how many times can you reload?


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kyo
April 4, 2009, 01:28 AM
How many times can you reload the same shell safely? And what happens if you go past and why? Not going to just curious! Thanks

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dmazur
April 4, 2009, 01:59 AM
Most accurate answer is "It depends"...

For relatively low-pressure cartridges like the .45 ACP, I've heard of shooters reloading the same brass 50 times or more. Those would be the ones that sort brass and actually track how many times they reload. Others just look for split mouths and toss them, then reload the rest.

For bottleneck rifle cartridges shot in semi-auto actions (like .223, .308 or .30-06), the stress on the brass during ejection can be quite high, and this shortens brass life. I've read that some restrict reloading to 4 or 5 times for these conditions.

Most brass experiences conditions somewhere between these two extremes.

What limits brass life? Mostly work-hardening, I believe. For bottleneck cartridges, it is possible to anneal the neck and restore ductility. You have to not anneal the rest of the case or you can have head failure.

Greatly reduced brass life can occur in bottleneck cartridges shot in rifles with excessive headspace. Stretching occurs above the thick "web" of the case, and head separation can occur if this brass is reloaded. There is sometimes a characteristic bright "ring" where the brass has stretched, and the groove that causes the ring can be felt inside the case with a suitable probe.

Brief answer to what happens if you reload the same brass past its safe life? The case splits, or the head separates, and gasses try to escape past the brass. Depending on the firearm design (Mauser bolt-actions are almost designed to handle this), this can either blow the remaining rounds out of the magazine and scare the daylights out of you, or result in a serious injury. Shooting glasses may save your eyes, but there is no way to predict what is going to happen when a case ruptures.

Most reloading manuals cover this subject, and it is something that is possibly dangerous to try to summarize, so I'll end this with a suggestion to read a couple of references on the subject.

Dean Williams
April 4, 2009, 02:16 AM
It depends a lot on the cartridge, whether for rifle or pistol, and your reloading habits.

In general;
If you load hot all the time, brass will not last as long.

If you full length resize all the time (for rifle), case life will usually be limited by how long the case head stays attached to the rest of the case. A factor in this situation will be the size of the chamber in the rifle. Working your brass from its actual fire formed size back to SAAMI specs with every load will stretch the case just ahead of the web, and the case will fail, sometimes after only a few reloads.

If you primarily neck size rifle brass, it should last longer if you also take the time to anneal the necks. You are still probably going to have to bump back the shoulder now and then to get it to chamber. If you don't anneal, some brass will fail from split case necks fairly early. Maybe 4-5 rounds. Sometimes more. It's hard to predict. Annealing brass that has been properly sized for the chamber of the rifle can double case life if neck sizing.

For straight walled pistol brass, case life is usually dictated by neck splits, and sometimes split case walls. If you get really long life from your brass without neck splits, you will likely eventually end with cases that will not hold a primer. After many firings primer pockets stretch.

How many loads can you get safely? Well, it depends on what cartridge, and how you load it. A few examples from my own experience:

I have 38 Special brass that is heading upwards of 20 reloads. They are practice loads, and I throw them away when the neck splits or the primers start going in too easy.

I get 10-15 loads from my 45 ACP brass. Then neck splits.

22 Hornet, about 10 loads. I can just start to feel a head separation ring about that time, and I chuck them.

30-06 in a Garand, about 5-6 loads. After that many FL re-sizings a ring will make itself evident near the case head, and out it goes. You have to watch for this with most autoloading rifles.
Bolt rifles will end up with head separations too, but you can fine tune your sizing to limit it to some extent.

You will have to decide for yourself, really. Guns are individuals when it comes to chambers, and that has a lot to do with brass life.

ArchAngelCD
April 4, 2009, 02:54 AM
I've been reloading the same 1500 Remington .38 Special cases for over 4 years now. I can't tell you for sure how many times I reloaded them. I can tell you I shoot at least 500/600 rounds a week from April to late November. Doing some quick math and I'd guess each case has already been reloaded ~50X and there's no signs of any of the cases splitting anytime soon. I've heard stories of .38 Special brass being reloaded so many times the name stamp wears off the base of the case.

If you're talking about rifle cases, that's a whole different story. I usually get between 12-15 reloads for 30-06 brass when shot in a bolt action rifle.

Steve C
April 4, 2009, 03:30 AM
Semi auto brass usually gets lost before it gets worn out. As others have said, load them until they split or the primer pocket gets too loose, then in the recycle they go. I once started counting but got bored and quit at around the 8th reloading.

highlander 5
April 4, 2009, 07:37 AM
This story is at least 30 yrs old and from Guns and Ammo magazine. The writer wanted to see how many times he could reload a 38 Spl case. As I recall he picked a load of 3.5 gr Bullseye,148 gr lead wadcutter and a standard small pistol primer.
He reloaded the case 156 times before it split.
I have 44 mag brass that's at least 30 yrs old that I reload but I'm using 44 spl loads in them.

moooose102
April 4, 2009, 09:19 AM
i load it until it splits. when it does, i scrap it. just that simple for me.:D

ranger335v
April 4, 2009, 09:20 AM
"How many times can you reload the same shell safely?"

Much depends on: (1) How well your dies match your chamber, And that's a crap shoot, not a matter of the brand of anything. (2) How you load, especially so for how you resize and expand.

Do it the "book" way and rifle cases won't last very long. Rilfe cases can split or seperate at the head in as little as 3-5 loads. But, if all is done correctly even using the same dies and rifle, etc, they can last for 15-20 full pressure loads.

As you can tell, there is no "correct" answer to your question. Only a newbie would even attempt to put a number on it.

MMCSRET
April 4, 2009, 09:34 AM
25-30 years ago Guns And Ammo magazine conducted a test using 1 38 Special case, loading and firing it in the same chamber of the same cylinder in the same revolver until it failed. IIRC they used 2.7 gr. B'eye under a 148 gr. HBWC for 147 firings before it cracked.

jcwit
April 4, 2009, 09:40 AM
I shoot casual benchrest as in no competition, and neck size only, load only for accuracy. I've got cases that have 50 reloads thru them, this .223, LC brass.

Walkalong
April 4, 2009, 09:43 AM
Lots of good answers here. The bottom line is the more the brass gets worked, the sooner it craps out.

Afy
April 4, 2009, 09:53 AM
I have so far gotten 10 reloads out of a batch of RWS 8x60S brass that has been full sized each time. It has become progressively more difficult to full size over time.
I have also gotten about 7 reloads so far out of a batch of .260 Rem RP brass, that is only neck sized.

Rancho Relaxo
April 4, 2009, 10:06 AM
This is my personal experience:

9mm - Too many reloads to count!
223 Rem - Neck sized over 10x if I'm lucky
22 Hornet - Neck sized 4x if it's a particularly sturdy piece of brass, but that's the rifle's fault.
6mm Rem - Haven't reloaded it too much, but I'm thinking 6-7x would be about right.

12ga, 20ga - 10 times no problem.
28ga, 410 - Probably 8 or 9 times before the ends start to wither too bad to hold a crimp.

SteelyNirvana
April 4, 2009, 02:11 PM
i load it until it splits. when it does, i scrap it. just that simple for me.

I've reloaded a few times, so I'm still learning a bit myself. This is the aproach I've taken about when it's time to swap out the brass. I had a 30/30 case that was on its 4th or 5th reload that I noticed that the case had a split in it. My concern is that if you wait for the brass the crack/split would there be any danger in doing so? Lets say you fire a round and it splits while in the chamber, would there be any danger of it doing so?

rcmodel
April 4, 2009, 02:25 PM
If the neck splits, no problem.

If the case cracks about a 1/2" in front of the rim, maybe.

The 30-30 is an especially short-lived case in lever-actions, because the action has a lot of give or spring to it. This allows excess case stretching to occur.

You will find symptoms of excess stretching / headspace, and a stretch ring inside the case you can feel with a bent wire or paper-clip.

When you can feel the ring, toss the case, cause the head is getting close to coming off.

rc

kyo
April 4, 2009, 02:30 PM
im talkin about the .45 acp and maybe the .40 S&W later on for another time.

rcmodel
April 4, 2009, 03:20 PM
I could have sworn you were talking about loading 30-30 4 or 5 times and noticing splits of some kind?

I was trying to address that.

.45 ACP & .40 S&W can be used until they split.

There is not the danger of head separations like on the 30-30.

rc

SteelyNirvana
April 4, 2009, 05:02 PM
I could have sworn you were talking about loading 30-30 4 or 5 times and noticing splits of some kind?

I was trying to address that.

.45 ACP & .40 S&W can be used until they split.

There is not the danger of head separations like on the 30-30.


That was me, briancraig81 askin' about the 30/30. BTW: Thanks for answering my question and the tip :)

The user by the name of Kyo was askin' about the .40 & .45.

rcmodel
April 4, 2009, 05:15 PM
AH, I see!

Another Senior Moment!
Another thread hi-jack I failed to notice.

rc

Bart B.
April 4, 2009, 08:57 PM
There are several people since the 1950's to date who have won high power rifle matches setting records along the way shooting nothing but full-length sized cases. Case life has been 50 to 80 reloads per .30-06 or .308 Win. case and 20 to 40 reloads for belted cases. To say nothing about the fact that the smallest 15+ shot groups fired at the longer ranges have all been done with full length sized cases. All in standard SAAMI chambers, too. Most with rifles using Win. 70 actions.

ArchAngelCD
April 4, 2009, 10:55 PM
Case life has been 50 to 80 reloads per .30-06 or .308 Win. case and 20 to 40 reloads for belted cases.
BUT, you usually need to anneal the case neck/mouth to get that many reloads from a 30-06 rifle case. Without annealing I've only gotten between 12-15 reloads.

rfwobbly
April 4, 2009, 11:06 PM
I was loading some mixed 9mm today. I try to look at each case mark to make sure it's not a 380 or Mak brass since a lot of it is from the range. I picked up this one military case and it was marked "1943".

:eek:

wyocarp
April 4, 2009, 11:13 PM
Check your brass before reloading and keep doing so until it shows signs that it should be thrown out. That can be on the first reload or the 100th.

The following are brass that were from brand new factory loads and fired only once.

http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn286/wyocarp/HPIM0331.jpg

Bart B.
April 5, 2009, 06:06 AM
ArchAngelCD says:BUT, you usually need to anneal the case neck/mouth to get that many reloads from a 30-06 rifle case. Without annealing I've only gotten between 12-15 reloads.If the full length sizing die's had its neck lapped out to a couple thousandths smaller than a loaded round's neck diameter, the expander ball isn't needed. Neck brass gets moved only about half as much and only once for each sizing operation. That's a reduction in brass bending at the sizing point by about 60%. And case necks are much straighter doing this which improves accuracy as bullets are seated straighter.

counterclockwise
April 5, 2009, 04:00 PM
What Dean W said.....

Recent article in Handloader for accurate .308 development showed a a spread of 10 to 20 X depending on brand of brass from Lapua to Winchester. This was all in the same rifle and recipe.

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