Casing & Brass Selection for Reloading | GetZone Reloading 101

While we’re still talking about reloading, we’re going to be covering brass selection, kind of my personal favorites, and how I go about picking brass that I want to reload, and where I get it. When it comes to brass selection, there are typically three options to choose from. The first one is the most expensive, that’s when you get company brand brass, it’s right on the factory—like Hornady or Winchester. You can get this at most stores and it’s just brass that hasn’t been fired, it just comes right out of the press. Instead of putting a bullet in it, they just send it right out and sell it in bags. This tends to be the most expensive.

The second option is using single-use brass bought secondhand. This is where there’s a middleman where someone collects the brass, cleans it up, primes it, and sells it as a single-fired brass. This is a little less expensive, but you’re still gonna pay a little more than if you go and just collect your own brass—which is actually the third option.

You can either obviously shoot and pick up your own brass, or you can go to ranges, and a lot of times they’ll collect the brass and sweep it up, and they can sell it in bulk by the pound. This option is really only valid if you have a tumbler set up like this. A lot of the brass you get when you buy it in bulk from a range, it’s going to be dirty, it’s going to be dingy, and a lot of times they just sweep it up and throw it in a bag. Because of this, you do need a tumbler to get it to have that like-new shine so you can have a good clean reload and there are no defects or issues with the primers and the casings that you do reload going forward with.

For me, I do have the actual tumbler set up here. It’s the Lyman Turbo Pro 1200. Since I have the tumbler set up here I go for that third option, I like to buy my ammo in bulk at the ranges and kind of pick up my own ammo, so it’s the dirty ammo. But with this tumbler, it cleans it up nicely and I’m not worried about having any defects when I do start reloading with that brass.

Another thing to mention when you do want to buy bulk ammo at those ranges, I’d say double check with management and make sure they only allow factory ammo, and ammo that hasn’t been shot out before or reloaded. That just kind of gives you more security knowing that these brass casings have only been fired once. So I always want to double check that because if someone’s actually allowing people to shoot their own reloaded ammo, you’re not able to make sure that they’re shot maybe once, maybe twice, maybe three times. If not, it is possible you’re buying bad brass that’s been shot three times which you really don’t want to reload with. It’s always good to double-check, and make sure that the range only allows factory ammo or ammo that hasn’t been reloaded. That way you’re just making sure you know exactly how many times that brass has been fired and you’re not worried about any defects or any other problems down the line.

Another thing to mention with these tumblers is that Lyman makes their own media to go with it. You can get other media to go with any tumblers, it’s not really like you need name brand with name brand. I just like to use their media because it’s kind of like they’ve tried it, it works, it polishes the brass pretty well and it’s just easier to stay with one company. Another thing I’d like to mention with media options is as you can tell in the actual tumbler here I’ve polished about 2000 rounds, 2000 casings with it. So, the media is actually kind of getting a little discolored, it’s more dark and kind of browner or blacker than this brand-new green media. It’s still going to work, it just might start taking longer to actually polish those brass casings. So there’s not really a set-round limit when you have to replace the media. The one thing I kind of go with the rule of thumb is, if the media starts to take longer to clean those brass casings, if it’s like twice as long to polish the brass, it’s probably time to replace the media. And honestly, the media is really inexpensive.

Another thing I’d like to mention, kind of something I found along the way, is when you are using the tumbler to clean your brass, try to leave the spent primers in the casing while you’re cleaning them. You don’t need to use and polish the primers but I find that it’s easier to keep the media out of the actual primer cavities. I recommend leaving the spent primer in there while you’re using the tumbler and cleaning the brass. It saves you time and you don’t have to worry about cleaning out that cavity and gumming up your other machinery with it. So, take the primer out after you’ve tumbled the brass and polished it.

Overall there are a couple of ways you can actually go about selecting brass. You can buy it new from the store, you can buy a secondhand polish or you can go with the full route and get the tumbler. For me, I just like the tumbler because I kind of like to handle my brass a little more and it’s a little cheaper on the other end of actually reloading. It doesn’t matter if you want to get store-bought brass, if you want to get secondhand polish brass, go right ahead. There are a lot of different options to choose from.


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