Brass life expectantcy?

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by Sako7STW, Apr 12, 2010.

  1. Sako7STW

    Sako7STW Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  2. Robbin

    Robbin Well-Known Member

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    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
     
  3. Sako7STW

    Sako7STW Well-Known Member

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    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???
     
  4. azsugarbear

    azsugarbear Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  5. Bart B

    Bart B Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  6. Varmint Hunter

    Varmint Hunter Well-Known Member

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    +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.
     
  7. shiredude

    shiredude Writers Guild

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    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.
     
  8. justgoto

    justgoto Well-Known Member

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    I was looking for a post about case life because in the latest neck sizing vs full length sizing post got me wondering.

    My most used cases for the 1917 30-06 are Federals, I am on my 24th load, cases annealed 3 times so far. I am thinking on retiring them since the primer pockets are starting to get lose. I have shot all sorts of ladder tests with them and all sorts of loads and bullets from 110gr V-max to 220gr RN. Right now the loads are 168gr A-max at 2700fps; that load seems to match my sight elevation settings perfectly.

    I have a new Howa that I load for but the pressures signs show up with it a lot sooner. I'm on the 20th shot on the Winchester cases, annealed twice, and they seem to be plugging right along. My load of choice is a 190gr SPBT at about 2500fps. I have some 180s in them ready to be ladder tested tomorrow.

    I neck size only unless I fire a cartridge and get sticky bolt or possibility other pressure signs; then I will full length size bumping the shoulder slightly. If I encounter any pressure signs I reduce the load to my previous accuracy node according to the ladder test. If I get pressure signs due to rising seasonal temperatures, I preform another ladder test. Right now I have 3 different loads for my Howa according to seasonal temps.

    It has been about 7 months since I had a case go bad on me; I shoot every day. Every time a case has gone bad, I either had a hot load or an overworked case from me learning how to reload. (I just started reloading about a year ago.)

    Oh...
    My most worked 30-30 cases have been shot 24 times also. never annealed those ones; wanted to see how long it took the necks to lose grip on the bullet. It just so happened to lose grip today, so I'll be annealing those before the next loading. My loads are anything from a 168 A-Max at 2050fps to a 110 V-Max at 2323fps. (I load them one at a time so not to discharge them in my tube magazine.)
    I've never had a 30-30 case fail yet.

    I know my velocities aren't what most people here look for, but when I get my Weatherby 300 Mag I'll start loading for the mile.
     
  9. Clark

    Clark Well-Known Member

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    I read that 30-30 brass was weak:
    "Speer 12" 1994:
    "Some bolt-action and single-shot rifles have been chambered for this cartridge. Reloaders can sue spritzer-type bullets in these rifles, but should keep the weight to 150 grains or less. Heavier spritzer bullets cannot be drive fast enough in the 30-30 to expand reliably. We are occasionally asked if the 30-30 can be loaded to higher velocities in a modern bolt action like the Remington model 788. The answer is NO! The 30-30 case is an old design with relatively thin walls. Attempting to load "hotter" would risk a dangerous case failure."

    Then I tested some at high pressure.
    220 gr HNDY round nose moly W748 2.92" 26" barrel, Sav219L, 30-30
    Quickload prediction:
    33 gr 51 kpsi 2176 fps
    34 gr 56 kpsi 2232 fps
    35 gr 62 kpsi 2287 fps
    36 gr 68 kpsi 2340 fps
    37 gr 75 kpsi 2394 fps
    38 gr 83 kpsi 2446 fps brass and primer still look good
    39 gr 92 kpsi 2498 fps primer very cratered, case full of powder, ball powder compresses a hair below 2.92"
    39 gr 92 kpsi 2498 fps primer very cratered, case full of powder, ball powder compresses a hair below 2.92"

    Then I necked some down for 25/35:
    25-35 100 gr HNDY moly 2.716" W748 1908 Braz Mauser, Win 94 26" octagon barrel, bushing adapter, 30-30 brass with modified rims. .474" diameter rim, .053" thick rim, .400" groove works very well
    k) 33.5 gr, some effort in closing and lifting the bolt associated with the extractor on the reamer.
    L) 34.5 gr 70kpsi 3130 fps, used neck sized brass from K)
    ok
    M) 35.5 gr 78k pis 3214 fps, used neck sized brass from K)
    ok
    N) 36.5 gr 87k psi, 3298 fps, used neck sized brass from K)
    ok, case is just about full.

    What does it all mean?
    Speer 12 is wrong.
    That 30-30 brass is tough.
    Without an extractor groove, the primer pocket does not loosen easily.
     
  10. Bart B

    Bart B Well-Known Member

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    There's lots of reloading myths in the shooting sports. And thin brass not being good for high pressure loads (above 45,000 cup, 50,318 psi) is another one. Consider the following.

    Western Cartridge Company loaded some .308 Win. match ammo for the US Olympic Team's free rifles back in 1958. Those cases weighed only 150 grains. Thinnest ones ever used for this cartridge. Loaded with a 200-gr. FMJ boattail bullet and a special lot of ball powder, muzzle velocity was around 2500 fps from a 26-inch barrel. These thin cases headstamped WCC58 were probably the most uniform .308 Win. cases ever made.

    Popular with high power rifle competitors who could get them, favorite loads were 42 grains of IMR4064 under a Sierra 190 getting almost 2600 fps in 26 to 28 inch barrels. Peak pressure was in the 55,000 cup (65,500 psi) range. Using full length sizing dies that reduced fired case body diameters and setting shoulders back only 2 to 3 thousandths, getting 30 to 50 reloads per case was normal. And few folks annealed their case necks. Many matches were won and records set with this load. It was probably the most accurate load the .308 Win. ever produced.
     
  11. Clark

    Clark Well-Known Member

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    For 15 years, longer than there have been www gun forums, I have been searching out and reading Bart Bobbitt posts. He is the man who had done accuracy and writes about it.

    I am not so accurate, but I do buy a lot of guns and over load them.
    Here is shpeal of mine about primer pockets and finding the threshold of long brass life.
     
  12. BountyHunter

    BountyHunter Writers Guild

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    In reference to case head separation post, that is caused soley by pushing the shoulders back too much each time due to improperly adjusted dies not pressure.

    If you bump the shoulders back .010 or more each time, you will get separation no matter what the pressue.

    If you hold bump to .0015-.002, pressure will not be a factor and no separation.

    Quality brass that is not soft, will always last longer than softer brass. The top 2 are RWS and Lapua. IMO remington is one of the softest.

    BH