A Guide to Picking The Right Brass for Your Reloads
When reloading, it is of the utmost importance that you pick the right brass. Picking the wrong brass can result in a variety of cartridge malfunctions, so you must be diligent for your safety and the safety of those around you. Every firearm is different, so it is worth experimenting with different brass to find out what works best for you.
The first step to picking the right brass for your reloads is to decide whether to use new or used brass. Most reloaders use brass that has been fired at least once, but some prefer purchasing new brass. To acquire used brass, you can purchase used brass online or to scavenge cases at the range. The cheapest and easiest source of brass, however, is your own spent cases. Reloading with used brass from other sources takes a little more work, but it can also lead to the discovery of new brands you haven’t tried that may work better for you.
No matter the source of your brass, it is always important to inspect the cases. After a case has been reloaded a few times, the brass can begin to degrade. The number of times a given case can be reloaded depends on the brand, with high end brass sometimes lasting up to ten reloads, but it is still important to inspect your brass after each firing.
The first step in your brass inspection process should be to check the material composition of the case. This is only necessary for cases procured from outside sources. Cases made from steel or from nickel-plated brass are not as conducive to reloading as pure brass cases. Next you should check for any splitting in the case. Common locations for splitting are at the case head and the case neck. If there are any signs of case splitting, the case should be discarded. The next thing you should check is whether any of the cases are dented. Dents can lead to split or blown out cases. Finally, you should inspect the primer pockets to make sure they aren’t loose. Keep an eye out for any other irregularities. When in doubt, throw it out. Your safety is more important than saving a few cents on brass.
Now that you have good brass, it is time to begin the reloading process. For precision loads, a good first step is to sort your brass by weight and head-stamp. Case weight can vary, especially with lower quality brands, reducing accuracy and repeatability. You should experiment with different brands to figure out which works best in your firearm.