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Just because something is legal to do doesn't mean it is the smart thing to do.
Been reloading pistol ammo for several years but gonna try my hand at rifle.
Starting on a bunch of 556 & 223 cases and want to know if I need to anneal every time I reload them.
I have 3 or 4 books on reloading but none of them really gives any insight on the frequency.

Integrity is doing the right thing, even when nobody is looking.
Posts: 3914 | Location: Metamora MI | Registered: October 31, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I discuss annealing in my stickied thread on this forum. The quick answer to your question is do not bother with annealing your cases until you get into many loading cycles per case.

I have gone full circle on annealing and given that my chamber is very tight and that I use a bushing die and do very little work on the cases at every loading, I am now eschewing annealing (not doing it.) I have not noticed a difference on target at 1000 yards or on the pressure needed to seat the bullets.

Also, since we have electronic targets, I get a velocity at the target, along with an SD and I'm still within single digits or teens in SD at the target. That is due to the wind and conditions rather than the load. I have mid to low single digits SD at the muzzle.

If you use regular dies you will want to anneal after maybe 4 or 5 loadings, certainly not every one.
Posts: 3377 | Location: Texas | Registered: June 20, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Annealing for an AR platform is likely to offer little to no benefit.

Annealing is intended to lessen "work hardening". The more the case is manipulated the harder the brass becomes. So the more resizing and firing occurs the harder the case neck and shoulder becomes. Ultimately the case shoulder or neck will split.

How many cycles?? It is nonpredictable.

In the AR platform, I would surmise that the case life is 3-5 firings before the brass becomes suboptimal to continue using.


Duty is the sublimest word in the English Language - Gen Robert E Lee.
Posts: 844 | Registered: May 01, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Inconsistent or incorrect annealing is more of a issue than firing .223 brass 4-6 cycles. If loading hot for 5.56 level pressures, some primer pockets make it to 3-4 cycles. I anneal my .308 brass after 2-3 loads for consistent neck tension, I'm not sure accuracy is better...sometimes.

But again, doing it wrong means the brass is likely crap, maybe usable. .223, meh don't bother.
Posts: 1320 | Location: Montana | Registered: October 20, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Is it accurate to say that not annealing frequently enough will lead to case neck cracks, but annealing to often will cause case head failure/separation? In other words, is the downside of annealing that one can get case head separation?
Posts: 695 | Registered: June 02, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Not annealing will eventually lead to neck and shoulder cracks. This is due to case hardening of that area by "working" the brass. This includes firing and resizing.

Case head separation is due to thinning of the brass at for near the level of the case web. This is due to case length growing associated with firings.

So in a sense, yes, keeping the case neck/shoulder soft by annealing allows one to fire the case a greater number …. thus making it more likely to eventually have a case head separation.

I have 6Dasher competition brass that has had 20+ firings on it. They get annealed every time. And I've not had split necks and no case head separations. Knock on wood.

Hope this makes sense.


Duty is the sublimest word in the English Language - Gen Robert E Lee.
Posts: 844 | Registered: May 01, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Generally I only anneal when I'm reforming brass for wildcats, softening case mouths for black powder cartridge brass, or trying to make rare/expensive brass last longer.

There's no way in a million years I'd waste time doing on something as cheap and abundant (usually free) as .223/5.56 brass.

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Posts: 20210 | Location: 18th & Fairfax  | Registered: May 17, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Yeah, that M14 video guy...
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I anneal every couple of firings to avoid neck splits. I've found that if I don't anneal, I have neck splits before I have web thinning and case head separations.

But I'm also shooting M14's, so extraction is brutal and I don't load past 5 or 6 times.


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Posts: 5026 | Location: USA | Registered: February 13, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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