Is it dangerous to wait for case splits?


December 5, 2006, 10:11 AM
It seems many reloaders know it's time to cycle in New Brass when their cases start splitting. I've been loading the same lot of 300 pcs of brass in 44 mag for 6-7 times, maybe more. I use the same brass to load mild 44 mag (9 gr unique, lswc) and my hotter load (18.7 gr 2400 jhp). I've never had a case split on me or head seperation. When a case splits or seperates while firing, is this safe? I'm assuming you lose quite a bit of pressure and it will sound "off", but is there any chance of ruining a pistol or getting hurt? All my Revo's are Ruger heavy frames.

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December 5, 2006, 10:43 AM
I've never been hurt by a case split,and i've had dozens over the brass and other's brass. Cant say as to head seperation as I' ve never had this happen with my pistol caliber ammo which is what I mostly shoot.

guess that puts me in the 'shoot 'em until they split crowd.

December 5, 2006, 11:21 AM
I have never expereinced a head separation. In my 9mm and 40 S&W reloads I discard the cases after 4 reloads. All my revolver loads are on the mild side, including 44 Mag., and I use the cases until the mouth frays. I have experienced some case splitting with mild loads in old nickel plated 45 ACP cases from the 1950's.

December 5, 2006, 11:42 AM
As far as .45 goes, I'll get a split case occasionally. If the brass is old I'll trash it all. If it is not I figure it's one bad case and just chuck it.(operating at around 19000) .45 brass will last a long time. 10 firings is nothing.
Higher pressure .44 mag with a crimp will not last as long, obviously. Keep eyballing them and when they look tired trash em. ( primer pockets getting loose, case mouth starts looking ratty)

For rifle I am more carefull. I keep records of how many times it is reloading and depending on the caliber etc.( auto, bolt etc. etc.) I'll trash them after 5 to 10 firings.

Mal H
December 5, 2006, 11:52 AM
Case splits are generally no big deal. When one case splits in a lot, it might be time to discard the whole lot if they have been used equally. But, some folks don't keep track of case lots, which is perfectly fine. I see nothing wrong with waiting for case splits to discard a casing as long as the firearm is in good condition, the brass looks good and measures good (at the web) before reloading, and the round isn't a high pressure rifle round. In the latter case, you might want to discard after a nominal number of reloadings.

You do not want a head separation - period
That usually means there is something seriously wrong with the firearm, most often a head spacing problem.

Walkalong and I were posting at roughly the same time. He brings up another good indicator of when to discard brass - loose primer pockets.

December 5, 2006, 11:59 AM
I get a case split now and then. Does not seem to be a big deal. But I mostly shoot loads that are far from maximum.

I don't keep track of how many times a case was reloaded, but I do know that I started with 100 38 special cases that I bought as reloads. I reloaded them every week for several years because I was too poor and too cheap to buy more. Some of them had to have been reloaded several hundred times by now. Of course, over the last 25+ years I have accumulated more than 100 cases.

the original 100 cases are now mixed in with the newer stuff.

December 5, 2006, 12:09 PM
hungarian 7.62x54r surplus splits all the time (I quit using it). And that's not reloaded, it's copper coated steel. It's no big deal, the case is to contain powder not pressure. As the powder reacts (burns) and the pressure rises (40,000+ psi in a rifle) it pushes the brass against the chamber, when the brass is old it fatigues and splits, but the firing is the same process of brass stretching and being forced against the chamber. Some old rifles used paper and foil cartridges IIRC, brass is just more durable.

December 5, 2006, 12:12 PM
In my USP 45 wsing Wolf Ammo. It didn't harm me or the gun, but it was a PITA to get out, and required a dowel and a mallet.

December 5, 2006, 02:15 PM
I'm more worried about digging out split casings than anything else. Course, I tend to load light.

Ben Shepherd
December 5, 2006, 03:01 PM
Split cases are no danger if the load used was a normal load. You'll know when one splits pretty quick.

1. You'll most likely have a flyer in your group.
2. In a revolver that case will drag during ejection.
3. After tumbling brass, a split case will make a distinctive ring when you are sorting it out of the media.

December 5, 2006, 04:39 PM
I have had factory ammo split on me.
It just scares me, no harm done.
Sparks fly out of ejection port, gun 'sneezes' back at me.
No big deal.
Now, if I were into high powered rifles, I may have have a different answer for you.

Ranger J
December 6, 2006, 10:07 AM
I have reloaded thousands of .44 mag. (for rifles) and only experienced one or two splits that I can remember. The majority of these were shot in a Handi rifle and I didnít even notice that they were split until I had tumbled them and was ready to resize them. When not overloaded .44 brass is almost immortal. I admit that I donít keep track on how many times each piece has been shot and usually operate on the Ďlast in, first outí system regarding the usage of brass out of my .44 brass box. Operating out of a pistol with heavy loads a split may be more of a problem.

cracked butt
December 6, 2006, 12:04 PM
The only splits I've had on rifles were neck splits- no big deal.

I had a case head blow out with my 9mm a few years back and that scared the crap out of me- it partially disassembled my pistol and would have disassembled my eyes too if I hadn't been wearing glasses. It was with 'remanufactured' ammo that I bought at a store, I no longer let 'remanufactured' ammo get anywhere to my guns.
I have a feeling that this one was due to sloppy QC by the remanufacturer as the recoil was very non9mm-like and actually stung my hands- probably a gross overcharge or double charge of powder.

December 6, 2006, 12:19 PM
My only Autos are 45 ACP. I'm comfortable the low pressures associated with .45 acp, if loaded safely, should not be huge concern. I'm more curious about my Magnum pistol rounds, all shot from Revo's. Thanks guys/gals? for shedding some much needed light on my concerns.

Ben Shepherd
December 6, 2006, 12:41 PM
Bula, I have some 357 cases that are in excess of 20 loads at around 30,000 psi if the books are correct. Still work fine, I just don't push them HARD for more than 5 loads.

December 6, 2006, 12:42 PM
I'm with Ranger J re: .44 Magnum brass. I don't load it into some of the in-vogue super-duper pressure load categories and the stuff seems to go forever. (And let me add, I have no problems pushing a 240 at about 1300 fps or so from my 6" Smith. More than that starts to make me edgy however.) I'll keep my brass seperate for magnum-pressure loads, and after 10 or so loads dump them into the big bin of mixed brass that I use for light loads.

When the cases split from over-use, I just chuck them and keep going. I'm not a good enough handgun shooter to say I've ever noticed flyers from split cases.

For my AR-15 I've been just chucking cases when the necks split. Again, I've never noticed enough deterioration to bother me. I've been loading it long enough though I have a couple of buckets of brass dedicated for a couple more loads as practice ammo, then the garbage bin.

And an interesting note: I found a .45-70 case today in circulation with a little crease split from who knows what. I know for certain that that case wasn't reloaded more than 2 times (and it started life as factory ammo). What can you do though?

December 6, 2006, 01:05 PM
cracked butt I have experienced a blow out in one of the many thousand rounds I have reloaded and it was also .9mm. I have never had a problem with .45 ACP or any of my other reloads. The casing was a Winchester, but I don't think that had any particular relevance to this blow out. With the exception of the blow out the case looks normal and showed no other signs of fatigue. I can not say how many times I have reloaded it since I don't keep track, I just inspect my brass before I reload. It is also possible that I had picked it up at the range or received it in a shipment of previous shot brass I had ordered.

December 7, 2006, 04:36 AM
That's an interesting picture. When I hear all the discussion about "unsupported chambers" that's the way I picture a piece blowing out. (in my mind) Do you know what type of gun you were firing that in when it blew? (just curious)


cracked butt
December 7, 2006, 10:01 AM
When I hear all the discussion about "unsupported chambers" that's the way I picture a piece blowing out. (in my mind) Do you know what type of gun you were firing that in when it blew? (just curious)
Mine was in a beretta 92. The only unsupported area in that chamber is the extracter groove, and that's where she blew.

December 8, 2006, 09:10 PM
I had a .45 ACP case fatigue at the case head. It blew out around the cut-out at the bottom of the 1911 barrel. The gasses touched off two rounds in the mag. It resulted in a shredded slide and blew the mag out the bottom of the grip. I am a true believer in eye protection. The slide peppered by face but I can still see out of both eyes. Believe it or not, the slide stop blew out the side window of a pickup next to me. Not a good scene at all. That round trashed a perfectly good Springfield Armory 1911. I now religeously throw out any brass that is starting to grow old in the tooth.

As a footnote, Springfield Armory disavowed any responsiblility in the destroyed firearm (and rightfully so, it was a reload that did it; no .45 would have stood up to that blowout). They did however replace my handgun at their cost. They are a top notch company that fully understands customer service. I will never use another brand of firearm. Springfield Armory is the best!

The Bushmaster
December 8, 2006, 09:41 PM
Have had lots of split revolver cases, but no auto loader cases have ever split on me. Have never had a blowout of any kind (Lucky me. Yes sir. Lucky me).

Split cases pose no problems in a quality firearm kept in good condition.:)

December 9, 2006, 02:03 AM
Splits? Shoot 'em til they split.. I have .45ACP, .45LC, .38 and .357 that I reload for. All (except for ACP) are in revolvers.. I don't notice that they split until i extract the shells.. it makes no difference whatsoever. I just don't give it a second thought, just toss the split in the brass can and keep shooting..

December 9, 2006, 02:22 AM
...The gasses touched off two rounds in the mag...:eek:

Goodness! I didn't know that could happen, what brand of primers were they?

Mags blown out by ruptured cases are another reason not to use the "teacup" grip, not to mention good eye protection.

December 9, 2006, 06:06 PM
The primers were CCI, but it was not a problem with the primer. The round vented directly into the magazine. My guess is that the pressure ruptured the seal round the bullet; igniting the powder. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending how you look at it), there were only two rounds in the mag.

As I said, God bless the man that devised safety glasses.

highlander 5
December 9, 2006, 07:15 PM
I've had 44 mag and 45 colt brass split make a strange pop that's all.Chucked the split case in the scrap bucket.

December 14, 2006, 05:34 PM
Thanks Everyone. I guess I'll just proceed as planned and carefully inspect, and toss, the brass as necessary.

December 15, 2006, 12:19 AM
I have had head separation on some .308 military brass that I necked down to .243 and all that I experienced was a slight puff of gas on my cheek. No problems getting the case out, a ,270 bore brush pushed in slightly past the case then retracted pulled it out with no problems. I have been told that the military brass is slightly thicker than the civilian .308.I have also had head separations on civilian brass- no problems. I should mention that I was using a Remington 700 action with a 26 inch barrel (not remington) and I suspect it had head space problems plus the brass that malfunctioned had been full length resized many times and the loads were slightly below max loads.

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