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223 Brass

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At the risk of appearing excessively stupid,  what makes some makes of rifle brass worth 4 to 5 times more than others? What are the criteria one should be looking for, bearing in mind we are talking about fairly short(300 yards, possibly 400 max) ranges here?

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Your question is a sensible one-the price differential can be substantial-with brass by Lapua and Norma considerably more than others(sometimes more than 50%)though it varies by specific carridge too-probably a volume demand  factor(223 being less expensive,comparatively,as is 308 for example).New nich cartridges usually need rather expensive brass,with limited suppliers .Lapua 308 with Palma small rifle primers has a premium-but it has some advantages.

   Two main reasons for volume cartridge brass being more expensive initially (ie per 100 new cases) in the more popular cartridges (taking Lapua as one of the best examples) is that the quality control is just better,and the brass  needs less  prep (eg Lapua primer flash holes  seldom neeed deburring-just mede better),and overall more uniform (eg in capacity/weight).

    Secondly,the quality of the brass  seems to give more reloads.That can reduce/remove/reverse the initial cost compared to cheaper,less durable brass.

Will a (Lapua) case shoot more accurately at 300y? Well,depends how 'accurate' you need-but generally not  significantly measureably (data might be a little selective-very few 100y Bench Rest shooters use cheap brass (but here 1/10 inch. 5 shot group increase is bad news)-that won't be noticed by a varminter. Assuming the brass-of any make-is equally well prepped,and ammo loaded with same consistency and components,I have not found any consistent precision advantage at short range,though (Lapua) is always very good. AT very long range (1000y) it gets difficult to measure very small differnces-because these tend to be swamped by major factors like wind drift.The advantages though of (Lapua) brass hold,in giving more reloads before primer pockets go with stout loads.

   SO,bottom line,for the short range shooter varminting or club level,brass make will be a small component in consistent shooting,absolutely and in compariso to eg powder load and bullet (Bergers cost more/shoot better for most users).IF cost seems an issue,then there isn't much in it if you reload-the superior/pricier(lapua) brass will last longer and about even out-maybe better,especially with non max loads.

There will be plenty who find equal performance from a wide range of brass-as above. Differences-if any-in precision are rather elusive, but there won't be many who find the (Lapua) grades of brass inferior in any way (including brass lifetime costs,usually).

Bear in  mind too,what your shooting needs- if your targets are more than 1 moa,brass will  be a very minor issue-rifle too will contribute more to performance-or detract from it-the very best components need a corresponding premium rifle to give of their best-ditto ammunition.

   If you cannot get (Lapua) grade brass,well-the choice is removed.I'd not worry too much (unless you are a niche expert shooter in competition-but then you'd have chosen your cartridge option bearing in mind premium brass supply).

The brass doesn't miss anything like as much as other components/factors do.   :-)



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Thanks gbal, as ever a pragmatic and thoughtful reply laying out the pros and cons. In my case, I feel that at my level of expertise, something perhaps middle of the road will suffice for my needs. 


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I've always found that PPU is fine in 223 and reasonably priced.  Just anneal every few firings and they'll last for ages.  Lapua do last longer but not by the margins of the cost difference (you'll get 20 reloads or more from PPU if annealing and not running too hot, perhaps much less if you do run hot).

If your goal is competition and you reload, then Lapua Match might be recommended for case consistency and quality of manufacture.

If your concern is long range target work or hunting and your worry is case life, PPU will be fine if you anneal.  For greater consistency at shorter target lengths, just batch your brass by volume since small changes in case volume start to matter with .223.

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Hi V Thanks for that,  PPU are at the bottom of the price band, and attractive from that point of view. What put me off was that I once tried some PPU bullet heads, which I have since thrown away! BTW, batching cases by volume  sounds difficult as one cannot do it by weight(different wall thicknesses) - or do you mean to batch by weight within a manufacturers lot(which should? have the same wall thickness)?


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Bullets are not brass though and there's nowt wrong with their brass.  Batching is simple.  Cut all to the same length and measure volume to the top using a pipette and water, batching by volume, not weight.  Obviously you have to block the primer holes off with a bit of tape or somesuch, unless you remove the depriming stem before sizing and leave the shot primers in until batched.  I'm not that fussy as mine shoot well to 450 yards which is usually as far as I need for my 223.  At that distance, reading the wind becomes more important than small variations in case volume.  At 1000 yards I'd be looking to batch by volume but that's beyond the distance most shoot a 223 to.  I've found very little differences in slight volume changes to vertical dispersion.  There's more variance between primers so I really think you needn't worry about it.

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