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Any Way To Tell if Rifle Brass is only 1X Fired?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by BinRat, Nov 2, 2011.

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  1. BinRat

    BinRat Member

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    A neighbor is interested in parting with some of the vast quantity of rifle brass he's accumulated in the past 15 years. This brass is almost entirely range pick-up and is in many calibers/sizes. The question neither of us knew is whether there's a way to determine if the brass has been once fired or if it's been reloaded. He thought that if the primer on brass colored cartridges was brass colored, that it was likely once fired, but if it was silver colored, it had been reloaded. I don't have any idea since I don't reload for rifle and thought the brain trust here might be able to shed some wisdom on this.

    Which also brings up another question regarding more than once fired rifle brass. Is there a market for it with reloaders? And if so, what kind of price would be fair in relation to the price of once fired?

    Thanks for input anyone might have.
     
  2. rondog

    rondog Member

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    Personally, I've never understood the whole fanaticism about "once-fired only or it's trash". I'll pick up anything. If it's not split or damaged beyond use, then it's usable to me. If it's not usable, it goes in the scrap bucket. Most pistol brass can be reloaded so many times it's not even countable. Most rifle brass has a definite lifetime, but if you have enough of it you may be able to use them for years, only loading any particular case once or twice a year.

    Granted, there's as many kinds of shooters as there are guns, and some guys will ONLY use certain brass for certain shooting, and are very persnickety about their brass and it's condition. Typically benchrest shooters and other competitors.

    But for us general plinkers, my opinion is if it looks OK to begin with and has no obvious damage, and meets basic specs, then it should be fine to reload until it's obviously wearing out.

    Your neighbor's brass is most likely perfectly fine, in my humble opinion. Probably just tarnished and dirty. But if it's brass he's picked up at ranges over the years, it's quite likely to be once-fired anyway. Most reloaders will obsess over finding every last piece of their brass, and any others they can find. Most other shooters will buy a couple boxes of ammo, go shoot 'em up, and leave the brass laying.

    Some people worry about folks that will reload brass until it's on its last firing, and then will leave those useless cases where they fall after they've shot them for the last time. But it's just my opinion that any conscientous reloader wouldn't do that, knowing he's putting someone else at risk by leaving brass that's ready to fail where someone else will surely pick it up. And every good reloader also knows that even worn-out or split brass still has its full value as scrap metal, and leaving good scrap on the ground is the same as leaving money on the ground. And us reloaders are cheap bastards by nature! A 5-gallon bucket full of scrap brass cases is worth quite a few bucks. Enough to buy a couple hundred more NEW cases.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2011
  3. bds

    bds Member

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    With military head stamp cases like LC, you know it's once fired if it still has the primer crimp on the primer pockets.

    With commercial head stamps, it's more difficult. I would look for signs of reloading like evidence of case neck trimming/chamfering, resizing marks on case walls, condition of neck/shoulder, thinning of case wall, etc.
     
  4. Master Blaster

    Master Blaster Member

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    Fire it new yourself, get it from somone who fired it once and doesn't reload at the range, or buy LC surplus from Scharchs. Those are the only ways I know of to be sure.
     
  5. JDGray

    JDGray Member

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    Usually there will be a ring near the base that the resizing die cant reach, so thats one thing to look for. Primer color won't tell you anything, Winchester primers are brass colored, CCI are plated, who knows what they are.
     
  6. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    +1

    It would be a difficult task to sort and try to determine anything with a large quantity of brass.

    You can't tell anything by the color of the primers.

    Everyone has loaded with copper & silver color primers at one time or another if they have been at it very long, both factories and handloaders.

    One sign you can sorta look at is the condition of the caliber head-stamps.
    They tend to get hammered out after several load cycles.

    But telling once-fired from fired and reloaded once or twice would be nearly impossible if the reloader knew what he was doing, and did it.

    rc
     
  7. BinRat

    BinRat Member

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    Thanks for the quick responses.

    My neighbor had 4 of his multitude of calibers spread out and I had a chance to check those out. They were commercial brass and looked to be in great shape to me....much of it still nice and shiny.
     
  8. kingmt

    kingmt Member

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    They are worth at least $2 lb.
     
  9. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    Usually if a cartridge has been reloaded the neck shows visible marks from resizing.

    I have bought mostly nickeled or chromed primers for reloading, but some makers sell brass colored primers for reloading so that is not a clue. Just spot checked my range case: .30 carbine factory ammo: Win nickeled primers, PPU brass colored primers. So color of primer is not necessary is proof of factory v reload.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2011
  10. Boo-Radley

    Boo-Radley Member

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    I'm a brand new member, so my opinion probably won't carry much weight, but I totally agree with "rondog." My father and I always used our brass until it showed signs of serious wear or obvious damage. We just applied a little common sense, and never had a problem.
     
  11. Master Blaster

    Master Blaster Member

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    Most folks who reload take their brass with them or throw it in the recycle can when its worn out so chances are very good any boxer primed brass you find at the range is once fired.
     
  12. Hondo 60
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    Hondo 60 Member

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    Not unless you fired it.
     
  13. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    Imagine that, using common sense these days! Your father has obviously taught you well.

    As for your opinion not carrying much weight because you're new here, not so IMO.
    Everyone's opinion has value.

    Welcome to the forum.
     
  14. medalguy

    medalguy Member

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    I'm like Rondog, I pick up anything brass colored. I separate the steelcase with a magnet. Don't want to overlook any!

    As far as once-fired rifle brass, I agree that MOST handloaders scarf up all of their brass, and all of their neighbor's brass, if they can. Anything left on the ground was overlooked. Even worn-out brass is picked up by all the reloaders I know, just for the scrap value. Even the primers go in the scrap bucket, so they aren't going to leave very much on the ground.

    If you're not sure, just look at the base for multiple extractor marks and pitch any that's badly beat up.
     
  15. rondog

    rondog Member

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    Last time I picked some up, I wasn't even shooting (not uncommon for me). I was at this free public range, and damned if there wasn't a pile of shiny new .300 Win Mag cases under this one bench. Nobody at it, so I asked the other guys nearby and nobody claimed it, so I scored. 20 cases, same headstamp, not even dirty yet. I'ma betting they're once-fired. I don't load that caliber, but they'll trade just fine.
     
  16. Bmac1949

    Bmac1949 Member

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    +1 for the extractor mark method. I run my fingernail around the rim of the cartridge to feel for marks left by the extractor. Not an exact method by any means but it will give me a rough idea as to how many times it has been shot.
     
  17. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    In my experience, Winchester primers are a lot darker than brass and easy to identify. The only brass colored primers I know of are Wolf. I've used both their SRP and LPP, and they look exactly like the ones in factory new ammo.

    All the CCI, Remington, Federal, and Tula SPP and SRP I've used are some sort of silver. Some are shinier, and some are duller, but all the reloading primers I've seen are easy to tell from the factory brass colored ones, aside from the Wolf. But Wolf primers are popular, so it really throws a wrench in the works.

    I remember the first time shooting Wolf primers in my .45. I kept getting the feeling I was picking up new brass!
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2011
  18. evan price

    evan price Member

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    Some factory brass (and milisurp) will have a rough sort of appearance to the case mouth, sort of a fine serration, perhaps. While seeing that won't tell # of firings, if you see it you know at least it wasn't trimmed.

    Magtech impresses a small symbol on their primers, so if you see that it's an original CBC/Magtech primer in their brass, 1x fired.
     
  19. Boo-Radley

    Boo-Radley Member

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    Your story reminds me of something I did the other day. I shoot at an old gravel pit that lots of other people use. I scoured the whole place for brass! All I found was a few .35 Whelan cases, and some funky 9 mm that looked like aluminum. But hey, I gave it my best shot:D
     
  20. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    That's a sign that people in your area are considerate and frugal.

    I wish my local shootin' hole was like that. Unfortunately it looks like a garbage dump. :rolleyes:
     
  21. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Member

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    I always pick up all my own brass, and most of that has been fired some number of times already. Heck, some of it came into my possession after no telling how many firings by someone else. But as has been said, if it's still in good shape, I'll load it and shoot it.

    If the range where I'm shooting collects and recycles brass and uses the proceeds to keep membership prices reasonable, I'm all for shooters (who don't reload) bucketing their brass. Otherwise, I honestly can't imagine intentionally leaving brass behind, whether it's for re-use, recycling, or just litter avoidance.
     
  22. BinRat

    BinRat Member

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    I know exactly what you mean about obsessively trying to hunt down every last piece of my brass. Sometimes it seems like I end up spending more time looking for those last couple than I do shooting.

    I'd like to again thank everyone for the responses. They've provided me with a lot of information regarding this question, which I'll be passing on to my neighbor.

    I've been visiting the forum since before I joined and have been very impressed with all the knowledge of the members and the willingness to help others. This site truly does take the High Road, as all I've seen on here has been helpful and non-judgmental interactions.
     
  23. Maximumbob54

    Maximumbob54 Member

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    You could always buy something like this if it's that big a deal to you:

    http://www.midwayusa.com/Product/310955/rcbs-case-master-concentricity-gaging-tool

    The one I used had a small hook with a pointed tip to feel the inside of the case. The point would catch in a overworked case where the head was coming apart. The instructions said you can use that tool to feel it long before your eye can see it on the outside. Then you can ditch the case before risking case ehad failure and a stuck case. But a stuck case remover isn't that hard to use and they cost less. I don't see where in the item description it describes the part you use for this, nor does the picture show it but it's the same kit. Mabye they dropped that part.
     
  24. scythefwd

    scythefwd Member

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    Look for sealant around the primer on any military brass. It may or may not be crimped (if it is crimped, it's 1x). The sealant is usually red... Only factory military stuff was like that. Never saw a reloader use it so it's a pretty good sign.
     
  25. Deavis

    Deavis Member

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    OEM CCI, unplated, are brass colored.
     
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