S. D. Meacham Tool & Hardware Co. Inc.
To cover shipping and processing, $12 will be added to every order. Got questions?  Ready to order? Call me: 208-486-7171
HomeReloading ToolsServicesLinksBooks and Online ArticlesContact Us

A Deal to Anneal Cartridge Case Necks
Our Deal to Anneal cartridge case necks is a simple steel cup that can be mounted in either a cordless electric drill or a cordless electric screwdriver. A case that is to be annealed is placed in the cup and with the drill turning the case is held in the flame of a butane torch until the neck of the case reaches the required temperature. The drill is tipped down allowing the case to fall into a bucket of cold water. Deals to Anneal are available for 50 Sharps, 45 x 2.1 to 3 1/4 , 38-55, 32 and 25 WCF, and Hornet. Any particular Deal To Anneal can be used with cases of smaller case head size but the case must be long enough to allow the neck and shoulder to extend out of the cup so that the torch flame can get to it.

Why is The Deal to Anneal better than other methods?

The problem with either holding the case in your fingers or standing cases in a pan of water is that it is impossible to heat uniformly around the case neck. You just can't twist your wrist clear around and do so such that all sides are heated for the same amount of time. Standing cases in water is even worse. The one complaint we have had with our neck sizing die is customers calling to ask why their cases come out of the die with a step on one side and straight on the other side. We have always been able to trace the problem to either cases that were thicker walled on one side or to uneven annealing. Spinning the case with a motor eliminates the problem. Using a locking shell holder is slow. The fancy turntable annealing machines are expensive. The Deal to Anneal works, it's about as fast as the fingers method and its inexpensive.

Why is Annealing Necessary?

Each time a cartridge case is fired, the gas pressure forces the walls and neck of the case outward until they are supported by the chamber walls. The brass springs back some, but the case neck will no longer hold a bullet tightly. During the reloading process, we compress the brass in the case neck to make the neck smaller so that it will hold the bullet in place. This repeated stretching and compressing of the brass changes the structure of the brass and the effect is that the brass becomes harder. When we re-size the neck it springs back more than it did the last time. We have to size it down further to get the same bullet fit. Eventually, the brass becomes so hard that it cracks, usually when the case is fired, ruining the case. So the annealing is necessary, first to extend the useful life of the cartridge case and second, to make the reloaded ammunition as uniform as possible.

What is Annealing?

Annealing removes internal stress, crystal defects, and dislocations in metals by heating and/or cooling. Brass is annealed by heating to about 600 degrees Fahrenheit and then cooling.

What are we trying to accomplish?

Safety first. The head of the cartridge case must not be annealed. It isn't expanded and then sized down as the case neck is and it must remain strong to resist the pressure of the firing and also it must not expand or the primer pocket will become enlarged and the case will become useless. We do want to anneal or soften the case neck and the area just behind the neck. This part of the case must not only hold the bullet but we depend upon this part of the case to expand tightly against the chamber walls and keep the hot powder gasses from flowing back around the case.

How soft must the neck be?

Most instructions for annealing case necks recommend heating the brass to a dull red or "maroon" when viewed in low light. Done correctly, this will indeed result in dead soft case necks. The problem is that it is very easy to over heat the case and ruin it. Remember, we want to soften the brass enough to prevent splitting and we want all of the case necks to be of uniform hardness. 

Procedure for using the Deal to Anneal

Remove ALL of the primers from ALL of the cases to be annealed and at least wipe off any lube and powder fouling. Especially if you are still on your learners permit, it is best to polish the cases in a case tumbler until any discoloration is removed. This will make it easier to judge temperature and make it easier to be uniform from case to case. We really recommend that you try to have a few junk cases to anneal the first time just to get a feel for how the colors appear in the ambient light you are using. Unless you have a way of controlling the ambient light, a few “warm-up” cases are a good idea every time.  You do not need to work in the dark but up to a point, a lower ambient light level will be helpful.

Lock the Deal to Anneal into the cordless driver you are going to use. Set up the butane torch and a container of cold water so that you can easily and safely move the hot case from the torch flame to where it can be dumped into the quench water. The quench water will heat up so be sure that you have a large enough container of water to do the number of cases or figure on stopping to change the water often. Remember: we are looking for uniformity here. Light the torch and adjust it to about a medium flame. This is a tough one. It takes some time for the metal structure to change. You don't want to heat it too fast. You can't heat it too slow or the heat will reach the case head and soften it. You want the heating to take six to eight seconds. 45 x 3 ¼ cases will absorb more heat than 22 hornet cases. Pay attention and adjust your torch accordingly. If you insist on using MAPP or other hotter fuels it's really going to get touchy. We recommend butane only.

Put a case to be annealed into the cup while holding the motor so that the case neck is up but at an angle so that the case lays against one side of the cup. Start the motor. The case should roll along the side of the cup without bouncing. If it is bouncing, try tipping the motor more or less and slowing the motor down. This is not the place for a high speed drill. Electric screwdrivers work best because they turn slowly.

Hold the neck of the case in the flame. You should be able to see the brass turn a blue-green color just before any red appears. As soon as the blue-green moves down past the the neck into the body or shoulder, dump the case into the quench.

Caution: You can expect the Deal to Anneal to be hot enough to burn you after annealing even one case. Be careful when putting a case into the cup. It's easy to accidentally touch the hot cup. Monitor the temperature of the front bearing of the driver you are using. Heat conducted through the shank could ruin the bearing or melt the housing. When you receive your Deal it will be polished white steel. As you use it the steel will turn blue from the heat. If the blue color moves up the 1/4 hex shank, stop and cool the tool down. You may want to polish the color off of the cup/shank so that you can continue to monitor the temperature.

Order by case head size:
50-90 and longer, 348 win
45-70, 40-65, 45-90
45 longer than 2.4
40-70 S.S., 30-40 Krag, 405 Win.
30-30 Win, 38-55, 32-40
30-06, 308 Win, 22-250
222, 223
38 Spl, 357 Mag 
218 bee, 32-20
22 hornet