How to tell when your brass has reached it's used by date.

Was doing some load testing yesterday and came across a small issue.
When I reload I always look at each case carefully for signs of separation, not sure how I missed this one.
Unfortunately it was the 5th round fired in the first weight range so brought the rest of the testing to a halt until I could get the rest of the case out.


I would agree that is a fair indication the brass is done.

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It looks done, but are we really sure?

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Bugger, I thought that with some glue it might be OK.

Yep I think that is a really positive indication that the brass is at its life expectancy.
I normally find the base expansion is the indicating factor. I use a home made die which is a round stock of SS steel with a hole in the middle the size just a bit bigger than a virgin case. When the brass no longer fits through the die it has reached end of life. If not using that method it is when the primer becomes loose in the pocket. It either falls out or I can judge the seating effort required when putting the primers in.

If you aneal it then fls it it should be fine still


Use steel wool to give it a good polish too, to make sure there are no cracks.

Mate I have all my brass for every cartridge batched and numbered as to the number of firings it has been subjected to. Have only been doing this a few years and have circa 200 cases of each calibre in circulation so most batches have only been reloaded on average 5 or 6 times. I figure after 10 reloads or so they may be ready for disposal. In saying that I have read in other forums that people have loaded each case in excess of 20 times.
I know there are a significant number of variables effecting case life however does anyone have a number of times they reload before disposing of old brass, or do you keep loading until you see signs of incipient failure? ie loose primer pockets, perhaps signs of neck split, or impending case separation.

I shoot mine till they split then bin em, I load everything on the mild side so they last ok.

I don’t anneal.
I neck size till they get a bit tight to chamber. Then FLS. I keep going till I see any sort of failure. Split necks and loose primers seem to occur more often than full separation. If you get 10 reloads you have done well. Any more is cream with standard modern reloads.
Load lighter or lower pressures like Trailboss and the brass can last 100’s.
There is no definitive answer because every load is different, everyone prepares brass differently.
Straight wall stuff also seems to last longer.

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Bottle neck, I batch because I mostly neck size and I do keep count on most. 5 reloads is not uncommon…

Straight wall is a whole different ball game, just gets rotated, cleaned and shot… Use it until they split.

Most of my 6.5 brass is on their 15th reload. I load medium loads so that might be why they have lasted so long.

Time to buy some more I guess.