Hornady vs. Lapua brass Cost Effectiveness

Familydude

Spending my kids’ paltry inheritance on hobbies
Supporter
Full Member
Minuteman
Supporter+
  • May 14, 2020
    1,672
    1,013
    California
    Just getting into reloading. Don’t know anything other than what I’ve heard and read here and there. I’m finding that it’s not cheap, but there are decent deals on tools and equipment.

    Most appealing to me would be a new hobby, convenience and availability. Especially in CA. Many places won’t ship ammo here (no, I’m not moving as nutty/stupid as this place can be. Born/raised here, family including grandchildren are here).

    I don’t compete but may in the future. I’m shooting approx 100 rds of factory Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor 140 ELDm per month. I have always saved the brass however;

    It’s my understanding that Hornady brass isn’t great for reloading. I’ve read that on average, one can get 5-8 firings from Hornady brass compared to 20-30 from Lapua.

    So, stick with the Hornady brass of which I’ll have plenty and possibly deal with some of the issues I’ve read and heard about (loose primers, greater deviations, etc) or, invest in Lapua brass for what could be longevity, less headache and accuracy?

    Thanks for any input.
     

    Simonsza1

    Private
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Feb 27, 2014
    1,448
    1,070
    As a new reloader load the shit out of that Hornady brass it works just fine. If you load it real hot you may find some loose primer pockets happening. Annealing helps keep neck tension more consistent but Hornady brass will more then get you going in your new hobby. Especially if you already have its just one less thing to buy.
     

    Threadcutter308

    Mr. Sugar Tits to you
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Supporter+
    Feb 13, 2017
    11,270
    21,705
    An Island in warshington
    Just getting into reloading. Don’t know anything other than what I’ve heard and read here and there. I’m finding that it’s not cheap, but there are decent deals on tools and equipment.

    Most appealing to me would be a new hobby, convenience and availability. Especially in CA. Many places won’t ship ammo here (no, I’m not moving as nutty/stupid as this place can be. Born/raised here, family including grandchildren are here).

    I don’t compete but may in the future. I’m shooting approx 100 rds of factory Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor 140 ELDm per month. I have always saved the brass however;

    It’s my understanding that Hornady brass isn’t great for reloading. I’ve read that on average, one can get 5-8 firings from Hornady brass compared to 20-30 from Lapua.

    So, stick with the Hornady brass of which I’ll have plenty and possibly deal with some of the issues I’ve read and heard about (loose primers, greater deviations, etc) or, invest in Lapua brass for what could be longevity, less headache and accuracy?

    Thanks for any input.
    I shoot .223, 6x47L and .308, all in bolt guns. All Lapua brass.

    I retire the brass (I don't throw it away) after 20 reloads.

    Investing in Lapua brass is incredibly cost effective.
     

    iceng

    Non-Privates
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Sep 2, 2017
    1,333
    1,241
    South Aus
    www.iceng.com.au
    Exactly what @Simonsza1 said.

    My opinion on the difference between them is this.
    Hornady and lapua will yield IDENTICAL accuracy results on paper down range. Lapua will do it "easier", hornady will make you work at it. If you shoot hornady, you will learn the "why".

    Why do we do extensive case prep... Lapua does all the heavy lifting, thus it costs more. Hornady is cheaper brass, treat it properly and it works as good as anything else on the market.

    Just do as simmo said. Load, shoot, repeat. It WONT be a limiting factor in any way.
     

    Familydude

    Spending my kids’ paltry inheritance on hobbies
    Supporter
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Supporter+
  • May 14, 2020
    1,672
    1,013
    California
    If I’m not mistaken, the Hornady brass I have uses large rifle primers, correct?
     

    BuildingConceptsllc

    Don't Start None, won't be none.
    Supporter
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Supporter+
  • Nov 13, 2020
    4,015
    3,101
    Alabama
    So you're taking the plunge now huh? Loading is a hobby within a hobby and is a lot of fun.


    Lapua is a lot better brass and will give you more consistency, when you get to where you are trying to get your SD and es down. You are going to want to change to lapua or Peterson or ADG at some point but if you have Hornady, go ahead and learn on it and use it and shoot it 2-3 times. Then when you buy your new brass, (get 400 or 500 at a time then keep 2 separate lots of it), use the Hornady for loading up "SHTF ammo or stash ammo, if you plan to stock pile some loaded rounds. It's nice to have a few hundred that you don't care about picking up the brass with but that will shoot great and the Hornady will work great for that. Just keep in mind that the case capacity is different so you will need to adjust your charge accordingly when you change.


    I use lapua for everything (223,308, 6cm) accept 6.5cm. I use Starline for 6.5cm and I am very happy with it. I did some YouTube research on the most consistent brass for reloading (meaning helps provide the most consistent results) and found that starlines brass had more consistent case capacity. Lapua performed slightly better in a few areas but the case capacity was what I focused on and the Starline tested very well in the other areas as well anyway, but had the most consistent case capacity of all brass tested. (ADG and Peterson were not in this test so I don't know about that one way or the other). The starline is a lot cheaper than lapua too. Might be something you want to look at. You definitely won't go wrong with lapua though and I love me some lapua brass, and it's better brass than starline and will outlast starline. Starline is just a little more consistent with capacity.

    Whatever you decide to go with, I'd load the Hornady at least a few times then give it a final prep and load it up for my stash ammo, then switch to whatever brass I wanted to run.
     

    Familydude

    Spending my kids’ paltry inheritance on hobbies
    Supporter
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Supporter+
  • May 14, 2020
    1,672
    1,013
    California
    Thank you. I’ll get off my lazy butt and measure with calipers. I think small is .175 and large is .210/211 from what I can find!
     

    Familydude

    Spending my kids’ paltry inheritance on hobbies
    Supporter
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Supporter+
  • May 14, 2020
    1,672
    1,013
    California
    So you're taking the plunge now huh? Loading is a hobby within a hobby and is a lot of fun.


    Lapua is a lot better brass and will give you more consistency, when you get to where you are trying to get your SD and es down. You are going to want to change to lapua or Peterson or ADG at some point but if you have Hornady, go ahead and learn on it and use it and shoot it 2-3 times. Then when you buy your new brass, (get 400 or 500 at a time then keep 2 separate lots of it), use the Hornady for loading up "SHTF ammo or stash ammo, if you plan to stock pile some loaded rounds. It's nice to have a few hundred that you don't care about picking up the brass with but that will shoot great and the Hornady will work great for that. Just keep in mind that the case capacity is different so you will need to adjust your charge accordingly when you change.


    I use lapua for everything (223,308, 6cm) accept 6.5cm. I use Starline for 6.5cm and I am very happy with it. I did some YouTube research on the most consistent brass for reloading (meaning helps provide the most consistent results) and found that starlines brass had more consistent case capacity. Lapua performed slightly better in a few areas but the case capacity was what I focused on and the Starline tested very well in the other areas as well anyway, but had the most consistent case capacity of all brass tested. (ADG and Peterson were not in this test so I don't know about that one way or the other). The starline is a lot cheaper than lapua too. Might be something you want to look at. You definitely won't go wrong with lapua though and I love me some lapua brass, and it's better brass than starline and will outlast starline. Starline is just a little more consistent with capacity.

    Whatever you decide to go with, I'd load the Hornady at least a few times then give it a final prep and load it up for my stash ammo, then switch to whatever brass I wanted to run.
    Yep, diving in. May even get to the point where I get an Autotrickler and some 3D printed shims to make it that much more bad-ss😉.

    All great info. Hadn’t even considered the SHTF angle for 6.5 C. That was a gold nugget sir.
     

    BuildingConceptsllc

    Don't Start None, won't be none.
    Supporter
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Supporter+
  • Nov 13, 2020
    4,015
    3,101
    Alabama
    Yep, diving in. May even get to the point where I get an Autotrickler and some 3D printed shims to make it that much more bad-ss😉.

    All great info. Hadn’t even considered the SHTF angle for 6.5 C. That was a gold nugget sir.
    I got a chargemaster first then got a V3. Wish I'd have just gotten the V3 first. I am not sure I'm going to get a V4 either. I almost did jump on that one listed in the px, but my V3 works so well with the straw insert, and now that I finally got my static situation under control, it's very easy to use and I can make some legit good ammo. The only benefit of the V4 is not having a separate trickler it seems and I don't really want to be shimming it all that. Also, with the new Ingenuity Trickler (which looks absolutely awesome) it is only for the v3 or v2, so I am probably going to stick with that and use the Ingenuity with it, accept I might use the autotrickler trickler for ball powders still, it works great for that and I'm not sure how the Ingenuity will handle that.

    It's nice to have another scale to use sometimes I guess but my chargemaster just takes up space on my bench now, and I'm probably going to sell it. They do make decent ammo but not v3 level of course.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: Familydude

    rustyinbend

    GySgt USMC 1976-1992
    Full Member
    Minuteman
  • Dec 9, 2018
    2,396
    2,323
    Bend, Oregon
    I had a similar path. Shot a whole bunch of factory 6.5-CM Hornady and saved the brass. I'm on my 4th reloading and use it in my LWRCI REPR AR10 and it works great. Throw one away every now and again due to some issue, usually on the base. That said, I use new Peterson brass for my other two 6.5-CM's that I shoot for precision. That works great for me ... factory Hornady for AR10 and Peterson cases for my two precision bolt rifles. If you're shooting "distance for score" ... I probably wouldn't recommend the factory Hornady brass ... IMHO.
     

    The D

    Resident capitalist/agorist/voluntaryist
    Full Member
    Minuteman
  • Apr 11, 2020
    3,988
    4,698
    Definitely use what you have unless you want to justify the extra cost of premium brass. If you hunt you could use the Hornady brass for hunting rounds and buy Lapua for the target rounds
     
    • Like
    Reactions: Familydude

    hlee

    Sergeant
    Full Member
    Minuteman
  • Jul 14, 2012
    8,411
    11,241
    44
    TX
    The Hornady brass that you already have was "free," so you are money ahead by using what you have- even if you "only" get 5-10 reloads on it. How much hornady brass do you have? If you have been doing this 100 rounds per month thing for 4 months, you have 400 rounds. And, at 5 reloads per case, that is 2000 rounds. In a 6.5, that well could be enough to toast the barrel anyway- or you'll be well on your way to it. If you have more than that, all the better.

    New Lapua brass in 6.5 creedmoor runs just over $1 per cartridge case. That's a substantial 'investment' for marginal return. If I were buying all new brass, for a bolt action rifle, that would not be used in competition, and I were always able to police my brass; I would buy Lapua. But, I'd strongly consider cheaper brass for a competition gun, as you don't want to be THAT GUY that is holding up the squad so that he can disassemble the prop to fetch a lost piece of brass.

    Hunting rifle? Lapua Brass
    Range gun? Lapua Brass
    PRS gun? Cheap brass, maybe Lapua for 'local comps' that tend to be low key.
    2 gun/Run and Gun? Cheap brass
    Any action gun comp (3 gun etc)? Cheap brass

    There is less initial prep work and sorting that goes into using Lapua brass, and less waste from culls. If you are not going to anneal, you won't get the most bang for your buck out of the Lapua, but it will likely still last longer than the Hornady. But, once you have prepped the initial batch of brass- regardless of head stamp- the process on prepping and reloading fired brass is (or should be) the same, regardless of headstamp. And, as was written above, the bullet and target don't care what the headstamp says; the precision that you can wring out of either will be the same.

    Keep in mind, the brass scrap price is currently $1.95 per lb ==> throw your culls (split necks, stretched primer pockets, etc) in a bucket, not in the garbage. A 5 gal bucket brass cases can weight close to 50 lbs.

    And, no, you will not save money by reloading. You will just shoot more...
     
    • Like
    Reactions: JoeM

    kthomas

    Sergeant
    Supporter
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Supporter+
    Jun 17, 2009
    5,306
    6,639
    35
    Tucson, AZ
    When I started reloading, I started reloading using once fired Hornady brass from factory loaded ammunition.

    You can make decent ammo with it, but my SD's/ES's went way down with Lapua brass.

    Perhaps you can get similar SD/ES with Hornady if you do a lot of brass prep. I don't. I just don't enjoy reloading that much to turn a 7 step process into a 25+ step process.


    Get your feet wet with Hornady. You can always swap to Lapua later if you feel the need.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: Familydude

    Familydude

    Spending my kids’ paltry inheritance on hobbies
    Supporter
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Supporter+
  • May 14, 2020
    1,672
    1,013
    California
    The Hornady brass that you already have was "free," so you are money ahead by using what you have- even if you "only" get 5-10 reloads on it. How much hornady brass do you have? If you have been doing this 100 rounds per month thing for 4 months, you have 400 rounds. And, at 5 reloads per case, that is 2000 rounds. In a 6.5, that well could be enough to toast the barrel anyway- or you'll be well on your way to it. If you have more than that, all the better.

    New Lapua brass in 6.5 creedmoor runs just over $1 per cartridge case. That's a substantial 'investment' for marginal return. If I were buying all new brass, for a bolt action rifle, that would not be used in competition, and I were always able to police my brass; I would buy Lapua. But, I'd strongly consider cheaper brass for a competition gun, as you don't want to be THAT GUY that is holding up the squad so that he can disassemble the prop to fetch a lost piece of brass.

    Hunting rifle? Lapua Brass
    Range gun? Lapua Brass
    PRS gun? Cheap brass, maybe Lapua for 'local comps' that tend to be low key.
    2 gun/Run and Gun? Cheap brass
    Any action gun comp (3 gun etc)? Cheap brass

    There is less initial prep work and sorting that goes into using Lapua brass, and less waste from culls. If you are not going to anneal, you won't get the most bang for your buck out of the Lapua, but it will likely still last longer than the Hornady. But, once you have prepped the initial batch of brass- regardless of head stamp- the process on prepping and reloading fired brass is (or should be) the same, regardless of headstamp. And, as was written above, the bullet and target don't care what the headstamp says; the precision that you can wring out of either will be the same.

    Keep in mind, the brass scrap price is currently $1.95 per lb ==> throw your culls (split necks, stretched primer pockets, etc) in a bucket, not in the garbage. A 5 gal bucket brass cases can weight close to 50 lbs.

    And, no, you will not save money by reloading. You will just shoot more...
    Awesome advice by all. Larger majority lean toward using the Hornady I have vs. buying new Lapua. At least until I become more proficient and wear out some cases. Common sense was whispering the same thing, but as a newbie I had to ask. I have well over 400 casings. Hadn’t even considered the bug out, hunting and gas gun routes.

    Yeah, no cost savings initially or possibly ever, but the ability to shoot more and not be overly concerned about availability and ever-changing legislation in my state are most attractive.
     

    Average guy

    Low IQ truth teller
    Supporter
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Supporter+
  • Dec 25, 2018
    2,193
    3,596
    Just getting into reloading. Don’t know anything other than what I’ve heard and read here and there. I’m finding that it’s not cheap, but there are decent deals on tools and equipment.

    Most appealing to me would be a new hobby, convenience and availability. Especially in CA. Many places won’t ship ammo here (no, I’m not moving as nutty/stupid as this place can be. Born/raised here, family including grandchildren are here).

    I don’t compete but may in the future. I’m shooting approx 100 rds of factory Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor 140 ELDm per month. I have always saved the brass however;

    It’s my understanding that Hornady brass isn’t great for reloading. I’ve read that on average, one can get 5-8 firings from Hornady brass compared to 20-30 from Lapua.

    So, stick with the Hornady brass of which I’ll have plenty and possibly deal with some of the issues I’ve read and heard about (loose primers, greater deviations, etc) or, invest in Lapua brass for what could be longevity, less headache and accuracy?

    Thanks for any input.
    Yes use the Hornady to learn, if you screw up a few pieces it not a big deal. Move on to Lapua, Peterson, Alpha etc when you wear out the Hornady. Most of the top shelf brass is heavier than Hornady, so your load will need to be reduced and worked back up.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: Familydude

    wpeach1912

    Supporter
    Supporter
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Apr 7, 2020
    539
    491
    I have/had 15-1600 pieces of hornady brass I’ve spent the last 2 years trying to go through. Recently scrapped about 400 because it was starting to show signs of degradation on reload 6-7. It’s treated me pretty well for many local PRS comps. Usually see an SD around 10. I don’t attribute many or any misses to something being off with the consistency of my ammo.
     

    jakelly

    Sergeant
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Supporter+
  • Dec 31, 2011
    2,062
    1,621
    43
    Norman, OK
    Sell it.

    I get the run what you brung and learn on the cheap stuff line of thinking. But I don’t think you’re further ahead starting left with the intent to go right. I don’t ever use multiple brass manufacturers for different purposes. It’s not worth it. I load for precision. If it were me, I’d sell it. Start with Starline or Peterson, or Alpha or Lapua, use a 200 or even better 300 piece lot, keep them on the same number of firings, annealings, etc. when the first couple cases start to go turn that batch into stockpile ammo.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: Familydude

    918v

    It’s not the primer!
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Jul 15, 2007
    6,052
    3,255
    Miserable CA
    If you mix different lots of Hornady brass then your ES will be all over the place. If you keep them separate then your ES will be tight provided you know what you’re doing.

    Hornady brass lasts more than 8 reloads. It is good brass.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: Average guy

    Familydude

    Spending my kids’ paltry inheritance on hobbies
    Supporter
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Supporter+
  • May 14, 2020
    1,672
    1,013
    California
    If you mix different lots of Hornady brass then your ES will be all over the place. If you keep them separate then your ES will be tight provided you know what you’re doing.

    Hornady brass lasts more than 8 reloads. It is good brass.
    Had no idea about same lots…😑
     

    DownhillFromHere

    Aim > Impact > Take a Nap
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Nov 30, 2017
    1,189
    1,323
    If your budget is such that you can afford to buy Lapua, Peterson, etc. brass at the outset, there's certainly no harm in it. But there's nothing magical about it beyond better longevity and consistency. If you buy Lapua brass and use a cheap scale to put powder behind cheap bullets, some of that consistency goes away right off the bat. Similarly, if you don't have an annealer, that Lapua brass consistency will deteriorate earlier than it "should." I still have a few hundred Hornady cases from early on in my rifle-reloading journey, but they're kinda like the fire extinguisher in the closet... no plans to use it.

    But if you invest in the good brass, to me it's prudent to invest in the brass preparation and powder charging tools to match.

    Brass prep is the most time-consuming and, to me, toilet-swabbing-chore-like, part of the reloading process. If your budget supports it, go ahead and buy an annealer (AMP is by far the easiest/most consistent - and expensive - one), because after a handful of loadings the case neck stiffens, consistency goes down, and the neck will split earlier than "necessary." You'll need a case trimmer (there are several, each with strengths/weaknesses) because bottleneck cartridges "grow" in length with each firing, a good caliper (not a $29.99 big-box special; I like my Brown & Sharpe dial caliper while many here like Mitutoyo digital calipers), something like a Whidden case gauge to accurately obtain headspace data, a tumbler and media for cleaning.

    If budget allows, invest at the outset in good scale (A&D FX-120i, search on the Hide for discount code). Less-expensive beam scales work ok but are slow - just be sure to get a set of check weights for best consistency.

    I'm retired so I tolerate using a Dillon powder drop to throw each powder charge a tenth or two light and then trickle up to desired weight. If budget allows and time is important, an autotrickler is faster.

    It's been interesting to me to see how a minuscule shift of level on my loading bench can affect readings on my FX-120i (which has a very sensitive bubble level built into it). Cheap digital scales... well, you'll read about how they drift. My FX-120i has not been recalibrated since I put my loading bench in its current location months ago. I know my little brass powder-pour "cup" weighs 145.08 grains. I can, and have, zeroed the scale with the cup on it and forgotten about it for several hours... come back and it's sitting rock-solid at zero, and I can drop in a kernel of H4350 and see it go to .02 grains.

    The scale thing kinda exemplifies getting into the weeds with brass. It's not hard to load good ammo with a sub-$100 beam scale. But will a beam scale accurately discern the addition or removal of a single kernel of H4350 - or even IMR8208? Maybe, if you watch it settle long enough. You'll hear that having your powder load within +/- 1/10 grain for .223-.308-class cartridges is "good enough." I submit that, if that's as good as you care about with powder charge then you'll probably be happy with Hornady brass.

    It's a real rabbit hole, right? I quit seeing reloading as a hobby about three decades ago. To me, loading shotgun and pistol ammo is a chore like vacuuming floors. But reloading precision rifle ammo is more like swabbing toilets in a sports bar after a ball game - mainly because of the aggravation of brass preparation (anneal it, clean it, lube it, resize it, clean the lube off it, trim it, track lot & number of loads - versus pistol ammo, where you can just clean it and load it, or shotshells, where you just keep reloading the things until they split). I do it because I already had much of the equipment from shotgun and pistol competition days and the return on time investment is worth it to me; the big expenditures were the annealer and scale. Good equipment lasts about forever - my shotshell presses date back to the 1980s and the Dillon press is '90s vintage.

    Enjoy the ride.
     

    BuildingConceptsllc

    Don't Start None, won't be none.
    Supporter
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Supporter+
  • Nov 13, 2020
    4,015
    3,101
    Alabama
    An excellent way to get started (and what I do quite often and have done for some time now), is to send your spent brass to @Dave__th3__ss and let him do all the hard stuff, while you just work on getting the powder and seating and priming worked out.

    It's not a bad deal, especially when you factor in the annealing that he does vs the cost of an AMP ... I process some of my own too but don't discount how nice it is for someone who really knows what they are doing to take your brass and send you back annealed and perfectly sizes brass, to the exact size and neck tension size you want. It also is a good way for you to get a good amount of spent brass done while doing smaller batches yourself while you learn how, not to mention a great phone call to make with a question.

    Just thought I'd mention it because his services truly are what makes it possible for me to shoot. If not, I just literally would not have the time to process brass, load, and shoot. You may welcome the time involved in brass prep but many don't.
     

    Ledzep

    Chancellor
    Full Member
    Minuteman
  • Jun 9, 2009
    3,865
    4,008
    NE
    Short brass life and loose primer pockets are a sign of excessive pressure. Read it again.

    If you stick to <= 65,000psi loads, Hornady, Federal, Remington, and Winchester (AKA "Cheap junk") brass with neck anneal cycles will usually last 15-25 firings using a .002" shoulder bump in an FL size die before the body thins out and your risk case head separations. Lapua, Peterson, Alpha, etc... will handle the 70-80ksi loads better, but that doesn't make it a smart plan.

    I'd probably guess that Lapua, Peterson, Alpha... are more consistent lot-to-lot, but segregating lots is a good plan regardless of who makes the cases. Back in the day I got burned mixing lots of Lapua .260 cases that were definitely not the same. I try to buy a barrel's worth of all components of the same lot at a time to mitigate the frustration of "batch" performance variation.

    I have not seen dramatic performance differences between brands of brass in terms of MV ES/SD or accuracy, personally. I've seen wonky results from military cases (may have been mixed lots but was all stamped the same year of production), especially eastern European steel cases, but all of the new commercial brass stuff is good with rare exception. I personally don't think the gucci stuff is worth the premium. YMMV, but I like losing Hornady or Remington cases on the range or at a match much more than Lapuas.
     

    Simonsza1

    Private
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Feb 27, 2014
    1,448
    1,070
    Definitely use what you have unless you want to justify the extra cost of premium brass. If you hunt you could use the Hornady brass for hunting rounds and buy Lapua for the target rounds
    Haha I do the opposite. I use Hornady for all my match ammo and good brass for my hunting ammo. Match stuff is hit a plate and if I miss it’s me not the ammo every time. Hunting to me is more important as I don’t want to injure or miss a animal of a lifetime so I put the utmost importance on my hunting ammo. Hornady brass for me works awesome for Match stuff and like Carlos danger said just throw some out here and there.
     

    Familydude

    Spending my kids’ paltry inheritance on hobbies
    Supporter
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Supporter+
  • May 14, 2020
    1,672
    1,013
    California
    If your budget is such that you can afford to buy Lapua, Peterson, etc. brass at the outset, there's certainly no harm in it. But there's nothing magical about it beyond better longevity and consistency. If you buy Lapua brass and use a cheap scale to put powder behind cheap bullets, some of that consistency goes away right off the bat. Similarly, if you don't have an annealer, that Lapua brass consistency will deteriorate earlier than it "should." I still have a few hundred Hornady cases from early on in my rifle-reloading journey, but they're kinda like the fire extinguisher in the closet... no plans to use it.

    But if you invest in the good brass, to me it's prudent to invest in the brass preparation and powder charging tools to match.

    Brass prep is the most time-consuming and, to me, toilet-swabbing-chore-like, part of the reloading process. If your budget supports it, go ahead and buy an annealer (AMP is by far the easiest/most consistent - and expensive - one), because after a handful of loadings the case neck stiffens, consistency goes down, and the neck will split earlier than "necessary." You'll need a case trimmer (there are several, each with strengths/weaknesses) because bottleneck cartridges "grow" in length with each firing, a good caliper (not a $29.99 big-box special; I like my Brown & Sharpe dial caliper while many here like Mitutoyo digital calipers), something like a Whidden case gauge to accurately obtain headspace data, a tumbler and media for cleaning.

    If budget allows, invest at the outset in good scale (A&D FX-120i, search on the Hide for discount code). Less-expensive beam scales work ok but are slow - just be sure to get a set of check weights for best consistency.

    I'm retired so I tolerate using a Dillon powder drop to throw each powder charge a tenth or two light and then trickle up to desired weight. If budget allows and time is important, an autotrickler is faster.

    It's been interesting to me to see how a minuscule shift of level on my loading bench can affect readings on my FX-120i (which has a very sensitive bubble level built into it). Cheap digital scales... well, you'll read about how they drift. My FX-120i has not been recalibrated since I put my loading bench in its current location months ago. I know my little brass powder-pour "cup" weighs 145.08 grains. I can, and have, zeroed the scale with the cup on it and forgotten about it for several hours... come back and it's sitting rock-solid at zero, and I can drop in a kernel of H4350 and see it go to .02 grains.

    The scale thing kinda exemplifies getting into the weeds with brass. It's not hard to load good ammo with a sub-$100 beam scale. But will a beam scale accurately discern the addition or removal of a single kernel of H4350 - or even IMR8208? Maybe, if you watch it settle long enough. You'll hear that having your powder load within +/- 1/10 grain for .223-.308-class cartridges is "good enough." I submit that, if that's as good as you care about with powder charge then you'll probably be happy with Hornady brass.

    It's a real rabbit hole, right? I quit seeing reloading as a hobby about three decades ago. To me, loading shotgun and pistol ammo is a chore like vacuuming floors. But reloading precision rifle ammo is more like swabbing toilets in a sports bar after a ball game - mainly because of the aggravation of brass preparation (anneal it, clean it, lube it, resize it, clean the lube off it, trim it, track lot & number of loads - versus pistol ammo, where you can just clean it and load it, or shotshells, where you just keep reloading the things until they split). I do it because I already had much of the equipment from shotgun and pistol competition days and the return on time investment is worth it to me; the big expenditures were the annealer and scale. Good equipment lasts about forever - my shotshell presses date back to the 1980s and the Dillon press is '90s vintage.

    Enjoy the ride.
    Swabbing toilets in a sports bar after a game. Just what I’m looking for…
     

    Familydude

    Spending my kids’ paltry inheritance on hobbies
    Supporter
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Supporter+
  • May 14, 2020
    1,672
    1,013
    California
    An excellent way to get started (and what I do quite often and have done for some time now), is to send your spent brass to @Dave__th3__ss and let him do all the hard stuff, while you just work on getting the powder and seating and priming worked out.

    It's not a bad deal, especially when you factor in the annealing that he does vs the cost of an AMP ... I process some of my own too but don't discount how nice it is for someone who really knows what they are doing to take your brass and send you back annealed and perfectly sizes brass, to the exact size and neck tension size you want. It also is a good way for you to get a good amount of spent brass done while doing smaller batches yourself while you learn how, not to mention a great phone call to make with a question.

    Just thought I'd mention it because his services truly are what makes it possible for me to shoot. If not, I just literally would not have the time to process brass, load, and shoot. You may welcome the time involved in brass prep but many don't.
    Have checked out his thread several times. Probably take a hard look at it once the novelty wears off.
     

    MarinePMI

    Ban Cat Handler
    Staff member
    Moderator
    Commercial Supporter
    Full Member
    Minuteman
  • Jun 3, 2010
    7,784
    11,081
    San Diego, Ca
    Just use your Hornady brass. WIth good case prep you won't see a difference between it and Lapua.

    Lapua is just less (initial) prep.

    If you're not shooting matches, then you can "upgrade" to Lapua brass later.

    If you are shooting matches, I'd recommend just staying with Hornady. I understand why people do it (use Lapua), but at matches nothing is worse than being "that guy" chasing down that one piece of Lapua brass that bounced in between a prop, or under barricade, because it costs a $1 a piece. Also, some matches are "lost brass" matches as well, and you'll be lucky if you get 2/3's of your brass back after the match (assuming you go through the hassle of marking it uniquely).

    BTW: Lost brass matches mean you leave your brass at the station, and then the RO's/MD's gather all the brass at the end of the match, dump it all in a big pile, and let shooters sort though it for their specifically marked brass. Sometimes people will use the same marking scheme as you, so brass tends to go missing in these types of matches. They do it to speed up the squads through the stages, so they're not slowing things down by stopping to retrieve their spent brass at each and every stage. (Sometimes as an RO, when we're running behind schedule, it drives me nuts when people tie up a station for 2-3 mins looking for that last single piece of brass they lost)

    Anyways, depending on if you're planning to shoot matches, that may alter your decision on which brass to use. Just something to consider...
     

    hlee

    Sergeant
    Full Member
    Minuteman
  • Jul 14, 2012
    8,411
    11,241
    44
    TX
    Just use your Hornady brass. WIth good case prep you won't see a difference between it and Lapua.

    Lapua is just less (initial) prep.

    If you're not shooting matches, then you can "upgrade" to Lapua brass later.

    If you are shooting matches, I'd recommend just staying with Hornady. I understand why people do it (use Lapua), but at matches nothing is worse than being "that guy" chasing down that one piece of Lapua brass that bounced in between a prop, or under barricade, because it costs a $1 a piece. Also, some matches are "lost brass" matches as well, and you'll be lucky if you get 2/3's of your brass back after the match (assuming you go through the hassle of marking it uniquely).

    BTW: Lost brass matches mean you leave your brass at the station, and then the RO's/MD's gather all the brass at the end of the match, dump it all in a big pile, and let shooters sort though it for their specifically marked brass. Sometimes people will use the same marking scheme as you, so brass tends to go missing in these types of matches. They do it to speed up the squads through the stages, so they're not slowing things down by stopping to retrieve their spent brass at each and every stage. (Sometimes as an RO, when we're running behind schedule, it drives me nuts when people tie up a station for 2-3 mins looking for that last single piece of brass they lost)

    Anyways, depending on if you're planning to shoot matches, that may alter your decision on which brass to use. Just something to consider...
    A 'good squad' will have a couple of guys that will step up to 'brass hound' while the shooter shoots. I bring my son for that duty, but he gets to shoot while I grab his brass- so we're even.
     

    lumberjack78

    Private
    Minuteman
    Supporter+
  • Apr 24, 2019
    66
    23
    Short brass life and loose primer pockets are a sign of excessive pressure. Read it again.

    If you stick to <= 65,000psi loads, Hornady, Federal, Remington, and Winchester (AKA "Cheap junk") brass with neck anneal cycles will usually last 15-25 firings using a .002" shoulder bump in an FL size die before the body thins out and your risk case head separations. Lapua, Peterson, Alpha, etc... will handle the 70-80ksi loads better, but that doesn't make it a smart plan.

    I'd probably guess that Lapua, Peterson, Alpha... are more consistent lot-to-lot, but segregating lots is a good plan regardless of who makes the cases. Back in the day I got burned mixing lots of Lapua .260 cases that were definitely not the same. I try to buy a barrel's worth of all components of the same lot at a time to mitigate the frustration of "batch" performance variation.

    I have not seen dramatic performance differences between brands of brass in terms of MV ES/SD or accuracy, personally. I've seen wonky results from military cases (may have been mixed lots but was all stamped the same year of production), especially eastern European steel cases, but all of the new commercial brass stuff is good with rare exception. I personally don't think the gucci stuff is worth the premium. YMMV, but I like losing Hornady or Remington cases on the range or at a match much more than Lapuas.
    I broke in a barrel one time just for fun with one single piece of Hornady Brass. Almost book max charge of H4350 in 6.5 CM and it now has 21 firings on it. It will still hold a primer for a couple more shots. No annealing either, and no cracks.
     
    Last edited:
    • Like
    Reactions: Ledzep

    hlee

    Sergeant
    Full Member
    Minuteman
  • Jul 14, 2012
    8,411
    11,241
    44
    TX
    I broke in a barrel one time just for fun with one single piece of Hornady Brass. Almost book charge of H4350 in 6.5 CM and it now has 21 firings on it. It will still hold a primer for a couple more shots. No annealing either, and no cracks.
    Sure, but the bullet from a "full-house" 6.5 manbun won't even make it through the weave of a cotton tee shirt...
     

    MarinePMI

    Ban Cat Handler
    Staff member
    Moderator
    Commercial Supporter
    Full Member
    Minuteman
  • Jun 3, 2010
    7,784
    11,081
    San Diego, Ca
    A 'good squad' will have a couple of guys that will step up to 'brass hound' while the shooter shoots. I bring my son for that duty, but he gets to shoot while I grab his brass- so we're even.
    There is that. But often times I get a lot of the new people in my squads. No complaints with that, as I like helping new shooters that are getting into the sport. That being said, I don't always end up with a helpful squad. <shrug> Just how it goes sometimes I suppose...just sucks when we're running late, or I end up with a heavy squad (as large or larger than others).

    But you do bring up a good point worth iterating to those reading this thread, who may be new to the sport.
     

    Simonsza1

    Private
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Feb 27, 2014
    1,448
    1,070
    There is that. But often times I get a lot of the new people in my squads. No complaints with that, as I like helping new shooters that are getting into the sport. That being said, I don't always end up with a helpful squad. <shrug> Just how it goes sometimes I suppose...just sucks when we're running late, or I end up with a heavy squad (as large or larger than others).

    But you do bring up a good point worth iterating to those reading this thread, who may be new to the sport.
    Not bad when there new right? But dam when you have a squad of seasoned shooters that sit on there ass it’s terrible. Not so bad I guess in prs but the disciplines of shooting that require pasting and target resets I want to punch those idiots right in the mouth. No one gets more angry then my wife. She’ll straight yell at guys at uspsa matches to get off there asses!
     

    DownhillFromHere

    Aim > Impact > Take a Nap
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Nov 30, 2017
    1,189
    1,323
    Swabbing toilets in a sports bar after a game. Just what I’m looking for…
    Heh. I loved it (reloading) when I started - shotshells in the 1960s and pistol/basic hunting rifle ten years later. Precision rifle started about four years ago. My quip about the "chore" aspect must be taken with a chunk of salt... call it being jaded after 50+ years of fun. I'm retired now and have ample time (and, blessedly, budget) to mess with it.

    Developing that perfect load for a rifle can be a rewarding and entertaining pursuit - the trick is avoid Perpetual Load Development Syndrome wherein one is always chasing a little more perfection!
     

    700rem

    Private
    Minuteman
    Aug 7, 2020
    29
    13
    When I started reloading a couple years ago I bought once fired Lake City brass for my .308 & .223 lots of work to prep aside from my OCD.

    Started loading 6.5 with a ton of range pickup Hornady brass, same OCD. Shoots good enough for my needs.

    That being said I have a 1/2 dozen boxes of Lapua in each caliber on the shelf for when the time comes.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: Familydude

    Tengo1

    Sergeant
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Dec 7, 2010
    239
    60
    Las Vegas, NV
    0585B8AD-B824-45BF-A234-4766C9AEB897.jpeg
    6D7A1FFA-E8A6-4103-A895-2A1C25037918.jpeg


    I’m in your same boat OP. I have probably 1,000 once fired factory Hornday brass and just got into reloading in the last 6 months. My view is I’d rather “learn from my mistakes” on the cheap brass I already own before I upgrade to Lapua. But as you can see from the two pics above, my Hornday brass is providing very good SD and is holding sub 1/2 MOA in my rifle.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: Familydude

    Average guy

    Low IQ truth teller
    Supporter
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Supporter+
  • Dec 25, 2018
    2,193
    3,596
    There’s nothing wrong with Hornady brass. I’ve shot many great groups at 100 yards using it. I cut my teeth shooting at distance with a 6.5 and Hornady brass. I’ve since moved on in subsequent rifles but it’s a solid budget option.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: Familydude

    Mario1961

    Private
    Minuteman
    Aug 21, 2020
    37
    9
    Just getting into reloading. Don’t know anything other than what I’ve heard and read here and there. I’m finding that it’s not cheap, but there are decent deals on tools and equipment.

    Most appealing to me would be a new hobby, convenience and availability. Especially in CA. Many places won’t ship ammo here (no, I’m not moving as nutty/stupid as this place can be. Born/raised here, family including grandchildren are here).

    I don’t compete but may in the future. I’m shooting approx 100 rds of factory Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor 140 ELDm per month. I have always saved the brass however;

    It’s my understanding that Hornady brass isn’t great for reloading. I’ve read that on average, one can get 5-8 firings from Hornady brass compared to 20-30 from Lapua.

    So, stick with the Hornady brass of which I’ll have plenty and possibly deal with some of the issues I’ve read and heard about (loose primers, greater deviations, etc) or, invest in Lapua brass for what could be longevity, less headache and accuracy?

    Thanks for any input.
    At this point with certain calibers impossible to find use what you can find. Lapua is the gold standard but I have had great results with Hornady, Starline, and even Sig Sauer. The 6.5 PRC for example is next to impossible to find brass. So I buy loaded Hornady factory and reload it. Thats all there is. In the end the way it is now load what you can find. Good luck and welcome to the world of reloading!
     
    • Like
    Reactions: Familydude

    Hawk in WY

    Private
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Sep 20, 2013
    698
    360
    Jackson Hole, WY
    If you have several hundred Hornady fired cases, process the brass including trimming then sort into 2-grain groups. Keep those groups together for the life of the brass and you will have close to Lapua results.

    You only have to do this once and the results are significant.

    Before anyone takes us down a rabbit hole, the correlation between case weight from the same manufacturer and internal capacity is over 90%.

    Good luck.
     

    Rocketmandb

    Major Hide Member
    Full Member
    Minuteman
  • Nov 2, 2018
    1,716
    1,663
    This. I started on Hornady and ran them till primers dropped out. I now run Lapua and know the differences.


    Me: Let's go shooting next weekend.
    Friend: Sounds great! Can I shoot your 300 PRC?
    Me: Sure thing. I'll load up an extra 20.

    [spend time prepping Hornady brass, annealing, sizing]
    [start priming - primers won't stick in 15 of them - no time to prep to replace]

    Me: I can maybe let you shoot 10
    Friend: :(
     

    Im2bent

    Old Salt
    Full Member
    Minuteman
  • Jun 30, 2020
    2,573
    3,614
    Me: Let's go shooting next weekend.
    Friend: Sounds great! Can I shoot your 300 PRC?
    Me: Sure thing.Go buy as much ammo as you want to shoot.


    Friend: :(
    FIFY. I used to let friends shoot up my ammo when it was dirt cheap to reload and not an expensive caliber to shoot. Not anymore.
     

    TheNatural21

    Private
    Minuteman
  • May 30, 2020
    56
    21
    Just shoot the Hornady. Lapua is better, but that few hundred bucks for top shelf brass when you're just starting out would be better spent on quality case prep tools and reloading equipment.
     

    acudaowner

    Two Star General
    Full Member
    Minuteman
    Dec 26, 2018
    7,759
    6,126
    6th reload with non annealed hornady cheap brass and it's still looks as good as new and shoots like it did when I first got it except with better speed and sd's can't wait to try it with the annealing step added in to have something to compare it to . and it was 1/3rd the cost of either the alpha or the lapua , or peterson all of which are on the shelf till this hornady is used up .