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milprileb 05-04-2021 08:17 AM

Federal Brass...NON M1 Rifle Thread
Comments here have nothing to do with reloading for M1 Rifle. I am commenting on bolt action rifle and 308 or 6.5 Creedmoor caliber with use of Federal Brass.

I am singling out Federal brass because its the worst offender

a. Primer pockets stretch to point of uselessness at , usually , 3rd to 4th reloading of case.

b. Volume of cases is all over the planet. Thus pressures will vary and thus accuracy of groups get wider...and you get weird flyers. Gets to be a wasted effort to use federal cases for precision shooting at 800 / 1000 yd lines at sub MOA targets. Not talking scores on big targets !!

c. Neck Tension: Federal cases seem to be , even if from same lot #, to be of brass alloy composition which has huge variances. Spring back after re sizing is all over the map. Yes, annealing helps somewhat but still , take 100 cases from same lot # and properly anneal them, you can feel inconsistency in neck tension when you seat bullets and you will see that in group size at 800/1000 yds. Compare to same lot # Hornady brass...far better neck tension and ammo loaded in Hornady brass always outshoots ammo loaded in Federal brass.

This is my experience in 6. 5 Creedmoor and 308 Winchester caliber reloading for precision rifles in KRG chassis. I have tried to make Federal brass work but its a pure waste of precious components and reloading time. This is my experience the last 5 years ...I won't use Federal brass any longer. Gave it a good long go but no cigar.

and yes...I even weighed my Federal Cases and culled by weight but still, the neck tension variances plagued performance significantly for long range shooting.

Before the world went insane on components , 4 years ago, I was talking to a proven national level champion F Class shooter who only shoots Lapua brass. I commented at the time it was 80 dollars per 100 cases (308 Win caliber) and prohibitive in cost. He explained his Lapua cases lasted 10 reloads and at that point, he tossed them into the practice brass bin for reloading. At 8 cents a case per firing and to gain nil variances in case volume and nil differences in neck tension (after annealing), I learned a valuable point...8 cents a shot for Lapua performance brass is in fact economical and not cost prohibitive. I have yet to make the leap to Lapua bullets , I am okay with a few less molecules of accuracy my culled production grade bullets achieve. Why...because mirage, winds and my steady hold of rifle accounts for more inaccuracy than any of these bullets could bring to the table. 2-3 inches less accuracy at 1000 yds than Lapua bullets , its not worth my money to bump up to Lapua bullets ...nor Bergers. Now if I were shooting Accuracy International rifles, which are laser beams, I'd see a ton of advantage to Lapua and Berger bullets. As soon as I have a fleet of Jaguars and AI rifles, I'll be using Lapua / Berger bullets.

bruce 05-04-2021 09:00 AM

You will get no argument from me. Have been reloading rifle and pistol ammunition for 40 years. Have used all manner of brass. Always had good results w/ US domestic production. Shot a lot of Fed., Rem., Win., etc. No problems.

Bought 100 Federal Gold Medal Match .308 Winchester brass to use with a nice Rem. 700 SF-VS. Also had a little over 200 Rem. cases. Plan was to use the Rem. for practice, etc. and use the GMM for more serious shooting. That did not work out. Got only two reloads from the GMM brass before primer pocket expansion rendered them scrap. The load was a 150 gr. Nosler Ballistic Tip and slightly more than a starting load of WW-748 as listed in the Speer No. 10 manual. I routinely got many multiple reloads with the Rem. brass. Same for Win. brass. Later ran into similar problems with .30-06 Fed. brass. Don't understand why this has happened. Sincerely. bruce.

nf1e 05-04-2021 09:02 AM

Been using Lapua and Starline SR primer pocket brass for any precision loading of .308 and 6.5 Creedmoor for some time now. Any GMM I shoot gets loaded only once and dropped into the generic cans for plinking and blasting away at steel targets.

milprileb 05-04-2021 12:34 PM

I was unaware Federal brass had same primer pocket stretching problems with 150 gr loads , I was always thinking my loads being near MAX due to velocity needed for long range shooting was a major contributing factor stretching Federal primer pockets. It must surely be but perhaps not as much as I thought. Fact is: 3 shooters here flag Federal Brass as "least desirable".

I'll have to try Starline brass and while SR primers have become well thought of recently, I'll have to stay with LR primed brass as my stash of primers is LR flavor..

Thank you Bruce and nf1e for your experienced comments.

Fishhead 05-04-2021 01:44 PM


Thanks for posting this. Apparently, I am not alone in my dissatisfaction with Federal brass in general and their .308 in particular. Neck tension all over the place and full length resized, once fired brass (from a friends bolt gun) springing back to where I had to force the bolt on my rifle closed on the freshly sized case.

I'm not good enough to even consider Lapua brass or bullets, but I am demanding enough to expect my handloads to chamber. All my Federal has gone into the recycle pile. RP brass at least resizes and is good enough for what I do. Maybe some day I'll get to where the Lapua stuff makes sense. Your cost analysis is spot on.

Jakeroub 05-04-2021 02:52 PM

I remember hearing about federal primer pocket issues in 223 about 7 years when shooting service rifle. Guess it hasn’t changed.

ceresco 05-04-2021 05:52 PM

The stories about Federal .223 brass were true. This was a long time ago--at least ten years. I would like to know if recent production Federal .223 brass is still excessively soft. I have used Federal brass in .308 and 30-06 for years with no major issues. My loads are relatively light, so there is a real possibility that higher pressure loading would bring out the reported issues....that do not exist in my world. Good Shooting. ....

hebes405 05-04-2021 07:47 PM

I had the same issue with hornady brass in 6.5 creedmoor (only brass manufacturer available at the time when I bought my rifle). Primer pockets loosened up quickly. Granted, my loads are on the hot side of the spectrum. That's one advantage of small rifle primer brass, extended priner pocket life.
Lapua is excellent brass but I'm runing petterson brass. It's on par with Lapua, quality and price, but its made in USA. I highly recommend it. They also offer SRP in just about every caliber they make brass for too.

lapriester 05-05-2021 12:02 AM

Any Federal 223/5.56 brass I happen to pick up goes in the trash. It's soft and has a thinner primer pocket web than any other. I have found that very often even once shot cases will have loose primer pockets. Based on that I don't use it in any caliber except 6.8 SPC where it seems all the typical problems don't exist. Even forming into various smaller or larger wildcat calibers hasn't been an issue. Primer pockets stay tight through multiple loading cycles so far.

I also am not a fan of Winchester or WCC 223/5.56 brass. In got more spit necks and a couple of shoulder separations when I used a few than with any other brass I've used.

la Fiere 05-05-2021 06:20 AM


Originally Posted by lapriester (Post 2042353)
I have found that very often even once shot cases will have loose primer pockets.

This has been my experience using Federal brass for .300 Win Mag. Not knowing any better I used Federal brass for two long-range matches (80 rounds for record + sighters each). The first match I used new Federal brass, and afterwards all but a very few of the cases had oversize primer pockets (would easily accept my gauge). I had two blown primers (of 89 rounds fired) in that match (albeit with a fairly hot 220 SMK load). Similar results the second time.

I bought a couple hundred pieces of new PPU brass but haven't finished load development with those and can't say how they'll compare. Lapua brass is not available in .300 Win Mag.

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