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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey folks,

I'm going through a bunch of recently purchased range pickup brass sorting and looking for rejects and I keep coming across these pieces with these marks on them. I'm not a revolver shooter or loader but I am giving the good condition ones to a friend who is. I've just been chucking them in the reject pile and a few, you'll see have some head separation getting ready to happen also. Is this normal for revolver brass? Should I be rejecting them if there is no other issue with the case?

Thanks for your help.

--James

 

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I can see what looks like head separation stretch indications. Do you mean the marks circling the brass, one or two that look like a cannelure in a jacked bullet. Those are fine, just old brass. I shoot that stuff no problem.
CF
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yeah, I'm on top of rejecting the ones that are getting ready to separate. That's exactly what I wanted to know about the cannelure as I've not come across that before. So if they have the cannelure but no other issues, then they are good to go. Got it. I was erring on the side of caution but figured I would ask here just to see.

Thanks a bunch!
--James
 

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The bulged cases were fired in a generous chamber, and usually they are fine after a trip through the sizing die.

The crimp type marks on the case, are to hold a large lubed bullet in place.

I have at least a thousand Remington cases with both types of crimp groove. Some have been loaded 20 times or more, without a single case head separation. In fact, with almost 50 years of refilling .38's for general use or slow fire shoots. I don't recall ever having a .38 case go at the head. Many a split, never a separation.
 

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The cases with the cannelure nearest the case head are wadcutter brass. This brass was intended specifically for wadcutters wherein the deeply seated bullet was likely to interfere with the thickening case wall. Regular cases have a reduced interior diameter near where the base of the wadcutter would be and would potentially damage the soft swaged wadcutter. Such brass often had a cannelure below and near the base edge of the seated wadcutter. Some of the finest match wadcutter ammo available had these cannelures low near the case head. The intent was to be certain the bullet did not move in the case. As I mentioned, with wadcutter brass the cannelure was below the base of the wadcutter. If the cannelure is higher on the case it was not intended for wadcutters.

As mentioned, these low cannelure cases are highly desirable for wadcutters, especially the hollow base type, but case capacity might be slightly different than ordinary cases. A way to find out is to notice any chronograph variations compared to regular cases, with the wadcutter cases tending to have slightly less velocity with the same charge. With regular bullets they cause no harm except in the velocity variation.
 

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The bulged cases were fired in a generous chamber, and usually they are fine after a trip through the sizing die.

The crimp type marks on the case, are to hold a large lubed bullet in place.

I have at least a thousand Remington cases with both types of crimp groove. Some have been loaded 20 times or more, without a single case head separation. In fact, with almost 50 years of refilling .38's for general use or slow fire shoots. I don't recall ever having a .38 case go at the head. Many a split, never a separation.
Same here! I had some PMC cases that were bought in the early 80's, and I reloaded and reloaded them, and I finally threw them away after one of them split after about 20 reloadings. This was about 3 years ago. I believe I got my money's worth out of them. I've loaded about a jillion Speer 38 HBWCs, and I've never had a problem with case head separation.

PS: I love 38 Special, and think it is highly underrated as a handgun cartridge. It'll do a lot more than people say it will. I include it in the cartridges that I wouldn't want to be shot with. I believe that the only reason it was so-called "ineffective" is because of the old LRN that was the standard for many, many years. If a SWC had been a factory loading issued to police, we'd all be carrying 38s today. With today's bullets, it is quite effective, and shouldn't be discounted. That's my 2 cents for what it's worth........
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
And BTW, those aren't head separations or indications of same. They're intentionally rolled on cannelures. A head separation would be even lower on the case, and you'll likely never run across any of those in .38.
This is what I was concerned about the most when looking for head separation:
 

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If you ever really see a head separation......it won't look like that. It will be a noticeable bright line or the beginning of a crack. That area you've pictured is just the point on the case where the case wall is thin enough to expand and touch the sides of the chamber. That area below that which is unexpanded is thicker brass resistant to movement under 38 Special pressures. This part of the case wall that does not expand is nearer the solid head. A head separation is always above the bulge in the case, not at the bulge.

As I've said.....you'll likely never run across those in 38 Special.

Centerfire rifle cases have the same bulge. They are a lot more likely to separate based upon the higher pressures they operate under, and the shoulder of a rifle case can be set back with improper sizing, tending to magnify the likelihood of separation. Properly sized centerfire rifle cases and loads that do not overstress the rifle make rifle case head separations less likely as well. Lower 38 Special pressures that do not cause head stretch make the problem of head separation vastly less likely.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Absolutely fantastic, I will get them out of the reject pile (none were splitting anywhere, just that bulge down there on a few) and let my friend know they are kosher as well as give him the info you folks gave me regarding the case cannelures. Thank you!
 

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No signs that I can see of any problem cases!!!!!!!!!!

A prick to test for head separation can quickly and easily be made from a paper clip straighter out except for one section to use as a handle and a short 90 Degree bend on the long end with a sharpened end on the short stub.

Simply drag the sharpened point of the stub from the head of the case up the interior wall and you will feel if there are potential head separations coming.

Head separations are found just above the case head.

However, as was said, highly unlikely to happen on a .38 special case.

Typically it is found on Bottle neck brass, especially brass sized in improperly adjusted full length sizing dies.

In such cases, the bottle neck brass life will be greatly reduced when compared to the same brass from the same gun that was properly sized.

Crusty Deary Ol'Coot
 

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Separations are extremely rare in revolver brass, the only time I've ever seen straight-walled cases come apart was in a high-intensity round (460 Rowland) used in a blowback action, where the case was stretching because the action wasn't locked upon firing. Your brass looks fine to me. Cannelures in 38 brass are located in various places, depending on the bullet used. 35remington summed it up nicely.

 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks again everyone, always a great bunch of knowledgeable folks here. You know I use that paper clip test all the time on my rifle brass so I don't know why it didn't occur to me to try it here.
 

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Most of my .38 brass is found where ever it comes. Off the ground, gun show or????????

So there fore, the canulures are all over the place and it makes no difference in how or what bullet I may load. They all go bang!

Just use em and enjoy!

Crusty Deary Ol'Coot
 

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Those cases look like they were fired in a gun with really sloppy cut chambers. If you think those are bad, you should see the 45 Colt cases fired from my Braztech/Rossi/Taurus Model 92. The bulge is much more pronounced than the ones you show. I'm shooting enough 2400 in that 45 Colt, that the cases are sometimes not extracted from the chambers and I have to dig them out with a knife or screwdriver. I guess I need to back off a .5 grain or so, and/or re-cut my extractor. But, them 300 gr. Sierras slap whatever they hit with some real authority. My load is b__a__.....:biggrin:
 

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A lot of competition shooters would be wanting to get they're hands on that double canulure brass. Just the go with Wad-cutters.
OK, I'll ask it since no one else has. What is so desirable about the double cannelure brass?
 
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