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Old 07-30-2018, 01:31 PM
kbm6893 kbm6893 is offline
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Default Anybody Split .38 Cases Pretty Often?

I've only been reloading since 2013, so I'm pretty new at this. The bulk of my reloading is .38 Special and 9MM. I started loading .380 last year. I have never split a case in either .380 or 9MM. I've probably loaded pretty evenly between 9MM and .38.

My .38 Special brass was 99% never reloaded. It was either my factory cases that I saved over the years or police department qualification ammo, and I know they don't use reloads. I do recall buying factory re-manufactured reloads a few times. Ultimax, and such.

But for every hundred rounds I fire, I'm generally good for 2-3 split cases. I can always tell as I shake the just fired brass in my hands before I put them into the bag to take home and a split case always make a higher pitch sound.

95% or more of my brass is nickle, which I know splits more. It's usually a pretty broad range of manufacturer. The two that split today were labeled R P.

Just wondering what's the deal. I'm pretty fanatical about keeping track of times loaded, but I wonder if I should even bother anymore with handgun ammo.

Last edited by kbm6893; 07-30-2018 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 07-30-2018, 01:37 PM
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Over flaring the mouth will increase the likelihood of a split case . I've reloaded mine so many times I have to visually inspect each case
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Old 07-30-2018, 01:58 PM
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I shoot mine until they split, then toss them and move on.

I do load mod/light loads.
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Old 07-30-2018, 02:06 PM
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Never kept track of the numbers, but yours don't sound too far out of line. I don't recall ever having brass split at the mouth, but the nickle do about the same as you are seeing. Cut down a bit on the mouth flaring and it should help, but I think you should always plan to lose a few here and there.
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Old 07-30-2018, 02:06 PM
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How many are splitting out of 100 and to what spec. are you flaring them too? I need a little more info to try and help you.
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Old 07-30-2018, 02:28 PM
kbm6893 kbm6893 is offline
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How many are splitting out of 100 and to what spec. are you flaring them too? I need a little more info to try and help you.
Generally 2 out of a 100. As for how far I am flaring, I can’t give a number. I slightly increase the flare until I can seat a bullet on the case. Just enough so it barely sits in the case before I seat.

And I load pretty lightly. Generally middle of the recipe for standard .38. I did just switch to Xtreme plated bullets so I load at the high end of lead data. HP38 and a 158 grain SWC calls for a top charge of 3.7 grains. I load 3.8 now. But I had the same amount split with a lead SWC bullet at 3.3 grains of HP38.

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Old 07-30-2018, 03:17 PM
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I reload mostly .357 Magnum. Not all magnum loads but all magnum cases. After several times through the press the case mouths tend to get a little brittle or weak and will split. I keep track of how many are splitting and I figure when it reaches 10% each time out I'll toss these and start on a new batch of brass. These puppies get reloaded several times during their lives so it happens eventually. I check them as I unload the cylinder and toss the cases with splits into a separate box for the trash can when I get home.
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Old 07-30-2018, 03:35 PM
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Very common I have been reloading 38 special for 60 years. Have to check each case with the 38's I reload.
On the other hand I have reloaded some of my 45's so many times I cannot remember one of those ever splitting
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Old 07-30-2018, 03:43 PM
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What are you using to activate your polishing media?
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Old 07-30-2018, 04:16 PM
kbm6893 kbm6893 is offline
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What are you using to activate your polishing media?
Crushed walnut and a cap of NU Finish. I deprime and resize, then tumble, then a sonic clean to to clean out the inside of the case and the primer pocket.
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Old 07-30-2018, 04:32 PM
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I've been reloading 38/.357 for a long time, it does tend to split at the case mouth, as said nickel even more so. I also load .44 magnum and I get about the same rate of neck splits on them. I think it's the constant flaring then roll crimping that does them in pretty quickly. I have some 45 acp brass I got when I was in the Roman Army fighting the Gauls that is still functioning, so I always assumed it was the flare/roll crimp thing. Now case splitting in the middle of the case is usually over pressure, or a bulged charge hole in the cylinder, that's a horse of another color.
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Old 07-30-2018, 05:58 PM
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Nickle cases split so frequently for me I typically don't bother with them. The rest I load until there is an issue. With light loads, that's 20x at least.
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Old 07-30-2018, 06:01 PM
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Nickle cases split so frequently for me I typically don't bother with them. The rest I load until there is an issue. With light loads, that's 20x at least.
Ive heard that. But I was given probably 4000 police brass which is all nickel. And most of what I had was also nickel. Out of 5000 pieces of brass, probably 4800 are nickel. If I was ever to buy .38 casings Id stick with brass.
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Old 07-30-2018, 06:03 PM
kbm6893 kbm6893 is offline
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Originally Posted by apollo99 View Post
I've been reloading 38/.357 for a long time, it does tend to split at the case mouth, as said nickel even more so. I also load .44 magnum and I get about the same rate of neck splits on them. I think it's the constant flaring then roll crimping that does them in pretty quickly. I have some 45 acp brass I got when I was in the Roman Army fighting the Gauls that is still functioning, so I always assumed it was the flare/roll crimp thing. Now case splitting in the middle of the case is usually over pressure, or a bulged charge hole in the cylinder, that's a horse of another color.
Yeah. Every split I have had has been at the case mouth. A line from the case mouth down a bit on the case.
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Old 07-30-2018, 06:06 PM
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I’ve heard that. But I was given probably 4000 police brass which is all nickel. And most of what I had was also nickel. Out of 5000 pieces of brass, probably 4800 are nickel. If I was ever to buy .38 casings I’d stick with brass.
Free is free. Run'em a couple times.

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Old 07-30-2018, 07:15 PM
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I don't seem to get splits as often as you guys do. I don't know why and I'll use nickel too. I never flare more than absolutely necessary so maybe that's it???
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Old 07-30-2018, 07:24 PM
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Simple fix for split cases, buy a Lyman type "M" expander. They only make the case mouth a few thousandths larger than bullet diameter. The greatly reduces working the brass and aids in straight inline bullet seating.

Below a exaggerated illustration of a type "M" expander.

Normally I only bump the case mouth onto step "B" and this allows the bullet to be started by hand into the case.




Below a .223 type "M" expander showing the actual diameters. And the second step of the expander is only .002 larger than bullet diameter.

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Old 07-30-2018, 07:47 PM
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Yes, I have had cases split down the middle, separate from the mouth, also have holes at the cannalure groove around the case, especially when the groove is a series of small indentations instead of a solid line. Had a few blow out near the base, just above the case head, where the extractor groove is and of course at the case mouth.
I do like you and rattle them before inserting them back into my ammo box. I also inspect them with a magnifying glass once back at home, all up and down the case since splits occur everywhere. I usually see very minor splits just starting that way and can them immediately.
I am at the low end of the powder scale with 2.8gr Bullseye with the 148gr LHBWC bullet sized to .358. Have cases that are at least 10 years old with 30 loadings still holding up okay. I shoot nothing but Winchester and NO nickel.
I would say that my loss experience is very similar to your, about a 2-3% loss overall.

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Old 07-30-2018, 08:01 PM
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Here is a "busted" .38 case.

Have a blessed day,

Leon

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Old 07-30-2018, 11:17 PM
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Well you got more answers than I can think of. It is just part of reloading but there are some terrific solutions posted for you to try if so inclined. Happy and safe shooting!
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Old 07-30-2018, 11:25 PM
kbm6893 kbm6893 is offline
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Here is a "busted" .38 case.

Have a blessed day,

Leon

My splits are never that dramatic. A hairline crack that goes maybe 1/4 down
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Old 07-30-2018, 11:27 PM
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Yep! Shoot 'em til they split, then toss and move on.The only exception is +P defense loads that I load only in nickel cases to help keep them separate and track the # of loads. For target loads, I just reload til the end.
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Old 07-30-2018, 11:27 PM
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I only shoot brass and I've had 50 case batches make it to 30 reloads without a split case. I never realized nickel was so much more brittle.
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Old 07-30-2018, 11:29 PM
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I was reloading .38 Special this evening, and I pulled out 100 cases from one of my fired case buckets. Two case bodies were split, those did not extend to the case mouth. I find more .32-20 split cases than any other caliber. Sometimes I use them anyway if the splits aren't bad and if the split doesn't extend into the case mouth. I once (about 15 years ago) had a batch of .44 Special brass that produced a fair number of case splits after the first reload.
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Old 07-31-2018, 12:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kbm6893 View Post

95% or more of my brass is nickel, which I know splits more. It's usually a pretty broad range of manufacturer. The two that split today were labeled R P.
Nickel plated brass is more brittle than just brass cases. But I think you answered your own question.

Now I've been reloading 38 special and 357 magnum for yrs. I used to keep track of the number of times a case has been reloaded but to be perfectly honest I don't keep track anymore.

I usually save & reload my cases until they split & toss them. The cases that split on me I'm guessing lasted anywhere between 10-15 reloads. But if I know a case has been reloaded 15 times and if after cleaning & resizing/depriming, if it still looks good then I'm gonna load it up again. A case splitting on you in a modern revolver isn't going to hurt the gun not one bit.
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Old 07-31-2018, 01:00 AM
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Default What kind of split are we talking about?

Mouth splits are common, especially with nickel cases. A CASE split is more of a problem. Losing a case or two out of a hundred isn't uncommon.

I've gotten more split cases lately from what I call 'one-shot' ammo, but not from mainstream brands. And yeah, you handle those and that 'ting' sound that they make is prominent.

There are a few things that can CAUSE case splits, overloads, overuse or a gun with chambers that are too large and work the brass too much in resizing. Other than that, just toss out the bad ones. Reloading, you are bound to lose a few.
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Old 07-31-2018, 02:29 AM
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Bought a pack of 500 Starline .38 Special cases in the mid 90’s. Still had 450 or so left when I bought another 500 a couple of years ago.

Just reloaded 425 .38 Special rounds this week. I think I threw out about 4 split cases. I guess they were the remains of the original 500 cases purchased. (Actually I still have around 800 Starline cases and have only ever bought 1000).

I have a quart bucket of Speer .38 Special +P nickel cases from when we carried S&W Model 10’s and I would pick up the range brass after qualification. Always mean to load a few to see how they stand up.

And I’m currently loading about 125 .357 nickel cases I have for use in my Henry Big Boy .357 Magnum rifle.
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Old 07-31-2018, 07:12 AM
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I reload for the 357 Magnum, most of my loads are light or mid-range loads, but I have also loaded some with maximum charges of H-110/W-296. I think I have had a couple of my old, plain brass cases split at the case mouth. I've also reloaded nickel plated brass and some of that didn't last for more than two reloadings. Simply put, the nickel plating gives the brass corrosion resistance, but is also makes the brass harder and more prone to cracking and splitting.

If you are getting nickel plated brass for free, just use it and know that it will not last very long. I do highly recommend that you thoroughly clean your dies before running plain brass through them after reloading nickel plated brass. Some of that nickel plating can flake off during reloading and it will put long scratches on plain brass.
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Old 07-31-2018, 09:44 AM
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I've been using the same .38 brass casings for about thirty years and rarely have splits. I have noticed that nickel plated are far more prone to splitting. Fortunately the vast majority of my casing are brass. I've also had some issues with burn through in the cannelure. Most of my loads are in the low to midrange.
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Old 07-31-2018, 09:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ole Joe Clark View Post
Here is a "busted" .38 case.

Have a blessed day,

Leon

A little duct tape and your good for another load
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Old 07-31-2018, 11:01 AM
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I started reloading .38 Special in 1972. From 1975 until 1978 I was active in PPC competition, usually shooting about 4000 rounds per year.

Most of the .38 Special brass I now have dates back to the 1970's. Much of that brass has been loaded at least 40 times or more. When processing a batch for reloading (usually 1000 per batch) I inspect each case before resizing, inspect again when expanding the necks, and inspect again when seating and crimping has been done.

Case mouth cracks are pretty common. Cracks in case sidewalls are also fairly common. Cracks indicating incipient case head separation can also occur. I deal with all of these by culling those out for disposal.

I have also found that it is a good idea to inspect each round before loading and firing. Case cracks can show up weeks or months after reloading; stresses in the brass (from resizing, from case mouth expansion, from bullet seating and crimping) may not immediately result in cracking, but the cracking still occurs later.

My point is that reloading always induces stresses and metal fatigue will eventually make a case unsuitable (or unsafe) for use, so the prudent shooter/reloader will always pay attention at every step of the cycle.
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Old 07-31-2018, 11:06 AM
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Like Peak33 (#22) I use nickel plated cases for serious ammo and relegate my target and plinking loads to brass. Makes identification easy and the serious stuff doesn't get reloaded all that much anyway.
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Old 07-31-2018, 11:33 AM
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I have a plastic ammo box that holds 100 Winchester Nickel
that are so old that the plating is coming off and the brass is showing.
Of course, they have only seen light target loads with 148 HBwc lead bullets.

I generally get at least ten loadings before any tiny splits start to show up.
On the other hand, I have had a brand new factory case split.....
it just comes down to the quality of the brass and if it had a good day
when it was made.

Bullet diameter has a lot to do with case splits as well as lead vd copper
when being forced into the brass cases and their belling openings.

As mentioned, FULL loads can last one or maybe four times if the
fit in the weapon is good.
The expansion and reduction of the case "Working" is what really
takes the life out of the cases.
You can tell how they eject out of a revolver, if they are being worked hard.

I generally get a lot of reloads out of mine, since I shoot a LOT
of target loads in my weapons.

My favorite split checker is a old T-shirt section, that will hang up on a crack.
I did the cotton ball thing for a while but tired of them.

I don't fret over a bad case any more.....
life it too short for such a small thing.

Have fun.
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Old 07-31-2018, 12:53 PM
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Quote:
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A little duct tape and your good for another load
I was thinking about seeing if I could get some JB Weld to stick. :-)

Have a blessed day,

Leon
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Old 07-31-2018, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by RGVshooter View Post
A case splitting on you in a modern revolver isn't going to hurt the gun not one bit.
If I knew how to take a picture of it I could show you a chamber in a 686 cylinder that has some serious erosion from a split/ruptured case. Apparently the gas jetting through the split can erode the metal quickly in the right circumstance. At least that was the diagnosis from Smith when they replaced the cylinder. I now have a ******* 686 no dash with a dash something or other style cylinder with the squarish extractor without the indexing pins. At least it still shoots good.

Admittedly it has had some exotic rounds shot through it. The 88 grain 380 HP bullets loaded to the max were fun. Pretty dramatic on water jugs and such. They tended to vaporize on harder targets. Now that I think on it I never recovered any bullet remains from shooting jugs. They were surprisingly accurate although I never benched them or tried any 100 yrd shots. If I ever chronographed them I don't remember the results.

Of course it mostly had 148g cast LSWC bullets loaded mild in magnum cases run through it but also a lot of fairly hot 148g gas checked cast LSWC through it as well as a bunch of Dept practice ammo as well as magnum qualifying rounds. I loaned it out to other D/S's for extended periods on two occasions when they needed a duty gun, probably a year each time.

I don't know the specific event that damaged the chamber but there is a fair bit of metal jetted away about where you'd expect a case split. It makes a fairly good paper weight.
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Old 07-31-2018, 01:20 PM
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One of the reasons I roll a batch of brass around in my hand when I pick up. If I hear a "clank" rather than a "tinkle" I know there is a split case. Yes, nickle more often than brass. Older G I brass (WW2 or earlier) often is more brittle and will split. I seldom get case mouth splits, I flare the case neck very little to reload, just barely enough to set a new bullet on.
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Old 07-31-2018, 04:55 PM
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I prefer nickel plated cases. Yes, they do split more. 2 per hundred is normal.

Best thing to do - but it won't cure it - is to bell the cases the minimum required to get the new bullet into it.
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Old 07-31-2018, 05:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by H Richard View Post
One of the reasons I roll a batch of brass around in my hand when I pick up. If I hear a "clank" rather than a "tinkle" I know there is a split case. Yes, nickle more often than brass. Older G I brass (WW2 or earlier) often is more brittle and will split. I seldom get case mouth splits, I flare the case neck very little to reload, just barely enough to set a new bullet on.
My hearing is shot, can't hear anything, much less a tinkle or clank. I just look at the cases and pick out the cracked ones.

Conversely to a post above, I get infrequent split .45 ACP cases, but when I reloaded .38 Specials, I never had a single one. Maybe it was the lighter target loads.
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Old 07-31-2018, 07:31 PM
Qc Pistolero Qc Pistolero is offline
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Like Lobo,I've got some .38 brass that dates wayyyy back(mid '70s).I've reloaded them maybe 30 or 40 times.Expand,crimp repeat,of course will take its toll.Some of the brass I have is Dominion brand and they have a reddish color;I guess that they have a higher content of cupper.And I have yet to have a single one to split at the neck.
On the other hand,some RP brass seem to develop a crack after but a very few reloading.They simply make a trip into the brass recycling bin.
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Old 07-31-2018, 08:01 PM
Ackley1952 Ackley1952 is offline
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Was your revolver possibly a 38 S&W converted to 38 special ? I never saw you mention what type revolver it was
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Old 07-31-2018, 08:03 PM
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Is your revolver possibly 38 S&W converted to 38 special?
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Old 07-31-2018, 08:40 PM
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Picture in Post #19 doesn't have any X-ring shots left in it. It can be tossed with a clear conscious. A little 1/4" crack at the case mouth is no big deal, keep reloading until the bullet falls to the bottom of the case. Pistol magazines and brass cases are disposable commodities in the shooting world.

I have also found gun barrels to be consumables if you shoot a lot of jacketed ammo. You will never wear out a barrel shooting lead bullets.
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Old 07-31-2018, 09:19 PM
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R-P brass is thinner than other brands.
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Old 08-01-2018, 09:17 AM
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As you have discovered, nickel plated cases split much sooner than brass.

RP brass is thinnest of any I have used, although I'm not sure if it splits any more frequently. Federal is my favorite. .38 special is so low pressure, I go a long time between seeing a case fail.

You may be over-crimping. Your description that the splits only occur at the mouth and don't extend far down the case suggests that too me.
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