I recently weighed 100 pieces of brand new Lapua 223 Remington “Match” brass, and honestly I’m disappointed. A few people have been telling me how good Lapua brass was, so I was simply expecting more consistency than what I found. It didn’t stack up well compared to some Norma brass I weighed recently … although the overall quality appears to be good. In fact, it wasn’t much different than weight distribution of some super-cheap, once-fired Remington 223 brass I bought for 1/5 of the price (the average deviation of the Lapua brass was actually higher). Here is the resulting data for the Lapua brass, so you can compare for yourself:
- Average = 96.28 grains
- Standard Deviation = 0.70 grains
- Average Deviation = 0.58 grains (average of the absolute deviations of the data points from the mean)
- Variance = 0.50
- Extreme Spread = 3.3 grains
- Extreme Spread as % of total weight = 3.4% (this is not great)
All data was gathered using a RCBS ChargeMaster 1500 Powder Scale, which is accurate to +- 1/10 grain and was calibrated right before use.
For match grade ammo, I only use brass that is within 1% of each other in terms of weight. That means for this wide, flat distribution I ended up with two groups of brass and each contained a little over 1% weight variation. If I would have known the majority wasn’t going to group nicely in one big group … I probably would have either bought more from the same lot so I would’ve had bigger groups to work with, or knowing what I know now … I might have just bought Norma brass instead. I’m still hoping the Lapua brass quality wins me over in the end, but for now here are the groups I’m left with:
- Group A: 48 pieces of brass weighing 95.1 gr through 96.2 gr
- Group B: 48 pieces of brass weighing 96.3 gr through 97.3
On a good note, after running all the brass through a Redding full-length sizing die, I only had to trim 37% of the cases. The 223 Rem trim to length is 1.750″ (max 1.760″), and 63% of the factory fresh cases were right at 1.751″ … which is right where I like them to be. The cases I had to trim originally measured 1.753″ to 1.758″.
Neck Wall Thickness
I measured the neck thickness of several cases using a RCBS Vernier Ball Micrometer (accurate to .0001″), and although many seemed to be concentric (averaging around .13″ all the way around the neck) … I did find enough cases that varied from .120″ to .130″ from one side to the other that I decided to go ahead and neck trim. This wasn’t a huge deal, since I was already used to doing this for the el-cheapo brass I’ve used in the past … I was just hoping I wouldn’t have to do it with “match brass.” It’s not that I’m lazy, but I believe if you find variation in the case neck wall thickness there is likely similar variation in the shoulder and body thickness as well. Here is a “Tech Talk” excerpt from Redding’s 2012 Product Catalog on the subject:
Uniformity of case neck wall thickness is an indication of the quality of the cartridge case itself. Any large variation (over .0015”) in neck wall thickness will generally indicate a similar or greater variation in the body and shoulder of the case. This variation cannot be corrected and may lead to concentricity and bullet runout problems.
Most competition shooters that have been forced to turn necks to properly fit “tight neck” chambers will confirm the following: “Turning the necks of poor quality cases will not solve the problems associated with the poor uniformity that remains within the shoulder and body of the case.”
As in all handloading practices – uniformity is the key to accuracy.
Lapua .223 Rem Match Brass Cases, Unprimed, 100 Count
Mfr Part #: 4PH5003
Lot #: P00596501 (Purchased July 2012)