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Howdy fellas. Still in that learning phase. In fact, I haven't finished prepping all my brass for reloading just yet. I need to trim and prime. Then I can add powder and bullets. What can I expect from the Case Life for the following calibers? I'll give my guesses, but they are just guesses.

.44 Magnum - Not looking to push pressure limits so I'm guessing I can load the cases 5 to 10 times.

.45 Colt +P - same as above, 5 - 10 times.

.454 Casull - Due to those high pressures, I'm thinking 3 to 5.

.480 Ruger - Probably 5 - 10.

What do you guys think?
 

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You will likely get more than you think. I have some 44Mag that is going on 20 light reloads and showing no sign of failure.
 

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When you bell the case mouth for bullet inserting, just bell it enough to allow the bullet to enter without scraping. If you bell too much, you will overwork the metal and start getting cracks in the case mouth and shorten case life.
 

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Should be 10+ . From experience. I have load over 20+ on my .45 Colt . Just toss the ones that have split mouths and go. I find a few of these usually around 15 reloads.... As long as you don't push high pressures all the time, you'll get plenty of life out of a case.
 

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It depends a lot on the hardness of the brass and how hot you load it. I've had .44 Mag cases split on the first firing (before reloading) and I've got others that I've reloaded over 10 times.


Jim
 

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just for grins and giggles, even if you can't see a tiny case mouth split .... if you drop in on a hard surface the ones with even a tiny split will make a dull sound, whereas the ones without a split will usually ring like a bell. Not a 100% way to test, but pretty darned reliable! :)


jd
 

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I have loaded some cases 15 times, but as a matter of preventative maintenance, I replace my batch of pistol cases every 12-18 months.

I will find an occasional split neck, but it's rare. I load mainly mid. to upper-range loads.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Sounds like case inspection really is the most reliable way to go. Makes good sense. I just want to approach case life with caution, especially with the Casull. A high powered and high pressure load like that could create all kinds of havoc if a weak case came up.
 

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Case life depends on several factors such as crimp, the type of bullets you use, reloading practices, and how hot you load. As an example, if you apply a hard crimp, it works the metal in the mouth much more so you can expect the case mouth to split sooner than if you apply a light crimp. Likewise when you expand (bell) the case mouth during reloading .... the more you bell the case mouth, the fewer reloads you will get before developing splits. Running high pressure loads will age brass pretty fast. Oddly enough, using slow burning powder for magnum loads is easier on brass than using a faster burning powder that develops more pressure but less velocity.

The above paragraph applies to all reloading .... rifle, pistol, or revolver.
 

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Case life depends on several factors such as crimp, the type of bullets you use, reloading practices, and how hot you load. As an example, if you apply a hard crimp, it works the metal in the mouth much more so you can expect the case mouth to split sooner than if you apply a light crimp. Likewise when you expand (bell) the case mouth during reloading .... the more you bell the case mouth, the fewer reloads you will get before developing splits. Running high pressure loads will age brass pretty fast. Oddly enough, using slow burning powder for magnum loads is easier on brass than using a faster burning powder that develops more pressure but less velocity.

The above paragraph applies to all reloading .... rifle, pistol, or revolver.
good information. I have some 45ACP brass that was given to me by another reloader when I began loading this round twenty years ago. he loaded it many times and I am still rotating it into my mix. inspect, and be careful, it is not like baking a cake. if the cake is bad, we laugh and throw it out. if your reloads are bad stuff (and maybe people) blow up.
 

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Sounds like case inspection really is the most reliable way to go. Makes good sense. I just want to approach case life with caution, especially with the Casull. A high powered and high pressure load like that could create all kinds of havoc if a weak case came up.
Caution is good - it might keep you from an unexpected meeting with some of my colleagues.

My experience with high-powered handgun cartridges is limited to the .44 Mag; apparently, my "man card" isn't endorsed for anything more powerful. When the case fails - even if I'm at (but not past) the maximum load - it splits along its length and doesn't cause any damage (apart from ruining the case). As I mentioned before, I've even had that happen with factory ammunition.

The .454 Casull case is pretty beefy and the case head isn't likely to blow off with a normal pressure (for the .454 Casull) load; if the case splits, the cylinder wall will easily contain it. Back when people were trying to make the .45 Colt into a super-magnum, I would occasionally see a case head rupture at the range (or in the ER), but since the .454 Casull came out, the people who used to over-pressurize the .45 Colt have moved to it.



Jim
 

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Should be 10+ . From experience. I have load over 20+ on my .45 Colt . Just toss the ones that have split mouths and go. I find a few of these usually around 15 reloads.... As long as you don't push high pressures all the time, you'll get plenty of life out of a case.

"Should be 10+ . From experience. I have load over 20+ on my .45 Colt . Just toss the ones that have split mouths and go"

+1 on that. Always examine every single case for warning signs. Over time they'll all get mixed together anyway during cleaning and reloading. I would bet Starline quality straight walled cases can go 40-50 times and beyond.

Radio George
 

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if the case splits, the cylinder wall will easily contain it.
Exactly. Not a 'big' event at all. Oh, usually a bit harder to extract the split case though! There was a time when we poured powder directly into the cylinder, pushed a ball home, and then primed it (yes, us BP guys still do that)... Until someone came along and and found a way to 'contain' the primer, bullet, and powder. Yep, the 'case'. The case is really just a convenience, as all pressure is contained by the chamber and the solid base of the case backed by the recoil shield. The case is just 'putty' to the high pressure involved as it expands to fit to the chamber walls.

when people were trying to make the .45 Colt into a super-magnum
The o' weak case myth is still going around huh :) . The problem was confined to the 'balloon head' cases back then.... Not the modern solid head cases we have today.
 

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Even though the chamber provides the structural resistance to the pressure, the case is still the seal - gases should all go one direction, the case seals the breech to ensure that they do. A rupture in the seal is a bad thing.

Are you set up for annealing, or no?
 

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As you can see, you can get a bunch of reloads outta most brass (I know for a fact that I have 9 hot and heavy reloads on some Remington .44 Magnum brass, but most are many more). Mostly, I don't count number of times reloaded for my handgun brass and just toss one when I see something that ain't right. You're correct that inspection plays a major part in your reloading practices. I inspect everY case before any processing begins.

Just a thought; every time case life is mentioned some bring up mouth flaring lessens case life. But, my take on this is, how much does it shorten the number of reloadings of a case? 5? 8? I tell new reloaders to use as much flare as needed to get good shootable ammo now, and worry about case life later. Your reloading costs ain't gonna skyrocket because you brass doesn't last 15-20 reloadings, and you'll have much less frustration during your bullet seating. After you gain some experience seating bullets you can lessen the case mouth flare, if you want to. I'm not familiar with all the cartridges you mention, but I'm sure brass for them is available and won't cost an arm and leg to purchase.
 

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.....

The o' weak case myth is still going around huh :) . The problem was confined to the 'balloon head' cases back then.... Not the modern solid head cases we have today.
I doubt these were old balloon head cases, I suspect it was due to 'way too much powder. Maybe I should have been clearer - in these incidents, the case ruptured catastrophically because the cylinder failed. Now, that's not a "case head rupture" sensu stricto, but the case did rupture. It just goes to show how tough modern revolver cases are, I suppose. :D



Jim
 

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Your numbers are about right.
The truth is the hotter the load, the higher the pressure, the shorter the case life.

I've got some 38 special cases that I load for real light target loads, I have loaded them dozens of times, they seem to last forever. Every once and a while one will crack at the mouth.

I loaded some hot 357 magnum's....after three firings and three reloadngs and the primers pockets enlarged to the point where the primers would fall out. Life span was over !

Gary
 

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Interesting and a lot of reading ha ha :)
 
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