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Thread: Case headstamp and seating depth

  1. #1
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    Question Case headstamp and seating depth

    I recently reloaded same bullet, same powder/charge and same primer recipe with a variety of different case headstamps. In other words, 10 of brand A, 5 of brand B, 5 of brand C, etc., all once fired. I got them to chrono comparably enough to say they ended up the same, allowing for my beginner skill level.

    The only thing I noticed I needed to do is readjust the seating die when I switched brands, i.e. last reload of brand A seated to COAL consistent with the others in the batch (typically 5-10), but first reload of the brand B immediately after would end up noticeably shorter/longer, with post-adjustment generally getting me back to my target COAL.

    Does it sound likely to you more experienced reloaders that the only big reason I'd sort by brand and work up a load for each is because of this variance (when I'm only varying the case, of course)?

    I suppose I could hypothesize on the reason I noticed the difference. Maybe the thickness of the brass, minute differences in case height (which I didn't measure, sorry - I noticed on the fly). Whatever it ended up being, I'm not looking for precision handloading. Just the basics - safety, reliability, economy.

  2. #2
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    Differences in case length won't affect COAL. Brass thickness and temper may affect seating, however.
    Hawkmoon
    On a good day, can hit the broad side of a barn ... from the inside

  3. #3
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    Unless you are trying for precision loading, I would not worry about small variances in COAL.

    Personally, I run mixed cases and do not sort by brand. Most of my loads, are mid range of powder charges.

    How much variation are you having?
    Likes (1) :
    Rick McC. (4th April 2022)


  4. #4
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    If you have a box of commercial ammunition (20, 25, or 50 rounds), open it up and measure the COAL of every round. The range may surprise you -- especially if it's a box of 50.
    Hawkmoon
    On a good day, can hit the broad side of a barn ... from the inside
    Likes (2) :
    mus (17th April 2022), Rick McC. (4th April 2022)


  5. #5
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    Good suggestions, both. I didn't think about actually putting out the variances as I measured them and also comparing to box of factor ammo. The latter is something I'll give a shot when I have a little more time on my hands.

    Disclaimers:
    * I was a little disappointed to re-remember this as loading 9mm instead of 45, but I suppose it'd be the same with either.
    * I'll "anonymize" the cases since this could be me, my press or my budget calipers just as well.
    * I'm doing the math in my head
    * I didn't get the full set of measurements for every single round, but when switching case brands:

    last brand F: 1.1080" -> first brand R: 1.1100" (+0.002")
    brand R: 1.1080" -> brand B: 1.1095" (+0.0015")
    brand B: 1.1090" -> brand W: 1.1075" (-0.0015")
    ----switched bullets here----
    last brand F: 1.1060" -> first brand R: 1.1090" (+0.003")
    --didn't note rest of brand R--
    brand B: 1.1095" -> brand W: 1.1090" (-0.0005")

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Murray View Post
    Good suggestions, both. I didn't think about actually putting out the variances as I measured them and also comparing to box of factor ammo. The latter is something I'll give a shot when I have a little more time on my hands.

    Disclaimers:
    * I was a little disappointed to re-remember this as loading 9mm instead of 45, but I suppose it'd be the same with either.
    * I'll "anonymize" the cases since this could be me, my press or my budget calipers just as well.
    * I'm doing the math in my head
    * I didn't get the full set of measurements for every single round, but when switching case brands:

    last brand F: 1.1080" -> first brand R: 1.1100" (+0.002")
    brand R: 1.1080" -> brand B: 1.1095" (+0.0015")
    brand B: 1.1090" -> brand W: 1.1075" (-0.0015")
    ----switched bullets here----
    last brand F: 1.1060" -> first brand R: 1.1090" (+0.003")
    --didn't note rest of brand R--
    brand B: 1.1095" -> brand W: 1.1090" (-0.0005")
    Without data for every round, you have no data indicating the normal variance range for one type of bullet in one brand of brass. Your numbers appear to be assuming that the variances you reported are due to the difference in brass, and that may or may not be the case (no pun intended.)
    Hawkmoon
    On a good day, can hit the broad side of a barn ... from the inside

  7. #7
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    After I posted the data, I started to think the same thing myself. The variances look small enough to be in line with what I think I would normally see round to round. Putting it out there and hearing it from you more or less confirms my suspicion that it's me moreso than anything else. I see my homework here in measuring a box or two of factory ammo and comparing to what I'm loading to get a rational baseline. Thank you both for steering me back to reality!

  8. #8
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    My reloading mentor a "few" years ago would separate his brass by case head stamps prior to reloading. I don't remember him saying why. In retrospect he was a bit OCD with certain things and may have just been a way to organize.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrettID View Post
    My reloading mentor a "few" years ago would separate his brass by case head stamps prior to reloading. I don't remember him saying why. In retrospect he was a bit OCD with certain things and may have just been a way to organize.
    Much depends on the end use of the ammunition. The reloading guru on this site, Niemi24s, has posted that he not only sorts brass by headstamp but he also weighs all his bullets, and sorts them into batches by some weight differential in the tenths (or hundredths) of a grain. But Niemi24s is a bullseye competitor, so he is looking for the utmost consistency in his ammunition, especially within batches of enough rounds for one match. The reasons for sorting by case headstamp are (1) to eliminate variations in case volume within each batch; and (2) to eliminate variations in case wall thickness (within each batch), which affects the grip of the case on the bullet.

    For those of us who reload only for plinking, or for action shooting competition and practice (IPDA and USPSA), that degree of consistency isn't needed.
    Hawkmoon
    On a good day, can hit the broad side of a barn ... from the inside

  10. #10
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    I think Dave W put it well questioning my goals, too. I could back off safety, reliability and economy a little to say "I don't want to blow myself or the gun up", with economy being implied in the ER visit savings. Either way, I suppose it's nice to have some exposure to these practices so I have it if I ever get good enough to need it. Most of my target papers still have an annoying lack of holes right in the bullseye anyway, and something tells me I can safely rule out the thickness of the brass at this stage.

    Perhaps it's also useful to confirm for myself what I read on the interwebs. So far things like "brand A brass is trash" or "brand B is hard to reload" haven't born themselves out in my experience yet. They all seem to go bang just fine. Once I've convinced myself there's no significant variation between headstamps, I'll likely save myself the sorting time and go back to the big sack of mixed brass. The only big thing I've learned lately (much to nobody else's surprise) is that you'll eventually break your pin if you try to decap a 9mm case with the Lee #2 shell holder. Now I have several spares on hand for the next time I hope I don't see.

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