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Old July 4, 2006, 03:22 PM   #1
amamnn
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save a penny - lose a hand?

For those of you who still pick up range brass, especially revolver and pistol brass I thought I would post this picture of what happened to a really good friend on the 4th of July. He USED TO BE a range brass scavenger until this happened. The picture is of a .357 mag case he scavanged and loaded with a mild practice load. This happened on his first reloading of this case. Luckily he was wearing shooting gloves at the time, as hot gasses went out of the chamber along with a few tiny pieces of brass we found embedded in his glove.[
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Old July 4, 2006, 09:39 PM   #2
Don H
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Well, to tell you the truth, it's going to take more than an isolated incident, that may or may not have been reloaded properly, to influence me.
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Old July 4, 2006, 10:29 PM   #3
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That has got to be among the worst pictures I've ever seen. Too little detail to tell what happened! It LOOKS like the SIDE of the case has a split in it. Just how did that spit brass into his hand? Or did it also blow the cylinder??

Can you come up with a better pic AND more info on just how he ended up with schrapnel outside the cylinder?
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Old July 4, 2006, 10:33 PM   #4
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I could see how the gas might be disconcerting, but how would the brass have found its way out of the cylinder? What kind of gun was he firing?
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Old July 5, 2006, 12:02 AM   #5
Art Eatman
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"...mild practice load." I'm dubious. I've shot a fair number of .45ACP where the case split as I seated the bullet. They shot just fine, and they were IPSC Major loads.

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Old July 5, 2006, 02:31 AM   #6
silicon wolverine
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While we appreciate your warning, doesnt your freind inspect his brass? Something that failed like that must have had previous damage. Ive picked uplots of range brass and i sort out the crappy ones. Never had a bit of trouble.

SW
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Old July 5, 2006, 07:13 AM   #7
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variables

Too many when using junk brass (I use it, too).

Just be careful, and relegate it to 'softies only'.

And, without exception, wear safety glasses when handloading and shooting.

Without exception.
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Old July 5, 2006, 03:30 PM   #8
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I get splits like that from time to time. For me that's one of the indicators that a particular piece of brass has hit the end of its useful life. I don't wear shooting gloves and have never been injured by this type of failure. I just toss 'em. Never thought once about taking a picture of the thing. I shoot a whole lot more .38 special than .357 so I see it more with the .38's.
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Old July 5, 2006, 04:02 PM   #9
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bad pic

I'm sorry about the picture quality, but that's what I got when I reduced it so that it would fit on the forum--the case split back from just behind the neck through the head and let gas and tiny bits of brass out the back of the cylinder. My friend does inspect cases -I believe him-- he's no beginner. The load was for a 110 grain .357 loaded with 9 grains of unique a mild practice load.
You hear these stories about overworked brass being left on the range. I had never actually witnessed this kind of failure before, but I figured why take a chance? I get plenty of decent brass from friends who do not reload and save their guaranteed once fired factory ammo for me or else I buy premium virgin brass for my competition loads..
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Old July 5, 2006, 05:16 PM   #10
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Mid-body case splits can happen with old brass.

They can happen with brass that's been shot a few times.

Or they can happen with brass that's BRAND NEW.

It's normally an indication that there is a weak spot in the brass, either a manufacturing defect or some type of scratch or inclusion.

I've had many of these over the years.

I'd venture to say that the ONLY reason why your friend had brass in his shooting glove is because he was using a light load that didn't fully obturate the case to the chamber, which allowed small pieces of brass and powder gas to escape.

Heavier loads will rarely, if ever, spit brass and gas back when there is a mid body split because the rest of the case, and the case head, expands and seals the chamber.

One of the most impressive case splits I ever had was when firing full-bore .357 Mag. loads -- IIRC 158-gr. bullet and about 19 grains of WW 296.

When I removed the case from the chamber it was split from case mouth to case head, and it actually looked as if a fair portion of the brass around the edges of the split was burned away and sent down range.

Behind the gun, though, I never noticed a thing. The round behaved perfectly normally.
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Old July 7, 2006, 02:25 PM   #11
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The only one I've had so far that split like that was when I, in an incredible fit of stupidity fired a cylinderful of .44 mag loads in my .45 Colt (a Ruger Redhawk). 5 of the cases just bulged, but the fifth has a very impressive full-length tear (I kept that case as a reminder of the danger of not paying attention). The load was 15 grains of Blue Dot with a 240 grain LSWC.

When I fired the one that split, I noticed that it did sound a little strange, but I never got bit by hot gases or pieces of brass.

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Old July 8, 2006, 04:16 PM   #12
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Something is not right here.

How in the world could a revo spit brass at the shooter?The recoil shield sends fragments sideways,not to the rear.Very near impossible to duplicate I'll bet.Strange things do happen but split brass is VERY SELDOM a problem.I"ve had dozens of cases split over the years,never a problem.
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Old July 8, 2006, 07:32 PM   #13
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Quote:
I get splits like that from time to time. For me that's one of the indicators that a particular piece of brass has hit the end of its useful life.
Yeah, for me, that pretty much does it...I don't look for any other indicators that it's time to toss that one in the recycling bin at the range!
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Old July 8, 2006, 07:40 PM   #14
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No sense in borrowing trouble.

Frankly, I don't see such a split case as being a problem at all. I, too, cannot see HOW any gas or brass fragments could possibly come in contact with the shooter, gloves or not, unless the load was such as to blow out the cylinder wall. That would show a LOT more damage to the brass.

I could write more, but Art Eatman and Mike Irwin have said it better than I could.

If you don't feel comfortabe reloading range pickup brass, then don't do so. It's as simple as that - - no one's trying to talk you into it. I'll continue to be grateful for good brass for free. I glance at my cases, as I take them from the shaker/cleaner, and again as I put it in the shell plate. I cull those with splits, battered mouths, or bad discoloration, but I do that with ALL my cases.

Good luck
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Old July 8, 2006, 09:10 PM   #15
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I will mention a potentially worse problem. The brass was not discarded or (AFAIK) used by anyone else, but it could have been.

I watched a man at the range firing an M1A. Every shot, the case stuck in the chamber, and several primers fell out of the primer pockets. Finally, I asked him what was happening, and he said it had just started happening after he annealed his cases, like the gun magazine said. Suspicious, I asked how he annealed the cases, and he told me he used a plumbers blowtorch to heat them red hot all over and then let them cool down. That brass must have been soft as lead.

I told him what he was doing wrong, and "suggested" rather firmly that he crush the brass and throw it away where no one would pick it up. He refused, saying that he couldn't afford to buy another 20 rounds and he planned to continue to reload those cases! I just hope he had an alert guardian angel.

But if he had left those cases lying on the range to be picked up and reloaded, someone else could have been seriously injured.

Jim
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Old July 9, 2006, 12:02 AM   #16
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I have had NEW 44 mag cases split down the side, never had anything escape from the cylinder.
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Old July 9, 2006, 10:45 AM   #17
Mike Irwin
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"I, too, cannot see HOW any gas or brass fragments could possibly come in contact with the shooter, gloves or not, unless the load was such as to blow out the cylinder wall."

See my explanation about low-pressure plinking rounds failing to full obturate the chamber.

Some years ago when shooting low powered Red Dot loads I had soot on the casea all the way back to the rim.

That's when I knew it was time to up the load.
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Old July 9, 2006, 11:13 AM   #18
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I know a guy who bent over and picked up a penny

He blew out his fifth lumbar disc. Bad practice picking up pennies. Got to bend at the knees

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Old July 10, 2006, 08:05 PM   #19
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save a penny lose a hand.

I've been loading commercially for many years and 99% of the brass I use is off the floor of indoor ranges.No injuries yet.Proper inspection is the key as always.
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Old July 11, 2006, 09:23 AM   #20
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I had this happen to me w/ a 30-06 I was sighting in for a customer when I used to manage an indoor range. I was wearing shooting glasses, and after this case, I don't ever shoot without glasses...period. Anyway, I bore sighted this customer's gun, and then proceeded to the range to put it on paper. The first shot kicked like a mule, and I got sprayed w/ shrapnel. (sp?)
The bolt wouldn't open. We finally managed to bang it open, and found major case head separation. The gun was a bolt action, and I have no idea why we got sprayed but we did. It didn't make sense. I asked the guy what kind of ammo he was using, and he said he reloaded. I asked him what his charge was, and no joke, he said he just filled the case up. I told him he was lucky he didn't kill myself or him. I took his bullets, pulled every one of them and told him to read the Hornady Reloading Manual front to back before he sits at his bench ever again.

On another note, If your friend is using a progressive press, and reloading a lot, it is possible for the powder charge to work loose and spit too much powder. I used to load for the owners of the range on a dillion 1050, (They were ipsc shooters and burned tons of ammo) and I made it a practice to stop after every 100 rds and check the charge. Ocassionaly something would get out of whack (but rarely) and I'd wind up tossing some rounds. Better safe than sorry.

Bottom line...Blown cases can do strange things, and I have not doubt your friend got some brass in him.
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Old July 11, 2006, 09:39 AM   #21
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Cast,

That's something of a different circumstance. A case separation in a rifle caused by an overcharge can be a LOT more dramatic.

The reason you got sprayed with crap is very likely because the gun functioned as designed -- it directed the escaping gas out preplanned routes designed to vent the gun without destroying it and without hurting the shooter.

The escaping gas carried bits of brass and powder with it, and that's what hit you.

Sometimes even a well designed rifle can't take the pressure. My old gunsmith had a rifle, a Winchester, IIRC, that was in about a dozen pieces.

Turns out the guy doing the reloading had loaded 40 something grains of Unique instead of 40 something grains of his chosen rifle powder.

He was pretty badly hurt by the resulting explosion. My gunsmith estimated that the peak pressure in the action before it left loose was probably 175,000 to 200,000 PSI. How he arrived at those figures, I don't know.
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Old July 11, 2006, 12:09 PM   #22
amamnn
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brass fragments

Let's not let ourselves get carried away--I said he had TINY brass fragments in his GLOVE --yes the shield worked and the brass flew sideways through a rent in the case head.
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Old July 11, 2006, 12:18 PM   #23
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amamnn - One additional thought on this - it is those "mild practice loads" that are the easiest to double charge. With a tall case like the .357 Mag, a light load is sometimes overlooked and gets a second charge if the reloader isn't giving the reloading his full time and attention. IOW, your friend may be blaming the wrong component for the failure. Almost impossible to say at this point.
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Old July 11, 2006, 02:14 PM   #24
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1+ on that note. I was just sharing an experience. I like war stories. I think we can all learn from other's experience, and one of theses experiences may keep one of us from killing ourselves. I should have made my point a bit more clear when I brought up the dillon experience. Something gets stuck in the shell plate, plate doesn't turn, you start jacking with it, and before you know it, you just double charged a round. That is what got me double checking my rounds. I also made it a practice to pull the entire rotation and start over whenever I had a foul up. If any of you are using progressive equipment, make this your practice if you don't do it already. IF IN DOUBT, TOSS IT OUT... Bottom line - we all make mistakes, and you have to learn how to avoid them, or at best, keep them minimal.
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Old July 11, 2006, 04:06 PM   #25
amamnn
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case failures

anything is possible, but as I said--he's no beginner and loads on progressive press. But---don't you just love a thread that wanders all over until it bears almost no relation to the original subject ike this one almost did?
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