sorting brass
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Thread: sorting brass

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    houston, texas
    Posts
    16

    sorting brass

    My husband and I were fortunate enough to be able to grab quite a bit of range brass. We are both new to reloading. We have a reloading "bible" and it gives some guidelines on how to determine what is good brass and what is not. I have quite a bit of brass that appears to be in good shape but is discolored. What is the best way to determine what is ok for reloading and what I should toss? I know anything with a crack or with a ring around it. Thank you in advance for your help. We are reloading .380 and .45 auto.

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  3. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by wa5emt View Post
    My husband and I were fortunate enough to be able to grab quite a bit of range brass. We are both new to reloading. We have a reloading "bible" and it gives some guidelines on how to determine what is good brass and what is not. I have quite a bit of brass that appears to be in good shape but is discolored. What is the best way to determine what is ok for reloading and what I should toss? I know anything with a crack or with a ring around it. Thank you in advance for your help. We are reloading .380 and .45 auto.
    Disclaimer: I haven't reloaded in years, really since I was a kid helping my Dad out with it. So I'm probably going to say something that's stupid and incorrect...which will bring all the experts out of the woodwork. So here goes. :)

    I'm wondering what you mean by "discolored?" That's pretty vague.

    If you're talking about brass that is darkened to brown and has no shine, this is probably ok for reloading in most cases. (Just means it's old.)

    If you're talking about green corrosion - probably not ok, since it has been exposed to moisture.

    If you're talking about a burnished iridesence around the neck about as deep as a bullet seats in, this means the neck has been annealed. (Annealing is when you apply heat to soften a metal. Some reloaders do this to get a more precise bullet seating, and therefore a more precise grouping of shots.) This means the brass has been reloaded at least one time, and should be inspected carefully.

    So - that's the $0.02 I can add to the discussion. I'm sure the rest will follow.
    S&W M&P 45; Ruger GP100 .357 Magnum; Charter Arms .38 Undercover
    http://www.usacarry.com/forums/members/phillip-gain-albums-phil-s-photos-picture3828-reciprocity-map-29jun11.JPG

  4. #3
    If you haven't done it already I would run it through the tumbler, this may remove some of the discoloration. You have identified some important things to look for, also check for any cracking around the base. If it had been loaded several times it can start to crack there, and the last thing you want is a round to blow the back end out. Being you are unsure of the brasses history, you may want to check the length of the case or just run them through the trimmer.
    www.pattersonsafety.com
    NRA Certified Instructor/ NRA Range Safety Officer
    Missouri/Kansas Certified Instructor

  5. #4
    First, brass does have a lifetime, meaning it can only be loaded and fired so many times before it has been stretched past normal dimensions, and is dangerous to load. Books I've read suggest that 6-8 loads will be about the max you can expect from a handgun case. Chances are if its found at the range, you can assume safely that its only been fired once. Most reloaders collect their brass after. This is good. Now you know where you're starting from. Keep track of how many firings they go through. I use ziplock bags to keep different batches separated and labeled. Once you've sorted out the obvious no-no's, like dents, cracks, holes, jagged case mouths, severe corrosion, etc., run the rest through a case tumbler to remove the dirt, tarnish, and powder residue. Then give them a good once over. Be ultra critical. Look for any signs of overpressure, case head separation, or overthinning of the case walls. Do this before you deprime and resize them! Resizing removes some of the evidence of deteriorating case wall integrity, and looking at the old primer will help you determine if the previous load was over pressure. Reloading manuals will have pictures of all of these, and more examples abound online so you can know what to look for. Toss any that look questionable. Also, be sure to take a peek down into each one to make sure you only see one flash hole. If you see two, toss it: that's a berdan primed case, and you'll bust your deprime pin. Nickel plated cases are nice because the nickel will wear off right at the pressure band, which is just above the case head. When this happens, you know you're nearing the end of the case life. I normally see the nickel rub off right around the third or fourth load. I give them one more run after that, and toss em.

    Cardinal rule: be super critical about what you choose to put back into your gun. No amount of savings in brass/ammo are worth a catastrophic failure in your gun, and possible injury to yourself or others.

    Happy holidays from a fellow brass hound!

  6. #5
    See? Told you it'd bring the experts out. :)
    S&W M&P 45; Ruger GP100 .357 Magnum; Charter Arms .38 Undercover
    http://www.usacarry.com/forums/members/phillip-gain-albums-phil-s-photos-picture3828-reciprocity-map-29jun11.JPG

  7. #6
    I appreciate the vote of confidence, but I'm no expert. Just a guy with a decent amount of experience, and a some irrepressible opinions!

  8. I am also looking at getting into reloading, so this is very helpful!

  9. #8
    Another thing to look for is ,when cleaning out the primer hole is the wall will be bowed towards the bullet end. This is very common with winchester brass. I usually don't mess with winchester brass. Some say this does not matter, but when I'm pulling the trigger I want to be confident the round will do what it is intended to to.

  10. I only reload for practice rounds and range plinking (45 ACP) so I don't really sort my brass. All my brass was originally purchased by me as new ammunition from Wal-Mart or ****'s as new ammunition. Unlike rifle cases, pistol cases often shrink instead of elongate so you can't really trim them. The mouth will split before the length gets out of tolerance anyway. Also I'm only loading to match UMC 230 gr RN so nothing too hot gets loaded in my brass.

    So if you see split case mouths you should throw them away, but if one gets through it will really split at bullet seating and you will easily notice it.

    Since I don't worry about case length I guess my rounds are not perfect but are within tolerances. I get some FTF with my 1911s but my Glock 30 goes boom every time without exception.

    If I was reloading for competition or for self defense rounds I would be more picky, but like I said, it is just a way to save money on range ammo for me. ;:D

  11. #10
    Case life is also dependent on how "hot" you load. I load lots of target rounds for .357, .41, and .44 magnums using light powder charges and cast lead bullets. This does not stress the cases nearly as much as "full house" magnum loads, so the cases will typically withstand many more reloads.
    Proverbs 1:7

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