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Thread: Annealing Cases - Anyone every do pistol cases? 45 Colt

  1. #1

    Annealing Cases - Anyone every do pistol cases? 45 Colt

    Evening all,

    I have reloaded for year, cast my own bullets and for a loooooong time have never annealed cases. Had a bad experience as a kid trying to anneal a bunch of Dad's 222 rem brass. I LOOKED easy in the magazine article! Needless to say it did not turn our as hoped or expected, ruined it all, still surprised that Dad didn't get madder than he did...

    Fast forward a lot of years and I picked up a CZ 527 in 17 Hornady Hornet. Of course just when the big ammo scare hit. You could buy it on line for about $60 per 20, not happening. Found another sight that deals with small calibers and they were quite an energetic bunch and thoroughly explained how to form 17HH brass from 22H, more work then you would think but all worked out very well, that rifle is a little laser.

    Anyway, as part of the forming process you HAVE to anneal the cases to make it work. I have learned a few things through the years and one is to know my limitations so no more hand annealing "by eye". Did a bunch of research on line and ended up purchasing a Bench Source Annealer. Not cheap but a fantastic piece of equipment, worked great! Since then I've used it on all my bottle neck cartridges and 45-70 brass, again, very good results.

    So that brings me to the question, I had picked up a Marlin Cowboy with 24" barrel in 45 Colt. Fun piece but very slow twist 1-38" as measured, and a large and sloppy chamber. So large that it would bulge the cases in the bottom 1/3 and a lot of soot down the side of the case.

    I've since sent the rifle to Dave Clay at DRC custom for a rebarrel, 1-20" twist Douglas Premium barrel and good chamber specs. Just got it back today and getting ready to load some ammo and was wondering if I should give annealing a try on my 45 Colt brass? If I shoot it and I get sooty brass I know I will not like it. Granted you cannot shoot pooch loads and expect a good chamber seal but at moderate and above pressures I hope to see relatively clean brass with a good chamber.

    I know with a case this short you have to watch for heat going too far down to the head (soft). My main concern is that the neck could be too soft for a good crimp. Primarily reload Starline brass.

    Your thoughts? Anyone have experience annealing pistol cases?

    Cheers!

    Wade
    Semper Fi!

  2. #2
    Boolit Master zymguy's Avatar
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    if youve got the equment to pull it off do us a favor aneall some say 10 to 50 and dont anneal another lot of the same brass, shoot the heck outta them and see if you can measure any diffrence. I dont think 45 colt cases get work hardened but thats simply a wild guess

  3. #3
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    45 Colt is my CAS caliber and I also use Starline cases. I use a Dillon carbide sizer, which sizes the cases just enough to hold 0.452" bullets. I roll crimp with a Dillon AccuCrimp. After about 5 loads, I notice the cases don't respond well to the M die expansion step, making it harder to start bullets. This is most definitely due to work hardening. So, I started annealing with a propane torch when this occurred. Then, I get another 5 loadings. Doing this has greatly reduced the incidence of case loss due to neck cracks.

    Note that the trigger is not neck cracks, but increased neck hardness making more expansion necessary in order to start a bullet.

  4. #4
    Interesting, I would tend to think neck tension might not be sufficient enough to prevent bullet setback from recoil while in the tube. I'm going to watch this thread to see how it goes. Maybe a good crimp will still do the job even though there is less neck tension.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Sasquatch-1's Avatar
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    I have done it to .44 mag cases a couple of times and finally decided it wasn't worth the time. Brass for the more common calibers is fairly inexpensive.
    A vote for anyone other then the conservative candidates is a vote for the liberal candidates.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master jmorris's Avatar
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    I know one member here that built one of my machines specifically to anneal 45 colt.

  7. #7
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    A typical CAS match runs 6 stages and requires a minimum of 120 rounds (not including shotgun), every darn Saturday, if one is lucky enough to live near a bunch of clubs, as we do in Central Texas. Crimps are necessary whether there is sufficient neck tension or not. A bullet pushed into a neck on a rifle round will tie up a Winchester 73 action and one pulled by recoil will stop a revolver. That weekly shoot/size/crimp cycle scraps brass quickly. It's a personal choice to backfill with new brass or learn to extend case life with annealing. I found it satisfying to regain case neck manners by use of a torch. I used a wrench socket and drill/driver to rotate case necks in the flame.

    However, I have just invested in a salt bath system talked about here a few years ago: http://ballisticrecreations.ca

    This system uses simple industrial quality nitrate salts, melted in a Lee lead pot, to transfer heat to case necks. Dwell time in the salt is about 5 seconds. Since the melt is at a controlled temperature, brass temperature is controlled much better than with a torch. And no open flame, no more danger than offered by a small pot of molten lead. You can't overheat the neck, the only reason to limit dwell time is to avoid too much heat in the case head. The larger case plate will accept the necks of the old military issue Winchester and UMC brass 12 gauge shotshell cases I have. I'll try it and report results.

  8. #8
    Well it sounds like the 45 Colt annealing project will be a go! Jet, I was not worried about set back in the tube as I use a heavy roll crimp. With the lip rolled in it will not set back, even if the brass were soft. My main concern was bullet pull, my heaviest loads use a 342gr LBT WFN in a custom Bowen 5 shot Ruger bisley out a 5.5" tube at 1,350 fps. It's stout!

    Having said that I will not be shooting anything like that out of the Marlin. Will keep you posted once I get around to starting on the project. Appreciated the input.

    Cheers!

    Wade
    Semper Fi!

  9. #9
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by jmorris View Post
    I know one member here that built one of my machines specifically to anneal 45 colt.
    don't know if he's talking about me but I built one for this very reason; cases will work harden and in my sloppy chambered Marlin .45 colt the cases need all the help they can get.

    45 colt brass is much softer afterwards and dropped my splitting cases down to 1%. Do it when I start to see a significant number of splits in cases or 10 times (if I can remember)

    also helps with the blow-by as I'm at (or below) the min powder charge of Red Dot--all for cowboy action shooting so don't need to punch through the steel targets just make them ding/move
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nueces View Post
    A typical CAS match runs 6 stages and requires a minimum of 120 rounds (not including shotgun), every darn Saturday, if one is lucky enough to live near a bunch of clubs, as we do in Central Texas. Crimps are necessary whether there is sufficient neck tension or not. A bullet pushed into a neck on a rifle round will tie up a Winchester 73 action and one pulled by recoil will stop a revolver. That weekly shoot/size/crimp cycle scraps brass quickly. It's a personal choice to backfill with new brass or learn to extend case life with annealing. I found it satisfying to regain case neck manners by use of a torch. I used a wrench socket and drill/driver to rotate case necks in the flame.

    However, I have just invested in a salt bath system talked about here a few years ago: http://ballisticrecreations.ca

    This system uses simple industrial quality nitrate salts, melted in a Lee lead pot, to transfer heat to case necks. Dwell time in the salt is about 5 seconds. Since the melt is at a controlled temperature, brass temperature is controlled much better than with a torch. And no open flame, no more danger than offered by a small pot of molten lead. You can't overheat the neck, the only reason to limit dwell time is to avoid too much heat in the case head. The larger case plate will accept the necks of the old military issue Winchester and UMC brass 12 gauge shotshell cases I have. I'll try it and report results.
    Gosh, that's kind of cool. Nice it works with 12 ga (and thus snider).

    I have a Bench Source I barely used (hate that it doesn't work with 12 and it has to be hand fed). Sitting in closet now that I bought the Mike's Reloading Bench annealer. I do like it but doesn't work with 12ga.
    I hate the hand torch and screw driver method. I feel like I need one more hand.
    Might eventually try this for the odd ball calibers that don't fit.... or maybe pistol. I don't trust annealing pistol brass with a flame.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master


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    like the idea of the salt annealing

    may have to try that someday
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trigger1212 View Post
    My main concern was bullet pull, my heaviest loads use a 342gr LBT WFN in a custom Bowen 5 shot Ruger bisley out a 5.5" tube at 1,350 fps. It's stout!
    Trigger, this may interest you. Here is a thread on a modified collet style 45 Colt factory crimp die that I use with great success: http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...=1#post2239315
    Got a .22 .30 .32 .357 .38 .40 .41 .44 .45 .480 or .500 S&W cylinder that needs throats honed? 9mm, 10mm/40S&W, 45 ACP pistol barrel that won't "plunk" your handloads? Shoot me a PM-> http://castboolits.gunloads.com/priv...=newpm&u=29606 Also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cylinderhone-756429174391912/

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walter Laich View Post
    like the idea of the salt annealing

    may have to try that someday
    It's I tired it and quickly abandoned it. Made a huge mess. And salt stuck to the cases no matter what I did. Found the rush versus reward was much to high.

  14. #14
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    If you go back and read the earlier thread on salt annealing posted here, you'll find that trouble was experienced by someone raising the salt temperature to a stated 1000F, which is much, much too high for function or safety. Salt bath heat treating is a generations old process and well understood.

  15. #15
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    Annealing Cases - Anyone every do pistol cases? 45 Colt

    Quote Originally Posted by Nueces View Post
    If you go back and read the earlier thread on salt annealing posted here, you'll find that trouble was experienced by someone raising the salt temperature to a stated 1000F, which is much, much too high for function or safety. Salt bath heat treating is a generations old process and well understood.
    Read the thread many times. I don't think it's worth it for case annealing. I'm the one that had it up to 1000. It was the only way to get it so the salt didn't stick to the cases. I was aware that I was well over the temp where it should have worked. People are free to use whatever method they want. There are better options available then a salt bath.
    Last edited by dragon813gt; 08-30-2017 at 12:20 PM.

  16. #16
    Doug, interesting bit on the modified Lee Collet die. I like those dies and use them on a number of my rifle cartridges.

    Was going to experiment a bit with New starline and old starline brass to see if the annealing would make a difference with blow buy down the side of the case. I annealed 10 new and old pieces of brass and then loaded them up with the same load and did an additional 10 new brass unannealed. Didn't think about it till just now but I should also do 10 old brass un annealed also, doh!

    Been loading a long time but it is quite educational to try something new once in awhile as you will almost always re-learn OLD lessons! I loaded all the brass on my Forester co-ax press. Didn't pay too much attention to it as the rounds were primarily for testing the brass and shooting some J boolits down the bore after I had done a little firelapping for the final polish.

    After loading the rounds I looked at the annealed ones vs the new non-annealed and it was immediately apparent that I had a problem! In looking at the annealed brass if I had not started the round perfectly straight on the case mouth the bullet would seat cocked due to the soft brass. Looked at the new un-annealed brass which I had seated the same way, almost no mis-alignment/cocking noted! Hmmm, hadn't thought about that wrinkle when starting this.

    Conclusions so far, with no shots fired:

    1. When I annealed I did it a tad too much, got them a little too soft. Live and learn, will do less with the next batch.

    2. In looking at my die set up in the press I realized I should have had the body of the die screwed down a lot farther towards the ram. This is just a seating die, not a seating/crimp die, so by screwing it down as far as possible it will do a better job of guiding the bullet into the case, which should eliminate a lot of the mis-alignment issues.

    3. Slow down and pay attention to the little details! Should have taken the time to hand seat the bullet as best as possible. Got lazy as the harder brass would "let you get away with it". Having said that I'm sure even some of the unannealed brass also has alignment issues because of the above errors.

    Live and re-learn! Will do better next time, promise!

    Cheers!

    Wade
    Semper Fi!
    Last edited by Trigger1212; 09-01-2017 at 01:09 AM. Reason: Added spacing

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nueces View Post
    45 Colt is my CAS caliber and I also use Starline cases. I use a Dillon carbide sizer, which sizes the cases just enough to hold 0.452" bullets. I roll crimp with a Dillon AccuCrimp. After about 5 loads, I notice the cases don't respond well to the M die expansion step, making it harder to start bullets. This is most definitely due to work hardening. So, I started annealing with a propane torch when this occurred. Then, I get another 5 loadings. Doing this has greatly reduced the incidence of case loss due to neck cracks.
    Quote Originally Posted by Walter Laich View Post

    45 colt brass is much softer afterwards and dropped my splitting cases down to 1%. Do it when I start to see a significant number of splits in cases or 10 times (if I can remember)
    I will anneal my 44 Special brass that I used for match-grade ammunition after five to seven loadings. As others have noted, this keeps the cases from splitting on me and seems to allow for a more consistent, uniform crimp.


  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nueces View Post
    A typical CAS match runs 6 stages and requires a minimum of 120 rounds (not including shotgun), every darn Saturday, if one is lucky enough to live near a bunch of clubs, as we do in Central Texas. Crimps are necessary whether there is sufficient neck tension or not. A bullet pushed into a neck on a rifle round will tie up a Winchester 73 action and one pulled by recoil will stop a revolver. That weekly shoot/size/crimp cycle scraps brass quickly. It's a personal choice to backfill with new brass or learn to extend case life with annealing. I found it satisfying to regain case neck manners by use of a torch. I used a wrench socket and drill/driver to rotate case necks in the flame.

    However, I have just invested in a salt bath system talked about here a few years ago: http://ballisticrecreations.ca

    This system uses simple industrial quality nitrate salts, melted in a Lee lead pot, to transfer heat to case necks. Dwell time in the salt is about 5 seconds. Since the melt is at a controlled temperature, brass temperature is controlled much better than with a torch. And no open flame, no more danger than offered by a small pot of molten lead. You can't overheat the neck, the only reason to limit dwell time is to avoid too much heat in the case head. The larger case plate will accept the necks of the old military issue Winchester and UMC brass 12 gauge shotshell cases I have. I'll try it and report results.
    I have been thinking strongly about salt bath for my 44 mag cases (already using salt for 308 win). My concern has been the short straight walled cases allowing the heat to creep too close to the case head area. Have been thinking the use of a Lee aluminum mold opened up to hold the case would serve as a good heat-sink to protect the head.

    Also with a heat sink/Lee mold appropriately sized for 308's I'd like to experiment with some longer dwell time in the salt. With the recent realization that the thermocouples I've been using are only good for short/intermittent use above 500C/932F, I am no longer running at the 550C I had been with a PID controller. Quoted from a thermocouple vender: "a high quality k-type thermocouple with stainless steel cover and mounting thread, which is good up to about 500 degree C Celsius or about 932 degree F Fahrenheit continuous use, and short term up to 800 C or 1472 F."

    Problem right now is not having a few already trashed Lee molds to experiment with. Even though they are fairly inexpensive something about mutilating a functioning tool goes against my early upbringing.

    EDIT: Oops, didn't realize this was a three year old post......
    Last edited by oley55; 08-30-2020 at 09:06 PM.
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  19. #19
    Boolit Master Drew P's Avatar
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    I have to flare some of my pistol a lot and if there’s a roll crimp that’s definitely hard on brass. So I’ve considered it and I have an annealer, but meh

  20. #20
    I've used salt annealing for nearly thirty years. Yes, you will end up with some salt on the cases that you surely do not want transferring to your weapons chamber (YIKES!!). What I've done is tumble after annealing. Tumble with a little Dawn and some Lemon Bright (I use stainless steel pins in my F.A. tumbler). Admittedly an extra step that a lot of guys won't consider worthwhile but I dig working in the reload room anyway so I don't consider it a bore.
    Keep yer stick on the ice!!!

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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
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