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Thread: Old .32 splitting cases?

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Default Old .32 splitting cases?

    I took the boy out today and decided to let him shoot a handgun for the first time. I have an old S&W revolver in .32 S&W Long. I had managed to scare up a couple of boxes of Federal factory loads with 98gr RN lead bullets... I have no idea how old these actually are since the gun shop owner actually looked surprised he had any when he found them.

    Well, introduction of the DA revolver went pretty well until it came time to eject the empties... had a pretty tough time ejecting the shells- had to go to work on the rims with a pocketknife to get them to budge.

    Turns out nearly every case had split about 1/3 to 1/2 of it's length. Out of 25 shells, only 4 did not split.

    I know the gun is completely unmodified and it's in remarkable condition for it's age. Cartridges are factory loads and I'm surprised to see case splits at the .32s anemic pressure levels.

    Anyone got any ideas?
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    I think you're probably right about the cartridges being too old, but,,,

    Just wonderin, if the chambers in the cylinder are too beeg.

    Are fired/split cases expanded a lot?

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    Make sure you have the right ammo as there were a couple of different 32s (different diameter rounds) available in those old guns. Also some of the older 32s were of questionable quaiity when new.

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    Bad brass. I usually see splits in pathetically sucky Magtech brass on the first reload and my .32 loads are anemic.

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    Thanks folks....I'm leaning toward Wildalaska's take that it's bad brass.

    The revolver is a S&W so the quality ought to be pretty good even from the '20s and the ammo is undoubtedly the correct one since the barrel markings match the headstamp (thanks Rbuck, I did double check it to be sure). Wonder if the brass was a bit a brittle and split instead of expanded or perhaps Federal undersized them too much?

    Smitty's take makes sense, just no idea how the chambers got too big? The gun dates from the '20s and probably hasn't been shot 500 rds....most of them by me.

    On other note- my kid did pretty well managing the revolver and liked the .32 quite a bit. I see a small frame .22 in his near future.

    It's been a long time since I've shot this piece (something like 15 years) but I don't recall any case splits last time I shot it with Remington ammo.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Default Simple check..

    Check the brass and see if it is visably buldged. Any decent brass should expand quite a bit before it splits. Even if the cylinders are a bit oversized the brass shouldn't split.

    I've got a couple of the little J frame S&W .32s and never had any issues with Remington or Win brass. I've picked up cases that were shot in off-spec guns - there are a lots of cheap low quality guns out there - and the cases expanded quite a bit without splitting.

    I taught my daughter to shoot with a little S&W J frame. It was a good introduction to DA revolvers and the the size was fine for her shaller hands.

    Quote Originally Posted by hodgeman View Post
    Thanks folks....I'm leaning toward Wildalaska's take that it's bad brass.

    The revolver is a S&W so the quality ought to be pretty good even from the '20s and the ammo is undoubtedly the correct one since the barrel markings match the headstamp (thanks Rbuck, I did double check it to be sure). Wonder if the brass was a bit a brittle and split instead of expanded or perhaps Federal undersized them too much?

    Smitty's take makes sense, just no idea how the chambers got too big? The gun dates from the '20s and probably hasn't been shot 500 rds....most of them by me.

    On other note- my kid did pretty well managing the revolver and liked the .32 quite a bit. I see a small frame .22 in his near future.

    It's been a long time since I've shot this piece (something like 15 years) but I don't recall any case splits last time I shot it with Remington ammo.
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
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    Quote Originally Posted by hodgeman View Post
    Smitty's take makes sense, just no idea how the chambers got too big? The gun dates from the '20s and probably hasn't been shot 500 rds....most of them by me.
    If the chambers are too beeg, I'm assuming they got that way when they were made.

    What you discribe can occur when you shoot 32 S&W cartridges in at least some, (Colt) 32 S&W Long chambers.

    I'm notta handgun guy, but I understand that dimensions can differ from one manufacturer to the next, in older revolvers.

    It could also be a combination of chamber dimensions AND old and brittle brass. ?????

    No expertise here, I'm just speculating, from what I recall reading etc.

    My memory is good, but it's kinda short, sometimes.

    Smitty of the North
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    I would say the stuff is too old. I seen brass on old rounds split just sitting in the boxes.

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    Vertical splits are usually bad breass

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    Lots of bad brass comments.
    I had some new Magtech Factory Ammo split 45 Colt, in M25 S&W. No other ammo/brass split in the gun.

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    How long have you owned this gun? Have you ever had this happen with this particular revolver before? When was the last time you shot this gun? What ammo was used time before? Did ANY split then? You mentioned dealer was surprised when he found the ammo on his self, how old did the ammo look, antique?
    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by bfrshooter View Post
    I would say the stuff is too old. I seen brass on old rounds split just sitting in the boxes.
    ???????????
    Steve

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    I also have seen really old ammo split in the box. I suspect it's from the primer mix that was used many years back. Some primer mixes broke down from age and the fumes or whatever were hard on the brass. This is all hearsay but I suspect there is some truth there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rbuck351 View Post
    I also have seen really old ammo split in the box. I suspect it's from the primer mix that was used many years back. Some primer mixes broke down from age and the fumes or whatever were hard on the brass. This is all hearsay but I suspect there is some truth there.

    Git real! Mayve stuff loaded before the tuirn of the century? Sorry, I've l;ived in two now, 1900.
    Steve

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    Steve:
    The turn of the century was only 12 years ago so I think most of us have lived in two. The military quit using corosive primers some where in the 1950s. I don't know when Federal started making ammo or what priming mixture they have used over the years but according to an article I read recently about priming mixtures, some were hard on brass and some broke down over time. I and others have seen old factory ammo split when fired in good chambers and even some that split while still loaded. I don't know the cause and can only guess. If my idea is rediculous, and it may be, what's your guess as to why loaded ammo would split?

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    I don't believe this ammo was quite that old...probably 70s or 80s vintage at it's oldest.

    I've fired Remington ammo in this particular revolver previously without any issues. In fact, probably only shot with Remington ammo since that's all I could find.

    Looking at the empties out on the workbench, I'm struck by how unbelievable thin the case mouths are. I know that some of the older cases are thin (ie. 32-20s) but wow....paper thin doesn't do it justice.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Because Rem ammo works good, I would assume there is something wrong with the Fed brass. If the ammo is as new as 70s or 80s I doubt it's an age problem. Being very thin gives two problems. One it's not as strong and two it has further to expand to get to the cyl walls. Also it may have been harder and more brittle when originally manufactured. Might be interesting to send a chamber cast and a couple of the split cases to Federal to get their take.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rbuck351 View Post
    Steve:
    The turn of the century was only 12 years ago so I think most of us have lived in two. The military quit using corosive primers some where in the 1950s. I don't know when Federal started making ammo or what priming mixture they have used over the years but according to an article I read recently about priming mixtures, some were hard on brass and some broke down over time. I and others have seen old factory ammo split when fired in good chambers and even some that split while still loaded. I don't know the cause and can only guess. If my idea is rediculous, and it may be, what's your guess as to why loaded ammo would split?
    You've changed the equation? I thought someone here original said" Split case before firing, on dealer shelves"?
    Steve

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    Default Primers not an issue

    The only primers that causes a problem were the mercuric ones from well over a 100 years ago. The mercuty reside from firing did ruin the cases so it wasn't used but for a very short period early in the breech loading era. The corrosive ones or chlorate based are not an issue on the brass although you can get some corrosion inside if they sit around in a damp climate for years.

    I recently used some old corrosive primed WWII '06 fired cases to form some .375-06 rounds and they worked fine - didn't even split the necks when I expanded them. i did carefully clean them after depriming in very hot water in an ultrasonic cleaner to get all the primer residue out but that was to protect the gun.


    Quote Originally Posted by rbuck351 View Post
    I also have seen really old ammo split in the box. I suspect it's from the primer mix that was used many years back. Some primer mixes broke down from age and the fumes or whatever were hard on the brass. This is all hearsay but I suspect there is some truth there.
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
    ".. ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" JFK

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    Quote Originally Posted by tvfinak View Post
    The only primers that causes a problem were the mercuric ones from well over a 100 years ago. The mercuty reside from firing did ruin the cases so it wasn't used but for a very short period early in the breech loading era. The corrosive ones or chlorate based are not an issue on the brass although you can get some corrosion inside if they sit around in a damp climate for years.

    I recently used some old corrosive primed WWII '06 fired cases to form some .375-06 rounds and they worked fine - didn't even split the necks when I expanded them. i did carefully clean them after depriming in very hot water in an ultrasonic cleaner to get all the primer residue out but that was to protect the gun.
    But, how could you reload these cases all Berdan cases I've seen had two flash holes, instead of one big one?
    Steve

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