Writing on brass/Keeping track of times fired


September 15, 2011, 07:12 PM
So I don't reload, yet. I'm saving my way up to getting the rest of the equipment I need for it. Part of that saving up involves me collecting brass that's laying around every time I go off to the range.

My question is this -- Since I've heard it's prudent to keep track of the number of times a casing has been loaded/fired, what are the typical ways of separating brass? So far, I've been writing on the side of casings (? for pick-up brass, another symbol for stuff I've fired) in sharpie. Will this stay on the brass while it sits in a bin, or rub off? Is keeping brass separated by labelled bins going to be easier when I'm churning through a larger volume of brass? (So far I've only got around 300-400 casings in various calibers)

And as a side question, how important is it in the first place to keep track of brass picked up at the range? Should I be worried that someone loaded their round way past capacity and thinned out the wall of any given brass I picked up, or would it be obvious from stress marks?

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September 15, 2011, 07:19 PM
Depends on the voume of shooting you do. When you go over 1k a month some of the tracking solutions become too cumbersome. I look at brass before loading and cull suspect brass - often that means brass that has been shot enough to have the headstamp beat pretty flat - other than that - discard any brass that is suspect - you will lose 50% or more of your brass at any given club match. If the primer seats too easily then you might want to pull that one out - you will find some brass that the primers fall out of - 9mm major loads beat brass up fast and you cannot tell by looking what it was shot in.

September 15, 2011, 07:43 PM
One of my reloading guides recommends that you don't reload most rifle brass over 6 times. That may have been true 20 years ago but today you're lucky if you can get 3 reloads out of a lot of commercial brass (especially if they were loaded towards the hot end).

It wouldn't do me any good to write on the side of cases as anything on them will be polished off prior to being loaded. The only time I mark my cases are when they only have one life remaining. I put a big red X across the primer to remind me to throw them straight in the scrap bucket when I get home. If you only have one gun per caliber than there is no problem keeping track of how many times you reload the brass. Most of your reloading labels have a block on them to mark the number of times loaded. You may also want to keep a reloading journal of sorts to keep track of how many times you loaded the brass. I would be very leery of reloading any rifle brass more than 6 times. Guys that been reloading for years will tell you that they get 10+ loads out of some brass. That is fine, they know the signs to look for indicating brass is ready to fail. Do some searches of this forum and you will find some excellent information on how to determine if brass is still good. Hope this helps.

September 15, 2011, 08:04 PM
I mark my brass with a sharpie pen when working up loads. I simply write the charge weight on the side of the case.

As far as worrying about times loaded? I don't. Pistol brass I just shoot until the neck splits. I have some .38/357 that has seen way past a dozen loadings. I don't sweat rifle brass either. The two that I load the most for are .30-06 and .22-250. I have 100+ of each that have been loaded no less than 5 times.

September 15, 2011, 08:28 PM
I agree with ColtPython, mark the workup loads and look for split cases on other brass.

September 15, 2011, 08:40 PM
You could keep track by taking a steel punch and punching marks on the side of the brass once for each firing, like notches in your saa grips you know. :D

September 15, 2011, 11:21 PM
There is no point in tracking the number of times the brass has been loaded. The only way to know when brass is expired is to carefully inspect each piece of brass before and after resizing. If I picked a number of times to reload my brass as a means of determining when to toss it, I would either be throwing usuable brass away or rupturing and separating cases, it just isn't an effective method.

September 15, 2011, 11:58 PM
The only sure way to tell if your scrounged range brass is indeed once fired is to either shoot it yourself and find all of yours only or the crimped brass is once fired if the crimp is intact. Otherwise it is not OF brass as near as I can swear. Just inspect for damage and load em up if they are OK.

September 15, 2011, 11:59 PM
If you picked it up at the range, do you really know how many times it has already been loaded? I only leave worn out brass at the range.

September 16, 2011, 01:07 AM
I just inspect and toss as needed

September 16, 2011, 01:16 AM
If I have to start keeping track of the load history of each piece of brass, I'm taking up golf. Sorry, I'll shoot 'em 'til they fall apart then toss 'em in the scrap bucket. Haven't had any fail yet, and if I ever get all my brass loaded it'll be a miracle. Let alone get each of them fired once more. Wife says I have too damn much brass, and I'm beginning to think she may have a point.

Kevin Rohrer
September 16, 2011, 10:08 AM
I have brass segregated by firearm into different containers (e.g. each Garand has 1000rounds assigned to it). I then load all the brass for one particular firearm and after firing it, put that fired brass back into the "to be reloaded" bag/can. etc w/ a form that tracks how many times that brass has been reloaded and what firearm it is to be used in.

September 16, 2011, 02:43 PM
I normally don't keep track of how many times I reload my own brass, as nearly all of my loads are on the light side. I normally loose them before they begin to fail.

When picking up other people's brass at the range I do inspect it very closely, and only add it to my supply if it appears once fired. I only reload for handguns, and most semi-auto pistols leave a slight indentation on the case head where the ejector kicks the brass out of the action. If I see any more than one indentation I throw it out.

September 16, 2011, 02:51 PM
Thanks for all the advice! I'll have to try a couple of these. When I get into reloading more, I guess I'll just stick to the "as long as it doesn't crack" method and measuring for a decent sample size. Since being more meticulous is probably a good thing as far as reloading in general was concerned, I figured I'd start by developing good habits...

And just curious, is the punching marks in the side a good idea? Kinda sounds like it would weaken the brass pretty quickly...

September 16, 2011, 04:45 PM
Don't think I'd be putting punch marks on my brass cases, not a real good idea.

I do not keep track of how many times brass is reloaded for handgun rounds but I do have a card I keep in the plastic cartridge box for pertanent info and it would be no big deal adding the count number to that.

September 16, 2011, 05:39 PM
When I feel that a primer seated too easily, I'll mark the whole headstamp and primer black with a sharpie and finish loading it and then leave the spent brass at the range for someone else :0
I also tumble before decapping and before inspecting; any brass that lost their primers during tumbling go into the recycle bin. Besides splits which are obviously bad, you should also be looking for a ring forming around the sidewall where the web at the head ends.

Perhaps the moderators could start a sticky on images of bad-to-go brass?

September 16, 2011, 05:43 PM
After cleaning/tumbling when you're looking at the brass, you can tell if the brass needs to be trashed. If it looks good, reload it again. Always err on the safe side but don't make this harder than it really is, have fun but don't make a job out of it.

September 16, 2011, 06:23 PM
Sharpie is your friend for working up loads.
After shooting Inspect all brass.


Then inspect again. if you are not tossing in a few pieces of brass each time your not inspecting good enough. (especially with Hot loads or Rifle brass)

I keep a big container that worn out brass goes. When it fills up i take it to the recycle plant. Every once in a while i will buy new brass or new loaded ammo. This keeps my brass up in stock.

September 16, 2011, 09:43 PM
I clean it and am then able to more easily see any signs of getting too old and worn. When lookng for a load however I don't write the load on the brass. Instead I put it on the reloader label. Example 1=45.0 2=45.5 3= 46.0
then on the bottom of the case I will place the corresponding number of marks with a black sharpie. I immediately do this after seating the bullets for each individual load so as not to have to depend on my memory. The tumbling process cleans the black marks off of the brass and in the few cases that it doesn't a cloth or cotton ball with alcohol gets the rest off.

September 16, 2011, 09:52 PM
By the way I was being sarcastic about the punch marks. Very bad idea, you
Would probably smash it making it really hard to resize not to mention you probably wouldn't have to worry about the second punch, it would be trashed.

September 16, 2011, 10:03 PM
Mr. ZipLock and Mr. Sharpie are all you'll ever need.

September 16, 2011, 10:05 PM
I use 3 different labels to categorize my brass.

New - New Unfired
O.F. - Once Fired
F.A. - Fired Again

It's not worth the headache to me to be more specific than this. YMMV



September 16, 2011, 11:06 PM
Per #21 above:


So easy, a %$@man could do it. :neener:

September 16, 2011, 11:07 PM
For my pistol brass I favor WIN cases. I store them in plastic coffee cans marked A thru H and load sequentially.

All this does is avoid loading the same brass over and over again.

Other than that, like the others, I just look for split cases or primers that loaded too easily. If this happens I use a Sharpie and paint the base black. After being shot, these go in my recycle containers. ($136 worth of recycled 9mm last month- 70#...about 3 years worth)

September 16, 2011, 11:24 PM
I'm a little more anal as I work up rifle loads (and almost as anal about pistol) -- especially where little things can come back to bite me. This is what goes in the cartridge box for whichever row (or whole box) I'm working with. `Has saved my rear end :what: a couple of times over the decades:


September 16, 2011, 11:37 PM
Plastic coffee cans ( I fired, II fired etc.) then I seperate the reloaded rounds by head stamp, put them back in factory boxes. All the brass I reload started as loaded ammo I bought.

September 17, 2011, 12:17 AM
I keep firing 45 acp brass until it spits. 9MM, I inspect more because it seems to deform around the base when shot in certain guns. If I do not cull the swollen 9MM they will sometimes do not feed well. I do not pay attention to how many times pistol brass has been fired. YMMV

September 17, 2011, 12:24 AM
i use to keep track till some new 44 mag brass split on me with a low end load, after that i figured any brass can expire at any time,

i have loaded some 50ae nickle over 5 times hot and so far no worn out cases,
as for 45acp you will loose most your cases before they expire.

i can get 3-5 reloads out of reformed 3006 cases to 8mm.

i will load in lots, say 500 from one batch of brass go shoot them clean them and reload them if i find some starting to fail ill trash that batch and get another lot out to shoot

might be right /wrong but it works for me for some time now.

hardest part is keeping up with your brass when hundreds of other brass at the range gets mixed in the bunch.

i do catch my 223 and 308 as i shoot mil brass mostly and i have a few extra hours in the prep work for them.

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