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Brass life expectantcy?

 
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  #1  
Old 04-12-2010, 07:41 PM
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Brass life expectantcy?

I am wondering if my brass for my STW is nearing the end of its life. How do you know when it is time for it to go and go get new ones? I have alot of time into this brass (I.E. kneck turning, trimming, primer pockets, flash holes, ect.) and don't want to toss it if it is still good.
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Old 04-12-2010, 08:33 PM
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Re: Brass life expectantcy?

That varies WILDLY. Pressures, how much the neck exands, etc, etc...

Roughly, I'd say 5 shots. My son's 300 RUM is two, maybe 3 and the necks start splitting. Most of my rounds based on 308 or 3006 brass goes 5 times.

My tight neck guns 10 or more times.

Learn to anneal and your brass will last a lot longer.

If you're ready to spend money, get a Bench-source.com annealer. I just got mine, it's awesome, but it's 500 bucks. I annealed 350 rounds in aobut 30 minutes.
New Case Neck Annealing Machine
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Old 04-12-2010, 10:40 PM
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Re: Brass life expectantcy?

Wow that is one fancy machine! Most of my brass has been shot 3 times. some maybe four. I tried to keep track of how many times each has been shot but they got mixed up while in the field and stuff. I am pretty certain though 90% of them will be on their forth loading this time round. I load mine at max or slightly over (Shooting canular ringed bullets, thus less pressure). After I size these rounds I am going to inspect each one very closely for cracks. I am also going to try and feel each one as I size them for difficulty due to hardening to see if I need to anneal them.

Thing is, I am going to have to develop new loads this year due to my bullet I am currently using no longer being made. This is going to take some shooting as I might end up trying 2-3 different bullets and by the time I am done, My brass might be on their 5th or 6th loading so I wonder if it would be better to just start completely fresh???
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Old 04-13-2010, 01:18 AM
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Re: Brass life expectantcy?

There are many factors that come into play. High pressure or "hotter" loads (say a 180 gr. 30-06 bullet @ 2900 fps) will wear out brass faster than "normal" loads (say a 180 gr. 30-06 bullet @ 2700 fps). Magnum loads (say a 200 gr. bullet out of a 300 RUM @ 3100 fps) will typically wear cases out quicker than non-magnum loads (say a 200 gr. bullet out of a 30-06 @ 2600 fps). The shape and design of the case itself can have some bearing on case life. It is generally accepted that the steeper the angle of the shoulder (ackley), the less brass needs to be "worked" or resized, which helps to extend case life. The manufacturer or brand of brass can also have a big impact on case life. Lapua makes excellent brass that is well known for having long case life. Many claim to get more reloading out of Lapua 308 brass than Winchester 308 brass.

There are many areas where case fatigue will typically begin to show. For me, these are the three most common: (1) Loose primer pockets. This is usually the result high pressure loadings, but they can also loosen over time with normal use. They are easy to spot, as a new primer will not seat but rather rattle around. An expended cartridge with a loose pocket will also show black around the spent primer and on the head. (2) Fatigue is the neck area. This usually is the result of brass being "overworked" in resizing, but can also happen from simply wearing out. These usually manifest themselves as split necks and are also easy to spot. Anealing will tend to give you longer neck case life. Finally, (3) there is case head separation. I believe this is most commonly found in the higher pressure rounds. It is not quite as easy to spot as the other two, because it is internal (occurs inside the case). It manifests itself with a bright ring around the outside of the case, just ahead of the case head. However, just because your brass has such a ring does not automatically mean you have case head separation. You need to check the inside of your brass to confirm. This can easily be done by straightening a paper clip and then bending the end at a right angle - kinda like a small "L" on the end. Insert this end into the bottom of the case around the head and then pull it up against the wall towards the mouth of the case. If you have the beginnings of case head separation, the bend in the end of the clip will enable you to "feel" the separation as a valley, or ridge. or thinning of the case wall. If you do, then toss the case.

In my 30-06, I was usually able to get 8-10 reloadings out of my brass. With my 277 AM (Lapua brass) I load 92 gr. of powder behind a 195 gr. pill - and I still am able to get 7-9 reloadings out of that brass before I retire it. Everybody's experience will vary. Just keep an eye on it. "Eeeking" another loading or two out of some tired brass simply is not worth the compromised safety that will hang in the balance.
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Old 04-13-2010, 06:57 AM
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Re: Brass life expectantcy?

In my opinion, more often that not, short brass life is caused by sizing the fired case too much in body and neck diameters as well as setting the shoulder back too far. Loading to pressures higher than SAAMI or factory specs is another cause. Primer pockets should remain tight for at least 10 to 15 reloads.

Belted cases can be reloaded 15 to 20 times in full length bushing-type sizing dies that reduce body and neck diameters as well as setting the shoulder back 2 to 3 thousandths. Us a bushing that's 2 to 3 thousandths smaller than loaded round neck diameter. And you'll need a special die to reduce the body diameter at the front edge of the belt that conventional full length dies don't size; get one from Innovative Technologies - Reloading Equipment.

For rimless bottleneck cases, one can get several dozen loads per case doing the same thing.

And best accuracy usually happens when fired cases are so sized.
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  #6  
Old 04-13-2010, 08:20 AM
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Re: Brass life expectantcy?

+1 on Bart's comments

I size my 7 STW brass minimally and only shoot loads at velocities that can be found in the manuals. I watch for signs of excess pressure and avoid them.

I have fired some of my Rem brass 8 or 9 times. I'll probably just toss them at this point but the primer pockets are still tight enough to hold a primer.

Shooting loads that are less than maximum and sizing only enough to allow the cartridge to reliable feed will go a long way in extending brass life.
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Old 04-13-2010, 10:42 AM
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Re: Brass life expectantcy?

I have some STW brass with 12-14 firings on them. I also have some that went only 3 firings before the neck split. I do have to trim if I FL size, but I mostly just neck size to minimize this.

BTW, try the 140, 160 gr Accubonds, or the 168 Bergers. THere is no better bullet made for this round in my opinion.
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