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Thread: On brass....

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    On brass....

    Hi folks. Iíve been at this for a while now, reloaded and shot thousands of rounds...one thing Iíve never done is attend to my brass the way some of you do. Of course I keep an eye out for incipient case head problems, trim my rifle rounds to the right length and follow good general reloading practices...but I do not sort my brass by headstamp or have a rigorous system for number of times itís been loaded. I have never had a case head separation, an overcharge, or any kind of kaboom....but with a bit more time on my hands lately, I thought Iíd put it out there for relevant experience on handling brass. Iíd like to know what the general consensus is (if any) so that I can decide whether I wish to change my game at all. Please, no ďwell, stay away from me on the firing lineĒ responses, Iím just looking for constructive replies. I am careful and safe, I just was never instructed in that area when I was learning. My mentor said, ďload pistol brass until it starts to split. Then some shooters load it one more time!Ē I chuck my cases when they split . The advice on case head separation was to look for a shiny ring near the head. I have chucked a few cases where I thought I saw this starting. Most of my loads are moderate, very rarely hot-for-caliber, so I feel pretty confident that I am in safe terrain all of the time....but the only stupid question is the one unasked, so Iím putting it out there. thanks for reading this .
    -JP


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  2. #2
    Boolit Master

    Winger Ed.'s Avatar
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    I've only had a couple of rifle brass that had enough of the bright ring near the base where
    it caught my eye and I did the paper clip thing and felt the inner groove.
    I don't normally push my luck too far, and just tossed them.

    Over the years, I've had 2 split neck .270s, a few .38Spec & .45ACP, but no case/head separations.

    If you're loading full house belted magnums, I'd be a little extra careful and critical of them.
    Rumor has it they split/seperate sooner than say, a .308Win.

    Pistol brass is so readily available, any of them that are bulged at the base or don't look right get tossed also.

    I sort rifle brass into batches of 100 by brand/head stamp- more out of myth, and habit than anything else.
    Last edited by Winger Ed.; 03-30-2020 at 10:47 PM.
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  3. #3
    Hello Bool , lets just start w your favorite rifle caliber you load for. Hunting or target shooting? Sorting brass is just that, but your end product is what matters. uncle mike

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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  5. #5
    Boolit Master
    toallmy's Avatar
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    I generally keep my brass separated in lots . I started out loading rifle ammo the most , so when I purchased brass it was in lots of a hundred . I kept the lots separate when loading , tumbling , trimming , and shooting . This kinda worked over into my handgun loading even with mixed once fired brass I separate by head stamp and keep it separated . It made a big difference in my jacketed rifle shooting , handguns not so much up close , but I'm not a very good shot with those anyway .
    It won't cost much to try it .

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    If I'm loading for top accuracy, I sort brass by headstand and number of firings. There are a few reasons why: brass of different thickness may require die adjustments, it may also have wildly different case capacities that will effect pressure. As I track brass, I anneal and trim entire groups or lots of brass. For plinking ammo in some cartridges, I will admit that I don't follow this protocol, and use mixed brass. I have a coffee can full of mixed .45 ACP brass that I shoot until the case mouth splits, the case rim gets so beat up that it won't fit into the shell holder, or I lose it. I don't think I've ever experienced a loose primer pocket in .45 ACP. Not saying that it doesn't happen - I just can't recall it having happened. I would rather shoot than reload, so this is how I manage my own brass. YMMV.
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  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    I sort them by Headstamp then load them in batches of 100 because that’s how I was taught to do.
    High volume stuff like .223 for AR is loaded till failure, which has never happened, so I guess I don’t keep that detailed of records for it like I should I guess! The only magnum round I own, and I pay real close attention to the times reloaded, is a 7mm STW. The rest get batch loading with dates on the labels in the storage container. Pistol brass? Load it till it is unusable!! Everyone has that “ calibrated eyeball “ when you are sorting brass, you know if it’s bad or not!! Just my operation, everyone’s situation is different.
    I firmly believe that you should only get treated by how you act, not by who or what you are!!

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    I've only reloaded a few hundred thousand rounds and have never has a case separation.

    Along the years I have been curious about it in several cartridges so I would take a sample case that had 5-10 reloads and slice it in half. Many that had prominent bright 'rings' had no thinning of the case. So, the paper clip method became common for me with well used rifle brass.

    BUT...I have tossed cases due to the 'ring'. The .30 Herrett in a Contender was the worst, especially if I was not really careful about how I fire formed the brass. Probably also because I would try to get 20 or more reloads out of the brass (they were a PITA to form).

    Case neck splitting is the easy one. Find it and toss it. I usually crush it first so it does not somehow find its way back into a 'good' pile.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    you seem to be doing the same as me .keep up the inspection of brass .if your not hot roding your guns youll be fine.

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master

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    If your loading technique produces ammo that serves your purposes I would just keep doing what you are doing. Sorting brass by headstamp is more important if you are loading on the ragged edge of hot.

  11. #11
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    I had a pile of Win 45 Colt brass that I loaded hot and heavy in a Ruger for over 10 years. The bases expanded to fit the oversized Ruger chambers. When I got a Seville 45 Colt, the Ruger fired brass would not fit, so I had to keep the Seville brass seperate. That Win brass got wasted in my shop fire, so I'm shooting Starline now.
    I formed some 309 JDJ from 444 Marlin, loaded and shot it a few times, then put the barrel and ammo up for about 7 years. When I took the ammo out again, many of the necks on loaded rounds had split just sitting in the ammo box. So if I do any kind of major case forming, I now anneal afterwards.
    For my rifle rounds, I normally try to only size to the base of the neck and not touch the shoulder and I have not had a case head separation ever.

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy
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    I am currently playing the ďlearn how to make .40 s&w go bang everytime gameĒ. In an effort to reduce variables I have sorted out one headstamp of 40 brass for load development. I hope to start using mixed brass once I get this round figured out. However some have posted that they only had good luck with the brands that have thinner case walls, with cast bullets.

    I also sort my .38 special brass. I seat my wadcutters flush. I know that Winchester and R-P brass will chamber in my guns when bullets are seated flush. I load SWC bullets in all my other brass.

    For serious target or full power rifle loads I segregate military from commercial brass (thicker brass=different internal volume).But for low pressure plinking loads mixed is fine.

    .45 ACP doesnít seem to need sorting.

    Iím getting started with 32acp in an 81 Beretta. These are noted for tight chambers and tight bores. Many have stated that for cast Starline is the way to go. Of course I read this after I bought 400 rounds of thick walled factory ammo.

    So, I guess it just depends. I only sort to avoid known problems. If I can get good function and acceptable accuracy without sorting them Iím all for the easy route.

    JM

  13. #13
    Boolit Grand Master

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    There is no right or wrong .
    This hobby can be as tedious and time consuming as you want to make it .
    Some sort by headstamp , weigh every case sort those by weight , measure and segregate those into lengths of cases .
    What you are doing is basic , safe and meets your needs ...it's the way I do it also.
    I say Keep On Keeping On...why complicate life or reloading .
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  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Cases splitting just in front of the web are usually the fault of full-length sized brass in rifles with overly generous chambers. My experience has been that this problem is worse in belted magnums and Lee Enfield 303's. The magnums due to less than careful manufacturing because the case is supposed to headspace on the belt, and ammunition manufacturers produce on the basis of "once fired and chuck". The 303 is a battle rifle and chambers were cut a bit oversize so the rifle would function under less than optimal circumstances. The "fix" for both is to neck-size only, after the initial firing. I have gotten into the habit of checking the case with a bent wire (I use a dental tool) before I reload that case. That said, I have had 30-06 and 270 cases break just ahead of the web from improper sizing in which the shoulder was set back too far. Be safe.
    R.D.M.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master


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    RE: pistol brass

    I do the wet tumble mostly because I like the look on shiny brass

    I load till I see a split at case mouth

    Rather than toss brass, down here we can swap brass for lead at recyclers. My buddy and I have been doing that for a number of years
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  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Did a kinds sorts test some years back. rem 700 Sendero in 308. Fresh R-P brass,168 grain SMK's,41.5 grs IMR 4895 and Win WLR primer. Ten loadings with mostly neck sizing and a few partial sizings in a F/L die. 50 cases x + 500 firings. Cases looked as they could be fired another 5 times.. However never been one to tempt fate so they served their purpose and were retired to the scrap bucket. As far as 303 British is concerned I dearly wish I could find someone who could set back a Long branch #4MKI* one turn and set the headspace with a bolt face I'd send. Right now with Neck sizing I get about 6-7 loadings,two groove barrel. Yeah I know about swapping bolt heads but I have one #3 that measures the same as a #1. Guess the armorer was having a bad day and stoned the heck out of it. Frank

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    I don't get anal about extreme accuracy so I seldom sort my brass. I do inspect it and discard anything questionable. I do trim and occasionally anneal. If I can hit what I'm aiming at 99.9% of the time, I'm perfectly happy with what I'm doing. I don't load hot so my brass lasts a long time and doesn't need trimming very often. I'm still shooting a lot of .30-06 brass from early 40s military ammo. It is still in good shape. I guess some day it will wear out, but until then.....

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    I appreciate all the responses, it's very helpful.

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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