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!