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Thread: 44 Mag brass separation.

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    44 Mag brass separation.

    Hello,

    I have been a member here a while, and have lurked for years, but today I am stumped. This is a very interesting place to learn tips and tricks, so I would like to run this by everyone.

    I am posting today because of an incident that happened yesterday at the range, and in my 30 plus years of reloading have not encountered.
    After emptying the cylinder on my Ruger Redhawk, I only got the head, and about 3/8 on an inch of the cases out. The rest, of the case neck stayed in the cylinder, and was later removed, by pushing an unsized bullet backwards into the cylinder.
    This caught the broken piece, and it came out with all most no resistance. The gun does not appear to be damaged in any way.

    The load being shot was 9 grs of Unique powder, and a lee 215 grain semi wadcutter. The box of shells was set aside after this happened, and I later broke down 2 of them, only to find the 9 grs of Unique that was supposed to be in there.

    The report from all 6 shots seemed the same, but I was not shooting the gun. However, I was standing there when it happened.

    I am very careful with my powder charges, charging a case, and seating the bullet before moving on to another case, so I almost sure that there was not an overcharge. The cases are unknown, as how many reloads they have been through, I shoot mostly light loads, so case life seems to be almost indefinite.

    Do you think this is just a case that got old and failed, or is there something else that could be causing this?

    Thank you in advance for any insights as to what happened.

    LC

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Do you know if those cases have been fired in a lever action ?
    Case separations are normally caused by excessive headspace.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    I have recently had some cracks and head separations similar to what you have seen on some cases that I had loaded pretty heavy back in 1991 with H110. And 300 grain boolets for deer hunting. I have noticed some of these had cracks in the cases after I had fired one of them. So, I dismantled all of them and disposed of most of these old Winchester cases.

  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master

    454PB's Avatar
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    That is a mild load, and it sounds like you had a bad case. In 48 years of shooting and reloading .44 magnum, I've never had that happen. My cases always fail due to mouth splits, I then trim them down for their new life as .44 specials. One other thought.....where any .44 specials previously fired in this gun?
    You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore

  5. #5
    Boolit Mold
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    Thank you guys for the help. To answer a couple of the questions that came up... Yes these cases have probably been through my lever gun at some time, and in my youth, I loaded harder than I do now.
    I dont really keep them separated.. Probably a bad move.

    I have loads for each gun, but I have lots of brass, so its possible that some time down the line these could have went through the lever gun. I dump several boxes out to be cleaned, and they could have got mixed up.
    In a rimless cartridge, that head spaces off of the shoulder of the case, this would be an issue.
    On rimed cases, that head space off the rim, would head space be a consideration?
    The cases were resized fully before loading.
    Thank you guys for the replies to my post. I am hoping that the case was just old, and it was an isolated incident.

    I changed to a different box of shells after this happened, and continued to shoot. No problems occurred, after this, and we fired another box of through it. The gun performed normally after this.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master Dan Cash's Avatar
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    Lever actions are case stretchers. Further, some guys think their lever action is stronger than their revolver in a corresponding caliber so push the envelope. The result is a stretched action and excess headspace. As suggested, one or more of your reloaded cases may have been fired in such a lever action which stretched it to the breaking point. Also, lever actions seem to have larger chambers which let the case bulge at the head. That brass gets a serious work out when resized and may fail as a result. If your revolver exhibits no problems and other ammo is not malfunctioning, I would not worry about the one incident.
    To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the trouble with many shooting experts is not that they're ignorant; its just that they know so much that isn't so.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    You can sometimes see or feel the thin spot on the brass with a light , or small hook to feel inside , they will almost always be in about the same distance from the head of the case.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    Funny you should bring this up.
    This past Thursday I had 11, Remington 44 magnum cases left from a box of 50 unfired cases that I started loading back in 1971.
    I have kept track of how many times they have been reloaded over the years and the total is, for the last eleven is 34 times.
    My records show that the first split case was at the mouth after the 6th loading at that point I annealed the rest of the cases at the mouth. A few more cracked at the 11th loading at the mouth.
    The next majority of splits showed up on the case body going form the case head to the case mouth, with two on the mouth of the case. An so it went, annealing when splits showed up
    At the 32nd loading the heads started to separate from the case.
    Thursday 7 out of the last 11 case experienced head separation or split cases.
    My loads have been mild over the years with 5.4 grs of unique is enough to get the boolit out of the barrel.
    So, now, it's official, at least for me, that a person can get 34 reloads out of a bunch of 44 magnum brass, if you load them easy.
    Political correctness is a national suicide pact.

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  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    That is interesting info. Hickory you kept some good records !

  10. #10
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    Just like people, brass gets old and weak. In this instance, that piece of brass came to the end of it's useful life and died.....

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
    After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it. - William S. Burroughs.

  11. #11
    Boolit Mold
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    Hickory, That's a lot of reloads. I never dreamed that they can go that many times. I have been reloading for many years, and the 44 mag seems to have the most durable cases that I have found.

    I am happy that the general opinion is that its an isolated incident, of a case that just expired.

    I carefully inspected the rest of the brass in that box last night, and found some other cases that have slight split necks, so I am guessing the box of brass is just really old.
    I Looked the gun over again, as I had marked the hole that this came out of. The hole sizes seem to be the same, as the rest of them.
    I will officially stop worrying.
    Thank you to everyone for the insight.
    LC

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy
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    Inspecting your 44M cases for "incipient separation" is easy with one of those otoscopes (for looking in kids' ears) sold in drug stores. the last one I bought cost between $10 and $15.

  13. #13
    Boolit Mold
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    Norske,

    Cool idea. Sounds like a good investment.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by Norske View Post
    Inspecting your 44M cases for "incipient separation" is easy with one of those otoscopes (for looking in kids' ears) sold in drug stores. the last one I bought cost between $10 and $15.
    What do you look for? Is there an internal crack?
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Not a crack but more like a grove around the inside where the case has stretched thin in that one area.
    Some loading manuals have pictures of sectioned cases that are ready to separate .
    Here is an artical that has a picture of a sectioned case you can also see the stretch line on the outside of the case. http://www.nicksracing.com/Nick%20&%...lopment6.5.htm

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    I probably still have some 44 mag. brass from the seventies since I started %loading 44 mag. I still have the Lee case trimmers as well. 44 magnum and .357, where the only pistol cases that occasionally needed trimming. And back then, they fired stout loads. So if your like me, who tosses pistol brass when it cracks, your bound after many years to get a magnum case that has stretched like rifle brass and fails at the same area.

  17. #17
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Brass doesn't last forever .
    Reloaded and fired in a revolver a mouth split will show up first . Annealed for longer life and eventually a split / crack will appear long ways .
    Fired in a rifle , even just a few times , seems to lead to a head separation . Sometimes a little tell tale indentation , incipient case head separation , can be seen just prior to the case coming apart.
    I've started looking for the little sign and not loading them when spotted...they will come apart very soon when they get the little indentation .
    Gary
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  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    Years ago my buddy Paul had a Virginian Dragoon in the .44 Mag that did the same thing...I still never figured out why.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    A very interesting thread. Thanks lead collector for bringing this up, and to all whom have contributed.

  20. #20
    Boolit Buddy
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    I had the same thing happen about 10 years ago with some Remington Peters 41 magnum brass.

    Fired in a first year Smith & Wesson model 58 the cartridge case broke at approximately the same spot the OP’s cartridge broke.

    Note how the front part of the broken brass appears to be “necked” down from being pushed into the cylinders throat.






    A couple more cases fired in the same cylinder full had semi circumferential breaks but did not separate.

    I attributed the failure to old worn out brass and flung all of that vintage in the scrap bucket.

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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