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(split) Case Detectives!

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Ed Hall
STEVE SAMELAK
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Post by RoyDean Mon May 30, 2022 11:07 pm

I am currently processing a lot of brass and keep hearing the distinctive "tinkle" of a split case when I am spinning the media out of freshly cleaned brass. I have tried to search for the offending case(s) in the drum, but they are hard to find.

Do any of the clever fellows (or sage white beards) know of a way to isolate split cases - before they go through the reloading process and then fail the Shockbottle case gauge?

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Post by zanemoseley Mon May 30, 2022 11:13 pm

With well used brass I grab a double handful of brass, not too big maybe 50-75 cases and shake them in my hands. If there's a bad case in the mix you'll hear it. Then break into 2 smaller batches and keep shaking to isolate the bad one(s) you'll be surprised how well you can find them wirh a bit of practice. Shooting a split target load isn't the end of the world so I don't manually inspect 100%.

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Post by Jon Eulette Tue May 31, 2022 12:11 am

Split cases at 25 yds don’t matter. I prove this all the time because I shoot a bunch of brass until they split. They occasionally slip through and get reloaded. They still hold 10 at 25! They feed fine, eject fine and pistol still functions.
I use better brass for competition, but my test fire brass is used until they split.
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Post by RoyDean Tue May 31, 2022 12:33 am

Excellent advice from you both.

I just loaded 400 rounds this evening - no splits or any other defects - yay!

I used to keep all of the ShockBottle rejects to shoot in my 25-2, but that gun was too big for my petite hand and I moved it on!

I shall have to take all of the rejects and shoot them through my (non-JE) training 1911, rather than go through the misery of breaking them down.

I have now got my my presses better organised and set - I am not over-expanding the brass and have tightened up all of the variables. So, hopefully, the number of spits will calm down. We shall see!

Thanks.

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Post by PMcfall Tue May 31, 2022 9:01 am

I too shake them by the handful when reloading to find any splits.  However, if I miss one, the handle goes so easy when the case enters the sizing die, i immediately know its there so I can discard it at that point.
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Post by faraim Tue May 31, 2022 9:39 am

Jon, I appreciate your comments. Years ago I owned an S&W 625 and discovered a box of Remington ammunition that had about a third of the cases split when fired. Even in a revolver with its cylinder gaps at front and rear I couldn't tell when cases would split by feel or sound. I suspect things might have been a bit more exciting had I been shooting a heavy loaded .357.


Last edited by faraim on Tue May 31, 2022 10:00 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Kp321 Tue May 31, 2022 9:42 am

PMcfall wrote:I too shake them by the handful when reloading to find any splits.  However, if I miss one, the handle goes so easy when the case enters the sizing die, i immediately know its there so I can discard it at that point.
Phil
Exactly!  I am loading on a 550 so it is easy enough to pull the pin and remove the round under the powder drop, then put a fresh case under the size die. Just messes up the rhythm.

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Post by john bickar Tue May 31, 2022 1:16 pm

Similar to others, I shake by the handful when filling the case feeder (also to shake out any steel pins) and listen for the sound of a split case, plus I visually inspect each round at the seating station (Star) for powder and for split cases.
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Post by RodJ Tue May 31, 2022 5:13 pm

This seems to be a good place to ask this question, not having known that a split case can be distinguished by the sound it makes in a tumbler. What does a split (45 acp) case sound like?

Which then begs the question in my mind: if a split case is in a tumbler, but I don’t know what it sounds like… does it actually sound different?

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Post by STEVE SAMELAK Tue May 31, 2022 5:25 pm

If I take a small handful and shake them, the split case rings like a bell.
I would never tell if it was in the tumbler.
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Post by RodJ Tue May 31, 2022 7:26 pm

STEVE SAMELAK wrote:If I take a small handful and shake them, the split case rings like a bell.
I would never tell if it was in the tumbler.
Thank you!

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Post by Ed Hall Wed Jun 01, 2022 9:49 am

I, too, divide and conquer to pick out cracked cases, but I've had some varying success as to print and function.  When I discover one while reloading, as others have pointed out, I don't go through any hassle of swapping anything. I just flag the round, set it aside when it's crimped, and keep loading.  No rhythm change.  That round gets used in training.

I had some Federal Match .45 issued while on the AF Team, that had a high cracked count.  Federal claimed it was the AF's fault and was due to poor storage.  So we used it up.  Here are several points:

- For most of those that were cracked, the bullet could be pushed into the case with a little pressure, so we would often place the tray on the bench and apply finger pressure to each to cull out the cracked ones.

- At 25 yards, as Jon mentioned, they were still quite accurate, but occasionally they would jam and the retracted round would have the bullet pushed into the case.  We theorized that perhaps the bullets were pushing back while in the magazine during recoil (or by the feed ramp when loading) and depending on the gun, they would misfeed.  Of course we only noticed those that did jam.

- At 50 yards, they were a little less accurate, but I think that was also due to the bullets pushing into cases.  My reasoning for this is that I took a bunch of cracked case rounds, where the bullet was not disturbed, to the range and single loaded them.  Off the bench, with my crosshair higher power scope test setup, they shot groups at right around two inches.

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Post by RoyDean Wed Jun 01, 2022 11:15 am

Just for clarification - I usually hear the cracked case when I am sifting out the media in my RCBS (plastic) rotary separator - I do not put on the upper lid and so you can hear a cracked case "tinkling" quite clearly.

https://www.rcbs.com/case-processing/cleaning/rotary-case%2Fmedia-separator/16-87076.html

I typically deprime/size on a Lee APP and then manually prime - if a case was obviously cracked I would almost certainly spot it then. I do sometimes spot a cracked case during the loading process, usually when placing a bullet - I guess that the crack propagated at the expander/powder station. But sometimes a very tight crack gets through the entire loading process and then the round fails the "plop test" in the 100 round Shockbottle case gauge that I use as part of boxing all 45 ammo.

https://www.shockbottle.com/products

I am not currently seeing very many cracks, just occasional, and the cracked rounds will, most likely, be used in SF training ammo.

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Post by Ed Hall Wed Jun 01, 2022 11:48 am

Sometimes the crack is only in the side and doesn't include the very edge of the rim.  These don't ring like the ones with a full length crack that includes the mouth.  Those may very well finish breaking in the expander, or survive until trying to load in a gauge or the barrel.  If these make it into the chamber, without any setback of the bullet, they should print the same as (or pretty darn close to) the rest of that lot.

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Post by SmokinNJokin Sun Jun 19, 2022 10:02 am

expanding with old .45 colt die (especially for lead bullets) and sizing with 45 colt die dramatically reduced the amount of split cases in my tired old brass. Same as others, i just shoot the splits anyway then cull them out of the tumbler next time.

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Post by xmastershooter Sun Jun 19, 2022 12:26 pm

After cleaning the brass, I push each one through Bruce Martindales’ brass gage to weed out the ones which may have expanded beyond safe specs. such as rounds which have been shot from Glock pistols. This step would also pick out 100% of split cases.

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Post by xmastershooter Sun Jun 19, 2022 12:39 pm

I don’t use mixed brass from the range anymore since my earlier days but I do run across a number of my match brass fail to pass through Bruce’s gage as they were reloaded repeatedly.

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Post by PhotoEscape Sun Jun 19, 2022 3:31 pm

I don't think there is a method that allows to weed out 100% of split cases, although I've never tried Bruce's gage.  So, I'll add one to the all the above suggestions.  When dropping powder charge, if there is no resistance on retrieval of the expander (especially if one of my HTC PTUs used), and there is subsequent difficulties dropping bullet in the case, good chance the case is split.

AP
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Post by WesG Sun Jun 19, 2022 4:15 pm

I haven't run into any splits in 45 yet, but running the expander back out of my 223 is painfully obvious. I have no doubt the PTU will be the same.

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