Author Topic: Old Brass  (Read 8275 times)

Offline TSPMike

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Old Brass
« on: February 14, 2010, 09:02:52 AM »
Is there a problem with using brass that has been on the ground for a long time? Assuming that I check it for size and damage is there anything else too look for?

I'm looking to get started in reloading and there is a mountain of brass just laying around. It might save some money to pick up whats on the ground.

Offline pac1911

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Re: Old Brass
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2010, 09:17:07 AM »
After it is cleaed up, and inspected, it should be fine.  A rock tumbler with waterand dish soap is a good way to start cleaing oldnast brass.  Big operations use cement mixers. If you have mountains of it, I'm sure others here would be interested in it. ;)

Offline hillclimber

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Re: Old Brass
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2010, 12:28:19 PM »
I use old brass all the time.
Tumble it, and make sure there's nothing stuck inside the case. I have broke a few decapping pins on junk stuck inside the case.

Offline RipTombstone

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Re: Old Brass
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2010, 08:34:40 AM »
I dont know if its true, but some folks say that brass hardens as it ages.
If it was me, I would polish the heck out of it, sort it out, and use it. BUT each time I reloaded it, I would check it carefully for signs of fatigue, which you should do anyway.

That said, it may have a shorter life than new brass, but free brass is free brass.
RipT (who uses a lot of found range brass)

Offline Taylor3006

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Re: Old Brass
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2010, 10:30:54 AM »
I am with Rip on this although I have never heard of brass getting hard. Make sure you inspect the brass, clean it, and inspect it again. I used to leave the range with 5 gallon buckets of brass (make sure you get permission). Some of it was junk and was sold for scrap, lots of it was good, reloadable brass. BTW if you do this, grab the empty ammo boxes from the garbage as well, when you start reloading it is nice to have something to put the rounds into. Make sure to label them as reloads as well. Be careful of berdan primed brass, you can break pins on them if you are not careful. Save all reloadable brass (and shotgun hulls) even if it is not your caliber or something you can not reload yet. Makes for great trade goods later. Remember that damage is a relative term as well. A case that has been stepped on  can be resized, you are looking for cracks, separations, and "missing bits" so look at a case carefully.

Offline RipTombstone

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Re: Old Brass
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2010, 10:46:01 AM »
Yep. Case head separation is not your friend. I have some .303 Brit reloads that has a tendency to do that.

+1 for Taylor in bringing up the recycling/scrap aspect of it as well. Even if you only use it once, you can still salvage it for brass at the junkyard.
RipT

Offline TSPMike

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Re: Old Brass
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2010, 04:12:23 AM »
Good stuff guys, thanks a bunch.

Offline Duc1

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Re: Old Brass
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2010, 04:59:38 PM »
A lot of people have an aversion to reloading 40S&W at the range I go to so it's all over the place.  I started picking it up, especially if it's once fired and have had no problem.  45 brass is plucked out of the air, or so it seems. 

I tumble it over night and then take a close look at the brass and discard any that seem out of whack.

Offline hillclimber

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Re: Old Brass
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2010, 04:21:25 PM »
You really should look all your brass over very close.
Brass can be re-annealed. Old military brass gets brittle around the neck after a few re-loads.

Offline Steve Cover

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Re: Old Brass
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2010, 12:13:28 AM »
Yep. Case head separation is not your friend. I have some .303 Brit reloads that has a tendency to do that.
+1 for Taylor in bringing up the recycling/scrap aspect of it as well. Even if you only use it once, you can still salvage it for brass at the junkyard.
RipT

Case head separation is often a sign of excessive head space.

You may need to have your rifle checked by a gunsmith.

Take a paperclip and bend a 1/16" 90 degree angle in it.
Put the paperclip inside all the way down to the case web, and gently scratch in and out.
If you feel a groove, discard the brass, as it is separating from the inside.
Also, if this happens with a case that has only been reloaded a couple of times, it is definitely gunsmith time.

Steve
NRA Certified Reloading Instructor

Offline Steve Cover

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Re: Old Brass
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2010, 12:37:39 AM »
A lot of people have an aversion to reloading 40S&W at the range I go to so it's all over the place.  I started picking it up, especially if it's once fired and have had no problem.  45 brass is plucked out of the air, or so it seems. 
I tumble it over night and then take a close look at the brass and discard any that seem out of whack.

I feel that lots of people still remember the problems Glock had with the 40S&W several years ago.

Back then, the factory Glock barrels had a deep feed ramp and were not supporting the brass forward of the web.

There were several "KA-BOOMs" caused with factory 40 S&W cartridges.



Note that the brass failed just forward of the web.   Also note that this is an old picture...

However, there are still a lot of older Glocks out there (You can't wear them out).

Carefully inspect your brass.  If there is even a hint of a bulge near the web, put it into the "Scrap Brass" pail.

I use lots of range pickup 40 S&W brass.  I used to fined about 1 in 10 that I had to discard.

Nowdays, I rairly find a discard.

Clean um well and look them over.

DON'T TRY TO MAKE IT A MAGNUM.  Work up your loads from the listing starting load in your manual.

Never exceed the listed MAX loads...  Your best loads will be about 80-85% of max.

If you need more power, buy a bigger gun and keep all your fingers.

Steve

Offline pac1911

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Re: Old Brass
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2010, 11:08:04 AM »
I disagree that bulged brass needs to be scrapped.  The bulge is not a safety issue it is a funtion issue.  A bulged case will not chamber. Unless you process it properly that is.

Offline Steve Cover

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Re: Old Brass
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2010, 02:29:59 PM »
I disagree that bulged brass needs to be scrapped.  The bulge is not a safety issue it is a function issue.  A bulged case will not chamber. Unless you process it properly that is.
I respectfully disagree. 
A bulge is caused by excessive stretching. 
This weakens the brass in a critical location.
How many bulged brass are you finding?  Is it worth the risk?
For low pressure loads like the 45 ACP, I resize slightly bulged brass safely.
In a High pressure load like the 40 S&W, I choose not to take a chance.
Take Care,
Steve

Offline RipTombstone

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Re: Old Brass
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2010, 03:10:49 PM »
I agree with Steve.
When you resize bulged brass, you are merely compressing the bulge, not putting it back into the thin spot that the stretching created. You will have a weak spot then, that may or may not show itself upon the next firing.

As far as my .303 loads, the gun is fine, but the old Dominion Cartridge company brass that was reloaded however many times before I got it, is not. My other brass of known history comes out fine.

RipT

Offline hillclimber

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Re: Old Brass
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2010, 05:01:46 PM »
Same here, it depends on the load. My eyes are worth more to me than taking a chance on sketchy brass.
I guess I tend to look "pick-ups" over a little closer than I do my own brass.

Offline pac1911

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Re: Old Brass
« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2010, 09:08:11 PM »
The level of risk an individual is willig to take is their descion alone.  I have reloaded and fired hundreds of thousands of rounds of .40.  I never buy new brass it is all range pickup.  I recycle it when it cracks.  Let me clarify that I shoot till I lose it or the case cracks.  I have never had a failure of any kind.  I do load long and shoot in a fully supported barrel.  I also think that if you shoot range brass you are niave to think that un bulged brass is fine.  Lots of guys process .40 with a roll sizer to handle glock bulge.  If you pick up their brass your still bulged brass you just don't know it.

Offline joeinwv

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Re: Old Brass
« Reply #16 on: March 09, 2010, 08:52:43 PM »
I segregate 'found' brass from my known brass. I also track # of reloads.