Forming 6x45mm (6mm/223) Brass

Email me here – Stephen Redgwell

It’s easy and cheap. The 6x45mm cartridge is popular in many countries around the world. Here are some tips to form it cheaply.

From my upcoming book, Two Bolt Action 6x45mm Rifles. Building the rifle and the loads.

Part One of a Two Part Story

The Cases

New, Unfired Brass

Once fired, IVI brass

New cases only need their necks expanded approximately 0.019 inches to accept 6mm bullets. No other preparation is necessary.

To do this, you lube the case and run it into your resizing die. Grease the inside of the case neck too! I use bullet maker’s lube and a Q-Tip to apply it. You can also use Hornady One Shot spray. It dries in a few minutes and does not need to be wiped off. It will not contaminate the powder.

Once Fired Military Brass

Most people know that once fired military brass can be a bargain, but there are shooters who won’t use it. They consider it second rate or poorly made.

The misinformation I’ve heard at gun shows and the range surprised me. I hope that I can clear up some of the bad press. Once fired military brass has been around for a long time, but despite that, bad information still circulates.

This discussion concerns Canadian IVI (Valcartier Industries) once fired surplus, but any US made, surplus brass is produced to the same specification.


IVI cases are manufactured in Canada by General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems – Canada Inc. (GD-OTS Canada) – in the province of Quebec. I find it unusual that a US multinational aerospace company owns and manufactures ammunition for the Canadian military, but that is the case. Canadian small arms ammunition has been made by several companies, under several names – Dominion Arsenal, Canadian Industries Ltd, the Dominion Cartridge Co, and others. It’s been in production continuously for over 100 years.

Ammunition is made to a specified standard. Informally, it is referred to as mil-spec or military specification. That simply means all components have to meet a minimum quality standard decided on by the military. In most cases, ammunition must be specially made so that other NATO countries can use it, if required. All cartridges must meet velocity, pressure and accuracy standards, and long term storage criteria.

All ammunition is tested and its performance monitored during and after manufacture. It must conform to the MIL-STD (military standard). Random samples of issued ammunition are tested to ensure quality. Suspect lots of ammunition are quarantined, inspected, and if necessary, destroyed.

In short, there is nothing wrong with military brass. It is very well made. During manufacture, all brass is annealed and must pass a number of quality control inspections. I was an armourer in the service, and was involved with testing, quarantining and destruction of many types of ammunition and explosives.

Is it legal to buy? Yes! Many shops sell it to the public. Let’s look at these businesses.

All brass is picked up by military range users after firing. Keeping the range clean is expected and all members must tidy up the mess they made.

The brass is collected and packaged at individual bases in tri-walls (heavy duty cardboard boxes on pallets). Full skids are given over for sale to GC (Government of Canada) Surplus. They are tasked by the Canadian government to sell off the brass via auction.

Recently, GCSurplus of Public Services and Procurement Canada (formerly called Crown Assets Disposal) sold 36,000 kg (79,200 lb) of assorted, once fired brass. The winning bid was $187,301. That’s $2.36 a pound of various small arms ammunition casings.

This was mixed brass. That is, several calibres made up the lot. But for fun, let’s assume that it was all 5.56 brass. At 94 grains each, that would be approximately 5.9 million cases with a value of 3 cents each.

A large quantity of spent cases like this is not purchased by individual gun shops. It is resold to shops and businesses who must clean it up and repackage it for sale. There will be losses due to damaged cases, and there is a cost involved in transport and cleaning it up. Still, buying once fired military brass this way truly is a bargain.

Depending on the re-seller, the public can buy once fired military brass in one of three ways:

a. As is;
b. Cleaned, but not resized or trimmed: and
c. Completely reworked – cleaned, trimmed and the primer pockets swaged.

Buying completely reworked cases is the way to go if you do not have the equipment to clean, trim and swage the primer pockets. Once fired military brass is a bargain!

When you buy unprocessed range brass, deprime it and clean it first!!

Forming 6x45mm (6mm/223) Brass – Part 2