1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

How do you determine if brass has only been fired once?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by PCCUSNRET, Nov 27, 2010.


    PCCUSNRET Well-Known Member

    May 4, 2009
    I just received a shipment of brass that was supposed to be "once fired". I must admit this is the first time in many purchases of brass on line that I have doubts the brass hadn't been reloaded at least once. Here are the reasons I suspect this:

    1. I can see on over half the brass the primer pockets had been scraped clean at least once but there was primer residue in the pockets.

    2. I can also see where the necks have been chamfered on both the inside and outside of the neck.

    3. I can also tell that over half of the brass has been trimmed as the little ridges normally found on once fired brass were gone and the brass was just .001 away from the maximum trim length.

    There may be other explanations for this brass looking like it does but to me it looks very similar to how my reloads look after being reloaded once or more times. I'm not going to mention the type of brass or the seller as my main reason for mentioning this to see if there are other ways to help sellers determine if brass has been fired more than once. The seller may not have known if the brass was once fired or not, but I would think if you didn't know for sure you wouldn't sell it as such. Any other ways to tell if brass was once fired or not?
  2. WNTFW

    WNTFW Well-Known Member

    Jul 16, 2006
    The only brass I considered once fired is brass I fired myself or someone I trust confirmed it was once fired. I don't kid myself even on my own AR brass as I could pick up somebody elses brass with mine.

    I don't know how anyone who deals with any large amount of brass could say for sure that the brass is 100% once fired. The exception would be a source where only new factory ammo is used like a well regualted police or military only range. I have brass from a LEO/MIL range but they have reloads being shot there for sure.

    The brass you have could be once fire and then processed. I do see why you would question it. I would inspect it for stretch ring inside to avoid case head separations. I assume it is rifle brass by what you said.

    I hope it works out for you. Definitely question the seller.
  3. GW Staar

    GW Staar Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2009
    1. You buy military brass and the primer pockets are still crimped.

    2. You buy new ammo, shoot it and pick up your brass (or your non reloading friends' brass).

    3. You follow local law enforcement to the range when they are training, and offer to "clean up" after them for free. (they rarely say no).

    4. You find 50 rounds of .45 winchester on the ground...brass "looks" new...then you find the new looking box in the trash barrel that they most likely came to the range in...even better, with the sack and receipt from the local gun store. Okay, thats rare....but you asked.:D

    Other than that, beats me....take it to CSI? As you figured out, it's a lot easier to tell its not once fired.

    HOWARD J Well-Known Member

    Mar 8, 2010
    S/E Michigan
    I use new brass for hot loads.
    If I purchase " once fired brass " I use med or lite loads--then I don't worry about it.
    After two trimmings on " once fired brass" keep a careful eye out for case separation ( bright ring at web area)
    Have fun......................................:)
  5. OldmanFCSA

    OldmanFCSA Well-Known Member

    Aug 21, 2010
    Osceola, Wisconsin
    With the Stainless Steel pin method of cleaning cases, now it is very difficult to verify it is only once fired brass. I used a sample of multi-used brass sorted by head stamp to indicate number of firings - and tumbled for 12 hours - all brass came out looking NEW - even the stuff that had 12 firings on it.
    This was 50BMG brass, many firings, many trimmings, many annealing processes, many sizing operations, only the neck-turned stuff gave any indication to former use of brass.
    I took it to local dealer - he wanted to buy it as new brass & would re-sell it as such. I did not sell it.

    Be very careful what you buy and where you get it - learn how to process brass, how to look for signs of over-use, signs of over-pressure loads, whether it is machine-gun brass or not. Primer pockets, head size, stretching rings, neck cracking are the main indicators.
  6. GP100man

    GP100man Well-Known Member

    Mar 16, 2007
    Tabor City, NC.
    If rifle I check for the incipient head seperation ring inside, if no evidence of ring I size it ,check length clean primer pocket.

    If it groups ok fine, if not anneal & try another test batch most of the time it`ll come in with annealin .

    & of course do an overall inspection of case .
  7. 243winxb

    243winxb Well-Known Member

    Jul 7, 2004
    Hopewell Big Woods
    Extractor Mark

    I watch brass get ejected out of the firearm. :D The extractor may place a mark on the brass each time its fired.:scrutiny: Other marking can be polished off.
  8. kaferhaus

    kaferhaus Well-Known Member

    Nov 26, 2004
    Mobile, Alabama
    If it's been de-primed it's hard to tell. If it still has the primers in it and the primers are brass colored then it's once fired..... primers you can buy are all silver colored.
  9. ScratchnDent

    ScratchnDent Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2008
    Tampa Bay area
    That's not the case, any more. I have recently purchased Winchester pistol primers and Remington rifle primers that are brass colored.
  10. sgte5

    sgte5 Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2009
    west central Wi
    Winchester and some Remington primers are brass in color, so that is not a sure fire method of telling if brass is once fired.
  11. Skip_a_roo

    Skip_a_roo Well-Known Member

    May 19, 2008
    The only way to know for sure is to shoot them yourself from new.

    Even range brass has someone's discarded older cases mixed in!

    That being said, for handguns I just use it until it cracks at the neck and then throw it away.
  12. RandyP

    RandyP Well-Known Member

    Jan 28, 2009
    Just presume you are purchasing 'used' brass? Inspect, reload, repeat.

    I know for sure it's 'once-fired' of course if I watch a shooter load it from a newly opened box and then let me scrounge his brass. But to be quite honest I don't segregate my brass by firings. It all (including floor scroungings) goes into the tumbler and then into a storage container for the next reloading session. I inspect the brass as I reload it and discard anything damaged.

    My caveat...I only load low-mid range plinking rounds for punching holes in paper zombies. Were I to start loading high power stuff I would probably separate by headstamp ad log number of times reloaded.
  13. TH3180

    TH3180 Well-Known Member

    May 3, 2008
    Federal American Eagle 115g 9mm the primers are silver. My Winchester small pistol primers bought from the gun stop are brass colored.
  14. mdi

    mdi Well-Known Member

    Dec 31, 2007
    The Wolf primers I purchased are brass colored too.
  15. evan price

    evan price Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2005
    http://www.ohioccw.org/ Ohio's best CCW resour
    CBC/Magtech ammunition has a symbol indented on the primer from the factory. It's sort of a "V" with a longer middle, not quite a "U". If you have CBC brass and you can see the symbol on the fired primer, it is once fired for sure.

    Seller & Belloit tend to use a red primer sealer on their primers. Some other makers do this too. If there is sealer, odds are it's 1X fired.

    Also military brass with crimped primers- the crimp is not done by reloaders, so crimped primers are once fired.

    Some brands of rifle brass, the case mouth has a sort of "rough" texture where the edge was trimmed by the factory. It looks "scalloped" when you look at the edge. At least that means it wasn't trimmed. Also some rifle rounds use a primer sealer on the primer- Federal, for example. See the sealer, it's probably 1X fired.

    I get brass from indoor ranges that don't allow reloads. People still sometimes sneak in FMJ reloads in factory boxes, I'm sure. Also the police ranges generally never have reloaded ammo.

    It's also a good bet that people who reload will collect their brass at the range. Especially with revolver calibers. Odds are revolver brass is going to be 1X fired.

    However if anybody nearby sells Ultramax or some other reloads, that's not going to be 100% obvious anymore.

    Generally in autopistol calibers, lack of more than one extractor/ejector mark on the brass tends to indicate 1X fired.

    You really just have to look at it and do a gut check. In pistol calibers, it really doesn't matter because I lose more than I have fail. In rifles, that's another story.
  16. cougar1717

    cougar1717 Well-Known Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    St. Louis, MO
    The chamferred case mouths would be the big indicator for me that it's more than 1x brass.
  17. mdi

    mdi Well-Known Member

    Dec 31, 2007
    I asked my self the same question a while back. My solution is to buy new for my rifle reloading (.223) and "once" fired for my handguns (which are nowhere near max loads). Since my .223 is a single shot and I'm loading to hit the same spot every time (good luck with that!), I check over the brass with every loading and keep close records of times fired...
  18. George Mabry

    George Mabry Well-Known Member

    Sep 11, 2010
    What the other posters have said about it being "once fired" only if you are the one who once fired it is very true. One reasonably good way to be sure it is once fired is if the spent casings come in the original box that the ammo came in. I've sold once fired brass and the only brass this place would accept was brass that was inside it's original box. Anthing coming in bulk is iffy.
  19. ljnowell

    ljnowell Well-Known Member

    Jun 21, 2008
    The Peoples Republic of IL
    I bought 357 mag brass here from a long time member that assured they were once fired, It was plainly obvious they were not. I made a note to never do business with them again.

    Also on this forum had a user selling 45 colt brass that he said he picked up during a cowboy shoot, and it was once fired. I ended up throwing away more than half of it. In the end I could have paid for brand new brass. and had more pieces. I will no longer buy brass online, unless it is from a few select members here, or from a business. Too many thieving liars, even on the high road.
  20. earplug

    earplug Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2006
    Colorado Springs
    Why worry?

    As stated before, check the rim for marks made by the extractor hook and marks made by the ejector.
    But why worry if its pistol brass? Your going to lose some on the ground and find some from other shooters.
    If you loads are so hot to bulge the unsupported case, buy a tool to take out the bulge or stop tilting the powder can so far.
    The only issue I would have, is if I bought some brass that was advertised as once fired when it was not.
    Most reloaders are going to pick up their brass. If you find a bunch of cases on the ground its highly likely they are once fired.
    If you find my 45 ACP cases they will be in a moon clip.

Share This Page