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Case Preparation & Loading Procedure

Just a little introduction of who am I and why this article. First, I am not a bench rest shooter; I
have been shooting high power and smallbore silhouette for the past twenty years. My bench
rest type shooting has been limited to sight-in shooting sessions only. My bench technique or
lack of results to date would classify myself as a solid three-quarter of the minute bench shooter.
The bench rest groups that I have read about over the years and pictures of those small group just
continue to amaze me. I have lots of respect for the bench rest shooter and know that it is much
harder than it looks. Bench rest shooting is truly special and requires it’s own special discipline.
I have been a subscriber to Precision Shooting and Shooter’s News over the years and enjoyed
the articles on bench rest shooting by the various bench rest shooters. The magazines seem to
have changed over the years. Glossy covers and thicker magazines are nice but I like the old
question and answer approach where the questions and answers were directly related to the
bench rest sport or related to rifle accuracy. It is good to hear that Shooter’s News is interested
in the old format. A question was posted on some basic aspect of the bench rest sport was asked
and a few of the “Pro’s” were asked for an answer. It was probably very time consuming for the
editor to correct and compile the answers but they made for some interesting articles and made
the magazine. What interested me even more were the stories on why they did what they did.
Some of the reasons and theories on what they saw and what they did may have been it conflict
with some of Newton’s Laws but so what, that was what they observed and their reason why. I
enjoyed those articles and back a few years there were articles about shooting 30 BR’s and 308’s
in bench rest competition. Those were the articles I liked best. Some of the things the bench rest
guys were doing for 30-caliber competition I incorporated into use for my silhouette shooting.
So this article is about that. This is what I do for case preparation and reloading for my
silhouette shooting, based off my experience to date and the bench rest shooters articles.
Granted most of the things are not necessary for the silhouette sport but then again a couple of
extra steps will not hurt anything either. But most of all, “If it makes you feel better, do it,
because it will make you shoot better”.
Selecting and buying new cases
This case preparation story is about preparing
cases for my two standard high power
silhouette rifles. My primary and back-up
rifles are both Remington 700’s in 308
Winchester caliber. Back-up rifle got
promoted to primary rifle two years ago after
receiving a new 24-inch Hart barrel. Now both
rifles have new Hart barrels with 11 to 1 twists
and 0.340 necks. I wanted a 0.338 neck but
my choice from Hart using standard tooling was 0.340 and 0.335. I went with the 0.340 neck
size, this is more or less the standard for long range Palma guns and most commercial ammo will
fit this chambering. It is still much tighter than the standard 0.346 neck.

So the new barrels deserve new brass. So, I ordered 1000 of IMI 308 Match Brass cases. I was
also foolishly hoping that case necks would be thicker than say the Winchester brass and that the
case necks would require turning to fit. After all the IMI brass does weigh more than the most
other commercial brass. I was also getting good stories from the High Power National Match
Shooters about the IMI brass. So the following article and information is how this crazy
silhouette shooter prepared his new IMI Match brass for its first loading and how he reloads it
after each firing.

Original Case Preparation

| Uniform the primer pocket | De-bur flash hole inside the case | Uniform the extractor grove |
Full length case resizing | Trimming cases for overall length | Expand necks for neck turning |
Turn necks | Weight and sort cases | Final case distribution | One reason to weigh cases |
Fired Case Reloading Procedure
| Recording data sheet | Case resizing | Neck Sizing | Solvent Wash | Primer pocket
cleaning | Case trimming | Case polishing | Priming | Adding the powder | Bullet seating |

Uniform the primer pockets

For this step I used a K&M Primer Pocket
tool. The K&M Primer Pocket Tool was the
first one I found that could be used with an
electric screwdriver. I have been very satisfied
with it and now have all three. One for large
rifle primers, small rifle primers, and pistol
primers. I do this step for all the same reasons
that all the bench rest shooters do. They just
all do it and they all say it helps. I personally
do not believe that anyone has any good proof
or data that clearly shows any benefit. But it
is easy to do and once done the tool may then
be used to clean the primer pockets after
firing. Clean primer pockets look much better
and just have to work better. An article in Precision Shooting Magazine (October 1999) about
the “Secrets of the Houston Warehouse” did not support all the great care that primers they are
receiving today.
Using the electric screwdriver for operation is a must for doing 1000 cases. I do not try to make
them all perfect with new brass, just cut the radius out of the bottom of the pocket and make the
bottom of the pocket uniform. I use this tool for cleaning the primer pocket after each firing so if
I leave the primer pocket a little short the first time I get it during the second, third, or fourth
primer pocket cleaning. The first cutting is the hardest and I use a light leather glove to hold the
case while turning the cutter with the electric screwdriver. The glove helps the strain on the
fingers and lets you get a good grip on the case. When done you feel better about it, so it is
worth doing.
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De-bur flash hole inside the case

For this step I use the K&M Flash Hole Tool. I modified this tool so I could use it with my
electric screwdriver. All the directions warn you not to use it with any power tools. This tool is
apparently design such that it is not to be used
with power tools. Well if you are only going
to do 10 or 20 bench rest cases okay, but doing
a 1000 cases you could easily develop very
sore wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome) and
fingers. In order to make it work with my
electric screw driver I needed some hex steel
stock the same size that fits the electric
screwdriver. Found an old Allen Wrench that
was not hardened. I drilled and tapped a small piece of it and then, screwed the K&M Primer
Pocket tool on to it. I also added the small spring and collar to hold the spring to the K&M Tool
shaft. The collar is from the local hobby store and is normally used hold the wheels on a model
airplane. The K&M Primer Pocket Tool needs no adjusted for cutting deep. When using it with
an electric screwdriver you must make sure that brass chips do not build up inside the cutting
point. I have a small pick and constantly using it. But picking the chips out is much easier than
turning the cutter by hand. I adjust the spring so the case puts a little tension on the spring after
the point on the cutter has just entered the flash. The case stays on the center cone with a light
pressure from the spring. I am surprised that the tool does not come with a spring and collar.
Again this de-burring process is another step that all the bench rest shooters do with little proof
that it actually does any good. The best benefit that I have seen after de-burring the flash holes is
the flash holes do not seem to have as much corn cob pieces and chucks of walnut shells stuck in
the flash holes. Again this de-burring step easy to do and when done you feel good about doing
it, therefore it helps.
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Uniform the extractor grove

Now here is a step the most bench rest guys
don’t even do. Re-cut the extractor grove on
the cartridge base. I saw this in one of the
articles in Precision Shooting a few years back
and give a copy to two friends, which both just
happen to be machinist types. Low and behold
I got two of these things. Never have told
them that I have two. Both think I am using
the one they made. Tool works great and the
biggest difference I have noticed after re-
cutting all the extractor grove happens while
seating the primers. The shell holder on my
Lee primer-seating tool is very discriminating
towards cartridges, which have an ever so
slightly larger diameter or damaged extractor grove. Before re-cutting the extractor grove on
other brass, I would notice every now and then a case that would not slide into the shell holder
very easily. It would hang up on something. But after re-cutting the extractor groves, they all
slip into the Lee priming tool shell holder with the greatest of ease. Now when I priming some
45ACP I get some cases that stick in the Lee Priming Tool on burred and damaged rims.
The re-cutting of the extractor grove also kisses the web or rim. This makes all of the rims the
same. All of this should make things better when the bolt closes and the extractor slips into the
grove. I have noticed less or no brass shavings in the bolt face and extractor after re-cutting the
cartridges extractor groves. Can’t say that my (standing) groups are any smaller, but this step
really makes me feel good so it must help me shoot better.
The case holder in the picture was made from a small piece of oak. A hole was drilled into the
oak, which the case shoulder would get stuck if pushed. Actually I drilled the hole in the piece of
oak and with a little help from some epoxy, formed a hole that the case could be press into and it
would hold the case during the re-cutting process. After re-cutting, I put a ¼ in. steel rod into the
case and tap it off the oak holder.
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Full length case resizing

Since this is all new brass and with very few
dents or dings. It does not make much sense to
resize it. On the other hand I want to make sure
the case neck lengths, and neck diameters are all
same before trimming for overall length and
turning the necks. So I full length re-sized all
1000 cases using my standard Redding 308 Full
Body Re-Sizing Die with the neck expanding ball
floating on an o-ring. Of all the o-ring and die
stories, placing an o-ring between the primer
extractor and neck expander stem and the die
body, is only place I feel that it makes any since.
When you extract the case the stem is not held
rigid and may float or move to center itself in the
case neck. This is possible because the stem in the re-sizing die is not tighten down hard against
the die body, but is loosely tighten against an o-ring between the stem and die body. This allows
the stem to wiggle around on the threads and center itself while extracting the case from the die.
I have also made a new nut for holding the stem. This new one also has a setscrew in it. This
allows you to easily remove the stem for cleaning and replace it at the same setting.

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Trimming cases for overall length

For this operation I use the manual Lee case
trimming system and my electric screwdriver.
I have retired the original Lee case holder. It
was placed with a slightly modified Sinclair
caseholder. Both Lee and Sinclair caseholder
would fit onto the end of an electric
screwdriver. The driver normally comes with
two raised portions in the center, which fit, into
either a large or small primer pocket. The Lee
trimmer is designed with a fixed overall
length-cutting guide. This guide or pin extends
through the primer flash hole and bottoms out
on the base of the shell holder and controls the
depth of cut. I have been using this system for
over twenty years and it is great. No adjustments or set-up time required. Just screw the correct
trimmer guide on to the cutter and cut until the cutter stops cutting. The electric screwdriver is
great for this operation. Just turn the case with the electric screwdriver while the wooden frame
holds the cutter. See picture of set-up. Wooden frame holds cutter and has rest for electric
screwdriver to keep it in line with the cutter. All 1000 cases had some material removed during
this trimming operation. The amount was minor and the inside and outside de-burring was done
using a standard RCBS de-burring tooling while the case were still in the shell holder on the end
of the electric screwdriver.
I sent Mr. Fred Sinclair a picture of my solid walnut set-up and little note about my trimming set-
up. Couple of months later here came a little box with a modified case driver (finished with a
flat end) and best of all a little hand written note from Mr. Fred Sinclair which I treasure most of
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Expand necks for neck turning

The case neck diameter must match the mandrel diameter on the
neck turning tooling. This can be easily accomplished by using
Sinclair’s neck turning mandrel and expander mandrel. Just oil
the inside of the case necks before using the expander body die
with the correct expander mandrel. Running the cases up and
down on the mandrel with a loading press is very easy work and
makes the neck turning operation run very smoothly. Then use
the correct turning mandrel on the neck turning tool. The
expanding mandrel is just a little larger (about 0.001 more in
diameter) so the expanded neck will just slide onto the turning

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Turn necks

Since the chamber neck on my re-barreled

silhouette rifles are 0.340 in., I want to be sure
that all my cases fit correctly. Most factory
ammo will fit into a 0.340 in neck chamber but
that is not guaranteed. So I decided to have the
neck diameter on my finished rounds be no
more than 0.338 in. So using a 0.308 diameter bullet the correct neck wall thickness would be
0.015 in. To set the cutter on the neck wall cutter I used a 0.015 feeler gauge. Place the feeler
gauge between the mandrel and the cutter and tighten the setscrew that holds the cutter in place.
Remember this is for silhouette shooting so only one cut is going to be done. The IMI Match
brass really surprised me, very little material was removed and I think all cases would have fit
the 0.340 chamber without turning the necks. The amount of material removed from most cases
seemed like I was just removing the tarnish from the annealing process. The majority of the
cases cleaned up by cutting completely around the entire neck. Very few of the cases seem to
cut heavier on one side or not cut completely all the way around on the neck. These cases, which
were less than one hundred, were separated from the others.
My neck turner is a home made model and uses Sinclair’s mandrels. The case holder was made
for 308 Winchester cartridges. The case holder fits into a rubber heater hose that connects to a
0.5-in. rod. The rod is fed through two bearing blocks which is on one of my work bench legs.
The rod is turned by hand using a crank that is on a flywheel off an old grape crusher. System
works great for neck turning. Easy to crank and still have a feel for how the cutter is working.
Until the electric screwdriver came along, I had all of my various tools used on this simple
cranking system.

Upgraded to a K&M Neck Turner. Great tool and easy to make very small adjustments to the
cutting depth. I use the K&M case holder that came with the neck turner for triming cases. It
grips a little better than the Sinclair case holder and both are easilier to use than the Lee case
Also moved the old grape grape crusher flywheel and bearings from one of the work bench legs
to a frame that mounts on the work bench. Much easilier to use.

This arrangement almost making tuning neck fun. The secret to neck turning is how easy it is to
turn the case. By hand is best for the feel of the cutting process. The flywheel is 15½ in.
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Weigh and sort cases
At last, hear is the last operation in the case
preparation process and the one that I have
been waiting for, weighing and sorting the
cases. Most folks think that doing this is a
total waste of time and has absolutely no affect
on performance. They may be right, but
weighing and sorting your cases is one way of
knowing how uniform your brass is. Just how
good or bad is this IMI Match brass in terms of
case weight consistency. This operation is
easy to do with an electronic scale or balance.
I use some ¾ inch square wooden sticks keep the cases separated. Each stick is marked on one
end the weigh class for that stick. The stick is divided up into ten portions and the ten portions
are marked on the stick from 0 to 9. These numbers indicate 0.1-grain increments along the
stick. See picture, the sticks are marked on one end for each whole grain weight. Than the stick
is marked along the length for each 0.1 grain increment. Simply weigh each case and place on
the correct pile. So after weighing and separating all but the few cases which failed the neck
turning operation, it was time to box the brass. I placed 800 of pieces of brass in MTM 100
plastic cartridge cases. A hundred or more highs and lows were left. Then I weighed and sorted
the cases that failed the neck turning operation and them added to the highs and lows. Now these
two hundred pieces of brass, (high case weight, low case weight, and cut on one-side necks)
were put into two MTM 100 plastic cartridge cases.
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Final Case Distribution

The distribution of the 1000 IMI Match 308 Brass is as follows:
Brown Box – Lows 177.0 to 179.3 grains plus the light half of the neck turning rejected cases.
Green Box #1
17 at 179.4 grains
19 at 179.5 grains
26 at 179.6 grains
29 at 179.7 grains
9 at 179.8 grains
Green Box #2
35 at 179.8 grains
33 at 179.9 grains
32 at 180.0 grains
Green Box #3
30 at 180.0 grains
70 at 180.1 grains
Green Box #4
15 at 180.1 grains
73 at 180.2 grains
12 at 180.3 grains
Green Box #5
38 at 180.3 grains
62 at 180.4 grains
Green Box #6
9 at 180.4 grains
46 at 180.5 grains
45 at 180.6 grains
Green Box #7
5 at 180.6 grains
57 at 180.7 grains
23 at 180.8 grains
15 at 180.9 grains
Green Box #8
19 at 180.9 grains
29 at 181.0 grains
16 at 181.1 grains
18 at 181.2 grains
18 at 181.3 grains
Brown Box Highs – 181.3 to 184.8 grains plus the heavy
half of the neck turning rejected cases.
Now I just keep the cases in their own groups of one
hundred each. Each box of one hundred have all the cases
weighting within 0.2 to 0.5 grains. I was very pleased with
the overall weight distribution of the IMI Match brass. The
IMI brass case capacity is a little less than the Winchester
brass, but with the 11 to 1 twist rate and 0.340 neck chamber in the new barrels I only need 41.0
grains of IMR-4064 to push my moly coated 175 grain MatchKings 2550 fps. The 41.0 grains
completely fills the case.
So that is how this silhouette shooter prepared some new brass after reading a bunch bench rest
shooting articles.
I mark the MTM 100 boxes with the weigh group. This is not for my benefit but for the benefit
of all others at the match. The fact that I have weighed and sorted my cases, makes me feel good
and where by allowing me to shoot better. This may also work against my competition. If they
did not weigh and sort their brass and see mine, then they may not feel as good whereby
affecting their shooting in some mysterious way.
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Here is one good reason to weigh cases.

In the picture either above or below is a 221 Fireball case. I just purchased 500 new Remington
cases and got 501 cases. After re-cutting the primer pockets, deburring the flash holes, and
turning the necks; I weighed the cases. Pleased with the weight distribution. Over 400 cases
seem to turn evenly during the neck turning and ding free. I ended up with 400 cases between
79.9 and 81.0 grains. Average weight was 80.3305 grains and Standard Deviation 0.3378
grains. However, one case weighed more than four grains heavier than the rest of the cases.
Thirteen sigma’s over the average, one could easily say that this one is old of the process control
window. I kept this odd ball heavy case separate. Looking into the case you could see
something odd. Case looked like it had extra thick webbing in the bottom of the case. I decided
that this case would be my bullet seating depth case. Therefore, I proceeded to drill out flash
hole out to fit the tap for a No. 12 x 20 screw. The extra web or thickness in the base looked like
it would be part of the threads. During the drilling and tapping procedure things got messy and I
ended up pulling that brass shaving out of the case. Originally, the brass shaving was not
apparent, it appeared to be so tightly drawn up on inside walls at the bottom of the case it
appeared to be part of the case. It took a little doing to get it out. After removing, this shaving
from the case the case looked normal or any of the other cases on the inside.

Without weighing the cases, I would have never found this shaving. In fact, several people
looked inside this case at the range before I decided to use this case, has my bullet seating case.
The brass shaving would have stayed in the case was fired, but surely would change the
pressures a little.
The flash hole in the case is now tapped for 12 x 20. The case is now ready for use. The bullet
seating depth maybe easily measured now using this special case. Just seat the any bullet into
this case using a your seating die. Then measure the seating depth of the bullet. Adjust your
seating die as needed. Then just push the bullet back out of the case a little and reseat it again.
This maybe repeated many times. If the bullet gets a little loose, just resize the case. The frugal
cartridge length measuring device.
Thought the picture of the brass shaving would be of interest.
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Fired Case Reloading Procedure

Recording data sheet

The first step in my reloading procedure is printout a
new data sheet. I have made data sheets for each batch
of cartridges that I reload. The data sheet helps me
remember all the various steps and keep them the same
and in the proper order. The data sheet includes some
history, as to the number of times each batch of
cartridges has been reloaded.
Excel Reloading Data Sheet I use for my 308 Silhouette
Ammo - Green_3.xls
Excel Reloading Data Sheet I use for my 600 Yard
Ammo - Win_Test.xls
Word Document I use as page two on above Reloading
Sheets - PageTwo.doc
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Case resizing
First step in my reloading operation is to measure five or ten fired
cartridges for cartridge length using my RCBS Precision Mic. The
number does not change much, but gives me an accurate base line for
the re-sizing operation. The measurements are recorded on the back
of the data sheet. Next I check my previous data sheet for the
Redding Competition Shell Holder I used the last time. I really like
these Redding Competition Shell Holders; it is the only way to get
“custom” lengths during a re-sizing operation with any level of
consistency. I am now using a Redding UltraMag Press; this press
has a tremendous amount of mechanical advantage and is a real joy
to operate. After placing the correct shell holder in the top of the
ram, I run the ram up to top dead center. Then I screw the body re-
sizing; I use the Redding Competition Body Die, down until it
contacts the top of the shell holder. Now here is a little secret of
mine, I tighten the body die using channel locks hard against the shell holder. This does two
things; first it squares the die to the ram. Second it makes all the brass re-size to the same
length. After tightening the die against the ram I than tighten the die locking ring which should
keep the die in it’s square to the ram position. The Redding Competition Shell Holder comes in
0.002 increments and so far the increments have worked great and I have not needed one in
between the two standard increments. I think you can play around with how tight you make the
body die and get into a dimension that falls between two increments in the shell holder.
I measure the first case after re-sizing and if okay do the next previous measured cases. I
measure the same cases before and after re-sizing and in the same order. The measurements are
recorded on the back of the data sheet. Currently, I am under sizing the brass about 0.0005 to
0.001 to the fired case. My silhouette rifle with the Red stock “Red” has fired cases that measure
about 0.0015 over the base dimension or minimum cartridge length using my RCBS Precision
Mic. The RCBS Precision Mic is a very handy little tool. Easy to use and no set up required.
Just measure. The silhouette rifle with the blue stock "Blue" just got re-barreled and it's fired
cases are measuring about 0.0005 over the base dimension or minimum cartridge length using
my RCBS Precision Mic.
For lubricating the cases before re-sizing I have been stuck in the mud with my Redding Case
Lubricating Pad and RCBS water-soluble case lube. The water-soluble lube washes off the
hands easier and I put very little on the pad, which puts a very thin coating on the cases. After
re-sizing I clean the body die by pulling a small rag through the die. Very easy to do with the
Redding Competition Body die since it does not have a stem or a primer punch. That is about it
for re-sizing other than I do it after every firing. I do not like hard or even a little firm closing
bolt. Remember this is for Silhouette Shooting not Stool Shooting.
One more point or plug for the Redding UltraMag Press. I have seen lots of comments about the
Forester/Bonanza Co-Ax Press. It’s claim to fame is perfect die alignment as well as being a
well make press. I have not ever used one, but if you tighten the dies in the UltraMag as I
mention above, the die and ram is as square as it gets. Now when you start the ram up during the
re-sizing step and stop just when good contact is made, then lower the ram just enough to let the
case float in the shell holder, and than start the ram up again to complete the re-sizing operation.
This little extra step should center the case perfectly in the re-sizing die without any side forces.
There is a few thousands float between the case rim and shell holder. All presses made today
have alignments well within the amount of play that the case rim has in the shell holder. I like
my Redding UltraMag Press, especially after using a Pacific C-Press for over the past fifteen
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Neck sizing
This may be a little
over kill for silhouette
shooting, but once you
start using any of the
Redding Competition
Dies, you will not
want to use anything
else. I set my
Redding Competition
Neck Sizing Die in the
Redding UltraMag
Press in a similar
fashion to the body re-
sizing die, but no
tightening with the channel locks. I simply raise the ram and screw the neck-sizing die down
until it bottoms out on the ram and then unscrew it until the micrometer dial and numbers are
facing the front. I have to unscrew the die about 1/3 turn or about 0.024 in. This is where I leave
it, so I am neck sizing my necks just about the entire neck. I have been using a 0.335 bushing.
My current selection is 0.333, 0.335, & 0.337.
Since the neck sizing is now pushing the old primers out, I will mention here that I have placed
small piece of 3/8 diameter brass tubing inside ram on the UltraMag Press. This brass tube was
cut to a length that allows it rest in the bottom of the ram and just allow the shell holders to clear
it’s top. With this brass tube in place all of the primers and primer dirt goes down the brass tube
and out plastic hose on the bottom of the ram. Keeps the press a lot cleaner.

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Solvent Wash
This is something I started after tumbling brass in the red
walnut shells. The amount of red stuff left on the brass
was a mess. So I would solvent wash the brass and I am
still doing it. The solvent wash is a three-step or three-pail
process. First I place the oily cases in an old tin peanut
can (which are harder to find now days) which I have drill
a bunch of 1/8 inch drain holes in the bottom. The tin
peanut can holds about 50-52, cases (308 Win.), and I
placed the cases in the tin can with the primer end or
cartridge base up. No good reason for primer up other
than if some paint or can liner, breaks loose you may see it
in the primer pocket and may not see it way down inside
the case. I think the cases also drain better in this position.
Step one is dip into pail of lacquer thinner. First wash and
thinner gets dirty
Step two is dip into pail of lacquer thinner. Second wash and thinner stays cleaner
Step three is dip into pail of acetone. Final rinse and acetone dries fast.
Dump brass on terry cloth towel and wipe outside surfaces. Fold towel over cases and rub them
around a little. I use some old one-gallon house paint pails and do this operation outdoors.
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Primer pocket cleaning

This is the fast operation. Since the primer
pockets have been previously cut to the length
using the K&M Tool, very little effort is
required to just clean the primer residue out.
No sore fingers holding the cases and just let
the electric screwdriver turn the cutter a few
times. Let the primer pockets dry thoroughly
first or cutter gets a little gummy.
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Case trimming
This is my approach to trimming made fast and
easy. If you have not noticed, the electric
screwdriver keeps appearing. That electric
screwdriver is one the best tool I have ever
bought. I find myself using it for more and
more things every day.

The first operation in my trimming made easy,

starting of the right and then going left is to
trim the case to length. I use the Lee system and I can mount various Lee cutters and length
guides in the wooden frame. I upgraded my Lee case holder about a year ago by buying one of
Sinclair’s case holders, which fit into an electric screwdriver. It looks better and easy to use.
The second step is de-burring case neck inside, middle station. For this operation I am using the
K & M Tapered Case Mouth Reamer which puts about a 7 degree taper on the inside of the case
mouth. This tooling is adjustable and works great. Bullets just slide into the case, and I think it
helps in the alignment.
The third step is to de-bur the outside of the case neck. I use one of RCBS's case de-burring
tools for this.
The Skil Electric Screwdriver has been one of the best and most used tools I have purchased. I
use it for everything, including case trimming. I am on my second battery and had to replace the
spring in the on/off switch. The setup using the wooden blocks to hold the power driver on
center with the tool works very well. The operation is quick and all three operations are done
while the case is mounted in the shell holder. I sometimes include soot removing wiping
operation as a step four. Simply wipe the case neck (with a little brass polish) while power
turning the case.
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Case polishing
This step will make some of the bench rest shooter shudder just a little. But I have changed from
tumbling to vibrating polishing process. I have replaced my Thumbler’s Tumbler, retired to
Moly coating, with a Midway vibrating brass polisher. The Midway works great and I polish
100 cases for 3 hours. No beating up the case mouths like the tumbler. I like shinny cases, they
make me shoot better.
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I use a modified Lee-priming tool. This was the bench rest tool of
choice back a few years ago. The custom model, I want to say was
done by Sinclair before he started making his own. The Sinclair tool is
probability a far superior tool than the Lee, but the Lee priming tool
has been working well for me over the years. Anyway, the Secret’s
from the Houston Warehouse said this step does not matter. After
twenty five years of picking up one primer at a time, I switch over to
the Lee Auto Primer. Works great. Make a small card borad tray to
dump the primers into first and then pour onto the Lee Auto Tray.

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Adding the Powder

I have been using IMR-4064 in my 308’s now for over twenty years
and no good reason to change. I have won four state
championships with it, but it still does not meter very well. I just
got a new Redding BR-3 with both rifle and pistol micrometer
charging assemblies. I heeded something for a 45ACP (my hand me
down Pacific powder measure would not work for small pistol
charges). Looking to find something that would work better on
IMR-4064. The BR-3 may be better but IMR-4064 still is hard to
meter. I made a slightly longer handle for the BR-3 that cuts or
whatever those long 4064 kernels with the greatest of ease. I can
throw 41.0 grains of IMR-4064 with a standard deviation of about
0.150. The same BR-3 will throw Accurate 2520 with a standard
deviation of 0.047. So I can not complain about the Redding BR-3.
The round bottom BR-30 maybe better, but my BR-3 has a bondo
round bottom charging chamber. The round bottom-charging chamber improved the standard
deviation from around 0.180 to 0.150. Anyway I throw the charge and then weigh each charge
for my match ammo. All loads are to the 1/10 grain on the electric balance. That is after adding
or subtracting a few kernels of IMR-4064.
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Bullet seating
My procedure for bullet seating has just changed. At the last silhouette match in 1999, which
was also the state championship, I found myself with some hard loading ammo. It changed the
point of aim and got to me at the match (did not feel good and did not shoot good). After
returning from the match the best I can figure out is I left two of my MTM-100 boxes loaded
with the bullets loaded long. The best I can conjecture is I was going to adjust them later, but
forgot about it. Worst of all there was no note if it on the
data sheets. Or I just loaded them with the seating die or
seating stem one full rotation off and I did not measure
them. So now I place my Redding Competition Seating
correctly in the reloading press, and screw the seating stem
out one full turn. Then I seat the bullet in five cartridges.
Since these are way long, I insert them into my silhouette
rifle and force the bolt close, pushing the bullet back into the
case. I first remove the firing pin assembly from the bolt
with Sinclair’s Remington firing pin removal tool. Also I
have removed the ejector pin in my bolt. I find it easier to
pick the case out of the receiver than pick it up from the
ground. Then I measure overall length of the five rounds
using my RCBS Precision Mic. I now record this on the
back of the data sheet for this batch. I find that there is a slight difference in the five, so I add
them up and divide by five to get the average. After I have the average, I subtract 0.015 and this
is the depth I will seat to. I am looking for 0.015 in jump to hard contact with the lands.
In my guns, if the bullet is seated out too far and hits the lands the bullet will be pushed back into
the case. I read stories about bench rest shooters who seat their bullets a few thousands into the
lands. This brings up an interesting question for me, how do they do that? Or is touching the
lands different then hard contacting the lands? A little jump of 0.015 should keep the accuracy
up and pressure down. Also measuring each time I reload a batch of cartridges, I can keep track
of any throat erosion.
That concludes my story on how this silhouette shooter reloads after reading too many bench rest
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Larry Medler

Rifle Silhouette Shooting

Silhouette Ballistics
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September 4, 2004