A Warning about 1950's Yugo 8mm ammo...


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Rubber_Duck
June 22, 2009, 10:33 PM
I had a case failure this past weekend while I was shooting on of my favorite rifles.

Luckily, I was wearing shooting glasses, and I was relatively unharmed save for a minor black eye and bruising from brass and carbon particles on my right cheek. X-rays at the hospital showed no signs of metallic particles imbedded in me.

The rifle was a 1944-dated German Kar 98K 8mm Mauser. I had the rifle inspected by a gunsmith, and there was no damage whatsoever and headspace checked out fine. The blast of the gas in my face was stunning and painful, something I'll never forget. The rifle's gas-handling safety features worked as designed, protecting me from the excess gas, a credit to the design of the Mauser 98.

After some research, it turns out this ammo, particularly lots from '52 through '56, is prone to case failures. I was shooting '53 production.

DO NOT USE THIS AMMO IN A SEMI-AUTO such as the FN-49/SAFN or Egyptian Hakim, or any other 8mm autoloader. The result could be disastrous in the event of a failure. Stick to the Mauser, the strength of the action and the safety features will handle case failures much better than any automatic rifle.

And ALWAYS WEAR EYE PROTECTION!!!!! I have brass particles imbedded in the lenses of my shooting glasses. Better the glasses than your eyes!


The bad case:

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=100142&stc=1&d=1245719976

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=100143&stc=1&d=1245719994




The rifle, unharmed and good-to-go:

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=100144&stc=1&d=1245720004

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Babbalanja
June 22, 2009, 11:06 PM
Good advice. I shot some 1955 Yugo through my GEW 98 and it had a failure to ignite rate of about 25%, so I got rid of it.

Glad you applied proper safety precautions. Nice rifle, BTW.

.45Guy
June 23, 2009, 03:53 AM
That's odd, I've put cases of Yugo through the Hakim without a hitch. Will check production date when I get home.

Rubber_Duck
June 23, 2009, 04:24 AM
it had a failure to ignite rate of about 25%

Most 98 shooters solve this by replacing the stock spring with a 22 lb. spring for higher primer strike force. Of the three Kar 98Ks I own, two (including the scoped beauty pictured above) will reliably fire '50s Yugo surplus while one 98K cannot. About one out of six or seven rounds will actually fire on the first strike out of the 3rd rifle. The primers are hard and it doesnt help that the primers are recessed so deeply.

On the plus side, Yugo M75 ammo is reliable out of all my 98Ks and has proven to be the highest-quality, the most accurate and consistent across the board. So not all Yugo ammo is bad.

wideym
June 23, 2009, 08:54 AM
I bought a case of 1950's Yugo 8mm ammo a few years ago with bad results.

1 in 4 would hangfire
1 in 4 would misfire and on a second attempt would either fire, hangfire, or nothing at all.
1 in 4 of the ammo would not fire at all.

Those were pretty bad results and I ended up selling the ammo to a reloader who planned on pulling the bullets. Afterwards I couldn't find decent 8mm surplus to plink with and ended up selling my Mauser to my brother. Oddly enough the day after I sold it, I found a case of FN 8mm ammo for next to nothing and bought it for my brother. The FN ammo had yet to have a missfire or hangfire.

P51D
June 23, 2009, 09:39 AM
Rubber Duck - Thanks for the info, and I'm glad things didn't turn out worse.

Are the Yugo cartridges you're talking about Boxer or Berdan primed? I often pick up Boxer range brass to reload, and I'd like to try to avoid a case rupture.

Also, do you recall what the headstamp markings are on your brass? I can't quite make them out in the photos.

THANKS

P51D

GBExpat
June 23, 2009, 10:56 AM
Are the Yugo cartridges you're talking about Boxer or Berdan primed?

Berdan.

Robert
June 23, 2009, 10:57 AM
Thank for the info and glad you and the rifle are ok. I have a near half case of that same ammo that I shoot in my K98. I have had primers back out but never had anything like that happen. Again Glad you are alright.

Jeremy2171
June 23, 2009, 11:25 AM
One of those '53 rounds just destroyed a '45 K43. Cracked the receiver and blew the bolt assy off the rifle.

Reload this ammo into new cases if you plan on shooting it....just my two cents...

SlamFire1
June 23, 2009, 11:28 AM
Ammunition dumps go Kaboom all the time due to old ammo.

Many folks here believe the shelf life of ammo is infinite. That is not true. Old powder out gassing Nitric acid gas has caused many an ammunition dump to blow sky high.

I have been informed that the US Army scraps double based ammunition when it is 20 years old, and single based at 45 years.

Though I would say that the split through the case head was due to defective brass. That brass was probably defective the day it was made.

Communist workers had poor attitudes and their factories had a total lack of quality control. No one gave a flip.

Rubber_Duck
June 23, 2009, 12:16 PM
Also, do you recall what the headstamp markings are on your brass? I can't quite make them out in the photos.

The headstamp consists of an '11' at 12 o'clock, stars at 3 and 9 o'clock, and '53' at 6 o'clock designating the year. Exactly like this:

The ammo is brass-cased but non-reloadable due to being Berdan primed.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=100173&stc=1&d=1245770060

P51D
June 23, 2009, 12:24 PM
Thanks, Rubber Duck & GBExpat!

P51D

cchris
June 23, 2009, 06:16 PM
This is why I opted for the 70's Romanian over the 50's Yugo. The Yugo's supposed to be less corrosive so you might not have to scrub the gun down as well, but I'd rather not have this happen and just take the extra time to clean.

After reading something in this same forum, I decided the worst choice for me would be to buy 50's Yugo, and I suppose I was right.

Dr.Rob
June 23, 2009, 06:43 PM
I have like 600+ rounds of that stuff, no seperations or blow back here but I do wear my shooting glasses. I just checked my oldest appears to be '54.

Rubber_Duck
June 24, 2009, 04:36 AM
Yugo's supposed to be less corrosive...

This is like saying less pregnant. Either it is or it isn't, so Yugo is just as corrosive as Romanian.

outerlimit
June 24, 2009, 04:46 AM
Do any of you guys ad a slip on recoil pad to these mil-surps with the steel stock ends? Seems like shooting one of those would get tiring real fast.

Rubber_Duck
June 24, 2009, 05:03 AM
Only on a Mosin-Nagant. And not for the recoil but for the short length-of-pull.

JonB
June 24, 2009, 11:56 AM
Do any of you guys ad a slip on recoil pad to these mil-surps with the steel stock ends? Seems like shooting one of those would get tiring real fast.
Yup - got one on my Yugo 24/47. Even with it, I usually don't shoot much more than 30 rounds from the bench in a single session. My Mosin M44 is more pleasant to shoot than the 8mm.

I've got close to 3000 rounds of 50's Yugo ammo. '55 and '52 headstamp I think. Apart from the occasional round that won't go bang on the first try, it seems to be ok stuff. Not particularly accurate, but has quite a punch to it.

GBExpat
June 24, 2009, 01:19 PM
One of those '53 rounds just destroyed a '45 K43. Cracked the receiver and blew the bolt assy off the rifle.


I sure hope that no body parts were cracked or blown off of the shooter!

'45 K43 ... that's a real shame!

GBExpat
June 24, 2009, 01:42 PM
Yugo's supposed to be less corrosive...
This is like saying less pregnant. Either it is or it isn't, so Yugo is just as corrosive as Romanian.

While the question of whether or not ammo is "corrosive" is an Either-Or proposition the same is not necessarily true of the question of how "corrosive" one ammo when compared to another.

If the propellant from Ammo 1 leaves a lot more crap in the bore than the propellant used in Ammo 2, Ammo 1 will cause more of the potassium chloride from the primer compound to remain in the bore rather than being expelled with the gases.

The more potassium chloride that is in the bore, the more corrosion that you will experience once water vapor is added to the equation.

Generally, the more clean-burning the propellant, the larger percentage of the potassium chloride that will be ejected with the gases.

I do not recall how clean-burning the '50s Yugo ammo is but I do recall that the '70s Romy leaves a sooty mess in the bore.

Dr.Rob
June 24, 2009, 02:17 PM
Recoil pad? Nope. It's heavy enough that the steel buttplate doesn't bang you around too much. I've literally run as many as 100 rounds out of it in a range session with just a field jacket.

You can always 'cheat' with a PAST recoil shield under your jacket and not ruin the looks of your rifle.

surplusfan
June 24, 2009, 03:04 PM
Many folks here believe the shelf life of ammo is infinite. That is not true. Old powder out gassing Nitric acid gas has caused many an ammunition dump to blow sky high.

I have been informed that the US Army scraps double based ammunition when it is 20 years old, and single based at 45 years.

That's certainly good to know, up to this point I've been among the "many folks" who believed that the shelf life of ammo, though not "infinite," is in the range of 50-100 years for corrosive primer ammo. And more importantly, that the main concern would be more hangfires as the ammo aged, not what amounts to an explosion due to nitric acid out gassing. Any further details on this risk would be of interest. I googled "double based vs single based powder" and found what I needed to know about that distinction, but so far have been unable to find other references to the risks of nitric acid out gassing from surplus ammo. Is this likely to be a potential problem for those with decades old eastern bloc surplus? If so, I think there are a lot of folks potentially affected that are unaware of the danger.

AmEngRifles
June 24, 2009, 04:53 PM
I have an observation. Did anyone notice that the unfired round Rubberduck showed has a really rough appearance? It just doesn't look like the smooth finish I see on almost all brass cases of any manufacture. Looks like it was sand cast instead of turned? It does make me wonder about quality control. The brass just looks odd compared to most brass I am used to. I realize it is a close up photo, but still made me take notice.

If he photographed a round from another manufacturer and placed it next to this one, would it look different?

That added with age, deterioration, storage conditions, etc., one get's suspicious of surplus ammo. Glad you escaped permanent damage.

SlamFire1
June 24, 2009, 05:09 PM
That's certainly good to know, up to this point I've been among the "many folks" who believed that the shelf life of ammo, though not "infinite," is in the range of 50-100 years for corrosive primer ammo. And more importantly, that the main concern would be more hangfires as the ammo aged, not what amounts to an explosion due to nitric acid out gassing. Any further details on this risk would be of interest. I googled "double based vs single based powder" and found what I needed to know about that distinction, but so far have been unable to find other references to the risks of nitric acid out gassing from surplus ammo. Is this likely to be a potential problem for those with decades old eastern bloc surplus? If so, I think there are a lot of folks potentially affected that are unaware of the danger.


I have had old surplus IMR 4895 go bad in the case. Bullets had green corrosion and case necks cracked.

I was able to talk to a Navy Energics guy. The nitroglycerin and nitrocellulose in double base powders combine to form a lower energy molecule. This reaction is temperature dependant, the higher the temperatures the faster the reaction occurs. Nitric acid gas is released as a by product of this reaction. Too much nitric acid will create heat and has caused ammunition dumps to blow.

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=13c_1205681217

The Navy use a type of test paper stored with powder samples to tell when the powder is outgassing. When the paper turns color they send a sample for analysis. If the analysis indicates that less than 15% of stabilizer is left in the powder, the lot is scrapped.

The Army scraps powder by clock time. 20 years for double base, 45 years for single base.

If your powder smells, or is red, it is way past time to dump it.

When I talked to Alliant powders about this, they told me that if the tin plating is missing, or spotty in your can, then the powder is outgassing and should be tossed.

The Navy guy said the best storage conditions for powder is constant dry cold. Like Artic cold. He said something about water exposure not being good. Don't know why.

For those who don't believe that ammunition dumps blow, just Google "ammunition depot explosions" You will find all sorts of reports

http://geneva.usmission.gov/CD/updates/0804DangerousDepots.html

An interesting report

http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/files/sas/publications/b_series_pdf/CAiS/CAiS%20CH13%20Depot%20explosions.pdf


I don't know how much powder/cartridges it takes to cause a fire or an explosion. I don't know how long it takes. But this old 50's vintage ammo, you should expect that it is towards the end of its stockpile lifetime.

Based on what I understand, old powder gets weaker as it deteriorates. But then nitric acid weakens brass.

Still, as I said earlier, old Communist block ammunition was made by people who did not give a flip, one way or another, about the product they were making. If the stuff blows up peopleís firearms, well, themís the risks.

surplusfan
July 11, 2009, 03:12 PM
Well, that is informative, thanks.

I'm not sitting on a stockpile, nor storing powder. What I do have is a couple tins of '50s Bulgarian 7.62x54r. Since that's what I'm responsible for, I guess I'm most concerned about the long term (or short term, for that matter) safety of keeping a tin of that in room temperature conditions for, let's say, 5 years. I have to think this is safe, since even tins of '40s Russian 7.62x54r have been widely sold recently. Are many of us Mosin and Mauser owners too complacent?

bensdad
July 11, 2009, 03:38 PM
I have an observation. Did anyone notice that the unfired round Rubberduck showed has a really rough appearance? It just doesn't look like the smooth finish I see on almost all brass cases of any manufacture. Looks like it was sand cast instead of turned? It does make me wonder about quality control. The brass just looks odd compared to most brass I am used to. I realize it is a close up photo, but still made me take notice.

I didn't notice, but after reading your post, I enlarged the pic and took a closer look. You're very right. That round looks like crap. "Sandcast" is a perfect description. That's not at all what rifle brass should look like. Now, go take a closer look at the one he blew up. Same crappy, pitted, inconsistant appearance. That ammo looks like it was made in a cave.

Pack
July 11, 2009, 09:39 PM
I blew up my then-just-acquired 8mm FN-49 with the very first round I ever attempted to fire from it. It was the Yugo 8mm stuff, packed 5 rounds to a 98-pattern stripper clip, three strippers to a box. The bolt carrier sheared right in half. :(

Rubber_Duck
July 24, 2009, 07:19 PM
Just thought I'd add this pic, of another shooter who had a case failure with this ammo in this thread: http://www.surplusrifleforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=74577&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&start=15

http://i43.tinypic.com/4kgymd.jpg

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