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PLEASE NOTE –This is the original Shooting SHED site however it has now been updated to the ecommerce site at and my Shooting SHED Journal at

Cases modified for Hornady OAL gauge - Hornady produce an OAL (Overall Length) gauge for reloaders, the gauge is used to determine the maximum over all length of a loaded round, once this is determined the reloader can build ammunition very accurately by length to suit their rifle, it is also a handy way of keeping track of throat erosion.

Hornady also supply SAAMI specification cases pre tapped to screw onto the end of the gauge. Great if your chamber exactly matches the SAAMI specification however it is always best to use a case fired in your rifle. Boring a hole in the back of a case and tapping it is a simple job and I have fire formed cases for all of our rifles modified for exactly this reason.

If you need a couple of cases tapping for your rifle pop them in a jiffy bag and mail them over and I will bore and tap them. All I ask for in return is the cost of the postage to return them to you and a small donation to H4H or a similar charity. This is an honour thing and only you will know if you made the donation afterwards.

My OAL gauge - Hornady do a fine OAL gauge already however I have always thought it was a bit short for my liking and rather lightweight so I made my own, a longer more robust version it uses a metric thread instead of the imperial one Hornady use.

The body of this one is 320mm long so no need for any fumbling under the 'scope, I added a snake wood handle to this one and use it with fire formed cases so I know they are correct to my chamber. The difference between new brass and formed brass is quite significant when measuring OAL and typically you can see .005" to .010" variance over the new unfired brass.
Maximum case length insert - Regardless of the origin and specification of cartridge you shoot the original will have had a specified maximum length, as an example the 7,62x51 has a nominal case length of 51mm. NATO specify the Minimum chamber length base to case mouth as 51.43 and as an example I trim brass for my Accuracy International to 51.05mm (This is my choice of length so yours could well be different!)

Every time you fire a round the brass moves, over a period of time the case neck will become longer and can eventually exceed the maximum chamber length unless trimmed. If the case length gets to this length the case neck will crimp the bullet when chambered and lead to high chamber pressures, certainly not a good thing to have plus it plays havoc with accuracy.

Without a chamber reamer drawing it is impossible to know this dimension so I shortened a case neck on a fired case and turned an insert that is a smooth fit, now all I had to do was pop the insert in the end of the case, close the bolt and remove and measure the case with the insert in place. Repeat this a few times and I have a good indication of the exact length of case neck my rifle will accept. I still trim to 51.05mm but at least I know how far back the case neck is. It is another way of checking erosion as well as I can compare this measurement every few months to the original I took.

The insert is made from a soft material so cannot damage the inside of the chamber.

In the absence of a chamber reamer drawing it is worth doing this for all the rifles you own.
Neck expander mandrels - I use the Sinclair International expander die, in fact I use it a lot. It is used to expand case necks and is an essential stage when building wildcat cases. The mandrels are under a tenner each in the shops but add some postage plus the need for something obscure on a Wednesday evening... So I build my own. Now I can produce sizes for very specific jobs. The horizontal one out of the case is for flaring the neck of .303 cases for cast boolits and is sized to both add a flare and align the case in the chamber so the boolit is aligned as perfectly as possible to the throat of the chamber.

These are made from a mix of silver steel and stainless and I make them as required. I use a black marker pen on the surface of the mandrels to act as an indicator to show how far into the neck they are being pushed if needed as it gets rubbed away with contact and leaves a nice line to show the depth it has been set to, handy for the neck flaring mandrel which requires precise setup.

The expander die is shown in the picture, note the O Ring under the lock nut, this is so when tightened into the press the die still has some sideways movement which I find reduces neck runout.

Note - The spelling of Boolit as opposed to bullet is used when referring to cast lead projectiles.
Annealing cups - A cheap and very effective device for rotating a case for annealing. Firstly make sure the case has been cleaned thoroughly, if you need to do any trimming or sizing it should be done after the annealing and do make sure you don't have any live primers in as they might just go bang.

I use 650 degree Tempilaq painted just below the shoulder, pop the annealing cup in a cordless screwdriver and rotate the case whilst applying heat with a gas gun, you will need to experiment to determine the time taken to do this and this is where the Tempilaq comes in, it will turn black when the correct temperature is reached, at this stage I tip the case into cold water which helps to remove the now black Tempilaq. With the annealing cup it is possible to anneal 50 cases in around 15 minutes.

I build a variety of sizes for everything from .223 to .577.
The pictures show the largest cups in both short and long series, both of which will take up to .577 Snider, these are available through