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.223 Case Life in AR Type Rifles?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by GunAdmirer, Apr 12, 2006.

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  1. GunAdmirer

    GunAdmirer Member

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    How many firings can I reasonably expect to get out of a quality .223 case fired in my Bushmaster AR type rifle? I'm not looking to push it or do anything exotic to the case to extend its life. I'm more interested in safety since I have a steady source of quality 1X brass from a friend who doesn't reload. I don't load my handloads hot.

    I've noticed a short deep verticle scratch on the case necks of some of my 1X fired cases. It's not the dies - I checked. I don't think they are splits. I suspect it is from insertion or extraction. Normal? Any cause for concern?
     
  2. Rico567

    Rico567 Member

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    I have reloaded some cases 4X; I don't think any more than that. Most of my shooting is not near max pressures, however.
    My Bushmasters do not mark the case in any way. I have an RCBS size die that was scratched because I sized cases in it that had not been properly cleaned. However, I was able to polish the scratches out very quickly with J-B Bore Paste.
     
  3. MAUSER88

    MAUSER88 Member

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    I get 5 or 6 times before I get a 1/16 split in the neck.
     
  4. 30Cal

    30Cal Member

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    A single reloading if we're talking about federal brass.

    Ty
     
  5. dleong

    dleong Member

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    I handload my .223 brass only four times for my ARs before I discard them. Like you, I tend to load them on the light side (approximately 2500 fps for my 55 gr. reloads out of a 20" barrel) since I'm only punching holes in paper. They could probably last beyond four reloads but, with each successive firing, the extractor claw puts a new gouge in the rim which, together with gouges from previous firings, makes it increasingly difficult to slide the case onto the shellplate of my hand primer. By the fourth reload, I basically have to force the case into position on the shellplate, and this slows down the reloading process.

    Besides, there is no shortage of 1x fired brass at the local range, so there's no real incentive to make a particular piece of brass last as long as possible.

    Edited to add: I agree with 30Cal's sentiments about Federal's .223 brass. I've found them to be on the thin side and unable to maintain neck tension after resizing. Their cases also seem shorter than normal. I do not reload Federal cases.
     
  6. rbernie
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    rbernie Member

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    Federal's seem to loosen primer pockets awfully fast, and I don't use 'em. I've run Remington or Winnie brass into the double-digit range without an issue. My standard loads are pretty much book max; I'm not hotrodding but I'm not babying 'em either. When I do toss the brass, it's usually due to signs of incipient case head separation.

    If you're getting extractor gouging, you have a rifle timing issue. The powder burn rate and gas port diameter/gas tube length should all be balanced such that the chamber pressure has sufficiently dropped by the time the bolt tries dragging the brass outta the chamber that it can do so without having to unduly tug on the rim. I'm willing to be that you're running a carbine with a short gas system, no?
     
  7. GunAdmirer

    GunAdmirer Member

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    So, I can usually load .223 brass three times (beyond first firing) for my AR before any real safety or performance issues show up?

    My Bushmaster M4 16" is not doing anything major to the brass. My friend has the same rifle with the heavy barrel and supplies me with 1X brass. It is his donated brass cases that have the occasional scratches in the neck.

    Anyone know what causes this? All he shoots is factory ammo. Any cause for concern?
     
  8. dleong

    dleong Member

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    Nope. My 20" and 16" ARs have their respective normal-length gas tubes on them.

    The gouging is very miniscule--you feel it more than you see it--but it is enough to cause the shell to "drag" as it is inserted into the shellplate. From the direction of the gouges, I suspect they are caused when the extractor claw snaps over the cartridge rim during chambering.
     
  9. dleong

    dleong Member

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    GA,

    I apologize for the thread hijack.

    Yeah, I'd say that reloading the brass three times is certainly well within safe limits, especially if you aren't doing anything funky with the brass. Just make sure you "QC" the brass during the reloading process, and discard any that show signs of damage (split necks, loose primer pockets, bright rings around the base of the case, etc.).

    As for the occasional scratches on the case neck, I've seen them on mine too, though they've never been deep enough to be of any concern. I'm also not sure what causes them, but would guess that they're somehow put there when the cartridge is stripped from the top of the magazine and rides over the front lip of the magazine and onto the feed ramp.
     
  10. rbernie
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    rbernie Member

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    The 16" (carbine length) is the usual culprit, since its gas system is so short. 16" midlength systems and rifle length systems are much mo' gentle on the brass during extraction.

    Good observation, but I've never seen any real damage to the rims from that. Even so, I would not expect these gouges to have any impact on the structural integrity of the case since they're wll below the webbing.
     
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