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Thread: 30-30 Case Life Test.

  1. #1
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    30-30 Case Life Test.

    I posed the question of "How many loadings to expect on full length sized 30-30 brass?" sometime back. The responses I received were anywhere from "not many" to the usual suggestion of "why full length size when neck sizing is better for brass life".

    So I decided to do a little test. I took a once fired winchester case and loaded it until failure, keeping a record of each loading. I marked it's head with 4 file marks so I could easily distinguish it. I loaded it anytime I loaded a batch of 30-30, and sometimes loaded it singularly as well.

    The case was full length sized after each firing, and then measured. From the first trimming until the case grew past the maximum length it wasn't trimmed. Then, it was trimmed to minimum length after each firing. Sometimes the trim length was short due to my inconsistent use of the trimmer or using the test casing to set the trimmer. I inside chamfered and outside deburred every time the case was trimmed. A roll crimp was used every loading. I did not anneal the case during this test.

    The gun is my Winchester 94 30-30 made in 1970.

    Tools used, Lyman FL sizing die set (a few times I used a CH FL sizing die but did not record which times), Lyman M die, lyman universal case trimmer. I used both a Lyman Spartan and a Lee hand press. For lube it was imperial sizing wax or Hornady one shot with no recorded distinction. RCBS calipers.

    Cast bullets were all from air cooled, clip on wheel weights, sized .309 with Hornady gas checks. Lube was BAC on the Lyman 31141, LLA on the Lee 309-150-FN.

    Times fired, powder & charge, bullet, length after sizing, trim to length.

    1. Factory fired, trimmed to 2.029
    2. W748 29.0 gr, Lee 309-150-FN, 2.029
    3. W748 29.0 gr, Lee 309-150-FN, 2.032
    4. W748 29.0 gr, Lee 309-150-FN, 2.032
    5. W748 29.0 gr, Lee 309-150-FN, 2.035
    6. W748 29.0 gr, Lee 309-150-FN, 2.036
    7. W748 29.0 gr, Lee 309-150-FN, 2.0365
    8. W748 29.0 gr, Lee 309-150-FN, 2.038
    9. W748 29.0 gr, Lee 309-150-FN, 2.039
    10. W748 29.0 gr, Lee 309-150-FN, 2.041, TTL 2.027
    11. Misfired factory bullet & powder, 2.032, TTL 2.028
    12. W748 34.0 gr, Lyman 31141, 2.027, no trim
    13. W748 32.0 gr, Lyman 31141, 2.029, TTL 2.026
    14. W748 32.5 gr, Lyman 31141, 2.027, no trim
    15. W748 32.5 gr, Lyman 31141, 2.031, 2.029
    16. W748 32.5 gr, Lyman 31141, 2.032, 2.027
    17. Unique 9.2 gr, Lee 309-150-fn no GC, 2.030, TTL no record
    18. W748 32.5 gr, Lee 309-150-fn, 2.030, TTL 2.028
    19. W748 32.5 gr, Lyman 31141, 2.032, TTL 2.028
    20. W748 32.5 gr, Lyman 31141, 2.029, TTL 2.028
    21. W748 32.5 gr, Lyman 31141, 2.029, TTL 2.027
    22. IMR 3031 27.0 gr, Lyman 31141, 2.030, failure

    That is a total of .040 trimmed off by my figuring, giving a value of .003 for number 17 which I forgot to record the trim length.

    After load 22 was fired, I resized using a Lyman full length hand die. After sizing, inspection revealed a crack on the shoulder. I decided to size with the hand die as the base of the body just above the web was slightly bulged and beginning to chamber with a slight resistance. This was the only time using the hand die, and I wonder if it caused the crack prematurely. Probably not.

    After each firing I carefully inspected the case for cracks and defects. I paper clip tested many times, and every time when I started getting up in firings. The primer pocket remains tight.

    I started this test with the intent to record the number of times fired between trim to length and max length. It then turned into a longevity test. Obviously this isn't conclusive as it dealt with only one case of one manufacture. Not to mention the variables I introduced with varying trim lengths, size dies (mostly Lyman), presses used, and case lube used. It has been fun for me, and I've learned that full length sizing is not the 5-8 load brass killer I've heard, at least in my chamber with my dies, and my loading techniques.

    Thanks for reading.

    Bazoo
    Last edited by Bazoo; 05-19-2019 at 10:44 PM.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Now, that was interesting. Thanks

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Nice test and report. My roller , original Spanish in 7mm will fail massively on the 3rd resize. They are known to have huge chambers.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    That is a good test . It give a idea of what can happened for how you done the test.
    Life Member of NRA,NTA,DAV ,ITA. Also member of FTA,CBA

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    Thanks Bazoo for doing the testing of the 30-30 Win case. Very interesting. It might tell us something about the longevity of the Winchester brand cases. It also speaks to the chamber of your old Winchester 94 being pretty close to specifications I would think.
    Mark 5:34 And He said to her (Jesus speaking), "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be healed of your affliction."

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy

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    hey, thats some great work, thank you!

    I did a similar test with 308 in a FAL to determine when I should worry about a CHS.

  7. #7
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    I think the IMR powder did it in...

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    The crack ain't on the neck. It'll go again. All kidding aside, I believe your result because some of my cases are quite old, too. It's a kind cartridge.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

  9. #9
    Boolit Master

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    its info like this that really makes this a great forum.
    if you are ever being chased by a taxidermist, don't play dead

  10. #10
    Boolit Master redhawk0's Avatar
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    Very good information, Bazoo. Thanx for taking the time do do it.

    I wonder if it's repeatable. I don't shoot 30-30 enough to attempt a duplication of the data. A second test would really make this quantifiable.

    redhawk

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  11. #11
    Boolit Master Hick's Avatar
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    That fits with my experience as well. My newest 30-30 cases only have 16 reloads on them. The older cases more.
    Hick: Iron sights!

  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Thanks very much for posting this, I wouldn't have guessed a .30-30 case would last that long.

    Kind of makes me wonder how much longer it would last with neck sizing, lighter loads and occasional annealing.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
    barrabruce's Avatar
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    Good work keep it up.

    I just tightened up the primer hole on a couple of 30-30 cases I’ve "used" quite a bit.
    But they have only been partially sized twice I think but neck trimmed 3 or 4 times.

    These are my babied and much loved paper patched cases.
    Ohh yeah I’ve cleaned the insides out a couple of times as well.
    It seems doing nothing extends the life more if your bullets are a thumb seat in your cases.

    I’d be inclined to try a partially sized case so it just chambers easily and compare it with the original test.

    Good work keep it up.

  14. #14
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    I did something similar a couple of months ago. I had post this on another forum so there are a couple of sentences that make no sense with out the comments between.;


    Starting with 3 pieces of Winchester 30-30 brass that has been fired once previously. Using XMP5744 from a Lee 1.3cc dipper (17.3g) (just under starting load for 190 grain cast bullet), Remington 9 1/2 primers and cast 180 grain bullets gas checked that weighed 187gr after size and lube, sized .309, lubed with Ben's Red and a coat of BLL tumble lubed. Dies used were RCBS Cowboy dies with just enough flair to start the bullet and crimped to the case being just flush with the first band.
    I started to think that the test wasn't going to last long when the first neck split at the sixth loading. The two remaining cases were annealed after the 11th reloading. I was beginning to think that they might be indestructable but after the 20th firing both of the remaining cases had hairline cracks at the mouth. Neither case showed signs of stretching and the web of both were still a smooth transition to the wall of the brass.
    As a matter of curiosity, I trimmed both to beyond the crack. The shortest of the two measures 2.015", 0.014" shorter than the 2.029 trim length. Both still useable if you were in a bind though probably not the best for accuracy but still well over one calibre for seating depth.
    It did make for a fun and interesting day.

    [There was a bit of discussion about not crimping maybe making them last even longer, the next 2 tests were done without crimping}


    30-30 Case life part 2
    Well, after removing my head from the dark recesses of my body, I realized that I don't crimp for the A3, and as noted, already had a baseline for the 30-30. Single loading 3 rounds at a time should be no chore so I started with 3 more pieces from the same bag of once fired.
    All were cleaned and sized using the same RCBS Cowboy dies, length checked with a Lee trim tool, lightly chamfered with a VLD reamer, same load of XMP5744, Remington 9 1/2 primers and gas checked RCBS 180 gr flat nose bullets.
    On the 8th load, they started to shave a bit of lead so prior to the 9th, they were lightly reamed again. After the 11th, they were annealed, just as the previous 3. After the 20th, they were checked again with the Lee trim die and it touched two of them lightly, all were chamfered again. At the 29th 2 of them started shaving lead again so were trimmed and chamfered again. Just to break the monotony, I set up the chrony on the 30th, 1653, 1656 and 1661, extreme spread of 8fps if my arithmetic is correct. Kind'a pleased with that.
    on the 35th load, 2 of the cases split. I sure didn't get 150 loads out of them but 35 is nothing to laugh about.

    30-30 Case life part 3
    3 more cases from the same bag of once fired Winchester brass. Same primer, powder, load and bullet. The change this time was that they were sized with a full length RCBS size die and trimmed when case length started encroaching on the first band. Some of the results were expected, they were trimmed much more frequently, a total of nine times. Some results were a surprise, the first case neck split on the 45th firing!
    I have an hypothesis; with the Cowboy dies, the sizing is done in two steps, first the neck is sized undersize then the expanding mandrel enlarges them to a greater diameter for the loading of lead bullets than the button in the standard resizing die sizes for jacketed bullets. So I pulled them both and measured, standard button is 0.3055" and the Cowboy mandrel is 0.3070". My belief is that the working the diameter of the brass causes greater weakening than stretching the length with the standard die button.
    I'd like to prove or disprove that sometime in the future.
    Last edited by Butler Ford; 05-19-2019 at 09:12 PM.
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  15. #15
    Boolit Master
    barrabruce's Avatar
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    With partial neck sizing and annealing every 5 or so shots With reduced loads I got 50+
    After that the chance of me dropping the case onto a cement floor and dining up up exponentially increases.
    I have made a 100 out of a few stubborn cases.
    This is loading one case at the bench and shooting it as fixed ammo.
    A partial size and trim will be needed.
    Shooting with a breachseated bullet they last as long as you don’t drop them it seems or the primer pocket gives out.

    Yes my gun shoot better with one only case.
    It could have been the slower controlled pace keeping the barrell at an even temp thou/
    They do fit perfectly after a while.

  16. #16
    Boolit Grand Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    Well done OP, great post and an interesting read. At that rate I don't need to worry about running out of dirty thirty brass anytime soon.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blammer View Post
    I think the IMR powder did it in...
    musta been global warming.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for the kind words and replies.

    I know that if you want a case to last longer, you'll limit the amount its sized, anneal the neck, and use light loads. When I was doing my research on how long a 30-30 case would last, I found lots of info with those as the parameters. However, I found nothing that indicated how many loading I could reasonably expect for a case that was full length sized and used with full power loads.

    For my testing, the variation in the loading was the result of me including the test case in whichever batch I was loading at the time.

    Im sure I could have gotten more loadings if I'd annealed the case, but I was curious to get a base for what to expect without annealing. The amount trimmed off is a concern for me, as that material is flowing from the case web most likely. I edited the original post to show the total amount trimmed off, .040.

    That brings me to another facet of the test, how much can I trim off before I need to worry about the brass thinning and incipient case head separation. Of course that would depend on the thickness of the brass, which will vary from lot to lot and manufacturer. The lyman manual in a round about way suggests that .060 is the safe cut off spot.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
    barrabruce's Avatar
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    Forgot to mention.
    When I sized it is with a Lee wack’em die that has been honed out a bit so there is minimal sizing.
    Polishing the brass neck with steel wool or kitchen washing scratchy pads after a while and it won’t size enough.
    Such is life.

    If you had new brass and seated the bullets into the lands to fireform.
    They usually come out pretty round around the Webb.
    When you see the web line come pronounced and sharp over the scrape marks on the case is time to start getting worried as far as I can tell.
    Changing from full snot pressures and backing of to starting load will increase the life heaps.
    Mouse fart and 1600 fps loads usually long time.
    Why do you need to work your brass hard by full length sizing any way?
    Last edited by barrabruce; 05-19-2019 at 11:16 PM.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    barrabruce, thanks for that tidbit. I do use those scotchbrite pads and fine steel wool sometimes. I thought that it might wear some on the brass, but I never would have thought it would thin it that much.

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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
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GC Gas Check