Quite simply put they were the only ones that made brass good enough. Also the fact that when a friend and I were doing the 7.62x54r Bond Improved, many kept on asking if they would be able to shoot surplus ammo through it. Well that alarmed me. If I build a gun I do not want anyone killing themselves on that junk. You can see below a photo of a stack of brass and every one of them fired fine but the steel ones turned out looking like this. Ever last one of them. But I will give even more details at the bottom of the article.
What is special about Lapua brass? The reasons are three fold. First and largest is the rim. There is a .002 inference in rim thickness. This allowed me to headspace the rifle such that you literally can’t get the bolt closed on any type of brass except Lapua’s. Headspacing tight promotes very long brass life. Many other brass brands are as much as .003, sometimes more, thicker and that is because of lower manufacturing tolerances. Next is the shoulder and neck junction. Its a little farther back on a Lapua case. Thus when you fire form your brass after sizing the neck and shoulder junction stays in the same place on the 6.5 BR Lapua. With other brands of brass it will stretch or shrink to differing amounts and give you terrible result when it comes to accuracy. Then there is the trim length. I made this to fit a Lapua piece of brass exactly. If its even minutely longer, and by the way all the other brands are longer, you will have dangerous crimp form that could be fatal if you can even chamber it. Yes I suppose you could trim it all down and even cut your rims on a lathe but seriously who in tarnation will do that? Notice too the difference in powder capacity of a Fire formed Lapua case compared to a fresh and out of the box shell.
Now the why. Because its just plain stupid to shoot anything other then Lapau brass! Ok I am a bit of a zealot when it comes to this I admit it. Virtually every record for accuracy has been set with Lapua brass. I would be nuts to try anything else.
Also, there is the long life that Lapua’s brass has. It lasts so many reloads its cheaper to shoot then Steel Surplus! Ya you are reading that right, cheaper then surplus!! Many of Lapua’s cartridges can be reloaded as many as 200 times. I personally have loaded some that have seen more then 200 and its still going strong. There is also the sizing difference. I tested sizing down some PPU and Winchester brass. It was much more difficult then Lapua’s. It yielded some nasty doughnuts in the neck too.
There is the more modern nature of Lapuas brass to consider here as well. It is the most recently designed case with the thickest web and strongest primer pocket that is able to withstand modern PSI levels. The original 7.62 is only rated for 58,000PSI while Lapua never had a new SAMMI spec made for theirs, its able to handle much greater PSI. This is a big benefit to running overbore cartridges with heavy high BC bullets and slower more modern powders. Essentially the Lapua case is the most modern and if you want to compete with modern cartridges then you need something modern.
Also if I build your rifle in the 6.5 BR Lapua, I don’t want you using trash brass and especially stuff with corrosive primers in it. Designing it such that only Lapua’s brass will work assures me, as your gunsmith, that you will only be using the best. I was in my mentors shop once and he had a customer come in with a 6.5 Creedmoor that he had made there. He complained that it only shot .75moa. When asked what load he was running the customer said it was stuff he bought at Walmart. Imagine, that, this guy had a custom rifle made for $7000 and then he bought his ammo at Walmart. Folks the most important part of accuracy is that you use the best components and hand loads. Shooting out of a cardboard box purchased at Walmart will never give you those results. After all this is a bench rest cartridge. Not a plinker round.
Just how fool proof is this Lapua only headspacing? Well I had a Mosin worked on once. I have three barrels for it. One is in 7.62x54r Improved, another is 308x54r and the last one is a standard 7.62x54r with a .312in bore. I at first had it headspaced by a gunsmith in NY but later when I decided to have the receiver trued up and other barrels made for it, the new gunsmith, who I highly recommend by the way, headspaced all three barrels for Lapua brass. Now when I got all three barrels back I mainly shot the Improved one but recently I put back on the old 7.62x54r barrel and tried to chamber some PPU. The bolt would not close. I tried some Winchester, same thing. Wolf, Surplus, Seller&Bellot, Sako, nothing fit except Lapua. So since then I have been happily shooting Lapua brass and Sierra .311cal 174 BTHP bullets ever since.
Will it always be this way? There is actually hope here for those of you that are in despair about only using Lapua brass. I can’t imagine why though. Anyway, recently Peterson Brass announced that they were developing brass for the 7.62x54r. I immediately called Ben the owner and told him about the wildcat I am working on. He is going to keep me in the loupe about its development. I would like to see it with a rime size similar to Lapua’s because then you would have a US brass manufacturer available and at a much lower price. Also Peterson’s brass is just about as good as Lapua’s and would only be handloadable. A big plus for those of us wildcatters.