The State of Winchester Brass in 2021

Copyright 2021 – Stephen Redgwell

The Internet is an interesting thing. I have been reading for a while about the poor quality of Winchester brass, but haven’t bought any of their cases in years. The last purchase was some 222 Remington brass about ten years ago. What I read about the present production was not flattering.

Okay, you can’t always trust what you read in the World Wide Web. That includes how badly quality has dropped at the Winchester plant. Frankly, I didn’t believe the stories I read. My opinion changed. I received 200 recently manufactured cases that came in what were described on the Internets as “those infamous red bags”. I think they were called that to distinguish them from previous runs of better quality brass. The old, blue bags I had on the shelf were acceptable, according to the reviews. Here are the two, side by side.

New and old

I was curious, and took them to the bench for a look. I took 50 out of the red bag and put them into a tray, primers up. The first thing I noticed was the off centre flash holes. There was an obvious lack of QC! For those who do not know, most flash holes are punch formed. It’s amazing that these would make it out the door!

Off centre flash holes

One third of the cases had off centre flash holes. I decided to save as many as I could, so I went into one of my tool boxes and dug out two tools that I have not used in years, Specifically, I found my flash hole uniformer and primer pocket reamer. They do as their names suggest: they create perfectly round flash holes and ream out primer pockets to the same depth. Maybe I could save a few, but frankly, if they start off centre, there isn’t much hope of reclaiming any.

Years ago, when I shot competition, I used flash hole uniformers to ensure the flash holes were round and free from brass punch ups. Punch ups were flakes of brass left inside cases after flash hole forming. Primer pocket reamers were used to uniform the depth and squareness of the pockets. With better brass, my tools found their way to the back of a drawer. I didn’t need them…until now.

Flash hole uniformer

After I finished with the tools, I inspected the cases again, rejecting 17 of the 50. The cases showed grossly off centre flash holes. I have 150 more to look at. I hope that of the 200, half can be used.

I have only examined two bags, but my experience, as well as what others have told me, demonstrates that Winchester had better get its act together. There is absolutely no excuse for a one third rejection rate!

Primer pocket reamer

Winchester has started deflecting responsibility for the US production plant’s lack of quality control. My original correspondence was answered by US Winchester customer service representative, Christine. She said my observations would be forwarded to QC in the plant and they would get back to me. In a subsequent email, she said my “complaint” was sent to the Canadian representative because I live in Canada. Really, Christine? So QC didn’t get the report. Why is that? Did it go into the garbage? Responding to correspondence from consumers is not customer service. Providing help and answers to consumers is customer service. Do I need to say that it is important for your company’s continued success?

I suspect that customer service is actually “company service”. Company management doesn’t want to hear from their customers. They just want their money!


Winchester Ammunition is dedicated to our loyal customers and we’re here to help. 

The above statement is taken from their ‘contact us’ page. Based on my dealings with them, this is not true. How can anyone recommend Winchester when they produce product like this?