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Old November 18, 2007, 06:35 AM   #1
kestak
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Brass case failure

Greetings,

I am quite curious about brass case failure and its consequences.
I reload my 357Mag hot (16.2gr of h110 with HSP 158gr).

Here are the failures I read can happen:

- Split at the neck
- Separation of the head and case
- Split in the middle

If any of those happen when I fire, can I be hurt, can it damage the revolver?
I read for a semi-automatic handgun, it can be disastrous, but it can not be too. I read many things, but many of those are contradictory. Anyone can give some insights on the most probable causes of case failure in a revolver and a handgun?

Thank you
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Old November 18, 2007, 08:55 AM   #2
Sevens
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Neck split is the most minor. Perhaps some ejection trouble, and a case you won't be able to reload again.

Split in the middle will be similar to a neck split.

Case head separation can be disastrous, and everything from particles flying out from the revolver to hot gas cutting to pierced primers and more gas flow in to the firing pin pocket to who knows what else. Then you may see brass pieces stuck in the chamber you cannot easily remove.

It's bad, bad, bad, and you don't want to go there.

If you make any lighter loads, it makes the most sense to use new or once-fired brass for your hot loads, roll them ONCE only and then relegate that brass to be used for light stuff or wadcutters later.

Given how cheap .357 mag brass is compared to most of the rest, you've got one of the cheapest with which to do this.

Of course, the best move (you already knew this) is to buy a larger caliber if you demand more performance. You can get the same results much easier and with so much less risk by moving up to something bigger.
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Old November 18, 2007, 09:01 AM   #3
Mach II Sailor
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i too once loaded .357 and .44 mag "HOT" then one day i asked myself, "WHY" ? the dinosaurs are all dead, so ask yourself, "WHY" ?
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Old November 18, 2007, 10:03 AM   #4
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Hodgdon's data shows 16.7gr of H-110 as max for the 158gr XTP. Their data says 1591 fps at 40,700 CUP.

SAAMI shows the max .357 pressure at 35,000 PSI, but I believe the old CUP max was 45,000 CUP, so you're getting up there.

I believe if I was loading heavy, I'd switch to a powder a little more forgiving, for instance Lil'Gun. Hodgdon shows 1577 fps at 25,800 CUP as their max for the same bullet.
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Old November 18, 2007, 10:36 AM   #5
azredhawk44
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kestak:

Sevens has an excellent suggestion.

I agree with him that heavy magnum loads using powders like H110 should be only loaded once or twice in new brass, then the brass should be used for less potent loads.
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Old November 18, 2007, 10:41 AM   #6
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It used to be that H110/296 gave the best magnum revolver velocities for a given pressure. I didn't realize Li'l Gun had supplanted it in that roll, or at least it has in the Hodgdon test barrel length. If Hodgdon's pressure number is correct, then using this load will have the added advantage that it is probably working below the pressure at which the cases start to stretch in the chamber, and instead the whole case will likely push rearward as a unit. That eliminates case head separation and will let you get a lot more reloads out of each case.

To check the above, measure your cases before resizing and again just after coming out of the chamber. If they've grown, you are stretching them and they will be thinning out just ahead of the case head and will eventually suffer a head separation if you keep reloading them to high pressure. If they are not stretching, you only have to worry about splits retiring your cases, and that can be delayed by neck annealing (though most people don't consider it worth the time and trouble with the inexpensive .357 cases).

Note that a powder that achieves velocity equal to another, but does so at lower peak chamber pressure, is slower burning and will be doing more of its bullet accelerating at greater distance down the barrel. This means it will not perform as well in shorter barrels as the faster powder does. That's the trade-off. My printed Hodgdon manual is too old to include the Li'l Gun data, but it's other data matches the velocities on their web site, and the printed manual indicates these velocities were achieved in a 10" test barrel. If your revolver has a barrel shorter than 10", the Li'l gun may not perform up to the H110/296 loads. You will need to take a chronometer and see for yourself. Li'l gun isn't in QuickLOAD's powder database, so I can't run a computer calculation on that.
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Old November 18, 2007, 12:07 PM   #7
Crimp
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Uncle Nick/kestack: I load 158 XTPs for a 4" GP-100 with Lil'Gun. Of course, they don't meet the velocity of Hodgon's 10" test barrels, but they do make a good accurate load and are my preferred 158gr load for the Ruger.

18gr Lil'Gun, 158gr HP/XTP @ 1.580" OAL, CCI-550 primer, 1370 fps.

18gr is Hodgon's max, so of course, work up to it.
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Last edited by Crimp; November 18, 2007 at 01:43 PM. Reason: change primer data
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Old November 18, 2007, 12:22 PM   #8
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Crimp,

Is the use of the standard primer your idea or Hodgdon's recommendation? I didn't take note of that when I looked at their web site data. I am just curious whether you'd worked the load up with a magnum primer or not and if so, how the performance compared? I also would like to hear whether you have run a max load of H110/296 with the same bullet over the same chronograph from your gun, and if so, how it compares? I'd expect you to see a pretty good fireball at the muzzle?

Nick
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Old November 18, 2007, 01:40 PM   #9
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Dang! I hate to list loads... Carelessly, I listed a SP primer. Too much 9mm loading lately! I edited my post to show the CCI magnum primer I use. Thanks, Unclenick.

I have not used H110/296. I've always had the feeling it's a high-pressure powder that's rather unstable, but, again, I have no experience with it. The only comparison I can give is with a hot 15.2gr of 2400 (the rest the same) which gave me an average of 1297 fps.

The Lil'Gun fireball isn't anywhere as bad as the 2400. Plus, I don't believe Lil'Gun is as dirty. It also seems to have a different recoil. More of a thump instead of a sharp hit.
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