reusing brass


Dale Thompson
September 22, 2008, 08:31 PM
I have a 1911 that I have been shooting off and on for many years more off than on. Now that my son is getting old enough to enjoy the sport it's starting to cost a small fortune to shoot. I need to start reloading and I was wondering if I bought once reloaded ammo from say blackhills and saved the brace if this could be reloaded a number of times if so how many?

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September 22, 2008, 09:13 PM
One man's opinion, but for what it's worth...

I reload my 45acp brass 5 times usually before tossing it out. That makes it six firings since I generally start with once-fired brass I'm fortunate enough to have access to. I've loaded 45's (and 9mm's, 40's, 38's and 44's) 10 times before and provided you're not pushing max loads or +P loads you'll often find the brass is still fine... but pistol brass is cheap enough that anything more than 5-6 firings is just gratuitous and unnecessarily raises the risks of finding a weak spot in one or several.

I tend to save my 5x fired brass too - for my 44mag as one example, after 4-5 firings I load only cast bullets at 7-800fps which are low pressure and serve a purpose until I finally discard them at the old age of 10 or so.

In your given firearm, check brass for abnormally sized bulges and especially resized case length after firing. If a case stretches funny or grows in length suddenly it's hit.

September 22, 2008, 09:14 PM
I've heard 6 to 7 times, but some have said with low pressure plinking loads they last much longer.

September 22, 2008, 09:34 PM
I reload my brass until they split, show signs of seperation or the primers are easy to install.

September 22, 2008, 09:39 PM
I load target type loads for my .45s. I have some WCC brass that has been loaded in excess of twenty times. Every so often one will split or they get lost.

September 22, 2008, 09:55 PM
How many times you cn reload it will depend most on how you load it. For a bolt gun you can neck size after the first loading and get more use out of the brass. For a semiauto, you will full length resize each time and the brass will not last as long(maybe 5-9 times) so long as you don't load max. Loading max will drastically decrease the lifespan of your brass(3-5). Lots of variables involved here. Pistol cases with straight walls will usually last 10-20 cycles at mid to moderate loadings. If you load balls to the wall, some calibers will only last 2-3 loadings.

September 22, 2008, 10:02 PM
I pick up most of my brass from our IDPA club pistol pits and most of the shooters reload, so how many times has it been reloaded? Who knows.
I clean all my brass and inspect it. No cracks or splits, I reload it and have never had any problems.

September 22, 2008, 10:05 PM
Check the condition of the brass and reload it until ..... well, forever.

September 22, 2008, 10:51 PM
Yep, pretty much forever if you don't go too warm.

Welcome to the Forum!!


September 22, 2008, 11:23 PM
Hey There;
The .45 ACP is very tolerant . Load till you feel that case split in the loader.
Then it is junk.
Target loads will go for a long time. Hot loads ? Not so long.

September 23, 2008, 01:23 AM
I have some 45 auto brass that's been loaded so many times, the headstamp is no longer readable. They were loaded with medium target loads for indoor shooting for IDPA and IPSC. Once in a while I will see where one has a split in the mouth, then it's headed for the recycle pail.

September 23, 2008, 02:04 AM
Since we cant retrieve our brass at IPSC events here, we use our crappiest oldest when we load for a match. In fact, I have shot some that were partially split, where you could just crimp it together (split didnt come down past bullet). I mean, if you cant get em back, why give up the good stuff. I wouldnt do that with a real high pressure round, but have yet to have a problem out of a .45.

evan price
September 23, 2008, 04:41 AM
I have .45 acp cases with headstamp dates from the 1930's. Still going strong. The .45 will last forever if you don't hotrod them.

September 23, 2008, 05:03 AM
<puts hand up> I have a question...

When you load them 'till they split, do you notice when you shoot it? Or just after you collected your empties? In other words, has old brass splitting during firing ever caused a problem in your firearm? Enough of a problem that you worry about safety?


highlander 5
September 23, 2008, 08:09 AM
Back in the 80s a writer for Guns and Ammo did a test on how many times you can load a 38 spl. using 3.5 gr of bullseye,144 gr wadcutter and standard primer he got 156 reloads from the case before it split. I have brass that's at least 20 years old and still going strong. If you stick to moderate loads your brass will last a long,long time

September 23, 2008, 08:28 AM
I reload my 45acp brass 5 times usually before tossing it out.Just gettin' started.

Yep, pretty much forever if you don't go too warm.

Shoot it until it splits. One of the benefits of being a low pressure round.

September 23, 2008, 08:47 AM
"When you load them 'till they split, do you notice when you shoot it? Or just after you collected your empties? In other words, has old brass splitting during firing ever caused a problem in your firearm? Enough of a problem that you worry about safety?"

For me anyway, most splits occur during loading, not firing but such splits are not usually any problem. (I say "usually" because I never say "never" and "always" when discussing reloading, some "expert" will always have a story about his friends neighbor who had a great uncle who knew a guy who heard of a different experience!) Hand gun cases typically split in either the mouth or body, not the head, so the pressure is still contained well and produces no hazard to the shooter or his weapon.

Many people limit reloads to five. I suspect that's because some magazine writers have said that so many times it has become conventional "wisdom". It is a safe enough practice because it is so conservative that people toss perfectly good cases before it's time.

Five reloads is a reasonable limit for hot loaded rifle brass and when the loader fails to adjust his FL sizer to match his rifle's chamber. But, the limit of five has little application to handguns, the pressures in pistols are far lower, even in "hot" loads. And hot loads are a dumb idea in pistols.

Keep your brass segragated by number of reloads. When one splits, toss the rest. If your chamber is tight it will last a long time, if the chamber is large and your sizer is small and you over crimp a little to much, the cases will split much sooner.

Some cases have soft, longer lasting brass, some will be harder and it will split sooner.

There is NO way to predict how long any of it will actually last but it will likely be something like ten or more. Maybe much more.

September 23, 2008, 09:33 AM
The only brass I've split is 35 Remington in both Winchester and Remington. It doesn't seem to last as long as my pistol brass or even 7mm Mag brass for me.

Could be my rilfe, but I've been able to achieve sub-MOA with my Marlin 336 using Sierra 158gr pistol bullets.

The Bushmaster
September 23, 2008, 10:37 AM
I reload .45 ACP and 9mm X 19 brass untill I can't read the head stamp anymore. By then I have probably lost it anyway....45 ACP and 9mm X 19 brass is very durable...

September 23, 2008, 11:04 AM
How do you find brass that has split? LISTEN! Take a handful of brass, toss it back and forth between your two hands, listen to a dull "clink" along with the higher pitched clinks. The one with the duller thud is split!

Another thing, 45 ACP brass just never seems to grow longer, so it never needs to be trimmed. Just load it, shoot it, until it cracks or gets lost.
September 23, 2008, 11:59 AM
Honestly I simply lost count of the number of reloads on my .45 acp brass.

Like a previous poster said, I used them until the headstamp was unreadable and the rims were all nicked and battered by the extractor and ejector. Never bothered trimming them either. The walls looked wrinkly and buckley as well. Just tumbled and reloaded them. Did not discard any unless split. Problem was when they vaporized at the range:D.

If you load minor, don't worry about caselife.

Gave away all my brass when I sold the last 1911 seven months ago. Bet my buddy will be enjoying them for years to come.

September 23, 2008, 12:04 PM
The .45 will last forever if you don't hotrod them.

I usually load 5.0gr of W231 or 6.0gr of Unique in my .45. The brass lasts forever.

September 23, 2008, 05:26 PM
Hey, glad I learned something. Appears the "conventional wisdom" indeed was what was passed on to me... always better to be safe than sorry, but glad to read that despite my past foolishness I can get a lot more life out of my brass! Never really did split one, go figure :o

Ky Larry
September 24, 2008, 11:29 PM
Taper crimping as opposed to roll crimping prolongs case life. I have some .45 ACP's with 1943 headstamps. They were range pickups so I have no idea how many times they have been reloaded. I've noticed I don't get nearly as many reloads out of my "warm' .357's as my mild .38 target loads so "Speed Kills."

September 25, 2008, 02:46 PM
I've heard that .45ACP shrinks.

have >5 reloads in my 750-850fps 200gr and 230gr loads. No issues.

I think my Starline .41 Mag brass may last longer than the Blackhawk.

September 25, 2008, 09:01 PM
I stopped counting the times I've used .45 ACP brass. I have loaded the same 500 rounds for over a year now with a 230gr LRN bullet and 5.5gr W231 and the only ones I've lost are the ones I really lost at the range... (if they get to the grass it's over !! LOL)

September 25, 2008, 09:25 PM
I'd use some caution with Black hills. Black Hills sells reloaded ammo, if that's what you're buying. I do know they are pretty good on returns/defective ammo if you keep the case and box they came in.
The reason I mention it is last Saturday one guy shooting an M16 had a case fracture all the way around the case about 2/3 from the neck. The rifle ejected the lower third but the rest of it was stuck in the rifle, we managed to get it out after letting the barrel cool down.
The next day another shooter was shooting a Smith/Wesson 40SW and about half way through the second box his gun jambed. I managed to use a cleaning rod to knock out the spent round. The case had split about half way down vertically. It was also a Black Hills reload. I have it in my shop and can get a picture of it if someone wants to post it here.

Thor Bloodax
September 25, 2008, 09:47 PM
Years ago when I lived in another country, I had only 200 .38 spcl cases. Very restricted shooting opportunities with tight licensing and permits required for just about everything. I got about 40 reloads out of them using 2.8 gr Bullseye with a 148 gr wadcutter. I was shooting them out of a S&W Model 10 and a K-38. Unfortunately, these cases all got lost in a move so I did not find out how long they would have gone past 40.

Now that I am back in the good 'ol USA, I have ammo boxes full of good cases which I will never wear out. (but I am trying!) A local police department fires every week at our range and I pick up between 2500 and 3000 empty .38,.357 and 9mm once fired in a year.

September 25, 2008, 09:52 PM
A local police department fires every week at our range and I pick up between 2500 and 3000 empty .38,.357 and 9mm once fired in a year

<Sigh>, I'll take some if you want to send 'em to me :D

Seriously though I haven't been reloading long but my .38 special is all "cowboy loads" with a gentle crimp so I fully expect them to last a long time.

September 26, 2008, 01:02 AM
I reload target loads and I shoot them till they split or I loose them.

September 26, 2008, 01:26 AM
I've heard of shooters using .38 Special cases so long you could no longer read the head stamp. I have over 3000 .38 Special cases but I've been using the same 500 pieces for almost 4 years now without even 1 splitting. Of course I charge only 3.5gr W231 under a 148gr DEWC and 4.1gr W231 under a 158gr LSWC. With those loads I'm hoping to see the time where I can no longer read the head stamps on my .38 Special brass!! :D

September 26, 2008, 09:09 AM

Do "my" loads look familiar???

158gr SWC (Zero Swaged)
4gr W-231
Mixed Brass
OAL: 1.480
Measured velocity: 740 fps avg. (out of a 5" M&P)

148gr. HBWC's (Berry's)
3.5gr. Win-231
Mixed Brass
Flush seating
695 fps (5" M&P S&W)

I very rarely ever cull out a piece of brass. Like you sir, it's how you load the brass that can make it last...or not.


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