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January 30, 2007


Fire forming brass in a Handi Rifle.

This subject pertains mostly to the Handi rifle when fire forming for wild cats or even plain cases. The reason is the springy action or what can be termed as elastic expansion due to back thrust against the standing breech. This is be no means a permanent stretch. The action or the frame will handle the pressure. Also the welded under lug on the bottom of the chamber which is made of very soft steel will set back and create a gap in the standing breech in some rifles, killing accuracy.

The fixing of the gap is outlined in another feature on my web site, and so is the actual process of fire forming.

If you fire form with loaded ammo this is what happens. The primer will drive the case tight to the shoulder or against the bottom of the rim. Next the case will expand during maximum pressure and cling to the chamber walls. The rear part which is solid brass will not cling and is driven back against the standing breech taking up the head space and the gap. This will stretch the rear of the case only and will eventual separate at the pressure ring.

It is absolutely very important that the brass is lubricated with a light film of Crisco or a thin lube of some kind oily case lube. Do not use any lube with moly content, in either mode of inert filler or when bullets are used. A lubed case will stretch  from end to end and should result in a case with no head space and no weakening at the pressure ring. Once the case is fully stretched you have to maintain this length with your die for as close to zero head space you can get.

The Handi does not allow anything sticking out past the face of the barrel or you will get an incomplete closure which could result in opening of the rifle when so fired. The empty case could hit you in the face. Always wear shooting glasses.

One nice thing about the lubed brass is if there is initial head space more than you like, the case will fire form as long as you can ignite the primer. The lube will let the case fully expand

There is absolutely no need to fire form the cases with bullets. You should use Cream of wheat and a dose of 700x shotgun powder.  These loads are low noise and fairly low pressure and one or two can be tested in your basement.  A false shoulder on a rimmed case is not needed.

If you do want to use bullets to fire form you still need to lube the cases, otherwise you will end up with case head separation and reduced case life.

See my fire forming procedure on my other web page.

This will fire form the cases without head space. Most important in a Handi. Set your die to zero headspace minus no more than one or two thou. Cases will head space on the new shoulder for best case life not the rim. One other problem you may encounter is a springy loading press. Some of the cheap presses will spring the frame preventing accurate shoulder set back.


Fred The Reloader and Wildcatter