Shockbottle case guage and case lube

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Charles L. Cotton
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Shockbottle case guage and case lube

Postby Charles L. Cotton » Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:10 pm

I know a lot of folks are looking at the title of this thread and wondering what the two have to do with each other. Stick with me and you'll see.

I've used case gauges in the past, but not in the last thirty or forty years. Yes, when I was making my own self-defense ammo, every round went through a case gauge, but not practice and match ammo.

Case gauges were okay when I was loading relatively few rounds annually. Before I started shooting USPSA in the late 1970's, I probably didn't load more than two or three thousand a year. But when I started shooting USPSA matches and practicing for them, my ammo demand skyrocketed. Using a single cavity case gauge, or even a "large" one with seven holes, was far too much of a bottleneck in the overall ammo manufacturing process.

This prompted me to use the case gauge to test only one or two rounds per 100. I soon realized that was meaningless as it would only reasonably check to see if there was a die setting change in one or more of three dies; i.e. the resizing die, the bullet seating die, or the taper crimp die. Some very few cartridges can be faulty due to random factors like an out-of-spec bullet, case problem, etc. Checking only one or two cartridges per 100 would mean the odds against me catching that random "bad" round would be either 99 to 1, or 49 to 1. The bottom line was simple, either case gauge check all ammo or none. So I stopped using case gauges.

Fast forward forty years and I am again using a case gauge. In fact, I'm checking every single round that comes out of my Dillon presses. Using a Shockbottle 100 rd. case gauge, adds less than two minutes per 100 rds to the manufacturing process. It’s actually much closer to one minute.

Prior to getting the Shockbottle a few months ago, my standard QC process was to load until the low primer warning buzzer went off. This meant I had loaded 100 rds. I check the power charge, then put the 100 loaded rounds into a 100-rd Dillon box for storage. This allowed me to check for high primers, flipped primers, no primer, etc. When all but one of the Dillon ammo boxes were full, I then start putting the ammo in 30-cal. and 50-cal ammo cans. However, before dumping the rds into the ammo cans, I put them in the remaining 100-rd. ammo box to look for high primer, flipped primers, etc.

Using the Shockbottle means I simply put the 100 rds into it instead of a 100-rd ammo box. The rds that do not easily drop all the way into the Shockbottle are removed and put in a separate ammo bag that is used solely for practice and not in matches. I then replace any rds that had to be removed. Surprisingly, the failure rate has consistently been about 8% to 10%, but I’ve learned that the Shockbottle is very tight. This means that any round that passes the Shockbottle test should function properly in the tightest chamber. I’ve fired about 400 rds from the “practice only” ammo bag and I’ve not had a single failure to feed. Less than 1% of the time I find a round that is badly out of spec and it goes into a cull box to have the bullet pulled sometime in the far distant future. (Yeah right, that day will never come!!!)

The additional minute added to the manufacturing process by using a Shockbottle is the result of transferring the rds from the Shockbottle to a 100-rd ammo box, then from that ammo box to another 100-rd. ammo box. Why two transfers you may ask? It’s so the bullets will be pointed down rather than up. The Shockbottle is manufactured so that a 100-rd ammo box fits on it perfectly. You simply turn the two over, and the rds from from the Shockbottle fall into the ammo box. However, they are base down and nose up. That’s why I place another 100-rd ammo box on top and transfer them again.

Now for the case lube part of the story. I’ve used carbine dies for years meaning it is not necessary to put case lube on the brass before reloading. However, when dry case lube that does not require removal came out, I started lubing my brass anyway. This makes the reloading process much smoother and requires significantly less effort to operate the lever on the Dillon XL650’s.
By accident, I dumped about 200 rds of brass that had not been lubed into the Dillon case feeder. When they came up in the reloading process, I knew right away that they were not lubed. I decided to use all of them in the case feeder, then make sure to lube the remaining brass in that batch. When I put the loaded rds into the Shockbottle, the reject rate dropped from 8% to 10% to about 5%. If I had been experiencing failure to feed malfunctions using the “practice only” ammo, this change in failure rate would be significant. However, since I’m not having any problems shooting the reject rds, it’s only an interesting observation. I’ll keep using dry, spray-on case lube.

This has been a long post, but I want to let folks new to reloading know my history of using a case gauge. My suggestion is to get a Shockbottle and test every round you load. At $100, it may seem a bit steep. However, realize that making one requires the milling of 100 precision holes that are a precise distance apart. I’m sure a CNC machine is used, but the Shockbottle is still a precision instrument. Using a Shockbottle means that when I put two 100-rd ammo boxes into my shooting bag for a match, they are going to function properly. That’s a nice feeling.

Chas.

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flechero
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Re: Shockbottle case guage and case lube

Postby flechero » Thu Jun 08, 2017 10:01 am

So it's a 100 holed case gauge? I like it! As someone that still checks every round, I would appreciate the time savings as well. Heck, I paid over $20 for a single holed gauge... this looks like a bargain.

Thanks for posting this, Charles.


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Re: Shockbottle case guage and case lube

Postby rotor » Sat Jun 10, 2017 4:06 pm

Interesting and not a bad price considering what Wilson or Lyman gauges cost to check each cartridge. I watched the video and felt that there was a problem. If he puts the device on a flat surface the cartridges all pop up a little. To me this means COAL is too long. Might not be a problem for him but that's a factor in using a case gauge. I am not as sophisticated as you are Charles and don't Dillon but use a Lee turret and am much slower but I don't have anywhere near 5% not fitting a case gauge and I check everything since slow is slow. Is it normal to have more slightly out of spec shells with a progressive? Obviously they have not been a problem for you but I was just curious about that percentage out of spec.

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Re: Shockbottle case guage and case lube

Postby TexasJohnBoy » Sat Jun 10, 2017 4:29 pm

I check every loaded round in my Lyman single round gauge. Being able to to 100 at a time would be nothing short of fantastic. My single gauge cost me $20, so I don't think $100 is steep. 5x the price for 100x the checked rounds. Thanks for the post, it's valuable. I almost started loading without checking anything in a gauge until a guy I work with told me that could be a very bad idea, especially for someone new to the trade.
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Re: Shockbottle case guage and case lube

Postby Charles L. Cotton » Wed Jun 21, 2017 8:22 pm

Here's an interesting update. I have somewhere between 7,500 and 10,000 rounds of 9mm loaded with 120gr. TC bullets by Bayou Bullets. I've been shooting them for about two years now with no problems. My CZ75, Springfield XD and Kimber Pro Carry II shoot them reliably and accurately, but not my Gov't Model 1911. It doesn't like them at all! (Interestingly, the Kimber and my G'ov't Model 1911 both have Briley barrels.) The rounds are reliable, but accuracy is very poor. So, I bought two hundred rounds of Bayou Bullets 124gr. with a more traditional FMJ-type profile and 2,000 rounds of Precision Delta 124gr FMJ. I'll test them tomorrow.

Now for the Shockbottle update. While roughly 8% of the 120grTC rounds failed the Shockbottle test, but functioned flawlessly, the traditional profile 124gr Bayou Bullets had less than a 1% failure rate with 200 rds. being loaded. The Precision Delta FMJ's didn't have a single failure with 200 rds. being loaded.

Obviously, the truncated cone is hitting the seating die inconsistently, even using the correct nose punch. This is not the case with FMJ's and Bayou Bullets with the same profile. I'm going to order the Redding Competition seating die.

Chas.
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flechero
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Re: Shockbottle case guage and case lube

Postby flechero » Mon Aug 28, 2017 8:26 am

I finally bought a shockbottle .45acp gauge last week and got to use it this weekend. I like it! Much faster than the single hole gauge. Load it as if it were the ammo box and then flipping it over into a ammo box. I think it's a good 5+ minutes faster per 100. Which doesn't sound like much but feels like a long time in practice!

Thanks for the heads up on a good product!

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Re: Shockbottle case guage and case lube

Postby SQLGeek » Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:41 am

I know this post is a few months old but it's been an interesting read for me while perusing the Reloading forum. As much as I want to get into reloading, it's a great reminder that I know exactly squat about it and that I need to find a patient teacher. :lol:
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Re: Shockbottle case guage and case lube

Postby warnmar10 » Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:37 am

Charles L. Cotton wrote:... I'm going to order the Redding Competition seating die.

Chas.
I have three and have no regrets. My .45ACP seating die will seat my SWC rounds just as reliably as it does FMJ or JHP. It is very satisfying to load to a specified COL and every finished round measures on the money.


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