Last Friday I spent about half the day in my shop JUST working up hand loads for my Thompson Center in .280 Ackley Improved (which you would already know if you followed us on Instagram!!!). In the fall my dad and I arrived at an optimal load recipe that milked both the most accuracy and energy out of the often overlooked round and I’d had about 30 spent casings sitting in a bin that needed attention since then. Not sure if you noticed, but Haus of Guns keeps me pretty busy with all sorts of demands every single week.
ANYWAY I had the brass tumbler running with some .40 S&W casings in it anyway so I tossed the Ackley cases in, let them polish for a good couple hours before I pulled them out, oiled them ran them through the resizing die and remembered a couple of key steps many new to reloading will often skip in the area of case preparation.
I’m talking about cleaning the primer pocket and reaming the flash hole. Both items sound a bit perverted to the slightly deranged and inexperienced hand loader and I may get charged with being a bit too anal (pun NOT intended) on my hand loads, but I assure you they’re valuable steps to squeezing every ounce of accuracy possible from each round. Cleaning all tarnishing and remnants from the primer pocket means the primer sits evenly and the primer itself is in the same place every time and on every round goes off the same way every time. After all, uniformity and consistency are our goals with hand loading. The less variation we have between separate rounds the better off and more accurate we’ll be.
The second item of case prep that is undoubtedly overlooked is reaming the flash hole. It’s easy enough and the tool is cheap. Once I’ve scraped the primer pocket clean I hit the flash hole to make sure it’s perfectly uniform. If the flash hole has burs or even debris in it, when the primer is struck it can prevent an even charge from entering the casing resulting in an uneven powder charge forcing the bullet out. Obviously the bullet isn’t going to exit sideways or anything, but all it takes is one loaded shell with a bit of difference from others to open up your group just that much more.
Does adding these steps make the reloading process take longer? Yes. Does it frustrate the loader? Sometimes. Is it worth it to eliminate any possible element of mischief in your hand loads resulting in tighter groups and more consistent performance? In my opinion, ABSOLUTELY.
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