Reloading - The Brass Log

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Reloading: The Brass Log
Written By - Greg Dykstra, 4/29/2011

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All rights reserved.

As with any precision activity, accurate and precise shooting requires accurate and precise record keeping, so you can track your progress and eliminate variables. If you have not read the article on Rifle Databooks, I encourage you to do so! Today we are going to talk about the brass log sheet. For those of you new to reloading, you may not yet realize the importance of keeping accurate records. If you have been reloading for a while, and still do not realize the importance, then chances are that you have a shooting style that is not conducive to precise tolerances when reloading... and it will not matter much to you.

One of the most important things to consider when reloading for a rifle is how to track the usage of the brass. Brass gets hardened by working, so every time you fire it, it expands and becomes harder than it was. This happens again when you squeeze the brass down during the resizing operation. Brass will expand differently with a mild load than it will with a hot load. After a few firings, you'll start to see things like split necks, loose primer pockets, or maybe it just won't produce accurate results anymore. The only way to answer why that is happening is to accurately track the treatment your brass is given at every stage.

As with most forms of data logging, you can get as simple or as complex as you prefer. Below is a link to the log sheet I use. It is very basic, but serves my purpose nicely. I print that sheet on both sides, then cut the page in half. It is in microsoft excel format, so if you don't have excel you will need to download an excel viewer here.

Orkan's Brass Log

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Above you see an example sheet showing activity for a set of 500pcs Winchester brass for Forseti. I run my brass in batches, doing one operation at a time until the batch is complete. You can see that I log the date I purchase, and then log each operation as I complete it. This allows me to clearly see how many firings I have on the brass, and what has been done to it. I can tell if I've neck turned, annealed, or trimmed, and at what frequency those operations were done. The bottom area is for any miscellaneous notes or observations. Sometimes I'll log any culled cases down there, and the reason they were scrapped.

Once the front and back of a sheet is full, I staple a new one to the front of it and carry on. The cards always stay with the brass. I keep brass in tupperware drawers mostly, with some in ammo can's and buckets. The important thing is that the log sheet always stays with the brass. When I go out shooting, upon my return I will dump the fired brass into the appropriate drawer, and update the "firings" data field at the top right.

Each of my rifles have their own dedicated brass. For my 308's, they have a couple thousand a piece and I generally work through them in batches of 500 or 1000. For 338LM, I only have about 300, but it is lapua brass and should last me more firings than the winchester stuff. I have different batches of brass for the same rifle as well. Forseti for instance, has a couple thousand winchester, 100 lapua, and around 500 LC LR 07.

You can even go so far as to assign "lot numbers" to your loaded rounds that correlate back to these logs that can help you better keep track of your loading progress. When I load rounds from these batches of brass, I usually do so in batches of 50. It's convenient, as that is how many my loading block will hold. Once loaded, I put the finished rounds into MTM ammo boxes and mark the top with the loading information, and what rifle it is intended for.

Over the years I have developed reloading log procedures that help to keep me sane, and most importantly, safe. This is one of them, and I hope you can use it to keep better track of your reloading practices.

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