If you follow “Latest Loads” in American Rifleman, you’ll note that I frequently use NormaUSA’s imported brass for my handloads; I do so because its cases are high-grade components that aptly fit the definition of “premium.” Opening the sturdy, cube-shape box provides the first clue as to the company’s seriousness about quality, as each case is protected on all sides by cardboard, and the case mouths and rims/heads are safeguarded against damage through the use of foam sheets. This attention to detail enables cases to emerge free of deformation.
NormaUSA manufactures its cases from high-quality materials to tight tolerances for excellent case-to-case consistency and longevity. Furthermore, the company anneals the case necks for better obturation, which the NRA Firearms Sourcebook describes as, “The momentary expansion of a cartridge case against chamber walls which minimizes the rearward flow of gases between the case and the chamber wall when the cartridge is fired,” (p. 441). The “softer” neck also eases the resizing process and, as NormaUSA touts, allows a firmer purchase on the bullet for extended storage. Conversely, case hardness increases as it approaches the case head, which minimizes stretching during firing, and thereby reduces the frequency and duration of trimming. The company reports that, around the primer pocket, case “hardness” is approximately twice that of case neck-a wise decision, as this aids in the prevention of gas leakage and boosts case life.
Additionally, the cases are chamfered and deburred at the factory, though they should be sized before loading. From these considerations, it’s apparent that NormaUSA is a “premium” product and, as with most such goods, the cost will be more than comparable “standard-quality” items. Cabela’s currently lists 25-count boxes of NormaUSA .243 Win. unprimed cases for $26 (on sale), which is comparable to other high-grade brass, and double that of “average” cases; however, the aforementioned qualities certain justify the price. In the long term, protracted life, consistency, and time savings (trimming, etc.) justify the increased cost.
NormaUSA brass is available in most rifle chamberings from .204 Ruger to .505 Gibbs, including all of the Weatherby chamberings (it loads Weatherby-branded ammunition, too), so it’s likely that you’ll find the cases needed for an upcoming handloading project. Have you tried NormaUSA brass? If so, what are your impressions?