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Thread: Case Forming: 223=>.221=>.20Vartarg=.17 Mach IV/17FB

  1. #1

    Case Forming: 223=>.221=>.20Vartarg=.17 Mach IV/17FB

    So, as was requested/mentioned earlier, some folks expressed an interest in a tutorial on case forming from .223 to other cases. Since brass availability seems to be a fickle thing these last few years, it would seem a interesting topic to cover. I apologize in advance to those who are bandwidth challenged, but a photo says a 1000 words...

    Okay, first we start off with a box of nasty, dirty, range pick up, military brass.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here in the States, when there is some idiotic run for components going on, a box of a 1000 of these cases (already cleaned and deprimed) runs about $35. You'll have to remove the crimp, but for those who are not already aware, these cases (Lake City) are very high quality, and extremely strong. These were range pick ups, and had to be run through my wet, SS media tumbler...

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Okay so you've got some clean cases. The first step is basically bumping the shoulder back to that of a .221 case. This is done with a .221 FB form die, and are (not surprisingly) very inexpensive. I think mine ran about $28. Since .221 is the parent of a great many cases, I assume that accounts for the lower price of this form die; so many people use it, that they make and sell a lot of this die. At any rate, this die is really short, and so you will need an extended shell holder (10E for RCBS).
    Click image for larger version. 

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    But, with that you just lube the case and run it into the die.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	223 to 221.jpg 
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    As you can see, there is a lot of excess material. This can be taken off with a hack saw (as the die is hardened steel, it won't hurt the die). Preferably, the hack saw should be somewhat dull (no, not daft, dull) since brass is soft, a new hacksaw blade tends to cause more problems with it galling. With a slightly dull one, you can take the excess off in one stroke. You'll need to leave some of the case proud, so don't try to cut it off right at the die. Once the excess is off, then you'll file it flush with the top of the form die. Again, the die is hardened, so it won't be harmed by the file, and you're best off using a slightly older file; one destined soon for the trash heap.
    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	22997

    Congratulations, you now have a .221 case ready to be full length sized (after deburring the case mouth). The case mouth will be slightly out of round, due to the force of the hack saw, but the FL die will resolve that issue.

    From here, the steps are similar, and repeated for taking it down from .221 to .20, and then .17.

    Here is a case being taken down to .20 caliber (incidentally, a 17 Mach IV form die brings a .221 down to .20; a perfect way to make 20 Vartarg brass). Form dies are expensive, so 17FB seating die, would probably suffice. I use form dies when I can afford it though; just less head aches and having a dedicated die helps keep everything set they way I prefer it. (The Mach IV form die was close to a $100 when I bought it, so I'm not sure what they go for now).
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	221 to 20 Vartarg.jpg 
Views:	35 
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ID:	22998
    You'll notice, the extended shell holder is no longer needed.

    From here, the case can be run into a 17 Mach IV FL die and then trimmed, necked turned and prep'ed for loading.

    As you can see, there isn't a whole lot to case forming, it just having the right dies to do it. Some will use seating dies form various cartridges (BTW, Redding has admitted that their seating dies are also used as the basis for their form dies) and others will use form dies. It's really a matter of how many cases you are willing to lose in the process, and how severe the forming is from the parent case.

    I would have shown a full try of 17 cases, but alas, these cases are not intended for a 17 Mach IV. Actually, they're heading off to Muir for his .300 Whisper (now known as the 300 AAC Blackout), so they were left at .221 for him to neck size up to .30 caliber.

    Hope this helps, and gets some guys thinking...
    Last edited by MarinePMI; 02-01-2013 at 23:25.

  2. #2
    Many thanks for this!..... Grateful to you for sharing, Wonder if Alex would consider this as a "Sticky" ?.... Just got through setting a deposit on a hundred factory Fireball .17, as those nobs at Remmy haven't made any brass since Noah was a lad!
    (The Unspeakable In Pursuit Of The Uneatable.) " If I can help, I will help!." Former S.A.C.S. member!

  3. #3
    Your nasty range pick-up looks awful grassy. You should find your brass in better neighborhoods, Marine.~Muir

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by MarinePMI View Post
    So, as was requested/mentioned earlier, some folks expressed an interest in a tutorial on case forming from .223 to other cases. Since brass availability seems to be a fickle thing these last few years, it would seem a interesting topic to cover. I apologize in advance to those who are bandwidth challenged, but a photo says a 1000 words...

    Okay, first we start off with a box of nasty, dirty, range pick up, military brass.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Dirty 223 small.jpg 
Views:	38 
Size:	407.9 KB 
ID:	22994

    Here in the States, when there is some idiotic run for components going on, a box of a 1000 of these cases (already cleaned and deprimed) runs about $35. You'll have to remove the crimp, but for those who are not already aware, these cases (Lake City) are very high quality, and extremely strong. These were range pick ups, and had to be run through my wet, SS media tumbler...

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Clean .223 small.jpg 
Views:	36 
Size:	331.2 KB 
ID:	23002

    Okay so you've got some clean cases. The first step is basically bumping the shoulder back to that of a .221 case. This is done with a .221 FB form die, and are (not surprisingly) very inexpensive. I think mine ran about $28. Since .221 is the parent of a great many cases, I assume that accounts for the lower price of this form die; so many people use it, that they make and sell a lot of this die. At any rate, this die is really short, and so you will need an extended shell holder (10E for RCBS).
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Extended shell holder.jpg 
Views:	40 
Size:	328.9 KB 
ID:	22996
    But, with that you just lube the case and run it into the die.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	223 to 221.jpg 
Views:	42 
Size:	300.1 KB 
ID:	22995


    As you can see, there is a lot of excess material. This can be taken off with a hack saw (as the die is hardened steel, it won't hurt the die). Preferably, the hack saw should be somewhat dull (no, not daft, dull) since brass is soft, a new hacksaw blade tends to cause more problems with it galling. With a slightly dull one, you can take the excess off in one stroke. You'll need to leave some of the case proud, so don't try to cut it off right at the die. Once the excess is off, then you'll file it flush with the top of the form die. Again, the die is hardened, so it won't be harmed by the file, and you're best off using a slightly older file; one destined soon for the trash heap.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	File off excess.jpg 
Views:	37 
Size:	300.1 KB 
ID:	22997

    Congratulations, you now have a .221 case ready to be full length sized (after deburring the case mouth). The case mouth will be slightly out of round, due to the force of the hack saw, but the FL die will resolve that issue.

    From here, the steps are similar, and repeated for taking it down from .221 to .20, and then .17.

    Here is a case being taken down to .20 caliber (incidentally, a 17 Mach IV form die brings a .221 down to .20; a perfect way to make 20 Vartarg brass). Form dies are expensive, so 17FB seating die, would probably suffice. I use form dies when I can afford it though; just less head aches and having a dedicated die helps keep everything set they way I prefer it. (The Mach IV form die was close to a $100 when I bought it, so I'm not sure what they go for now).
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	221 to 20 Vartarg.jpg 
Views:	35 
Size:	355.8 KB 
ID:	22998
    You'll notice, the extended shell holder is no longer needed.

    From here, the case can be run into a 17 Mach IV FL die and then trimmed, necked turned and prep'ed for loading.

    As you can see, there isn't a whole lot to case forming, it just having the right dies to do it. Some will use seating dies form various cartridges (BTW, Redding has admitted that their seating dies are also used as the basis for their form dies) and others will use form dies. It's really a matter of how many cases you are willing to lose in the process, and how severe the forming is from the parent case.

    I would have shown a full try of 17 cases, but alas, these cases are not intended for a 17 Mach IV. Actually, they're heading off to Muir for his .300 Whisper (now known as the 300 AAC Blackout), so they were left at .221 for him to neck size up to .30 caliber.

    Hope this helps, and gets some guys thinking...
    Many thanks M-PM1 for this on behalf of us on SD, and for your post under the earlier topic on basic re-necking and reforming. We're separated by a time zone, so apologies for not acknowledging your help earlier.

    http://www.thestalkingdirectory.co.u...7mm-sizing-die

    I'm grateful for passing on what you've picked up from trial and practice. Post after post pops up here from the Brits. on here voicing opinion from 'a mate', or half-remembered theory from some book. It's characteristic of the US contributors that they'll venture an opinion politely, then back it up with convincing facts & experience rather than anecdote.That's nobody's fault really, as we're so far behind in the UK compared to US shooters.Think of the 1990's, and you'll realise where things stand over here.

    There are only a dozen or so calibres available for general use. When a british rifleshooter decides to choose a 'non-standard' calibre (such as 7mm-08) they immediately face a shortage of factory ammo. Even if they can reload, they're fumbling with the basic operations needed to generate cases from another calibre. From my reading of his query the OP in the link above is stuck at first base. He can't feed his current (or intended) rifle so is trying to find a way of doing it by buying a minimum of equipment.

    The only bits of kit we can get hold of easily are Die-sets in standard imperial U.S. calibres. Metric calibres in rifles and reloading components are special-order. There isn't anything like Sinclair International in this country, so generally every bit of speciality kit has to be imported at horrendous cost. I'm aware of techniques like reaming, turning, and annealing but even tooling up with exotica like tapered expanders and standard mandrels for rudimentary operations like these can cost a small fortune. I've got an enquiring mind and more bits than most so decided to see how far the basic kit would take me in case-forming.
    Evidently not very far. Your advanced knowledge has brought me down to earth with a bump

    Our real problem here is that most of what we learn leads nowhere. To pick up a reference of yours, I've only heard of 6.5 Creedmoor. This is probably well known now in the States. Even if this became popular globally, the situation in the UK is that we can't just buy whatever rifle or calibre takes our fancy. The UK Firearms law demands justification for every choice a shooter wants to make. Anything out of the ordinary incurs a delay, and invites searching questions from the licensing police force. There is no guarantee that an application will succeed, so it's all conjecture and hope that eventually permission will be given so you can buy what you're after. So we stick to run-of-the-mill calibres to avoid hassle.

    Ammunition, and all of its' ingredients are also tightly controlled. Mail order is severely restricted. It's necessary to collect in person almost everything you need in the way of components - primers, most bullets, and (in practice) smokeless powders - and produce your 'permit' to the vendor. We only have a small number of licensed gunshops or 'firearms dealers' here for such transactions ..... no supermarket or corner-store sales are allowed. These sort of obstacles are frustrating if not heartbreaking, and often defeat even those who normally know their way around.

    Bear with us, and keep posting these gems. BTW .... I see from your pics. that most of this alchemy is performed with a Lee press, which a lot of folk on here sniff at.
    If I'm going to be accused of it then it's just as well I did it.

  5. #5
    Pretty much the way to do it! Nice tut.
    I do something similar for my 17 Rem brass from 223/556 brass.
    One thing that I was quite pleased about so far is the lack of neck turning needed!

  6. #6
    Sinistral,

    Thank you for the kind words. I feel for you guys, with all the restrictions you have (I recall that to just being able to shoot a friends rifle at Bisley, I had to have a temporary permit for the local constabulary. That permit sits in a scrap book now, along with some very fond memories of my time in the UK.). I just hope that some of my posts and photos can be informative, and perhaps save some folks some grief when components get scarce.

    Joe,

    Yep, I've seen folks do the same as you. It leaves a shorter than SAAMI spec neck, but it works (and well) in a pinch.

    Edit: Oh, and much like an action (that really just holds the barrel and bolt togeter), my Lee press works just as well as my RCBS one and my old A-5 press; all they do is hold the die in place while the ram does it's job.
    Last edited by MarinePMI; 03-01-2013 at 17:38.

  7. #7
    even tooling up with exotica like tapered expanders
    i made my expanders from drill bits till i had a friend make me some expanders turned 348 win to 45/75

    greenshoots

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by MarinePMI View Post
    Sinistral,

    Thank you for the kind words. I feel for you guys, with all the restrictions you have (I recall that to just being able to shoot a friends rifle at Bisley, I had to have a temporary permit for the local constabulary. That permit sits in a scrap book now, along with some very fond memories of my time in the UK.). I just hope that some of my posts and photos can be informative, and perhaps save some folks some grief when components get scarce.

    Joe,

    Yep, I've seen folks do the same as you. It leaves a shorter than SAAMI spec neck, but it works (and well) in a pinch.

    Edit: Oh, and much like an action (that really just holds the barrel and bolt togeter), my Lee press works just as well as my RCBS one and my old A-5 press; all they do is hold the die in place while the ram does it's job.
    Absolutely no problems with the slightly shorter neck, hardly worth worrying about, in fact I don't worry about it!!!

  9. #9
    Thanks for posting this.
    Just getting a variation for a .20 Vartarg, but getting hold of .221 fireball brass has not been easy.
    Did manage to pick up 200 casses so they should last for a bit.John

  10. #10
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    Personally i keep brass to the form they left the factory, as so for a reason !

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