Case Preparation & Loading Procedure

Just a little introduction of who am I and why this article.  First, I am not a bench rest shooter; I have been shooting high power and smallbore silhouette for the past twenty years.  My bench rest type shooting has been limited to sight-in shooting sessions only.  My bench technique or lack of results to date would classify myself as a solid three-quarter of the minute bench shooter.  The bench rest groups that I have read about over the years and pictures of those small group just continue to amaze me.  I have lots of respect for the bench rest shooter and know that it is much harder than it looks.  Bench rest shooting is truly special and requires it’s own special discipline.  I have been a subscriber to Precision Shooting and Shooter’s News over the years and enjoyed the articles on bench rest shooting by the various bench rest shooters.  The magazines seem to have changed over the years.  Glossy covers and thicker magazines are nice but I like the old question and answer approach where the questions and answers were directly related to the bench rest sport or related to rifle accuracy.  It is good to hear that Shooter’s News is interested in the old format.  A question was posted on some basic aspect of the bench rest sport was asked and a few of the “Pro’s” were asked for an answer.  It was probably very time consuming for the editor to correct and compile the answers but they made for some interesting articles and made the magazine.  What interested me even more were the stories on why they did what they did.  Some of the reasons and theories on what they saw and what they did may have been it conflict with some of Newton’s Laws but so what, that was what they observed and their reason why.  I enjoyed those articles and back a few years there were articles about shooting 30 BR’s and 308’s in bench rest competition.  Those were the articles I liked best.  Some of the things the bench rest guys were doing for 30-caliber competition I incorporated into use for my silhouette shooting.  So this article is about that.  This is what I do for case preparation and reloading for my silhouette shooting, based off my experience to date and the bench rest shooters articles.  Granted most of the things are not necessary for the silhouette sport but then again a couple of extra steps will not hurt anything either.  But most of all, “If it makes you feel better, do it, because it will make you shoot better”.

Selecting and buying new cases

This case preparation story is about preparing cases for my two standard high power silhouette rifles.  My primary and back-up rifles are both Remington 700’s in 308 Winchester caliber.  Back-up rifle got promoted to primary rifle two years ago after receiving a new 24-inch Hart barrel.  Now both rifles have new Hart barrels with 11 to 1 twists and 0.340 necks.  I wanted a 0.338 neck but my choice from Hart using standard tooling was 0.340 and 0.335.  I went with the 0.340 neck size, this is more or less the standard for long range Palma guns and most commercial ammo will fit this chambering.  It is still much tighter than the standard 0.346 neck.

So the new barrels deserve new brass.  So, I ordered 1000 of IMI 308 Match Brass cases.  I was also foolishly hoping that case necks would be thicker than say the Winchester brass and that the case necks would require turning to fit.  After all the IMI brass does weigh more than the most other commercial brass.  I was also getting good stories from the High Power National Match Shooters about the IMI brass.  So the following article and information is how this crazy silhouette shooter prepared his new IMI Match brass for its first loading and how he reloads it after each firing.

Original Case Preparation

| Uniform the primer pocket   | De-bur flash hole inside the case   | Uniform the extractor grove   | Full length case resizing   | Trimming cases for overall length   | Expand necks for neck turning   | Turn necks   | Weight and sort cases   | Final case distribution   |  One reason to weigh cases  |

Fired Case Reloading Procedure

| Recording data sheet   | Case resizing   | Neck Sizing   | Solvent Wash   | Primer pocket cleaning   | Case trimming   | Case polishing   | Priming   | Adding the powder   | Bullet seating   |

Uniform the primer pockets

For this step I used a K&M Primer Pocket tool.  The K&M Primer Pocket Tool was the first one I found that could be used with an electric screwdriver.  I have been very satisfied with it and now have all three.  One for large rifle primers, small rifle primers, and pistol primers.  I do this step for all the same reasons that all the bench rest shooters do.  They just all do it and they all say it helps.  I personally do not believe that anyone has any good proof or data that clearly shows any benefit.  But it is  easy to do and once done the tool may then be used to clean the primer pockets after firing.  Clean primer pockets look much better and just have to work better.  An article in Precision Shooting Magazine (October 1999) about the “Secrets of the Houston Warehouse” did not support all the great care that primers they are receiving today.

Using the electric screwdriver for operation is a must for doing 1000 cases.  I do not try to make them all perfect with new brass, just cut the radius out of the bottom of the pocket and make the bottom of the pocket uniform.  I use this tool for cleaning the primer pocket after each firing so if I leave the primer pocket a little short the first time I get it during the second, third, or fourth primer pocket cleaning.  The first cutting is the hardest and I use a light leather glove to hold the case while turning the cutter with the electric screwdriver.  The glove helps the strain on the fingers and lets you get a good grip on the case.  When done you feel better about it, so it is worth doing.

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De-bur flash hole inside the case

For this step I use the K&M Flash Hole Tool.  I modified this tool so I could use it with my electric screwdriver.  All the directions warn you not to use it with any power tools.  This tool is apparently design such that it is not to be used with power tools.  Well if you are only going to do 10 or 20 bench rest cases okay, but doing a 1000 cases you could easily develop very sore wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome) and fingers.  In order to make it work with my electric screw driver I needed some hex steel stock the same size that fits the electric screwdriver.  Found an old Allen Wrench that was not hardened.  I drilled and tapped a small piece of it and then, screwed the K&M Primer Pocket tool on to it.  I also added the small spring and collar to hold the spring to the K&M Tool shaft.  The collar is from the local hobby store and is normally used hold the wheels on a model airplane.  The K&M Primer Pocket Tool needs no adjusted for cutting deep.  When using it with an electric screwdriver you must make sure that brass chips do not build up inside the cutting point.  I have a small pick and constantly using it.  But  picking the chips out is much easier than turning the cutter by hand.  I adjust the spring so the case puts a little tension on the spring after the point on the cutter has just entered the flash.  The case stays on the center cone with a light pressure from the spring.  I am surprised that the tool does not come with a spring and collar.

Again this de-burring process is another step that all the bench rest shooters do with little proof that it actually does any good.  The best benefit that I have seen after de-burring the flash holes is the flash holes do not seem to have as much corn cob pieces and chucks of walnut shells stuck in the flash holes.  Again this de-burring step easy to do and when done you feel good about doing it, therefore it helps.

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Uniform the extractor grove

Now here is a step the most bench rest guys don’t even do.  Re-cut the extractor grove on the cartridge base.  I saw this in one of the articles in Precision Shooting a few years back and give a copy to two friends, which both just happen to be machinist types.  Low and behold I got two of these things.  Never have told them that I have two.  Both think I am using the one they made.  Tool works great and the biggest difference I have noticed after re-cutting all the extractor grove happens while seating the primers.  The shell holder on my Lee primer-seating tool is very discriminating towards cartridges, which have an ever so slightly larger diameter or damaged extractor grove.  Before re-cutting the extractor grove on other brass, I would notice every  now and then a case that would not slide into the shell holder very easily.  It would hang up on something.  But after re-cutting the extractor groves, they all slip into the Lee priming tool shell holder with the greatest of ease.  Now when I priming some 45ACP I get some cases that stick in the Lee Priming Tool on burred and damaged rims.

The re-cutting of the extractor grove also kisses the web or rim.  This makes all of the rims the same.  All of this should make things better when the bolt closes and the extractor slips into the grove.  I have noticed less or no brass shavings in the bolt face and extractor after re-cutting the cartridges extractor groves. Can’t say that my (standing) groups are any smaller, but this step really makes me feel good so it must help me shoot better.

The case holder in the picture was made from a small piece of oak. A hole was drilled into the oak, which the case shoulder would get stuck if pushed. Actually I drilled the hole in the piece of oak and with a little help from some epoxy, formed a hole that the case could be press into and it would hold the case during the re-cutting process.  After re-cutting, I put a ¼ in. steel rod into the case and tap it off the oak holder.

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Full length case resizing

Since this is all new brass and with very few dents or dings. It does not make much sense to resize it.  On the other hand I want to make sure the case neck lengths, and neck diameters are all same before trimming for overall length and turning the necks.  So I full length re-sized all 1000 cases using my standard Redding 308 Full Body Re-Sizing Die with the neck expanding ball floating on an o-ring.  Of all the o-ring and die stories, placing an o-ring between the primer extractor and neck expander stem and the die body, is only place I feel that it makes any since.  When you extract the case the stem is not held rigid and may float or move to center itself in the case neck.  This is possible because the stem in the re-sizing die is not tighten down hard against the die body, but is loosely tighten against an o-ring between the stem and die body.  This allows the stem to wiggle around on the threads and center itself while extracting the case from the die.  I have also made a new nut for holding the stem.  This new one also has a setscrew in it.  This allows you to easily remove the stem for cleaning and replace it at the same setting.

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Trimming cases for overall length

For this operation I use the manual Lee case trimming system and my electric screwdriver.  I have retired the original Lee case holder.  It was placed with a slightly modified Sinclair caseholder.  Both Lee and Sinclair caseholder would fit onto the end of an electric screwdriver. The driver normally comes with two raised portions in the center, which fit, into either a large or small primer pocket.  The Lee trimmer is designed with a fixed overall length-cutting guide.  This guide or pin extends through the  primer flash hole and bottoms out on the base of the shell holder and controls the depth of cut.  I have been using this system for over twenty years and it is great. No adjustments or set-up time required.  Just screw the correct trimmer guide on to the cutter and cut until the cutter stops cutting.  The electric screwdriver is great for this operation.  Just turn the case with the electric screwdriver while the wooden frame holds the cutter.  See picture of set-up.  Wooden frame holds cutter and has rest for electric screwdriver to keep it in line with the cutter.  All 1000 cases had some material removed during this trimming operation.  The amount was minor and the inside and outside de-burring was done using a standard RCBS de-burring tooling while the case were still in the shell holder on the end of the electric screwdriver.

I sent Mr. Fred Sinclair a picture of my solid walnut set-up and little note about my trimming set-up.  Couple of months later here came a little box with a modified case driver (finished with a flat end) and best of all a little hand written note from Mr. Fred Sinclair which I treasure most of all.

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Expand necks for neck turning

The case neck diameter must match the mandrel diameter on the neck turning tooling.  This can be easily accomplished by using Sinclair’s neck turning mandrel and expander mandrel.  Just oil the inside of the case necks before using the expander body die with the correct expander mandrel.  Running the cases up and down on the mandrel with a loading press is very easy work and makes the neck turning operation run very smoothly.  Then use the correct turning mandrel on the neck turning tool. The expanding mandrel is just a little larger (about 0.001 more in diameter) so the expanded neck will just slide onto the turning mandrel.

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Turn necks

Since the chamber neck on my re-barreled silhouette rifles are 0.340 in., I want to be sure that all my cases fit correctly.  Most  factory ammo will fit into a 0.340 in neck chamber but that is not guaranteed.  So I decided to have the neck diameter on my finished rounds be no more than 0.338 in.  So using a 0.308 diameter bullet the correct neck wall thickness would be 0.015 in.  To set the cutter on the neck wall cutter I used a 0.015 feeler gauge.  Place the feeler gauge between the mandrel and the cutter and tighten the setscrew that holds the cutter in place.  Remember this is for silhouette shooting so only one cut is going to be done.  The IMI Match brass really surprised me, very little material was removed and I think all cases would have fit the 0.340 chamber without turning the necks.  The amount of material removed from most cases seemed like I was just removing the tarnish from the annealing process.  The majority of the cases cleaned up by cutting completely around the entire neck.  Very few of the cases seem to cut heavier on one side or not cut completely all the way around on the neck.  These cases, which were less than one hundred, were separated from the others.

My neck turner is a home made model and uses Sinclair’s mandrels.  The case holder was made for 308 Winchester cartridges.  The case holder fits into a rubber heater hose that connects to a 0.5-in. rod.  The rod is fed through two bearing blocks which is on one of my work bench legs.  The rod is turned by hand using a crank that is on a flywheel off an old grape crusher.  System works great for neck turning.  Easy to crank and still have a feel for how the cutter is working.  Until the electric screwdriver came along, I had all of my various tools used on this simple cranking system.

Upgraded to a K&M Neck Turner.  Great tool and easy to make very small adjustments to the cutting depth.  I use the K&M case holder that came with the neck turner for triming cases.  It grips a little better than the Sinclair case holder and both are easilier to use than the Lee case holder.

K&M Neck Turning Tool

Also moved the old grape grape crusher flywheel and bearings from one of the work bench legs to a frame that mounts on the work bench.  Much easilier to use.

Bench Top Mount

This arrangement almost making tuning neck fun.  The secret to neck turning is how easy it is to turn the case.  By hand is best for the feel of the cutting process.  The flywheel is 15½ in. diameter.

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Weigh and sort cases

At last, hear is the last operation in the case preparation process and the one that I have been waiting for, weighing and sorting the cases.  Most folks think that doing this is a total waste of time and has absolutely no affect on performance.  They may be right, but weighing and sorting your cases is one way of knowing how uniform your brass is.  Just how good or bad is this IMI Match brass in terms of case weight consistency.  This operation is easy to do with an electronic scale or balance.  I use some  ¾ inch square wooden sticks keep the cases separated.  Each stick is marked on one end the weigh class for that stick.  The stick is divided up into ten portions and the ten portions are marked on the stick from 0 to 9.  These numbers indicate 0.1-grain increments along the stick.  See picture, the sticks are marked on one end for each whole grain weight.  Than the stick is marked along the length for each 0.1 grain increment.  Simply weigh each case and place on the correct pile.  So after weighing and separating all but the few cases which failed the neck turning operation, it was time to box the brass.  I placed 800 of pieces of brass in MTM 100 plastic cartridge cases.  A hundred or more highs and lows were left.  Then I weighed and sorted the cases that failed the neck turning operation and them added to the highs and lows.  Now these two hundred pieces of brass, (high case weight, low case weight, and cut on one-side necks) were put into two MTM 100 plastic cartridge cases.

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Final Case Distribution

The distribution of the 1000 IMI Match 308 Brass is as follows:
Brown Box – Lows 177.0 to 179.3 grains plus the light half of the neck turning rejected cases.
Green Box #1
17 at 179.4 grains
19 at 179.5 grains
26 at 179.6 grains
29 at 179.7 grains
9 at 179.8 grains

Green Box #2
35 at 179.8 grains
33 at 179.9 grains
32 at 180.0 grains

Green Box #3
30 at 180.0 grains
70 at 180.1 grains

Green Box #4
15 at 180.1 grains
73 at 180.2 grains
12 at 180.3 grains

Green Box #5
38 at 180.3 grains
62 at 180.4 grains

Green Box #6
 9 at 180.4 grains
46 at 180.5 grains
45 at 180.6 grains

Green Box #7
 5 at 180.6 grains
57 at 180.7 grains
23 at 180.8 grains
15 at 180.9 grains

Green Box #8
19 at 180.9 grains
29 at 181.0 grains
16 at 181.1 grains
18 at 181.2 grains
18 at 181.3 grains

Brown Box Highs – 181.3 to 184.8 grains plus the heavy half of the neck turning rejected cases.

Now I just keep the cases in their own groups of one hundred each.  Each box of one hundred have all the cases weighting within 0.2 to 0.5 grains.  I was very pleased with the overall weight distribution of the IMI Match brass.  The IMI brass case capacity is a little less than the Winchester brass, but with the 11 to 1 twist rate and 0.340 neck chamber in the new barrels I only need 41.0 grains of IMR-4064 to push my moly coated 175 grain MatchKings 2550 fps.  The 41.0 grains completely fills the case.

So that is how this silhouette shooter prepared some new brass after reading a bunch bench rest shooting articles.

I mark the MTM 100 boxes with the weigh group.  This is not for my benefit but for the benefit of all others at the match.  The fact that I have weighed and sorted my cases, makes me feel good and where by allowing me to shoot better.  This may also work against my competition.  If they did not weigh and sort their brass and see mine, then they may not feel as good whereby affecting their shooting in some mysterious way.

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Here is one good reason to weigh cases.

In the picture either above or below is a 221 Fireball case. I just purchased 500 new Remington cases and got 501 cases.  After re-cutting the primer pockets, deburring the flash holes, and turning the necks; I weighed the cases.  Pleased with the weight distribution.  Over 400 cases seem to turn evenly during the neck turning and ding free.  I ended up with 400 cases between 79.9 and 81.0 grains.  Average weight was 80.3305 grains and Standard Deviation 0.3378 grains.  However, one case weighed more than four grains heavier than the rest of the cases.  Thirteen sigma’s over the average, one could easily say that this one is old of the process control window.  I kept this odd ball heavy case separate.  Looking into the case you could see something odd.  Case looked like it had extra thick webbing in the bottom of the case.  I decided that this case would be my bullet seating depth case.  Therefore, I proceeded to drill out flash hole out to fit the tap for a No. 12 x 20 screw.  The extra web or thickness in the base looked like it would be part of the threads.  During the drilling and tapping procedure things got messy and I ended up pulling that brass shaving out of the case.  Originally, the brass shaving was not apparent, it appeared to be so tightly drawn up on inside walls at the bottom of the case it appeared to be part of the case.  It took a little doing to get it out.  After removing, this shaving from the case the case looked normal or any of the other cases on the inside.

221 Fireball Case

Without weighing the cases, I would have never found this shaving.  In fact, several people looked inside this case at the range before I decided to use this case, has my bullet seating case.  The brass shaving would have stayed in the case was fired, but surely would change the pressures a little.

The flash hole in the case is now tapped for 12 x 20.  The case is now ready for use.  The bullet seating depth maybe easily measured now using this special case.  Just seat the any bullet into this case using a your seating die.  Then measure the seating depth of the bullet.  Adjust your seating die as needed.  Then just push the bullet back out of the case a little and reseat it again.  This maybe repeated many times.  If the bullet gets a little loose, just resize the case.  The frugal cartridge length measuring device.

Thought the picture of the brass shaving would be of interest.

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Fired Case Reloading Procedure

Recording data sheet

The first step in my reloading procedure is printout a new data sheet.  I have made data sheets for each batch of cartridges that I reload.  The data sheet helps me remember all the various steps and keep them the same and in the proper order.  The data sheet includes some history, as to the number of times each batch of cartridges has been reloaded.

Excel Reloading Data Sheet I use for my 308 Silhouette Ammo - Green_3.xls
Excel Reloading Data Sheet I use for my 600 Yard Ammo - Win_Test.xls
Word Document I use as page two on above Reloading Sheets - PageTwo.doc

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Case resizing

First step in my reloading operation is to measure five or ten fired cartridges for cartridge length using my RCBS Precision Mic.  The number does not change much, but gives me an accurate base line for the re-sizing operation.  The  measurements are recorded on the back of the data sheet.  Next I check my previous data sheet for the Redding Competition Shell Holder I used the last time.  I really like these Redding Competition Shell Holders; it is the only way to get “custom” lengths during a re-sizing operation with any level of consistency.  I am now using a Redding UltraMag Press; this press has a tremendous amount of mechanical advantage and is a real joy to operate.  After placing the correct shell holder in the top of the ram, I run the ram up to top dead center.  Then I screw the body re-sizing; I use the Redding Competition Body Die, down until it contacts the top of the shell holder.  Now here is a little secret of mine, I tighten the body die using channel locks hard against the shell holder.  This does two things; first it squares the die to the ram.  Second it makes all the brass re-size to the same length.  After tightening the die against the ram I than tighten the die locking ring which should keep the die in it’s square to the ram position.  The Redding Competition Shell Holder comes in 0.002 increments and so far the increments have worked great and I have not needed one in between the two standard increments.  I think you can play around with how tight you make the body die and get into a dimension that falls between two increments in the shell holder.

I measure the first case after re-sizing and if okay do the next previous measured cases.  I measure the same cases before and after re-sizing and in the same order.  The measurements are recorded on the back of the data sheet.  Currently, I am under sizing the brass about 0.0005 to 0.001 to the fired case.  My silhouette rifle with the Red stock “Red” has fired cases that measure about 0.0015 over the base dimension or minimum cartridge length using my RCBS Precision Mic.  The RCBS Precision Mic is a very handy little tool.  Easy to use and no set up required.  Just measure.  The silhouette rifle with the blue stock "Blue" just got re-barreled and it's fired cases are measuring about 0.0005 over the base dimension or minimum cartridge length using my RCBS Precision Mic.

For lubricating the cases before re-sizing I have been stuck in the mud with my Redding Case Lubricating Pad and RCBS water-soluble case lube.  The water-soluble lube washes off the hands easier and I put very little on the pad, which puts a very thin coating on the cases.  After re-sizing I clean the body die by pulling a small rag through the die.  Very easy to do with the Redding Competition Body die since it does not have a stem or a primer punch.  That is about it for re-sizing other than I do it after every firing.  I do not like hard or even a little firm closing bolt.  Remember this is for Silhouette Shooting not Stool Shooting.

One more point or plug for the Redding UltraMag Press.  I have seen lots of comments about the Forester/Bonanza Co-Ax Press.  It’s claim to fame is perfect die alignment as well as being a well make press.  I have not ever used one, but if you tighten the dies in the UltraMag as I mention above, the die and ram is as square as it gets.  Now when you start the ram up during the re-sizing step and stop just when good contact is made, then lower the ram just enough to let the case float in the shell holder, and than start the ram up again to complete the re-sizing operation.  This little extra step should center the case perfectly in the re-sizing die without any side forces.  There is a few thousands float between the case rim and shell holder.  All presses made today have alignments well within the amount of play that the case rim has in the shell holder.  I like my Redding UltraMag Press, especially after using a Pacific C-Press for over the past fifteen years.

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Neck sizing

This may be a little over kill for silhouette shooting, but once you start using any of the Redding Competition Dies, you will not want to use anything else.  I set my Redding Competition Neck Sizing Die in the Redding UltraMag Press in a similar fashion to the body re-sizing die, but no tightening with the channel locks.  I simply raise the ram and screw the neck-sizing die down until it bottoms out on the ram and then unscrew it until the micrometer dial and numbers are facing the front.  I have to unscrew the die about 1/3 turn or about 0.024 in.  This is where I leave it, so I am neck sizing my necks just about the entire neck.  I have been using a 0.335 bushing.  My current selection is 0.333, 0.335, & 0.337.

Since the neck sizing is now pushing the old primers out, I will mention here that I have placed small piece of 3/8 diameter brass tubing inside ram on the UltraMag Press.  This brass tube was cut to a length that allows it rest in the bottom of the ram and just allow the shell holders to clear it’s top.  With this brass tube in place all of the primers and primer dirt goes down the brass tube and out plastic hose on the bottom of the ram.  Keeps the press a lot cleaner.

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Solvent Wash

This is something I started after tumbling brass in the red walnut shells.  The amount of red stuff left on the brass was a mess.  So I would solvent wash the brass and I am still doing it.  The solvent wash is a three-step or three-pail process.  First I place the oily cases in an old tin peanut can (which are harder to find now days) which I have drill a bunch of 1/8 inch drain holes in the bottom.  The tin peanut can holds about 50-52, cases (308 Win.), and I placed the cases in the tin can with the primer end or cartridge base up.  No good reason for primer up other than if some paint or can liner, breaks loose you may see it in the primer pocket and may not see it way down inside the case.  I think the cases also drain better in this position.

Step one is dip into pail of lacquer thinner. First wash and thinner gets dirty

Step two is dip into pail of lacquer thinner. Second wash and thinner stays cleaner

Step three is dip into pail of acetone. Final rinse and acetone dries fast.

Dump brass on terry cloth towel and wipe outside surfaces.  Fold towel over cases and rub them around a little.  I use some old one-gallon house paint pails and do this operation outdoors.

Rinsing Tray

I have finally upgraded my peanut can rinsing devices with some little trays.  I made the trays using aluminum sheet which is normally used for dryer ducts.  The aluminum sheet is easy to cut and bend.  To bend straight edges I just clamp the sheet down on the edge of my work bench and use a putty knife like a break table.  Little trays work great and are made to hold 50 308 type cases.

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Primer pocket cleaning

This is the fast operation.  Since the primer pockets have been previously cut to the length using the K&M Tool, very little effort is required to just clean the primer residue out.  No sore fingers holding the cases and just let the electric screwdriver turn the cutter a few times.  Let the primer pockets dry thoroughly first or cutter gets a little gummy.

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Case trimming

This is my approach to trimming made fast and easy.  If you have not noticed, the electric screwdriver keeps appearing.  That electric screwdriver is one the best tool I have ever bought.  I find myself using it for more and more things every day.

The first operation in my trimming made easy, starting of the right and then going left is to trim the case to length.  I use the Lee system and I can mount various Lee cutters and length guides in the wooden frame.  I upgraded my Lee case holder about a year ago by buying one of Sinclair’s case holders, which fit into an electric screwdriver.  It looks better and easy to use.

The second step is de-burring case neck inside, middle station.  For this operation I am using the K & M Tapered Case Mouth Reamer which puts about a 7 degree taper on the inside of the case mouth.  This tooling is adjustable and works great.  Bullets just slide into the case, and I think it helps in the alignment.

The third step is to de-bur the outside of the case neck.  I use one of RCBS's case de-burring tools for this.

The Skil Electric Screwdriver has been one of the best and most used tools I have purchased.  I use it for everything, including case trimming.  I am on my second battery and had to replace the spring in the on/off switch.  The setup using the wooden blocks to hold the power driver on center with the tool works very well.  The operation is quick and all three operations are done while the case is mounted in the shell holder.  I sometimes include soot removing wiping operation as a step four.  Simply wipe the case neck (with a little brass polish) while power turning the case.

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Case polishing

This step will make some of the bench rest shooter shudder just a little.  But I have changed from tumbling to vibrating polishing process.  I have replaced my Thumbler’s Tumbler, retired to Moly coating, with a Midway vibrating brass polisher.  The Midway works great and I polish 100 cases for 3 hours.  No beating up the case mouths like the tumbler.  I like shinny cases, they make me shoot better.

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I use a modified Lee-priming tool.  This was the bench rest tool of choice back a few years ago.  The custom model, I want to say was done by Sinclair before he started making his own.  The Sinclair tool is probability a far superior tool than the Lee, but the Lee priming tool has been working well for me over the years.  Anyway, the Secret’s from the Houston Warehouse said this step does not matter. After twenty five years of picking up one primer at a time, I switch over to the Lee Auto Primer.  Works great.  Make a small card borad tray to dump the primers into first and then pour onto the Lee Auto Tray.

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Adding the Powder

I have been using IMR-4064 in my 308’s now for over twenty years and no good reason to change.  I have won four state  championships with it, but it still does not meter very well.  I just got a new Redding BR-3 with both rifle and pistol micrometer charging assemblies.  I heeded something for a 45ACP (my hand me down Pacific powder measure would not work for small pistol charges).  Looking to find something that would work better on IMR-4064.  The BR-3 may be better but IMR-4064 still is hard to meter.  I made a slightly longer handle for the BR-3 that cuts or whatever those long 4064 kernels with the greatest of ease.  I can throw 41.0 grains of IMR-4064 with a standard deviation of about 0.150.  The same BR-3 will throw Accurate 2520 with a standard deviation of 0.047.  So I can not complain about the Redding BR-3.  The round bottom BR-30 maybe better, but my BR-3 has a bondo round bottom charging chamber.  The round bottom-charging chamber improved the standard deviation from around 0.180 to 0.150.  Anyway I throw the charge and then weigh each charge for my match ammo.  All loads are to the 1/10 grain on the electric balance.  That is after adding or subtracting a few kernels of IMR-4064.

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Bullet seating

My procedure for bullet seating has just changed.  At the last silhouette match in 1999, which was also the state championship, I found myself with some hard loading ammo.  It changed the point of aim and got to me at the match (did not feel good and did not shoot good).  After returning from the match the best I can figure out is I left two of my MTM-100 boxes loaded with the bullets loaded long.  The best I can conjecture is I was going to adjust them later, but forgot about it.  Worst of all there  was no note if it on the data sheets.  Or I just loaded them with the seating die or seating stem one full rotation off and I did not measure them.  So now I place my Redding Competition Seating correctly in the reloading press, and screw the seating stem out one full turn.  Then I seat the bullet in five cartridges.  Since these are way long, I insert them into my silhouette rifle and force the bolt close, pushing the bullet back into the case.  I first remove the firing pin assembly from the bolt with Sinclair’s Remington firing pin removal tool.  Also I have removed the ejector pin in my bolt.  I find it easier to pick the case out of the receiver than pick it up from the ground.  Then I measure overall length of the five rounds using my RCBS Precision Mic.  I now record this on the back of the data sheet for this batch.  I find that there is a slight difference in the five, so I add them up and divide by five to get the average.  After I have the average, I subtract 0.015 and this is the depth I will seat to.  I am looking for 0.015 in jump to hard contact with the lands.

In my guns, if the bullet is seated out too far and hits the lands the bullet will be pushed back into the case.  I read stories about bench rest shooters who seat their bullets a few thousands into the lands.  This brings up an interesting question for me, how do they do that?  Or is touching the lands different then hard contacting the lands?  A little jump of 0.015 should keep the accuracy up and pressure down.  Also measuring each time I reload a batch of cartridges, I can keep track of any throat erosion.

That concludes my story on how this silhouette shooter reloads after reading too many bench rest magazines.

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Larry Medler

Rifle Silhouette Shooting

Silhouette Ballistics

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Released September 4, 2004
Revised August 29, 2009