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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm getting ready to start reloading .223/5.56 and have a question about case trimming equipment, specifically the type that uses an internal pilot like this Lyman
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Can the trim length be adjusted? Or does it just trim to a specific length and that's that?

The reason I ask, is that it seems to me that the thing to do would be to trim all the cases to the minimum length.

Wouldn't that allow for the highest number of reloadings before having to trim the case again? Or am I looking at this the wrong way?
 

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Trimmed case length is fixed by the length of the "case-specific" pilots. I use a Wilson case trimmer when I want to go for custom results.
In an effort to be helpful, I'm compelled to ask what you'll be using the ammunition for that you want to trim the cases..??
If you have a rifle/scope combination shooting sub moa groups, barely "over-caliber".. trimming cases is probably be a good idea. I have one of those, complete with a 20x scope and enjoy wringing every drop of potential out of it. For the average shooter toting his AR-platform out and banging away having fun...it's a waste of time. Just sayin'.
 

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Maximum number of reloads is based more on neck tension and cracking and work hardening that case growth, I'd suggest trimming to the shortest SAMMI length and leave it at that. I use a 'Little Crow' case trimmer but you need a lathe to use it. I can set the trim length wherever I want it and it squares the case mouth and removers the burr. Typically, I set that the cases to the same OAL and then neverr fiddle with them after that. In fact, some calibers rebate rather than grown though 223 / 556 will grow.

If I were you, I'd be way more concerned with case neck and shoulder work hardening from successive reloads, not OAL case length. Get yourself an annealing setup and anneal after every second loading. Your accuracy will be much more stabilized. Look into short base bushing dies as well. Standard dies cannot bump shoulders nor can they set neck tension other than to a generally accepted node.

Been playing the bottleneck game for decades, I know what works, what don't and what is a waste of money.
 
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case trimming is important, particularly when lots of reloads will occur. i used a variety of different "stock" trimmers but finally got what i should have from the get-go, the wilson trimmer. i trim to the spec of the chamber, and keep it that way. i have 3 wilsons, each one set for a different cartridge. you might also want to look into neck annealing, too, for lengthening the lifespan of brass that'll get reloaded many Many times.
 

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The physical aspects of a bottleneck case require neck and shoulder annealing of you want consistent downrange accuracy with repeated reloadings.

Every time you ignite the powder charge, the neck and shoulder expands to the wall of the chamber and everytime it does that, it gets a little less flexible and when it becomes less elastic, the starting effort to move the pill increases and the accuracy suffers. Not a big deal shooting say 100 yards but a big deal when the distance grows. Farther you shoot, the more critical case prep becomes.

I do a bunch of prep steps to even new, unfired brass. From deburring flash holes (inside the case) to neck turning (for concentricity) to weighing cases (for uniformity) to weighing bullets and checking diameters to pointing meplats. I only purchase top notch brass, Lapua and Norma. Handgun brass is always Starline or Jagerman. Primers are always Federal or CCI with Federal being my first choice because Federals have softer cups and only Federal Match primers. Everything is in the prep. You prep correctly, carefully weigh the charges and set the pills in consistently uniform brass, things happen much more accurately.

Not taking into account jumping the pills or choice of bullets either. I'm almost 100% Berger for longer range loads but Handguns get Hornady or Sierra.

I could go on for pages about loading. Suffice to say that all my long guns shoot sub-sub MOA at 250 yards consistently. The old time tested (and what I don't hold much credence in 100 yard shot) is always one ragged hole. Heck, I just zeroed my 460 XVR at 100 yards ant is shoots MOA at 100. Not bad for a wheelgun. Of course I jumped those loads as well.

Need to get ready for a 180 Mule Deer hunt today so I cannot spend time here postulating about stuff. Have a nice day. Got to get ready to go.....
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, I'm not trying to produce match ammo, and I'm not trying to produce tens of thousands of rounds either. I just want to economically produce decent quality ammo on par with the run of the mill stuff at a better price. The goal is to be able to feed my AR-15s ammo in batches of 250-500 at at time without going broke. My approach would be like you describe Sidecarflip. To remove the primer crimps and trim to minimum length so I only have to do it once, and then reload them until they are ready for the scrap bucket. An expensive case prep setup doesn't make sense for what I want to do.

I'm considering two types of trimming setups. The hand (or drill) powered mini-lathe style like the Lyman Universal or the Lyman Hand trimmer style like I linked in my first post. I'm leaning towards the Lyman Hand trimmer and here's why:

I was thinking of getting the hand-held unit I linked in my first post and also get a cheap HF variable speed drill. I'd the drill in a little vice on the bench, and using the drill adapter that comes with the Lyman hand-held kit, I could lock the drill in the ON position at a low speed, and use the hand-held base and my shell holder to process brass one piece after another.

I would also be able to chuck up inside and outside deburring tool heads and even the pocket reamer head in the drill. Just like in the trimming step, I could lock the drill ON at a slow speed, and process brass piece after piece. Kind of like a motorized processing station.

So, I would process brass like this
1) Tumble a few loads of brass with walnut media
2) Deprime and size a 250-500 piece batch of brass on my press.
3) Chuck up the crimp reamer and remove the crimps on the batch.
4) Chuck up the trimmer and trim batch to min length.
5) Chuck up the inside deburring tool and debur the batch
6) Chuck up the outside deburring tool and debur the batch

If I got one of the mini-lathe units and a drill adapter I could use that for the 4th step above, but it seems like it would be more awkward to operate and and move the drill back and forth to the brass one piece at a time than to mount the drill in a vice and move the brass to the cutter by hand.

Then there is also the cost factor - since the Lyman Universal mini-lathe style trimmer with the drill adapter costs about three to four times as much as the Lyman hand-held version ($115 vs $33).

Those were my thoughts on buying the kit I linked in the first post of this thread instead of one of the mini-lathe styles.

Thoughts?
 

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there are many good and not-so-good ways to approach reloading. as long as it's proofed safe, use whatever methods will render yer prime reason for creating cartridges in the first place. for me, it depends on the cartridge. with handguns, it's defensive short distance and i Never trim or anneal brass, which lasts nearly forever, and i see no need fussing. with BPCR .45-70 PPB cartridge brass, trimming (if necessary) and annealing is done perhaps after a dozen to 2 dozen firings, for match target and steel shooting at 200 to 800 yards. with the 6.5 creedmoor and ELD shooting to 800 yards and lots longer, trimming and annealing is accomplished after every firing. this is personal stuff, we each can show valid reasoning, whether it's right or wrong or just makes common sense, for how we use and load our guns. iow, ymmv. life is good.
 

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fwiw, from soup to nuts for my handgun cartridge reloading (.38spl, .357mag, .45acp) .........

prior to actual loading, establishing the cartridge OAL is accomplished by building a dummy cartridge, which sets the seating die adjustment in the press. dittos for the press dies for brass sizing, expanding, and taper crimping.

i never trim or anneal handgun brass. all fired brass is inspected for flaws prior to cleaning, and good brass (with primer intact) goes into a vibratory tumbler with corn meal and a dash of case polish for about an hour. at times, for quiet case cleaning that eliminates the vibratory rumbling humbuzz, i'll use an ultra-sonic cleaner.

i use a lee classic turret press, with changeable heads for each cartridge type. on the press, brass is sized (lyman or rcbs carbide dies - most all carbide press die brands are just fine) which deprimes at the same time, and on the press down stroke the case is primed (lee press primer), next die is the case mouth expander, then the case comes off the press and is directly powder charged using a free standing harrell's powder measure, back on the press a hi-tec coated lead alloy bullet (typically precision or acme) is placed on the expanded case mouth and run up into the seating die, then onto the taper crimp die. all of this creates a good completed cartridge.

i typically load and shoot at least 100 cartridges per week. it goes fast and is a relaxing task. i see no need for any manner of automatic cartridge press.
 

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for my rifle cartridges, .45-70 PPB (paper patched bullet) and 6.5 creedmoor, reloading is very different from handgun loading, and each of these rifle cartridges are prepped and loaded quite differently.

i use a pair of lee classic breech lock presses - one press for cartridge loading, the other press for .45-70 brass reforming for a custom paper patch Sharps rifle chamber.

all fired 6.5cm brass is deprimed and ultra-sonic cleaned, washed with tap water, excess water is toweled off, into a vibratory (with cover off) for about 20 minutes to completely dry. the brass is annealed with an annealeez gen 2 machine ...


... brass is lubed with imperial wax and sized/expanded with a hornady die on the press. sizing lube is removed with some naphtha (lighter fluid) on a paper towel. onto the wilson case trimmer to make sure the brass is up to spec, inside case mouth is lightly chamfered. hand primed with an old lee hand priming tool. to charge the brass, i use a lee powder measure to drop an h4350 charge weight a bit less than desired as weighed on a calibrated digital gempro 250 scale that is +/- .02 grains accurate. weight is brought up to spec with an rcbs powder trickler. primed and ready case is charged and placed in the press where a forster micrometer seating die does the job of pressing in the hornady 140 grain eld-m bullet.

loading a .45-70 PPB (paper patched bullet) cartridge is a Very different process.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Lots of good info rfd. I also load with a Lee Classic Turret and have never trimmed a piece of handgun brass.
But unfortunately you didn't really say much about my real question.

I'm starting to reload .223/5.56 bottle-necked rifle now and I need to make sure my brass is trimmed to length. After the very first time resizing and depriming I prefer to ream the primer pockets and trim the brass to minimum length ONE TIME so that I can expect most if not all of it to be worn out through 5 or 6 shooting/reloading cycles - before it can grow long enough to ever need trimming again.

My real question is specifically about the tools and methods I've proposed to accomplish that in post #6 above.
 

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as i've mentioned, i prefer the hand operated wilson trimmer with case adapters. when i was feeding a pair of ar15's, a carbine and an extreme long distance rifle, the starline .223 brass was trimmed (though most didn't require trimming) and annealed after every firing for the eld rifle. new brass is sized and flash hole cleared, the primer pocket is never reamed. my point was to show there are lotsa good ways to reload cartridges, and whilst some procedures may be redundant or not needed, it's all good if it makes you feel good. truth is, good .223 brass can be reloaded many times without any further attention other than case sizing, neck expanding, priming, powder charging, bullet seating.
 

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Continuing RFD's first post, remember that straight walled rimless pistol ammunition (.25acp, .32acp, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45acp, etc) headspaces on the mouth of the cartridge. You never trim this unless it's somehow come way out of spec, which would be unusual.

Case trimming is more of an issue with bottleneck cartridges. I generally advise only trimming them the first time they are reloaded since the majority of deformation and chamber conformation has taken place at that point. Shoulder length sizing will also help reduce the amount of working of the brass, extending case life.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
as i've mentioned, i prefer the hand operated wilson trimmer with case adapters. when i was feeding a pair of ar15's, a carbine and an extreme long distance rifle, the starline .223 brass was trimmed (though most didn't require trimming) and annealed after every firing for the eld rifle. new brass is sized and flash hole cleared, the primer pocket is never reamed. my point was to show there are lotsa good ways to reload cartridges, and whilst some procedures may be redundant or not needed, it's all good if it makes you feel good. truth is, good .223 brass can be reloaded many times without any further attention other than case sizing, neck expanding, priming, powder charging, bullet seating.
How do you get it to reliably take a primer without removing the primer crimp?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Continuing RFD's first post, remember that straight walled rimless pistol ammunition (.25acp, .32acp, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45acp, etc) headspaces on the mouth of the cartridge. You never trim this unless it's somehow come way out of spec, which would be unusual.

Case trimming is more of an issue with bottleneck cartridges. I generally advise only trimming them the first time they are reloaded since the majority of deformation and chamber conformation has taken place at that point. Shoulder length sizing will also help reduce the amount of working of the brass, extending case life.
Yeah, that is the plan. Trim them to minimum length one time right off the bat.
I thought about getting a neck sizer, and I still may try that. Though I've had several people say it isn't a good idea for AR-15 ammo, especially if you have more than one and therefore the brass may or may not have been form-fired to the same gun that it will be fired in after reloading. Some have apparently experienced problems with them failing to extract - and in some cases getting really stuck in the chamber. As one guy put it, just one seriously stuck case can wipe out whatever time or effort or wear and tear on the brass you save by neck-sizing only instead of full-length sizing.
 

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How do you get it to reliably take a primer without removing the primer crimp?
what primer crimp? i never reload that junk military NATO brass, only Quality commercial brass of which my fave is starline.

drilling out primer pocket crimps is a huge waste of my time and efforts. that kinda cheap ammo is one use only for me, semi-auto, load 'n shoot, bang bang bang.

when i built .223 cartridges for my ELD ar15 rifle, i was into Consistent Accuracy, particularly out to 700 yards. the results were well built cartridges that could only be single fed, no magazine.
 

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Yeah, that is the plan. Trim them to minimum length one time right off the bat.
I thought about getting a neck sizer, and I still may try that. Though I've had several people say it isn't a good idea for AR-15 ammo, especially if you have more than one and therefore the brass may or may not have been form-fired to the same gun that it will be fired in after reloading. Some have apparently experienced problems with them failing to extract - and in some cases getting really stuck in the chamber. As one guy put it, just one seriously stuck case can wipe out whatever time or effort or wear and tear on the brass you save by neck-sizing only instead of full-length sizing.
semi-auto reloads Demand full length case resizing. neck resizing, or no resizing, is for single feed applications where the brass can be oriented in the chamber.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
what primer crimp? i never reload that junk military NATO brass, only Quality commercial brass of which my fave is starline.

drilling out primer pocket crimps is a huge waste of my time and efforts. that kinda cheap ammo is one use only for me, semi-auto, load 'n shoot, bang bang bang.

when i built .223 cartridges for my ELD ar15 rifle, i was into Consistent Accuracy, particularly out to 700 yards. the results were well built cartridges that could only be single fed, no magazine.
Cool.
As I said in post #6, that not what I'm trying to do. Not even close - but glad to hear that's working for you and for what you're trying to do.
 

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Well, I'm not trying to produce match ammo, and I'm not trying to produce tens of thousands of rounds either. I just want to economically produce decent quality ammo on par with the run of the mill stuff at a better price. The goal is to be able to feed my AR-15s ammo in batches of 250-500 at at time without going broke. My approach would be like you describe Sidecarflip. To remove the primer crimps and trim to minimum length so I only have to do it once, and then reload them until they are ready for the scrap bucket. An expensive case prep setup doesn't make sense for what I want to do.

Don't buy military crimped cartridges. There's plenty of cheap boxer no-crimp "run of the mill" cartridges out there in ammoland.

I'm considering two types of trimming setups. The hand (or drill) powered mini-lathe style like the Lyman Universal or the Lyman Hand trimmer style like I linked in my first post. I'm leaning towards the Lyman Hand trimmer and here's why:

I was thinking of getting the hand-held unit I linked in my first post and also get a cheap HF variable speed drill. I'd the drill in a little vice on the bench, and using the drill adapter that comes with the Lyman hand-held kit, I could lock the drill in the ON position at a low speed, and use the hand-held base and my shell holder to process brass one piece after another.

I would also be able to chuck up inside and outside deburring tool heads and even the pocket reamer head in the drill. Just like in the trimming step, I could lock the drill ON at a slow speed, and process brass piece after piece. Kind of like a motorized processing station.

Yer talking about personal preference from no vantage point since you've not done this before (it seems), so pick a method and tooling and find out for yerself - no one can think beyond this for you and your requirements and expertise, etc etc


So, I would process brass like this
1) Tumble a few loads of brass with walnut media
2) Deprime and size a 250-500 piece batch of brass on my press.
3) Chuck up the crimp reamer and remove the crimps on the batch.
4) Chuck up the trimmer and trim batch to min length.
5) Chuck up the inside deburring tool and debur the batch
6) Chuck up the outside deburring tool and debur the batch

That's a LOT of work for not much gain, but to each their own. YES, the above will work, but that's not what I'd do.

If I got one of the mini-lathe units and a drill adapter I could use that for the 4th step above, but it seems like it would be more awkward to operate and and move the drill back and forth to the brass one piece at a time than to mount the drill in a vice and move the brass to the cutter by hand.

IMHO, mega overkill.

Then there is also the cost factor - since the Lyman Universal mini-lathe style trimmer with the drill adapter costs about three to four times as much as the Lyman hand-held version ($115 vs $33).

Those were my thoughts on buying the kit I linked in the first post of this thread instead of one of the mini-lathe styles.

Thoughts?
For the kind of ammo you wish to build, for what appears to be your shooting requirements, there are faster/easier methods, BUT what you've outlined will work fine ... for you.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
For the kind of ammo you wish to build, for what appears to be your shooting requirements, there are faster/easier methods, BUT what you've outlined will work fine ... for you.

Good luck!
Great. If it isn't too much to ask, please outline the faster/easier methods you're referring to - assuming they aren't also prohibitively expensive. That is exactly the kind of information I am looking for.

I'm not "talking about personal preference from no vantage point" - I'm proposing a theoretical process that seems like it would be cheap and effective and accomplish what I'm trying to do.

At the same time I am asking for opinions on my proposal versus other options that fit the same parameters - cheap, effective, and accomplishes the case prep for the type of reloading I am trying to do - which is to create moderate quantities of range ammo, comparable in quality to bulk factory ammo, for less cost than buying it.

Hope that helps clarify.

BTW, I don't "buy military crimped brass" - I get it for free (a.k.a. range pickups). In my way of thinking a one-time ream of the primer pocket is worth the savings. I kind of think of it like being a different way to "pay" for brass without spending money on it.
 

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Great. If it isn't too much to ask, please outline the faster/easier methods you're referring to - assuming they aren't also prohibitively expensive. That is exactly the kind of information I am looking for. ...
i would refrain from using NATO/primer crimped brass, but if you must go that route get/use a good pocket reamer. whether to ream/trim auto or manual is yer call, i prefer manual. with range brass - deprime, clean and pocket ream all brass. lube, full size/expand, de-lube, trim, inside mouth light chamfer, prime, charge, seat. after firing it's back to clean, etc. the question of cleaning without depriming, then sizing/depriming on the press is your call. i don't deprime before cleaning with all handgun cartridges, but i do with rifle cartridges such as 6.5 creedmoor and .45-70 gov't. ... and with .223 for ELD accuracy. what you've already proposed as your loading regimen will work. a lot of this stuff is personal. once you go through your process you may change some things around, add, or subtract from it all. you need the experience and that will only happen with doing.
 
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