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Old 02-10-2020, 07:22 PM
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Default Once shot brass

Once shot brass can be purchased from several outlets. I don't reload (yet) but, how does the seller know the brass is once shot? I assume the brass comes from range brass buckets, no way of knowing how many times shot.

A question, how many times can brass be reloaded until it has to be trashed?
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Old 02-10-2020, 07:28 PM
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Most sellers are guessing and really can't say it was only once fired and they usually have disclaimers to that effect. The useful life of brass depends on the load, the heavier the load the less life they have. I've loaded .38 wadcutters 8-10 times before they gave up the ghost.

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Old 02-10-2020, 07:32 PM
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Iím not sure of the exact number. Probably has a lot to do with how hot it was loaded. Iíve heard of getting a lot of cycles out of mildly loaded .45 ACP cases. Iíve only been loading for a couple of years, so my brass is only five or six times used. Iím interested in learning what number the gurus come up with and if type or caliber has any bearing on longevity.
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Old 02-10-2020, 07:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oracle View Post
Once shot brass can be purchased from several outlets. I don't reload (yet) but, how does the seller know the brass is once shot? I assume the brass comes from range brass buckets, no way of knowing how many times shot.

A question, how many times can brass be reloaded until it has to be trashed?
If it were picked up at a range known to only have been using factory loaded ammo i.e. police range, it certainly could be once fired. Some brass can be identified by the primer as having been once fired, as well. If you are buying it sight unseen, you are just taking someone's word.
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Old 02-10-2020, 07:55 PM
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Sorry I canít give you a precise number of times you can reload brass: I long ago stopped trying to count for 45acp and 38 special brass.

Iíve reloaded 45acp brass so many times that the rims have gotten so beat up by the extractor and ejector that the extractor wouldnít reliably slip over the rim. In that brass, I could count 10-12 divots in the rim. These arenít lightly loaded.

Bottle neck rifle brass generally doesnít last as long as straight walled pistol brass, but I have 270win, 308 and 350 Remington Magnum brass Iíve reloaded as many as 10 times.
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Old 02-10-2020, 07:58 PM
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Brass that comes from a LEO or Agency range is once fired

Many buckets of a single caliber are swept up after each qualification

Agencies go through many hundreds of millions of rounds annually
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Old 02-10-2020, 08:05 PM
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Typically straight wall cases will have very long reload life. Back when I still had a Thompson SMG I had brass that had been loaded so many times you couldnt read the headstamp anymore.
Mainly I would look for split cases, which all reality doesnt take looking at all. You can take a handful of brass and jiggle them in your hand. If you here a ring like a small bell tinkling, you have a split case.

Magnum brass will not last quite as long with hot loads and you may have to trim it on occasion.

Depending on the level of accuracy you are going for with a rifle, the number of firings can make a difference. Probably NOT in an AR type rifle, but DEFINITELY in a high end target gun.
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Old 02-10-2020, 08:16 PM
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After you do it a while you can look at the primer and outside of the case if someone hasn't cleaned them. Look for little bitty splits on the end with 38 special. With a mid range load 45 acp will do 30 or more and 38s about the same. Try to get the brass ones without military head stamp in 38. Unless I am target shooting I reload 38s until they split. WHAT caliber are you looking for?

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Old 02-10-2020, 08:19 PM
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Based solely on my experience without keeping good records, I would estimate that new handgun brass can be loaded well more than ten times, without a significant loss of elasticity in the neck area. Twenty loadings or even more may be possible, BUT all this depends on many changeable factors like quality of the brass, pressure of the load (mild to hot), amount of flaring for bullet seating, degree of crimp, etc.

Regarding rifle brass, there was an excellent and very in-depth article in HANDLOADER magazine some years ago about accurate .308 Winchester loads. The author used all available brass at the time and fired them with full power jacketed bullet loads to the point of case failure. All I can remember without searching for the article was that Remington brass outlasted everything else. Seems he got around twenty-five loads from it. The article is well worth reading; someone here may remember it better than I do.

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Old 02-10-2020, 08:39 PM
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Depending on the level of accuracy you are going for with a rifle, the number of firings can make a difference. Probably NOT in an AR type rifle, but DEFINITELY in a high end target gun.

Many competitive rifle shooters will neck size only their fired brass (not necessarily true for semiauto rifles), and such cases will last nearly forever. There are very good reasons for that practice which I will not go into. For straight-wall handgun cases, they will survive large numbers of reloadings. I think I may still have some .38 Special brass that goes back to my earliest days of handloading in the mid-1960s. Back in my CAS days over 20 years ago, I used only .44 Mag and .44 Special cases, and I had only around 100 of each that I used only for CAS. And of course CAS loads are on the mild side. Those cases were probably reloaded at least 30-40 times each, on average, over about a 5 year period. I remember that I did lose some due to sidewall splits.
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Old 02-10-2020, 09:06 PM
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If you havenít began loading your own YET, then the very best answers that we can give will be based on caliber and load that you intend to use, and it also depends on the brass that you start with.

In three decades of loading and 15+ completely different cartridges that I load or have had a lot of experience loading, I can give a lot of varying opinion.

Some examples:

Iíve literally not once ever worn out 9mm brass. This may be because I have so much of it AND it also gets ejected and some lost that itís possible that I havenít loaded much of my brass 20+ times like a lot of my other stuff. But it may also be because 9mm is some very thick, solid stuff.

.45 is also extremely difficult to kill off. A big reason here is that it runs under 20k psi while many handgun rounds are higher pressure. There are plenty of old guys that have been loading the same .45 brass since the 1970ís and earlier and they often say that they have worn the printing off the case heads and the brass still works!

Iím a .327 Federal guy and with the rare exception of some Starline that might exist... all of the .327 Federal brass is a Federal/Speer product. I have cracked, split and otherwise murdered this brass in 5-6 loadings. And this is most likely due to the fact that .327 Federal runs 45k psi max! And the nickel plated brass is more likely to fail than the brass colored brass.

Same thing goes for nickel .38 Special. Most .38 Special lasts an absurdly long time, likely because it too is low pressure (14k to 17.5k psi) but when the .38 brass decides to split, the nickel plated stuff splits earlier than brass. EXCEPT for S&B headstamp .38 Special brass. This stuff makes perfectly good ammo but there is no longevity to this brass, it cracks irrationally early compared to almost any other .38 Special brass on the market.

Perhaps the most helpful answer to your question is... if itís handgun brass (and especially if itís something very mainstream and common), itís going to last so well that you will probably forget that it was ever a concern you may have had.

But if you are truly concerned, tell us what caliber, what brand of brass you have and what kind of loads you intend to build and maybe we can give a more specific answer.
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Old 02-10-2020, 09:24 PM
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+ 1 on the above . The higher the pressure the shorter it'll last . Low pressure jeez forever I have some 45acp & 38 special cases that have only seen light target loads from the 1960's . 30/06 cases that I only shoot cast in a 1903 last forever , though you have to anneal necks or they'll work harden & split . Some calibers & guns eat brass & aint much you can do if you want to shoot it . Once fired buys for low pressure paper punching if you must , but expect to have to carefully inspect every case . Buy new or if you're cheap like me beg the service team guys for their brass . Access to a LE or Military range is also a good source .
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Old 02-10-2020, 10:02 PM
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You can never really determine if it has only been fired once.

I've got 500 38 SPL cases that have all been reloaded 16 times. Still going strong.

I've got some 44 Mag cases that have been reloaded 14 or 15 times and still holding up.
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Old 02-10-2020, 10:40 PM
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Much of the 9mm and 5.56 brass comes from military ranges and will be once fired. All will have crimped primers. Most public and/or private ranges will sell range brass as scrape metal, which is the reason many don't allow steel cases. The steel cases mixed in with brass cases is considered "dirty" and brings a lower price.
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Old 02-10-2020, 11:23 PM
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Its hard to tell once fired but not hard to tell more than once. The rims & case heads take on breech face, ejector & extractor marks with each firing. Handgun Brass will last 10x loaded easily. Low pressure brass can be almost limitless.
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Old 02-10-2020, 11:46 PM
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From 29aholic: "Mainly I would look for split cases, which all reality doesnt take looking at all. You can take a handful of brass and jiggle them in your hand. If you here a ring like a small bell tinkling, you have a split case."

Absolutely correct and it's one of those sounds that once you've heard it and found the source, you'll recognize it immediately and will know what to start looking for.
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4barrel View Post
After you do it a while you can look at the primer and outside of the case if someone hasn't cleaned them. Look for little bitty splits on the end with 38 special. With a mid range load 45 acp will do 30 or more and 38s about the same. Try to get the brass ones without military head stamp in 38. Unless I am target shooting I reload 38s until they split. WHAT caliber are you looking for?
.44 and .357 magnum, loaded to factory levels, no hot rounds. Casings need to be trimmed and that brass has to come from somewhere. Logically the wall thickness of the casings will decrease, are there standard wall thicknesses which can be measured
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:20 AM
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You shouldn’t ever need to trim .357 or .44 Magnum brass. Loading to factory levels would mean the rounds are going to be close to maximum loads and not necessarily the best place to start.

You should be able to get at least 10 to 20 loads even at loads near factory levels.
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:42 AM
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I believe originally, vendors of "once fired" brass were collecting and selling once fired military cases where the were really just fired once; range pickups. Some resold cases from police ranged and also fired just once. But today "once fired" is just a term meaning "used" and the brass can come from just about anywhere someone shoots. I have purchased used handgun brass and inspect closely when it is delivered and have very few culls. The rifle brass I buy used is also closely inspected and then process and inspected after each step. Again, very few bad cases. I inspect all my brass before reloading and toss those with split necks, out of tolerance primer pockets and look for head separation on my rife brass.....
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Old 02-11-2020, 02:13 AM
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I bought a new Ruger 6" Security 6 in 1975 and a box of Winchester nickeled 357 magnum brass. After the 10th reload I quit counting. I was shooting just under max loads listed in Lyman 45th edition reloading manual.
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Old 02-11-2020, 02:19 AM
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Quote:
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.44 and .357 magnum, loaded to factory levels, no hot rounds. Casings need to be trimmed and that brass has to come from somewhere. Logically the wall thickness of the casings will decrease, are there standard wall thicknesses which can be measured
No need to trim a straight wall pistol case. I have loaded over 250000 and never trimmed one. I trimmed some once for my 52 but benching I couldn't tell any difference. When you get the feel of resizing a case you can tell if it is good. If the pull is to soft take it out to inspect. Same when you seat a bullet. If the pull is soft check for a split case. Don't bell more than needed and the brass will last longer. Get a Lyman reloading manual. It has the pressure and seating length of each bullet tested. Factory new 44 & 357 ammo are about the top of the chart. If you stay in the middle of a reload manual the loads are still hot. If you use a powder like 2400 -296 - 4227- H110 you don't have to worry about a double charge. I am only saying this for new people getting into reloading. Stay safe. You are building a bomb.

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Old 02-11-2020, 08:46 AM
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For 9mm depends on loads. I have gotten as many as 15 reloads in military brass, light loads.
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Old 02-11-2020, 09:21 AM
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Many years ago, Guns & Ammo did a test on 38 sp brass and quit after 50 reloads. I have 38 and 45 brass I have been loading since the 70's and it still works fine.

I just read about Harry Pope who had used ONE case for many years in his precision rifle shooting. He estimated he had loaded it over 40,000 times.
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Old 02-11-2020, 09:51 AM
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You must inspect each and every case ....

Get a few new and truly once fired cases and study what they look like.
Now you know what the good ones look like .
Inspect each case and toss any with cracks , loose primers , rims that have been badly battered , berdan primed and maybe steel cases.
You can reload a case until the brass splits , neck cracks or you loose it.
Low pressure revolver rounds almost last forever...50+ reloads , same for low pressure 45 acp . High pressure 9mm luger not quite as long the gun batters the rims and primer pockets can loosen and they get flung all over the place .
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Old 02-11-2020, 09:52 AM
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How long will straight walled, standard pressure handgun brass last? I'm still trying to figure that out. These are still in my standard rotation...I ran across them during the last session at the Dillon.





Some will split, but most just get lost before they wear out. As mentioned above, inspect every case as you go and you'll be fine.

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Old 02-11-2020, 09:54 AM
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I found this in the reloading cycle last year and retired it. No cracks and it can be reloaded again.

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Old 02-12-2020, 12:14 PM
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I've got brass I reloaded many times, 45acp, 367,44, etc and some 10-15 times. Best place to get 1nce fired is from a police range where they qualify. must use factory ammo for qualification in their service weapon. My brother used to give me piles of brand new brass.
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Old 02-12-2020, 04:34 PM
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Short answer, they don't. They're guessing.

Handgun brass, especially straight walled cases can be shot until they crack. Tracking the number of times they're fired is largely pointless. When they crack or the primers don't seat tightly anymore. Recycle it. For automatic brass, I'll generally lose it to natural attrition before it develops any problems.
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Old 02-13-2020, 10:00 AM
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Lots of good info based upon experience here. The only thing I'll add is that if one is to load to the upper limits of pressure of the cartridge, I'd suggest either new or verified once fired brass. I can also tell you that I have actually witnessed factory fresh ammo have split cases (these were nickel and .45 ACP) after the first firing.
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Old 02-13-2020, 11:18 AM
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When I first started shooting .44 Magnum in the late sixties I had a lot of 500-pieces of Remington brass. After they were loaded 4-5 times, each time they were reloaded Iíd lose 3-4 pieces to small cracks at the case mouth. If the crack was small enough, they could be annealed and trimmed to .44 Special length. Iím still using some of those cases fifty-years later.

At that time I also was shooting .222s and had both Remington and Norma brass in boxes of 20. When one case would crack, Iíd anneal them and keep going. I still have some of those. Recently I ran across them, re-annealed and trimmed them, and started loading them again. I had a batch of about 15-18 pieces. After Iíd loaded them six times they were still fine and producing the kind of accuracy I expect.

Suffice to say, you can get a lot of use out of good quality cartridge cases if you donít overwork them and will go to the small trouble of keeping them in good shape.

I had not heard the Harry Pope story. Thatís interesting. John Linebaugh once told me he took a random piece of .416 Remington brass and loaded it twenty times before he said good enough and lost interest. Good quality cartridge brass is pretty amazing stuff.
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Old 02-13-2020, 12:37 PM
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My 357 and 9mm brass last a long, long time.
I've been reloading the same batch of 357 brass for many years, at least 20 loads per case, but my loads are not magnum, and I crimp gently.
9mm seems to be the same way, I loose them before they split.
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Old 02-13-2020, 01:07 PM
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Can you tell just fired one time brass?

Here is a picture that I took from NEW factory 9mm cases after firing.
Some powders burn cleaner than others but.........
fps and pressure of these FMJ Ball loads was not tested......
it is just a picture of fired new cases.

Enjoy.

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Old 02-13-2020, 02:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4barrel View Post


No need to trim a straight wall pistol case. I have loaded over 250000 and never trimmed one. I trimmed some once for my 52 but benching I couldn't tell any difference. When you get the feel of resizing a case you can tell if it is good. If the pull is to soft take it out to inspect. Same when you seat a bullet. If the pull is soft check for a split case. Don't bell more than needed and the brass will last longer. Get a Lyman reloading manual. It has the pressure and seating length of each bullet tested. Factory new 44 & 357 ammo are about the top of the chart. If you stay in the middle of a reload manual the loads are still hot. If you use a powder like 2400 -296 - 4227- H110 you don't have to worry about a double charge. I am only saying this for new people getting into reloading. Stay safe. You are building a bomb.
I used to shoot a lot of magnums running full power, maybe 5-6K a year, & yes they will need trimming if you want uniform roll crimps. All rimmed brass stretches, it just depends on the pressure level you run them.
BTW, I would never classify reloading as building a bomb. Yes, done wrong bad things can happen, but bomb makers eventually all get blown up. Reloaders, not so much.
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Old 02-14-2020, 06:02 PM
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A blown up gun is not a bomb? The one I saw on the forum last week by Shark Bait had the top strap blown off.

Last edited by 4barrel; 02-14-2020 at 06:08 PM.
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Old 02-14-2020, 06:41 PM
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ever hear of a Blue Pill?
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Old 02-14-2020, 07:44 PM
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A blown up gun is not a bomb? The one I saw on the forum last week by Shark Bait had the top strap blown off.
Still not a bomb, but an over pressure vent. Bombs can go off before intended, handloads, never. The diff, peeled top strap vs losing your entire arm.
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Old 02-15-2020, 12:24 PM
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Can you tell just fired one time brass?

Here is a picture that I took from NEW factory 9mm cases after firing.
Some powders burn cleaner than others but.........
fps and pressure of these FMJ Ball loads was not tested......
it is just a picture of fired new cases.

Enjoy.

I can tell factory loaded once fired brass, many times, by looking at the fired primer.
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Old 02-15-2020, 01:22 PM
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My experience with 45ACP was that I reloaded it so many times the headstamp was worn off. This was over a 35 year period. It was all Winchester, Remington, Speer, and Federal brass. When the small primer ammo came out I bought 1000 rounds and retired my old ACP brass.

For 38/357, 41mag, and 44mag it is the same way as long as you are not casing max velocities. I do recommend US, Israeli, or western European brass over the old soviet bloc countries. I sort my 9mm, 10mm, and 45GAP. The 9mm and 45GAP I lost count in the high teens on the reloads a few years back. When it starts loosing it headstamp markings or the rim is chewed up I will retire it. The 10mm only last about 10 times before the bottoms of the cases bulge unless they are at the higher pressures and then maybe only once or twice.
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Old 02-15-2020, 03:11 PM
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I sell it as range pick up not once fired. I know that most of it is once fired because I get it directly from a known source but I also pick up other peoples brass and I have no way to know. I've never had an issue with range brass. It's all I reload.

At my particular range people sweep up their brass and throw it in a bucket. Those people don't reload so I'm assuming that most of that brass is once fired. If they reloaded they wouldn't be throwing it in the buckets. But there's always a chance that someone has reloaded the brass in the past and no longer wants it for any number of reasons. A few days ago I found several hundred pieces of 22-250 in the bucket that wasn't once fired. I don't reload that cartridge so I had no use for it. If I had I would have picked it up and processed it being careful about it's condition. Somebody will eventually grab it and reload it. That's a pretty hot cartridge so maybe not the best example of using range brass if you don't know where it came from. Mostly I shoot .223/5.56 and low pressure pistol cartridges. I don't load hot either.

If you have concerns you're probably better off buying new brass just for the peace of mind.
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Old 02-15-2020, 03:24 PM
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A blown up gun is not a bomb? The one I saw on the forum last week by Shark Bait had the top strap blown off.
We used to call them hand grenades but they weren't really. Just an expression for novice shooters to not shoot OP's reloaded ammo. I won't do it but YMMV.

I had a buddy who liked to drink beer and reload. Red alert.
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Old 02-15-2020, 03:28 PM
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As to post #36---Shark Bait had 3 go off at the same time. That was a bomb. I guess we could ask what he though. Enough firecrackers could cause a bomb effect.
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Old 02-17-2020, 03:02 PM
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As to post #36---Shark Bait had 3 go off at the same time. That was a bomb. I guess we could ask what he though. Enough firecrackers could cause a bomb effect.
No, that wasn't a bomb. If it had been a bomb he would probably be dead. Never seen that term in a loading manual either.

Stop with all the drama.
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Old 02-17-2020, 03:26 PM
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As to post #36---Shark Bait had 3 go off at the same time. That was a bomb. I guess we could ask what he though. Enough firecrackers could cause a bomb effect.
That is not at all what happened and the pictures show perfect evidence. The two adjacent rounds had the brass ripped open from the sides, the primers in each of those rounds are still live.
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Old 02-17-2020, 03:49 PM
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Shark Baits gun is dead as a run over o'possum.
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Old 02-17-2020, 10:28 PM
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As to post #36---Shark Bait had 3 go off at the same time. That was a bomb. I guess we could ask what he though. Enough firecrackers could cause a bomb effect.
It's just semantics really, though, if I hold a bomb in my hand and it goes off, I'll at least lose a hand. If I have a double charge go off in a revolver or semi-auto, the gun will be destroyed, but I'll walk away with minor injuries. I've seen it happen a few times. Shark Bait didn't have 3 cartridges ignite at the same time. It is likely that one cylinder was double charged and caused all the damage. The torn cases of the other two cartridges may have had some of their exposed powder ignite, but being un-contained the powder burning wouldn't have been anything like an explosion.

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Old 02-18-2020, 01:35 PM
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I can tell factory loaded once fired brass, many times, by looking at the fired primer.

Yes, if a primer has a ding in the center of it, it is a good chance that it has been fired.................

another good sign is that the case is missing a bullet.
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Old 02-18-2020, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by DWARREN123 View Post
For 9mm depends on loads. I have gotten as many as 15 reloads in military brass, light loads.
You Da man...........

being able to find a 9mm case 15 times is remarkable.

However I do shot outside on Nevada's BLM land.
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