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Best Reloading Brass: Comparison of Manufacturer Uniformity

Many handloaders believe an accurate load starts with quailty brass.  The more uniform the brass, the better accuracy you can expect.  So there are a lot of questions that commonly arise:

  1. What is the best brass?
  2. Should I use “once fired” or “military surplus” brass?
  3. Is quality of Lapua brass really worth the added cost?

I stumbled upon some info on 6mmBR.com about a year ago containing some data that can be used to compare of brass uniformity between manufacturers.  I’ve tried to refer back to article several times … but I always have a hard time finding it again, because it is buried in the middle of post with a lot of other info.  Since it was so helpful, I thought I would summarize the findings here, and include some additional data visualizations to make it easier to “see” the difference (rather than just looking at a table full of numbers).

All of this data is for 223 Remington brass, which makes this an easy apple-to-apples comparison … but the findings are likely representative of what you would find with other cartridges as well.

ManufacturerSample SizeAvg Weight (gr)Extreme Spread (gr)Standard Deviation (gr)
Lapua10093.351.20.31
Hornady5093.881.70.43
Lake City ’045092.972.50.61
WCC 995095.52.90.74
Federal5096.282.30.75
Remington5092.334.90.85
Winchester4493.916.50.96
PMC2093.484.61.36

The chart below illustrates the two most important criteria from these findings:

  • Standard Deviation – Probably the most useful measure, because it essentially indicates how similar the weights were from one another (uniformity = accuracy).  In general, standard deviation (SD) indicates how much variation or “dispersion” exists from the average.  A low standard deviation indicates that the data points tend to be very close to the average, whereas a high standard deviation indicates the data points are spread out over a large range of values.
  • Extreme Spread – Indicates the maximum difference found within the data points (i.e. the weight of the heaviest piece of brass minus the weight of the lightest piece of brass).

Brass Weight Variation by Manufacturer

Here is a link to the article on 6mmBR.com containing the original information: http://www.6mmbr.com/223Rem.html

About Cal

Cal Zant is the shooter/author behind PrecisionRifleBlog.com. Cal is a life-long learner, and loves to help others get into this sport he's so passionate about. His engineering background, unique data-driven approach, and ability to present technical and complex information in a unbiased and straight-forward fashion has quickly caught the attention of the industry. For more info on Cal, check out PrecisionRifleBlog.com/About.

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2 comments

  1. Red Dragon Brass

    Great data. but I must admit the most inaccurated part of my hand loads is me especially shooting a pistol off hand at a range. Also when I’m shooting my 22/250 in mojave with a 25 MPH cross wind I really would never know if my groups at 100 yards are .5 inches or .95 inches

    • Great point! That is EXACTLY what drove me to analyze the Cost of Handloading vs Factory Match Ammo, and the catalyst behind the whole “How Much Does It Matter?” series of posts that I’m currently publishing. There are lots of factors that play into whether a bullet connects with it’s intended target, and the consistency of ammo is just one part of that. When we are trying to weigh powder down the nearest kernel, or carrying out the overall length or concentricity to the 4th decimal place … we might be giving that part of the equation more attention than it deserves.

      Man, I’ve avoided using this analogy, because it’s a little crude, but it’s so fitting: Sometimes handloading can be like masturbation … it might make us feel good, but it isn’t getting us anywhere. 😉 Hope that doesn’t offend anyone. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to think of a better way to say that, but nothing says it as clear as that.

      Thanks,
      Cal