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I got my hands on some 225 Winchester ammunition in boxes that look like they may have been released the same year the cartridge was; in 1965. I have shot these rounds a few times and have a pretty high rate of case failure, with either the case neck or shoulder splitting. My suspicion is that the bullets and case necks are stuck together, somewhat, which is causing higher pressures. The primers don't look bad, but I am getting a lot of case head expansion (.0004") from a single firing. I am taking the rifle in to get a chamber cast done to see if that will help me determine if the chamber is cut quite generously or if maybe the whole problem is with this old ammo creating excessive pressure.

Is it common for ammo that is 40 to 50 years old to have the bullets "stick" in the case neck, driving up chamber pressures appreciably?
 

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Four tenths is about right for the first firing. Brass becomes brittle with age and splits are pretty common. Annealing neck and shoulder would help, but the bullets need to be pulled first. The first firing of brittle brass usually 'locates' the future crack, so annealing first defeats it.
 

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The Shadow
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Is it common for ammo that is 40 to 50 years old to have the bullets "stick" in the case neck, driving up chamber pressures appreciably?
It's common for far newer ammo to "cold weld".
Throw it in your press, and JUST barely use the seater die to move the bullet. This "breaks" the bond.


Cheers
 

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Elk Whisperer (Super Moderator)
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As I don't have any "older ammo" (other than "collector" ammo) I don't have a problem with "bullets sticking". I guess I could "pull" a bullet from one to see if there's some form of "welding" ?

I do have some 30 + year old .223 handloaded ammo that I could pull apart, just for grins.

Not that my collector ammo is of any real value . . . . . .

RJ
 

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Four tenths is about right for the first firing. Brass becomes brittle with age and splits are pretty common. Annealing neck and shoulder would help, but the bullets need to be pulled first. The first firing of brittle brass usually 'locates' the future crack, so annealing first defeats it.
I agree with pulling the bullets and anneal the brass. I have three full boxes of .22 Hornet ammunition, that I bought years ago, one box of Remington, two boxes of Winchester Super-X, their age being 60 years old +. I pulled the bullets dumped the powder and primer, annealed the cases, and reloaded them, using the same bullets, and this prevented split necks. So far what I shot performed well.
 

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I believe you are experiencing two factors that are quite common. In my experience, which differs from strict metallurgical theory, brass becomes brittle with age. I know that it goes against the science but it does seem to be true.
The other item is that the difference in bullet and case alloys will bond over time given moisture and electrolytic actions between the two. "Welding" is perhaps too strong a word but a bond can form.
When I pull brass out of long term storage to load it I begin by annealing it. In the past I have had case neck splits reloading brass that has been stored for long periods. It may not change anything but I no longer have neck splits so it makes me feel better. Also, contrary to popular belief, science is not always correct. sometimes stuff happens.
 

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Brass does get brittle with age when its loaded. I've experienced this with all kinds of surplus ammo. I've fired stuff that dates from the Boer War to current days in Afghanistan, in a dozen or more different calibers. The older it is, the more likely it is to crack. Necks and shoulders are common, but so is the body. As for the science behind it, it goes well beyond what most of us deal with on average. Part of it has to do with the fact that most military ammo uses some form of cement or glue to prevent bullet and primer movement that can cause jams. Over time, though, such adhesives deteriorate and that is likely what causes the splits in surplus military ammo. Civilian ammo is probably a combination of stress in the alloy, residue of case lube, temperature swings, etc., but it happens there as well.

As far as breaking ammo down and reloading it, that works. I have 'bumped' bullets countless times to break the 'seal' so I could pull them, and I have broken down ammo so I could anneal the necks and reload it with the same charge and bullet. One thing I learned over the years is that if you want ammo to last a long time, make sure you don't load it using a compressed load of powder if you expect it to sit on the shelf for a long time. That just adds stress to the neck area.
 
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My experience has shown that brass in loaded ammo does get brittle with age ... old ammo will sometimes split on the first firing, I always suspected long term reaction to the chemicals in certain powders / primers caused it .
The brass is just old and brittle ... the case neck sticking to the bullet isn't the big problem ...just maybe a minor one ... of inconsistent bullet pull .
Time for some new brass and try to find some manufactured within the last 20 years .
Unlike fine wine and good whisky ...Aging brass doesn't improve it !
Gary
 

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Brass sitting by itself in a sealed box filled with dry nitrogen will actually gradually stress-relieve over time. If it is just exposed to air it depends on the environment. If you have even traces of ammonia in the air, as from having a Kitty Litter box in the house, even though its original annealing will prevent the brass from splitting just sitting there (season cracking), withstanding firing after that's been going on for a long time is a different matter. Exposure to nitric acid radicals from powder breaking down on the inside won't help, but you generally will see some verdigris on the inside if this is happening and it will have made it to the outside if it has been happening for long enough.

Bullet cold bonding is a real thing. I was given several rounds of M1 Ball made in the 1920s, and I tried pulling the bullet on one 1929 example. I couldn't push it in any and pulling stretched the brass way out and thin (though it didn't crack or split). It never let go, though. Season cracking's mechanism was published in 1921, so bottleneck brass made before the 1920s is not neck-annealed.
 
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