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Case head separation

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Blackcloud6, Jan 12, 2004.

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  1. Blackcloud6

    Blackcloud6 Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Reading the ".30-06 case life" thread got me wondering if any reloaders here have experienced a case head separation. If so, what happend? Did you have any indcator on the case before hand?
  2. labgrade

    labgrade Member In Memoriam

    Dec 22, 2002
    west of Loveland, CO
    Never had any case head separation in any bottle-necked rifle cartridge except some fairly mild loads in a .223 Colt AR - & these were once-fired, in the same rifle.

    Full length resized, fairly mild load & who knows? Brass looked great, everything normal.

    2X from the same reloading batch & I ended up scrapping the whole deal.

    Only good thing was both foward hunks of brass were psuhed out the chamber with w brush on ing rod from the muzzle - at least the range session wasn't lost.

    No idea to this day. BTW, Federal American Eagle factory rounds, shot & reloaded ....

    Rounds fired normally, & actually, were as accurate as any that didn't separate - working up a loading.

    I dunno ....
  3. Quantrill

    Quantrill Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Flagstaff, Az., USA
    While I never had a case head seperation, I have disgarded 30-06 rounds that I suspected would seperate. These cases would have a "strain" line around the circumference of the case near the bottom (where it would it seperate). Most times, you could feel it if you ran your fingernail over it. Quantrill
  4. Grump

    Grump Member

    May 22, 2003
    Las Vegas, NV
    Lots, in .223 and .308. Most failed on extraction, and both pieces ejected okay. All others were cleared by the next-fed round, which acted like a broken case extractor (it's a field-expedient trick anyway).

    Most did not show the bright ring beforehand, but looking at all cases in each lot showed enough of them to serve as a warning. Most of that brass is gone now. The .308 was reloaded 4 times, the .223 was reloaded twice (fired thrice--in an AK).
  5. Big_R

    Big_R Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    That little strip of land between New York and L.A
    Not a full separation, but it went about 60% of the way around. It was R-P .35 Whelen brass necked down for 338-06, third loading. I got rid of the rest of the lot. I believe what happened was by necking down, the case necks got too thick, resulting in higher pressure. I am now necking up 30-06 cases and have seen no farther issues. Generally, case head separations are indicators of a case that's too short for the chamber. Sometimes this is due to long headspace, sometimes it's a resizing die that bumps the shoulder too far back. Most cases will go one loading without separating. Neck sizing only will usually take care of this as the shoulder doesn't get bumped back.

  6. Pumpkinheaver

    Pumpkinheaver Member

    Jun 20, 2003
    I had a casehead separation this summer. I've been loading for 15 years and it was my first one. I still have not figured out why it happened. I was using new winchester brass and it was a midrange load of Varget. I really think I just got a defective piece of brass. None of the other loads from the same batch had any signs of excessive case stretching or signs of separaton. I'm at a loss to explain it other than the defective brass theory.
  7. Swampy

    Swampy Member

    Apr 1, 2003
    SouthWest MO

    Please note: all my comments on loading are primarily related to 30-06, .308, and .223 fired from semi-autos.

    Never had a separation in 30 years of reloading.... but that's not to say I won't have one at any time... ;)

    I'm pretty vigilant about inspecting brass at each load cycle. The "straight line" ring around the head referred to earlier is pretty easy to see and is one of the first warning signs.

    I also use a piece of wire with a small "L" bend as a feeler. Stick it down the case mouth and feel for a depression forming inside the case wall in the same place as the straight line (i.e. shiny ring around the head). If you feel this depression.... no more loads for this one.... in the trash it goes.

    Once I start seeing the ring and get my first reject for an internal depression that particular lot of brass is only good for maybe one-two more firings before I trash the entire lot.

    Brass that is full length sized in normal full length dies will go 5-6 loads before this sets in. Brass that is processed with the RCBS "X-Dies" will go much further. To this date as far as I've gotten is 8 loads with several lots and not one single failure notice (ring around the head) so far. According to reliable reports from other shooters, they don't start to see rings (or other signs of brass fatigue-failure) until after 10-15 firings through a semi-auto. Best thing since sliced bread and bottled beer.... :D

    Just my experiences....

    Best to all,
  8. kimbernut
    • Contributing Member

    kimbernut Member

    Feb 13, 2003
    Central Florida
    Blackcloud6, like BigR, not a full separation however a black gas ring and cut fully surrounding the case with just enough brass still connected to let it extract as normal.I was amazed that it held together. This out of one box of Winchester cartridges that had been reloaded with the starting load for RL15 in .308 Win. The R-P brass and Hirtenberger brass with the same load showed no problems so needless to say those 20 Win. cases were crushed and trashed.
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