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Thread: Vintage Brass - what do people do with it

  1. #1
    Boolit Master RogerDat's Avatar
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    Vintage Brass - what do people do with it

    I have come across assorted war years brass in 30-06 and 8mm (Turkish & Syrian) I think it is neat stuff. My brother in law has a 1936 Mauser and I have some 1937 brass I was thinking I would just load it, put it on some clips, just to keep them with the rifle as a interesting accessory.

    If I could locate some war year brass for an Enfield I would consider doing the same thing. Don't have anything for 30-06 but I won't just toss the war years brass in the bag I sell to be mixed in and used. So I keep it.

    Just wondered what other people do with this sort of thing? I know as fired ammo it isn't "collectable" as vintage ammo but it also seems a bit odd to just treat it the same as regular range p/u brass.
    Je suis Charlie
    Scrap.... because all the really pithy and emphatic four letter words were taken and we had to describe this way of getting casting material somehow.
    Feedback page http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...light=RogerDat I do trade a bit from time to time.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    I do pretty much the same thing. I have a .30 caliber can of WW II loaded ammo on 8 round clips that is meant for my 1944 M1 Garand. I also have 3 clips of 1917 ammo for my 1903 Springfield. I even have a few .45 ACP shells with WW II steel cases but my daughter has the WW I Colt 1911 that used to be mine. I'll probably give these to her even though historically they don't fit her pistol. I had a 1917 S&W revolver for awhile but like a dummy I sold it. I like your idea of fitting ammo to the time and rifle. They recently found Audie Murphy's M1 Carbine, now that would be a real historical piece to preserve. I have been a history nut all my life and history fits right into my firearm addiction. james

  3. #3
    Boolit Master dbosman's Avatar
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    If you're planning on loading found, fired brass, I have to suggest studying the brass for strength, or just making dummy rounds. Old stuff had mercuric (corrosive) primers. Brass and mercury don't get along. The case may not stand up to service loads.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Well, if the brass isn't using berdan primers then it can be reloaded. You'll need to remove the primer crimp which is a minor issue. Now if the primers were mercuric corrosive primers that might affect the cases and make them brittle. But you could likely reuse them though. Hard to say.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master RogerDat's Avatar
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    The 8mm are Berdan but I have a few primers and can reload them. Yes they were a little green at the primer hole, not bad but some verdigris specks starting. I believe they were recently fired. I wouldn't load them full power, mild load only. I don't generally load old mil-surplus calibers to full power, not required for shorter ranges being used at and the hammering of the shoulder doesn't add anything to range time. Being 70 year old brass I would be even less inclined to load full power.

    Was thinking that annealing before reloading would be a good idea.
    Je suis Charlie
    Scrap.... because all the really pithy and emphatic four letter words were taken and we had to describe this way of getting casting material somehow.
    Feedback page http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...light=RogerDat I do trade a bit from time to time.

  6. #6
    Banned - Charles1990/Eldon/Happy Warrior/Red Jackson/Henry VIII/Mr Humble
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    Reloading it as dummies for display is fine.

    Why anyone would want to mess with old brass when modern safe stuff is available is a mystery.

    Kinda like putting 30 year old tires on your Corvette and running it @120 MPH.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    I've got a whole big bag full of WWII 30-06 brass I use for my Garand. I anneal the necks and check them carefully for problems, but otherwise I load them just like new brass. They work fine. Old brass ages a lot better than old rubber tires.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    i don't have a problem with using old brass. If in good condition then it is good to go.

    Yeah I thought about it, in that some of us still have some Berdan primers. But nowadays it tends to be unobtanium. I am not sure where I put mine last.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master GoodOlBoy's Avatar
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    Fired ammo IS still collectable to SOME collectors due to headstamp, date, etc. Some folks can own empty military brass, but not loaded ammunition because of their city, county, state, country laws, or even dealing with homeowners insurance in some places.

    Just an FYI.

    GoodOlBoy
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    Keep your powder dry. Watch yer Top knot.

    "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!"

    Yes there were "Short" 45 Colts! http://www.leverguns.com/articles/taylor/45_short_colt.htm

  10. #10
    Boolit Master RogerDat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Earlwb View Post
    i don't have a problem with using old brass. If in good condition then it is good to go.

    Yeah I thought about it, in that some of us still have some Berdan primers. But nowadays it tends to be unobtanium. I am not sure where I put mine last.
    I have some Berdan primers and brass, but for the most part as pointed out there is plenty of new or gently used boxer primed brass around right now. But having the historic brass made me leap at a chance to pick up some primers and the depriming tool when the chance came up.

    It is nice to be able to show the kids, and grandkids the actual difference between the brass and primers.

    This may seem skewed but I have less concern about inspected and annealed brass than I do someone trying to fire a "dummy" where the primer kicks the bullet into the barrel and when the round doesn't have any real "kick" they decide it's too old and then load with a new hot load into an obstructed barrel.

    I can't even say my weighing of the relative chances of one or the other bad outcomes occurring is valid. Don't really have any good "metrics" for which would be worse. Say case head separation or obstructed barrel in front of the breach. My gut feeling is both are unlikely but the obstructed barrel has a worse outcome.

    Either way I would label the container of ammo. Although "Antique ammo as a curiosity, not for use unless there is an actual real Zombie Apocalypse and the choice is between the undead eating your brain or firing this ammo" True the phrase "Dummy Round" is shorter. Unless an actual dummy comes along and thinks they were custom made for him. The first has the advantage of my kids getting a grin out of it if they see it after I'm gone.
    Je suis Charlie
    Scrap.... because all the really pithy and emphatic four letter words were taken and we had to describe this way of getting casting material somehow.
    Feedback page http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...light=RogerDat I do trade a bit from time to time.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master rondog's Avatar
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    I admit to having a soft spot for old military brass too. "Respect for the aged veterans" I reckon.

    But old live ammo needs to be seen, IMO.
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  12. #12
    Banned - Charles1990/Eldon/Happy Warrior/Red Jackson/Henry VIII/Mr Humble
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    Quote Originally Posted by rondog View Post
    I admit to having a soft spot for old military brass too. "Respect for the aged veterans" I reckon.

    But old live ammo needs to be seen, IMO.
    10-4 ----- seen but not shot or reloaded. One old mercury primer case that splits and blinds you in an excessive wake up call. Old brass is NOT more durable than old tires ---- silly to chance it. God does not ALWAYS protect the foolish.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master

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    Old brass is NOT more durable than old tires ---- silly to chance it. God does not ALWAYS protect the foolish.
    I'll just have to disagree with that one. I don't drive on 20 year old tires, but 20 year old ammo is still practically new. Heck, I still shoot live ammo from the 1940's. I recently shot some .45acp ammo from 1917. It shot like new ammo (No I don't generally make a practice of shooting 100 year old ammo.)

    Brass doesn't "go bad" from just sitting. If it was good quality to begin with and hasn't been damaged in some way, I'll anneal the necks and load it up.

    I've had brass split on me before, but it was lots that were bad when they were new, most notably Israeli TZ80. Call me foolish all you want, but I always inspect my brass for defects before I load it. Various factors would make me reject empty brass for reloading, but age alone would be very low on the list.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master 15meter's Avatar
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    Not sure when the mercuric primers disappeared, the only brass I ever ran across that appeared brittle from mercury was a small lot of 30-40 that was from 1902. I have loaded military cases from the 20's and 30's with no problems. The mercuric cases were so obviously brittle they SPLINTERED during sizing even after annealing.
    Thought I would dummy load up a couple of the 02 cases as conversation pieces--didn't work.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master

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    My understanding is that mercuric primers mostly disappeared around the turn of the century. I've never loaded anything that old, and wouldn't even try if it had those kind of issues. Even WWI era brass is so uncommonly encountered anymore that it's almost a moot point as to whether it should be reloaded. WWII brass on the other hand, is still quite plentiful.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master RogerDat's Avatar
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    I think I came across a single WW1 era brass case, head stamp was 1917 as I recall but could have been 18 or 19. I appreciate the input and ideas. And picture. Not going to get to this real soon, I actually don't have anything but cast and figure these ought to be jacketed so will wait until I feel like buying some bullets in 8mm and .308 just for this project. I have a friend who would like a few of the '06 brass from WW2 so when I finally get down to his house to return a couple of molds I'll take some there. The rest I'll just set aside in a labeled cartridge box.

    I think I will run a Q-Tip with some WD-40 on it down inside the case to provide some additional protection against any corrosion.
    Je suis Charlie
    Scrap.... because all the really pithy and emphatic four letter words were taken and we had to describe this way of getting casting material somehow.
    Feedback page http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...light=RogerDat I do trade a bit from time to time.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    You have to go way back to get mercuric, corrosive primed is a different matter. I have some old rifle brass that I just loaded after annealing. I wouldn't think old brass is a collector item unless there is something unusual about it, and most is probably once fired (or more) anyway.
    Back in the land of boolits.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master





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    I am still shooting 1937 Turk ammo in my mausers. I pull bullets and dump 5 grains of the powder then reseat the bullet. Much nicer on the shoulder.

    Shot many cases of it in my 1919A4 with the feed spacer and 8mm barrel. At $.03 delivered from Century Arms it was worth the change over.

    Ammo is extremely corrosive and the bullet jackets left unbelievable remains in the bores but Sweets 7.62 gets rid of it.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master AllanD's Avatar
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    There are batches of old ammo that appear safe that I'd avoid like UEXO (unexploded ordinance)

    Example in the mid 80's my brother were exploring an old hardware store and discovered 6 boxes (of 20rds each) Remington-UMC ammo
    in the old red and green boxes sitting on the shelf, when asked the shop owner said "I'll sell anything in here with a marked price for the
    marked price!" so we considered getting six boxes of Remington factory ammo in 270Win With Bronze point expanders for $22 as a good deal,
    until I saw a puff of smoke coming from his action while he was firing the fourth round and Yelled STOP! All the rounds fired had split the case
    through the case web ("K", "L" & "M" splits) and that last (fourth) round had gas cut the rived extractor in two, needless to say we fired no more.

    Those rounds sit to this day in a Ziploc bag in my loading bench waiting for me to buy a collet bullet puller and a .270 Collet to recover those vintage bronze points
    after which I will carefully crush those cases with the ram of my Single-stage press and drop them into my brass melt bin.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master

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    Wow, that's a bit scary, must have been a bad lot of brass. I had something similar; I bought some cheap 7.62 NATO for an FAL. It was Israeli surplus, headstamp TZ80. After I had one let loose with a split through the case web, I stopped shooting them and eventually pulled them all down for components. The brass was scrap of course. I later learned that this was a well known problem with this particular ammo. They had a bunch of brass that year that was defective. Fortunately no harm done to either the gun or myself.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check