308 case life


March 16, 2012, 02:41 PM
Iím new to 308 reloading and was wondering what case life to expect from the brass. Iíve loaded both NATO and Winchester brass to about 8 times now and so far so good. The rifle is a DPMS TAC20 (TM lower was needed here in CA).

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March 16, 2012, 03:43 PM
No one can say because no one knows exactly how much you are sizing them more then they need to be to have zero headspace in your rifle.

I would suggest you take a paper-clip, bend an L on the end of it, and reach down inside the cases and feel for a stretch ring about 1/2" ahead of the case head.


If you can feel a ring, they are gonners.


March 16, 2012, 03:56 PM
The "standard" answer w/ the M1A has been "5-and-toss". (That Garand-the-Younger design
is hard on brass since the ejection cycle occurs under more residual chamber pressure than normal)

That said, I'd section "several" cases from each firing lot and look for ANY thinning just above
the case web. If none, fire another ~4 times and section another sample lot. The DPMS action
may be kinder/gentler in that regard.

Using the bent paper clip trick.... If you can feel a ring, they are gonners. if you can feel ANY anomalies -- any at all -- treat them all as scrap.
Cheap insurance.

March 16, 2012, 05:04 PM
Interesting way to evaluate the case thinning. I will try it on a number of them. Thanks for the advice.

March 16, 2012, 05:18 PM
You can fight against brass life if you have the right equipment and pay attention to your loads.

Its not uncommon to get 30-60 loads on a set of lapua.
It's not uncommon to get 6-12 on winchester.

I have a bench source annealer, so I have yet to find out how many loadings I can get on winchester. I'm 16 deep on one set.

March 16, 2012, 05:19 PM
Another more accurate method than a paper clip is to use a RCBS Case Mastering Gauge and measure the exact thinning in the web area.


Below, a factory loaded once fired .303 British case stretched and thinned .009 on the first firing.



March 16, 2012, 07:07 PM
I very rarely see this topic covered. Thanks for the information. I just might cut a couple of cases to visually inspect the problem areas. I realize each case is different.

March 16, 2012, 07:09 PM
Hey Robert
I have loaded thousends of 308 and for me brass that lasts the longest in commercial is R.P. yes longer then hornady but not longer then lapua and nosler so for me R.P. in .308 is king winchester is somewhat lower on the list. I dont buy laupa nosler or any fancy pants brass or have a mastering guage what I do have is a few .308 auto loaders note book a tool i made to scratch inside the case and after 4 or so loads i use my handy dandy sawsall and cut a few cases in half and look. At times it;s hard to tell the strech ring from die marks. And i have cut a few in half that show no signs of streching from the outside but the scratch test felt a funny and sure enough case was really thinning.
I never aneal my brass maybe down the road. always full lenght size, Generaly about 150gr bullet and always mid load mostly with TAC powder. By no means am i a bench rest shooter but do safely load and shoot far better ammo then i can buy.
IMHO unless your willing to aneal master gauge 8 loads is getting near the end I know brass is like an old friend if you love it recycle it.

March 16, 2012, 08:24 PM
The headspace + the bolt stretch during firing of an Enfield are typically many times worse than what we would call unsafe in other rifles.

My attitude is Silver Solder a shim to the bolt face and make wimpy loads with slow powder to keep the 303 Brit brass going.

You can't hurt a 303 primer pocket.

The 308 brass failure modes are more often loose primer pockets or split necks. Sure, they can stretch if someone adjusts the sizer die to touch the shell holder.

The 308 necks will live a long time without annealing if the neck is sized with a .330" neck die or bushing. Or if the chamber was reamed with a custom reamer with a .334" neck for no turn with Win brass.

The 308 primer pockets will last a long time at 55 kpsi, or at 80kpsi if Lapua small primer pocket 308 brass is used.

March 16, 2012, 08:53 PM
For a gasgun, I'd pitch them at 5x. I shoot solely LC surplus in my M1A and have never had them separate at the neck. They come apart at the head first (bad news).

sean eady
March 16, 2012, 10:29 PM
Sorry to hijack the op's thread , he may or may not know so it might also help him. What are you guys using to hold the case as you cut it with a sawsall? Or what is the best way to section it to see the inside ?

March 16, 2012, 10:44 PM
A Dremmel with a fine/thin stone cutting wheel works best for me. The hack saw is rough at best.:scrutiny:

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