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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just got back from the range firing my very first hand loads. Shot great, probably the best group I've shot with the rifle, (not saying much GI2 ) noticed nothing out of the ordinary. Recoil wasn't noticeably different from the factory PMC I fired to zero the rifle moments before.

I had three small groups, with various loads (41gr, 41.5gr and 42gr of IMR4064), this was the first group and lowest powder charge of the three. Upon policing up my brass I noticed two cases showed clear signs of an incipient case head separation. Since I dont have broken shell extractor yet, I figured it was best to stop there and take a closer look at my loading process before firing the heavier charges.

The rifle is a SAI Standard. 162xxx serial range if I remember right. USGI barrel, SAI bolt.

The load is as follows. LC13 Cases purchased as "processed" brass. Checked in a Wilson drop in headspace gage. Trim length was measured at 2.000 to 2.003. Primed with CCI 200s and charged with 41gr of IMR 4064(weighed on a RCBS 505 scale). Bullet is a 168gr SMK seated to a COAL of 2.800 (actual measurement to the tip with calipers ranged from 2.796 to 2.804)

Now the one thing I did not do before loading these was check for case stretching. I'll be doing that with this processed brass before I load any more though.

Besides the brass, which hadn't be checked for stretching, is there something else in my process that could be at fault? A detail I overlooked or a possible mistake made?

I fired three rounds of the PMC with gas off, so I can see about using those to guesstimate my rifles chamber HS....maybe. Gotta read up on that. Wondering if I have a longer chamber HS and the cases are just stretching too much. I haven't noticed any signs in the almost 200rds of PMC I've fired through the rifle so far.

Sorry about the picture quality. Wife's camera gives me fits sometimes.
 

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were those sold as once fired brass?? I don't know that I'd shoot any more of those myself... try cutting one in half and see how thin the brass is there.. I suspect those were fired more than 1x, or from a MG..

Primers look a little flat FWIW.. mine usually are about the same even with factory loads.

they did pass the headspace gauge check as well right?

If all the ones you purchased are like that, I'd just recycle them...

I have some 4x CBC and LC cases that don't have the ring.. I wonder WTH those were fired from prior?
 

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I don't think that it's anything you can control, it's the brass. I'd bet that it's once fired machine gun brass, which by itself can result in over-hardened brass that cracks, but I also know that there is at least one year/lot of LC brass that has been having problems with cracking and it looks to me like this is a manufacturing problem.

Your cracks are not what I call a head separation because they are too high on the case. The red arrows are pointing to where you will normally see head separation due to hot loads or too long of headspace.


Cracks as high as the ones you are getting are usually caused by the brass being too hard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The cases did measure out/pass in the Wilson gage.

I have several lots of LC from this lot of "once fired" processed brass. Came from a 4000lb lot purchased surplus, processed locally by a guy who posted them here for sale. I guess I will cut open a few and see what I can see. So its possibly just bad brass?

These were all LC13 which is only about 10% of the cases I purchased. The majority of the rest is LC11 or LC12. Suppose I can switch to a different lot and see if it does the same....after I cut a few open.
 

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Last year, I bought 1000 cases of once-fired LC 12 and they turned out exactly like yours. After one load the case show cracking in the same place as yours. They actually separate in my Rem 700, but only crack in my M1A.
 

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Since you said it was mixed lot, is there a chance that it was range pick up? How many times have you loaded these specific cases in the photo above?

My LC stuff, I receive is still with the fired primer and the crimp is intact. I don't buy 'ready to load' military brass that has been 'polished', 'sized', and had the crimp removed because there is no way for me to ID if it has not been fired multiple times.

One of my sizing dies leaves marks outside of the brass, it's not nearly as defined as your marks, but it is there.

I generally clean, deprime, size, trim and remove crimp on my LC brass. After it is loaded it goes in the fired 2x bin, then after the 2x firing it goes in the 3x bin. I also segregate by rifle.

On your 1x-fired, have you tried the paper-clip trick to see if you can feel anything inside the case?
 

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Most likely fired in a machine gun, or other large chamber.

I recommend everyone keep a broken shell extractor in their buttstock or kit, but you can also use a borebrush if you let the case cool for a minute or two.
 

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Girth, every case that I have fired too many times has pulled apart has been in the same area as you show in the pictures. Given enough reloads on the same brass a half moon ring develops on the inside of the case sometimes its the first reload sometimes its the 4th, the next firing it will separate. That line you see on the brass is actually a crack on the inside moving out and its almost through the case.

Most sellers of prepped MG brass resize them in one pass so this really works them hard. I've used my share of MG brass but I prefer to prep and resize them myself, I do it in stages. The first resize is in a FL 30.06 sizer this works the brass back down above the case head and it doesn't touch the case anywhere else. Then its on too the .308 die too finish it off.

Not only is it easier too resize the brass in stages, but for some reason case separations with MG fired brass don't happen as soon.
 

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Just got back from the range firing my very first hand loads. Shot great, probably the best group I've shot with the rifle, (not saying much GI2 ) noticed nothing out of the ordinary. Recoil wasn't noticeably different from the factory PMC I fired to zero the rifle moments before.

I had three small groups, with various loads (41gr, 41.5gr and 42gr of IMR4064), this was the first group and lowest powder charge of the three. Upon policing up my brass I noticed two cases showed clear signs of an incipient case head separation. Since I dont have broken shell extractor yet, I figured it was best to stop there and take a closer look at my loading process before firing the heavier charges.

The rifle is a SAI Standard. 162xxx serial range if I remember right. USGI barrel, SAI bolt.

The load is as follows. LC13 Cases purchased as "processed" brass. Checked in a Wilson drop in headspace gage. Trim length was measured at 2.000 to 2.003. Primed with CCI 200s and charged with 41gr of IMR 4064(weighed on a RCBS 505 scale). Bullet is a 168gr SMK seated to a COAL of 2.800 (actual measurement to the tip with calipers ranged from 2.796 to 2.804)

Now the one thing I did not do before loading these was check for case stretching. I'll be doing that with this processed brass before I load any more though.

Besides the brass, which hadn't be checked for stretching, is there something else in my process that could be at fault? A detail I overlooked or a possible mistake made?

I fired three rounds of the PMC with gas off, so I can see about using those to guesstimate my rifles chamber HS....maybe. Gotta read up on that. Wondering if I have a longer chamber HS and the cases are just stretching too much. I haven't noticed any signs in the almost 200rds of PMC I've fired through the rifle so far.

Sorry about the picture quality. Wife's camera gives me fits sometimes.
I have done that also. It is a nice feature for the M1A, SOCOM16, series. It will isolate autohandler issues from chamber gas pressure issues.

If you are getting stretch marks with the gas off, then it would be a safe bet that you have a large chamber or small case or both problem.

The camera work looks fine to me, by the way.
 

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The cases did measure out/pass in the Wilson gage.

I have several lots of LC from this lot of "once fired" processed brass. Came from a 4000lb lot purchased surplus, processed locally by a guy who posted them here for sale. I guess I will cut open a few and see what I can see. So its possibly just bad brass?

These were all LC13 which is only about 10% of the cases I purchased. The majority of the rest is LC11 or LC12. Suppose I can switch to a different lot and see if it does the same....after I cut a few open.
Some years ago I bought 2 1K lots of 'processed' 7.62mm brass from one of the big vendors. I had serious problems with one of the headstamps, LC 04 I think; I documented it here. I have since discarded all the LC04 brass I have, I have not had any problems with the other headstamps in the 2K cases, so far (but I have not fired all of it, either.) All of this has seriously changed my thinking on using processed once-fired brass... I probably won't do it again, instead I'll be buying new cases or loaded ammo and recovering the brass to process myself.

In my case, the head actually fractured... not a case head 'separation' by the traditional definition... blowing gas back into the action and blowing out the mag floor plate. GI3
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Since you said it was mixed lot, is there a chance that it was range pick up? How many times have you loaded these specific cases in the photo above?

On your 1x-fired, have you tried the paper-clip trick to see if you can feel anything inside the case?
This was the first load on these for me. Story I got was, this brass came from a 4,000lb lot, purchased surplus. It was processed locally, bought it from member "sagewa". Been meaning to call him anyways. Kicking myself for buying processed brass, but was hoping to save time. We all know how that usually works out... GI3 Im not setup to tumble/clean, trim, or swage primer pockets yet. Looks like I need to be though.

I have not done the paper-clip trick yet, but will before I load any more of this. I plane to pull samples from each headstamp year and cut them open too, just for giggles.

@Phil... I've seen you mention that sizing trick with the .30-06 die before. I might have to scrounge up a FL sizing die. Not that it will help THESE cases.

I only have about 100 more of these LC13 cases.... kinda hoping its limited to this headstamp, but not with my luck.
 

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This was the first load on these for me. Story I got was, this brass came from a 4,000lb lot, purchased surplus. It was processed locally, bought it from member "sagewa". Been meaning to call him anyways. Kicking myself for buying processed brass, but was hoping to save time. We all know how that usually works out... GI3 Im not setup to tumble/clean, trim, or swage primer pockets yet. Looks like I need to be though.

I have not done the paper-clip trick yet, but will before I load any more of this. I plane to pull samples from each headstamp year and cut them open too, just for giggles.

@Phil... I've seen you mention that sizing trick with the .30-06 die before. I might have to scrounge up a FL sizing die. Not that it will help THESE cases.

I only have about 100 more of these LC13 cases.... kinda hoping its limited to this headstamp, but not with my luck.
I don't know Sagewa, and I have never used his product.

Knowing the 'history' of the brass is important. Understanding how it is processed and sized is important. Just because a case goes into a sizing die does not mean it is safe to fire. A sizing die that is incorrectly set up can mis-size brass at the same rate as a correctly set up die.

Personally, I would do a few things.

1) Get your hands on some fresh M80. Headspace a few rounds, see what is going on before and after (gas off).

2) Get an RCBS case gauge. Wilson makes a great case gauge, I have one and use it along with an RCBS gauge and a hornady gauge. The wilson case gauge has limitations (errors in headspacing can be offset by under trimming, etc) and may vary from your barrel chamber.

3) Get a chamber mirror and check out what is going on in your chamber. Clean your shoulder in your chamber via wiping.

4) What does your once fired M80 from your chamber look like vs the LC13 you had processed?

Last thing…I know lots of people buy and reload brass without any indifference as to type, weight, headspace, oal, etc. That may be ok with them and up to their standards, but you can introduce a LOT of error into batches that way, that error may make crappy groups, or cause you to loose an eye.

Reloading for the M14 is a PITA. It's not an easy rifle to load for. Zediker has a book out that can be very helpful, the whole freaking 200 page book, not the pdf on his website. It's an excellent read and very helpful, covers tons of info on gas guns and a lot of the info your asking about.

http://www.midwayusa.com/product/875590/handloading-for-competition-making-the-target-bigger-book-by-glen-zediker?cm_vc=ProductFinding

FYI, I am not an expert, still learning. I have only been loading for the 14 types for about a year or so.
 

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Charlie98 link to his earlier post is a very good read.

I will also add that I buy new loaded M80 and use that for reloads. I either pull the bullet and dump the powder, shoot it as mexican match, or as is before reloading it.

If my rifle puts my eye out…it's all stupid me.

When I started reloading for the 14, I bought some processed brass and had issues with it as well. Last time I personally will do that. It was not purchased from a forum member.
 

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On my M14 LRB with 1.634 chamber I resize to 1.629-1.630 with all NATO brass LC, TAA PSD and WCC. I mark all my rounds after one reload across the base with a blue permanent marked, on the second reload black and third red. After the third reload it goes into the brass pile. I still lose cases after first reload about 10%. I check with paperclip and if I feel a crack or rough spot as the brass is thin out it goes. This is no guarantee as I still have had LC brass partially separate. By the second reload I am pitching close to 15% . My load is 41.5 grains IMR 4895 with 168 SMK. Not hot at all. You are going to lose cases it just seems to be the nature of the beast (M14). I reload for M1 and have cases near 5 reloads that keep on going, have no idea why such a big difference between the two.
 

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I'm with netilus, I never buy "pre-processed" brass, or brass I don't know where its been. I have a collection of case head separations from what I believe was brass fired out of a pig with a very generous chamber.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I am having the exact same problem Girth with prepped LC once fired brass that I bought,also its much larger than my chamber after firing.
As I understand it, just the force of extraction will stretch your brass. Thats why it seems bigger than your chamber Im sure. The extractor is trying to yank it out before the pressure has dropped and its still holding onto the chamber a bit. At least thats how I understand it. Thats why I fired a few factory loads this morning with the gas off, cycled the action by hand, and set those fired cases aside. Wanted some samples to see how far the case was really stretching....without additional stretch caused by extraction. Of course I don't have the tools to accurately measure from the case shoulder, YET.

I don't know Sagewa, and I have never used his product.

Knowing the 'history' of the brass is important. Understanding how it is processed and sized is important. Just because a case goes into a sizing die does not mean it is safe to fire. A sizing die that is incorrectly set up can mis-size brass at the same rate as a correctly set up die.

Personally, I would do a few things.

1) Get your hands on some fresh M80. Headspace a few rounds, see what is going on before and after (gas off).

2) Get an RCBS case gauge. Wilson makes a great case gauge, I have one and use it along with an RCBS gauge and a hornady gauge. The wilson case gauge has limitations (errors in headspacing can be offset by under trimming, etc) and may vary from your barrel chamber.

3) Get a chamber mirror and check out what is going on in your chamber. Clean your shoulder in your chamber via wiping.

4) What does your once fired M80 from your chamber look like vs the LC13 you had processed?

Last thing…I know lots of people buy and reload brass without any indifference as to type, weight, headspace, oal, etc. That may be ok with them and up to their standards, but you can introduce a LOT of error into batches that way, that error may make crappy groups, or cause you to loose an eye.

Reloading for the M14 is a PITA. It's not an easy rifle to load for. Zediker has a book out that can be very helpful, the whole freaking 200 page book, not the pdf on his website. It's an excellent read and very helpful, covers tons of info on gas guns and a lot of the info your asking about.

http://www.midwayusa.com/product/875590/handloading-for-competition-making-the-target-bigger-book-by-glen-zediker?cm_vc=ProductFinding

FYI, I am not an expert, still learning. I have only been loading for the 14 types for about a year or so.
For the record, Im not placing ANY blame on the guy who sold me the brass. I'll probably still give him a shout, just to get his input. He was given some surplus brass to sell, I chose to pay the extra $0.02/rd to have it processed. I figured there would be a certain percentage that didn't pass muster, but figured I'd take the risk. Last time I'll do that.

Family is visiting this weekend so not much time to check more stuff out, but I won't be loading any more cartridges until I get a better handle on my brass.

As far as under trimming...doesnt appear to be an issue with the brass I bought. The majority is trimmed to 2.005 or shorter. I've dropped every case I bought into the Wilson gage, sorted out the ones that were long or short, then sorted the various head stamps, and further sorted them by their trimmed length. My goal is not to make the most accurate ammunition. Its a SAI Standard, not a match rifle. My goal is to make safe and consistent ammunition. Figure I can work on accuracy later, but as long as they're consistent, I can work with them.

Next tool I'll be buying looks to be something like the Hornady headspace and OAL gages. Near as I can tell, that Wilson gage will tell me if a case heaspaces within the SAAMI cartridge specs (and some of my processed brass does not....I separated that out) but thats about it. When I get a chance I'll drop those three gases I fired this morning with the gas off, into the Wilson gage and see if I can get an idea how much they're stretching during firing. Didn't fire any of my reloads with the gas off, so can't compare the two, but Im thinking it should hint at how far these LC cases are stretching from their sized length. I think....

Wife had some cheap paper clips, bent one up. Besides the two cases with obvious signs, I don't feel a ridge or groove in the other cases I fired this morning. It was only 9 rounds.... 2 out of 9 is not a great ratio. That paper clip is flimsy as hell though so could be flexing without me feeling it. I'll make a better tool when I get back to work out of some small steel hinge pin.

Thanks for all the input guys. Its a STEEP learning curve, and Im finding its as much art as it is science. Im enjoying it. GI1
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Since you said it was mixed lot, is there a chance that it was range pick up? How many times have you loaded these specific cases in the photo above?

My LC stuff, I receive is still with the fired primer and the crimp is intact. I don't buy 'ready to load' military brass that has been 'polished', 'sized', and had the crimp removed because there is no way for me to ID if it has not been fired multiple times.
I don't think I answered this properly earlier. Of the 1000 cases I bought it is somewhat of a mixed lot. Approximate numbers, but 60% is LC12, 20% LC11, 10% LC13 (which these cases are) and the remaining 10% is a really mixed lot. All LC but cases from the 80's, 90's and I think I saw a couple that were late 70's. Anything that wasn't LC11, 12, or 13, I tossed in the "Mixed headstamp" bin.

These cases were processed at my request. As I understand it, the lot of surplus brass was just that. Fired, dirty, and with the fired primers still crimped...until he processed them for my order.
 

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So often people call metal fatigue cracks incipient head fractures, they are different things.

Incipient head fractures happen because the brass becomes hardened where it has been stretched most. Due to normal stresses in the design of a case the area where the case will stretch most is where the thickened case head webbing meets the thinner case wall.

This is a head separation


In the case on the right you can see three things; stretching of the case head webbing, a large ridge, and a crack (on the left wall of the case). The webbing has stretched and the brass has become work hardened in that area which is why the crack occurred. That ridge is the thing you feel with the bent paper clip technique. With a .308 case you can simply look inside the case with a bright pen light and if you see the ridge then the brass is getting ready to fail, it's a more efficient way of determining if your cases are developing cracks.

In the previous two pictures posted by the OP and another person, you can see a slight ring on the outside of the case right where I pointed the arrows. Those light rings are where incipient head separation would occur. The rings are caused by the resizing die pushing the thinned ridge back to size (it most likely bulges out a little when the cartridge is fired).


Where these pieces of brass have failed is higher; cracks this high up the case wall are usually indicative of a problem with the brass itself. You can even see in the second photo that the brass cracked well above where the webbing has thinned. Also, if you look closely at the case wall thickness of the right hand photo above, you can see that the case walls have not thinned, they are the same thickness all the way around where the fracture occurred, that's because the metal fractured due to some kind of hardness issue that was caused by improper manufacturing processes or the first firing.

The answer to the problem is to quit using that lot of brass rather than to continue trying to debate a problem that doesn't exist.
 
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