How many times are you using your brass?


May 4, 2013, 12:19 PM
Getting ready to buy Lapua brass for my long range rifle. I currently load for my 260 using 43.1 gr of H4350 which is around a max load. I will be annealing after every shot and only neck sizing as long as I can. I'm trying to get a ballpark estimate of how many times I can reload the brass so I know wether to by 3 4 or 500 pieces.

So, how many times are you all getting to reload your brass, and specifically your 260 or Lapua brass.

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May 4, 2013, 12:25 PM
Depends upon the cartridge. I've been reloading for 3 years and I've quit counting the times I've loaded .45 brass and I get about 5 reloads of the .270 brass before they start showing signs of head separation. The Lapua is a high pressure round so you probably won't get just a bunch of reloads out of it.

May 4, 2013, 12:32 PM
Neck sizing, annealing, and near max load. Hmmm. I would say a safe guess would be 3-6 reloads. I get about 4-5 reloads out of 22-250 at a mid range load with no annealing and FL sizeing every time I size. That's on mixed brass. Since your sticking with Lapua and annealing, then you will get a few more reloads. The main factor is the max load, that puts a lot of stress on the case.

My thinking is, brass is small, doesn't talk back, doesn't go to the bathroom on the rug, and doesn't eat anything(other than paper targets or skin of animals) so I try and get more than I need.

May 4, 2013, 12:39 PM
The keys to long brass life are:

1) The difference between the size of the factory chamber neck and the factory die neck are huge. That works the brass like a piece of metal you are trying to break.
..a) Buy a custom reamer typically called "no turn" which means the neck is small and tight, but not so tight that the necks need to be turned to fit. Spec the reamer at .002" larger than the loaded ammo.
..b) Get the FL die neck honed out to .002" smaller than the loaded ammo.
2) Don't load so hot that the primer pocket gets loose.
3) Don't let semi auto ejection or controlled feed bolt action beat up the brass. Feed single shot.
5) Don't push back the shoulder if you can avoid it. That leads to trimming. If you have to push it back, try .001" of push back.

Those benchrest guys wear out barrels faster than they wear out brass. They turn the necks so loaded ammo neck diameter is within 0.0002" of chamber diameter. That does not allow ANY plastic deformation.

May 4, 2013, 01:04 PM
In my .223 bolt action I load for accuracy not power. After all paper dies fairly easily. I have 5 cases that are now in the 80+ reloads. They are neck sized only and when they become slightly hard to chamber they get bumped. They also get checked periodically for separation. So far no problems.

Handgun cases? Till the primer pocket enlarges, case splits, etc.

May 4, 2013, 01:20 PM
I have some 243 that has over 25 reloads I take the low and high and load in the middle. They only kill paper. Hunting loads are 1 gr less than the max. I only neck size for my bolt guns. The AR needs full sized and I only load then to where the action work good.

May 4, 2013, 01:54 PM
"So, how many times are you all getting to reload your brass, and specifically your 260 or Lapua brass."

That sounds like a reasonable question but it's nearly impossible to give you any useful answer, it's like, "How many miles can you get out of a set of XXX truck tires?" The specific cartridge hardly matters but you'll get at least 5 reloads, you might get 15; depends ...

May 4, 2013, 04:19 PM
I will be annealing after every shot and only neck sizing as long as I can.


That's what the benchrest guys are getting. If you don't, come back and complain.

May 4, 2013, 04:30 PM
Since we're going all shotgun style here, Harry M. Pope used one piece of brass like 100,000 times. I'm probably wrong.. it might be 3x less or more but it was a lot.

May 4, 2013, 05:08 PM
I reloaded one 9mm case 35 times.

May 4, 2013, 05:21 PM
Using bushing dies, which have an internal interchangeable bushing that allows you to change bushings to adjust the amount of neck sizing, brass will last a lot longer than when using conventional dies.

A buddy of mine, a retired Houston PD SWAT Sniper, stated that he gets 20-30 loads from once fired Federal Gold Medal .308 Brass with full power 168 Grain loads, and to echo what has been said he said if the brass is not overstressed you will burn out a barrel before buying new brass. He loads using Wilson Hand Dies with the interchangeable bushing neck sizing die, trims if necessary and bumps the shoulder back .001-.002 about every 5 loadings, and has never had a case head separation.

I have another buddy that has a range behind his house and an RCBS Rockchucker mounted on a portable stand. I loaded and fired a single Winchester .45 ACP case 17 times before getting tired and stopping :).

Just my .02,

May 4, 2013, 05:23 PM
Working the brass and pressure wears out brass. The less you do of each the longer it will last.

I have no experience with your combination, but I would expect you to get 10 firings easily, and more depending on the above caveats.

If you do not run enough pressure to loosen up primer pockets, and don't work the brass much, excellent case life is possible.

I don't work my .308 brass for my SPR very much, and it will be interesting to see how long my Lapua brass lasts in a standard chamber.

I worked my 6PPC brass about as little as humanly possible (Loaded neck diameter of .2615 in a .262 neck chamber) (Bumped the shoulder back so little it wasn't measurable), and I shot it over and over and over and.....but never counted how many times. I ran it kind of hot by the way. Lapua brass is tough stuff.

bumps the shoulder back .001-.002 about every 5 loadings, and has never had a case head separation.If you never give it a chance to stretch at the web, you never will.

May 4, 2013, 05:47 PM
I don't load 260s or Lapua brass.

With your current brass, how many loadings have you been getting? Figure the same with the new brass and hope for more.

Lesser loads (lighter or not as intense could be a better way to say it) will give longer usable life to brass. As will less working during sizing/reforming operations.

I was getting 25 plus loadings out of .300 AAC Blackout brass that started as 5.56 brass with unknown re-uses before being cut and formed. And I feel fortunate to get 3 reloads in brass for my old SMLE Lee Enfield .303 Brit. Better/tighter chambers don't work the brass as much. I would hope your 260 is better than my old pre war .303.

May 4, 2013, 07:40 PM
Mine is all pistol brass but I shoot it until it splits or fails in some other way...

Hondo 60
May 4, 2013, 07:43 PM
I currently load for my 260 using 43.1 gr of H4350 which is around a max load.

That will shorten the life span.
But there's no way to say for sure how much.

May 5, 2013, 11:09 AM
I neck size only for my 243. I lost count somewhere over 20 loads. I'm pretty sure it is over 30 but less then 100.

May 5, 2013, 02:03 PM
I reloaded one 9mm case 35 times.

I like to set up for reloading at the range and shoot the same case over and over for final test of the threshold of long brass life.

I usually give up after 5 or 10 firings.

May 5, 2013, 06:14 PM
All these guys have given you great advice.

I anneal in a very dark room at nighttime until the brass JUST shows color.

I have been through several thousand primes and only a few hundred cases and have only had a couple split necks.

You might drop your powder a bit. Once I reloaded a MosinNagant shell I think 8 or 10 times right in a row using a Lee Classic Loader (which only neck sizes) and it seemed none the worse for wear.

If you must FL size, start with a case that will barely chamber (from being stretched) and adjust your FL die down and down and down a bit at a time until it JUST pushes the shoulder back far enough that the case goes in easily -- as one person suggested, bump that should back only .001 if possible.

Using a bent paper clip, feel for an incipient head separation FREQUENTLY -- I do it on every reload of a centerfire rifle. I have had a separation (back when I had my FL die adjusted "per the book". It was an eye opener. If you have never felt one with a paperclip, ask around til you find someone who has one so you can feel it. When I teach reloading, I have people feel one. It can be subtle.

May 5, 2013, 06:24 PM
I'm another who doesn't use Lapua or load 260 Rem. But!! Given that cartridges reputation, I believe I could get 15 or more loadings out of standard WW or RP brass. The key is in annealing at the appropriate time and neck sizing at all times that are possible. The only time I FL size bottleneck brass like a 260Rem, is after annealing. Of course, loading to maximum and pushing above will affect brass life (already mentioned I think).

May 5, 2013, 06:30 PM
I reloaded one 9mm case 35 times.

I believe this because a co-worker also gets a very high number of loadings out of pistol brass, and specifically 9mm. I expect to get 15 to 20, or more out of my RP brass in 44 mag (fired in Marlin 1894), but only time will tell.

Clark, giving up after 5 or 10 loadings doesn;t mean the brass is necessarily bad - it could mean the shooter is tired! (((:D))) Or.... Are you saying that's all it lasted before you had to discard it? I would expect a very high number like 918V out of 9mm. Unless of course there was something quite different with the throat and chamber of the pistol being used, or the loads were substanitally above maximum.

May 5, 2013, 06:49 PM
I will be annealing after every shot and only neck sizing as long as I can.......

I think, with annealing after every firing, your brass life will be very short. That is just a guess, because I would never try that. Anneal after every fifth, maybe, but not after each firing. It is completely uneccesary and there is just too much chance for error in the annealing process. Plus, after annealing, I believe you should FL size, and then neck size for the next 5 firings (or whatever number you think your 260 brass should be fired before annealing - except every time!) (((:D)))

I recommend you buy 100 pieces of brass. Reload in batches of 10 or 20, or whatever you like, and save the remainder until the current batch has run its course. Keep meticulous records of your loads, their accuracy, and how many firings (and annealings) on each batch of brass. I generally reload in batches of 20, but shoot with 5. So in a batch, there could be four different loadings.

May 5, 2013, 09:16 PM
Back in the early '80's Guns & Ammo reloaded a .38 Special case 101 times before the case mouth split.

The 9mm case I reloaded 35 times did not split. I ran out of bullets. See, I had two Lee hand presses: one for sizing and another for seating. I was loading 147gr XTPs over 3.7grs of 231 to 1.100" OAL. They have a boat tail so you don't have to expand the case mouth or crimp. I thought I'd get 10-15 loadings tops. Boy was I wrong.

I was also keeping track of case length with every load. The case initially shrunk .002", but then started to grow after 20 reloads. This told me the casehead was starting to thin out. I dunno how long it would have lasted. Maybe 50? It took about 15 reloads to grow .003".

May 5, 2013, 09:22 PM
I really don;t think it's unusual for pistol brass to last almost indefinitely. I load only for 44Mag and 357/38, and have not got that far as to say they last for many loadings, but co-workers, friends, and forum members are always optimistic when it comes to pistol brass life.

My 44 magnum relaods are fired in an 1894 Marlin. Instead of 20, I reload them in batches of 50, so I shoot and reload them less. The jury is still out on them and .38 cal.

May 5, 2013, 09:26 PM
I would never try that. Anneal after every fifth, maybe, but not after each firing. Agreed.

May 6, 2013, 11:00 AM
I own 4 rifles in 260 rem and have been reloading for all of them for a few years now. I don't shoot benchrest. I agree with the postings about annealing every time. I wouldn't, to much work, Lapua brass comes annealed from the factory. I have never had much luck with h4350 in most of my rifles. 4831SC is my pet for now and I've tried about 10 powders. Lapua brass is heavier than remington and there is a noticable difference in case volume. Are you shooting 139grain scenars or 142 smk's? In any case I bought 200 lapua and 100 remington originally I still have the same lapua after 12 reloadings with the remington I've got about 6. If you've been using remington brass you should probably reduce by a grain and check for pressure especially if you are seeing any pressure signs with the remington brass. Lapua brass is very high quality. I know a lot of guys who shoot up to 43.3 grains of h4350 it depends on the rifle.

May 6, 2013, 05:00 PM
I fired a case in a Mauser, once, I got all the use there was out of that case in one firing, I removed the barrel, then screw it into another Mauser receiver and fired the same load in it, same thing, not much left. I repeated the process until I had tested 5 receivers. I was informed the receivers were suspect, the receivers held together, the cases failed, changing cases would not have changed anything.

As to how many times can a case be fired? It is not easy to go from reloading to firing a case 40 times +, as usual, it is always about bench-resters. It is always “Bench resters full length every time” not far after that “Bernch resters purchase cases for their rifle once and them shoot them (the cases) forever”, No one ever wonders if there is a difference in the the chamber size and the dies ability to to size cases to match.

I determine the length of the chamber from the shoulder of the chamber to the bolt face, I form cases to fit, I do not neck size 5 times after forming then full length size to start over because I find that impossible to do, after firing the case 6 times it can have more resistance to sizing than my press has ability to overcome, I avoid full length sizing back to minimum length, and I am not vain, I have nothing to gain by firing 45 times, BUT! if I did I would keep up with the effect 45 firings had on the case starting with the weight of the case and I would save an unfired case from the same lot for comparison.

Again, a proud owner of a custom rifle handed me a case, I ask to see the case for examination, after looking at the case I ask? “Is this the only case you have and are you loading and reloading this case over and over and over etc.." I then offered to form 200 cases for his rifle for free, he was not happy with my critique, he was sent to an unbiased 3rd party, he became more unhappy, without the offer of forming cases for him, the 3rd party ask him the same question. I can only guess some cases are except from the riggers of having been fired 40 plus times and or some chambers are less stressful on the case than others, I have nothing to gain by firing a case more than 6 times, again, I have fired cases once, in the once firing I have used up all the case use built built into the case. Then there are receivers with different designs, one paragraph does not cover all designs.

F. Guffey

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