View Full Version : Case Life

06-03-2005, 09:50 PM
Most ya'll know that I shot mainly pipsqueak loads. I've been shooting the same 10 cases in my 38-55, and at 45 loads I got one that cracked at the neck. I was neck sizing these, then running into the expander die, loading, then running back into the sizing die turned 1 3/4 turns into the press to slightly reduce the neck diameter so the round would chamebr (topic of anouther disscussion, mismatched chamber/bore dimensions)

Anyway, I annealed the remaining cases but have not continued firing them as I started another lot of 10. I'll get around to that.

I also have been shooting the same lot of 357 Maximum cases I started with 2 1/2 years ago, same for my 44 Mag cases. I figure these cases have at least 50 loadings on them easy. I load them quite the same as my 38-55 cases, neck sizing only. My loads are mild, I only change the case .005" in sizing and I'm beginning to experiment with eliminating the neck sizing as the bullets fit tight enough with out the sizing. Occasionally I get a split case (longitudinal crack) but most fail with a crack at the case mouth.

Brass is cheap, but I have a hard time replacing something still working so well, but I figure that I should begin to add annealing to my regimine, just not sure how many firings I should think about. I'm annealing by holding the case mouth in my melting pot till it gets hot enough to make me want to let go, and into a bucket of water it goes.

So what say ye, anyone regularly streach their brass life as far as practical? Is there a point at which you toss the brass no matter what? (these are straight wall cases, that have not changed in length the entire time I have been shooting them, I don't think normal rules for hot rod bottle necks apply)While annealing "realigns" the brass structure of the neck area, making it softer, does the body and head area continue to get harder on continued firings? I've not yet seen any signs of incipient head seperation in these cases. How probable is it that brass would seperate without showing any warning signs?

45 2.1
06-03-2005, 10:02 PM
With proper annealing, the primer pocket will wear out before your brass goes bad. Harry Pope of barrel making and scheutzen fame got about 2,500 shots from one case before its pocket wore out. I've got over 800 shots from one case for an obscure sharps caliber and its still going strong.

06-03-2005, 10:12 PM
I have a lot of about 400 .38-55 cases formed from .30/30 brass that I've used over and over for almost ten years. Occasioanally I'll get a neck split and trash one. So far, no open primer pockets.

I picked up a batch of vintage .348 cases last summer. These were bad. I tumbled them, anealed them and so far, I've lost only one case to a neck split in over 10 firings and this was some old stuff.

.30/30s seem to be the worst about splits. I get these 1/8" long jobs in the neck and on fairly new brass too. Guess I'll aneal and see if that helps.

.38 Special brass and .45 ACP brass seems to be like the energizer bunny and keeps on going. Only the nickeled stuff seems to split on the .38s./beagle

06-04-2005, 12:05 AM
.........I have several 'lots' of cases with over 30 firings apiece. Those that Lee makes Collet sizers for have that used on them. Otherwise they get a partial necksizing in a std die. The 57-450 brass I have (Bertram) get annealed eevry 3rd firing. More common cartridges (read, inexpensive) will get annealed very 6-8 firings.

The cases I seemed to have had the most trouble with had been the 6.5 Swede. Normally I have at least 100 rounds for each rifle in 'lots' of 20. The peoblem with these early on was most likely due to the scarcity of Swede brass. At the time Norma and CBC were the only commonly available head stamps and they got used amongst 5 different rifles.

Basicly I like to see at least 15 firings from each case. In each batch of 20, if I have a split neck I will replace it and continue on. If I begin to have a couple or 3 begin splitting, regardless I will then dump that batch of 20.


06-04-2005, 12:24 AM
For most of my cast-boolit work, I've given up on keeping separate "lots" of cases. The danged things last so long that it just takes too much book-keeping for my taste.

What I DO do, is keep a smallish supply of little-used brass for the few calibers which MIGHT see use with jacketed loads for hunting ...which is pretty danged rare. These include some .338s, some '06, etc. My brass supply for the new M-14 will be divided...about half each for jacketed and cast.

For the CB brass, I keep the cases trimmed to some semblance of uniformity, and sort them according to headstamp. So, if I return from the range with a couple hundred rounds of mixed '06, .303 and .270, they ALL go into the tumbler together and are sorted by case make and caliber after cleaning. They mostly live in 50-round cartridge boxes, but are still "mixed" as they come from the tumbler, meaning it won't be the SAME exact 50 rounds going into each box.

For my purposes, in my rifles and on my bench, it works for me. Case failures are so rare as to be almost unknown, except for one batch of 100 Winchester .338s which were quite short-lived and died of neck cracks.

Ballistics in Scotland
06-04-2005, 02:59 AM
Pope was using a Scheutzen rifle which didn't require any case grip on the bullet - whether always separately loaded or sometimes a sliding fit, I don't remember. So he seldom or never even neck-sized. But the basic premise, of extremely long life in carefully used cases, is true. I think you could get pretty close to Pope's situation with paper-patched bullets, if the relationship of neck thickness, bullet and chamber diameters was right. It probably wouldn't give enough grip for safe use in a tube magazine, but should for other purposes.

Bent Ramrod
06-05-2005, 11:48 PM
I generally only anneal if the case is rare, expensive or just formed from another case. Afterwards, I let the cases themselves tell me what's going on, annealing the rest of the box of the more difficult to get ones if I see a split neck in one case. The more easily replaceable stuff I just let wear out.

Sometimes that takes a long time. I had the tail end of a batch of .22 Hornet brass that I started shooting and loading in the mid-70's finally give up the ghost in the late 90's after at least 50 reloadings. I'd maybe lose a case every reloading cycle, but as long as they were kept trimmed and loaded sensibly, the majority soldiered on in fine style. I bought a big bag of FA Match 30-06 brass because I thought I'd run through that in short order, but I have yet to lose a case after probably 15 reloadings. On the other hand, .270 brass seems to split necks after five or six reloadings pretty much on schedule. 44-40 brass seems to decrease steadily as 50 cases are put through the mill over and over. 44 Special brass seems to go on forever.

It's just what you think your time spent annealing is worth vs. the cost of the brass.

06-10-2005, 07:45 AM
ive shot my 357max brass 6 times.ive only had my max since the begining of last winter.out of 100 brass i had about 3 or 4 that split but that is all.i have shot alot of differant boolits and most loads have been at max or close to it,i think im going to get another 100 soon when i order my casting stuff

06-11-2005, 09:36 AM
When I first got into reloading I thought that 16 reloads was doing really good, then I read about a man in Finland who was reloading his single 7.62x53R case until its primer pocket was wrecked. I don't know how many reloads that was for him, but I’ll bet it was more than 16!

I shoot mostly 7.62x53R Finn/7.62x54R Russian and 7.5x54 French. The brass is pretty expensive compared to .308 Win and .223 Rem, so I baby the cases as much as possible. I have one group of five cases that are used in just one Finn rifle that have been reloaded 43 times. The number of reloads depends on a couple of factors, mostly two. First, all the cases are only used in one gun. Second, is that the resizing is kept to an absolute minimum, if at all. The cases that I have used 43 times have had various kinds of loads in them, but they have all been mild and the cases were not fully resized. The only metal working was with the Lee collet crimp tool to very, very lightly compress the case mouth so as to restore the grip to the boolit. Most of the loads were 45-grain .311 round balls with a 3.5 or 4-grain charge of Unique or Red Dot as well as the Lee 113-grain .309 that is such a nice little plinker. A third factor for longevity has already been stated, which is annealing the brass. Your cases will last if the metal is not worked, and this includes case stretch from excess headspace.

About the Mosin-Nagant and the brass being hard to find as well as expensive, I have been using .308 Win in my Mosin-Nagants FOR LIGHT LOADS. I put one complete wrap of 0.005” thick adhesive-backed aluminum tape (like the stuff used for burglar alarm circuits on window glass) around the case from the head half-way up to the shoulder to make up for the slightly larger head end diameter of the 7.62x53R Finn/7.62x54R Russian case. The two (.308 Win and Mosin-Nagant round) are amazingly close in dimensions and several people have reported using full power .308 ammo in the Mosin-Nagant, but I would not recommend it without making sure that the bullet/boolit is far enough out so that the cartridge over all length is the same as the 7.62x53R Finn/7.62x54R, besides also putting on a wrap of foil to make up for the slightly fatter case. It is not that much different than using an adapter to shoot .308 Win in a .30-06. But they sure do work great for making 45-grain round ball and Lee 113-grain plinkers with a few grains of a fast pistol/shotshell powder like the aforementioned Unique, Red Dot, Green Dot, etc. Except for the five cases I have already been using for plinkers, using the cheap .308 Win brass for light loads saves my expensive 7.62x53R Finn/7.62x54R Russian brass for more serious full power loads.

06-24-2005, 04:47 PM
Norma has fired a single botteneck case w/ full house hunting loads 100 times.
1) they neck sized only after 1st firing.
2) they annealled after 15 firings.
3) heat case 1/2 submerged in a cake pan (100 or so at a time) w/ a propane tourch till mouth & neck are red then tip over in H20.