Condition: No ammo. I was testing the Desert Tech SRS A2 in 6.5 Creedmoor, and had no ammo to shoot in it. Nobody has 6.5 Creedmoor in stock, and it’s not one I typically use so I didn’t have any on hand either.
Luckily, I did have some 6.5 projectiles, powder, and primers. I acquired some once-fired casings and then began the fun. The reloading process, especially for a new caliber, gives you true appreciation for the ammunition you fire. Taking a manufactured round out of a box, firing it, and discarding the casing, really only takes money. Reloading takes time, and lots of it.
I borrowed some dies from a friend, but it turned out the used set he had loaned me scratched the brass. (Be careful in purchasing used dies!) In a fortunate stroke of luck, another friend and mentor purchased his own rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor along with match dies and contributed some different powder and projectiles to the effort as well as his time.
My first task was to prepare the brass. I prefer wet tumbling to dry tumbling as I believe it yields a better and more thorough cleaning. I unpacked the 90 some pieces of brass, de-primed them, and tossed them in our old Thumler’s Tumbler originally purchased for rock tumbling. Many people choose to de-prime at the same time as resizing, but I prefer to de-prime prior to tumbling. I use stainless steel pins and they work their way into the primer pockets for a deeper clean.
Water, dish soap, a small bit of lem-shine and three hours on constant rotation. Some find the steady drone and swish of the tumbler soothing, others don’t notice it, others anxiously await its abrupt stop. An automatic timer connected to the tumbler is a great way to keep track of batches of brass.
We have a utility sink in our basement that is especially handy for the next steps. I dumped the basin of brass, steel pins, and dirty water into a two-piece strainer. The top layer filtered out the brass while the bottom kept the steel pins from sliding down the drain. I quickly discovered that the large cases harbored copious amounts of soap and pins. I took extra care to tap each piece of brass downward and shake any stragglers loose.
By the end of this process, small pins made their way into the sink, on the floor, and within the folds of the towel I dumped the rinsed brass onto. After rolling the brass in the towel to dry, I layered the pieces evenly in trays of the dehydrator. While electric drying machines for this purpose are readily available, food dehydrators will work as well. You may have one in your home you are no longer using. You may also scour garage sales and resale shops for these items. Having more than one can expedite the process.
After a few hours in the dehydrator, the pieces were hot to the touch. Time was of the essence and I didn’t have an opportunity for them to cool down. I lightly grabbed each piece with the tips of two fingers and tossed them into a plastic bag, moving the pieces about in an attempt to keep the bag from melting.
At my friend’s house, we resized the cases. When each round is fired through a gun, the case stretches, they. In order for the same piece of brass to chamber again, it needs to be resized. Stretching brass adds stress to the metal and shortens its life, so it is important to find a length that is somewhere in between an unfired case and a fired case so that each firing stretches it a smaller amount than it did the very first time (when case was unfired).
We lubed each case then resized each. Depending upon the lube used, many people will dry tumble the resized brass to remove any excess lube. (We did not do so in this process.) Some skip the next step, but for match ammunition and increased consistency, one should clean the primer pocket and flash-hole. Some also uniform primer pockets with a reamer.
With the brass thoroughly prepped, I then primed each piece of brass using an RCBS auto prime. While I like the convenience of hand primers, the auto prime really saved your hand from extra strain. A Giraud trimmer greatly expedited the trimming process while chamfering and deburring at the same time. Sadly, I was just borrowing this fantastic piece of equipment. At this point, brass is ready to load. Depending upon how precise you want to be, some weigh their brass and separate it into “lots” of brass that have particular weights. Shooting is all about consistency, as is reloading. Some choose not to uniform primer pockets, others consider it a crucial step. It’s always interesting to review others’ reloading set-ups to see what works for you and what they may be doing differently can help you and vice versa.