Guidance for Selecting & Reloading Brass Projectiles

 We've spent some time discussing directly with customers suitable projectiles for their needs, and thought that it would be beneficial to include some guidance and explanation on the website. A number of customers have also asked about how they should go about developing loads for CEB's brass projectiles, as currently, sources of load data are limited. This section provides some suggestions for choosing the right brass hunting projectile and developing a suitable load for it in your rifle.

Understanding the Differences Between Lead Core and Solid Brass Projectiles

The first thing that you need to understand with CEB brass hunting projectiles is that they work very differently to standard lead core projectiles, so you need to apply a different set of rules to projectile selection than you normally would. This is because their construction and material (brass) is significantly different from conventional lead core projectiles.

Conventional expanding lead core projectiles will expand or 'mushroom' in the front section of the projectile as they pass through tissue. Increased velocity results in increased deformation or mushrooming. The greater the projectile mushrooms, the larger the frontal surface it presents to tissue that it is passing through and the greater the diameter of the crush cavity that it creates. However, the downside of this is that the greater the frontal diameter of the projectile, the greater the resistance it encounters and the less it penetrates. So damage and penetration are inversely proportional with lead core projectiles. As one increases, the other decreases. This is exactly why solids are designed not to expand, so that they provide the deepest possible penetration.

CEB Safari Raptors, ESP Raptors, ER Raptors and Handgun Raptors do not mushroom. Instead, as the projectile enters an aqueous medium (in this case animal tissue) the hydraulic pressure exerted through the hexagonal cavity shears the corners of the cavity and creates six 'blades' of equal size (four blades for Handgun Raptors). Because brass is far more brittle than copper, the blades do not bend backwards and then eventually break, they immediately snap off at the base, even at relatively low impact velocities. After the blades have sheared they radiate outwards away from the centre in a consistent and even radial pattern. They slice their way through tissue as opposed to pushing their way through, which is why despite their small size and low weight, they still penetrate remarkably deeply.

They create massive trauma through the tissue, as now, in addition to the primarily wound channel, there are six secondary wound channels surrounding it. These wound channels in turn weaken the integrity of the centre, providing less resistance to the passage of the solid base. The solid base penetrates deeply, because the hard brass does not further deform once the blades have sheared, and it does not present a larger than calibre frontal surface, as a lead core projectile would.

The terminal performance of the brass hunting projectiles improves with increased velocity. The faster you drive them, the greater the impact trauma is and the deeper the solid base penetrates. The blades have more momentum to assist in cutting deeper through flesh and the non-expanding solid base has more momentum to drive it further through tissue and bone. Penetration and trauma are now directly proportional to velocity.

Selecting the Right CEB Hunting Projectile

With CEB brass hunting projectiles, a good rule of thumb is that you can use a projectile that is around 2/3 the weight of the lead core projectile that you have been using. You may immediately think, "That's just too light", but don't worry, it isn't. You will be surprised by how deeply they penetrate and how much trauma they impart, despite their lower weight. You will probably find that they out-perform much heavier lead core projectiles, with massive trauma through the vital area and the projectile's solid base often punching out through the far side of your intended game. With CEB Raptors, 'light is right'.

For example, if you normally use a 150grn lead core projectile in a .308 Winchester or 30-06 Springfield, you could quite happily substitute this with a 100grn ESP Raptor. If you normally use a 180grn lead core projectile in a .300 WSM or .300 Winchester Magnum, you could substitute this with a 130grn ESP Raptor. Rest assured that you will not be under-gunned. However, you do now also have the potential for increased velocity.

Another thing to consider is that CEB hunting projectiles have been designed primarily with African and North American game in mind. On average, these are generally larger bodied animals than most of the animals that we commonly hunt in Australia. For most Australian hunters, pigs, goats and the smaller deer species make up most of the medium sized game hunted. These animals don't require the heavier projectiles, even with conventional lead cores. Therefore the lighter CEB projectiles are the best. We have discussed with CEB the subject of making lighter projectiles in some calibres for the Australian market, and we expect that as Australian sales volumes build, that CEB will likely respond to this request.

A key consideration to examine before you decide on a projectile for your rifle is the barrel twist rate required to stabilise it. Please check the CEB Technical Data Sheets for your intended projectile to ensure that it is suitable for your rifle's barrel twist rate. Being made of solid brass, CEB's hunting projectiles are longer than lead core projectiles of the same weight, and so usually require faster barrel twist rates than the same weight lead core projectiles. Staying at the lighter end of available projectile weights helps to ensure that the projectile will be suitable for the great majority of standard rifle barrel twist rates.

CEB projectiles are designed to cause massive trauma to the vitals of an animal (think projectile delivered to the heart / lung area) and to provide sufficiently deep penetration to reach these areas given less than ideal angles. However, if you are a hunter who targets the brain area of your intended game, then you probably don't require the best performing projectiles out there, and nearly any projectile delivering the requisite accuracy to achieve consistent brain shots will suffice. Given sufficient velocity, even an uncooked piece of broccoli will prove fatal if delivered accurately to the brain!

Guidelines for Load Development with CEB Brass Projectiles

Given that solid brass projectiles are longer than equivalent weight lead core projectiles, when loaded to the same cartridge overall length (COAL), they will seat deeper into the case and use up some of the available powder space. You should be aware that whenever you seat a projectile deeper, the peak pressure will be higher for a given charge weight. If you substitute a brass projectile for your usual lead core one, and you keep the COAL the same, you will need to reduce the powder charge, especially if you are shooting with maximum loads. If not, you will find that the new load may climb to unsafe pressures. However, because you can substitute lighter CEB projectiles for the lead core ones you have been using, you will probably find that the internal powder capacity will remain the same, but now you can drive the lighter projectile to higher velocities than the one you were using previously.

Cutting Edge Bullets are working on a load manual, but the first edition of this is still some months away. Even when it is released, it will contain loads using American powders, some of which may not be available here in Australia. In the interim, here are some tips to assist you with your load development when using CEB projectiles:

Tip 1:   Solid brass is around 5% lighter than solid copper, so with all other factors being equal, a solid brass projectile will be slightly longer than a solid copper one. This makes the reloading data for the solid copper Barnes projectiles (as found in the Barnes Reloading Manual) more suitable as a guide than data for lead core projectiles. However, the CEB projectiles are slightly longer again, due to their banded design, and in the case of the Raptors, due to the depth and width of their cavity, which is significantly larger than other projectiles.

Tip 2:   Most reloading manuals provide several projectile weights for the common calibres. Where you can, look at the lead core projectiles that are 10% - 15% heavier than the brass projectile you are intending to use. Utilise the load data for these projectiles as a guide for your loads with the lighter brass projectile and work up from there.

Tip 3:   When listing loads for a given calibre and projectile weight, most reloading manuals contain both starting loads and maximum loads for each powder. You should consider the starting loads listed in reloading manuals as being towards the upper end for loads using CEB projectiles of same weight and seated to the same COAL as the lead core projectile loads.

Tip 4:   If you have sufficient magazine length and sufficient throat depth, you may be able to seat the brass projectiles further out of the case than you do the lead core projectile of the same weight. If you can achieve the same internal powder capacity as with the lead core projectile (base of the brass projectile is level with where the base of the lead core projectile sits) then you should be able to use very similar loads for both. However, if you seat the projectile further out, take care to ensure that there is sufficient throat depth so that the projectile is not going to wedge in the lands of the rifling, which could drive up peak pressures. Also remember that you need a minimum of two bands inside the case neck to ensure proper neck tension and alignment.

Tip 5:   There is load data for the B&M calibres that can be found on the B&M website (see the Links page). This data contains loads for CEB brass hunting projectiles as well as a number of projectiles from other makers. If your cartridge has an equivalent or very similar case capacity to a B&M cartridge, then these loads should be a good estimate of the loads suitable for your cartridge. Remember, always start below the listed maximum and work up. Case capacities for B&M cartridges and all common cartridges can be found on the ammoguide.com website (see the Links page). 

Please bear in mind that the above tips are not exact, they are only guidelines to assist you. Results may vary from projectile to projectile, cartridge to cartridge and powder to powder. Always be cautious whenever developing any new load, regardless of the type of projectile you are using. For general information on load development, please read Working Up Loads & Pressure Signs, also found in the Ammunition Notes section.

Disclaimer

Reloading ammunition and shooting firearms can be dangerous if performed incorrectly or without due care. While Meplat Firearm Services provides advice on certain aspects of reloading based on accepted safe practices, it does not provide complete information related to the reloading process. Persons who reload ammunition should ensure that they seek further information from other sources to that which is presented on this site and adhere to accepted, safe practices. Meplat Firearm Services cannot control the reloading practices of any person who may utilise information found on this site. As such, it accepts no liability for any event related to reloaded ammunition or shooting that may occur from reference to this site.

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