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Wondering what the life expectancy for 38special shells and for 357magnum shells. I load both from low to midrange. Not too worried about 38s as I am about the 357 magnum shells.
 

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Good question, I don’t track how many times any of my pistol case are reloaded but I know it’s a lot. They will split eventually though. One variable that will come into play is the brand of the brass, quality brass seems to last longer. Like they say though YMMV.
 

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I’m in the dozen plus range for 357 reloads and still going. Starline seems to be the strongest of the brass I have on hand.
 

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At least a dozen times here also, for the all-brass ones. The plated ones sometimes will last only half as long, then they split.
 

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Never had any pistol shells, all my shells are for shotguns. Cartridge cases are another matter ... :)

I have GI .38 brass that has been loaded 30+ times with 3.0 gr of Bullseye and 158 gr. Lead SWC. I don’t have any "light load" .357 loads. All of mine are right at max, no matter the bullet weight. Case life is generally in the dozen reload range. If the primer pockets are tight and the mouths unsplit I reload them.
 

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Light , low pressure target 38 special...50 loadings or 20 years .

Midrange , normal pressure 38 and 357 .... 12 loadings .

Really hot , high pressure .....3 to 6 loadings

A LOT of case life depends on chamber size and reloading die size , if both are close to the same size , less brass is expanded and less is sized down...this cold, work hardens the brass and causes cracks . As does heavy crimping , repeated crimping and then flaring to seat the bullet will cause a crack in the neck eventually .
It's like bending a heavy wire back and forth repeatedly...it will eventually break .
Gary
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the information. I try to use the same brand of shells for each reloading session. At the present time I'm sorting all my brass i tumbled yesterday. I try and rotate as best I can so they each get a turn going to the range.
 

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With moderate loads, your brass should outlast you. Nickel cases are prone to split after a few reloads, and of course if you load them to the max they won’t last as long.
 

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Brass case .357? A dozen reloads and counting for me, with one or two split necks in each batch of 100.

I have some .38s on their 20th reload...rifle rounds are six, Max, before they go into the recycling bucket.
 

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I have reloaded some 357 a lot more than 12 times and none have failed yet from firing. I attribute that to good case preparation and a properly sized chamber. My rifle likes heavy loads of 2400 and 158 gr. bullets. I am sure thinner cases will not last as long but I have had great luck with brass from Star line.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Not as concerned about shell life expectancy now. Most of my loads are low to midrange. With proper shell rotation ,shells from Cabelas from last year and firing occasional factory rounds i think I have a fair supply on hand. As always thanks for the info and feedback.
 

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With proper loading (ie. not trying to make your loads handheld howitzer rounds), you can get a lot of loadings, esp with 38 Spec. Back in my early days of reloading (1976-early 80's) for both calibers, I used to mark on each box of fifty rounds how many times each 50 rd batch had been reloaded. Forgot about that after I bought a bigger brass tumbler and got tired of keeping brass separate. Most of my 38 Spec reloading was using wadcutters and semi-wadcutters at moderate loadings, esp for PPC and Combat Course shooting. Hardly ever saw a split mouth or separated case. Primer pockets getting to sloppy was one of the biggest reasons to trash brass.

357 Magnums were a different story. In my early days, I did try to make handheld howitzer loadings using 110, 125, and 140 grain jacketed bullets and cast gas checked 156 grainers. Now some of those loadings split cases after 2-4 loadings. As has been posted, nickel plated brass were the worst offenders. Some of the worst brass I ever reloaded were from S&W when they offered ammo back in the mid 70's.. My Police Dept I worked for bought a case of 125 grain HP 357 Mags and the first case bought was bad. First time firings had case separations just above the rim on a lot of the ammo. When we would eject six fired rounds, sometimes 1-2 of the six would just eject the rim and a small portion of the case, leaving 3/4's plus of the case in the cylinder. A call to Smith and Wesson resulted in sending back all unfired ammo and some of the brass. A new case was sent along with a bunch of 38 Spec wadcutters and letter of apology. I heard later Smith was having a lot of complaints on this and it was attributed to a 'certain' lot of bad brass. I being the only reloader on the department inherited all of the fired nickel plated 357 brass. Took quite a while to use it up, but the majority of it had early mouth splits faster than other brands of brass. Still have a few left over that I use once in a while for low power cast bullet loadings.

Don't load up 'howitzer' loads as much anymore, but still do on occasion for 'just cause'! Proper care and loadings will result in quite a few cycles for the brass. Occasional trimming is needed if ya reload 'hotter' loadings. Hate brass trimming.
 

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You would have to shoot a lot to wear out 38 special cases. Midrange and quality 357s should last a long time as well. I have 357 Starline cases with nearly a dozen loads and not a failure one. Some cases have ran 2000 fps loads out of my '92 lever rifle.
 

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I bought 1K of Starline 357 Magnum last year. I pulled 200 out of the Box and have been using them for quite a while without any split cases yet. I usually load them heavy with H110, or 2400.
 

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My experience is similar to the others. I've had 45 Colt loads go 3 doz. loads (or more) before they started to develop neck splits. 38 Spcl is also a low pressure load with a light crimp and should give you dozens of loads. 357 Magnum, if loaded up near full load, will probably develop splits a little quicker. High pressure and heavy crimp will cause neck cracks sooner. Neck cracks are not dangerous, but not something to reload. I've had a very few cases develop logitudinal cracks - that is a little more disconcerting, my suspicion is that there was some defect in the brass.
 

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I've lost track of the number of reloads possible with .357 or .38 Special brass...key on the word "brass". I load target to mid-level velocity loads as a rule and avoid the high pressure/velocity stuff as I don't have a use for it, and lower pressure loads significantly affect case life. That said, I've had "Nickle" cases that cracked length wise on the 2-3 loading. I avoid them when possible. Rod
 

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Because of the laws here I have LOTS of Starline .357 brass and Starline 45 Colt brass; lots of primers and powder.. and JHP for 357 and hard cast 45 Colt 225 ... but I also have2.5 gallons of .38 brass.. lots of 357 scrounge brass (from ranges) lots of 45 Col brass from ranges.. 5 gallons of 45 ACP brass and 5 gallons of 30-06 M1 brass. I wont live long enough to run out. But my range membership is 3 ore hears so I will live that long!! Despite the Virus. I am not wasteful ,, I more or less focused on 357 because it is flexible and become quite a good rifle ammo at 158 gr w/ 14.9 gr powder. Im still working ona good Ruger only 45 colt load for the 225 grain cast lead. (dont need a gas check on any pistol.. took a while top dig that up)
 
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