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Salvaging range brass

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Generally speaking, I throw out anything that is dented or creased on the body of the brass. I am always concerned about feeding issues. That dent distorted something.


The dies on the reloader definitely reshape the mouth of the brass and on rifle cartidges that are necked, they reshape the neck back to specs. As long as the overall length is good and the brass cycles through the press cleanly, you can keep re-using the brass.

Edited by Rod

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As a general rule, when reloading rifle calibres i reload up to 5-7 times then toss them to the recycleing bin.

For handgun calibres i reload them many more times, until i start seeing cracks on the lip of the caseing. By cheacking this i rub my thum finger nail around the lip of the caseing. Hope this helps ya.

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I will only reload my own brass because I know its condition and how it’s been treated. Call me foolish, but that is a personal preference.


My brother, on the other hand, is like a crack addict at the range. We belong to a few ranges around these parts and when we hit the one closest to me, he ‘invests’ ten minutes rummaging through the brass bucket. Watching him is like watching a kid in a candy store!

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VERY MUCH a personal choice. "It depends" is a good answer. You are making a bomb that is strong enough to maim and kill. If I'm reloading black powder, I reuse as long as it looks to be in good condition. Above comments are good on that score. Modern loads I'm a lot more careful. Three to five times is usually about it and I don't like to use 'unknown' cases. If I'm there when the guy is shooting and he doesn't want his factory brass, I'll take it. If it appears he is using some +P+ round, I'll let it go by. No problem with using those, I just don't want to reload them as I don't know how much pressure they've seen.

I keep my BP cases separated from the modern powder cases just because I am paranoid about things that go bang. I'm also very careful with necked cases as they are more susceptible to damage from overloads and/or poor chambers that can damage the case.


Just my not so humble opinion, of course, but if it can go BOOM! I want to be very careful.

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Brass is easy to read all you need is a flash light and a bent tip pick that reaches to the bottom of the case


First is it anything other than brass chunk it or if you cannot get a foreign object out chuck it.

you can use a magnate to check if it is steel some steel cases are copper washed.

Look at the primer if it has burned powder around it chuck it the primer pocket is loose.

now look inside the case 2 holes {snake eyes} Berdan primer chuck it

look for dents in the shoulder neck area as long as they are 16th of an inch deep and not a gash ok

out of round neck if a proper size diameter LEE decapper can fix without crushing in the shoulder OK

do not dig in but use the pick and slide the point against the inside feeling for a groove on the inside wall

if there is one it should be 1/4 to 3/4 of the way up the inside, if so chunk it most time it won't have one.


Leave the primers in as its a pain to dig out the polishing media decap {remove primer} in some equipment

this is done while sizing some it is a separate step, then use a primer pocket cleaning tool


IF it is military {usually has a date or numbers and or letters letters red color around primer denotes primer sealant and it has a crimp it is harder to remove the primer and you need to remove the crimp I do it

with a double the diameter drill bit in a drill and just touch it centered to the primer hole and it should remove a small sliver of brass separate this brass it has a thicker web and has less capacity and you need to work up a different load for this brass usually 1 grain less than starting load and use standard primers not magnum

unless you have worked up the load then a magnum primer adds 1 grain look at your manuals first.

Anytime you try a new load start at the bottom of the listed amount of powder and standard primer unless Magnum is listed.


A Berdan primer has the anvil made into the case usually made overseas

A boxer primer has the anvil in the primer {small trivet / triangle looking brass colored metal in the cup of the primer most all American ammo uses Boxer primers.


Boxer primers are a 3 piece system a trivet or anvil cellulose carrier for the POP and the cup


Berdan are 2 pieces a cup and cellulose carrier {circular cut of what looks like film negative}


when the firing pin or striker hits the cup it pinches the cellulose between the cup and the trivet or anvil popping

it, they are sensitive to open flame oil or moisture and striking and even being crushed sometimes

treat them with respect 100 can take off fingers easily.


Primers come in rifle {thicker to handle rifle pressure} pistol thinner {to handle pistol strength firing pin strikes and the proper pressure }.

Standard primers are not as powerful as Magnum.


Use some sense boys and girls if it is not listed in a reloading manual there is a reason you can download

a manual from most all bullet and powder companies for free and the 2 manuals I would have are the LEE

and the LYMAN reloading manuals even manuals or information on the Internet needs to be checked

if an Internet load says 7 grains and LEE and LYMAN states less I would not use it the Internet needs to be verified I treat as suspect unless a few sources can validate the same information.


Shotgun primers are different shape and size but also come in standard and magnum and the loadings are

listed in manuals so please use them.


These are basic not always true I have seen nylon blanks use a shotgun primer and sot a wax plug

I have seen Brass shotgun shells that use large rifle primers I have seen 45 ACP that used small primers

I have seen a sub caliber barrel use 177 cal pellets fired from brass 38 or 357 shells with no powder just a primer. blanks are used to launch other projectiles or objects,

just when you think you have seen it all someone comes up with something you did not expect.


if dents are common many times you can look on the slide or area of the ejection port and grind or file

that area down and it may eliminate the problem check the net for instructions and double check that information as you do not want to buy parts or screw up your firearm.

on a colt or clone a limp extractor may need adjusting and that will prevent case dents

or an over long ejector some enlarge the ejection port whatever you do make sure you triple check as not to

damage your gun.

For most every gun there is a fix you just need to find the right gunsmith or knowledge to take care of it.

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I've been temped to pick up range brass, but never have...


If temped again, is there any tell tale sign that has been reloaded in the past?



probably not any method that I'd want to absolutely rely on to be factual. I'd guess that if you used a micrometer on the cases and checked the specs with the unfired brass you might get an idea of the suitability of the brass. Each firing stretches the brass a little, hence thinning it out. At some point, it will rupture, through the probability is that the failure will be contained by the chamber.


Any brass at the range has probably been reloaded no more than once - if the person is a reloader, he'll pick up his own brass. If he bought "reloads" (I've done this on occasion) then the brass has been fired only once or is new brass. Either way, it should be safe for a few reloads.


I just prefer to have an absolute knowledge of the use the brass has seen before I use it. It is why when I loan a firearm, or let someone shoot my firearms, I provide the ammo. If they want to chip in for a new box, fine but I always provide the ammo for my firearms.


Paranoid perhaps, but to date I've never ruined a gun with bad ammo.


Just my not so humble opinion.

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Having been in the BUSINESS it's all good to me processing and selling tons per month scrapping 30 gallon and 55 gallon


drums of aluminum and steel cases every couple of months.


a quick look you can see if it is good or not head stamps have a lot of information if your old enough or knowledgeable


Smith & Wesson brass has not been made for some time so it would be obvious to me it is old stock but if it looks good


it probably is.


Verdigris {green funk with and or blackening is not a great sign but if it polishes off no problem but it


needs to be flashlighted and viewed inside to see if it looks good there also if it does it's good.


after a polish cracks can be found easier and listen for clicking when handling a dull click means a crack clink is normal


factory crimp is mandatory to me loose bullets and powder leaking out or bullets getting jammed backward into the case


or stuck in the barrel is not necessary at all in this day of factory crimp dies.


if you take the time to heat anneal your brass then size it you will save yourself some troubles and extend the life of it.


using a hand held propane torch deprime all your brass use a pan like a sheet cake pan and stand up the brass in the pan


leaving a inch or so space fill to 3/4 height of the shell case but below the shoulder of a bottleneck case


in a dark corner of a room heat until you see color red and tip into the water so not to knock over others do the rest in the same


fashion, this takes out the heat tempering of the brass so it stays sized and not spring back form sizing now your mouth


and case neck are dead soft bottle neck 5 to 10 times depends on pressure and action straight walled cases can be fired


more than bottle necked if you Anneal every 5 times you may get a few loadings out of them back in the day people would laugh


at this but now with brass costing 50 cents to a dollar a case it may make a come back.


Annealed brass and can be formed by your dies easier and form to YOUR FIREARMS CHAMBER no chamber is the same PERIOD.


in a bolt rifle this is perfection in an auto or semi auto this is not as effective as each round is not going to be the same as the


previous for many reasons but it still helps brass last longer.


although the pressure sounds terrific it is equally distributed and pressed outward into the chamber area that is why your


warned to not leave lube or grease the chamber and especially not in the barrel {this makes a barrel obstruction or high pressure


to a point of damaging a firearm}


polishing a chamber of a blowback semi / auto can cause a severe problem the walls of the chamber are friction breaks of the


action without that the case will eject too soon and expel hot gas and sparks in your face not to mention loss of power of your ammo


and even cause cases to rupture or split.


overall once brass is cleaned and you inspect it if it looks good it more than likely is BUT always have a broken shell extractor


for less than 20 bucks you can take care of a stuck shell case yourself.


and people here talk about being worried about range brass but shoot total crap from god knows where I am guilty but


unlike many I knew what I was doing I have shot pre WWII ammo from the world over post 1955 ammo from the world over


corrosive non corrosive with cordite and mercuric priming even black powder loads you find out when you shoot them and smoke


obscures the target.


OOOOOooooowwww I have even shot paper hull shotgun shells oh the horror LOL not If you shoot enough antique and


collector crap this is going to happen BUT I do not care what you shoot use "quality" eye protection and hearing also


if it is a real I dunno situation put the loaded gun in a mechanism or a rifle in a tire with stakes to keep it from falling over and


pointed into a dirt bank and use a string to fire it {make sure it is clean bore and gun first} back in the day we bought pallets


of old war relics {not the legal definition then just descriptive} and we were not always sure if they were safe but clean them up


and put some lead down range and stick them on the wall and sell them what did you think there is some magic xray machine


that tests them or a copper crusher LOL no I am afraid we fired them and checked primer and case and fired bullet to check


for any problems some places did not even do that I have bought many a war relic packed full of caked cosmolne so thick


I had to heat diesel and soak it for hours and still have to buff off the parts from the last bit of what looked like stuck on varnish


but many shot better than a lot of new arms today IMO

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