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Old April 21, 2005, 09:11 PM   #1
Bass Man
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Pistol brass wear

Do you try to keep track of how many times you fire pistol brass (38 special in particular) or do you just watch each case and throw them out as necesary?
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Old April 21, 2005, 09:34 PM   #2
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I have only begun a few months ago (fivish?) I just throw away the bad. I load .45acp, .357mag, 38spc, and .44mag (more soon). I do that because I plink...(I don't "benchrest shoot") and most of my startup and current brass has unknown origins. So far I have only bought .358 winchester brass........
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Old April 22, 2005, 04:50 AM   #3
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I look mine over after firing, as the black powder residue makes it easy to see any cracks, and then again after polishing. I tried the counting method and was too much of a pain. I ended up with 50 pcs of 3 reloads, 150 pcs of 5 reloads, etc. I watch for stress cracks at the mouth of the case, splits down the side wall, bulges at the bottom. Some brands of brass are better than others. I will never buy Starline brass again. I got 3, maybe 4 reloads out of them before having a huge amount of case splits. Cheap brass doesn't always mean it's cheaper to use. I've had my best luck with Remington and Winchester brass.
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Old April 22, 2005, 07:22 AM   #4
Russ5924
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I use to and mostly have given up on it.Been lucky so far have always found the splits when reloading.I tried to keep count of how many times they were fired but have about 10.000 .38 cases alone and could never keep them from not getting mixed up
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Old April 22, 2005, 07:30 AM   #5
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I am also one that used to keep track of them.
I haven't bothered with that for a long time. It got to be to much to keep up with.
Now, I just shoot them and inspect them after each loading, cull out the bad ones and keep on going.
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Old April 22, 2005, 09:10 AM   #6
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I have large batches of brass (~10,000) and run through every shell in a batch before starting over on the next 'round' of reloading. It makes it very easy to keep pretty good track of the number of times the brass has been reloaded. Each batch is kept in two containers. Load from one, deprime,clean and toss into the other. When the 'load from' gets empty, swap containers. This method and a good loading logbook allow me to come back and do a big reloading run every couple months and know exactly what I am using.
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Old April 22, 2005, 01:42 PM   #7
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I shot PPC for several years, I had a quantity of brass that I reloaded over and over, I just inspected the cases for cracks etc, when I would find something I would throw it out, I believe some of those cases were reloaded 50 times or more, with no problems. Keep in mind these were mild target loads.

Dogjaw mentioned having a problem with splits on Starline brass, Starline is considered to be some of the best brass you can buy. The only thing that might fit his problem is if the cases were nickel, nickel cases can't be reloaded much, they split very easily, it is believed the nickel plating process weakens the brass and makes it brittle.
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Old April 22, 2005, 03:44 PM   #8
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38 Special, specifically

Million years ago a gun-rag tested 38 cases to destruction, except the testing stopped after over one hundred loadings.

Based on your process, natch.

I've got 38's I've loaded over fifty times (after which I stopped counting).

If you seat well-sized bullets in gently-sized cases and taper crimp them (148g wadcutters over mild powder charges of Bullseye and W231) those cases will last too long...........
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Old April 22, 2005, 03:53 PM   #9
Norm Lee
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Brass Life

I make it a rule to shoot 'em only one more time after the brass has split.

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Old April 22, 2005, 04:53 PM   #10
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It's a brass' life

I too use Starline cases, after having had best luck with Remingtons, but discovering that the Rems vary on inside dimensions. The Starlines are lasting me forever on my target .357 loads. (Sorry you're having trouble w/Starline brass, Dogjaw--I wonder what is the difference??) The hunting loads (much heavier loads) don't get used as much so they haven't been reloaded as much, but they show no sign of getting tired.

I have a general rule about brass life, based on an article 100 years ago in NRA's American Rifleman which suggested that when your brass gets to voting age, scrap it. That was back when voting age was 21. Have had a couple of lots of brass get to that age, and sure enough, they began neck-splitting. So I scrapped the entire lot, with appropriate honors.
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Last edited by Smokey Joe; April 22, 2005 at 10:54 PM. Reason: Want to split a couple hairs differently
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Old April 22, 2005, 05:41 PM   #11
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I wonder what my bad luck with Starline brass was. It was new standard brass. Must have been a bad batch or something.
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Old April 22, 2005, 06:26 PM   #12
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If I'm loading +P+, I will count and toss them after 10 reloads. Otherwise, I load until they start showing neck splits.

High power rifle reloads for target and hunting, I keep good records of, and toss an entire batch when about 10 percent start to show problems. I will also toss a batch of rifle brass when it needs to be trimmed for the third time.
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Old April 22, 2005, 10:58 PM   #13
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Bad Starline brass

Dogjaw--Have you considered sending several samples, both whole and split, back to Starline and asking them what's going on? I bet the manufacturer would be grateful to find out that a particular lot of cases was having splitting problems.

(OK, I beat you--That'll give Starline a splitting headache. )
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Old April 24, 2005, 02:31 PM   #14
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I have been reloading for 50 years, and my unscientific research as shown me that neck splitting on pistol brass, either brass or nickle plate is caused by work hardening the brass. Crimping in and folding out on firing plus belling the mouth, causes the brass to harden, and finially split. On rifle brass while you don't crimp, you are still work hardning the mouth of the case. Firing the shell causes the case to stretch forward, and also to expand and contract. A simple annealing of the cases after say 5 or 6 reloads will stop a lot of the necks splitting. It softens the case neck. All case necks are anneled at the factory before it is loaded for that reason, to make the case mouth softer. brass properly taken care of and not loaded to max loads all the time will last for years. Day before yesterday I loaded a box of Peters 270 cases I bought sometime in the 50's. I have no idea how many times this brass has been loaded, but say a lot. It still is in good condition.
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Old April 24, 2005, 06:08 PM   #15
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Quote:
and my unscientific research as shown me that neck splitting on pistol brass, either brass or nickle plate is caused by work hardening the brass.
When I was a Deputy Sheriff I carried a 357 revolver, we used Remington hollow points with nickel plated brass, the ammo that was carried on our belts was shot up every 6 months to make sure we had fresh ammo on our belts. It was not uncommon to have 2 or 3 case splits out of the 30 rounds I carried on my duty belt and in the pistol. New cases splitting on the first firing, I observed that over a period of years, so it wasn't like it was just a certain lot, the ammo was often less than a year old when we shot it up.

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12 rounds in belt loops
12 rounds in speed loaders
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Old April 24, 2005, 07:21 PM   #16
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LEO belt ammo

Ah, but G56, consider that you were shooting nickeled brass cases. The process of nickel-plating the brass includes dipping them in sulfuric acid, which embrittles the brass. The splitty tendencies of nickeled brass are well documented. So I'm not surprised that in 30 rds you got 1 or 2 neck splits. Most (not all) reloaders avoid using nickeled brass for that reason.

But I must admit that the nickeled brass sure looks nice on a black carry belt! And the leather would likely corrode non-nickeled brass, leading to a whole nother set of problems. Seems like a sound procedure to shoot up all the carry ammo every 6 mos.

A thought--I wonder if Pancho Villa and his men had problems with corrosion of their (surely non-nickeled) rifle ammo brass, slung in bandoliers from their shoulders. You always see this in photos of Villa and his men, but I can't recall pix of any other military or paramilitary outfit that used this way of carrying rifle ammo.
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Last edited by Smokey Joe; April 24, 2005 at 07:26 PM. Reason: The usual--had another thought.
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Old April 24, 2005, 08:40 PM   #17
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I started reloading .38's over 30 years ago and still have some of my original brass. I keep my loads on the mild side and it seems to last forever.
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Old April 25, 2005, 05:17 PM   #18
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Hey G56,
I'm wondering with the amount of case splits you got with new ammo, that the cylinder bores in your revolver were a little on the big side, allowing the brass too much stretch?
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Old April 25, 2005, 06:47 PM   #19
Guy B. Meredith
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I too use Starline--exclusively--for .38 spl loaded to around 875/900 fps. Can't remember whether I went with the +P brass or standard. No problems to note other than some case mouths are getting rough. I am using roll crimp which is probably unnecessary and will be going back to taper crimp. Should reduce working fatigue at the mouth of the case.
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Old April 25, 2005, 09:52 PM   #20
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I now buy Starline brass for all of my revolvers, and haven't had any splitting problems. I also have some old federal brass that I've loaded I dunno how many times for my .44 mags, and it's like the energizer bunny..... When I do get case splits, it's usually, as stated before, in .357 brass that is nickel plated.
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Old April 25, 2005, 11:27 PM   #21
G56
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Quote:
that the cylinder bores in your revolver were a little on the big side, allowing the brass too much stretch?
I had the same results in my duty S&W mod 66 as I had in my previous model 19, my Ruger Security Six, Ruger Service Six, and my Ruger Blackhawk, 5 different 357s representing 2 different brand names.
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Old April 26, 2005, 06:04 AM   #22
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Well, my first gun was a .41 magnum ruger blackhawk.
I saved up for that gun for almost a year, being a poor college student, working at auto service places.
When I finally got it, I found that I couldn't afford the ammo, it was almost $30 a box at the cheapest place in town.
So, I bought some reloading crap.
That gun was my only gun for several years, and I somehow managed to buy 6 boxes of factory ammo, and reused the brass.
I shot and loaded those 300 rounds for almost 10 years, before I retired them.
Never split a case, never ever.
I shot at least 100 rounds a month, more like a hundred a week.
Let's see.
At 200 rounds a month, (200x12=2400), times 5 years (2400x5=12000).
Twelve thousand, divided by 300 (12000 /300= 40)
I shot 2400, eventually H110, never anything but hot loads, and heavy roll crimps.
Mind you, each was shot a minimum of 40 times.
I still have most of that brass, I counted 288 left, don't know where the others are, lost, crushed in a reloading accident, stepped on, whatever.
I bought 1000 rounds of fresh brass from starline recently, that brass should last me a lifetime, now that I have other toys to play with....
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Old April 26, 2005, 09:41 AM   #23
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Starline brass ?? As good as the best and better than the rest....When the big ammo companies need a run of pistol brass to keep up with demand, who do you think makes it for them and adds their logo..Starline....IMHO
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