Dented Cartridges Safe to Fire?


March 25, 2008, 08:26 PM
Going through some surplus rifle ammo I found some dented cartridges. Are these safe to fire? If it isn't safe, out of curiosity, what would happen?

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March 25, 2008, 08:30 PM
How severe? I mean, small dents are no big deal.

Will it chamber? What caliber? Where are the dents?

It's not likely to hurt anything if it will chamber and the bullet is not setback.
If it's a necked rifle round and the dents are not near the neck then OK, if the neck is dented I might have second thoughts.

It's always possible that you could see a sharp increase in pressure but I doubt it would chamber if it was that bad.

Sans Authoritas
March 25, 2008, 08:32 PM
Depends on a few things. How dented is the case? The more dented something is, the less internal case volume there is, and therefore, more pressure.
Is the dent a gouge that is actually weakening the case structure? What kind of case is it? Thick-walled or not? Is the dent on the neck and/or shoulder? It might be a very bad idea, in that case.

I've fired dented cases before. (My own reloads after a smooth surface has dinged them.) I've had no problems, but then, I wouldn't advise anyone to do anything either way, because I don't know their experience level, or what their idea of prudence is.

-Sans Authoritas

March 25, 2008, 08:58 PM
what caliber is the ammo? what powder? powder load? etc?

and what is the gun you want to use it in?

Kind of Blued
March 25, 2008, 09:08 PM
Seems like a photograph might be necessary here.

March 25, 2008, 09:12 PM
I have some 7.62X54r rounds that are dented, I shoot them with no troubles.

Of course I am shooting them out of brick blockhouse of a rifle too. Of course its a Nagant!
Crusty, rusty, dented, or moldy it shoots them all.

March 25, 2008, 10:03 PM
We shot dented rounds all the time at basic, maybe they weren't common but they were certainly in the mix. Didn't hurt the M16s one bit as far as we could tell.

March 25, 2008, 10:05 PM
They are very minor dents on the sides of some 7.62x54R and 8mm (8x57JS) rounds (sorry, don't have a camera). The dents are not on the shoulder or neck, and they are barely noticeable. From the responses given, I think it'd be perfectly safe to fire them, though I'll probably just set them aside for the day I reload (so that I can use the components).

EDIT: Thanks for the timely and informed responses!

March 26, 2008, 02:14 AM
I don't know if I buy the less case volume = more pressure theory. Seems to me the case would instantaneously take the shape of the chamber when firing

March 26, 2008, 07:34 AM
reloaders shoot dented (but resized) cases all the time. Was the case dented before or after it was assembled (i.e. is this a reload?)

March 26, 2008, 08:47 AM
I didn't take any pix (my bad!), but I had A LOT of dinged cases in some '88 & '89 vintage Albanian 7.62x54.

Some of the cases were dented deep & wide enough to get the edge of a penny in them, and some had neck cracks bad enough I could pull the bullets with 2 fingers.

Those got dumped..pulled bullets, poured out powder and mooshed the cases.

March 26, 2008, 08:55 AM
I was wondering about this very question. Not to hijack the OP's thread, but I have a few .308's with dented shoulders due to using too much sizing lube, not major dents, just small. I figured that when fired, the will reshape in the chamber. As far as increased pressure due to reduced casing volume, I just don't see it. Any thoughts? P.S. These are mid-range loads, very mild.

March 26, 2008, 08:58 AM
As far as increased pressure due to reduced casing volume, I just don't see it.

I don't personally see it either, but I've read it in reloading manuals so who knows. I suppose it's possible. Like you I have fired .308 with dented everything (From HKs lovely gentle extraction process) and never had any trouble as long as it would chamber.

March 26, 2008, 10:38 AM
22HM77, based on your description - don't worry about a thing.
Fire the shells.

I sometimes have minor dents from too much sizing lube on reloads and minor dents on factory ammo from miscellaneous reasons. If the round chambers, it is good to shoot.

Mikee Loxxer
March 26, 2008, 10:43 AM
[I don't know if I buy the less case volume = more pressure theory. ]

Pick up a reloading manual, they do. The case will not fire form to the chamber until after the propellant lights off. In other words the pressure spike will happen before not after.

March 26, 2008, 10:45 AM
you're not going to find a definitive answer w/o finding someone who really likes math and has a lot of time on his hands, but for a general idea,

do a little research into "fire forming" to get some perspective on how different cases and chambers can be. pay particular attention to the loads (weight of powder charge) used in the fire forming process relative to normal full-power loads

personally, if it's just a shoulder dented in a bit, and everything's rounded, i'll fire it. but i don't put anything in the chamber where the body itself is crooked or where the dent comes to a corner or is kinked somehow, as i assume the brass would be extremely weak at that point

March 26, 2008, 11:05 AM
small dents are not a problem however like others have posted this is hard to determine without seeing the bullets. you need to post pictures of anything. If you reload ammo or know someone who does and are still unsure. then pull the bullets and dump the powder. You could use the bullets later on to reload

March 26, 2008, 11:33 AM
I have some 7.62x54R in the same condition. It looks like they got banged around in shipping. No big deal, they work great and I notice absolutely no difference.

I shot a .22 that was almost crushed in half. It fired the same as all the rest.

March 26, 2008, 12:11 PM
I only shot one dented rifle round before after careful consideration. It had a dent in the fat part of the case where the powder is. I was shooting it out of a bolt action (dont know if that makes a difference) so i figured since its locked tight in the chamber when it goes off, and the dent isnt touching the actual bullet or neck of the case, i would be fine. I was.

March 26, 2008, 12:19 PM
Smokeless powder is, as I read in my reloading manuals, funny stuff. The pressure it generates depends upon the volume in which it is contained. And it is, apparently, not a linear relationship. For example, we are warned that bullet setback, reducing case volume, in a high pressure cartridge can cause pressures to spike alarmingly.

This makes me cautious of anything other than the smallest of dents in a cartridge.

If I get a tiny dent in a cartridge, I'll fire it, provided that the dent has no sharp edge, and that there is no "tear" in the brass.

But if the dent reduces the volume of the case very much, I'm not messing with it. The cost of a cartridge isn't worth it. Probably would get away with it. But I don't like betting on probably.

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