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Thread: 223/556 case processing

  1. #1
    Boolit Master

    Dieselhorses's Avatar
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    223/556 case processing

    Trying to "ramp up" the process of preparing a few thousand 223 brass. Tedious process to do it right. Mainly just want an ample amount SHTF ammo. Anyway, I de-cap/size some 300 cases at a time. I do not sort this brass by manufacturer and I do not sort 556 from 223. I DO use the RCBS swager for primer pockets and sort crimped from not crimped-then I swage.

    The part slowing me down is trimming. Just purchased a Lyman case trimmer from user on here-(works well by the way!) BUT before I trim I sort acceptable length from too long. Trim length is 1.75" and max is 1.76" so I trim to 1.75" but let anything in between 1.75 and 1.755 go. An occasional 1.74" shows up-would .010" mess anything up other than crimp? My COAL is 2.26" using generic (Wolf) 55 gn FMJ as I try to get real close to rifling.

    If anyone has a suggestion about speeding up trimming lemme know-pls and thx!
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  2. #2
    Boolit Master trails4u's Avatar
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  3. #3
    Boolit Master

    Winger Ed.'s Avatar
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    I do 5.56 several hundred at a time too.
    I check the length after sizing by running them all through the trimmer set 'on the short side' of the trim to length.

    Then go on from there and do a separate taper crimp after seating.
    I've never had to trim one a second time.

    I don't load to the max, but I do separate out GI brass.
    The new books don't seem to address it, but the old ones all said to use one grain less powder in the thicker
    GI brass to equal the same speed/pressure as a civilian case.

    I never tested the system, but do it anyway.
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  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by trails4u View Post
    Looks promising. Was just looking at a Frankford Arsenal trimmer on Amazon for 152.xx. Trims anything from .17 to .458, chamfers and cleans primer pocket. The trimmer rides on the case shoulder, hmm
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    Pain, is just weakness leaving the body...
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  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Winger Ed. View Post
    I do 5.56 several hundred at a time too.
    I check the length after sizing by running them all through the trimmer set 'on the short side' of the trim to length.

    Then go on from there and do a separate taper crimp after seating.
    I've never had to trim one a second time.

    I don't load to the max, but I do separate out GI brass.
    The new books don't seem to address it, but the old ones all said to use one grain less powder in the thicker
    GI brass to equal the same speed/pressure as a civilian case.

    I never tested the system, but do it anyway.
    Makes a lot of sense. According to this place >>Ultimate Reloader/ there's about a 1% difference in case volume. I use 24 gn's of H335 behind 55 gn fmj and I'm about an 3/16" or better below neck at powder level. But yes I see your point.
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    Pain, is just weakness leaving the body...
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  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy hermans's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dieselhorses View Post
    Looks promising. Was just looking at a Frankford Arsenal trimmer on Amazon for 152.xx. Trims anything from .17 to .458, chamfers and cleans primer pocket. The trimmer rides on the case shoulder, hmm
    I have one of these, and it is really fast too. It leaves a very small burr on the case mouth and those I remove in no time with my Hornady Case Pep Trio

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    i use the RCBS hand trimmer that I drive with a 1/2" hand drill. I have the 3-way trimmer head on the end. I have a wire wrapped around the trigger to run the drill at about 20% speed. The limiting factor for me is my hands and finger cramping up. I have the trimmer itself screwed to the table si does not move.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master Half Dog's Avatar
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    I’ve tried several trimmers. Once, a friend let me use his Dillon trimmer and that was great. It screwed into my RCBS press and I was able to trim many in a short amount of time.
    The sooner I fall behind...the more time I have to catch up with

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I use a Giraud trimmer and have case holders and cutters for the cases that I load the most. Yes, it was expensive! But I can trim most cases at a sustained rate of 16 per minute. It deburrs the inside and outside at the same time. It will hold .001 tolerance once you get the hang of it. For primer pockets and flash holes I use tools from Sinclair powered by a battery drill.

    I bought the Giraud back when I was working and my off time was really scarce. Many a time I was up late the night before leaving on a Prairie Dog trip, loading 1000 cartridges. And driving and being tired all the next day! It was worth the cost at the time. A few hundred at a time by hand is not so bad. But doing thousands at a time, power is your friend.

  10. #10
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    I use the Worlds Finest Trimmer from Little Crow Gunworks on 223 brass , after getting it adjusted you just pick up a piece of resized brass stick it in the cutter hold for a second done .

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    A while back some money fell into my lap and I bought the RCBS power trimmer with the universal shellholder. At a steady pace i can trim about 6-7 cases a minute, and length is held to .0005" +/-.

    I buy large flat rate boxes of once fired LC556 brass (2500 pcs +/-). Brass gets a wet tumble to start, it removes the dirt and spiderwebs from inside the cases. After drying I decap using a universal decapping die, then the primer pockets get swaged. Ultrasonic cleaner with lemishine and dawn dish soap then cleans the brass inside and out, and removes the primer residue from the primer pocket, followed by a tumble in corncob with liquid car wax.
    Only then do I resize using a Dillon carbide die, I dont want and sand or grit to scratch the sizing die. Trim, chamfer, and de-burr, another trip through the corncob to remove the sizing lube and it is ready to go for a trip through the Dillon 550 with a universal decap die in place of the sizing die at station #1. This ensures that no tumbling media is stuck in the flash hole.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    RCBS Power Trimmer with a 3-way cutter eliminates the need for separate chamfer and debur. Great setup.
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  13. #13
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    Use an RCBS X-die and you won't have to trim if the cases are once fired and have not yet been sized. Unless for a really tight match chamber the standard 223 X-die is what's needed, the small base and "AR" X-die are not needed. Yes, I know the directions for the die say to trim all cases to a uniform length but I've found after loading thousands of 223/5.56, 7..62, 30-06 and numerous other cartridges that the initial trimming is not needed with once fired cases. Make a simple chamber cast of your rifle (paraffin wax works fine for this) and measure the chamber neck length. You'll be surprised how much longer it is than the recommended "trim to" length is. I haven't trimmed a 223/5.56 case for use in my gas guns for so long I can't remember the last time......

    The slight variation in case length you mention will not matter if a Lee FCD is used to crimp. Seat the bullets so the case covers 90% of the crimp groove and crimp with the Lee FCD. Make sure the rounds fit into the magazine freely....they should if seated to crimp groove. In a SHTF situation reliability is more important than any small increase in accuracy may be had by seating to " get real close to rifling" may afford. With the Wolf 55 FMJs I seriously doubt there will be any difference in accuracy anyway.
    Larry Gibson

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  14. #14
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    The WFT is great however if you have arthritis or CTS it can become painful to use. The RCBS pocket swage tool works well but for myself it is slow and painful to use.

    As I have both of the afflictions my tool choices have been shaped to allow me to continue my hobby.

    I broke down and got the Dillon RT1500, with dies, which is mounted on a Hornady Projector. Along with a collator this makes short work of sizing, depriving and trimming.

    I also use the Hornady AP pocket swage tool with a 3D printed chute so I only need to touch the brass once during the process.

    Yes, these trimmers don’t chamfer but if needed I use a Lyman case prep center. As I typically use factory bullets for 5.56 there is no need to chamfer.

    The above listed tooling is used a lot as I also convert & process brass to feed my 300BO, 7.62x40WT, 300HAMR & 308Win.

    Yes, it was pricy to get set up but I’m no longer limited by my physical limitations when it comes to brass prep.
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  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Gibson View Post
    Use an RCBS X-die and you won't have to trim if the cases are once fired and have not yet been sized. Unless for a really tight match chamber the standard 223 X-die is what's needed, the small base and "AR" X-die are not needed. Yes, I know the directions for the die say to trim all cases to a uniform length but I've found after loading thousands of 223/5.56, 7..62, 30-06 and numerous other cartridges that the initial trimming is not needed with once fired cases. Make a simple chamber cast of your rifle (paraffin wax works fine for this) and measure the chamber neck length. You'll be surprised how much longer it is than the recommended "trim to" length is. I haven't trimmed a 223/5.56 case for use in my gas guns for so long I can't remember the last time......

    The slight variation in case length you mention will not matter if a Lee FCD is used to crimp. Seat the bullets so the case covers 90% of the crimp groove and crimp with the Lee FCD. Make sure the rounds fit into the magazine freely....they should if seated to crimp groove. In a SHTF situation reliability is more important than any small increase in accuracy may be had by seating to " get real close to rifling" may afford. With the Wolf 55 FMJs I seriously doubt there will be any difference in accuracy anyway.
    Good post , when we loaded large quantities of .223 our process was similar that FCD saves a lot of trimming.

  16. #16
    Boolit Mold
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dieselhorses View Post
    Looks promising. Was just looking at a Frankford Arsenal trimmer on Amazon for 152.xx. Trims anything from .17 to .458, chamfers and cleans primer pocket. The trimmer rides on the case shoulder, hmm
    I use this machine also. It works great for my 223 and 300 Blk. Sometimes it is a little rough going on the fingertips after a while. I found that using a cheap pair of those universal electrical pliers to hold the case at the rim works well for me.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    Indeed-all very great suggestions! Not worried about price as much as practicality. Seems they would have come out with a cartridge “planer” by now. Insert 1000 cases in a special bullet tray, invert and run a blade over the whole apparatus. You’ll see it down the road if we all don’t turn into zombies before that lol.

    But yea Larry G, I actually seated and crimped a few dummy rounds and chambered fine-got me wondering why the heck I’m trimming like a brain surgeon.


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    The unexamined life is not worth living----Socrates
    Pain, is just weakness leaving the body...
    It is better to be hated for who you are, than to be loved for who you are not (ask DJT).

  18. #18
    Boolit Man
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    I'm using a SwageIt on my 650. I have a tool head with the RT1200 case trimmer on it. I can turn out a sized, swaged, and trimmed case with every pull of the handle. Dillon says it voids the warranty, but I'm willing to chance it for the speed and ease of case prep. I've done over 8000 rounds so far with no ill effects. Just use your head and a bit of finesse.
    Last edited by Doubles Shooter; 03-22-2020 at 12:04 PM. Reason: spelling and stupidity

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    I have not used the Redding file trim dies but it looks like they could be adjusted to trim to the max case length or a little less and then just trim the long ones that stick up , this along with the collet crimp , would be faster for me than using my forester or Lyman trimmers with mixed brass of unknown origin Has anyone done it this way?

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    I also decap and pin tumble clean before anything else. Someone mentioned the primer crimp, and for that I just bought the new Lee APP press to decap and to pocket swage. I don't even sort the brass for crimps, but just run them through the pocket swager. The APP is fast enough that it is not worth my time to check for crimps. I just run 'em through.

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