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How Often Can You Reuse Brass?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by G11354, Dec 16, 2012.

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  1. G11354

    G11354 Member

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    I am loading .223 Rem rounds for my Ar-15 and would like to get feedback regarding how many times I should re-use my brass?

    I have heard everything from 4 to 5 uses and some beyond 10.

    I do not use max loads.

    I am aware that brass with any form of splits, cracks and bulges in the case should be tossed.
     
  2. NWcityguy2

    NWcityguy2 Member

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    In my Mini-14 I use brass until the primers start falling out. How aggressively you resize them will play a factor in that to. If you take your brass back to saami specs, say with a small base die, or even the closest you can with a FL die, you will probably be better off sticking to some 5 or so guideline. If you are bumping the shoulders back just a bit like me shoot them till the neck splits, they get crushed or the primers start falling out. If you are only reloading for one gun then minimal resizing is the way to go.
     
  3. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    I use the cases until they fail.

    With my ARs, this is usually in the primer pocket area, they get loose and will not hold the primer. I start seeing a few loose pockets around 5 or so loadings. This is with 223 Remington, 204 Ruger and 17 Remington ARs.

    Of late, i have been backing down my AR loads a little and case life is going up. I have been working with a 300 BLK over the summer have reduced loads in search of the accuracy I would like. Case life has improved dramatically. Through my piddling, I am cycling the same 100 or so cases through looking for the failure point. I have lost count of the number reloads some of the cases have been through.

    If you are shooting competitively, i would replace the match cases on a more frequent basis to insure reliability. Cycle them to the plinking ammo pile to get the most use out of them.
     
  4. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    If you do not use max loads and do not crimp the necks you will get MUCH longer case life with 223 brass. Some will get loose primer pockets--I use Tula primers there to get another reload or two out of them. I just swipe a marker on the case-head to ID them to save aside. I will shoot them until they fail, usually neck splits in the 10-15 reload area if full length resizing. I have a separate lot of 250 LC brass I use in my bolt CZ that has been reloaded over 25 times that I neck size and do not crimp with only 2 failures to date. So the answer is it depends.:) If you find yours all give up after 5 reloads then take that into consideration but like the load recipe everyone will have slightly different results. I think that neck splits are not hazardous but case head separation is and for at least the first few reloadings check the brass on any new rifle for it, especially if FL sizing an auto loader. I would do this until I established a pattern with said rifle and said brass brand and know what to expect.
     
  5. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    Depends much on how hot you load them, what kind of action the gun has, how much you resize them, etc.

    I have a Remington 700 VLS bolt action in .223 that I reload for accuracy only. Cases are usually neck sized and only bumped when it gets hard to close the bolt. The load I use is slightly over mild which gives me the best accuracy. I now have over 80 reloads on this brass.

    Buddy of mine who shoots bench rest 6PPC has cases that he finally retired after 150 reloads.
     
  6. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Member

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    Four to five reloadings is probably a good estimate for a semiauto. That said, it depends on the load, the brass, the gun and the case construction. I've had brass that became unusable after one reloading and I've read, though not personally experienced, brass lasting for over 20 reloadings.

    Splits and loose primer pockets are pretty obvious reasons to discard brass. Also discard it if the case head area gets too battered up. Checking for incipient head separation is also important; run a wire down the inside of the case to check for the grove that signals the start of this just above the case web.
     
  7. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    How hot you load, and how far back you push the shoulder when sizing, is directly related to the life of the case, along with the metallurgy of whichever brand case you are using.

    Reloads with LC cases sizing to fit a case gauge and loading a bit under max should yield an average of around ten firings (6 to 14ish) depending on the case.

    I imagine the chamber size would affect case life a bit, but I have not tested that. My Mini 14 has a more generous chamber than my .223 AR, so that might be a good way to test it, but there are so many variables, it would be hard to say unless the difference in case life was dramatic.

    Like others, my primer pockets have have almost always gotten loose before any other case failure happens. An occasional cracked neck will happen first. This is assuming proper sizing and reasonable pressures.
     
  8. XxWoodsHunterxX

    XxWoodsHunterxX Member

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    On light loads with LC brass I am on about the 6th reload. I check them for fatigue every time but so far so good. I have been told they can last a good while. If your not loading hot rounds all the time. I put 55 gr fmj over 27.3gr blc-2 cci primer
     
  9. Canuck-IL

    Canuck-IL Member

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    +1 on Walkalong's notes above ... I just finished prepping & priming 2000 223's for use next summer. All LC, 2002 - 2006, resized with an X-die with a 3 thou neck bump (haven't had an ammo issue, ever, with either of 2 AR's), cases have had 4 firings before this prep session - total of 6 neck splits and 5 starting to get very slightly loose primer pockets - out of the original 2000.

    After wet SS tumbling and before resizing I check a random 50 for incipient head separation with a minilight and the bent paperclip - no issues thus far.

    All loads have been RL-15, either 24.2 under a 69 or 24 with a 77. 1k of the cases are used in an RRA NM and the other 1k are from a WOA Service rifle - the WOA has a couple of thou tighter chamber than the RRA, hence I keep the brass separate to avoid excessive shoulder bump.
    /Bryan
     
  10. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    Some rifles are very hard on brass and it all has to do with the barrel pressure at unlock. It is a rule of thumb that M1 Garand brass and M1a brass should not be fired more than five times. These are cases fired in a M1a. The chambers were dry and the cases were not lubed. The bud from who I got these cases had reloaded them five times and it was time to retire them.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I am of the opinion that AR15’s unlock at lower pressures or the dwell time is longer than M1’s and M1a’s. I have AR cases that are up to ten reloads on them.

    I have had to retire orders of magnitudes more 223 cases due to primer pocket enlargement than due to case head issues. I picked up coffee cans worth of once fired 223 Federal match from the military rifle team shooters I was squadded with at Camp Perry. The military rifle teams used to shoot Federal Gold Medal match to 300 yards and then shoot their own custom loads at 600 yards. The problem I have had with Federals is that the pockets open up around reload four and primers will fall out in the passage of the round from magazine to chamber.
     
  11. Canuck-IL

    Canuck-IL Member

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    and isn't it a pain digging primers out of the trigger group?!

    /B
     
  12. BigN

    BigN Member

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    Until it splits or otherwise appears dangerous to use. Too many variables here to give a specific number of reloadings per brass. Caliber, case prep (neck size or full length size) speed & pressure generated are all factors in case life. I find that if I give the brass a close inspection before loading I can catch any potential problems and deep six the piece. I've got some 223 brass that I've loaded 15 times. Sure makes for cheap reloads :D
     
  13. hentown

    hentown Member

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    "How often can you Reuse Brass?" In my experience, as often as you like until it's no longer loadable. ;)
     
  14. Missionary

    Missionary Member

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    If you want your brass to last a long time neck anneal them.
    But with the availability of brass being as it is right now it is not worth my time. I find far more laying about the range to use for plinkers than I "wear out". My "known brass" I keep for those accuracy loads that are kept for hunting and special occassions.
    Mike in ILL.
     
  15. MSgtEgress

    MSgtEgress Member

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    I anneal all my brass every 3 loadings. I if you only shoot your loads in one gun or keep them separated by gun just neck size them it saves wear & tear on them. The less you "work" the brass, (full length resizing after every firing) the longer they will last. I've gotten 15 loadings out of my 22-250 and over 10 in 338 WinMag.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2012
  16. Canuck-IL

    Canuck-IL Member

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    The OP asked about resizing for an AR - you cannot expect continuous reliable feeding without FL sizing a semi-auto.

    /B
     
  17. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Here is a .300 BLK case. Of the 40 once fired (by me) cases I had, and the 50+ I found at the range, this is the only one that had any sign of a rut. I have shot them numerous times, but do not know how many. The primer pocket was still OK. I am only moving the shoulder back .003 when sizing, as measured using my home made tool.

    [​IMG]
     

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  18. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    Pay attention while expanding. If the expander isn't dragging on the case, scrap it.* This weeds out the cracked case mouths/necks and the overworked thin necked brass.

    Pay attention while priming. If the primer goes in too easy, scrap it.

    If you get casehead separations before your brass dies from these other "natural causes," then you may want to consider adjusting your sizing die. I know lots of people will say partial FLR for an AR is a no-no. But if your chamber has excessive headspace, then that's what you ought to do, IMO. What's the harm if your chamber has the room? It's not all that different from a bolt action.

    *Or anneal it, I suppose. For 223 brass, I don't bother.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
  19. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I agree.

    I size .223 to fit a Wilson case gauge and still get 6 to 10+ firings before primer pockets get to loose, without any signs of incipient case head separation.

    But if my chambers were over sized that would not be happening. I would have to size them less to get that case life.
     
  20. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    Chances are, you will only back off the die a few thousandths to get the desired sizing, so it really is not very much partial resizing.

    I would be more careful with cases not fired in the "oversize head spaced AR rifle" though as you may have trouble chambering the cases. I would verify that they work before stuffing a bullet in them.
     
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