What am I seeing here? Cracked 38SPL cases


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Twmaster
March 21, 2013, 09:45 PM
Went to the range last night. Shot some reloads in my S&W Model 10-8.

After sorting and inspecting my brass today I found these two cases. Both have fractures almost completely around the circumference of the case.

http://www.twmaster.com/stuff/shoot/cracked38.jpg

I'm sure these cases have been fired at least twice.

Load data:

148 grain Hornady hollow base wadcutters, Tula magnum SPP, 2,7 grains of Red-Dot. These are very mild shooting loads.

I have previously found fired reloaded cases with similar fractures that may have been shot in this gun with other loads.

So what am I seeing here? Tired brass? Too tight a crimp? Detonation?

Thanks.

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kyhunter
March 21, 2013, 09:46 PM
any idea on how many times they were possibly fired?

Twmaster
March 21, 2013, 09:48 PM
No exact count.

More info: All of the cases are Federal headstamped. I just dug through my junk brass bucket. The other brass with failures like this are also Federal.

I guess this is just a lot of junk brass.

Match10
March 21, 2013, 09:51 PM
Was it shot in an old S&W Victory Model rechambered for .38 Special from .38 S&W?

kyhunter
March 21, 2013, 09:53 PM
If you have unloaded brass around the same age or can pull a few look for a ring "cut" around the inside of the case about a 1/3rd of the way up. Looks like a seperation starting. Not exactly something to mess around with. Ive never seen a pistol round do it, but anythings possible.

Match 10 also poses a good question here.

Twmaster
March 21, 2013, 09:56 PM
The pistol is a 1982 S&W 10-8 factory 38SPL.

After comparing the other broken brass I'm leaning toward a batch of junk brass from Federal.

Clippers
March 21, 2013, 09:56 PM
I don't think you can crimp it enough that it causes the case to crack. Federal usually really good brass.

rcmodel
March 21, 2013, 10:00 PM
I'm leaning toward a batch of junk brass from Federal. ZActly!!

These are once loaded Federal 9mm from my junque collection.

http://i81.photobucket.com/albums/j219/rcmodel/Split9mmCases.jpg

Its bad brass, not bad guns.

rc

Twmaster
March 21, 2013, 10:04 PM
Thanks RC. That's my thinking after looking at the other cases. Just found two more bad Federal cases in my collection.

kyhunter
March 21, 2013, 10:05 PM
wow RC what year was that 9mm brass if you know. Thats some bad stuff.

afponiky
March 21, 2013, 10:29 PM
Might be from when he was born!

:evil:

Twmaster
March 21, 2013, 10:50 PM
They were shooting metallic cartridges back then?

:D

Steve C
March 21, 2013, 11:12 PM
When I see failure on what looks like relatively new brass I usually suspect that the failure was caused by exposure to ammonia. If you keep your brass near cleaners or solvents with ammonia does your wife cleans around the area with such cleaners like Windex, etc. the exposure can make the brass brittle and cracks will be the result. Since ammonia is gaseous it doesn't require direct contact to combine with the brass.

ljnowell
March 21, 2013, 11:23 PM
In 38/357 my federal and R-P brass always fails before the others. My winchester brass always lasts the longest.

It seems the RP brass always cracks vertically, the Federal will crack however it chooses to, usually. Nothing set in stone there. Funy thing is, I prefer to reload the RP or Federal in 38 because the cases resize with less effort, the bullets seat with less effort, the primers seat with less effort, etc. Mainly because of thinner brass. They just dont last as long. Thats OK though, because in 38 special I have enough of it to last a lifetime and a half.

KansasSasquatch
March 21, 2013, 11:30 PM
Can't a light load with a fast burning powder actually cause excessive pressure? I seem to recall reading that somewhere. 2.7gr Red Dot might be a little light. I load 3.2gr with a 158gr LSWC from MBC, data from Lee 2nd Ed.

bluetopper
March 21, 2013, 11:34 PM
It does my heart good to wear brass plum out.

38's last a long time though.

kyhunter
March 21, 2013, 11:40 PM
Can't a light load with a fast burning powder actually cause excessive pressure? I seem to recall reading that somewhere. 2.7gr Red Dot might be a little light. I load 3.2gr with a 158gr LSWC from MBC, data from Lee 2nd Ed.

Just read article last night saying that ill see if i can find it for you guys. It was in reference to light charges of fast burning powders. ill be back in a few hopefully with the goods

kyhunter
March 21, 2013, 11:43 PM
http://reloadammo.com/liteload.htm

not supporting or denying these staements. Merely supplying the information.

hAkron
March 22, 2013, 12:32 AM
somethings is up. Notice how the cracks are around the circumference. Most case cracks I've seen generally follow the length of the case.

ljnowell
March 22, 2013, 12:43 AM
not supporting or denying these staements. Merely supplying the information.


It has been rumored to happen in big rifle cases, but it cannot and does not happen in pistol cartridges. Otherwise there would have been millions of blown up 38 specials, etc. Most every pistol caliber loaded with AA#2 or Bullseye or titegroup would be blown up.

Its a myth. Those that claim that it happened to thier 38 or whatever handgun are not willing to admit that they accidently double charged a case. The fact is small charges in any case are harder to detect a double charge. People have egos that wont allow them to admit that they made a mistake.

kyhunter
March 22, 2013, 01:11 AM
ljnowell thats exactly how i feel. Im not even sure I believe it in a rifle case to be honest. Never tried it and probably never will. But I do agree with you it was a double charge and that would be nearly indetectable especially in a .30-06 or other fairly large long shell. I only supplied the link for the fella who mentioned it. I think it was someone who didnt want to admit a mistake due to pride or ego

rcmodel
March 22, 2013, 01:16 AM
Those cracked .38 cases had nothing to do with 'detonation', double charges, over-size chambers, or anything else.

It is simply bad brass.

Here is my take on SEE, or Secondary Explosion Effect in over-bore rifle calibers.
But, I DID NOT stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?p=6976324#post6976324

Might be from when he was born!Dang guys!
Cut me some slack. :D

It happened about 3-4 years ago as I recall.

They were shooting metallic cartridges back then?As near as I can remember, we did actually have metalic cartridges back then.
Just not auto pistols or 9mm Luger. :confused:


rc

kyhunter
March 22, 2013, 02:42 AM
RC thanks for the link. You really applied some thought to that. It makes sense actually as compares to the other theories out there. Learn something new everyday

rcmodel
March 22, 2013, 02:55 AM
Hey!
I didn't say it was true, or proven.

I said I personally think it is true.
And I could probably, maybe prove it, if I wanted to blow up a Magnum rifle bad enough..

But lots of folks smarter then me think it isn't true, so who knows.

Only the Shadow knows!

rc

gamestalker
March 22, 2013, 03:18 AM
Strange, I don't think I've ever seen a 38 spcl. separate like that. I have Federal that has been loaded who knows how many times, and it's still going strong through my 10-5. I would certainly scrutinize my brass a bit more aggressively after encountering failures like that.
I inspect the internals of my straight wall brass very carefully, as this is where the initial signs of a separation will appear 99.9% of the time.

GS

Zeke/PA
March 22, 2013, 10:20 AM
I have TONS of older once fired .38 Special brass, a supply that I dip into occasionally.
I have expirenced just normal problems like a split case every now and then.
I sort my brass by brand and I don't notice one brand being more durable than the other.
Maybe they made stuff better 30 years ago.
Split after ONE firing?
Makes you wonder!

returningfire
March 22, 2013, 10:43 AM
I've seen some 38 spl. do that. Usually after several reloads or with junky brass. And I am not a fan of using Federal once or so fired brass.
You might have increased the cup pressure some by using the magnum primers.

Anyway, the best way to check for the "ring" someone is talking about is with the bent end of a paperclip. just feel your way down the inside of the casing with the bent end and if you feel an indentation, junk that piece of brass.
Case/head separation or split brass can be dangerous, especially in a semi-auto, not so much in a revolver but still not something you really want to do.

Twmaster
March 22, 2013, 05:16 PM
These are not getting rings....

After looking at the dozen or so cases I've found with fractures all seem to be from the same lot of Federal brass. I've got other Federal brass that looks different. The other brass looks 'redder' than this stuff.

Anyhow, I've culled all the Federal cases out of my pile of 38 brass. It's now in the recycle bucket. I still have enough brass of other makes to last me 20 years....

ranger335v
March 22, 2013, 06:44 PM
"When I see failure on what looks like relatively new brass I usually suspect that the failure was caused by exposure to ammonia."

Ditto, and those cracks sure look like random ammonia gas embrittlement at work. But, it sure wasn't due to excessive chamber pressure. :D

Maj Dad
March 22, 2013, 07:27 PM
On the subject of bad brass, Federal has been very soft in my experience, both rifle and pistol. I reloaded a box of once-fired Federal 303 Brit that suffered about 50% case separations and the rest very nearly separated on the second, and very moderate loading (admittedly fired in a No 4, Mk 1* Savage, but other brass did fine, especially Norma). I no longer sit and ponder such phenomena :scrutiny: - I just chunk it in the recycle can and move on.

Twmaster
March 23, 2013, 12:20 AM
Just to end some of the speculation.... This brass was never subjected to ammonia. At least not while in my possession. I do not have ammonia based cleaners in my home as I cannot stand the stench. I clean in water with stainless media and a small squirt of dish soap.

If it were ammonia why is the rest of my brass doing just fine.

I repeat. Every piece of failed brass I have here is Federal. I'm not anal enough on plinking loads to bother sorting by headstamps.

Peter M. Eick
March 23, 2013, 12:45 PM
Sometimes bad lots just exist. Stuff happens so it may not be anything to do with you.

http://eickpm.com/picts/brass_split.jpg

This is some 357 max brass from Remington. About a third of it split on the first firing. I sent a picture to Remington and then sent me 500 new pieces of brass with their apologies.

Try it with Federal and see what they do. It may just be an honest mistake.

ranger335v
March 23, 2013, 12:59 PM
"If it were ammonia why is the rest of my brass doing just fine. "

TW, you didn't always have possession of it so you have no way of knowing how ammonia fumes may have been present.

Peter, your cases show classic splits due to work hardening. Softer cases take longer to split than hard ones. How quickly any given batch of cases split depends a whole lot on how hard it was to begin with.

X-Rap
March 23, 2013, 01:56 PM
Cracks just happen eventually. Some are linear, radial, and at the mouth. I see it more in 38's than others but it might just be the thousands of rounds that have been reloaded god only knows how many time.
When I find one as I reload I chuck it into the junk pail. If one slips by I shoot it and toss it afterwords.

buck460XVR
March 23, 2013, 03:23 PM
Do you know the origin of the brass, as if it was bought new or was it range pickup? If it had been yours since it was new, I'd hafta go with the bad batch theory. If it was range pick up, I might suspect it was max loaded ammo shot in a lever carbine. A few years back I had some .460 brass that did the same thing. Never did figure it out altho many here and on other forums had different ideas. Funny thing was, it was supposedly reduced recoil loads that created the separated cases. One theory given to me was that the load was too light to expand the whole case to the cylinder. The idea given was the area where the bullet was seated was already expanded a bit and it would expand and stick to the cylinder walls whereas the back portion would be pushed backwards without expanding and sticking and thus making the cases stretch and crack at the top of the web. I dunno.....but since I quit shooting similar reduced recoil loads, I have not had a similar experience. The talk of detonation was brought up also. But like others things in life that don't go well, I moved on to other things that did.

Zeke/PA
March 24, 2013, 01:09 PM
Just in passing, a friend gave me 40 rounds of Federal .30-'06 brass in 1960.
I used it in ONLY my Model 70 deer rifle and I'm STILL using it!
Reloaded probably 6 times with no problems.
I only shoot the M70 MAYBE 3or4 times a year though.

noylj
March 24, 2013, 10:01 PM
1) There is only so much energy in a given weight of powder.
2) In my experience, .38 Special is the MOST likely to crack--no matter the age or the gun they are fired in.
3) Excess pressure with a L-HBWC will leave the skirt in the barrel or even the forcing cone. Light loads are the key.
4) Try sizing with the carbide insert of a Lee FCD. If the "sized" cases chamber, then that is all the sizing you need.
In my S&W M52s, I don't resize any cases--the force of the slide is enough to chamber them. This does not apply to revolvers.
5) I have not seen a circumferential failure like this. All of my case failures are longitudinal.

Fishslayer
March 24, 2013, 10:41 PM
They were shooting metallic cartridges back then?

:D

Yes. The first metallic cartridges predated smokeless powder so it's possible.:evil:

Fishslayer
March 24, 2013, 10:45 PM
Every piece of failed brass I have here is Federal. I'm not anal enough on plinking loads to bother sorting by headstamps.

Well, I do sort by headstamp and come across the odd pickup with splits, but not like in the OP.:what:

I'll start noting the headstamp from now on.

Match10
March 25, 2013, 01:01 AM
I do not not believe ammonia was the cause of this. I work with ammonia all the time. The amount of gaseous ammonia to embrittle an amount of cases similar to this would be a reportable event and featured on the six oclock news. You'd have to soak this in Hoppe's to get an ammonia 'event' at home. This is just a case of improperly annealed brass from the manufacturer.

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