At a Glance: Best Types Of Unfired Reloading Brass
- OUR TOP PICK: Lapua Brass Cases
- RUNNER UP: Peterson Cartridge Brass Cases
- BEST BUDGET OPTION: Norma Brass Cases
Comparison of Best Reloading Brass
Our Top Pick
|Lapua Brass Cases||
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Our Top Pick
|Peterson Cartridge Brass Cases||
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|Norma Brass Cases||
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One of the reasons shooters are drawn to reloading is because of the ability to control the individual components in their rounds. But it’s not just the powder and bullets you choose which determine how precise your shooting will be, the type of brass cases you work with is equally important.
Here Are The 5 Types Of Brass Cases That Will Uplevel Your Reloading Game
The brass you use can influence the accuracy of your reloads substantially, particularly in long-range shooting. To get the most precise shot, you’ll need to be using the best reloading brass there is. Even if you just fire pistol cartridges, choosing high-quality brass will make a big difference. If you’re looking to improve your reloads it’s worth upgrading to the best reloading brass that you can buy.
Lapua Brass Cases
I have found Lapua cases to be strong and consistently precise. Lapua is great at producing cases that can be reloaded many times and they even guarantee that the cases can be reloaded 10 times each at a minimum. I can vouch for this as I’ve reloaded my 308 cases 10 times and the primer pockets are only now starting to loosen a little.
The base section of the case is hard and strong, helping to hold the primers tight in the primer pocket even after many reloads. The brass bodies are also hard and resilient and I found them to be easy to extract after firing, for both full-length sizing and neck sizing.
These cases are one of the most expensive options on the list but if you consider the number of times they can be reused, they’re certainly not bad value for money. As well as being long-lasting and strong cases, they are popular because of their consistency too. Consumer tests have shown that the average deviation between each case is only 0.31 grams.
So, if you’re looking for strong brass shells that will give you consistent accuracy in every round and last a long time, Lapua cases are for you.
- Manufacturer guarantee of 10 rounds minimum
- Great consistency
- Made from premium materials
- Strong, hard, consistent cases
- Quite an expensive purchase
Peterson Cartridge Brass Cases
The folks at Peterson use cutting-edge technology to manufacture their brass cases. The Peterson factory produces its brass on a new, state-of-the-art case line which results in some of the most precise and consistent cases on the market.
I’ve used these American-made reloading cases for competitive shooting and hunting, and they worked great for both. I found them to be extremely consistent in quality and weight. I weighed all 50 brass and only 1/50 was 1 grain heavier than the rest! But that’s not the best part…
The longevity of Peterson’s cases is just incredible. I used them for 25 load cycles and the cases remained intact with no cracks. They had only opened very slightly but remained tight enough to continue using.
This Brass is available with either a standard large rifle primer pocket or a small rifle primer pocket, giving improved powder ignition and possibly higher velocities.
- Manufactured with state-of-the-art technology
- Top marks for longevity, can be used over and over again
- Very consistent in quality and weight
- High-quality materials
- I could not find any!
Norma Brass Cases
Norma is another top brand on the market producing premium quality cases. Norma’s cases have excellent accuracy potential and are favored by many target shooters.
The case neck is annealed to become softer. Annealing extends brass life and makes neck tension more consistent, which improves accuracy. It also prevents gas leaks and enables the case to hold the bullet firmly. The case body is harder to avoid unnecessary stretching, but not too hard to risk cracking. Furthest down, around the primer pocket, the brass is super firm, nearly twice as hard as the neck.
Norma’s Winchester unprimed cases are produced in Sweden and feature a chamfered and deburred case mouth and a punched flash hole. I have used them for match-grade loads and found them to be very consistent load to load.
- Extreme accuracy
- Great consistency
- Thick and durable brass
- Not American Made
Starline Brass Cases
Starline has more than 40 years of experience in producing cartridge cases for premium performance. Starline’s cases are built to last and are more robust than other brands.
I was very impressed with how well-constructed and thick this brass is. The thickness means they can hold up for many loads and are also a little heavier. However, these cases are not the easiest to load, and you may need to use a press to do so. Starline brass is annealed at the shoulder and neck, improving accuracy and performance.
Some reloaders have reported a slight case volume difference between Starline and other brands of brass which is something to be aware of if you already have a load developed.
- Thick, tough material
- Reasonably priced
- Available in both small and large primer pockets
- You may need to slightly modify any loads you already have developed
Hornady Brass Cases
Hornady’s manufacturing processes ensure consistent bullet seating and uniform bullet release for optimal velocity and accuracy. The cases are put through a thorough pressure-testing process to ensure even results, generating uniform concentricity.
Another thing I like about Hornady’s brass range is that every case is hand-inspected. I checked my Hornady cases and was impressed as none of them had dents or out-of-shape case mouths. Furthermore, when testing, I found Hornady’s cases to be the easiest to load with no difficulty with pressing or weakness of grip.
These are surprisingly one of the cheapest cases on the list and although these shells do not have as many unique or cool features as some of the others, they still provide high quality and value for money.
- Premium quality
- Thorough pressure-testing process
- Great value for money
- Sturdy and durable
- Trimming may be required as length can be slightly irregular
What Is Reloading Brass?
- A brass case is an empty metal cylindrical container that is used to hold a primer, powder, and bullet, forming a ready-to-fire cartridge.
- If you choose to reload your ammunition rather than purchase new, factory-loaded cartridges you will need empty brass cases.
- These empty cases are used to assemble new cartridges by loading the individual components yourself.
Should I Buy Brass Or Use My Empties?
Keeping your empty cases after firing to reload and reuse them is a cost-effective way to reload. However, these brass cases can only be reused a certain number of times before they lose accuracy and become unsafe. Therefore, at some point, it will become necessary to buy more cartridge cases to reload.
Buying new cases does make your reloading process somewhat more expensive, but the savings of reloading are still significant. The benefits of using high-quality once-fired brass also make the additional expense worth it.
Most experienced hand loaders will agree that an accurate load starts with a quality brass case. Therefore, if you’re serious about refining your shooting and getting the most accurate shots, buying new brass will be the best option for you.
Many reloaders get their brass by picking it up at a local range. If you are looking for the best reloading brass, this is not recommended. Here’s why:
- Getting cases from a range will likely result in a mixed bag of different manufacturers’ brass. This will prevent you from getting the most consistency and accuracy from your reloads.
- You don’t know how many times the cases have been fired, and how many loads you will get out of them.
- Cases will also be of different weights.
So, it is always best to buy reloading brass from a reputable and well-known industry manufacturer which will ensure quality, consistency, and accuracy.
Brand New Brass Versus Once-fired Brass
Brand new brass means factory-made brass shell casings that have not been fired before. Once-fired brass is almost new brass that has been fired just once before selling.
There are more benefits to purchasing once-fired brass cases than brand new ones. In most instances, it’s only beneficial to go for brand new brass if you are looking for ammunition that is hard to find. A lot of specialty ammunition can only be brought from manufacturers as brand new brass.
Here are a few more key differences between the two types of brass cases:
Brand New Brass
- Brand new brass can be less consistent than once fired as it hasn’t been stressed yet.
- The first firing with brand new brass will usually be good but the accuracy will improve much more after three or four firings.
- Brand new brass is significantly more expensive than once-fired.
Once Fired Brass
- Once-fired is generally more accurate as it has been fire-formed to your exact chamber dimension. The pressure exerted from the discharge expands the brass to fit the contours of the chamber.
- With once-fired brass, you get great, consistent firings straight away.
- Once-fired cartridge cases are less expensive than newly manufactured ones, with discounts ranging from 30% to 60% off the retail price.
How To Choose The Best Reloading Brass
Just like with all aspects of reloading, when looking for the best reloading brass on the market there are various things that you’ll need to take into consideration. Let’s discuss the top 3 things to consider:
While there are a lot of low quality, unbranded brass cases on the market, if you are looking for the best reloading brass that will improve your accuracy and performance then you should only buy from reputable and well-known manufacturers. All the manufacturers reviewed on this list produce brass to the highest quality and are well-trusted companies in the industry.
Aside from using reviews and articles to find the most reputable companies, speaking with other reloaders you know, and asking who they purchase their brass from and why, can help you find the best reloading brass for you.
This is the key factor that separates the good manufacturers from the bad ones. Slight differences in the case size can impact the bullet’s speed and pressure, affecting accuracy. A good brass case will be virtually identical to all the other cases in the same batch.
Therefore, for consistently in your shooting, you’ll want to buy from a manufacturer that is known for producing uniform brass. This is especially important for long-range shooting where accuracy is essential.
Value For Money
With brass cases, value for money is not just determined by the price per individual case or per box. What is most important is the lifespan of the cases, which is how many rounds you can get out of each one. It’s usually worth paying a slightly higher price for cases that will last 20+ firings rather than save a few bucks for cases that last less than 10 shots. Whilst the initial price per case is higher, the value per case will be better.
Another thing to consider with pricing is buying in bulk. Brass can be bought in different quantities, usually ranging from 50 to 500. In many instances, the bigger the box you buy, the lower the price per case.
How To Prepare Brass For Reloading
Once you’ve got your new cases, you are probably wondering about preparing your brass for reloading. Here is a step by step guide on this specific part of the reloading process:
- First, check the brass for any damage or defects. Inspect for dents in the shoulder, splits in the neck, and primer flash holes that are punched off-center.
- Resize the necks of the cases to reform them to the correct shape. You will need case lube and a sizing die for this step.
- You may need to trim each case to a uniform length and square the case mouth. There are two ways to do this, by hand, or with an electric case trimmer.
- After trimming, chamfer and deburr the mouth.
- Clean up and cut the primer pockets if needed.
- Weigh the cases to check the consistency.
- Measure and record the dimensions of the case’s shoulder to head length to ensure uniformity.
That’s it! You’re now ready to start pouring powder and seating bullets.
So, What Is The Best Reloading Brass That Money Can Buy?
This was not an easy choice as all the brass cases I reviewed were such high quality and from reputable and trusted brands. However, I would have to say that for me, the Peterson brass is the best reloading brass to buy. The main reason for this is that I simply could not fault it, I literally could not find anything bad about it!
The state-of-the-art technology that Petersons use at their factory is a cut above the rest. The precision and consistency these cases give are impeccable and I love how their high-quality brass works great for both competitive shooting and hunting. With Peterson, I really do not need to buy brass from anywhere else.
In my testing process, these cases were the best for longevity too, as they were still perfectly intact after 20 firings. Considering this, and their reasonable sale price, they are hands down the best value for money brass cases on the market, as well as the highest quality and most accurate.
A close runner up to Petersons brass is Lapua. The quality and consistency of Lapua’s brass is spectacular. The premium materials which are used, produce the strongest and toughest brass shells you can find. Certainly a great contender!
I hope this guide gives you some clear direction of how the brass you use can affect your shooting, and how to choose the best quality brass for precision and consistency.
I have been a hand loader for fifty years. The best brass I have used is RWS. Now common, not cheap, but hands-down the best. Norma and Lapua come in on the second tier. Most US and European commercial brass is good to work with. CBC (Brazilian) brass goes straight to the brass recycling bin