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mesinge2 08-13-2010 11:28 PM

Ruptured Ammo Problem
I had a case rupture in the chamber of my S&W model 638-3.

These were not reloads but factory Remington Express 38 Spl 110 gr. SJHP ammo.

Even though the gun is +P rated I have been using light loads because of the recoil in this airweight.
This is standard pressure ammo and only 110 grain. I can't understand why it failed. The gun seems fine.
I had the gunsmith at the range look at the weapon and it looked fine. I fired another 30 rounds
of Magtech 125gr FMJ after scraping out the chamber and it worked well. Should I contact S&W or
Remington? Are the chambers overly wide?

This is the ammo and the ruptured brass with a bore light in the case:
Remington Express Ammunition 38 Special 110 Grain Semi-Jacketed Hollow Point Box of 50 - MidwayUSA
Attachment 17491
Attachment 17492

doctherock 08-13-2010 11:35 PM

well that sucks. If there is damage to the weapon they should cover it. I'd get in touch with them.

mesinge2 08-13-2010 11:44 PM

A few more questions:

Was this the result of a overcharged load or a weak case?

Could the weapon have damage that I did not notice?

RetiredLEO 08-14-2010 12:33 AM

I would at least write Remi and see if they will send you a refund for the ammo.

canebrake 08-14-2010 12:42 AM


Originally Posted by mesinge2 (Post 331299)
A few more questions:

Was this the result of a overcharged load or a weak case?

Could the weapon have damage that I did not notice?

As far as over pressure, you tell us. Did you notice this as it happened, or when you ejected the brass?

Check the cylinder closely for cracks.

Check the brass length compared to a good cartridge. If the cylinder is OK, this is the only way the crack could propagate.

mesinge2 08-14-2010 12:49 AM

I didn't even know it happened until after I tried to eject the spent case.

But after looking at the other brass about half of the Remmington rounds were bulging but not overly long.

danf_fl 08-14-2010 01:27 AM

The cases could be faulty, I would get with Remington first (this is factory ammo, right?)
Improper tempering at the factory could be the fault.
When the powder burns in the case, the case is suppose to expand, effectively sealing the immediate area, then contract after the round is down range. If the temper is not correct for the pressure, you may see the cracks.
Reloading "works" the case and this will affect the temper also. That is why some cases can be reloaded many times, and others only once.

How old is the S&W? If chambers are too big (you can't tell by the eye alone), the cases still may not seal correctly. I've seen one guy who would use stones to smooth the chambers, then complain about his ammo splitting.

Either way, Good luck.

mesinge2 08-14-2010 02:00 AM


The cases could be faulty, I would get with Remington first (this is factory ammo, right?)
Yup, Its factory ammo.


How old is the S&W?
The gun is only 5 months old. I only have about 100 rounds through it because the airweight kicks and my hand gets sore after a while. This was only my second time shooting it.

Attachment 17496

patret 08-15-2010 02:57 AM

I have observed numerous split cases because I might reload a 38 special up to ten times. My loads are 3.0 grns of bullseye with a cast 158 gr SWC. This is light with only about 600 FPS. My goal is to punch a hole in a target. You might have purchased a pistol when the factory was using a new chamber reamer which would cause the individual cylinders of your pistol to be slightly large yet meet factory specifications. It could be defective ammo or a pistol that has problems. I would save my brass by lot and send the pistol back to the factory if the split case problem persist along with the split brass.


mesinge2 08-16-2010 11:49 PM

During cleaning at home, I noticed a burn or cut that I could not get to come off from the inside of the chamber (I marked the chamber at the range when the case failed). This was not there before, I throughly cleaned the gun upon purchase and I would have noticed this. I contacted Remington this morning.


Remington contacted me back. They are sending an address label and want me to send the remaining brass and empty cases along with the box. They said if they will refund the money and if the weapon is damaged they will conver the repair costs from Smith.

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