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Thread: Playing with .223 brass for jackets

  1. #1
    Boolit Master PWS's Avatar
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    Playing with .223 brass for jackets

    Leadchucker's recent thread and a lot of spare time got me to tinkering with .223 brass. I've made .358" bullets from the base of the case but wondered about using the top end for smaller calibers like .33's or .30's.

    Woke up the other morning with the idea that it might be possible to draw and round over the case in one step with a reloading press holding the brass in a conventional shell holder and some kind of blind hole die in the press. Made up two prototype dies and here's pic of what they'll produce.

    The .33 die is drilled with a letter "Q" drill, given a chamfer large enough to admit the .223's shoulder and given a slight polish in the bore. The exterior is threaded 7/8-14 for the press and the cavity is 1.300" deep. The .30 cal was made the same except a "N" drill was used. The "Q" drill results in a case body diameter of .335" while the "N" produced a .306" body. Both dies will need further polish and harden if the product is usable.

    I'm not yet convinced that these will be useful as jackets however. The .33s cut off to 1.200" only weigh 38gr so no way they'll produce a bullet heavier than 200 or so grains. The other bigger problem is that the wall thickness is backwards - thick at the front and thin at the base. In fact, the ID at the mouth of the "jacket" is .275" and measuring a split "jacket" shows an ID of .315-.320. Not sure how to deal with core and punch diameters...

    The amount of closure is a concern too. I DO NOT want to be blowing cores out of jackets in the barrel!! I did make a hemispherical cutter to round off the cavity in the 33 die and the smallest closure before collapsing the walls is ~.125. Without further refinement, I was not able to go from full sized to .30 cal in one step without collapsing the case body. Going from .33 to .30 worked well and the .30 die is blind ended with the 118degree drill point. That die would close the base further down to a .100 hole.

    I'll try to make a core seat/base flattening die if somebody says it's ok to use the reverse tapered walls but don't want to continue if it's a waste of time.

    Pic shows:
    1. fired case
    2. fired case with neck cut back to 1.600" oal
    3. cut case drawn to .335" and partial round over
    4. base of case cut from body resulting in possible 1.200" jacket
    5. .335" drawn to .306" and flattened to 118degrees

    Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    What if, you made them upside down? so the neck could be your point. Seat a core from the bottom, then rounded over the bottom, then finished flatting the bottom in the point form step.?
    To lazy to chase arrows.
    Clodhopper

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    I did this once for a 338 Win Mag. Cut off the neck and the head of the case and rounded the neck end, then seated a core and formed the point. They looked good but went sideways upon leaving the bore. I think it was probably the power of the cartridge and load. They will work if you anneal the heck out of the case, leave the base on and reduce base and all, but I have a CSP 1 swage press so I can get away with that kind of reduction. Accuracy wasn't impressive though.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    at the risk of thread drift, how did you size to get 357 rounds.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master PWS's Avatar
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    Rancher, not sure about your question but for using the base of the .223 case to make a .358 jacket, it first gets cut to a length that anticipates the length increase that occurs in drawing. It then gets pushed base first through a simple tapered die with a narrow punch up into the inside of the case. They MUST be thoroughly annealed to go from .378 to .358.

    This results in a pretty robust jacket that's fine for a rifle. Never tried them in a .357 though.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

    nicholst55's Avatar
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    Wasn't BT Sniper working on this at one time?
    'I have a feeling we're not in Kansas any more, Toto!' Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    the sizing part was what I was curious about. I use a 223 sizer to shrink 380 brass down enough that the swagging die I got from btsniper would finish it with out a lot of effort. might have to do some experimenting now.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master PWS's Avatar
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    Yep, BT has pretty much figured out what can be done to produce some first class bullets with just about anything that's readily available.

    I don't know what it's like in the "Lower 48" but .223 cases are EVERYWHERE up here. All it takes is a trip out the road and a few stops along the way to pick up hundreds of empties even on a slim day. There are a few retired guys that literally have 55gallon drums of scrap brass they've collected.

    I got started into using them for .30's and .33's but got side tracked by a .400 Whelen project. No matter what the method, it sure seems like it'll take a lot of steps to use the body of the case - but a lot of scrounger swaging is like that.

  9. #9
    Salty Dog

    DukeInFlorida's Avatar
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    I'm using the top end of a 223 Rem case as the donor jacket for my 125 grain 9mm bullets. Cut off the neck, and then reduce the body diameter slightly. Then, trim off the body just below the shoulder. Makes amazing XTP style FMJ 125 grain bullets.

    BT Sniper has a thread somewhere, outlining the process. I have about 3,000 cut blanks and cores (same core I use for my 168 grain .308" bullets) ready to go.


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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check