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Time to Get a New Batch of Cases

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britrifles View Drop Down
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    Posted: December 25 2018 at 2:14pm
About at the end of life of anothother batch of 300 or so cases for my .303.  These have lasted me about 3 years, and I’m really not sure how many reloads, perhaps 30 or more on some of them.  The case heads are cracking, I had one separate last weekend. Fortunately, not during a match.  

My supply of cases has been Canadian military surplus, DI 1943, 1944 and DAC 1956 that my Dad had acquired over his years of .303 shooting.   I’ve never had a neck split and I don’t anneal them either.  

Ive got a fair bit of Mk VIIz left, a few thousand rounds, but I don’t really want to blast it all away just to get a supply of cases. I’m thinking of trying commercial cases.  

I’ve got 200 RP cases, I’ve reloaded perhaps 60 of them a few times.  But, these are no longer available.  

What is the opinion of the forum members on which commercial cases are best?  I really wish Lapua made .303 Brit cases!   Hornady is readily available, but I have read some have had problems.  I shoot typically 40 to 80 rounds a rounds a week, I want these cases to last at least 30 reloads.  


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MarkG View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MarkG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 25 2018 at 2:41pm
A lot of people seem to have problems with factory-loaded US commercial cases cracking due to uneven expansion in the chamber. I don't know whether all US commercial cases are the same, or some better than others.

I know the Remington rounds I've fired from a No 4 came out looking like a cracked banana after firing, yet it shot PPU without problems. I think that rifle has a pretty loose chamber compared to some.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SW28fan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 25 2018 at 9:21pm
I use Privi/PPU cases exclusively now.  I get them from Grafs   $28 for a bag of 50
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote englishman_ca Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 25 2018 at 9:28pm
Here is the thing. Ammunition made in North America for the civilian market Winchester, Federal, Remington, is manufactured to SAAMI specifications. 
Military spec ammunition is made to one of several military standards. There were variations in chamber dimensions at different times. Some very generous chambers for battlefield use in the mud of the trenches or the sand of the desert, and to ensure that any 303 round made by any country will chamber and fire.
The story of that fired Remington brass looking like a banana or uneven case expansion are all symptoms of over-sized military chambers. 303 British was never intended to be a reloadable cartridge. It was one shot disposable.

Post war, The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute in North America had to put a stick in the sand and manufacture to tighter tolerances than that of a battle rifle. SAAMI cartridge specs are very close to mil specs. SAAMI compared to mil spec can be considered to be 'tight chambered'.
North American reloading dies are SAMMI spec too. Finish chamber reamers are?, you guessed it, SAAMI spec dimensions. 

So if you have a modern North American made rifle chambered in 303 British such as the Ruger, you are running SAAMI spec ammo in SAAMI spec chambers, and perhaps using SAAMI spec reloading dies. Where is the problem??. The cartridge is a nice snug fit in the chamber and if head space is set tight, stretching of the brass is kept to a minimum. For example, Winchester brass it soft and thin, but after being fired in a SAAMI spec chamber, full length resizing doesn't do a lot, it resizes the neck but doesn't work the rest of the brass much, the brass will last a long time. 
Many serious target rifle builders have their barrels set back one thread and have the chamber reamed to SAAMI specs. Easy then to hand load match quality ammo for the rifle. Rids the reloaders' nightmares. So Winchester brass is good, yeah? Well not always, it depends on how you want to use it..

Now take a WWI or WWII battle rifle with generous chambers and a bit of wear. Chamber those same SAAMI spec rounds and they have a lot of expanding to do to seal the gasses. And they will do the job, but they have to stretch considerably to fill the chamber to do it. I can get maybe four or five loadings out of Winchester brass when I shoot it in my military rifles and full length resize. Winchester is considered to be one of the worst for reloading.

I full length resize so that I can shoot it in any of my rifles.
 
But if I were to segregate that same Winchester brass to that individual rifle and fire formed said brass using the rubber O-ring trick, I would get extended life out of the casing if I neck sized only.

The mil spec 303 British ammunition was never intended to be recycled. It is modern reloaders that have had to find the work-arounds to reload one shot disposable brass.

 So it is not so much if the ammo is crap, but how you are using it. Some brass is considered better for reloading than others. Everybody has their favourite. Mine is  that 1943 Dominion Industries boxer primed stuff too, Canadian IVI coming in a close second.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote britrifles Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 26 2018 at 5:33am
Good description of the issues Englishman.  I only have the one No. 4 in .303, the barrel was replaced by Foulton’s in the 1960’s for competition shooting (new made BSA barrel on LB Mk 1/3 action).  I assume a new barrel needs finish reaming on installation, but since the U.K. NRA matches were shot with military issue ammunition at that time, I’d think the reamer would have been military specification.  

I FL resize when there is resistance in locking the bolt. Once or twice during the 30 reloads.  I use a Lee collet die for neck sizing and an RCBS FL die backed out to just bump the shoulder back when FL sizing.  

When I first started Shooting the CMP matches, I had trouble with magazine feeding for the rapid stage.  I found that Mk VII service ammo fed just fine, but my neck sized reloads did not. So, for a while, I was FL sizing some of the brass.  Turns out this was not the problem, I was not getting the mag seated properly.  That additional FL resizing may have lead to a shorter case life on this batch of cases.  I’ve tossed out about 20 of the 300 that show obvious external signs of case head cracking after I had the second separation in the chamber.

For the low cost of the PPU brass, I’ll try it and see how it lasts.  

I’m also curious if the lighter commercial brass shoots differently with the same powder charge that I use in the military brass. Typical reloading practice recommends reducing the charge by 1 to 2 grains when using military brass to account for the reduced case volume.




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shamu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 26 2018 at 7:01am
Prvi!
Seriously they are both fairly cheap & the best cases I can find commercially.
Greek Milsurp would be a good choice as well if you can find some.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Stanforth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 26 2018 at 12:07pm
I use my No.4 as a Club loan rifle. As the rules require that those borrowing a rifle use commercial ammunition I get lots of once fired cases, both PPU and S&B. As they are now sized to the chamber of my No.4 I only need to full length size those I intend to load for my SMLE.
 
I find both types (PPU and S&B) fine both for accuracy and ability to reload.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shamu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 26 2018 at 2:31pm
Nice "rent"
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote britrifles Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 07 2019 at 6:18pm
I received 200 PPU cases from Grafs today.  They look quite good.  Random sample shows quite consistent weight of 170 grains +/-1 grain, rims at about 0.06 thick, necks about 0.012 thick.  I’ll run them thru my neck sizer, cut the primer pockets to uniform depth and load up 40 and see how they last. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Honkytonk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 07 2019 at 6:55pm
I switched to Privy/PPU and am very satisfied.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote britrifles Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 07 2019 at 11:58am
I finally got around to loading up some of the new PPU cases I got a few months back with my standard match load:

Case - PPU (new)
Primer - WLR
Powder - 40.0 gr Varget
Bullet - 174 gr SMK
COAL - 3.05 in.

The cases look very good, I ran them in my neck sizer just to ensure they were round.  Chamfered the neck and uniformed the depth of the primer pockets before loading.  The weights are good, 170 grains with little variation between cases.  Rim thickness are also good, 0.061 - 0.062.  


I’ll post a range report this weekend.  


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zed Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 07 2019 at 12:16pm
I have both Remington and PPU cases for my .303's. I'm slowly replacing the Remington because they are not as resistant as the PPU. In fact the last lot of Remington brass that I bought had some split necks before even being loaded. Looks as if the brass is thinner than the previous purchases. Could be just one bad batch; but it's convinced me to concentrate my efforts on PPU.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Honkytonk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 07 2019 at 1:05pm
I've had some bad experiences with both Winchester and Remington .303 B brass. I think is was Remington that I found 10+ split necks and 30 squished necks in a bag of 100 new brass. I've since switched exclusively to PPU and am quite happy. Very robust.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote britrifles Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 12 2019 at 6:39pm
I shot 30 rounds of the above load with new PPU cases in my Long Branch No. 4 yesterday.  Performance and accuracy was excellent.  Cases extracted easily and heads remained square to the case body after firing. I’ve neck sized and primed them.  

I can’t speak to durability of the PPU brass, time will tell if they hold up as long as the DI 43/44 and DA 56 brass I’ve been using.  




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