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Anybody Make Odd/Obsolete Brass?


I used to make .30 Mauser out of .223 brass and have just unpacked a couple of hundred rounds I made (about 30 years ago). Now I have more Tokarovs and C96's that eat this stuff ... it's time to make some more.

Problem is ... I can't find my notes/manual - it's been about 30 years since I last did this - my boys are taking over now and want to do this.

They also want to make some more hard to find/expensive brass out of 30-06. ie.7.7 Jap, 35 Remington, 8mm-06., .338-06, .35 Whelen, 7-30 Waters (from 30-30), etc.

I used to have a manual - long since loaned out and forgotten that had the step by step directions & specs.

Anyone know of a website or manual devoted to this kind of stuff? [8D]


  • chunkstylechunkstyle Member Posts: 2,463 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I used to make .30 Tok from .223, too. But now that Starline makes it for about $17/100, it's not really worth my time.
  • zipperzapzipperzap Member Posts: 25,057
    edited November -1
    Well, they want so much (different kinds) of brass I think they are going to go for it!
    What reference did you use?[8D]
  • nononsensenononsense Member Posts: 10,934 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1

    Converting standard brass to either wildcat or obsolete cases isn't difficult but it can be time consuming and requires pre-planning and some plain old screwing around with die set ups, lubrication and a lot preparation through reading.

    I would get the boys 2 books right off the bat:

    "The Handloaders Manual of Cartridge Conversions" by John J. Donnelly "Designing and Forming Custom Cartridges" Book by Ken Howell

    Both books have well written introductions to the processes required, as well as descriptions of some of the handier tools and dies set ups. The remainder of each book is taken up with the cartridge drawings themselves and short descriptions of how to make them.

    My first adventures with conversions were because of the Ackley books which are marvelously rich with information, photographs and data for hundreds of cartridges. The Ackley books do not contain drawings though and I was forced to find another source for those.

    I stumbled onto the Donnelly book through an acquaintance and since it was the only source available that I was aware of, I read it (consumed it) through several times. This is long before computers and the internet made some of these things more readily available. While it's certainly a huge undertaking and an incredible resource, be aware that some of the measurements are not exact because they were made from existing cases, which can be difficult to measure accurately and there are variations to wildcats, of course. Donnelly does give mostly accurate case volumes. The drawings themselves are not to scale and you have to look at a reference list for the dimensions but I don't consider any of these things to be drawbacks, just small hurdles to overcome. My first copy is so heavily annotated and worn that I had to get another copy to keep on my desk.

    The Howell book is full of absolutely beautiful cartridge drawings done in AutoCAD with the dimensions on each drawing. The only real criticism that I have for this author is that he used a portion of the AutoCAD program to calculate the volume of the cartridge cases, but the volume is derived from the outside dimensions not the interior true volume. So be very careful about using that piece of data for anything, it's basically worthless.

    Other than that, pick one cartridge at a time and use several good search engines and scour the internet for articles from magazines and descriptions from some of the better bulletin boards and forums. Wolfe Publishing has several books that are well worth the investment for use as resources to go along with this process. "Wildcat Cartridges vol. I & II" would be first on my list.

    You may need to build a couple of things to help with case forming. JustC made an annealing tool for some of his work. He has some photos and I'm sure that he will share if asked. The main thing to concentrtate on is collecting die sets. You can never have enough die sets for conversion. It's a sickness, a perversion, one that you never outgrow. If you stay with the simpler conversions like the '06 based cases, you won't need many and sometimes the bodies will do double duty without buying a new set of dies. I even convert some of the dies to use bushings in order to save buying necking dies all the time.

    None of the cartridge cases you list are hard, in fact most will be a simple run through a die and go fireform. Ask if you get stuck.

  • zipperzapzipperzap Member Posts: 25,057
    edited November -1
    nononsense: Thanks a LOT for spending the time to give us a hand. Your efforts are very much appreciated!

    I was able to buy recent editions of your suggested books;
    "The Handloaders Manual of Cartridge Conversions" by John J. Donnelly
    "Designing and Forming Custom Cartridges" Book by Ken Howell

    ABEbooks has scored another $100+ BUT I think they are exactly what I was looking for. Thanks! :D]

    I have pretty much a never ending supply of the common brass - my youngest son works for a large local range and has the pick of what ever he finds/wants in the day's sweepings. Unfortunately, the 7-30 Waters and 45-70's, .45 Rem. Mag's, etc., are few and far in between - if ever. As I recall, making brass used to be rather therapeutic, as well. Anyway, thanks for the tips - if there is anything I can do for you, let me know.

    We have a rather large die collection - I had just about all I need and my younger brother left me all of his, too. The 7.7 and a few others I can't think of offhand are the only ones (2 or 3) I need at this time. Everything else, I've got in duplicate, triplicate or better.

    I'll give JustC a shout - I was going to ask around about annealing tool for some of the handgun brass, as well! Pretty psychic!

    You'll probably be hearing from us again, if you don't mind, once we really get started. We're still unpacking a lot of the equipment - this is only about half of it (photos below + plus the temp reloading bench) - the other half will be unpacked by Monday! Obviously, time for some swapmeet sales!

    Thanks again!






  • nononsensenononsense Member Posts: 10,934 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1

    Ya gotta love Abe's Books and Ray Riling's Arms Books for those hard to find titles. It's good that you found those two as used, they're worth their weight in gold for conversion fanatics.

    I think I've collected somewhere around 300 die sets over the last few years but that doesn't include the individual dies that I've made instead of buying the so-called "custom" dies. Some of the conversion dies are best made for the arbor press style and work better than the threaded dies. Maybe they aren't as fast but I usually don't have the problem of concentricity that can occur with the threaded dies.

    I'm always willing to help. Use my e-mail if that's more convenient.


    Nice stash of reloading stuff...
  • zipperzapzipperzap Member Posts: 25,057
    edited November -1
    quote:Ya gotta love Abe's Books and Ray Riling's Arms Books

    Never heard of Ray Riling;s Arms Books (which don't mean nuttin). I've always used Abebooks - and never been stumped! They always have a very nice selection of whatever I want! ... however, I bought the second to last "Designing and Forming Custom Cartridges" by Ken Howell, earlier today!

    Well, you certainly win the 'die game' - I've got a lot ... but nothing like THAT! Back when I was into it, dies were much more expensive and harder to find used. Between the net and local gun shows I have almost all I need now.

    That 'stash' is a little less than half (I think) of what we are still discovering packed away, and long forgotten, by both my brother, and I. So far, we have only repalaced the 'old' tumbler - and that's what it was - with a new Lyman 1200 (vibrater) and the Lyman 1200 DPS electronic measure. The 'range master' son gets a pretty heafty discount where he works so I guess we're going with Lyman until/unless we ahve problems with it.

  • jonkjonk Member Posts: 10,121
    edited November -1
    I could have sworn that I replied to this topic already, but apparently it didn't go through. has a lot of the calibers you cite in stock, at quite reasonable prices. While several can, of course, be made out of 06 brass, sometimes it is nice to have the factory stuff too; and in the case of the .30 Mauser, it is just a pain to cut up and thin .223 brass I would think.
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