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Bjorne Lou Tsar
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've had sooty cases before but they were from under pressure loads or work-hardened necks. This is a proven load in this gun. I'm on my 8th load with this batch of Lapua 6.5x284 brass and they've been annealed twice since I started shooting them.
The picture shows what I'm talking about. It's already been resized so some of the soot has been wiped off but there's still a lot on there. I don't think it's an under sized load or work hardened necks. Anyone have soot this bad? What am I missing?

 

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Never seen that in any of my rifles... my .22-250 will get soot up to the shoulder if the neck splits, but beyond that I haven't run into it.

How far back are you setting the shoulder from the chamber dimensions?

-DallanC
 

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Bjorne Lou Tsar
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I adjust my die until my bolt barely closes easily. I have a different set of dies and shell holder for each of my 6.5x284s. I just measured my shoulder set-back at .0015.
I've had cases with lube residue still on them that give me high pressure signs before. But that's different. I was shooting in the pouring rain and my cases were wet when I chambered them (hey, if you're going to hunt in the rain, ya gotta practice shooting in the rain). Wet case = clue maybe? I don't know.
 

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I have seen cases from my AR look like this before, but I just figured it was due to the way gas escaped an AR. But Ive never seen that in a bolt gun...
 

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Bjorne Lou Tsar
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I went up and shot again tonight. Same thing...soot. Six out of 22 were sooty. Hmmm...
After the latest post by Waspocrew about brass annealing, I'm wondering if I'm getting a consistent or too low annealing temp. I know the last few times I held the brass in my fingers and rolled the necks in the flame. But, in Waspocrew's post I said:

BPturkeys, now you got me reading all kinds of stuff about annealing brass. I hold the case in my hand and roll the neck in the flame until it becomes the color of new Lapua brass necks then toss it in a pan of water. I hope I'm getting the right temp. It seems to make a difference though.
So I thought I'm doing it right. Maybe I didn't heat it enough to make a difference and I'm still shooting brass that was last annealed properly at the factory. Maybe? I'm going to anneal a small batch tonight and instead of holding them in my fingers, I'll heat the neck up while they're standing in a pan of water.
 

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Bjorne Lou Tsar
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
It still shot pretty good. Here's my records from the other day. 200 and 100 yard groups.

 

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When Chuck first posted this thread I wrote a really long and really boring reply but then lost it while trying to post it, so I'll try again.

My guess:

Some of the brass casings might not be annealed enough and/or the annealing was not consistent. Some of the cases, or part of a case, may be too hard to get pushed up against the chamber before the hot gases get in the gap....like the brass shoulder is 50 HRB from 12 o'clock to 9 o'clock, but 58 HRB from 9 o'clock to 12 o'clock.

Straight-walled pistol cases are not annealed at all or are not annealed as soft as a bottleneck rifle cartridge. So if I shoot 44 mags in my lever-action rifle I will have soot. Lots of soot if using ball powder.

Hand annealing, holding the brass with your fingers, is not as consistent as having the brass in a rotating jig. There can be a "cold spot"; or an overlap, a "hot spot.

Ideally annealed brass would be checked with a hardness tester. First check your favorite factory brass, say Lapua, for a baseline number. (I use Rockwell Hardness B scale) And then anneal your brass using whatever method you prefer. Polish the brass and check the neck and shoulder hardness at 0°, 90°, 180° and 270°. The results will be very interesting. Many times there's a large spread in the numbers; one side is softer than the other or say the neck might be softer than the shoulder. Using hardness numbers as a guideline to make adjustments to the way you anneal cases will help you get the consistency, the range of hardness, that gives your reload the best performance and longevity.

Great stuff if you have access to a rebound-type hardness tester and a Rockwell B test block. I've been in the metal trades business for 49 years and been involved with annealing for about 40 years. Annealing is annealing, whether I'm bringing an 8"-thick 9 chrome vessel back to original or softening up a 256 Win Mag case I made out of non-annealed 357 pistol brass. It's the same process and the same logic.

For a number of years I kept the company's Krautkramer Mic10 hardness tester (worth about $15k with accessories) at my place. I was "the" guy for hardness testing and wrote the company procedure for hardness testing inspections and testified in court as an expert witness on annealing issues. So, having the tool and the fixtures at home I got to play around with my brass some. My favorite brass in the 30-06 case range was Remington RP. Rem RP brass read harder than the others, a lot harder than some. The tests were just FYI to me though, I just don't do a lot of cartridge case annealing.

Hardness testing is the best way to qualify cartridge case annealing but the normal guy can't afford a hardness tester, even the cheap pocket models are $400 to $500. An alternative, but still a little crude, would be to use a temperature range-sensitive paint. I think someone mentioned that here.

If you are really serious about hardness testing there are inspection companies in Salt Lake; Team Inc. and Mistras, to name a few, that perform hardness tests in Rockwell B. You could go to their shop and have hardness tests done on an hourly basis if they have a fixture to hold a cartridge case perfectly still.

That's enough, now I'm bored.
 

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To follow up what Goob said, here is a youtube video discussing using color vs temperature measurement in annealing brass:


-DallanC
 

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I don't work with that company any more that had the Mic10. I have my own hardness testers but they won't do rifle brass. However, once in awhile I rent a fancy-dancy hardness tester that will do rifle brass, has the right attachments for small-diameter cylindrical objects. Geeze though, when I get off a job the last thing I want to do is more work stuff, but maybe the next time I'll spend a day testing some of my brass.

I have factory ammo that's over 100 years old...256 Newton from 1916...My 41 Colt Short ammo is circa 1890. 30-06 shells from WWI. I'd like to run some hardness tests on those and see how hard their case have become over time.


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It goes without saying you can anneal, soften, the brass too much. If the heating cycle up and down was long and/or the temp reached was high and the the brass ends up 5 to 8 points too low. That's good if you're forming say a 22 Hornet case into a 14 Ackley that normally takes 5 steps to form. By having it butter soft you can form it in 2 or 3 steps. But that soft case won't have any spring, diminished tensile strength, and poor neck tension.

So, if I was going to manufacture a million 14 Ackleys from 22 Hornet brass I would soften the heck out of them, then reform to 14 Ackley in one step, and then anneal again to get them back up 5 to 8 points harder (HRB).

Too soft: The final hardness values from annealing are a condition of tensile strength. In the metal trades business we may anneal something too much, make it too soft where it won't meet the minimum standard for the material's tensile strength. Not the end of the world and the part is not junk. We just "re-cook" the part in such a manner it's (hopefully) harder. Just like in my 22 Hornet to 14 Ackley example.

Getting back to Chuck's dilemma, the soot is a mystery if he's doing everything like he's done before and not had soot before. The more I think about it, the more it looks like the soot I get with resized pistol ammo (not annealed) that's fired in a rifle. But I would be the first to say I'm no expert at reloading and have had my share of unsolved reloading mysteries that's for sure. :)
 
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To follow up what Goob said, here is a youtube video discussing using color vs temperature measurement in annealing brass:


-DallanC
That's a good video. Tempil sticks or Tempilac are fine for telling you when you reach the minimum annealing temp, but won't tell you how much over the "best temperature range" you were at.

I like to engage in the rifle brass annealing discussions from time to time. The shoulder/neck annealing is kind of a no-brainer, but the crimp hardness argument can be fun.

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I'll be honest... one of the main reasons I dont anneal myself is I dont believe I could do it properly. I get enough uses out of my brass to be happy... and I havent run into any reduction in group sizes... so unless someone starts selling a accurate $50 annealer in the near future, I doubt I'll start.


-DallanC
 

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I have been told that I need to start annealing my cases that I make from other rounds. Such as the 7-30 Waters, .30 Herrett, and .357 Herrett from 30-30 cases but I have found that I get quite a bit of life out of the cases by not doing it. Perhaps I could get a couple of more loads out of each case if I did but who knows?

I also purchased some .25-06 Hornady cases and it appears that they are already annealed by looking at the coloration on the case necks. Does anyone know if they do it at the factory on unloaded reloading brass?
 

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I'll be honest... one of the main reasons I dont anneal myself is I dont believe I could do it properly. I get enough uses out of my brass to be happy... and I havent run into any reduction in group sizes... so unless someone starts selling a accurate $50 annealer in the near future, I doubt I'll start.

-DallanC
Yeah, I'm pretty much the same way. I know what results I need but don't have the the right equipment to quantify it, so I worry. To me it's a WAG.

If anyone would need to anneal it would be me I guess. Having a lot of rough-cycling firearms like semi-autos, pumps, and lever actions I do a lot of small base resizing, crimping, a lot of brass I can't neck size because it won't cycle.

Reloading sucks; too complicated.

I really only like to anneal when I'm getting paid for it. lol
 

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I have been told that I need to start annealing my cases that I make from other rounds. Such as the 7-30 Waters, .30 Herrett, and .357 Herrett from 30-30 cases but I have found that I get quite a bit of life out of the cases by not doing it. Perhaps I could get a couple of more loads out of each case if I did but who knows?

I also purchased some .25-06 Hornady cases and it appears that they are already annealed by looking at the coloration on the case necks. Does anyone know if they do it at the factory on unloaded reloading brass?
As far as I know all brass bottleneck rifle cases are annealed.

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