223 military brass

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by russsmith10, Oct 12, 2009.

  1. russsmith10

    russsmith10 New Member

    Oct 12, 2009
    Can 223 military brass be reloaded by cleaning out the crimped primer opening to allow small rifle primer?
  2. Snakedriver

    Snakedriver Active Member

    Mar 4, 2009
    SW. Florida
    Absolutely, I've reloaded thousands of rounds that started their life as military 5.56 rounds. You can ream out the crimp ring or swag them out. Most reloading manufacturers have a device for removing the crimp. I use a Lyman reamer attachment on my case trimmer. The reamer was about $10.

    Dillon makes a nice swag device for about $99. RCBS has a primer pocket swag kit for about $27. :)

  3. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    a standard RCBS, LYMAN, REDDING, LEE etc. chamfer tool will cut the crimp off. Use the end you use on the inside of the case mouth. Its the tool i use and it works well... plus you prolly already have 1;)
  4. RedPepper2

    RedPepper2 New Member

    Jun 20, 2009
    Military 223 brass is great but requires more time for the reloading process. To be gentle to the primer knock out die pins I have always ground down a drill rod and used that to knock out primers one at a time. And then you have to ream the primer pockets. I haven't seen much military 223 brass for sale lately. I thought Obama was selling it for scrap brass so we couldn't reload it. Watch Glenn Beck to find out if this is the case.
  5. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA
    It is common to reload once fired military brass in 223 or 308. The brass is cheap, usually thicker than commercial brass, and requires only that the crimp be removed from the primer pocket to accept commercial rifle primers. It is said that it will not last through as many reloads as commercial brass as it is harder and will split from work hardening. I have not found this to be true but I don't have enough of it to be a good sampling.

    I recently bought 1000 rounds of Lake City once fired 308 brass, mostly head stamped to the same year. I have used military brass before and have NOT had to use anything other than my standard sizing die to de-prime any of it. I have not broken any priming pins or even pushed any out of the die. But on this last set of 308 brass I did have a problem.

    I bought and have used the Dillon primer pocket swage tool. It has worked on 223 and 30-06 brass before but it did not like this 308 Lake City brass. It seems there is no closely held to spec for the thickness of the case head. The Dillon tool puts an anvil inside the case and pushes a punch into the primer pocket using the anvil inside the case to push against. The case head thickness, if variable, will screw up the swage depth with the potential of ruining the case. Even though the brass appeared to all be the same it obviously was from different lots that varied substantially in head thickness, This screwed up the primer pocket swaging. I had to resort to using a cutting primer pocket crimp removal tool on this brass. I put it on my RCBS motorized case preparation tool and it all went well once I adjusted it for the correct depth of cut. Dillon's instructions with their tool warns of this exact scenario.


    PS: Because the case walls are thicker the case volume is smaller. The smaller volume, if used with the same load as commercial brass, may create an excessive pressure situation so you have to download the military brass a least a grain or two. I think it better to develope the loads using the military brass from the starting loads listed in the reloading manuals, just for safety's sake.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2009
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