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Old November 7, 2010, 08:16 PM   #1
flintlock.50
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How long should cases last?

I general, how many loads can one expect from a new case?

About a year ago, I bought 50 Nosler custom cases in .30-06. I've loaded them 3-4 times. Today, while reloading, I found a circumferential crack in one near the case head. It doesn't appear to go all the way through, but it would probably result in a case head separation if I fired it again.

What conditions might lead to premature cracks near the case head? (I understand that the case stretches when fired and eventually they will crack. But Nosler said I should expect 12-14 loads! Maybe this one case is a fluke and the other cases will last that long.)

I use RCBS dies and full length size my cases. I generally end up at the maximum load in my Nosler manual, but I never exceed published loads. I don't see any signs of high pressure: no flattend primers, no hard extraction, no cratered primers, no ejector marks, no loose primer pockets, no gas leakage, etc.

Thanks,

Flintlock.50

Last edited by flintlock.50; November 7, 2010 at 08:26 PM.
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Old November 7, 2010, 08:40 PM   #2
4runnerman
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I load 45 ACP and 223. 45's i have some that have been reloaded about 17 times.
223 i have reloaded about 14 times. I never have hot loads and i think that makes a big difference too. Usually the primer pocket will wear out. You will notice that just the weight of the handle will seat the primer that's when it's time to get rid of them. Any cracks you see in case mouth is out. Do not load those or shoot them (bad carma).
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Old November 7, 2010, 08:47 PM   #3
mehavey
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Quote:
I ...full length size my cases.
And therein lies the story.

Only size sufficiently to bump the shoulder to where the case just fits back in the chamber. Otherwise you are overstretching the web with rach firing, and are bound to get premature/incipient head separation as you describe.
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Old November 8, 2010, 09:14 AM   #4
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Flintlock50;
Your brass has been worked too much, that is stretched. This can be from several causes. One might be you are pushing the shoulder back too far when you re-size. Another could be your rifles headspace or chamber is on the large size.
For the above problems, if yours is a modern bolt action rifle, you might look into just neck sizing your brass.
If your rifle is a gas gun, (M1, M1a etc.) or many military rifles, 3 ~ 4 reloadings are about all the life you are gonna get from your brass. This is due to the large chambers these rifles have to assure proper function when dirty and in some cases stretchy actions.
One thing for sure, your brass is no longer suitable for reloading. If one or two out of a lot are cracking, you should discard the lot, assuming they all have been reloaded the same amount or even close. (a face full of hot brass particle and powder gasses is never a good way to end your days shooting.)
A piece of stiff wire with an ' L ' bent on its end can be run into your cases to feel for a thin area (like a channel) near the head (right where your cases cracked) as another way of testing cases.


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Old November 8, 2010, 09:45 AM   #5
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I reload for a 22-250 and I get as 3 out of some brass and 10 plus out of other. My Lyman manual state 3 to 15 times depending on caliber, load specifications and firearm type. It says an average should be six. The 3 times comes from off brand stuff I picked up at a gun show cheap and the 10 plus comes from Winchester and Remington brass. You get what you pay for I guess.
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Old November 8, 2010, 11:18 AM   #6
flintlock.50
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I completely understand that full length resizing means the web gets stretched with each firing. I also understand how a slightly oversized chamber or undersized die will exacerbate the stretching. I've wondered whether any of these issues are actually contributing to the problem, but it's really good to hear others say the same thing.

I've always full length resized because my various reloading manuals highly recommend it for hunting loads or if the loads are used in different rifles. I shoot a Rem 700. I reload for shooting at the range and for hunting. Sometimes I load for my sons' rifles. My sons each shoot a Tika T3.

So... it sounds like I should segregate all my cases according to rifle and just neck size them. I'll give it a try on my next batch.

I've used the hooked wire (that someone recommended) to "feel" the inside of the case near the web. I had some Federal cases that developed the shiney ring around the web. The wire worked well.

Thanks for all the suggestions!

Flintlock.50
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Old November 8, 2010, 11:28 AM   #7
flintlock.50
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Quote:
Only size sufficiently to bump the shoulder to where the case just fits back in the chamber.
Is that the same thing as neck sizing only? If not, how should I adjust the die to set the shoulder back slightly without resizing the rest of the case? I understand how the neck can be sized separately, but since the die is all one piece, it seems that if it's adjusted to resize the shoulder it will also resize the case.

Thanks
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Old November 8, 2010, 12:55 PM   #8
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Quote:
Is that the same thing as neck sizing only?
Not quite. That's partial full length resizing he's describing. You accomplish it by backing your full length die off of the shell holder. Partial full length resizing (which I also do,even for semi-auto rifles) is a middle ground between full length and neck sizing only.
Neck sizing is typically done with a collet or bushing die that only touches some portion of the neck,and never touches the shoulder of bottleneck brass.


Since most of the failures I get with bottleneck rifle cartridges are neck splits anyway, I tend to doubt that there's much I can do to make brass last longer,short of case annealing. Case annealing is of course the practice of using $.40 worth of propane, $12 of your time and $.10 worth of tempil stick to make a $.50 piece of brass last for 4 more reloads.
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Old November 8, 2010, 01:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
I've loaded them 3-4 times. Today, while reloading, I found a circumferential crack in one near the case head.
How hot are you loading those?

I use brass for 3 firings for full house hunting loads (150 grain at 2925 f/sec out of a .270 WIN) and them hey go into the prairied dog load boxes (100 or 110 grain at 3000 f/sec.) .... some of those have been fired ..... ??? a dozen ??? times or more..... I neck size with the Lee Collet die.

The case necks eventually crack, but I have never had the case head crack.

I suppose if I annealed the case necks, they'd last forever.
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Old November 8, 2010, 02:30 PM   #10
flintlock.50
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Quote:
How hot are you loading those?
I'm loading 150 grains Hornady SST Interlocks to 2870 fps using 59.0 grains of IMR 4350. These are chronographed velocities.

I've loaded 165 grain SSTs with 57-58 grains of IMR 4350. At 58 grains I've chronographed MVs of 2780-2860 fps, depending on which cases I use. I have two batches of Nosler cases whose case weights differ by 10%! The heavy ones (less capacity) give velocities up to 80 fps higher than the lighter cases as I approach max load.

These are my current loads, but I worked up to these with a couple other powders and bullets, so the cases haven't always been loaded to the maximum. And by what I read on various forums, many other folks routinely use even higher powder charges.

Quote:
That's partial full length resizing he's describing. You accomplish it by backing your full length die off of the shell holder.
Hmmm. Since the case is tapered (albeit very slightly), I don't understand how you can resize just the shoulder and part of the case. It seems like the entire case would make contact with the die at the same time. What am I missing here?

Flintlock.50
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Old November 8, 2010, 03:05 PM   #11
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You might try te RCBS X-Die for FL resizing. It has a little ledge on the mandrel to prevent the case from stretching during resizing. you trim it once, set the X-Die for that length and then do not have to trim again. A couple of writers have tested these and documented 15-20 reloads without signs of failure.

I just switched this year to the X-die for my AR15 and M1 Garand loads. So far a couple of reloadings worked as advertised (no trimming needed). I had been getting about .005" stretch almost every firing/reload cycle.
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Old November 8, 2010, 03:46 PM   #12
flintlock.50
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Quote:
You might try the RCBS X-Die for FL resizing. It has a little ledge on the mandrel to prevent the case from stretching during resizing.
I looked up the RCBS X dies and saw the ledge on the mandrel. I obviously don't understand how a case stretches during resizing. I thought stretching occured during firing.

Would the X die help prevent stretching in the web area?

A little help please...

Thanks,

Flintlock.50
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Old November 8, 2010, 03:56 PM   #13
Poodleshooter
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Quote:
Hmmm. Since the case is tapered (albeit very slightly), I don't understand how you can resize just the shoulder and part of the case. It seems like the entire case would make contact with the die at the same time. What am I missing here?
The case is tapered,but so is the die. Basically the die is sitting further up, so the case can't go as far inside of it.
With partial full length sizing, the shoulder is getting pushed back, just not very much. The entire neck is getting sized as well. The area above the casehead wouldn't be getting resized.
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Old November 8, 2010, 04:21 PM   #14
flintlock.50
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So do you think an X die would prevent the kind of stretching that leads to circumferential cracks near the web? Or would I be better to do partial resizing. I'm guessing that partial resizing would work better because it allows the web area to expand to chamber dimensions with no further working of the metal. I see that with the X die you can either full length or partial resize, so maybe the X die and partial resizing is the best of both worlds.

But I'm just guessing.
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Old November 8, 2010, 04:45 PM   #15
mehavey
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Quote:
...don't understand how a case stretches during resizing.
The case doesn't stretch during resizing. Rather--depending on how much it gets squeezed in on the sides--it elongates akin to a balloon getting squished. (a technical term)

If you're partially resizing, measure the case length before you start. After resizing the neck portion only (the extent of which you can see very clearly on the case neck as it progresses) check to see if the case has elongated. If it hasn't, you may be able to get away with not touching the shoulder at all as long as the case will rechamber. Bolt-closing "feel" is OK at this point.
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