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Discussion Starter #1
I am curious to the general practice of using brass among the reloaders here. I have been reloading now for about 6 months and have brass that has been used several times, as in about 7. I have people telling me that after 5 times brass should be tossed out regaurdless. I have had three pieces of brass split and they were all three brand new brass
at low pressure loads, which lead me to believe it was faulty brass. Zero brass show signs of head separation. I full size it everytime so the metal gets worked and I haven't annealed any of them. Do you guys toss them after a certain number of uses, or do you inspect them each use and use them as long as no pressure symptoms arise???
 

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I would say it would depend on the case, load and gun.

I have some Lake City 5.56 brass that is on its 9th or 10th loading. I can't even tell you how many times I have reloaded some of my .38spl plinking loads, kinda the same thing for my starline 45acp.

To contrast, my 454 Cassul, 300RUM, 338WinMag, I would consider to have a much more limited life span. The benefit there, I am much less inclined to shoot them as much.

Other signs to look for: Bugling and case length. Sacrifice a case or two and cut them from the neck down to the base, see how it looks. I'm a cheap son-of-a-gun, so I will be using my brass until I cant.

The other thing, When you say "low pressure loads" do you mean you have data on the actual pressure, or they are a reduced, "light," or otherwise powder limited load? There is a chance, in some rounds (again, I dont know what you are shooting) that a minimum charge could result in a pressure spike.
 

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My case necks always crack first on my 308. So when that happens they go in the trash. I get at least 10 or 12 loads from Winchester brass. Less with remington.

AL
 

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Discussion Starter #4
low pressure loads

below max. published load data by the newest loading manuals. Nosler, Hornady, Speer so far the only manuals I own. But everyone knows the published data are low to save the lawsuits.
 

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The Troll Whisperer (Moderator)
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Have had brass (257 Robt's, 45-70) that were mostly neck sized that lasted in excess of 20 reloads.

Have some belted magnums that get the full bore loads and am lucky to get 7 or 8 at most. As said, it all depends on how you condition the brass, size them and the amount of powder you stuff in them. Full throttle loads will cause case failure much faster than moderate loads.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
but regaurdless, one should see signs of problems prior to brass failure, or am I living in a pipe dream?
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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What cartridge? Pistol cartridges, they usually just split. Bottleneck rifle cartridges that have to be trimmed, they may start to show a bright line near the head which is the start of a case head separation.

I would use the number of trimmings as a more reliable gage in that instance. It does have to do with how much your dies work them to an extent, plus pressure affects it too as Ken points out.
 

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The harder the use the shorter the lifetime - and that's true of brass as well as people!

If you load to the right-hand edge of the data, you'll get less brass life. That's the tradeoff for velocity. Ease up just a tiny bit and you can double or even triple the number of reloads you get with a given case.

The signs of impending failure are usually bright whitish lines. They signal a crack forming, whether they are on the neck or body. It is generally wise to toss them before they crack, if you can. Another common sign is a loose primer pocket. Start seeing those with fewer than five loadings and you are probably loading too hot.

Oh, and you are mistaken about "lawyering up." This is a competitive business, and the companies will get as close to the agreed-upon maximums as they can for marketing appeal. You don't see them advertising "Ours are slower than the rest!" do you?
 

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Signs are dependent on the chamber and the sizing method. I've had 50 reloads from .45 ACP brass shooting light target loads. I've heard of benchrest shooters getting even more than that from rifle cases, but bear in mind their case necks are so close to their chamber neck size they are not worked more than a couple thousandths per cycle.

For M14's in .308, Glen Zediker says never use the brass more than 4 times, and if you do, please don't be on the firing point to his left.
 

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"For M14's in .308, Glen Zediker says never use the brass more than 4 times, and if you do, please don't be on the firing point to his left"

Could you explain the last half? I can understand his opinion on using it 4x for an M14 (I have no experience with one), but...?

And for the original question, I don't throw away the lot until I start to see signs of problems, such as split necks or case separations. Pistol cartridges can last a long time, but many of my rifle also last over 10 loadings.
 

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Al,

In the gas gun, a case head separation can start under partial remaining chamber pressure. That will launch gas and brass fragments to the right.

I have to say, I've run Remington brass through my M1A six times without issues. It varies some with the gun and chamber shape and chamber finish as to how hard it is on the brass? Also, I didn't run full-tilt-boogy loads with that brass and didn't use a slow enough powder to raise gas port pressure to its limit. If your gun will feed without you over-resizing the brass, there is less likelihood of thinning the pressure ring to the point of a head separation. Some guns require small base die resizing to feed, though, and their brass is going through a lot of working during reloading.

You need to be able to measure and keep an eye on the pressure ring if you're going to try to extend case life. You can also just relegate the stuff to practice loads when you pass four reloadings.
 

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I find nickeled cases to be more brittle than plain brass. They split earlier around the case mouth due to belling & crimping than the plain ones in my 38 spl & .357 target loads.

Annealing can be done for rifle case neck/shoulders, but don't anneal the bottoms of the cases. Cases are intended to be harder at the case head end for more strength to retain pressure.

.
 

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Al,

In the gas gun, a case head separation can start under partial remaining chamber pressure. That will launch gas and brass fragments to the right.

I have to say, I've run Remington brass through my M1A six times without issues. It varies some with the gun and chamber shape and chamber finish as to how hard it is on the brass? Also, I didn't run full-tilt-boogy loads with that brass and didn't use a slow enough powder to raise gas port pressure to its limit. If your gun will feed without you over-resizing the brass, there is less likelihood of thinning the pressure ring to the point of a head separation. Some guns require small base die resizing to feed, though, and their brass is going through a lot of working during reloading.

You need to be able to measure and keep an eye on the pressure ring if you're going to try to extend case life. You can also just relegate the stuff to practice loads when you pass four reloadings.
Thanks for the information. Now I understand the statement.
 

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Gas guns and bolt guns and lever/pump guns are apples, oranges and grapes. Meaning different. Loaded correctly - I mostly mean resized correctly - and the necks annealed occasionally, bolt gun cases can safely last a looong time before a split occurs. Splits aren't normally dangerous but when one occurs toss the whole batch.

Tossing cases after "X" number of uses is both safe and simplistic; it's easy to do and doesn't require understanding or close examination of what we are doing. For those shooting large volumes of ammo in competition and for really low volumes for hunting needs, it's a good way to go.
 

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Pistol cases I load them until they spit! Rifle I load them until the primer pockets are no good - never had case head serperation! Had a couple split after the first loading-bad brass- had one split mid case(down case -not across)! Case life is really dependant on the caliber and how hot you run your loads. Light loaded 45 ACP case last forever! Heavy 454 Casull loads- I get 10 or so loads per case!
 

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In a tight chamber and if you don't try to make it a magnum good brass (i.e. Lake City, DWM, maybe IMI? and others) will last over a hundred reloads. I have one 30.06 LC 63 Match case I have loaded 157 times. Stress relieved neck every three shots.
 

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It depends

Brass is cheap and probably the weakest part of the whole firearm shooting system. I tend to load mid-range charges and toss brass after about 5 reloads or when it fails to pass my inspection. Could the brass be loaded more times? Probably, but at my age I take fewer risks of case splits and head separations. It is a personal decision. All the best...
Gil
 

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If you are getting neck splits after not too many firings, you should think about annealing. This will extend the life of your brass. I don't have a rule as to annealment at X number of loadings, but if I have a batch that start to give me a neck split here and there, I anneal the batch. Also, be aware that brass gets fatigued with age and stress. As it ages, it becomes more brittle and this is particularly true of ammo that has had a bullet seated in place for a long time. When I get batches of older brass, as part of my case preparation process these get annealed automatically.

The problem with tension fatigue is one of several reasons that I do not load up huge quantities of ammo beforehand. Proper case preparation is 85% of the work in handloading, so I keep my cases worked up and ready to load. Then all I have to do is prime, charge and seat bullets to whatever recipe I need at the moment of demand.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
gschwertley, I think your not understanding the brass splits, they were all new brass and loaded on the left side of the reload chart. no more have split. Those three were discarded and the rest have had no issues, been run 3 firings, and just set up tonight for their 4th firing tomorrow. 2 of the ones that split were actually the lowest powder charge in the chart. I pretty much keep my brass in the same condition as you except I install the primers. I also am going to begin annealing the necks. I should also get some neck sizing dies because each caliber I load are to be fired only in its respective rifle.
 
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