When I was a lot younger, I used to find myself loading in the upper 80% (towards max) in the load data. Over the years, I’ve acquired more firearms – so now when I want more power I just move to a “bigger hammer”. Nowadays I generally tend to load right around the middle 50% of the data (or lower) and have found that brass life increases in what seems to be a greater proportion than how much I reduce the load.
Anymore, the only time I load near max is when I have to go there to get the best accuracy. The one thing that did more to change the way I reload was when I bought my chronograph back in the early 2000’s. Using my chronograph in testing loads, it’s easy to find the point of diminishing return or more simply – the point where adding more powder is doing little to increase velocity. The chronograph turned out to be much more useful than I’d ever anticipate and cannot recommend them enough - even to new reloaders.
The other way that I’ve found helpful with regard to “brass life” is my personal technique of managing my loads. For example, I generally will buy brass in 1000-round lots. A lot of folks will load 50 or 100 rounds and then reload those same 50 or 100 rounds over and over until they’re used up before starting with the next 50 or 100 rounds. I’ll typically load up 100 rounds and after I shoot them, will grab another 100 rounds of the new brass to load. Those first 100 rounds I shot don’t get fired again until I’ve worked my way through the whole 1000.
Now I’m in NO WAY suggesting that using 50-100 rounds until they’re done is a wrong way to go about things. It’s just that my method works better for me. It makes keeping track of how many times a set of brass has been loaded easier for my book keeping efforts. It also serves to improve consistency of like loads that are in different batches. No batch is ever loaded more than 1 time more than any other batch.
One final point I’ll make is that I never load brass until the point where it’s completely worn out. When I get to a point where I estimate that a set of brass only has 3 or 4 loadings left (ie: is still perfectly safe and functional), I will load those up and place them in my permanent inventory of ammo that is kept for a “rainy day”. For any other brass that I deem to be even closer to end-of-life, I load them up as “plinking” ammo using lighter loads and mark them for firing in places where retrieving fired brass will be difficult or impossible.
__________________ The only time you have too much ammunition is when your house is on fire...
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