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Yesterday at the range a buddy of mine was shooting some reloaded ammo he bought. Well the shell exploded in the gun. The casing ripped apart completely about 3CM above rim.

What do you suppose caused that? Incorrect mixture?
 

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First off - Is your buddy alright? Any damage to his fleshy parts?

Lots of possibilities - It's hard to tell from what you have posted. Since he was shooting handloads the immediate thought runs to something that was caused by human error. Having said that though I have seen one occassion where a bought lot of factory ammo had a bad series of primers. The primers in question were "overpowered" for lack of a better term and the resulting ignition pressure caused a sporter model barreled .270 to split open like a banana. Everyone at first thought it was hand loads that did it, but since the guy still had the box of ammo and the receipt from Sportco, we did some investigating and found it ( F.f.F. ) FUBAR from Factory.

You said he "bought" handloads? Was it from a reliable company, or did he buy some off of a guy at the range or something?

With the casing ripping, it's possible it was the wrong powder. It's also possible that it had a double shot of powder. It's late, your reloading, you hit the powder, then forget, or get interrupted, and you hit it again, then seat the bullet without thinking. I personally had it happen a couple of times but luckily the grain count was high enough that the second shot wouldn't completely fit in the shell. :eek::eek::eek:

It's possible he had a thin walled case. Rare, but possible. Just too many variables I am afraid notdku from the information.

Got any pictures?

JD
 

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Its not like the 223 is a large case using fast powder such as 45 colt etc..It would be hard to do a double charge with the available recommended powders as they gererally almost fill the case. Could it be that he cooked off a round after firing a long string. The Ruger manual says its possible with their mini 14. Need more info. CD
 

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Could be stressed brass ie: reloaded two many times. I agree its really hard to double charge a .223 cartridge, but you could over load it a bit.
 

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Could be stressed brass ie: reloaded two many times. I agree its really hard to double charge a .223 cartridge, but you could over load it a bit.
You are right - I was typing faster than I was thinking and should have caught that....:eek:

JD
 

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You said he "bought" handloads? Was it from a reliable company, or did he buy some off of a guy at the range or something?
Ultramax is a commercial brand of reloaded Remington .223 but I'm pretty sure they're reloaded with a machine, not by hand. I've put several thousand rounds of Ultramax through my AR with exactly one ftf. But I expect it only takes one round exploding to put you in a bad mood.
 

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If it separated just above the rim it sounds like case head separation which can be caused by a variety of things, the least of which would be magnum primer or overcharging, since the average powder charge for .223 is roughly 25 gr. which is almost a full case, even with spherical powder. Sounds more like brass that's been reloaded too many times, or a headspace problem. It could also be due to what we have discussed in the other thread regarding using 5.56 ammo in a rifle chambered for .223. Need more information for a better guess! What type and how old of a firearm, what type and brand of ammo.
 

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I am leaning to human error or a bad chunk of brass.
 

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:confused: Yeah, probably, case head separation; but, here's some more questions: First, did you mean to say 5.56mm? What rifle was he using? Was he in the middle of a rapid fire shot string when it happened? Did he notice any change in the sound of the rifle's report while he was firing?

I've got to know the reloader very very well before I'll use his ammunition. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of people I've purchased reloads from in the past 20 years. (And, I'd have 1 or 2 fingers left over when I was done counting, too!) ;)
 

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Yesterday at the range a buddy of mine was shooting some reloaded ammo he bought. Well the shell exploded in the gun. The casing ripped apart completely about 3CM above rim.

Case head separation. No telling how many times that case had been re-loaded. Re-load any center fire rifle case enough times and you will get a head separation due to case stretching.

Take any case that has been re-loaded a number of times. Get a paper clip and bend a one-eighth inch hook on it. Insert the clip in the case and you can feel a groove on the inside of the case about three eights of an inch from the primer end of the case. Quite often one can identify a case that is about to separate by a bright ring around the outside of the case.
 

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A 6" piece of wire coathanger works even better. Make a sharp diagonal tip on the right-angled end to act as a, 'pick' that will catch onto any imperfection on the case's interior wall.
 

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That is certainly a good identifier of impending case separation, One thing is certain, I wouldn't fire any more of that ammo without checking it real close. And if it is found to be due to too many reloadings I would pay the person a visit who sold it to me! Due to liability I would never even give anyone my reloads much less sell them. Too many factors come into play, not the least of which is the condition of the firearm. I have had bad luck even with commercially reloaded ammo like Ultramax. My face, hands, and guns just aren't worth the savings!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
He shot a full 20 rd clip and on the second one it did it. No rapid fire. We were sighting in his red dot so the shots were spaced quite a bit.

For those reloaders do you have a personal maximum reload time on brass?
 

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4 to 5 times max for my brass then I will see how it looks. It all depends on how hot you load them. Running max loads all the time will shorten the life span of your brass. I got a bunch of 223 rem I need to annel in the comming days for other reasons.
 

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He shot a full 20 rd clip and on the second one it did it. No rapid fire. We were sighting in his red dot so the shots were spaced quite a bit.

For those reloaders do you have a personal maximum reload time on brass?
Depends on several factors. Assuming you reload to specs listed in the various powder manufacturers data manuals, you should get at least 5 safe reloads from a .223. Inspect the brass and check case length with a trimmer after every 2nd reload. If your using Lake City or brass from any military supplier it should last longer because military brass is generally thicker-walled, that's why the max load listed for commercial brass will be a compressed load in military brass - less volume due to thicker brass. Some mild calibers like the 30-30 I have reloaded 6-8 times, other's like the .308 no more than 5. This does not mean they do not need to be resized - they do. The .223 is a high power, high pressure load and won't go beyond 5 or 6 at maximum loads. Bright ring forming at the base of the case generally indicates case head separation, but don't confuse that with the marks left by the resizing die.
If in doubt - throw it out.
 

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For me - after extensive testing and MANY case seperations, I refuse to reload any LARGE RIFLE .308/30-06 more than 3 times. .223 I will go 4 times, but no more. Also case inspections are made all of the time.

Pistol -.45 cal - 5 times, 44mag - 5 times, .40S&W - 5 times. 9mm - Haven't hit a limit yet.
 

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For me - after extensive testing and MANY case seperations, I refuse to reload any LARGE RIFLE .308/30-06 more than 3 times.

Are you full length resizing only? I have never had a case separation in 15 years of reloading for 9 different calibers. I also don't reload for maximum velocity, rather I am concerned primarily with accuracy, which is almost always a lower velocity loading. For my bolt action rifles and lever guns I never full length resize either. This greatly increases case life.
 

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i hate reloads. not a big fan of them. you have less chance of a stovepipe from quality factory ammo. why risk your fingers for a few bucks..
"Stovepipes" are not a function of reload vs. factory. They are jams which are usually caused by ammo not feeding properly due to bullet head configuration, magazine, or feed-ramp problems. Some handguns only feed FMJ's or round nose style bullets reliably. Certain bullet styles (truncated cone H.P's in particular) may hang up on the feed ramp. This is why it's imperative to test various types of ammo in your auto before loading up and heading out! Properly hand-reloaded ammo can be more accurate than factory ammo, and much cheaper. Commercial reloads are another story.
 

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"Stovepipes" are not a function of reload vs. factory. They are jams which are usually caused by ammo not feeding properly due to bullet head configuration, magazine, or feed-ramp problems. Some handguns only feed FMJ's or round nose style bullets reliably. Certain bullet styles (truncated cone H.P's in particular) may hang up on the feed ramp. This is why it's imperative to test various types of ammo in your auto before loading up and heading out! Properly hand-reloaded ammo can be more accurate than factory ammo, and much cheaper. Commercial reloads are another story.
....Which is one of the reasons quality gunsmiths have been making money with "polished" feed ramps. The smoother the surface, the less chance of a hang up :D

JD
 
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