Case Preparation for Reloading
Once I have accumulated a batch of fired cases, from various calibres, I start the preparations for reloading by first tumble cleaning the cases. It pays to do this every time and maintain the brassy shine of your cases.
I pour the fired cases into the tumbler and let it run for about three hours. If the cases are tarnished and long overdue for cleaning then I would leave them in the tumbler until I was happy with them.
When I am ready to retrieve the polished cases from the tumbler, I first remove the lid and leave the tumbler running. I do that for two reasons; firstly, I hold each case against the vibrating centre bolt to shake out the polishing media, secondly it is easier to pick cases out of the media with the tumbler running.
The polishing media can pack up inside cartridge cases, particularly the smaller cases. Holding each case briefly against the vibrating centre bolt shakes lose any such packed media.
The polished cases are now ready for de-priming and sizing. For hunting rifles it is considered good practice to full length resize your cases at each reloading. The main reason for that is to avoid any problems with an overly tight, sticky case in the field. Hunting ammo should chamber easily.
For varminting you will get a smidge more accuracy by neck sizing only. The odd tight case is not a major problem in a varminting situation.
All case necks should be pushed into the lubrication pad. The small amount of lube that it picks up is sufficient to provide the necessary lubrication for the neck sizing die.
If you are going to be full length resizing them the cases need to be lubed as well. That simply requires the cases to be laid on the lube mat and rolled along. I generally lay 6 or 8 cases on the mat then gentle roll them up the mat with the flat of my hand. The actual shoulder of the case does not need to be lubricated; just the straight walls and necks.
You will only need the finest smear of lubricant. Too much lubricant will cause problems with pressure dents in your cases. You will quickly get a feel for correct lubrication by developing a feel for the effort required to work the die handle. It should not feel in any way sticky or jerky and does not require great effort to make the full resizing stroke.
Correct die setting is important, but I will not cover that here. There is a wealth of specific, detailed instructions available for whatever brand of dies you might choose to use.
I find the easiest way to remove the water-soluble lubricant is to wash, rather than wipe, the resized cases. I place my cases into a large plastic container filled with warm water and just a tiny dash of detergent. I tumble these about by hand a few times and let them soak for fifteen minutes or so. I place the cartridges neck down on a cloth lined tray to allow any water to drain out. I then place them in a warming oven at 60oC
(140oF) for an hour or two to completely dry. Alternately you could place the tray of shells out in the sun for a few hours; which I was obliged to do before I managed to negotiate access to my wife’s kitchen oven.
For new, or once fired factory cases it can pay to do some reaming to ensure uniformity and make bullet seating easier. There are simple hand tools that will allow the three different operations to be performed.
Primer pocket reaming makes primer seating much smoother and easier. With fired factory cases, such as Federal, the primer is sometimes crimped in and the case must have the pocket reamed in order to reload without problems.
Inside the case there may be variable and irregular edges to the primer flash hole. Varminters and target shooters would definitely want to de-burr these irregularities and it does not hurt to do that for hunting ammo as well. The tool will remove the irregularities and produce a uniform champher and a uniform flash hole diameter.
To enable easy bullet seating, especially for flat-based projectiles, it pays to lightly champher the case neck.
The de-primed, resized, cleaned and reamed cases are now ready for priming.