Problem with 5.56 LC brass


March 10, 2012, 11:26 PM
I'm working my way through 1000 pcs of Lake City 5.56 brass that I bought last year. The headstamp shows 2011 as the year. I'm coming across a disappointing amount of pieces with split mouths. Anyone else having this problem? Do they have 2nds on these or am I just unlucky?!

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Master Blaster
March 11, 2012, 09:42 AM
If you bought them from an established source like Scharach's or another online retailer I would contact them and see if they will do anything for you, like replace them. It's not normal, and in the 4000 pieces of 100% processed I have from around 2000-2005 time frame I have to seen a single split neck.

March 11, 2012, 09:46 AM
Most suppliers of once fired brass includes extras to cover bad brass that may have slipped through. May want to call the supplier as suggested.

March 11, 2012, 10:10 AM
Are these new or once-fired? There is a lot of new LC 2011 on the market right now, and it should not have this problem.

March 11, 2012, 10:12 AM
I have found LC brass (along with most others) to have some cases with huge differences in neck thicknesses from one side to the other. Sometimes the thin side is quite thin. Since I neck turn and cull any cases that don't measure up, I expect to loose some.

All is not lost with cases with split necks or bad kinks. I use a tubing cutter and size them to 7.62x25 and load them on the mild side because of the case thickness.

Still I would be upset about buying brass with split necks.

March 11, 2012, 10:26 AM
I see a fair amount that isn't split but has what looks like a small notch in the neck. I've gotten it from my own factory XM193 after its first firing.

It's tiny and usually gone with a 1.750 trim length. If not, I trash it. I'll see if there's an example handy.

March 11, 2012, 10:54 AM
unlucky. Lube the inside of the necks.

March 11, 2012, 11:19 AM
This is new uncrimped brass that I got from midway. The splits go halfway down the neck on most cases so trimming it out isn't really an option.

March 11, 2012, 11:56 AM
Call Midway and they should replace them and get with their distrib, and correct the lot of that brass being sold.... do it Monday.

March 11, 2012, 12:24 PM
This is new uncrimped brass that I got from midway. Does it look annealed?

March 11, 2012, 12:27 PM
Ordered 1K of new LC 11 from Midway in January, received 1002 cases in the lot, not a single cracked/split neck, less than a dozen case mouths visually out of round - they were pretty well-packed for shipment. I've reamed/deburred all the pockets and flash holes and was pleasantly surprised at the quality.

I'd have to guess at "just unlucky" but they should make it good.

March 11, 2012, 01:21 PM
Yes it is annealed.

March 12, 2012, 07:12 PM
Well... Following up on this...

I shot around 120 rounds of this brass today. More splits occured after being shot. I culled out at least another 20 cases that had severe splits that were discovered by just a quick once over! I've bought factory loaded rounds that used lc brass and have never had a problem! All of these are reloads (obviously) using a near minimum load of h335 with 62 grain fmj so I don't think pressure should be a problem. I see some of the other pcs of brass have light (bright) lines on the neck. Do you guys think I should avoid shooting these? I'm shooting them out of a ~$1000 sabre defence AR that I'd rather not damage. I'm going to email Midway tonight to see what they'll do...

March 12, 2012, 09:37 PM
Clean you FL die & expander. Look for build up of brass or rough expander. Use a copper removing solvent. I had some PMC brass, did the same thing, split necks. All scrap on the 3th firing. Brass was from factory new ammo. Still dont know why it split. Other brands, same dies, no problems.

March 12, 2012, 09:38 PM
Anything over maybe 10 bad necks in an order of 1000 would tick me off. Further, they certainly shouldn't be splitting on first use with any sensible load.

I'd definitely talk with Midway ... perhaps you're not alone in having received part of a bad batch. They should make it good - be sure they pick up the return shipping or give you a store credit for roughly what it's costs. They sent me a "close but no cigar" bullet order once and when I called, offered to replace it BUT, expected me to ship the bad ones back. I asked for a supervisor and 2 seconds later, all was OK.

March 12, 2012, 11:00 PM
New LC brass--I've gone through about 3000 I bought from Natchez without any split necks and only a very few dented/bent cases. I'd say you were sold a lot of culls that made it past QC @ LC. They SURELY should not be split new off the line, and I'd be surprised if I didn't get at least 5 loadings from LC brass that I bought new.
I am assuming that you have not re-sized any rounds, just received them this way. Plus after shooting a few that you loaded you discovered more splits after firing and before sizing. That would rule out the expander ball, dirty dies etc. You have faulty brass and the supplier needs to make it good.

March 12, 2012, 11:51 PM
You're right mtrmn. I usually dont size new brass. I check dimensions and if all measures up it gets loaded. That's how I've always done it if it is new. I'm a fairly new reloader and this has been pretty discouraging! Not enough to give up though. I'm pretty much hooked.

March 12, 2012, 11:56 PM
From lc's disclaimer on midway :

This is true 5.56x45mm mil-spec, new, unfired, heavy duty brass with that is recent production with a Lake City headstamp. It is the same brass supplied to our fighting forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and offers outstanding performance in AR-15 type rifles. We made a special buy on a limited supply and it will not last long. Cases should be sized, chamfered and deburred before loading. With this brass, there is no primer crimp to remove.

This is pretty common on brass , in the disclaimer department.

Your neck spiltting is unusual....but if they are just used " out of the box" you may be having a ton of other issues that could cause this.

March 13, 2012, 01:17 AM
There's a LOT of 2011 5.56 ammo and brass for sale right now. It's been discussed many times about the source of this ammo and brass with some people feeling like it might be rejected or second ammo that Federal is selling.

After hearing about the split necks on the brass, I tend to believe this theory. :scrutiny:

March 13, 2012, 01:24 AM
How would failing to FL size/chamfer/deburr cause or contribute to split necks?

For the record, I just neck size and trim/chamfer/deburr, no FL sizing. The only reason I trim is to take them down to 1.740 as I use an X-die for resizing and basically never have to trim again in the life of the case.

Personally I think it's just a bad batch ... too many guys have had good success with the LC 11 from Natchez and Midway in the last 6 months for these issues to be common.


March 13, 2012, 06:20 AM
Well, crunching incorrectly sized brass into your chamber could lead to some weak points and pressure spots.... so i've heard around the way.

I'm not saying thats the definitive cause.

However, if you can't/dont rule out the easy stuff first, you're just making assumptions with the rest.

I know no one likes to follow instructions....or even read them most of the time... but when the manufacturer is telling you what you are receiving isn't ready to fire without " some assembly required" mayhaps that should be advice you listen to.

I'm fairly certain ( even though it may not effect the outcome) that LC and or Midway would ask if you had done so ( followed the instructions) as part of the return/exchange process...if nothing else than for their own reference.

At the very least, it wouldn't hurt to try....

March 13, 2012, 07:12 AM
Re "crunching cases" - while the OP said he did not prep the brass, I presume he did check it before loading it up. On mine, I checked a random 100 while doing the primer pockets (I'm quasi-anal about rifle brass) and they were all at SAAMI min or .001 over min and that's been my previous experience with new LC brass as well.

If they weren't checked in any way, then I agree it's time to do that before calling Midway.


March 14, 2012, 03:43 AM
I suppose its back to Fuse then....

He stated he checked the dimensions, so I guess we'll go with that.

A bright ring encircling the case neck is to me not something that would indicate an imminent vertical failure, but a separation of the neck at that ring.

This could be caused by poor headspace on the shoulder, which is a sizing or bolt, or chamber issue.

It could also be a pressure issue, but given its repetitive uniformity and the charge used, I doubt that. Something mechanically is happening here. I know that its easy to just blame the brass....but I'd hate to rule everything else out, return the brass, and have him find some other issue.

This is where I was headed with the "ton of other issues" portion of my original comment.

So we do have a host of potential problems....faulty brass being amongst them, but this could also be indicative of other issues as well. I'd say lets address the easy ones first.... but we'd need a little more information.

So, OP :

Have you used any other brass other than this lot in this rifle ? If so, what were the cases like ?

What were the conditions of factory loaded brass ejected from the rifle if any ?

Whats the spec of the pills you are using ?

March 14, 2012, 01:56 PM
I understand bright rings can be a sign of a risk of case seperation, but these are not rings. Instead they are in similar areas on the neck as the currently split cases. Onto blarbys questions...

As far as other brass: Yes I've used a good bit of factory federal american eagle in the black box. Also have ran quite a few federal branded loads using penetrators.

Also, I run a little steel through my ars. Mostly monarch and tula, little bit of wolf. Never had any problems, I've reloaded brass from all kinds of factory ammo I've shot with no problems so far (win, rem etc.) I'd say the round count of this particular rifle is around 1,100 to 1,200 with say roughly 300 being steel cased. Mostly new factory loaded brass ammo and maybe 3-400 of my own handloads make up the rest of this equation. Never a problem with stress marks or cracks on the brass. Steel, I couldn't tell you. I don't pick it up.

This particular lot of reloads were using speer 62g fmjs.

March 14, 2012, 02:42 PM
To erase whatever lingering doubts there may be, FL size 50 of the new cases and shoot the same load in them. At the current failure rate, you should get 8 or so splits. That would seem to me to be sufficient evidence to have a chat with Midway.

March 14, 2012, 02:45 PM
I concur, Canuck.

Size away, OP

And I apologize, Fuse- I misunderstood your description of the line. When I re-read it, I can visualize it now.

Some pics of that "line" would be really helpful !

Usually a sizing will take out most light imperfections in a neck....but if what you are indicating is something that looks like a repetitive failure in the brass....and seems to line up with the split brass..... I think you might be right then that there is something wrong with it :)

Do let us know how the sizing of 50 goes though. I'd even go so far to size 25 that didn't have the imperfection, and 25 that did... if you feel comfortable, fire and see what the results are.

I'm thinking that if its a flaw in the draw or factory size process, an expander die might split'em on the bench...this has happened to me with some bad FC brass. We'll have to wait and see. If sizing the neck lined brass is suddenly much easier than the non-lined brass on the downstroke of the press...there's your answer.

March 14, 2012, 02:47 PM
Does your's look like this?

March 14, 2012, 03:05 PM
I agree Canuck. I'm still waiting on an initial response from them... But this wkend I may do a small batch as you mentioned and see what the outcome is.

March 14, 2012, 03:08 PM
Similar, otto. But my splits have all started at the mouth and went down the neck. This is straight out of the bag, not the once fired stuff. Although the once fired did about the same thing... I'll snap a pic later.

March 14, 2012, 10:32 PM
Well, I couldn't get my good camera to cooperate because of a dead battery but here's a cell pic...

These are just a few of the splits... two cases on the left are straight out of the bag, two on the right except the very far right are once fired cases that split. The very far right case is a kinda scary shoulder botch (looks worse than in the pic, almost like it split and someone tried to weld it back) and just plain odd neck flare and inconsistency...

Blarby I couldn't get a decent pic of the lines. They just wouldn't show up.

March 15, 2012, 12:02 AM
This seems to be a common problem with some of the new production LC.
Go to Midway and read the reviews, there are other folks with the same complaints (you'll have to scroll down to the bottom of the list to read them).
I have a couple of thousand new LC 2011 and I randomly checked 200 of split necks but several were deformed.
Another thing is that Midway and Natchez have recently sold LC brass which is actually headstamped FC 10. This has irritated more than a few people but the brass comes from the same plant.

March 15, 2012, 10:05 AM
Good enough Fuse, any digi photo can be cleaned up or otherwise manipulated for clarity.

If the ones on the left are unfired, and the ones on the right are- call midway !

Not a lot of call for anything else.

You can see if you magnify them ( well, IRL- you prolly dont have to ! ) that the lines from the sizing process on the brass spearhead your splits ( I'm fairly certain the "brighter" lines that you have been seeing are a more advanced form of these lines, now that I see the brass). The brass inside the splits has that "non-shiny" color, which is indicative of heat being applied to the exposed metal....

Those are sizing splits that are annealed over.... You couldn't have created that unless you annealed them yourself.

Thanks for all your help- both you and Canuck- Back to the factory they go !

I'd make sure and go over any brass purchases in the future with a fine-toothed comb :)

March 15, 2012, 10:52 AM
Well, this brings up a question - how does brand new Lake City brass get to the retail market? I think Lake City has only one customer - the US government, and I doubt they are willing to supply Midway and other retailers.

So are the occasional lots of unfired LC brass simply a result of LC scrapping defective brass, which is later resold to us through unofficial channels such a scrap metal recycler?

March 15, 2012, 11:01 AM
There has been speculation that Midway is/was selling "seconds" . But if a neck is split...the case is useless.
There are also many complaints that people aren't getting the full quantities that they 962 instead of a thousand.
Hard to imagine that there would be such a lack of quality control at the Lake City plant.

March 15, 2012, 11:05 AM
Otto - it could be that there is GREAT quality control at Lake City, but the brass they reject is then sold on the retail market instead of being scrapped.

March 15, 2012, 11:09 AM
Midway has sold seconds in the past..... both brass and bullets.

They note that these are a "special buy" ( at least the current ones) which lends a little more credence to that theory.

Overall midway is a good this case apparently selling a class "b" product at best.... It comes down to how they make up for it.

March 15, 2012, 11:49 AM
I don't hold a grudge against Midway at all. I've been a customer for years and will continue to be. Still haven't heard back from them though... I'll probably be giving them a call sometime this weekend.

Sent from my BlackBerry 9810 using Tapatalk

March 15, 2012, 04:47 PM
"Never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence" ... or somesuch quote. I think LC just has surplus and/or surplus production capacity now that Iraq is over with ... what they don't have is very consistent QC.

I've bought several products from Midway that were titled 2nds or blemished - generally received better merchandise than I expected. I've never received any regular product that I had reason to think was a return, a 2nd or anything similar.

However, all that said, I'll be inspecting my last purchased lot over again ... with the reading glasses on this time.

poco loco
March 15, 2012, 04:59 PM
from my exp. a call to Midway will solve the problem....

They'll ship you new product immediately and usually don't want the defective stuff back......

March 15, 2012, 05:46 PM
I agree canuck. I've purchased blem bullets of different calibers and saw nothing visibly wrong with either of them. I got an email back today. They want me to do a return. Not worth it IMO...

March 15, 2012, 05:51 PM
Tell them to send you 200 cases as a replacement or a credit for $22 ... that should even you out OK. The credit option is in case they're out or don't want to break a 1000 count bag. You may have to escalate one level while on the phone to get "non-standard" treatment. Their screw-up, they can debate that with LC ... you shouldn't have to pay to ship their error back!
ETA: Call them and insist on staying on the line until you're satisfied ... too easy to fob someone off via e-mail ... they guy that types, "Send them back" is not likely the customer support person who has to deal with irate customers.

FWIW, a couple of years ago I had a long discussion with a couple of shooters who work at Nosler or at their 2nds distributor ... according to them, the blems they sell are strictly cosmetic ... he told me what to look for and for the life of me, I couldn't find it. Anything worse than cosmetic, they cull.

Some blem Hornadys I got from Midway on the other hand were genuine blems ... some had an enclosed base, some not (XTPs maybe??). Dunno, I rarely shoot Hornady jacketed pistol.

Given the value of brass, I'd expect LC to recycle errors.

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