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I wanted to see what others experience is with cases splitting. I shoot 38 special with 3 grains of clays or 700x with a 125 gr Tcfp high tech coated bullet. In 4 years of shooting Cowboy I have had 20-30 total and 90% are star line. I also shot some Remington and Winchester. I am happy with the star line I just don’t understand why the premium brass is splitting. I don’t think it’s a pressure issue. I tumble in walnut media to clean and then reload them. What’s your experience?

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42 minutes ago, oak creek martin said:

I wanted to see what others experience is with cases splitting. I shoot 38 special with 3 grains of clays or 700x with a 125 gr Tcfp high tech coated bullet. In 4 years of shooting Cowboy I have had 20-30 total and 90% are star line. I also shot some Remington and Winchester. I am happy with the star line I just don’t understand why the premium brass is splitting. I don’t think it’s a pressure issue. I tumble in walnut media to clean and then reload them. What’s your experience?

There's probably a number of variables, but how much you bell the case when loading will certainly affect case life.

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Splitting in what gun?

Revolver or rifle?

 

Having reloaded commercially for 18 years one thing that helps stop splitting is to size your brass to the chambers.

All chambers are not the same.

Some are larger than others and this is where splitting will start.

 

Start by making 5 dummy rounds.

Run your brass through your loading process leaving the primer and powder out.

Then check these dummy rounds in every chamber they would be used in.

What you are looking for is the tightest chamber.

 

If your press is setup with the sizing die resizing the brass completely, it may be that the brass is sized down to small.

Once you think you have found the tightest chamber, Turn the sizing die out, 1/4 turn and make a couple more dummy rounds.

Check these rounds in all chambers, again looking for the tightest chamber.

Turn the sizing die out another 1/4 turn and check in chambers.

 

Do this until 1 chamber will not accept the dummy rounds but other chambers will accept them.

At this point, turn the sizing die 1/4 turn down.

Check to see if the dummy rounds will now chamber in all chambers.

 

Now your rounds are as big as they can be to fit your guns.

This also minimizes the expansion of all rounds during firing.

This should reduce the number of slit cases because they are not expanding as much and the case brass is not being works as much each time you reload them.

 

This process can take maybe 30 minutes to do.

You will have less split cases.

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I think there are two ways that cases split.  The first one is at the lip and this is generally caused by working the metal in the belling and crimp operations and with age they all will eventually split to some degree.  I've heard that annealing can help with this, but I've never tried it and if I did it would have to be some sort of pricey brass like my 45/70.  For .38 Specials, it just isn't worth the effort!  Anyway, the other type of split is down the side and generally a full length rupture.  This is the failure that causes the most problems and/or malfunctions in our firearms and it can be an extension of a split lip that wasn't caught prior to loading or possibly an oversized chamber again working the brass with repeated reloads and trips through the sizing die, or the third type which is the most difficult to detect and prevent in that the brass just gets brittle and fails.  On the latter, it's been my personal experience that nickel plated cases develop this problem far more easily than the brass ones do and therefore I seldom load them and then only as practice rounds.  I would never take nickel plated ammo to a big match for this very reason, but that's just a personal decision.

 

In any case, it pays to inspect your brass after cleaning and prior to loading and I also inspect each finished round after loading for issues such as high primers, shaved lead, as well as cracked or split cases.  As already mentioned, there is a characteristic "Clink" of a split case when handling them and a good ear can catch a goodly portion of them, but a one by one inspection is by far the most effective method.  Frankly, a case gauge is also a good investment and your time spent preventing issues is time well spent.  By the time one gets to the range, especially for a big match, ammo should not be an issue!  In fact, if you want to shoot fast, it's best to load slow.  Good luck and good shooting to all.  

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8 hours ago, oak creek martin said:

I wanted to see what others experience is with cases splitting. I shoot 38 special with 3 grains of clays or 700x with a 125 gr Tcfp high tech coated bullet. In 4 years of shooting Cowboy I have had 20-30 total and 90% are star line. I also shot some Remington and Winchester. I am happy with the star line I just don’t understand why the premium brass is splitting. I don’t think it’s a pressure issue. I tumble in walnut media to clean and then reload them. What’s your experience?

Lots of good info above,     An estimate of how many times they have been reloaded would be useful to decide if you have a problem or it's just a case of brass work hardening.    GW

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When I shot .44-40 I had a lot of split cases, hardly ever with .45 Colt or .38Spl, although I did have a .38 this weekend with a split case IN THE RIFLE that cost me 6 rounds!

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Many factors contribute to premature case splitting and I will just add one more.  "Powder burn rate"  and  Clays and 700x top the list of fast powders.

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Regarding nickel-plated brass, my experience is that they are prone to splitting.  I shot some in my revolvers at a match yesterday and got at least six split cases.  I expect this and will just toss them in my recycle brass can.

 

My plan for big matches was to shoot once-fired, all brass 38s in my rifle.  However, at the 4-Corners Regional I had one of these once-fired rounds spilt in my rifle.  I wasn't a full-length split and my rifle did not lock up.  However, it was a warning that I should shoot unfired brass at major matches.

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My .38 cases last a long time, even if loaded hot. .45 Colt cases tend to last a long time as well. I have noticed my .45 Schofield cases are ones that split the most and are used in pistols. I haven't checked cylinder sizes, but assume they are somewhat oversized. They easily allow extraction without the ejector rod even if dirty. If my Scofield cases are loaded mildly, they seem to hold up fairly well. If they are loaded hot/hotter such as increased powder charges or heavier bullets, I find more split cases. This is anecdotal guesswork as I'm too lazy to do scientific experiments. I try not to use .38 cases that have a cannelure because of several stuck cases in a rifle caused by a separated neck.

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I stay away from nickel plated brass myself especially in my rifle. I had more of the nickel brass split down the side then I ever had with regular brass cases. Just my preference....

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I have split a lot of cases over the years, and have used annealing to help with splitting from the cases being work hardened by repeated firing and resizing. 

 

But the easier solution has been adopting the Redding dual-sizing-ring dies which eliminate excessive resizing on straight wall cartridge cases.

 

https://www.redding-reloading.com/online-catalog/124-dual-ring-carbide-dies

 

There are two carbide rings in these dies, a tighter one to size the neck of the case, and a loose one to GENTLY size the lower 2/3 of the case.  Yep, they are expensive.  And they ARE CARTRIDGE SPECIFIC because a .38 special case needs "neck sizing" at a different length from the base than does a .357 case,   The die that works for .38 special is Redding part # 95183.

 

This has reduced the splitting in .45 Colt cases that are fired in my Uberti 73 rifle by about 75%.   Yep, this is one of the Uberti rifles with a maximum size chamber from the factory, so it has lots of room to let a case expand during firing.

 

good luck, GJ

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I believe that there are several other threads on this topic in this forum and as I recall Starline, while they make excellent brass overall, does not anneal their brass.  My wife shoots 32H&R brass using a APP and a 115gr 32-20 bullet, which is no a hot load.  She get a couple of split cases every match, split down the side not at the mouth, and that happens even with brand new brass.  As the 32H&R brass is relatively long compared to it's diameter, the process of drawing the brass into shape likely is building a lot of longitudinal stresses into the finished case which is showing up as splits when fired.

 

Last year we purchased 500 new Starline cases, which are still sitting in the box awaiting the availability of primers, and we are going to anneal them before using them to see if that helps.  Probably be a while before that happens, but if my "remembery" works, I will post the results here.

 

As a further note, we have used .357 Mag Starline brass with no issues what so ever.  We do put on a relatively heavy roll crimp using the Lee Factory Crimp dies, but have not had more than a few split cases at the neck.

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If you use a case checker you can try neck only sizing. If so - try the loaded rounds in of all your guns in that caliber.

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I have virtually no experience with Starline brass.  However, if there is a fair amount of splitting down the sides of once-fired cases, the likelihood is poor annealing or none by the manufacturer.  The cure for that? Switch brands, if possible. Case mouth splitting is generally due to work hardening from excessive expansion/crimping on reloading and will generally occur after a number of reloads.  The cure for that is either to decrease the amount of flaring after sizing and/or decrease the amount of crimp, IF that doesn't cause problems with holding the bullet in place or causing hangfires!

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Nickel plated cracks long before plain brass. I only use plated rounds for my belt carried rounds. If cracking at the case mouth try annealing. I just use a propane touch at night in dim light and when the mouth changes color, drop in water. It could be you are over crimping the loads more than required, thereby causing the cases to work harden faster. If using the seating die to crimp try using a Lee or Redding crimp die.

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I've found that approx. 12 reloads in my starline brass is about the limit. Using light powder in my  rifle,  the splitting creates too much effort to eject the  spent brass and slows the stage time. Sure wish I could get new brass now-a-days.

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10 minutes ago, Phantom, SASS #54973 said:

Splits happen...

Yeah. But I was almost locking up 5-8% of the shots. really aggravating. 

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just mentioned this in another thread:

 

when I start to get over 5% splits the brass gets annealed.  Then good to go 

 

You have to decide if the cost and then time needed outweigh getting new brass.  

 

Since I'm retired I have more time than $$ so annealing is a nice break from the shoot, clean, reload, repeat cycle

 

if it works here are some photos of my home made annealer

Annealer

 

Annealer

 

p1010076a

 

p1010077a

 

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I see that rig and wonder how many revolutions it would take to anneal at 33 1/3 RPM?  I've got an old turntable that would make that speed.....   :lol:

 

What's the drive and gearing on the one in the pictures?   GJ

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I am full length sizing, I have a minimal bell on the case mouth for seating. Most splits are in my Ruger’s. I have a set of new and old models. I understand splitting at the case mouth but some are at mid point of the case?  Are star line brass    more brittle than Winchester and Remington?

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6 hours ago, flat iron mike said:

Yeah. But I was almost locking up 5-8% of the shots. really aggravating. 

yeah...but I was just parodying a movie ;)

 

But you may want to inspect your rounds before loading them into your rifle...maybe...

 

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4 minutes ago, oak creek martin said:

I am full length sizing, I have a minimal bell on the case mouth for seating. Most splits are in my Ruger’s. I have a set of new and old models. I understand splitting at the case mouth but some are at mid point of the case?  Are star line brass    more brittle than Winchester and Remington?

Measure your chambers.

 

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3 hours ago, Garrison Joe, SASS #60708 said:

I see that rig and wonder how many revolutions it would take to anneal at 33 1/3 RPM?  I've got an old turntable that would make that speed.....   :lol:

 

What's the drive and gearing on the one in the pictures?   GJ

 

Just crank it up to 78!

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Just crank it up to 78!

 

Can you say "auto-ejecting annealing machine"  ?  My luck, I'd toss hot cases in my lap.

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I bought 600 38 special Nickel plated range brass at a gun show for $30, first one in split, I think I'm going to try annealing the whole lot before I do anything else with them.  Interestingly, I read a lot about Nickel Plating flaking off and scratching hardened steel reloading dies.  I have a similar issue at work, we're roll crimping a steel nickel plated electronic housing, and the nickel plating is flaking off and scoring our crimp die.  I'm going to try to alleviate this in my press using case lube and see if that helps.  I am planning on using the Nickel plated cases for BP/Subs.

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Had same problem recently 45lc in revolver. A fellow shooter suggested not belling brass as much, just bell big enough to get bullet to start. I took his advice and resolved the problem. A little more trouble to set the bullet, but worth it!

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