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Brass exposed to fire?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Blakenzy, Dec 4, 2006.

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  1. Blakenzy

    Blakenzy Member

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    I sometimes shoot in a grassy field. Now, the grass is quite tall so I lose a lot of brass when I use a semiauto in that place. Recently I went back to said field and found that it had been burned. Scorched. At first I was dissapointed, it was not a pleasant sight, but I quickly grew a smile when I noticed that I could easily spot brass that I had given for lost.

    My question is as follows: The brass was exposed to the burning grass, and I cannot tell what temperatures were reached in that situation. Do you assume that if properly cleaned (the cases were black) they are safe for reloading? I am very anxious to know if I can use this brass because man, I found a whole bunch. Mostly .45 ACP. However I do not want to risk a case faliure or something of the like. Any advice is welcome.

    Thanks
     
  2. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    It's trash. It doesn't take a whole heck of a lot of heat to anneal brass, and if those case heads have been annealed they'll blow when fired. T'ain't worth it!
     
  3. EddieCoyle

    EddieCoyle Member

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    .38 Special gives good advice. That brass is way too soft to use now.
     
  4. ilbob

    ilbob Member

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    I would not bet my fingers or eyesight on this brass.

    Just because it blackened does not mean it got all that hot, but I don't know of any way to tell if the brass was softened enough to become dangerous.

    I vote with the others on not taking a chance with it.
     
  5. EddieCoyle

    EddieCoyle Member

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    It doesn't take much. I was shooting with a guy that was getting case splits left and right with .30 Carbine brass that he dried in the oven at the lowest (140 degree) setting.
     
  6. Spartacus451

    Spartacus451 Member

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    Eddie,
    That reminds me of the common newbie question "Is it safe to leave an ammo/gun in a hot car?" The answer always given is yes and it has never been an issue for anyone AFAIK.

    The car can easily reach 140 right? Is it possible for that to mess up the brass as was done in the oven?
     
  7. Mal H

    Mal H Administrator

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    I'm not Eddie, but I'll give my $.03 worth (accounting for inflation).
    No. You would need to add about 500 to 600 more degrees F to start changing the brass structure. If 140 deg. was enough to do it, every brass case would be ruined by the act of firing it. I'll bet the brass that was splitting was getting a lot hotter than 140 deg. in the oven even though the thermostat was set to 140 (that's very low for a normal oven). The radiant heat from the heating element (or gas flame) can easily make individual objects considerably hotter than the ambient air temp inside an oven which is what the thermostat is reading. In a car's glove compartment, trunk, etc., it is strictly convection heat that would be warming up the firearm. If the firearm is left in direct sun inside a car with untinted windows, it could easily reach 200 or more deg., but that still wouldn't be enough to affect the brass.

    The "correct" temperature might easily be reached if brass is subjected to a grass fire as described in the original post.
     
  8. ilbob

    ilbob Member

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    I used to occasionally dry out 38 special cases in the oven at the lowest setting (whatever it was) I don't recall any issues with them splitting, and those were the same 100 cases I reloaded every week for several years.



    YMMV.
     
  9. Smokey Joe

    Smokey Joe Member

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    Drying brass

    Ilbob--
    Good on you--you lucked out. But one anecdotal report does not a conclusion make. I still can't reccommend drying cases in the oven. It's too easy to overdo it.

    This is just one of the reasons that I use a vibratory tumbler rather than washing my empties.

    BTW--Reloading "the same 100 cases every week for several years" (I will suppose 4 years=several, for the sake of discussion) gets you over 200 reloadings of these cases, at 52 reloadings x 4. And no case splits. That's pretty impressive brass life. What make were these cases?
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2006
  10. ilbob

    ilbob Member

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    They were all mixed. I started out with two boxes of reloads I bought at the range that I did not return for the deposit. Who knows how many times they had been reloaded previously. Several years was about 2 and a half years.

    I never loaded them above target velocity though, and I made every effort not to bell the case mouth any more than the minimum necessary to seat the bullet.

    Over time I picked up emptys at the range, maybe a box a year, so when I finished school I probably had maybe 200 cases total, maybe as many as 300. I am not sure just how many, but they fit in about 3 or 4 inches in the bottom of a bread bag.


    I continued reloading the same cases adding more range pickup along the way over the last 25 years. now I have a whole tool box full. i am not sure just why, but it seems people today are less interested in reloading becasue I get a lot more range pickup than I did when i was in school.
     
  11. Bronson7

    Bronson7 Member

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    I think it's going to take more than 100-140F to adversely affect the brass. Ever catch an ejected case down the shirt. Pretty darned hot.
    Bronson7
     
  12. Firehand

    Firehand Member

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    Takes a lot more than 140F to anneal brass, and I say that from using brass in jewelry and knife work as well as handloading. I've used the oven on 'warm' to dry cases many times, handgun and rifle. I've never had a case split from that.

    The only cases that I've had split were many-times used or lousy cases(gave up Amerc .30 carbine because half the damn things crack first time they're fired for instance). I can't remember offhand, but the annealing temperature of brass is several hundred degrees F; 'warm' in the oven ain't gonna do it.

    That being said, these cases having been through a fire and not knowing how hot they got, I'd recycle them, not reload them.
     
  13. Lone_Gunman

    Lone_Gunman Member

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    Well, add one more anecdotal report, because I have dried brass in the oven set on the lowest setting, and have never had a problem.

    If you have ever picked up a hot piece of brass after firing, or had on fall down your shirt, you will know its more than 140 degrees.
     
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