Surplus once fired brass


January 3, 2008, 11:21 AM
Ordered 200 cases once fired .308 Win from Midway a few months back and just getting around to working with it. The brass is all Lake City ,98 thru 05. I've always heard that surplus brass has thicker walls etc. and less case capacity so I decided to weigh the water volume capacity of a few different headstamps that I had on hand. The results are as follows:

Brass empty wt. full wt. water wt.
LC 04 177.7 233.6 55.9 gr.

Hirtenberger (HP) 170.9 227.0 56.1 gr.

Cavim 91 180.6 235.6 55.0 gr.

Frontier 171.1 226.9 55.8 gr.

Federal (FC) 181.3 236.9 55.6 gr.

Rem. (RP) 173.4 229.3 55.9 gr.

Win. nickel 171.0 227.1 56.1 gr.

W-W Super 158.6 216.8 58.2 gr.

With the exception of the Cavim 91 and WW Super all cases are within .2-.3 gr. and the RP case capacity is the same as the LC case. Most of my .308 reloading has been with RP and FC brass with no trouble. With these results is it really necessary that I start with 10% reduced loads. Please fill me in on your thoughts, tests, practices along these lines. Thanks.

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January 3, 2008, 12:27 PM
You should always work up your loads. With this said, I've found no difference in loading plinking ammunition with mixed brass for my M1A's, but I'm not loading to maximum, either. Remington brass in most rifle calibers is usually considered roughly the same as military in case capacity.

The CAVIM is South American and good brass, but you can see that it does have slightly less case capacity, so load accordingly. Winchester is generally a little thinner in rifle brass, but not necessarily in pistol brass. It all depends on how the dies are set up when they punch it out.

Hope this helps.


Mark whiz
January 3, 2008, 03:05 PM
All of those cases you weighed can be loaded equally, unless you are loading pure maximum loads, then you might want to make some adjustments.

Where you want to be careful is if you have a load for a lighter (10 to 20gr less) commercial case and you want to duplicate that load in a mil-spec case. For that big of a difference, you will want to drop your powder charge by 12% of the difference between the 2 cases. As an example, if your mil-spec case is 10gr heavier, you would drop your powder charge 1.2gr.

January 3, 2008, 03:20 PM
My friend gave me a bunch of LC brass that had been fired in a machine gun. I ran it through an RCBS sizing die and trimmed it. I did not load it to the max and I did not check the case volume.

I have fired about 90 rounds of it so far through my DPMS LR308 with very good results.

January 3, 2008, 03:33 PM
Did you resize all the brass before doing the water-weighing?

If it isn't resized, you can't tell anything at all about internal volume or case capacity.

Just how big the chamber was it was fired in!

January 3, 2008, 07:00 PM
I was wondering the same thing as RC about being sized or not? Have a couple thousand of those surplus cases from Midway. Nice brass! But, you might want to check and make sure your dies will reduce them enough to chamber in your rifles. They were fired (most likely) in machineguns and many people need small base dies to make them run properly. I used the excuse to get the RCBS small base X-die.

January 3, 2008, 07:43 PM
Thanks to you all for your help and good information.
All cases tested were FL resized on the same RCBS die and all were trimmed to the same length. I will be checking for chamber fit tomorrow before I go any further- so far I've only FL resized 10 of the LC cases.

January 3, 2008, 07:46 PM
I've read that much of the surplus once-fired military brass was fired through machineguns, and that some of it shows stretching near the base of the case, which, in extreme cases, could lead to a head separation.

Suggest you check your cases for this condition.

January 4, 2008, 03:09 AM
Almost all U.S. machine guns have adjustable headspace. If the gun was set up properly, then excessive headspace won't be a problem with brass fired from it. I've gotten 7.62 x 51 brass fired from an M-60 that was entirely in spec as far as headspace is concerned. I've also gotten brass that wasn't. You just have to check the brass and determine how far it's been stretched. I use an RCBS Precision Mic die for that purpose.

Hope this helps.


January 4, 2008, 11:40 AM
Where can you purchace some of that military 308 brass?

January 4, 2008, 01:42 PM
I got mine from Midway USA 6 months ago and I 've seen it in Dillon's catalog before. Some of the guys at our gun club told me it has been getting scarce lately so it may or may not be available.

January 4, 2008, 10:15 PM
All 10 sized and trimmed cases fit the chamber very well. Thanks again to all who helped. Now I can get on with reloading the cases with confidence.

January 5, 2008, 10:58 AM
Used to be that Scharch manufacturing had the brass. I bought about 500 from them.

January 5, 2008, 05:46 PM
Thanks guys, I'll try and get me some

January 6, 2008, 01:38 AM
Almost all U.S. machine guns have adjustable headspace.

Unless it is the old .30 cal machine gun or the 50 cal M2HB, all US machine gun have set headspace. I do find that 762 brass from M60s and M240s harder to size than brass from commerical rifles. 556 brass from M249 saw have a tendency to bent the case mouth from ejection.

January 6, 2008, 07:55 AM
These LC brass cases from Midway USA do require quite a bit of effort to resize on my old RCBS Jr. press so I'm assuming they were fired in MG. Much more effort is required on the LC brass than on any of the other commercial cases that I have. Also I must lube every case on the LC brass whereas the commercial brass only requires every 3rd or 4th case to be lubed with the Imperial wax. I do like the LC brass - it is very consistant. The feel of each case is the same in the press, in the trimmer, and in the priming tool.

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