Home > Articles > Reloading Brass
Choose a sub category:
Steps To Follow When Reloading Ammo

Reloading Brass

Reloaders often judge the success, or failure, of their loads using two prime factors; the rounds accuracy and if there were any feeding failures. Most advanced reloaders with deeper pockets might even purchase their own chronograph to determine the load’s velocity. While these are all excellent ways to determine how good your reloading skills are, there is another, less common, way that involves having a keen eye for detail .

Looking at the brass, referred to as reading the brass, will tell you a ton of information about your load. For example, if the load was consistent and accurate, but too hot for the particular gun you fired it from, the brass will show excessive signs of damage quicker than normal, in turn causing excess wear and tear on your gun. In this article, we want to highlight a few points where reading your brass will tell you the whole story of your load’s success or failure.

If the primers are loose after being fired twice, that is a pretty good sign that your loads are too warm. Factory loads have improved a lot in the last 20 years. If you try to exceed their velocities, you will be quickly met with a challenge. The most obvious is accuracy. The factories use powder that isn’t available to the average handloader so they have an advantage in that respect. If you know what you are doing, you can approximate them but seldom exceed their velocities. Careful load development can result in high performing and accurate loads.
There are signs to look for with mild overloads. With many modern rifles, the ejector is spring loaded. A mild overload will produce a shiny round mark on the case head. If you are using a book load that is listed as mild then perhaps the brass is too soft. That is unusual but very possible. Years ago, some manufacturers made their brass soft to be able to pick up pressure signs but that trend proved to be problematic and didn’t last very long.

Cratered primers are not a reliable sign because some are softer than others. Unless you have additional info that it may be a warm load, disregard cratered primers. If you reload your cases after firing warm loads, your primers may be loose and unusable. That is one good incentive to not use max loads on a regular basis. Once the primer pocket is enlarged, the case is useless.

If your loads are way too hot, the signs become much more obvious. If the case sticks in the chamber, your load is excessively hot and should be backed off a bit. If you have that ammo, you will be better served pulling it rather than shooting it. If it is that hot, the primer will be blown out and the case will be swelled . Ammo loaded too hot is dangerous and shouldn’t be shot. Even a book load can sometimes be too warm in some guns. There are differences in the chamber and barrel dimensions of each gun.

If a case is severely corroded or dirty, it can also cause it to stick in the chamber. If that is the case, you will see small dents in the shell. The ammo will be conformed to the chamber upon firing. A swelled chamber will produce the same results. That is something that happens in older guns with soft steels. If you shoot loads that are too warm over a period of time, the chamber may swell and the locking lugs may be stretched.