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Annealing cases
Discussion regarding the reloading of ammunition and tuning of loads for accuracy
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chambered221
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 11:44 am    Post subject: Annealing cases Reply with quote

Does anyone anneal their brass?

If so, why?

Looking for how to info on the subject.

I see annealing kits avalible, are they needed?

Some general discussion please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Pumpkinslinger
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 1:47 pm    Post subject: Re: Annealing cases Reply with quote

I have never annealed brass cases but my understanding is that it is done because of “work hardening” the case. Either in reforming the case from one cartridge to another or in reloading the same case many times the repeated expanding/resizing of the brass changes the grain structure, making it get hard. Annealing the brass by heating it and letting it air cool softens it. I’ve seen articles about this where they placed cases in a shallow pan of water, to protect the base, and heated just the mouth/neck/shoulder area with a torch.

All that said, the only times I could see going to all that trouble would be:

1 – When converting one case into another where it requires several passes through the dies.

2 – When resizing a case that is pretty rare or hard to find.

So far everything I load is pretty common so I haven’t had to try this. Now if Hitlery gets elected I might have to start annealing 9mm, .357 Mag, …

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204Shooter
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 4:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Annealing cases Reply with quote

Pumpkinslinger, it is better to heat the brass neck to a very dim red and then quench the heat by dunking it into cold water. If you let it cool down slowly in air, you don't get much softening of the brass. If you work your brass hard (as in hot loads), you may need to anneal it every 5-6 reloads to keep the neck from spliting.
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gelandangan
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 5:11 pm    Post subject: Re: Annealing cases Reply with quote

Brass need to be cooled QUICKLY for it to retain large crystal structure. Cooling it slowly in room temperature will somewhat harden it rather than anneal it.

usually you put the cases inside a tray with water up to the neck of the cases or to the lowest part you want it to anneal. Then you torch the case till glowing reddish and quickly tip the case over into the water to retain its annealed form.

I shoot over 200 to 400 rounds of 38/357 almost every week in the range, my cases has been reloaded for I think over 50 times since before the turn of the millennium Very Happy and I have annealed it multiple times (once every blue moon - takes over 4 hours to do the lot 1000+ cases). I still lost a case or two every month or so. I reckon if I didnt anneal it, I may have to buy a new set of cases long before.
Then again since I load the cartridge really softly, 3.2gn AS30 on 135gn BNWC lead, there is almost no case stretching at all. there is only the matter of belling the case mouth when reloading that chance of damages exist.

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Pumpkinslinger
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 11:14 pm    Post subject: Re: Annealing cases Reply with quote

From my reading on other metallurgy I understood that annealing involved slow cooling. Anyway, I found this article online…

Here we go >> www.6mmbr.com/annealing.html

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BHP9
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 5:45 am    Post subject: Re: Annealing cases Reply with quote

Annealing isn't necessary unles you have some obscure brass or fireformed into something like an AI caliber.

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SingleShotLover
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 6:08 am    Post subject: Re: Annealing cases Reply with quote

Two points: Brass is annealed by quenching quickly in water as mentioned. Brass used with blackpowder in cartridges should definitely be annealed to allow it to properly seal the chamber upon ignition.

The annealing process varies according to the metal and composition. Certain steels anneal like brass (with quick quenching) others anneal by cooling at room temperature.

Honestly, I guess I'm just too lazy to mess with it. I just throw brass away when it gets work-hardened, but I certainly can see the benefits if you are either forming cases from another cartridge or trying to make exotic cases last as long as possible.

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SwampFox
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 8:30 am    Post subject: Re: Annealing cases Reply with quote

Chambered221,
I anneal most of my bottleneck brass as I shoot mostly wildcats or cartridges I make from other factory offerings.

The process is very simple, get yourself a propane torch a flat bottom pan that will allow water to come up half way on the cartridges. Place the water in the pan and set empty cartridges upright in the water. This should be done in a darkened room. With the propane torch heat the neck and shoulder of each cartridge until it just starts to turn redish brown, tip the case over with the torch tip into the water. Do not heat till glowing red as the brass will slump and be destroyed. The redish brown change can not be seen in a brite light.

When finished, empty the water, dry the brass in a folded towel, allow to air dry for a day or two and drop the brass in a tumbler. It will polish back to brite, even nickel brass. You are now ready to form.
Ed

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Bushmaster
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 8:45 am    Post subject: Re: Annealing cases Reply with quote

I'm usually looking at case head seperation before I need to anneal them...After about 6 to 8 reloadings or 4 to 5 trimmings I just toss them...They're the second cheapest component of reloading.

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skb2706
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:06 am    Post subject: Re: Annealing cases Reply with quote

I just annealed 250 pieces last night. Once fired Winchester 22-250 brass. When I was sizing these I had four cases neck split so I knew the only way to salvage it was to anneal. Typically this means the brass was not annealed correctly when it was made.
I anneal my wildcat stuff that requires serious neck downs as well.

I use the propane torch, shallow pan of water technique. Heat til it just shows a hint of red. Not very scientific but it has worked for 30 plus years.
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A17Shooter
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 11:55 am    Post subject: Re: Annealing cases Reply with quote

When heating the cases for annealing, I hold them between thumb and forefinger. I use a small propane torch that has about a 1/4" nozzle to heat the neck. When the cases get uncomfortably hot I drop them onto a towel.

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gelandangan
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 3:50 pm    Post subject: Re: Annealing cases Reply with quote

Here is a link to a quite interesting annealing article

www.6mmbr.com/annealing.html

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sniper
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2008 11:00 am    Post subject: Re: Annealing cases Reply with quote

The propane torch method is way too complicated, per John Barnsness, who did an article in Handloader or Rifle Magazine some months ago.

Seems like John has a friend, who is a metallurgist and a shooter. He figured out, using tempilaq, that a normal household candle provides enough heat to anneal brass. He holds the case about in the middle of the body, and keeps turning it in the flame till it gets too hot to comfortably hold, then drops it on a wet towel.

Barnsness says it works. Cheap and simple, but where's the fun in that? Very Happy
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Bushmaster
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2008 11:40 am    Post subject: Re: Annealing cases Reply with quote

Tin of water, a propane torch and a pair of pliers...We're in business. Be damned if I'm going to hold that brass with my bare fingers...I know how fast brass transfers heat...

Someone told me that all you had to do was to stand them upright in a pan of water and heat the necks with a propane torch until they were almost red then tip them over into the water...Forgot who it was...(CRS)

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hunterjoe21
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2008 7:14 pm    Post subject: Re: Annealing cases Reply with quote

As copied from another forum:

"The goal here is to restore pliability to the brass, yet not soften it too much so as to create inadequate neck tension on the bullet, or to damage the structure of the brass. The correct temperature is near 660 degrees Fahrenheit, but no hotter. Heating the brass to a glowing red color is way too hot and will damage it, so that is to be avoided.


The temperature you need will generate an "light blue" color, evenly in the neck that does not extend past the bottom of the shoulder. This color is more easily discerned in low light. The primary reason I see for setting cases in the water, is to be absolutely sure that the softening effect does not extend to the case head...that part of the case has to stay hard. But if your method allows that much heat to migrate to the head of the case, you are doing something wrong anyway. "

and then a two posts later:

"You can get a heat crayon at any welding supply that melts at 650 degrees. You could mark around the neck heat it till it melts and you would be very close to 660.They cost around 10 bucks and would do several hundred rounds."


This is only what I've read about annealing cases. I tend to agree with Bushmaster, after 4-5 loadings I toss 'em and start over with new. Winchester brass is NOT that expensive. I might feel differently If I purchased Lapua, Norma, or even Nosler Custom brass.

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