How To Check Quality When Reloading Brass Casings
There are several tell-tale signs that will tell you when
you should discard your reloading brass. Some signs are more visible while
others require some in-depth inspections. In the end, if you have any doubt
whatsoever about a case’s ability to withstand the pressure of being fired
again, toss it. The last thing you want is for a case to fail during firing and
destroy your gun or risk your health.
As mentioned in previous post, the reloading brass case is
the only part of the cartridge that can be reused. The reason for this is
simple; it is constructed of a material that is malleable, meaning it can be
reshaped and resized to be fired multiple times. However, like all good things
in life, even reloading brass as an end to its usefulness. The question, then,
arises; how do you know when your reloading
brass is no longer reloadable?
When reloading brass the brass becomes brittle
With reloading brass, one of it’s upsides is also the reason
for it failing. Brass becomes brittle as it is being worked and reworked. When
the round if fired from a gun, the pressure from the powder heats the brass,
causing it to expand to fit the gun’s chamber; this is one way of working
brass. Another way reloading brass is worked during the reloading process is
when the case is pressed through the die and resized.
Signs of failure
In a bottle necked cartridge,
the case mouth and shoulder get most of the action inside the resizing die.
Usually you will find that when a cartridge has become too brittle to withstand
that reworking, it will develop a hairline crack in the case mouth, either at
the edge of the case mouth, or just below it.
Cases with a split in the
neck cannot be used any further and should be immediately taken out of
commission. The straight walled cases develop their splits at the case mouth,
usually when they are sent up into the flaring die. This is the portion of the
straight walled case that sees the most action.
Checking the quality of brass
Brass casings should be inspected several times throughout
the reloading process. Where many
reloaders fail is only inspecting the case
before cleaning it and never again.
inspection of your cases, before, during and after loading, will ensure that
things stay safe. I hold the cases up to a light source to check for splits and
do my best to keep a good record of how many firings a group of cases has seen.
Case Head Separation
We’ve discussed that brass is malleable, and the brass in
the case tends to ‘flow’ forward, toward the case mouth, upon repeated firing.
The area of the case body about 1/3rd up from the rim tends to become thin as
the brass flows forward.
What can happen is terrible: the brass case can
actually rip in half in the chamber or the firearm. This can be deadly.
Inspecting case head separation is easy. Looking at the
portion of the brass between the rim and
middle of the cartridge, look for a
shiny ring where the brass is thinning. As the brass thins, it becomes shinier
than the rest of the case
How many times can reloaded brass be fired
In bottle necked cases,
depending on the pressures and velocities, four or five firings
where I become overly suspicious and start to see split necks. Pistols and
straight walled rifle cases generally tend to operate at lower velocities and
pressures, so their useful life will tend to be a bit longer.