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Thread: Useful case life?

  1. #1
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    Default Useful case life?

    I am fairly new to reloading, and was wondering what the average useful case life is? For those that need to know I don't have a case thickness gauge and don't really plan on getting one. I reload .44mag, .45 ACP, 9mm, 30-30, .300 WM, .223. Any info is helpful thanks.

  2. #2

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    It depends a whole lot on how much you "exercise" your cases, and there are a bunch of variables: How you resize, how hot your loads are, what you do to the case mouths, whether and how often you anneal, even who made your reloading dies. Every caliber you list is going to be different, and the guy next to your loading the same rounds is going to get different case life.

    I happen to put a lot of store in good cases and good case life, so I seldom "push" max. I'll drop back a little below max, which usually doesn't hurt a thing hunting-wise while giving me lots more case life, for example.

    I've got three.... no make that two now...rifles in 257 Roberts. If I keep the cases separate for each rifle I can avoid resizing them back to minimums and get longer case life from each rifle. The one that RCBS built for me has a custom sizing die that gives incredible case life, but the other has a pretty minimum chamber and won't even chamber cases sized in that custom die. If I use the standard factory sizing die, the second rifle gets great case life, but cases sized for that particular rifle have a relatively short life in the rifle that RCBS built for me.

    The possibilities and variables go on and on, as you can see from even those two examples.

  3. #3
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    BB:
    How do you determine, when it's time to chuck'em?
    Thanks
    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

  4. #4

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    It's a combination of "symptoms" Smitty. Impending case head separation (mostly rifles), neck splits (mostly handgun, but possible in rifles if you get behind on your annealing) and logbook history lead my list. Loose primer pockets don't make my "list" because I back off from loads that cause it the moment I discover it. That's certainly more of an issue with rimmed cases that require frequent trimming and full length sizing and strong crimps than with bottlenecked rimless cases.

    It's complicated though, because I assign different uses to cases as they age. In mag revolvers for example, I only load hot loads 4 times in a set of brass, then relegate them to midrange loads. I probably get 15 or 20 loadings from them as midrange cases. before I start seeing neck splits, but that requires really minimum case mouth belling and crimps to achieve. If I'm having to bell the cases a lot for a particular bullet or crimp them hard in spite of the lighter charges, case life plummets.

    In practice, I inspect each case while loading for tiny little cracks at the case mouth and just discard that particular case rather than the whole lot. "Lot" is kind of a funny concept for me among my midrange cases. I just dump the fired cases into some wooden boxes I have that hold around 400 cases each. I won't start on a "new" lot till I've collected enough newer cases (fired 4 times each with hot loads, as I indicated) to fill the box, then I keep them together in those boxes, both for range trips and for reloading. When a box gets depleated down to about half from neck splits, I'll dump the remainder.

  5. #5
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    OK, Thank, Ya BB:

    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the info. I kinda figured to inspect each case, but I think u gave me a bit more to look for.

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