.25-45 Sharps AR-15 Part 4: Forming .25-45 Sharps from .223/5.56 Brass

I don’t like to spend a lot of money on brass- and I know I’m not alone! One of the great things about the .25-45 Sharps cartridge is the fact that you can take everyday .223 Remington or 5.56 NATO brass and form it into 25-45 Sharps. You can even take previously fired .223 or 5.56 cases and form them into .25-45 Sharps. This means that you can get .25-45 Sharps brass for essentially the same price as .223 or 5.56- I say “close” because you have to count your time to form the brass. The good news is- it’s pretty painless! In this article I’ll cover the process start-to-finish using brand new Federal 5.56 Brass and the RCBS 3-die .25-45 Sharps set which includes a dedicated expander die. Let’s get going!

As you can see, it’s a quick process, especially on a progressive press. Let’s break down the equipment/supplies that are needed, as well as the forming process itself. To form .25-45 Sharps brass, you’ll need the following:

  • .223 Remington or 5.56 brass that is either new or in good condition
  • Case lube (I show Dillon DCL in the video)
  • A .25-45 Sharps die set
  • Tumbler and media
  • Case trimming/chamfering tools (may or may not be required depending on brass)

Step 1: Lube the Brass

It’s critical to use the proper lubrication (and the right amount) when forming brass. When forming .25-45 Sharps you specifically need *adequate* case lube on the inside of the case neck since that’s the surface that’s being worked the most in order to punch the .22 case neck (.223-5.56) up to .25 (.25-45 Sharps). I found the first batch of .25-45 Sharps I formed from 5.56 brass did not have enough lube on the inside of the case necks and I had some case shoulders collapse, yielding quite ugly “accordion cases”. My second batch turned out much better! I sprayed two generous coats of Dillon DCL, waiting 5 minutes between each coat. No problems after this adjustment!


Setting Up the Dies

There are quite a few different die setups that you can use to form .25-45 Sharps brass. The two most popular .25-45 Sharps die sets are the RCBS die set #30107 (3-die, shown in this article), and the Redding die set #80174 (2-die). The die setup I used in this article on the RCBS Pro Chucker 7 is as follows:

  • Station 1: Empty
  • Station 2: Empty
  • Station 3: RCBS Neck Expander
  • Station 4: RCBS Sizer
  • Station 5: Empty
  • Station 6: Empty
  • Station 7: Empty


This die setup worked quite well- and I was able to power through 500 cases in about an hour- not bad at all!

This picture shows the “before” (5.56 on left) compared to the “after” (.25-45 Sharps on right). Quite a difference in case neck diameter without a lot of work.


Important note: I found that after forming brand new Federal 5.56 brass into .25-45 Sharps, the brass was .010″ under the length spec for .25-45 Sharps, the trim-to distance spec I typically use. That’s a big bonus! I did however notice some slight copper shaving when I loaded some ammunition with this brass due to the sharp edges on the newly-formed cases. Not a big deal, but a light chamfer on the case mouths would be a nice finishing touch, and would help to avoid this “minor” issue.

Check Your Work

I’ve learned the hard way: ALWAYS use a case gage! This applies to sizing brass, forming brass, and validating your loaded ammunition. Never skip the step of using a case gage to validate your brass and your forming/loading/sizing setup together- if you change the brass or the setup, use a case gage to validate! For this setup, I used a custom .25-45 Sharps case gage from L.E. Wilson which is now available “off the shelf” HERE!


After forming 500 .25-45 Sharps cases from 5.56 brass, I loaded a box of 50 cartridges (my 87 grain Speer Hor-Cor load), and they have functioned 100%. Now it’s time to do more load development, and more shooting! Can’t wait. Be sure you’re subscribed because there’s a lot more .25-45 Sharps content coming!



4 thoughts on “.25-45 Sharps AR-15 Part 4: Forming .25-45 Sharps from .223/5.56 Brass”

  1. Never heard of this cartridge. Where can I find a firearm that fires this, and what is the ballistics of this cartridge? Thanks for any reply

  2. I’m having a problem crushing the shoulders with the Redding dies run the sizeing /forming die to touch shell holder size bras and crush case very frustrated with Redding called them they said turn die in another full turn made it worse ju make it look easy so any help is appreciated

  3. I have been experimenting with loads for the 25-45 for a few months now. Two loads I have had success with are. 75 gr Sierra HP with 26.5 gr of Alliant 1200-R at 3040fps and 80 gr Barnes TTSX with 26.5 gr of Alliant 1200-R at 2980 fps. Both loads shoot wonderfully. Just harvested a nice 10 point two days ago with the TTSX load. Love this round. Can’t wait for more field results. I see you have experimented with H335, are you planning on trying any other powders?

  4. Gavin,

    Do you have any load data for Nosler 85 gr. Spitzer Ballistic Tip (Blue tip) with AA2200 or H335 powder?

    Also, do you have any load data for the Sierra 90 gr. BlitzKing (Black tip) with AA2200 or H335 powder?

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