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Thread: How many times can you fire a piece of brass?

  1. #1
    Member bgreen's Avatar
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    Question How many times can you fire a piece of brass?

    I want to shoot about 300 rounds a month but don't want to spend the going rate of $.40/round for decent commercial .223/5.56 stuff. I figure if I can reload each piece of brass 5 times I will cut the cost to half that of current off the shelf ammo.

    So...

    How many times can one expect to reload (full length resize) 5.56/.223 brass for use in an AR-15?

    How many times can one expect to fire a piece of 5.56 brass if they neck size only for use in a bolt gun?

    I don't plan on reloading to maximum velocity, just something reasonable for offhand practice.
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    Default How much wood could a wood chuck chuck?

    Quote Originally Posted by bgreen View Post
    I want to shoot about 300 rounds a month but don't want to spend the going rate of $.40/round for decent commercial .223/5.56 stuff. I figure if I can reload each piece of brass 5 times I will cut the cost to half that of current off the shelf ammo.

    So...

    How many times can one expect to reload (full length resize) 5.56/.223 brass for use in an AR-15?

    How many times can one expect to fire a piece of 5.56 brass if they neck size only for use in a bolt gun?

    I don't plan on reloading to maximum velocity, just something reasonable for offhand practice.
    Lots of variables.

    Will you trim the cases for re-use? Will you anneal the case mouth before it starts getting work-hardened and how carefully? How tight are your chambers (if very close to the die size, the brass will last longer, but if much larger than the die dimensions, more "working" will take place and you will get less longevity).

    Short answer is, I don't know. But I do know that this is what the phrase YMMV (your mileage may vary) is just perfect for..

    Or, to be flip, I suggest you buy a cartridge and a box of bullets. Load it and reload it until it wears out and count the bullets you used up. Then realize that you can extend the life of a cartridge several time over by annealing the case mouth before it starts to crack.

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  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by bgreen View Post
    I want to shoot about 300 rounds a month but don't want to spend the going rate of $.40/round for decent commercial .223/5.56 stuff. I figure if I can reload each piece of brass 5 times I will cut the cost to half that of current off the shelf ammo.

    So...

    How many times can one expect to reload (full length resize) 5.56/.223 brass for use in an AR-15?

    How many times can one expect to fire a piece of 5.56 brass if they neck size only for use in a bolt gun?

    I don't plan on reloading to maximum velocity, just something reasonable for offhand practice.


    You might hate it, but the honest answer is "It depends."

    If you're using midrange loads such as you propose and the chamber isn't a little oversize, you'll be amazed how long brass lasts when you take care of it. Things like trimming and annealing will be key.

    On the one extreme I've got a 257 Roberts that RCBS built for me back in 1970. At the same time they chambered the barrel, they made me a sizing die to match. Cases sized in that little gem won't fit any other 257 I've tried them in, but they fit the RCBS rifle like a glove. Even running a lot of heavy hunting loads, cases seem to last forever. I lost count at over 12 loadings.

    On the other extreme is my Marlin 336 in 35 Remington. I have to back off about 10% from factory loads to get anything like 5 loadings from a case. The chamber is oversize and it's a real stinker on case life.

  4. #4
    Member RMiller's Avatar
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    Default

    Five should be easy. The auto loader will stretch cases but the moderate loading window for autoloaders will keep hot loads to a minimum.
    "You have given out too much reputation in the last 24 hours, try again later".

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Default

    Another, it depends. If your chamber isn't overly large, your dies don't size the cases way down, you neck aneal the brass every 4 loadings and don't run max loads. I see no reason you can't get a dozen or more loads out of the brass.

    Honestly the best cost effective way for off hand practice is a good 22lr. Cheap ammo is the same cost as primers, and no labor to handload.

    You can handload 223 for less than 1/2 of off the shelf ammo. I've found 25 gr H-335 under a 55 gr fmj rem pill is suprisingly accurate, and cheap to load. Too bad the bullet prices jumped, but still you can load 100 rounds for $20 ignoring the price of the brass.

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    Seventeen!

    There is too much indecisiveness and idle prattle on this subject.
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    Default

    I'm glad Murphy got around to answering the question.

    I'll go with "seventeen".

    A kneeling shot doesn't add to case life any more than an Off hand shot.

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    Member aufevermike's Avatar
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    Default 100's of time

    you can sue the same cartridge for over a thousand times if you don't use full charges and crimp. I know a guy who uses the same one over and over again. . He deprimes, primes, light charges the case. sets the bullet on the neck hand places the shell in the chamber and closes the bolt. the bullets sets itself on to the lands and he fires away. one case, many bullets. all he does is wipes off the neck each time. No pressure, no resizing. lots of inexpensive shooting.

  9. #9
    Member bgreen's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lost Sheep View Post
    Or, to be flip, I suggest you buy a cartridge and a box of bullets. Load it and reload it until it wears out and count the bullets you used up. Then realize that you can extend the life of a cartridge several time over by annealing the case mouth before it starts to crack.

    I didn't get the nickname "Lost Sheep" for nothin'

    Nothing flip about that... Its actually a really good suggestion, not sure why I hadn't though of that! No need to load a whole box though, just 3-5 should be a good enough sample to get the information I need.

    Sorry for the generic high variable question, I just thought someone may have been down this specific road a few times and could offer their experience on the matter. You all gave good input, thanks for responding.
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  10. #10

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    As you can tell the answer is all over the place. From what I have read; the way some rifles are chambered don't even try to reload them until the headspace has been checked (and not then in some cases), others with moderate loads seem to last forever.
    At present I am working on some loads that the cases are on their 4 reload at this point and I figure at least two more reloads from every case at a minimum. I will be annealing the necks after this load developement.

  11. #11

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    I know it's not a 223 but I file a small notch in the extractor rim of my 375 H&H cases every reload since new and some now have 20 notches.After about 10 reloads I only use that batch of brass for low pressure lead loads and so far have had to toss out only two cases. I monitored it because people told me I"d only get 3-4 reloads with a 375 H&H. So for me it"s 20 +.

  12. #12
    Member Bighorse's Avatar
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    Default H&H shape

    Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought the shape of an H&H case really helps with case distortion. I've even just neck sized my H&H cases and they feed and extract just fine.

  13. #13

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    Having owned my 375H&H for nearly three years with no problems with the brass after 2500 rounds fired I think theres a lot of misinformation spread about it. My cases don't need trimming after every three shots, same as most of my other calibres.

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