moves .002 and then springs back to .466 thus it hard to tell my empty cases from new ones by just looking at them.


Last but not least resizing dies are listed as Small base (SB) neck which sizes the neck area and FL which sizes the whole case.


There is a big variation in die sizing as well. For instance I have FL dies that resize .466, .469 and .471. I polished out the .471 so the brass would not move so much upon resizing.


I would go to flea markets and gun shows and every time I found a set of dies $15.00 or less I bought them whether I needed them or not as I can make special tooling to for cases from them. I can load about 55 calibers and I have about 70+ sets of dies. I look at it this way, they don't eat anything and they sure never get cheaper.


Fire/Size sequence I use. I fire the cases, then only decap primers with universal decap die. I then FL size the cases in appropriate die WITHOUT A EXPANDER installed. I then tumble the cases in Thumler's Tumbler with stainless steel pins and this not only removes all traces of carbon residue but removes the case lube on the outside.


When they come out of the tumbler I either dry them on a towel out in the sun or I fire up the propane torch and run the cases in the flames about six seconds while rotating at about 30 RPM to stress relieve the necks. People call it annealing but that totally softens a case, stress relieving does not take the case neck/shoulders to dead soft. If you have a case neck/shoulder turn RED you have ruined the grain structure of the brass.


Note: the six seconds while rotating about 30 RPM is a direct lift from the Frankford Arsenal case manufacturing sequence.


Now this means the neck is too small so as a last step before loading I run them on what I refer to as a Humpy Button which is a expander I make on my lathe. I use several expanders sizes as needed.

Ammo I designate for semi auto rifles I expand the necks to .002" underside. Ammo that will be fired in bolt rifles about .0015 under and ammo that is going to be used in precision long range I size .0002" under as I want the mouth to just bare grip the bullet so when it is inserted and bolt closes the throat moves the bullet backward.


Almost forgot before each case is run up on the Humpy Button the button is greased with synthetic grease to ease the bullets in and hopefully it leaves a film so galvanic action won't happen and the bullet bond with the neck.


The key to long range shooting ( 600 to 1000 yards) is to have the same neck tension on all bullets as the more uniform your cases are in the more uniform the pressures will be when they release. If your bullet pull varies greatly this causes vertical dispersion at long range.


The ideal 1000 yard ammo has an extreme velocity spread of about 15 feet per second where match ammo loaded in a arsenal will vary 60 feet per second or more.


Uniformity is bullet pull is what you are looking for in long range ammo. Ammo with mouth lacquer inside neck tends to glue the bullet in place and a bullet pull force of 300 lbs is not unusual in factory loaded ammo.


Shooting long range will prematurely age you as there are so many variables. For instance I have a 600 range behind my home and I can chronograph and group at same time.


I ran primer tests as follows:


I got good groups with one brand of primers, reloaded the same cases with same powder and same bullets and used different primer and the groups and chrono readings may get better, or worse. Never had two primers manufactuers give same results.


Even worse primers from different lots by same manufacturer will give you variations.


Thus gray hair prematurely.


Oh yes I use a flash hole uniformer took to insure the flash holes are more uniform as some case forming leaves a build up at end of hole in some. Some case the holes are punched, and some are drilled. In my long range ammo I will segregate cases based on centrality of flash hole in primer pocket and put the ones with center holes in my long range ammo box and the off centers will be fired at 200/300 yards.


I also have a 308 chamber reamer that requires me to neck turn all my cases before loading as I want my long range loaded rounds to be .001" smaller than the neck of the chamber which is common practice in the bench rest game.
 

Hummer

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To be clear the Humpy button is made from .311 dia oil hardening drill rod. They are about an inch long. I turn one end down to say .306-.3078, heat them red hot and drop in oil. They are held in a RCBS bullet puller die.

If you leave your expander in your die the neck is reduced in diameter while the expander is down in case so when you pull it back out the neck get S T R E T C H E D longer being pulled by the expander button. My method is to expand the neck in a down motion and it doesn't overwork the brass nor stretch it.

Sorry about the typos folks, I woke up at 0300, typed that up and went back to bed at 0415.

Marty Tyska had a saying; which was you should only lose a case by having a worn primer pocket. If you care for your brass properly you should never have a split neck.

As well if you get your necks too hot, load your ammo and store it away you are likely to find about all the necks split when you look at it again years later. I had that happen to me before Marty showed me the correct method and warned me about getting them too hot.

Now that being said you can stress relieve necks with a candle by rolling case with your fingers. When the body gets too hot to hold drop the case on a big towel and get another. Obviously this is messy but if that is all you have it will make do.

Just remembered I made up a drawing of the process. You place the holder in a electric drill and rotate it about 30 RPM, point drill downwards towards a towel and the case drops out. You don't need gloves as you never touch a hot case. If you do this right after cases come out of the rinse water they will be dried quickly and you can reloaded them.

I have different depth holders made for different calibers.

Times in Flame:

308/30.06 about six or 7 seconds

5.56 about four seconds.

If you have a metronome set it for one second ticks.

Set drill to run at least 30 RPMs I set mine a little faster.
 
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Hummer

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upload_2020-3-30_9-40-14.png
 

gillettehunter

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Excellent info for improved reloading techniques. Have you ever tried the salt bath annealing method? Seems to of gained a bit of a following lately.
Bruce
 

Hummer

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Never heard of such and haven't been in one I remember ! ! ! haha
 

JGRaider

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I like to neck size my fire formed brass, and only FL size if necessary. I'm not a precision competition shooter though. I'm on my 8th reloading with 6.5CM and 7-08 cases.
 

dchamp

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I have won two US Palma Trophy Matches (800, 900 and 1000 Yard) and several other long range awards and this was not done with factory ammo. Precision ammo is required and this is how/why I do what I do.

COMMERCIAL WEAPON DESIGNERS/MANUFACTURING


In reloading primer storage is VERY CRITICAL. Primer engineers told me to place primers in GI ammo cans as soon as it was brought home. My primers go in a 20MM can as soon as they come home. I remove one carton at a time and place it in a 30 cal can. I remove one box from the sleeve at a time and it is reloaded.


This becomes more critical to do when you reload as most commercial cases have softer heads than military and the result is the case swells outwards and most reloading dies won't size the case back to original size. It therefore follows that if the outside of the case get larger the primer pocket will as well.



Military cases are my favorite as they have five different hardness ranges. Brass work hardens the more times it is moved in production and military and some commercial vendors won't to make their cases very durable. Other commercial vendors want to save money in production so they don't use as many forming steps and the brass never gets that hard. As above soft brass easily expands along with the size of the primer pockets.


The finest commercial brass I have ever had the pleasure of reloading is DWM, next is IMI as I know they load commercial stuff like their military as we gave Israel a reloading line out of Frankford Arsenal. Personally I have no use for US made commercial cases as the heads open very quickly thus the primers do not seal the pressures in as well. Some I have loaded 5 to 7 times and some on the third firing I leave it laying. When the primers leak you will start seeing gas cuts on your bolt face consistent with the edge of the primers.



I refer to brass movement as the "ANVIL PRINCIPLE". Why doesn't a anvil wear out? Nothing moves on it. The least amount your brass moves the longer it lasts.


The give hardness ranges are as follows:


1. is the case mouth/shoulder which is the softest as they get the biggest movement upon ignition and they are then run through gas flames for about six seconds while rotating. THEY ARE NOT DUMPED IN WATER ! ! ! ! !

2. the area just below the shoulder is next hardest.

3. going lower it is harder.

5. is the area .200" up from case rim and they are very hard/tough and this is known as the "web area".

4. is slightly softer than the web area above.


When I was at Picatinny there was a ammo engineer (Marty Tyska) that came from Frankford Arsenal and he was also a highpower shooter and a reloader and he taught me about how to care for my cases.


I don't know how many times I can reload military cases. For instance I have a Mod 70 Winchester I dedicated 500 cases to as that is about how many rounds you have to take to National Championships. They have already worn out two barrels and are on their third barrel and the primer pockets are still nice and snug.


Gun manufacturers don't help as they make chambers to SAAMI tolerances which means the chambers of some calibers and expand around .007" on firing. For instance all the 30.06 ammo I have ever measured unfired is .465-.466 at the web area. I have measured cases fired in commercial rifles that were .475" at the web area.


This allows the manufacturer to start reaming with a big reamer and they can resharpen them and can cut many more chambers as the reamers get smaller and smaller and the re-sharpening causes them to get smaller as well.


I have custom reamers for my chambers and for instance I have three reamers for 30.06. One is SAAMI spec , the next one cuts the web area at .469" and the next one cuts at .467". This last one and similar I refer to as 2 2 2 reamers which means the neck doesn't expand over .002 on firing, the shoulder does not move forward over .002" and he web area only moves .002 and then springs back to .466 thus it hard to tell my empty cases from new ones by just looking at them.


Last but not least resizing dies are listed as Small base (SB) neck which sizes the neck area and FL which sizes the whole case.


There is a big variation in die sizing as well. For instance I have FL dies that resize .466, .469 and .471. I polished out the .471 so the brass would not move so much upon resizing.


I would go to flea markets and gun shows and every time I found a set of dies $15.00 or less I bought them whether I needed them or not as I can make special tooling to for cases from them. I can load about 55 calibers and I have about 70+ sets of dies. I look at it this way, they don't eat anything and they sure never get cheaper.


Fire/Size sequence I use. I fire the cases, then only decap primers with universal decap die. I then FL size the cases in appropriate die WITHOUT A EXPANDER installed. I then tumble the cases in Thumler's Tumbler with stainless steel pins and this not only removes all traces of carbon residue but removes the case lube on the outside.


When they come out of the tumbler I either dry them on a towel out in the sun or I fire up the propane torch and run the cases in the flames about six seconds while rotating at about 30 RPM to stress relieve the necks. People call it annealing but that totally softens a case, stress relieving does not take the case neck/shoulders to dead soft. If you have a case neck/shoulder turn RED you have ruined the grain structure of the brass.


Note: the six seconds while rotating about 30 RPM is a direct lift from the Frankford Arsenal case manufacturing sequence.


Now this means the neck is too small so as a last step before loading I run them on what I refer to as a Humpy Button which is a expander I make on my lathe. I use several expanders sizes as needed.

Ammo I designate for semi auto rifles I expand the necks to .002" underside. Ammo that will be fired in bolt rifles about .0015 under and ammo that is going to be used in precision long range I size .0002" under as I want the mouth to just bare grip the bullet so when it is inserted and bolt closes the throat moves the bullet backward.


Almost forgot before each case is run up on the Humpy Button the button is greased with synthetic grease to ease the bullets in and hopefully it leaves a film so galvanic action won't happen and the bullet bond with the neck.


The key to long range shooting ( 600 to 1000 yards) is to have the same neck tension on all bullets as the more uniform your cases are in the more uniform the pressures will be when they release. If your bullet pull varies greatly this causes vertical dispersion at long range.


The ideal 1000 yard ammo has an extreme velocity spread of about 15 feet per second where match ammo loaded in a arsenal will vary 60 feet per second or more.


Uniformity is bullet pull is what you are looking for in long range ammo. Ammo with mouth lacquer inside neck tends to glue the bullet in place and a bullet pull force of 300 lbs is not unusual in factory loaded ammo.


Shooting long range will prematurely age you as there are so many variables. For instance I have a 600 range behind my home and I can chronograph and group at same time.


I ran primer tests as follows:


I got good groups with one brand of primers, reloaded the same cases with same powder and same bullets and used different primer and the groups and chrono readings may get better, or worse. Never had two primers manufactuers give same results.


Even worse primers from different lots by same manufacturer will give you variations.


Thus gray hair prematurely.


Oh yes I use a flash hole uniformer took to insure the flash holes are more uniform as some case forming leaves a build up at end of hole in some. Some case the holes are punched, and some are drilled. In my long range ammo I will segregate cases based on centrality of flash hole in primer pocket and put the ones with center holes in my long range ammo box and the off centers will be fired at 200/300 yards.


I also have a 308 chamber reamer that requires me to neck turn all my cases before loading as I want my long range loaded rounds to be .001" smaller than the neck of the chamber which is common practice in the bench rest game.

Thanks, that was a great write up, some I've of which I've known but also there was a lot of new things to consider. I especially like the humpy button and will be making and trying them soon.
 

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