"Track" your brass?


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Scott-NC
July 14, 2012, 07:10 PM
For years I have saved brass. Just started reloading. So this brass is known once-fired (except for a few stray range pick ups). I also got a lot from the guy I bought my Dillon 550 from. Several thousand rounds of 45 acp, etc. This is from the seller's collection- I think most if not all- plenty used- with an a couple I've seen that have a crack developing near where the crimp would be.

So here are the questions for you experienced folks:

Do you ever presort the used stuff by manufacturer before you load? Then you could load a batch of speer cases or RP or whatever? Why or why not do this?

Do you just load them and be done with it? Any manufacturer, any acceptable condition (ie- cracks pitched of course)?

Do you keep track of how many times you've fired a given cartridge?

How many firings do you get for the average handgun load- 9, 45, 40, etc.

If using essentially unknown brass (like the stuff I got with my reloading purchase) what do you look out for besides obvious things like cracks? Does measuring them show anything useful?

Thanks

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rcmodel
July 14, 2012, 08:16 PM
Do you ever presort the used stuff by manufacturer before you load?Yes, always.

It can head off a Host of reloading problems with handgun brass as to bullet tension, crimp, etc..
And in addition, give better accuracy with rifle brass.

Do you keep track of how many times you've fired a given cartridge? No.
Handgun brass is loaded until it cracks in the case mouth, or I lose it in the weeds.
Usually the latter.

Does measuring them show anything useful?No.

At least not until you size and trim it.

I check for stretch rings inside rifle brass with an L-bent paper-clip.
Other then that, load'm.

rc

DanTheFarmer
July 14, 2012, 09:43 PM
Hi All,

I'm pretty new to reloading and am still on the steep part of the learning curve. Yes, I do track my brass. I just bring a baggie with me to the range with piece of paper inside with manufacturer and number of times fired written on it. I pick up my empties and can then load uniform batches during the reload process.

I have learned some things from doing this. Different manufacturer's brass can have noticable differences. I just loaded up a bunch of R * P brass in 45 ACP. One cartridge felt different during the bullet seating process. I looked at it and it was a Federal case. One had snuck into the R * P baggie. After I loaded 50 R * P I loaded 50 Win in 45 ACP. They felt very different during the reloading process.

I am not sure how these differences will affect shooting but I'm trying to keep track of things so if I notice something I can put it in proper context. My guess is that after a while I'll discover that with my level of shooting I'll end up using the shoot it till I lose it philosophy but I've already discovered that I like reloading 45 ACP R * P better than Win.

Right now I'm plinking with my pistol rounds and trying to be very accurate with my rifles so I definitely track my empty rifle cases.

Good luck, stay safe, shoot straight.

Dan

Peter_S
July 14, 2012, 11:47 PM
After reading this -

http://headstampfinebrass.blogspot.com/

I stopped keeping track of the number of firings, but I do sort by headstamp. Some brass "feels" softer; the bullet seats with less effort, than others, and I tend to get inconsistant OAL's with mixed brass.

Arp32
July 15, 2012, 12:07 AM
That blog was fascinating! I had no idea brass would last that long.

Hondo 60
July 15, 2012, 12:45 AM
Do you ever presort the used stuff by manufacturer before you load? Then you could load a batch of speer cases or RP or whatever? Why or why not do this?

Yes, I sort by headstamp - the weight of the cases varies a LOT depending on the mfg.

Do you keep track of how many times you've fired a given cartridge?

Yes, I try to separate cases not only by headstamp, but by number of reloadings as well.
Some will say that's not necessary, but I like it, so that's good enough for me.

How many reloadings? That varies greatly by how you treat the cases.
Over belling will shorten case life.
Hot loadings will shorten case life.

I've had some 38 Special & 45 Colt that were loaded 20 times.
I pitched them just cuz I didn't feel 100% safe reloading them again.

ColtPythonElite
July 15, 2012, 12:51 AM
I sort rifle by head stamp. I just load mixed pistol. I don't keep tabs on number of times loaded. Most of my brass is over 20 years old.

ArchAngelCD
July 15, 2012, 03:18 AM
Do you ever presort the used stuff by manufacturer before you load?
Yes, always. Some say it's not necessary but I can't help myself and I feel it aids in making better ammo.

Do you keep track of how many times you've fired a given cartridge?
Not ever with handgun brass. Revolver brass gets loaded until it splits or cracks and pistol brass usually gets lost well before it fails. (especially .45 Auto brass)

How many firings do you get for the average handgun load- 9, 45, 40, etc.

Like I said above, I usually lose semi-auto brass well before it fails. I have been reloading the same 1200 pieces of .38 Special brass for well over 7 years and not had a piece fail yet. Most one fired .357 Magnum brass is the same time period is still in service too. The only Magnum brass I've had fail was range pickups of unknown lineage. They usually split at the neck during resizing.

TonyT
July 15, 2012, 07:23 AM
I do not sort pistol brass by manufacturer. I discard any AMERC brass.
The brass from high pressure cartridges such as 9mm and 40 S&W is scrapoped after 4 reloads. With the low pressure cartridges such as 38 Special and 45ACP I tend to use the brass until it strats to fray at the edge.
With the use of 9mm Major loads by some open gun shooters I make it a point to only pick up my 9mm brass.

FROGO207
July 15, 2012, 08:57 AM
I process my brass separately and inspect it then. If it is bad it is scrapped at that point. If the case needs trimming I will set it aside and prepare the cases as needed. I will check bottle necked cases for case head separation each firing as they are all mixed up in 5 gallon buckets when prepped/cleaned. I do separate military rifle brass due to possible volume issues for reloading purposes but other than that it all gets cleaned, prepped and loaded till it fails. If you do your part checking for head separation there is nothing dangerous about my method worth noting. FWIW I have some 38 SPL brass that has all the nickle worn off except in the head stamp area and some of it has been fired so many times the head stamp is peened flat and looks like it never had a head stamp to begin with.:D I gave up counting times fired long long ago as a waste of time.:scrutiny: FWIW YOU do whatever you feel makes you a safe reloader.
Following RC's advice on this subject is good. Most reloaders on here follow about the same procedure as far brass tracking.
I do use a single head stamp when reloading rifle rounds for extreme accuracy and work up the load with that in mind but for blasting ammo--nada.:D

Roadkill
July 15, 2012, 12:06 PM
I keep close track of times fired in .308 and 30-06. Using a dremel cutting disc I notch the case rim before each reloading. When a piece of brass has four notches then its been fired five times. I trash the .308 since all I shoot it in is FALs and ARs, the 30-06 I save for bolt actions only.

Smokey Joe
July 15, 2012, 09:37 PM
VERY different for me between rifle on the one hand, and target pistol on the other.

Each of my "serious" rifles gets a set of 100 or 200 cases, usually a premium manufacturer, and that's all that rifle ever uses. When/if some of that set ever begins to neck-crack or otherwise fail, it'll be time to get that rifle another set of cases.

My one hunting pistol has a set of 100 cases also, and that set is dedicated to the heavier hunting loads only. I watch those cases closely for cracking, stretching, etc.

My non-serious rifles eat run-of-the-range-pick-up brass and are happy with that. Haven't had any accuracy nor case failure issues yet.

Target pistols eat run-of-the-range-pick-up brass also, but (a) I watch the case length so as to get uniform crimping/seating, and (b) avoid Remington brass in .45 ACP as it runs thinner than others, which could cause neck tension issues. Target pistol brass gets reloaded & shot until the individual case fails. Target loads are relatively low-pressure.

Of course I avoid foreign military brass, Al "brass" and steel cases. There is enough good brass without going those routes. Don't use any Amerc brass for anything--It just goes into the scrap bucket.

So--Scott NC--Does that answer your question?

drsfmd
July 15, 2012, 09:52 PM
Nope... I don't track it at all. Not by headstamp, number of times fired, or anything else.

If I'm picking up someone elses brass at the range, I only take the quality brands, and dump the rest in the recycling bucket.

Fishslayer
July 15, 2012, 11:01 PM
Do you ever presort the used stuff by manufacturer before you load? Then you could load a batch of speer cases or RP or whatever? Why or why not do this?

Absolutely. Why?

I'm kinda OCD. I want as few variables involved as possible. Different headstamps can have different wall thickness, different flash hole size, different case volume. Now that NT .45ACP is becoming so widespread we now have two different primer pocket sizes to deal with.

Handling each case also helps catch cracks & whatnot as well as assisting AMERC & TZZ brass into the scrap can ASAP. ;)

Do you keep track of how many times you've fired a given cartridge?

No, but I just load pistol ammo. Rifle ammo, yes I would.

How many firings do you get for the average handgun load- 9, 45, 40, etc.

No idea. When it cracks, I toss it...

If using essentially unknown brass (like the stuff I got with my reloading purchase) what do you look out for besides obvious things like cracks? Does measuring them show anything useful?
Thanks

Not really. I trim .357 brass if I'm going to be loading roll crimped Big Dogs simply because it makes the crimping easier & more consistent. Another variable removed. ;)

Scott-NC
July 16, 2012, 12:26 AM
.........,
So--Scott NC--Does that answer your question?

Yes thanks to you and everyone for the details. I've been sorting by headstamp, and I have noticed patterns- like if one type is cracked- the others of tye same kind may be as well. I think for me I'll feel most comfortable sorting by headstamp and making some loose attempt to keep them grouped by usage.

1SOW
July 16, 2012, 01:51 AM
For 9mm, I also sort and 'filter' by headstamp. I'm lucky enough with plenty of range pick-ups to be able to pick and choose headstamps I load--"5".

I don't track my brass. I keep it in headstamp marked coffee cans marked A,B,C, etc. When I finish can "A", I load "B" next. My cleaned range brass goes back into can "A"---some mine, some not. This just prevents loading the same brass over and over again until failure.
For my favorite/WIN brass I cycle 8 coffee cans of 1150 ea (approx.) 4-6 cans ea for the other 4 headstamps.

Rmeju
July 16, 2012, 02:16 AM
I do not sort for pistol, nor do I keep track of number of firings (which I can't do, but would not, even if I could keep proper track). I do inspect and toss bad cases. I also don't sort by headstamp for pistol, even though I only reload 2 pistol calibers, .45acp and 10mm. All that said, rcmodel is someone I would listen to, and I doubt you'd be going wrong listening to his advice. I do not have some of the problems others have noted, such as inconsistent OAL, which I check.

I used to not sort for rifle, but now for my semi-serious rifle shooting, I'm very seriously thinking about buying some new brass and dedicating it to the rifles that need it, which will remove a host of headaches I've developed from importing my pistol reloading techniques into my rifle calibers. Even if you're just shooting iron sights at relatively short ranges, I'd still consider at least sorting by headstamp and number of firings, for a great many reasons that I'm just beginning to appreciate.

Hopefully that helps!

Cherokee
July 16, 2012, 05:25 PM
I sort my brass by headstamp and do keep track of the number of times fired. I've done this for 50+ years. More important for rifle than for pistol but I follow the same practice for both. Why, because that is how I learned and have found it necessary for rifles. Less beneficial for pistol loads but I like the consistency that come with it for anything more than plinking loads. Plinkers usually get mixed brass. Your choice.

BBDartCA
July 16, 2012, 10:57 PM
After reading this -

http://headstampfinebrass.blogspot.com/

I stopped keeping track of the number of firings, but I do sort by headstamp. Some brass "feels" softer; the bullet seats with less effort, than others, and I tend to get inconsistant OAL's with mixed brass.
Never in my life would I have thought somebody would study reloading 9mm brass in such detail.

BBDartCA
July 16, 2012, 11:00 PM
I sort my pistol brass out of force of habit. Never count how many times I've used. Have only seen failures in 357 mag.

Rifle I sort by headstamp and gun. When I neck size, I count how many times I've shot them. I generally full length after 3x neck sized firing.

1SOW
July 16, 2012, 11:31 PM
Never in my life would I have thought somebody would study reloading 9mm brass in such detail.
BBDartCA, it doesn't take "study". After loading many thousands of 9mm , the change in "feel" is pretty obvious if you use a single stage or turret press to reload.
If I mix in a Fed case with a batch of WIN cases, the Fed case bullet will be seated at least .004" deeper than the WIN case bullets due to the softer Fed brass.

9mm Fed cases are made by the "ATK" company who also make Speer, CCI, and several other headstamps. They all seat about the same, so I can mix these together.
WIN, R&P and PPU are all close to the same hardness and seat bullets the same. So these can be mixed.
9mm WCC is the hardest case for me.

This isn't hype, it's true for me..

Rmeju , it isn't obvious on a progressive press because the different case-hardnesses sort of balance out. It is obvious on a single stage or turret press where each case's handle pull can be felt.

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