Alamo Precision Rifles Talks About The Importance Of Quality Brass

I know I have been guilty of wondering why the heck a rifle that I KNOW shoots well is doing poorly and have suspected everything from action screws, environmental factors and even blamed myself for poor performance on a rifle. Never would I have suspected that I didn’t have quality brass.

Since I just ran a post on the new Starline 6.5 Creedmoor small primer brass, the rant posted below from Robert of Alamo Precision Rifles coming across my Instagram feed was a timely coincidence that I think that the reloaders that read TFB would benefit.

If you don’t know who Alamo Precision Rifles is, Nathan S. has previously covered them and the L.R.M.F. rifle reviewed one of their rifles while taking a long range shooting class and we will have more coverage of my own Alamo Precision builds on TFB TV soon.

Yep, this is a rant…….sorta Only because it seems like we find it being the most common culprit right behind optics failure when trying to diagnose accuracy issues. I don’t think a lot of folks realize just how important good brass is in the overall accuracy equation. It’s every bit as important as the bullet in the long range game. Maybe more so.

I’ve seen guys obsess over individual weighed charges, seating depths and case trim lengths measured down to the nearest .001 and swearing off anything less than a bench rest primer, only to find mixed headstamps throughout their ammo box? I’ve also seen many folks who spend a ton of money on high end custom builds in search of the ultimate level of accuracy. These same folks feed that same rig a steady diet of Rem or Win brass because it was the cheapest available at the time. Some even weight sort them

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this approach, and if it works for them…..great! But there is a lot of performance being left on the table. Kind of like running a race car on 87 octane. If the goal is sub MOA at 100 yards, pretty much any brass in a decent rifle will accomplish that goal. If you are wanting sub MOA at 500, 700, 1K, that bulk Remchester is probably gonna let you down.

It’s not that the brass itself is always “bad”, though some of it certainly is. It’s that it’s inconsistent at best. Which undermines all other attempts at building accurate loads. To be sure, you’ll come across a really good lot from time to time, but you can almost bet it won’t be the same on the next lot you buy 2 years down the road.

Some folks try to mitigate this issue by buying twice what they need and weight sorting it knowing they will have a high cull rate, but still come out cheaper than buying higher quality brass from the start. Some even sort them into “categories” and adjust charge weight to accommodate them. This strategy can help somewhat, but dodges the real issue…… CASE CAPACITY.

Unfortunately, weight sorting does not really address this issue. It seems like it would, and should to some degree……but it can also lie to you.

I just ran a capacity test on some 300WM cases from Norma and Winchester – 10 of each. The results were eye opening. The Norma had a 5.7 grain spread among the dry cases, which would have looked pretty bad to a guy weight sorting them. Remarkably, they only had a .3 grain difference in water volume The Winchester on the other hand had only a 4.8 grain difference between dry cases, but a 1.7 grain difference in water capacity

If you’ve made it through my ramblings this far, you either just said no #$&% Sherlock, or picked up on the real issue at hand and how it throws a wrench into the whole works. Since the precision of your carefully weighed powder charge is only as precise as the volume of the vessel that contains it, which brand of brass is likely to produce the most accurate results with ANY powder, bullet, primer combo? Even with the most precise and careful powder measurement you could possibly drop in the case, using the Winchester I measured would have the same effect as dropping random powder charges over an almost 2 grain spread and still expecting consistent results.

Would you see these effects in typical 100 yard testing? Probably not much. 200 yards? Yeah, somethings not right here. 300 yards? WTH, this thing was shooting good last time I had it out! 400 yards? I think somethings wrong with this scope. 500 yards? Did you torque these action screws? 1K yards?HaHa

Seriously though, it is an often overlooked component of the bigger picture when it comes to getting the most out of your rig. It’s one issue I see a lot and one I was guilty of for a long time myself. Now I’m to the point I won’t even build a rifle that I can’t source quality brass for. And for sure, not ALL expensive brass is “quality” brass. Rant officially over 

I feel like I might go an another rant about neck tension in the near future.

Robert
Alamo Precision Rifles

After getting to know Robert and the other guys at Alamo Precision Rifles, I can honestly say that they may be some of the most knowledgeable and down to earth precision rifle guys I have had the pleasure of talking to date. If soft spoken and ultra humble Robert is talking about something, know that he is confident that it is factual, relevant information that you should probably be paying attention to if you are interested in squeezing the most potential out of your rifle.

If you want to learn more about Alamo Precision Rifles and what they are all about, head over to their website at aprifles.com. Their semi-custom APR Maverick rifles start at $1,775 and go up from there for a full custom build.



Patrick R

Patrick is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and TFBTV Host. He is a verified gun nerd. With a lifelong passion for shooting, he has a love for all types of firearms, especially overly modified plastic handguns, precision rifles, and AR based things. You can follow Patrick on Instagram @tfbpatrick, Facebook, or contact him by email at TFBpatrick@gmail.com.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • USMC03Vet

    Brass cased ammo needs to die. It’s just being used to inflate ammo prices for consumers now days.

    • Klaus Von Schmitto

      So what kind of case do you use for your precision hand loads?

      • RocketScientist

        None. Muzzle-loading… the ORIGINAL caseless

        • Klaus Von Schmitto

          And that’s fine. I shoot muzzleloader every season too. But, the question was about brass cases lol.

    • Patriot Gunner

      Yeah I would go ahead and say you do not know much about manufacturing. Even if someone developed something other than brass to make casing from it would take years, if not decades, to amortize the development and manufacturing cost to make it cheaper.

      Brass is actually keeping the price of ammo cheap, not the other way around.

  • Marc

    I’ve found a really good .308 load (0.5 MOA 5-shot groups routinely off bipod) for my Steyr SSG Match and it works well enough with random range pick-up brass that I can’t tell for sure whether Lapua Palma brass makes a difference.

  • Martin T

    So what does this mean when considering Starline brass? G2g?

  • Devil_Doc

    So… What’s a consistently consistent brand of brass?

    • Smedley54

      Lapua.

      • Nick

        That’s like someone asking who makes a good car and you answer Ferrari. Lapua is one the most expensive brands out there.

        Not saying they’re not high quality, just that they’re expensive.

        • Klaus Von Schmitto

          But it answers the question asked. Quality is typically not inexpensive,

        • Smedley54

          It’s not the answer I wanted either, and Norma or Nosler are the same or worse. Realistically, though, it’s more like being told you need premium in the Ferrari rifle you already bought.

        • Dan

          When you factor in how many times to can reload the case it makes it easier to swallow the cost. By the 10th cycle is it my top choice for ultimate accuracy? Nope by then it’s in a purely plinking role.

    • Klaus Von Schmitto

      And if Lapua doesn’t make your caliber, Nosler Custom.

  • swarfer

    Having been down the accuracy rat hole, I agree. If your sure you’re doing everything right but still can’t shoot consistent tight groups from a quality rifle, there’s a good chance brass is somehow involved even if its quality brass. Especially if your groups have unexplained flyers. Weighing cases, neck turning and sorting manufacturers is just the beginning. Cull high runout cases and unusually hard cases. Shoot all cases the same number of times before annealing for uniform neck tension. Anything that seems different or unexplained, reject the case. All this applies even more to formed cases.

    • Klaus Von Schmitto

      And to add to all that good info – primer seating. To get consistent ignition, you have to have proper and consistent primer seating. Your RCBS and Lee priming tools are not up to the task (and priming on the press is out of the question). I use them for normal reloads but for really top quality precision loads you have to use a better priming tool like a K&M or a Sinclair.
      Primer pocket and flash hole prep is also critical.

    • Dougscamo

      Been pursuing it for years and have decided it is really a rabbit hole…like from Alice in Wonderland….

  • Smedley54

    I had a similar discussion with my gunsmith. He’s just wrapping up a nice Creedmoor build for me, and ripped me a new one for not having the Lapua brass ordered! Please don’t tell him about the Nosler brass I got instead…

    • Dan

      I have some Nosler brass. It’s not bad. Not as good as Norma or Lapua. It’s not bad brass for learning the ropes on.

  • it’s just Boris

    Hm. When my rifle isn’t as accurate as I think it should be, I’m pretty sure I know where the problem is … usually just upstream of the trigger and aft of the stock.

    But them, I’m a lousy shot. Enthusiastic, but lousy.

    • noob

      Precision shooting almost begins to sound like Zen philosophy after a while. Can one really be a consistently accurate and precise shot in the absolute sense? The weapon system, the target and the shooter all being exactly the same from shot to shot? The world turns and you can’t cross the same river twice, but you can choose to step off a boat exactly when it is level with the pier.

      Kyudo (the way of the bow) has a concept of timeless truth where a true shot in kyudo is not just one that hits the center of the target, but one where the arrow can be said to exist in the target before its release.

      • Dougscamo

        Yeah….they don’t have to compensate for the Coriolis effect….

  • Cory Carlson

    Awesome article!

  • Klaus Von Schmitto

    Resizing steel cases is a little tough isn’t it?

    • mosinman

      i said this as a joke , but yes i understand it is difficult but doable lol

      • Klaus Von Schmitto

        I figured it was and I know guys who have tried to resize steel cases. They do about a box and then throw in the towel. The cases resize OK but it kills their hands LOL.

        • mosinman

          yeah it’d be neat to try just to get the hang of it

  • ToddB

    The guy is right. You can’t buy a Porsche then use the cheapest tires on it, yes people do that, and complain all day it doesn’t drive right.

    When it comes to accuracy, every little bit makes a difference. And not all brass is the same, Remington is one of the lowest quality you can buy. You can feel the difference between a Rem and Winchester case running them thru the die. Can feel the seating pressure difference with mixed brass in a 9mm. I have seen people go to great lengths with primers, powders etc but use range brass they picked up.

    Ask the benchrest guys, they will tell you. Garbage in, garbage out. Your just making some hunting or plinking ammo, not a big deal. But you want accuracy, you have to work for it. I use alot of cast bullets, a 45 or 9mm, screw it, just load em. I want that down range accuracy, you have to weight them, and might reject 60-70% of what you cast. But with a scale that goes to .01 grains, I can get velocity spreads of 5 fps across a string, and the group on the target reflects the effort. Use those marginal bullets, groups open up. Brass will do the same thing.