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Stop wasting you steel cases

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Carbon_15, Jan 19, 2013.

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  1. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Perhaps you might Google the subject. I hope it never happens to you.
     
  2. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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  3. jwrowland77

    jwrowland77 Member

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    Good read jc, thanks for posting that.
     
  4. hueyville

    hueyville Member

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    In following this thread I have been fairly adamant that for me reloading steel cases is of zero interest and have no intentions to do so unless it became only option at some point. A friend works at an indoor range and pulls me specific cases I need occasionally out of the buckets. Keeps me in a lot of once fired for pistols I have run short or never been well stocked in brass. I asked him end last week if they allowed 7.62x39 at his range which was a big rodge-o on the rodgometer. Asked what they do with it and he said reloadable brass is sold but berdan prime brass and all steel goes to the scrap yard. I asked.if could have some at scrap price for experimentation. Friday night he gave me a 5 gallon bucket of brass berdan prime and 5 gallon bucket of steel.

    I deprived it all and.built a jig for my milling/drilling machine that holds 30 cases at a time. Sat and Sun the milling machine went through them all converting cases to boxer primer holes. Took home.and using info from this thread loaded 250 of each using hard cast lead bullets with aluminum gas checks. Pennies per round in each. Today went to indoor range with SKS & AK-47's. Every round performed.flawlessly. Now ii will be.getting all their non reloadable 7.62x39 cases for free. I agreed to kick back 25% of them to range guy after done the primer locker/flash hole conversion. Going to build a jig to hold 60 cases at a time and program machine to dill the flash holes unattended. Think these will make great plinking, storage and trade bait. So now eating my own words. Thanx for the idea guys!!!
     
  5. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    Glad I have more brass 7.62 x 39 cases then I'll ever use/need.
     
  6. blarby

    blarby Member

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    #104

    And this is why threads that challenge conventionally held wisdom, when done with respect, are incredibly useful.

    As to my own experiments, I've loaded and shot .223 TulAmmo cases 3 times now.

    They don't grow much, but my brass cases don't grow much either- so that might me a "my chamber" thing.

    Out of my test lot of 30, I have 27 left- 3 had neck splits on reload #1.

    After this next firing- which will be #4 on my watch- they will all be retired- but I will section a few of them to look for what we look for.

    Personally, I have a lot of .223 brass. And that pile is growing, not shrinking.

    If they can be fired 4 or 5 times, these steel cases- that makes them great for the "stash".

    After loading the 4th or 5th case the first time around, I started lubing the case necks by pushing them into my RCBS lube pad. This took a lot of the grunt work right out.

    After the first FL size, they aren't nearly as hard to resize- but that neck truly is a bugger without extra lube.
     
  7. aka108

    aka108 Member

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    Up until recently brass 223 littered the range close to the benches as did brass 7.62x39. Don't know who was shooting the brass 7.62 stuff as it is pretty expensive and the steel cased cartridges do just as well. Always had a few scrappers come out a salvage brass now and then but now they are more frequent, even sifting out 22 rf cases and shooters are now picking up more of what they used to leave behind. I do have enough in the way of empty brass cases that considering reloading steel cases is not viable.
     
  8. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    I've reloaded tons of steel case 45. A lot of it was brass washed and I never even KNEW it was steel. I didn't know what was causing some of my 45 brass to occasionally "squeek" at me when I'd resize it in the carbide die. Imagine my surprise when I ran a powerful magnet through my 45 brass bin and it picked out dozens and dozens of steel casings... :)

    Pretty sure most of it was WWII era. I had a couple sealed tins of 1942-1943 era ammo that I shot through a decade ago that I'm still reloading. Some of the steel cases are marked "42" on the headstamp.

    Aside from some loose primer pockets after who-knows-how-many-reloads (don't track pistol brass by generation), and some split necks from time to time on bullet seating, never had any issues.

    I've never tried reloading steel case rifle ammo, everything I've shot that's surplus or steel cased on rifle has been berdan primed.
     
  9. blarby

    blarby Member

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    Ok, I lied.

    I went 5 times.

    This is whats left.

    If my own testing means anything to me, I'm going to go with the OP and Hacker and call this myth "busted".

    I'll add a few more caveats :

    1. You can use them more than once.

    2. They can dull a case trimmer. Thankfully I had a spare to use for this project. It will still trim brass, but it lost that factory sharpness mighty quick.

    3. Never accept urban reloading myths until you try them yourself. If you don't have the gumption to do so, find someone who has actually done it, and listen to them.

    4. I will be picking up ALL boxer primed .223, 7.62x39, and .308 steel I find. It's all going to go right in the box next to my lifetime supply of MRE's.
     

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  10. Beentown

    Beentown Member

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    Thanks for the update Blarby!
     
  11. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    How many did you start with Blarby?

    And what was the predominant mode of failure?

    Split necks?

    Necks that wouldn't hold tension?

    Split casings?

    Loose pockets?
     
  12. blarby

    blarby Member

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    easy.

    next.


    You called this one- split necks. Every last one of them. Most of them split at the shoulder/neck union, not the neck itself. This confirms to me the metallurgical truth that steel is less ductile than brass. Once you create that fail point, its going to fail there- not "flex back".

    The pockets are FIRM. I have no doubt they are stronger than brass fired this many times.
     
  13. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

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    Considering the experiment has produced favorable results at this point in time, I think you are onto to something. But in terms of ever suggesting that anyone having steel cases reload and use them on a regular basis, I'm not so sure that would send the right message, especially to newer less experienced reloaders.

    However, if the left side continues to impede on our shooting sports, including reloading, tests such as this can provide alternative methods of using alternative components if things should ever reach a critical point. And considering that assault weapons, as they like to label AR's and other weapons of similar function and design, are receiving some serious attention that may eventually lead to the restriction or elimination of ammunition, and limited component availability. In other words, you just never know what's to come down the road, or how bad it will effect us as reloaders and sportsmen.

    Good post, and definitely good food for thought!

    GS
     
  14. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    I see your post above from back in Jan now, I missed it earlier.

    Did they split on firing or sizing?

    That's not an especially bad area to fail during firing. Much better than the side or web. Worst case if they fully fail at the neck/shoulder junction is the neck is left in the chamber .. which would be a bit tricky to extract.
     
  15. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Yes, if they never fail at the web, and only crack at the neck, the safety concern would be much, much, less. They might be an alternative if brass becomes unavailable etc, but I rarely see steel boxer primed brass where I shoot.

    Still sticking with brass until things change and it cannot be had. :)
     
  16. TheCracker

    TheCracker Member

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    I'd have to be pretty desperate to shoot steel through my 223's. Much less reload them!
     
  17. Hacker15E

    Hacker15E Member

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    Every steel .223 case that I have junked from reloading had a split at the neck. I never observed one at any other part of the case, including the web.
     
  18. blarby

    blarby Member

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    That was 100% the point of the excercise from my position. I prefer brass, too. Its easier. However, history of disarmament by 1000 cuts is not on our side.

    I havent done as many as you, but that mirrors my experience. It should be noted that after the 3rd firing after reviewing my notes that the cases no longer "grew". That is, trimming on all but 4 of the cases did nothing. Given that these were all fired from the same chamber, I wonder if the steel pretty much fire-formed itself. My FL die isn't set for dramatic resizing, so this is possible. These were ran during the first 1000 rounds of this rifle, so the chamber and related mechanisms are all very tight.

    Another technical point, if it matters : regular base , not small base, dies were used in this and all of my AR cartridges.
     
  19. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    Interesting. It makes sense, it probably does require steel to be fired multiple times to truly fireform, it's nowhere near as malleable as brass.

    Steel can be annealed, wonder if you could prolong the life of the casings that way? Anneal up to the shoulder?

    No idea what setup you'd require for that, steel starts to change it's properties at what, about 650F?
     
  20. Hacker15E

    Hacker15E Member

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    I use a small base RCBS .223 sizing die and shoot in an AR-15.

    8e52d607.jpg
    4c835415.jpg
     
  21. blarby

    blarby Member

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    I wonder if we annealed after FF if it would make a considerable difference ?

    Sounds like another round of testing to me !

    Next step will be purchasing a box of hornady steel match, once funds permit.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2013
  22. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    Well it'll either help .. or you'll be picking case necks out of your chamber with a dental pick. :)

    If you heat steel and let it cool slowly it gets softer, right? Trick is keeping the heat from transferring below the shoulder. Tub of water..? Heat sink?
     
  23. shinz

    shinz Member

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    When we're talking neck splits here, are we talking longitudinal splits ot annular cracks around the neck shoulder junction?
    Thanks.
    Steve.
     
  24. blarby

    blarby Member

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    Longitudinal.
     
  25. Hacker15E

    Hacker15E Member

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    Completely agree -- that is exactly how all mine split, too.

    I used to have one that I kept on hand just in case this discussion came up and someone wanted to see, but I just went through my scrap bin and can't find it anymore.

    Either way, none of the splits produced anything nonstandard or unusual when shot. It was only after getting home from the range and sorting the cases to be deprimed that I noticed the split.

    Instead, I'll just post a shot of some fired cases.

    ffcc360f.jpg
     
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