• If you enjoy the forum please consider supporting it by signing up for a NES Membership  The benefits pay for the membership many times over.

Things to check for on used brass?

Rating - 100%
6   0   0
Joined
Jul 28, 2005
Messages
5,659
Likes
111
I've been reloading 9mm, 40S&W and .45ACP for a while now.. and have managed to reload and successfully fire thousands of rounds to date. In never use hot loads.

That being said "most" of the brass I've used has been from commercial brass I've purchased new and has reloaded just fine. However recently I purchased 2000 rounds of Federal .40 S&W "one fired" brass. Although the inside of the cases don't show signs of being reloaded many times (not black) I've found several that have split case mouths. I've found a few when reloading, one after firing.
Most of this brass not Glock fired and resizes fine and seems to hold the bullets quite well.

Are there any other signs to look for? Is case head separation something that can happen or is that rare is typical handgun loads? None of them show any signs of this fwiw. None of them seem to have loose primer pockets either. Could it just be old brass that may have become brittle?
 

jhrosier

NES Member
Rating - 100%
10   0   0
Joined
Dec 31, 2005
Messages
1,989
Likes
153
Location
Central MA
..... I've found several that have split case mouths. I've found a few when reloading, one after firing.
....
My theory, and it is just that, is that the ammo makers have no compelling reason to make cases optimally soft for long life. There is a range of hardness that is satisfactory for loading and firing exactly once. I'm not saying that they are deliberately making the cases hard enough to split, but that they are not taking extra pains to make them long lasting. I also suspect that at least some of the domestic ammo companies are using increasing amounts of imported components or are selling ammo which is completely manufactured abroad and to different standards than we are accustomed. YMMV

.... Is case head separation something that can happen or is that rare is typical handgun loads? ... Could it just be old brass that may have become brittle?
Case head separations are not common in pistol calibers. Case head separations are usually the result of case stretching, which is more common for rifle calibers than pistol. Pistol and revolver cases generally fail due to neck splits. An undersized sizing die combined with a large chamber could, however, lead to head separations by work hardening the brass.
The only cases that I have encountered with oversized primer pockets are 38 Super brass that is/was loaded to +P++ by IPSC shooters going for major power factor. I've also seen 38 Super brass with the headstamps "erased" by loading to extremely high pressure. Here's a hint, if you see an IPSC shooter leaving his brass lying on the range, don't bother picking it up.
Age hardening of brass usually takes decades to appear. I have .42 Russian Berdan cartriges in my collection that have spontaniously split through the head. They were loaded in the 1880s. Some few lots of WWII vintage 30-06 ammo have been reported that crack through the head when fired. There is no practical way to determine when of if this will happen. If you are using cases that are more than 60 years old, you may eventually encounter this problem. I fired brass just this morning with dates in the 1940s. Maybe I was lucky, who knows. Even at today's prices, a lot of recently manufactured brass for your rifle is not a great expense.

The only practical advice that I can offer is to keep new lots of brass segregated from your main supply and load a couple of boxes to check for problems. If any issues develope, scrap out the entire lot. There are a few resellers that state that their brass is police range or commercial shooting range factory loads in origin. Short of seeing it fired with your own eyes, this is probably the best that you can hope for.

Jack
 

EddieCoyle

Consigliere
Moderator
NES Member
Rating - 100%
144   0   0
Joined
Nov 11, 2005
Messages
21,104
Likes
7,854
Location
Northern, MA
Excellent post Jack (as usual).

The only thing I can add is that you should avoid buying nickel plated brass for high pressure cartridges. In 10mm for every split brass case, I get ten splits in nickel.

When I was building up my brass supply early on for 10mm, I bought a lot of UMC ammo with nickel-plated brass. Many of those cases split after one loading. Now, I keep the nickel plated reloads to use for "event" shoots where I can't always retrieve my brass.

It may perform OK in low pressure rounds like .45 ACP or .38 SPL, but I don't even bother scrounging it anymore.
 
Rating - 100%
6   0   0
Joined
Jul 28, 2005
Messages
5,659
Likes
111
Thanks for the quick and great responses. I agree with Jack though now... and have learned... unless you have personally seen the brass with your own eyes... you have no idea just how many times it's actually been fired.

I do use the Lee undersize die for all my .40 S&W since I've found it's the only round, even when new and thru something other than a Glock, that I find occasional cases that don't fit into the case checker I use. Maybe this could contribute to the spilt cases. I basically use the starting load of Power Pistol for .40 S&W 180gr bullets- 6.2gr, 1.125" COL (although I use plated bullets) so I don't over do it. I also stay away from nickel cases.

I guess I'll just make sure to check these well... and if I don't recover them so be it.
 
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Joined
Dec 3, 2005
Messages
172
Likes
1
Location
Patriots Nation
FWIW, Winchester seems to be using several mfgs. for their brass. I find that Federal Large Pistol Primers (150s) do NOT want to go into the Winchesters that have a small dot on either end of the name.

I have heard that it's not advisable to load .40 (brass or nickel) cases from "F-C (or F C)", ANY Sellier & Belloit cases, and the new "Federal N.T." uses some sort of oddly sized (proprietary) primers....

Federal seems to have the longest lasting, easiest reloading cases out there...and I go through a LOT of ammo.... mostly .45 ACP in my IPSC revolver though, but decent amounts of .40 for my Glock (replaced with a Lone Wolf barrel so no "Glocked" brass issues for me :) )
 
Rating - 100%
6   0   0
Joined
Jul 28, 2005
Messages
5,659
Likes
111
Interesting observations Mooney. Federal NT in .40 uses regular primers.. it's just that they're crimped. I think S&B might be crimped as well... either that or real tight.

I would agree that Federal is the "easiest" to reload for sure! Primers seem to go in more smoothly for some reason. Winchester seems to have tight pockets and don't seat the primers low without more effort.

I just finished a small batch of .45ACP and the Federals just went fine.. once in a while a CCI would catch a primer on edge (not timing of press).

I'm glad you said that Federal seems to last the longest... I just must have some .40 brass that was reloaded a bunch.
 

EddieCoyle

Consigliere
Moderator
NES Member
Rating - 100%
144   0   0
Joined
Nov 11, 2005
Messages
21,104
Likes
7,854
Location
Northern, MA
I think S&B might be crimped as well... either that or real tight.

I find that in specific calibers, both S&B and Independence (*I* headstamped) brass can be difficult to prime.

With S&B in .38, and *I* in .45 ACP, the primers go in hard. I did a bit of measuring and found the S&B pockets to be about 0.001" to 0.002" smaller than "normal". The *I* pockets are standard sized, but there's absolutely no chamfer on the edge of the pocket hole - it's a sharp square edge and the primers go in real hard. If I put even a tiny chamfer around the edge of the pocket - I'm talking simply spinning them by hand on a dull countersink bit - they prime just fine.
 
Rating - 100%
6   0   0
Joined
Jul 28, 2005
Messages
5,659
Likes
111
I find that in specific calibers, both S&B and Independence (*I* headstamped) brass can be difficult to prime.

With S&B in .38, and *I* in .45 ACP, the primers go in hard. I did a bit of measuring and found the S&B pockets to be about 0.001" to 0.002" smaller than "normal". The *I* pockets are standard sized, but there's absolutely no chamfer on the edge of the pocket hole - it's a sharp square edge and the primers go in real hard. If I put even a tiny chamfer around the edge of the pocket - I'm talking simply spinning them by hand on a dull countersink bit - they prime just fine.

Funny you should mention the chamfering. I switched last night to .45 ACP on my press. It wasn't going as smooth intially but one thing I did notice is the like you said some rounds (all mfrs) have different primer pockets- some with no chamfer, some with less. I found the Federal and RP seem to have more chamfer and "start" easy whereas some like CCI ( not usually a problem) seemed to cause some grief. Upon further inspection the CCI primer pockets didn't seem to have ANY chamfer at all.

I'm considering sorting my brass for everthing now.

FWIW- I made up some rounds with Starline brass- virgin brass at that... what a joy to make rounds with that stuff.
 

TY43215

NES Member
Rating - 100%
38   0   0
Joined
Nov 12, 2005
Messages
5,294
Likes
329
Location
Other side of the bridge
I shoot all my brass until it splits for 38spl, 40S&W, 357 SIG and 45ACP. 45 ACP seems to last forever and 38spl, well I have some brass that I still reload that I bought once fired in 1980 [wink]

Brass is brass. S&B is finicky in some calibers but I still use it. Glock fired 40 is OK as once fired if you are sure it is once fired.

Split cases are going to happen even with new factory ammo. A particle of dust in the size die can scratch and weaken the case so it will split when fired.

I use the same brass over and over in my revolvers. I load the S&B for semi auto lost brass matches and let the brass whores pick it up.
 

jhrosier

NES Member
Rating - 100%
10   0   0
Joined
Dec 31, 2005
Messages
1,989
Likes
153
Location
Central MA
Just a quick note to follow up on primer pockets.
RCBS makes a dandy primer pocket swager, it comes with buttons and support rods for both small and large size.
It is a die body with a rod to support the case from the inside and a swaging button that fits in the shell holder recess in the ram. There is also a stripper that fits some but not all presses. The stripper requires a hefty slam of the handle on the upstroke to knock the case off the button. With rifle cases, I sometimes just wiggle them free.
The swager requires a heavy duty compound linkage press, like the Rockchucker.
It will make undersized pockets the right size and will also swage a nice radius on the top of the pocket, neatly removing the crimp from milsurp brass.
I prefer to swage my crimped or undersized pockets rather than reaming, YMMV.

Jack
 
Rating - 100%
6   0   0
Joined
Jul 28, 2005
Messages
5,659
Likes
111
Just a quick note to follow up on primer pockets.
RCBS makes a dandy primer pocket swager, it comes with buttons and support rods for both small and large size.
It is a die body with a rod to support the case from the inside and a swaging button that fits in the shell holder recess in the ram. There is also a stripper that fits some but not all presses. The stripper requires a hefty slam of the handle on the upstroke to knock the case off the button. With rifle cases, I sometimes just wiggle them free.
The swager requires a heavy duty compound linkage press, like the Rockchucker.
It will make undersized pockets the right size and will also swage a nice radius on the top of the pocket, neatly removing the crimp from milsurp brass.
I prefer to swage my crimped or undersized pockets rather than reaming, YMMV.

Jack

I have the same set up. I've used it on .223 and .40S&W brass. It's a great product.
 
Top Bottom