How do I know when my brass is bad?

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by zippygaloo, May 22, 2012.

  1. zippygaloo


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    How do I know when my rifle or pistol brass is bad? Is it very apparent? Or do I have to look for minute changes somewhere?
  2. Nwcid

    Yakima and N of Spokane
    Gold Supporter Gold Supporter

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    Primers are loose.
    Splits or cracks anywhere
    Way out of spec (listed in your reloading book) after sizing
    Any damage or wear to the base that would prevent extraction

    Those are the major things I can think of
  3. Rammit


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    I shoot pistol until it splits, rifle brass the same except I anneal my good stuff every other firing, do far I have some 338 lapua brass with 5 firings and I have not split a piece yet
  4. Throckmorton

    Florence,Ore ah gone
    Well-Known Member

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    with rifle brass,a lot of folks feel the inside ot the cases for head seperation cracks,with a home made wire 'feeler'..thin piece of wire bent to 90 degrees on the end. I shoot revolver and pistol rounds for the most part,so just shoot them until they split.
  5. Mikej

    Gold Supporter Gold Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer 2017 Volunteer 2018 Volunteer

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    I was cautioned about the use of "Glocked" .40 S&W pistol brass. I got a load of once fired, cleaned nicely brass. In the decapping and sizing process the bulge was removed sufficiently that there was no issues with the reloaded rounds dropping in to the chamber of the CZ75. So, I shoot it, and it seems after that the brass no longer shows the bulge. "Fire Forming" with a pistol? The caution was with reguard to keeping loads light, and the case splitting just above the webbing and spraying the shooter with powder and gas.


  6. AMProducts

    Desert Southwest
    Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    For pistol brass.... shoot it until it cracks, I've seen people continue shooting it past that point. As far as "glocked" pistol brass, I've never seen conditions that are actually dangerous as a result of reloading it, the main issue is sometimes the brass needs to be roll/push-through sized in order for it to chamber properly. This is why redding makes that push-through sizing die setup for the .40S&W, 9mm and .45 don't respond too well to push through sizing (despite what magma claims) as the 9mm is a tapered case, and the .45 is a semi-rimmed case. I've never seen the case split issue you describe mike, but I don't think it's too unreasonable to assume it has happened. Personally, I like to keep my reloads on the light side, I reload because I want cheap ammo to shoot, dumping more powder in does nothing but increase my per-shot cost :)

    Rifle brass... I've noticed .223rem starts to get case neck splits after about 3-4 reloadings, you can increase the life of this brass by annealing, however I tend to believe not annealing brass (fed through a semi-auto) tends to avoid other more serious issues like head separation.

    For my pet loads I feed through my match rifle, where every case is well accounted for, I know how many times it's been trimmed, what it's been trimmed to, how it was sized, how hot the load was, and whether and when it was annealed, I regularly get up to 10 reloadings out of it. However this is for brass that's been very well cared for. If you're running it through a semi-auto and not keeping track, don't worry about annealing, just shoot it till it splits, and take it in to the recycler, so you have money to buy more brass/ammo.
    rrojohnso and (deleted member) like this.
  7. deadshot2

    NW Quadrant WA State
    Well-Known Member

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    Agree totally with both points. Ordnance Brass can vary as to quality. Some cases can last for what seems like forever and some will fail after a couple of reloadings. It's important to check rifle brass regularly for the beginnings of a head separation. Way more power coming out of the back of a failed rifle case than with a pistol as well as the fact that with a rifle, the explosion occurs almost next to your eye(s). With a pistol, pressures are lower and the "explosion" will occur at arms length rather than "in your face".

    Case inspection is a key part of proper reloading for both rifle and pistol cases. It's just more critical for rifles. When in doubt, toss it out. You can get a couple bucks per pound for the scrap. Worth more there than taking a chance on personal injury. On that note, if you were shooting next to me and I got injured just because you tried to get one more firing out of a case, our friendship would be in serious jeopardy:):)
  8. nrc


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    I keep my pistol brass sorted in batches (common head stamp + number of times fired). If I see cracks at a rate of ~5% or so, I throw the whole batch out.

    With rifles I use a similar rule, but am more conservative. I throw the batch out at the sign of the first crack, split, or pressure ring.

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