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Old 09-08-2021, 05:07 PM
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Default There's no good reason to do this....but

I know there's a lot floating around about reloading aluminum cases but I never did it and really never thought to do it. The other day I was going through some 9mm brass and came across some CCI, aluminum. I know that they used to prime them with Berdan primers but at some point, changed to Boxer style. Of course the ones I have are Boxer primed. I had my Dillon press set up for 9mm and I figured "what could be the harm?". Now if you're reading this and thinking "why", 9mm brass is available and cheep and manufacturers tell us not to and you might put an eye out, and you feel the need to tell me what a threat to humanity I am, have at it but that's not why I tried this little exercise. The only real reason I tried this was because the cases made an appearance and I was bored. As I said, the cases are CCI and have the NR mark on them. (Whatever could that mean?..wink, wink) They measured .390 just ahead of the web before sizing. My Lee sizing die brought them to .386. They entered the die without any hang up. I flared the mouth a little more than I wanted to but the die was set up and I didn't change it. After the first one, I thought that I would have to adjust the flare but I didn't and none of them cracked. I seated the bullet as usual and taper crimped with a Lee die. The loaded cases looked fine with just a bit of burnish from the sizing die.



Sorry for the focus. The load is 4.4 grains of Bullseye with a 115 grain plated bullet and a CCI standard primer. This is one of my usual range loads and always works well. It's not really close to maxing out but is relatively accurate in all of my 9's and functions well. I shot them in a Glock 45. It seems to have the least supported chamber of all of my 9's and it's a Glock so if it vaporizes, I won't feel so bad about it. The gun was dirty before I fired them and I didn't do anything special as far as lube was concerned. I shot the gun as is. The gun function flawlessly and the loads shot the same as the brass ones. The recovered cases had no cracks or bulges. They measured .390, the same as when I had started. There did seem to be a little bit of primer flow. This might be due to the fact that they seem to have bigger flash holes than the brass cases. I don't have pin gauges so I don't have measurements but visually they look bigger.



So what did this non scientific, anecdotal experiment accomplish? Not much, really! I do think that you could make a case that if you were shooting in a place where you can't recover your brass this might be useful. Other than that, it was more about "does this work?". The answer is, at least in my case, yes, it works pretty well. Do try this at home!
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Old 09-08-2021, 05:17 PM
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I'm going to agree with you. Don't try this at home!

Without knowing for sure, my guess is that the producer says not to reload because the internal dimensions and thus the case capacity is different than brass. A reloader who's not cognizant of this may try approaching max loads (for brass cases) with disastrous results.

Interesting post, nonetheless.
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Old 09-08-2021, 05:41 PM
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EEEEE...... Na ..... Please dont reload Alum Cases.... or steel.
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Old 09-08-2021, 05:50 PM
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I reloaded a bunch of Steel .45 ACP and .223. Tested them out and they ran fine. As above I use them when I'm in a place I can't recover my brass. Some indoor ranges don't want you to pick up brass so I just let the steel ones lay.
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Old 09-08-2021, 05:56 PM
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A friend and I tried this many years ago (by which I mean I supplied the once fired aluminum, he supplied the reloading, the gun, and the hand attached to it). We had similar results the first time, but the second reload resulted in numerous cracks to the point we didn't run any of the OK ones a third time. It can be done, but seeing the cases from the second round made neither of us trust another run of once fired.
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Old 09-08-2021, 07:01 PM
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I might be willing to try it one ones I personally new were once-fired, I'd want to check the internal volume carefully before deciding on a charge.
Of course, there's plenty of brass lying around (for now), but it doesn't hurt my feeling to know it's an option in case things get tough at some later time.
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Old 09-08-2021, 07:09 PM
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A friend of mine reloaded some aluminum cases, but he stopped when a huge crack developed while firing, and the fireball out of the breach changed his mind in a heartbeat.
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Old 09-08-2021, 07:27 PM
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I like load development. Different powders, bullets and primers. Various charge weights for accuracy and velocity.
But I’m going to draw the line on steel or aluminum cases. I don’t even shoot factory new stuff made with aluminum or steel cases.
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Old 09-08-2021, 07:45 PM
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Cool Aluminum Recycling

45ACP reloaded one time after the factory.
CCI NR aluminum cases and XTP Hornady
bullets, please see picture below.

My first 7 reloaded, worked just fine.

Prepared and reloaded the same way Brass
cases are reloaded. These probably will not
with stand another reloading, so no 3rd time
reloads.

When these cases are shot I don’t care if I
lose them. I will recover them if I can.
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File Type: jpg 34B95F8F-299F-4149-9B8C-B4AB100254E9.jpg (82.4 KB, 68 views)
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Old 09-08-2021, 08:38 PM
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I agree that there is definitely a difference in case capacity with the aluminum having less space. That's why I went with the load I did. I wouldn't try it with anything near max. Modern guns are designed to contain a case failure and I've had brass cases fail many times without breaking the gun. Usually it is metal fatigue that makes the case fail. That's the other thing with the aluminum reloads. Aluminum acts differently than brass and I don't know how an aluminum case would tend to fail or how much work hardening it would take to create a problem. That's why this experiment will be limited to only one reload. Of course the question of how many times an aluminum case can be reloaded may be revisited at some point. If I survive, I will post my experiences! Anything that happens above the web is going to have very little impact but if an unsupported head fails, the pressure is going to be vented into the gun and the potential for damage goes way up.

This is a good example of a brass case failure. This is a 44 Magnum that separated in my 629. It was definitely caused by metal fatigue from resizing the case too many times. Of course the gun did not fail and the only issue was getting the broken case out of the chamber.


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Old 09-08-2021, 09:33 PM
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I would approach this subject the same way that I do 'reloading' primers. I would regard it as a last-ditch, apocalyptic solution to a 'no-ammo' situation. I will admit to having reloaded a few once-fired steel .45 ACP cases, just because, mostly as a technical exercise. I know that it can be done and the gun won't self-destruct as a consequence of firing same. I'm not going to start hoarding steel or aluminum fired cases for the apocalypse, however.
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Old 09-09-2021, 02:51 AM
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The OP is 100% correct (in his choice of title).

Now then, why would a manufacturer of ammunition go to all that trouble and put a "NR" on their factory made product...? Along with a warning about use in carbines?

Perhaps because the components were never designed to reliably and safely function more than once? Kind'a like baby wipes?

Never doubted that it could be done: best of luck to those who choose to do so!

FWIW, 4.6gr Bullseye (the LEE #0.5 Scoop) is a favorite 9mm load for me with a number of different bullets.

Cheers!

P.S. In my (very limited) reloading experience I've seen one case failure: that was more than sufficient and as a result I further refined my reloading's virtual regimen.
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Old 09-09-2021, 08:15 AM
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Interesting to know that it can be done. Experimentation is a very enjoyable aspect of reloading. I'm sure you've gained something by this exercise, and I thank you for sharing it.
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Old 09-09-2021, 09:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrnurse View Post
EEEEE...... Na ..... Please dont reload Alum Cases.... or steel.
Phooey!.........A long time ago when I was younger and poorer. I reloaded 100's of REM-UMC steel 45 acp cases and shot them all in a Colt Lightweight Commander. Some got multiple loadings.......SO unless you've rode that horse don't tell me about his canter.
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Old 09-09-2021, 10:30 AM
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They will split on you.
Aluminum has very poor elasticity/plasticity compared to brass. Those cases are already full of small cracks in the metal. You can't size those away. In fact you probably make them worse.
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Old 09-09-2021, 01:17 PM
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A few of the posts here got me to do some more unscientific, anecdotal observations. Especially when it comes to a comparison of capacity between the aluminum and brass cases. From my calculations, such as they are, I found that the aluminum cases hold 12.7 grains of water. The brass cases hold 13.6 grains of water. Of course I used the CCI aluminum cases and I used Federal brass cases. I weighed the cases dry and then weighed them filled with water. I did it with 10 of each and took an average. I knew the aluminum would be lighter but it surprised me how much lighter they actually were. The aluminum averaged 23.1 grains dry and the brass was 58.2 grains. More than twice the weight as the aluminum. I sectioned two cases. Here's a photo.



The brass is on the right. I didn't do any measurements, but the head thickness looks to be about the same. The walls of the aluminum are much thicker than the brass and the thickness extends father up the case. This is where the aluminum looses volume to the brass. I'm guessing that this is how they make up for the lack of elasticity in the aluminum compared to the brass. It's a pretty elegant solution if you ask me. So the verdict in my courtroom is: yes, the aluminum has less volume, therefore, maximum pressure loads for a brass case is going to be over pressure in an aluminum case. How much? I guess if you are an engineer you could figure out the difference. I think it would be enough of an overpressure that I wouldn't go anywhere near it. Another observation is the size of the flash hole. It's much bigger than the brass case. I'm standing by my conclusion that it is the reason I had primer flow. The larger hole allowed more pressure to enter and it pushed out the primers. It's not a big deal to me. I've had way worse on 357 magnum loads that were well within the published data. So how do the ammo companies get away with using the aluminum case? Mostly it's in the way they go about building their loads. Unlike a handloader, who starts with a powder with a known pressure curve then adds components to achieve a result, they start with a specification and make a powder to achieve their goal. Lets say they want to make a 115grain bullet go 1200 fps at a certain pressure level. They figure out the burn rate they need then make a powder that burns at that rate. That's one reason why you should never use powder pulled from factory ammo. Just because it looks like Bullseye, it probably isn't. So now the 800 pound elephant. What about that NR stamped on the case head? What about the fine print on the box that says "DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!"? When CCI first came out with aluminum (They weren't the first. The military had been using it for all sorts of ammo for many years.) the cases were Berdan primed. This was because they didn't want anyone to do what I just did. At some point, they figured they could up their profit margin by standardizing primers and the Boxers came on the scene. So what about their liability if someone blows themselves up reloading an aluminum case? Did it suddenly disappear? Of course not. Here's what I think changed. They had about 25 years of aluminum manufacturing under their belts. I would be shocked if they didn't factor reloading into their risk assessment before they changed over to Boxer primers. I think they concluded that what I just experienced would be the most likely outcome. So long as due diligence is followed, the risk of damage compared to brass is small. They're not going to come out and bless reloading aluminum, but it's not a big enough problem that they have to make the cases so that it's impossible to reload them. If the cases were so fragile that they can't withstand the reloading process, they would make the primers square if they had to to stop people from trying it. In the world of civil suits and settlements, that NR on the case head is almost meaningless. Everyone makes their own decisions, for the most part, and if you like playing around with this stuff I think you can do it safely. I'm not going to scrap my brass cases but it is an interesting (To Me) topic and it's nice to know that it can be done if there's ever a brass embargo.
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Old 09-09-2021, 02:07 PM
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Might be worth trying with today's lack of components? Several years ago I did an experiment with aluminum cases, 45 ACP Blazer. I checked each case for a single flash hole and reloaded some. Most made it through the second reloading, some to the third. Aluminum necks split easily and neck tension varied too much for me. Other performance (feeding, firing, extraction/ejection) were OK, but only tried reloading 3 times per case at the most (a good percentage didn't make it past 3) and could see damage to rims. I have records somewhere, but I also have three shoe boxes full of processed 45 ACP brass and a coffee can full of once fired, along with about 1,000 JIC handloads, so I don't even think about aluminum cases...

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Old 09-09-2021, 03:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmj8591 View Post
I agree that there is definitely a difference in case capacity with the aluminum having less space. That's why I went with the load I did. I wouldn't try it with anything near max. Modern guns are designed to contain a case failure and I've had brass cases fail many times without breaking the gun. Usually it is metal fatigue that makes the case fail. That's the other thing with the aluminum reloads. Aluminum acts differently than brass and I don't know how an aluminum case would tend to fail or how much work hardening it would take to create a problem. That's why this experiment will be limited to only one reload. Of course the question of how many times an aluminum case can be reloaded may be revisited at some point. If I survive, I will post my experiences! Anything that happens above the web is going to have very little impact but if an unsupported head fails, the pressure is going to be vented into the gun and the potential for damage goes way up.

This is a good example of a brass case failure. This is a 44 Magnum that separated in my 629. It was definitely caused by metal fatigue from resizing the case too many times. Of course the gun did not fail and the only issue was getting the broken case out of the chamber.

Not to get off track, but I have seen this with shotgun shells loaded too many times with slow powder. Peter's Blue Magic were good for this. Crimp does no open, and a slug ends up going down the bbl.....Now back to our regular programming
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Old 09-09-2021, 04:10 PM
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Well, "they" now want the IRS to have access to ALL your banking information...!

I guess the prospect of a "brass embargo" isn't entirely out of the question, huh...?
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Old 09-18-2021, 02:12 PM
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In terms of metallurgy the once fired aluminum case is changed after firing in terms of flexibility, malleability, etc. and becomes more rigid and BRITTLE. Bad things come of that when the ignition of gunpowder explodes inside your firearm that you are holding in your hand near your face. I would say "Just DON'T!" but folks these days do not like be told what to do.
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Old 09-18-2021, 03:08 PM
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I reloaded some aluminum cases,,just to see if it could be done.I got up to four reloads on a .45 ACP case before I lost it. This may prove to be useful information someday. Just sayin’
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Old 09-18-2021, 04:11 PM
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In terms of metallurgy the once fired aluminum case is changed after firing in terms of flexibility, malleability, etc. and becomes more rigid and BRITTLE. Bad things come of that when the ignition of gunpowder explodes inside your firearm that you are holding in your hand near your face. I would say "Just DON'T!" but folks these days do not like be told what to do.
There is no doubt in my mind that the aluminum case will work harden and fail sooner than the brass case. Probably even sooner than a steel case. What I think will happen is the case will fail at its weakest point which is the upper case walls, causing the case to split the long way. Looking at that aluminum case I sectioned, the walls are very thick as they get closer to the head. A split case will not destroy a modern gun absent some ungodly overcharge or some defect in the gun. I think the only way to test this is to load a case until it fails. So, I think it's time to head back to the reloading bench!

"Just DON'T" is what they said to John Browning when he said he could use the pressure in the barrel to run his machine gun!
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Old 09-21-2021, 02:08 AM
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I suppose if this was a result of pure boredom than I understand the experiment. That said, with the abundance of Range Brass in most popular calibers (actually made of Brass) I see no real or practical reason to do this. Aluminum will just not tolerate the constant stretching and resizing as Brass will. Yes, I suppose you could get away with it once or maybe twice but again.... what's the point when Ranges are loaded with real Brass in almost all popular calibers.

ANY Range that won't allow a shooter to retrieve his own Brass is one that I would never shoot at! To me that practice is just plain wrong!
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