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Thread: Belted Cartridge Cases

  1. #1
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    Default Belted Cartridge Cases

    I surmise from what I read, and hear, in the gun articles, and even what is posted here on this forum, that there is a common belief, among us, that cartridges with belted cases are somehow inferior to (rimless cases) those without the belt.

    The reasons given, are shorter brass life due to incipient case separation, dangerous condition due to a sometimes great difference in the shoulder length of Factory Loads, or New Brass, and that of rifle chambers. Some people say that belted cases expand inside the chamber in a different way than rimless ones. It is also said that the belt on the case serves no useful purpose. And, maybe some other things that I, either donít remember, or didnít know about in the first place.

    My purpose is not to try and refute, these theories or possibilities, although that would be allowed, but to find out how many people have actually had issues with belted cases, that they can attribute to the belt on a belted cartridge case.

    So, thatís my question. Have you personally, or do you personally know of someone, who has had difficulties because their cartridge had a belt on the case, either in firing, or handloading, whatever.

    If you stop and think about it, you might conclude that there are many common beliefs, things that are written, or said, and then repeated until it MUST BE FACT, yet itís NEVER happened to YOU, and it could be of a dubious nature. Whatís true about belted cases in YOUR experience?

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    Smitty of the North
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    Member Akheloce's Avatar
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    While it wasn't a really bad thing (yet). I was describing to my friend about why I wasn't really big on reloading belted cases- I prefer non-belted all else being equal. He argued with me, saying that I was just listening to too much internet crap. (this conversation occurred while consuming copious amounts of beer). Just to see if it any of it was bunk, I grabbed a 300WM case that had been shot 4 times, and ran a dental pick down the inside. There was a pronounced lip just forward of the belt, indicating a thin spot. Not saying it's bad, good or whatever, but there was definitely a difference.

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    I had some trouble with the cases bulging just above the belt after a few firings.

    I was reloading 300WM for use in an Benelli R-1 autoloader. After a few reloadings they would bulge by the belt. Using small base dies helped but the belt prevented me from being able to size them close to the belt were the brass wouldn't spring back.

    I did some reading on it and ordered a collet die and would FL size them and then run them through the collet die and that fixed my problem.

    This could have been because of the way an autoloader functions.

    Thats my story and I'm sticking to it...

    Steve

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    If a belt would be the reason for case-head separation, then explain to me the reasons why non-belted cases, including pistol ammo, suffer from case-head separation. If you don't believe me, search the internet for pistol and other non-belted case-head separation, and you will find plenty.

    I don't even think of case-head separation when reloading belted cases. since I only load fire once or twice cases and only to be fired in the chamber these came from, I usually neck size the cases, or at least size them so there is minimal stretching when they are fired again. I usually load the same case three or four times, and then get rid of them.

    If you are interested, this is a Google search of pistol case-head separation:
    http://www.google.com/search?client=...UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by RayfromAK View Post
    If a belt would be the reason for case-head separation, then explain to me the reasons why non-belted cases, including pistol ammo, suffer from case-head separation. If you don't believe me, search the internet for pistol and other non-belted case-head separation, and you will find plenty.

    I don't even think of case-head separation when reloading belted cases. since I only load fire once or twice cases and only to be fired in the chamber these came from, I usually neck size the cases, or at least size them so there is minimal stretching when they are fired again. I usually load the same case three or four times, and then get rid of them.

    If you are interested, this is a Google search of pistol case-head separation:
    http://www.google.com/search?client=...UTF-8&oe=UTF-8
    I clicked on your link and most of the stories on the first page of the search are from semi-auto handguns (semi autos tend to be harder on brass from what I've heard) and some of them seemed to question whether the firearm was firing out of battery (nothing to do with the cartridge itself). I believe in Murphy's law and I would never bet that something couldn't happen because given the amount of pistol ammo that is fired everyday in this country, I would bet that freak occurences will happen.

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    I have had cases that were loaded several times out of my 264 win mag that have swelled just in front of the belt. They chamber much stiffer and the accuracy is all over the place. Cases not loaded as much with the same recipe drive tacks. Other than that I have had no problems with belted magnums besides a sore back from packing out all the critters they have killed
    LIVE TO HUNT....HUNT TO LIVE!!!!

  7. #7

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    I've fired maybe 1300 or so 7mm RM cartridges, both factory and handloads from two different rifles and had one case failure. It was a factory Fed "premium" 160 Nos Partition, and it blew out just above the belt. It was a real attention getter... lots of flame and smoke.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaRifleman View Post
    I've fired maybe 1300 or so 7mm RM cartridges, both factory and handloads from two different rifles and had one case failure. It was a factory Fed "premium" 160 Nos Partition, and it blew out just above the belt. It was a real attention getter... lots of flame and smoke.
    MR:
    From previous posts, I understand you are not enamored with belted case cartridges.

    Do you know what the difference in shoulder length of the FLs versus that of a Fired Case? Sometimes it's a great deal, but new brass stretches pretty good most of the time.

    Even so, your problem could have been one of chamber size, or case size, rather than a problem with the Belted Case design. Do you not agree?

    Smitty of the North
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigswede358 View Post
    I have had cases that were loaded several times out of my 264 win mag that have swelled just in front of the belt. They chamber much stiffer and the accuracy is all over the place. Cases not loaded as much with the same recipe drive tacks. Other than that I have had no problems with belted magnums besides a sore back from packing out all the critters they have killed
    Yes. Loaded hot plus brass being on the short side for the chamber can lead to case-head separation, just like reloading the case over and over. It happens with all cartridges, belted or not. There are a lot of examples one can look at on the Internet about military rounds (without belts), the .30-06, and also a great number of straight cases for pistols, revolvers, and rifles.

    According to this guy light charges (for fireforming) can also cause case-head separation:
    http://images.google.com/imgres?imgu...26tbs%3Disch:1

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    That's interesting to me, RayfromAK:

    It seems to bolster my conclusion that Belted cases (and Rimmed cases), are safer than Rimless. ?????

    Smitty of the North
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    I have reloaded 300 Win, 7mm Rem and 338 and have not had any issues.

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    Default Belted Cases

    New brass is prolly SAMMI minimum in size. The initial firing of factory cartridge the case will headspace on the belt and expand to the chamber dimensions of the rifle. The case shoulder will move forward in most cases.

    If you full length resize the case and push the shoulder back to much this will lead to case head separations after very few reloads! Case head separations leads to the flame and smoke the one reader mentioned. Adjusting the sizing die so the cartridge headspaces on the shoulder and does not push the shoulder back to far will eliminate premature case failure. Or so I have been told.

    Sometimes you will get a bulge in the case near the base/belt and can lead to hard chambering. The belted magnum collet resizing die (Innovative Technologies about 85 Bucks) will eliminate this bulge, can be used as a snap gauge, and the cartridge can be resized and corrected after it is loaded.

    Plus for belted cases. The cases are easier to find on the dealers shelf both as cartridges and components. They may be cheaper than the short fats? Cases can be manipulated to several different calibers by resizing and reforming. The 300 Winchester mag-338 Winchester-7MM Rem Mag and 300 Weatherby can probably be found in most of the communities in Alaska. The Short Fats not so much. I have also heard the short fats may have problems feeding from the magazine?? Thatís my rant, take everything with a grain of salt!! Happy Shopping

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    That's interesting to me, RayfromAK:

    It seems to bolster my conclusion that Belted cases (and Rimmed cases), are safer than Rimless. ?????

    Smitty of the North
    I havenít done much belted stuff but from a logic standpoint that should be true in guns with proper head space I would think. I have avoided belts mostly because Iím not very power hungry in rifles but also because I suspect the front of the belt is not very consistent between brass makers and I canít adjust it like I can the shoulder. I have seen firsthand what improper headspace can do and got nitpicky about it.

    A rimless case gets pushed forward into the shoulder by the pin strike then grabs the chamber walls. So if the shoulder is not just right the head is shoved back stretching the brass at the case head giving case head separation sooner or later.

    A belted or rimed case headspaces off the back so shouldnít be pushed forward as much and if the shoulder is a tad off. It should just fire from the shoulder forward into the chamber rather than pushing the head back.

    I have done lots of shouldered rimed 303 British and rimless like 30-06 or 308. The rimed brass lasts longer for me than rimless but tends to need more trimming out front. If not for the feeding issues I would love rims on all my brass because it's just all around better in the chamber and for extraction.

    I don't know firsthand if the same applies to belted cases as rimed, logic tells me it should so long as the gun has proper headspace and the front of the belt in the correct spot on the case.
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    The 300 Win Mag has been my main hunting cardridge during the last 22 years. I only use factory loads and bolt action, so I cannot comment on reloading or semi-auto ussues. I have never had a single failure of a 300 Win Mag cartridge or case in either the Ruger M77 and Rem. 700 BDL rifles I have owned. I also have not had any problems with my more-recently acquired 340 Wby.

    However, I am going to sell all of my belted magnum rifles because of the stigma I feel due to all the unfavorable articles. Sometimes, when I buy belted ammo in the local gunstores, I can sense the stiffled chuckles--almost like buying heiny-itch cream at the drug store. Although, I think some of the best cartridges ever made have belted cases, and I never have had a single problem with one, I no longer can take the shame and dishonor I feel for using them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PRDATR View Post
    I have reloaded 300 Win, 7mm Rem and 338 and have not had any issues.
    And more than likely you won't if you follow reloading precautions. I size both belted and non-belted cases to headspace at the shoulder.
    This Google search shows some photo-examples of case-head separation (not all the photos relate to this problem). You will notice that there are several pages, and that a lot of the cases shown don't have a belt. Just click on the photo you want to look at, see what the page contains, and when done with that page click back to the Google search, and go to the next one and do the same:
    http://images.google.com/images?clie...ed=0CBUQsAQwAA

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    With the exception of a few belted cases that have little or no shoulder( 300/375 H&H, 458 Win and a few others), the belt is worthless and could be machined off after the initial firing. Head seperations will happen after a few loads on most any rifle case if the shoulder is pushed back too far. Many dies for belted cases push the shoulder back too far if you size with the shell holder against the bottom of the die. If I thought the belt was a problem I would lathe the belt off and load as if it never had one. I don't understand all the yak about the belt being a bad thing. The belt is not the problem. Lack of understanding on the part of the reloader is the problem.

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    Been loading belted and non belted cases since the early 70's and could really care less if they have a belt or not. Always adjust my resizing die till the brass will chamber with just the smallest amount of resistance. Never had any problems at all.

    The only time I experienced case head separations is when loading for my 9,3x74R.

    Is a belt needed? No. Does a belt hurt anything? No.
    Tennessee

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    MR:
    From previous posts, I understand you are not enamored with belted case cartridges.

    Do you know what the difference in shoulder length of the FLs versus that of a Fired Case? Sometimes it's a great deal, but new brass stretches pretty good most of the time.

    Even so, your problem could have been one of chamber size, or case size, rather than a problem with the Belted Case design. Do you not agree?

    Smitty of the North
    Smitty, You are correct in your understanding of my less than enamored view of belted cases

    I believe in instance that I sighted, that it was a defective case. That night I carefully inspected the other cases from the same box and found a couple that were clearly defective, in that there appeared to be a irregular condition that looked something like pitting. This was about 30 years ago, so I am going by memory, but I clearly remember seeing evidence of weakness just above the belt. I then inspected all my cases and found what looked like irregularities which looked like cracks in many of them but under careful view of a magnifying glass were not cracks... just irregularity ion the brass. I discussed the incident at some length with some friends who were experienced hand loaders and was told that this was normal with belted cases. Something about the weld or whatever...?

    Inspecting my case now, I see these, what appear to be irregularities in the metal, just above the belt. I will take pics and post them a little later... don't have the time ATM, but hope to get them posted within a couple of days.

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    AD:
    Yeah, if the belt on the case is the right size, and the belt cut-out in the chamber is correct, or as designed, I think the belt should compare favorably with a Rimmed Case.

    The belt cut-out in the chamber could be made deeper, and the case would hafta headspace on the shoulder. However, with so many FLs that have very SHORT shoulder length, there could be a headspace problem firing FLs the first time.

    I read a lot about Belted Cartridge rifle chambers being too large, and the need to keep from over sizing them, but according to my RCBS Precision Mic, my 7mm Rem. Mag. chamber is on the short side as far as head to shoulder length.

    Iím not a machinist type, but I know, I have had difficulty FL resizing brass for that rifle. It seems to be very hard to get them sized enough, to fit easily in my rifle, although it can be done, and I have two different brands of dies. Iíve been using an RCBS Neck sizing die and that works well, so far. And BTW, that rifle was made in the early 60s.

    With my 338 WM, there have been no issues whatever.

    Thanks
    Smitty of the North
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowwolfe View Post
    Been loading belted and non belted cases since the early 70's and could really care less if they have a belt or not. Always adjust my resizing die till the brass will chamber with just the smallest amount of resistance. Never had any problems at all.

    The only time I experienced case head separations is when loading for my 9,3x74R.

    Is a belt needed? No. Does a belt hurt anything? No.
    I imagine that some gun writer wrote an article to complain about belted cases, and some people believed it and spread the rumor. But nowadays with the Internet one can find all kinds of data that debunks the rumor that mostly belted cases suffer from case-head separation. Reloaders post photographs of brass and all kinds of things that may be causing problems, and the more I dig into it the more I realize that having a belt or no makes no difference, except for the slight cost increase to manufacturers from belted cases.

    We can see a lot more pistol cases with head-separation, but maybe this is because of the large number of cases being fired by pistols when compared to most rifles. I don't think it's because pistols are rough on brass.

    Brass stretching can certainly cause problems, and high pressures can add to it.

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