Seperated Case Removal

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by The Duke, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. The Duke

    The Duke New Member

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    While at the range yesterday, a friend came in with a case seperation in his .308....Loaded that case just once too often...I have an extraction tool, but didnt have it with me...(He ordered one.)

    I offered to have him follow me home and Id get it out for him, but he couldnt make it...So only thing I could think of to tell him to try was to use an oversize bronze bristle brush from the breech end or a .30 bronze brush from the muzzle...I dunno...never had a seperation before...

    Anyone have a technique for emergency broken case removal than may work in the field or if you dont have access to an extractor? If he doesnt get the shell out today, its gonna screw up his hog hunt for the weekend...
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2012
  2. Freebore

    Freebore New Member

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    I think the more important issue here is why the case separated. Generally cases do no fail in this fashion from reloading to many times. Case separation (in this situation) is usually the results of excessive headspace caused by moving the shoulder of the case back during the full length resizing step. This changes the distance between the bolt face and the datum of the case shoulder. Moving the shoulder back and reforming (firing) the brass causes the case to stretch, and eventually seperate (usually about 1/2" from the case head).

    Simply re-evaluate the FL die setup, or go to neck sizing only using a neck sizing die).

    Removal of the stuck case in the field could be difficult without any tooling, your idea of an oversized brush is about the best under these conditions, a tapered dowel rod may also work.
  3. myfriendis410

    myfriendis410 Member

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    I've seen it happen with cases loaded too many times, particularly belted magnums. It does not necessarily mean an unsafe load or excessive headspace. A bronze brush is usually enough to remove the brass from the chamber.
  4. The Duke

    The Duke New Member

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    Yeah...too many loads on the old case..Crap...even the LC 77 headstamp was faint...:eek:....He'd reloaded 40 rounds using same technique, dies, powder, bullet etc. the night before.....Number 9 fired its last shot..Had no idea how many times he reloaded it before it gave it up....Took a look at his other loaded rounds and there were a couple more with the tell-tale ring around the base...Pull the bullets and start over....Aient had nothing to do with headspace..Told him to order some new brass with the case extractor....;)
  5. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    When i had my enfield I always used a small screwdriver to catch the inside of the case. That old thing would separate brass on the 3rd or 4th cycle.
  6. oldpapps

    oldpapps New Member

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    The only safe way that I know to extract a headless caseing is with an 'extractor' and I cringe anytime I have to do it.

    Being the cheap scate that I am, I will load and load and load the same brass forever and a day. My 'checking tool' is a large paper clip that I bend a hook on one end and stretch out long enough to get to the web of the cases to be checked. It has become a habit for me on all bottle necked cases.

    The case is or was head stamped 'FC 308 WIN'. My guess is no less than 25 reloads, fired in both bolt and auto loaders.

    http://www.thefirearmsforum.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=57600&stc=1&d=1327113772

    Always error on the side of safety.

    OSOK

    Attached Files:

  7. Freebore

    Freebore New Member

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    Re: For What its Worth

    Not to beat this issue to death, but I feel after firing thousands and thousands of of reloaded cases I never had one fail from repeated loadings in this manner, only when improper headspacing was involved, either through incorrect case resizing, or incorrect chamber size (or as mentioned in earlier threads, fire forming brass). Reloaded case failures usually appear (in most situations) as cracked or split necks, or primer pocket expansion.

    Head separations will appear as a crack around the circumference of the case body, just slightly ahead of the belt, extractor groove, or rim, depending on the case type. This may appear as either an actual crack through which powder leaked, or a bright ring indicating a point at which the brass has thinned. During the resizing operation, some marking of the brass by the die is inevitable, and is frequently mistaken for partial head separation. Closely inspect the area approximately 1/8 to 1/2-inch ahead of the extractor groove, under a magnifying glass if necessary, to determine whether these are marks from sizing or are actually the faint cracking associated with a pending head separation. In extreme cases, the head may actually separate from the case body, leaving the forward portion stuck tightly in the chamber. This is an extremely serious and potentially dangerous condition that may result in serious injury or the destruction of a fine firearm. This is normally caused by a condition related to “headspace,” or more accurately, excessive headspace. Headspace may be defined as the measurement from the closed breech face to the portion of the chamber that stops forward movement of the cartridge when the action is fully closed. When a cartridge having insufficient headspace is chambered, the action will be blocked from fully closing. Conversely, when a condition of excessive headspace exists, there will be some amount of linear “play” of the cartridge within the chamber when the action is closed. As a practical matter, some amount of headspace must be present to assure reliable operation and chambering. In most modern ammunition, this will be something on the order of four to six thousandths (.004" to .006") of an inch.

    The manner in which this play is controlled is determined by case configuration. On a bottle necked rimless cartridge like the .30-06, headspace is measured from a point located midway down the shoulder called the “datum line.” In other words, this is the point of the cartridge that prevents it from going deeper into the chamber. Rimmed cases, such as the .30-30 or .38 Special, are stopped by the front face of the rim itself. As a result, their headspace dimension will be approximately the same as the rim thickness. Belted cases such as the 7mm Remington Magnum, are measured from the forward face of the belt, exactly as if the belt was a miniature rim. On straight wall rimless cases such as the .45 ACP, headspace is normally controlled by the case mouth resting on a corresponding ledge within the chamber.

    The problems associated with excessive headspace are manifested upon firing. When a gun is fired, the blow of the firing pin or striker drives the cartridge forward into the chamber until it stops against some solid point.

    This will be the datum line in a rimless cartridge, the front of the belt on a belted case, or the ledge formed by the case mouth in a straight wall rimless cartridge. As pressure within the cartridge builds, it forces the case outward against the chamber walls, gripping them tightly. As the pressure continues to rise, the case will stretch to fill the chamber, including the area between the head of the case and the face of the bolt or breech face. The rear portion of the case actually moves rearward a few thousandths of an inch, while the forward portion adheres to the chamber walls. This results in a thinned and weakened area where the case stretched, usually just ahead of the belt, extractor groove, or rim, depending on case configuration. As the pressure subsides, the natural resiliency of the brass causes it to contract slightly, releasing its grip on the chamber wall and allowing it to be easily extracted from the chamber. This entire process takes place in a fraction of a second, but if the headspace is excessive, the damage is already done.

    True headspace is actually a combination of measurements between the ammunition and the firearm. As such, it is entirely possible to have headspace problems in a firearm that has correct headspace, if the ammunition is improperly resized. It is also possible to experience these same problems with ammunition having the proper headspace dimensions, if the chamber of the firearm is out of specifications. Headspace problems can frequently be corrected by proper die adjustment, but any suspect ammunition or firearms should be checked by a competent gunsmith. While the condition may be corrected or compensated for, cases that have developed signs of incipient head separations should be discarded.

    Case necks....repeated resizing of bottle-necked cases works the neck area somewhat more than the remainder of the case due to the action of the expander ball. As a result, case necks are frequently the first area of a case to fail. This area of case failure, usually appears as a crack or split extending down the side of the case neck. Inspect this area closely for any signs of failure, and discard any cases that show cracking or splitting.

    This is natural attrition, and is a primary reason for the retirement of cases.[/B]
  8. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    It happens for various reasons and it can end your shooting day. I'll leave it to others to cover those reasons. I carry some various sized brushes for the occasion when I get a problem like this.

    I push the brush into the separated case in the chamber and then reverse direction to pull it out. It must be an oversized brush for the case. It is best to let the barrel cool a bit so the case will contract and loosen its grip on the chamber. I will then survey the rest of the reloads for any sign that they may also create the same problem and change ammo sources if necessary to be able to continue shooting.

    LDBennett
  9. howlnmad

    howlnmad Well-Known Member

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    I realize that this thread is a couple of days old but... would a 30 cal cleaning jag and patch inserted from the muzzle be enough to catch the mouth of the case and push it from the chamber?
  10. myfriendis410

    myfriendis410 Member

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    Probably, but I would use a larger (.45 cal?) from the breech. If it's going to come out, it will be quiet easy to remove. Otherwise you will need to go with a broken shell extractor.

    I will reiterate what I said about belted magnums. Because of the belt (and the inability to size further down than the belt), brass moves away from the web forward toward the neck and thins in that area. This is true of properly headspaced rifles, and does cause eventual case failure. Many experts expect only four or five loadings from a belted magnum case. Using quality reloading equipment set up for your particular rifle will mitigate that in large part. My .300 win mag (with Nosler brass) has ten loading or more on some of it with no sign of case failure.

    I have never had a problem with any of my brass failing in the neck. I anneal my cases every fifth loading which takes the work hardening out. An oversized primer pocket is indicative of an over-pressure load.

    Obviously; if you are scrounging range brass of unknown provenance, you will run into bad cases on occasion.
  11. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    The trick with using a brush to removed a head separated cases is to push the brush into the from the breech side and reverse direction. The brush bristles jam into the case to grab it. Done from the muzzle end, it has less of a chance of working.

    LDBennett
  12. Freebore

    Freebore New Member

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    I would expect all brass that is FL resized multiple times will eventually fail, whether they are belted or not. The short life of some belted cases is also caused by the thinning of the case (above the belt) when fired and then full length resized and fired again. The case wall tends to bulge in the thinned area when FL resized.

    My 7MM Rem Mag never gets FL resized because of this issue, I only neck size and anneal. Once the new case is fire formed to my chamber is does not need to be FL resized again.

    As a point of interest concerning belted magnums, the belted feature is more of a marketing concern rather than performance or saftey issue. The only large case magnums that need to be belted are the long tapered shoulder cases such as the H&H Mags, the belted Win 300M & 7MM RM (and others) are more of a marketing/sales feature. There also is no added saftey as the belt is located in the web area of the case.

    As with the belted case, I also neck size all my other rifle cases.
  13. Texxut

    Texxut Member

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    Since we're talking case head separation. I'll relate a case head separation story, that is incidentally, also my first Mule Deer buck story.
    It was Oct. 28th 1978, I was hunting with a friend and his son, in the Lost Creek area of Northern Utah. I was using a Savage 99E ( that I had bought second hand) in .243 Win. The load was 100 grn Nosler Partition over IMR 4320. My friend jumped a large buck, and because he'd taken many deer over the years and this was my first deer hunt, he just plowed up the ground around the deer herding it in my direction.
    When I say big I mean Big. It was a 6 point or better (Western Count). It came busting out of the draw and ran around the nose and down the other side. I bolted up over the top ( I had legs that could carry me anywhere I wanted to go back then) and laid down behind a large rock, using my pack as a rest and waited for him to come running up the next draw. He came running up the draw, on my side, and he had a smaller buck on his tail. I said to myself, “I gotch ya!” About 100 yards out, he was bouncing right along and headed for some brush so I took the shot. I missed. He turned down into the gully in the bottom of the draw so I figured I might get another shot if he run up the other side.
    I levered the case out and a new cartridge in, kinda... the action would not close! What the h??? I ejected the new cartridge and looked in the chamber. Could just see part of a case still in there. I dig out a piece of safety wire, that is always in my pack, with a bunch of other stuff I'll probably never need, but carry it anyway, and bend the end into a hook and shoved it in the chamber and as luck would have it, jerked out the offending partial case! I levered in a new cartridge just as the buck comes out of the bottom brush and heads up the other side. This took 10 or 15 seconds.
    Remember, the big buck was in the front, trailing a smaller buck, so as it comes into view, it is heading straight away up the other side. I place the front bead between the ears and touch it off. Tumble, he's done. Then the big buck comes out and trots off feeling pretty proud of himself for having swopped places with the younger /dumber buck in the bottom. Well he fooled me, in my buck fever state, so I tagged a nice 3 point instead of the monster I was expecting to show up. He was delicious. I know this is sounding like a fish story, but this deer, so this is really the way it happened. That's one hunt I'll never forget.
    I took the rifle to a smith and found out it had excessive head space. He turned in the barrel and re-chambered it. The rifle served me well for many years. The bottom line is, I was sizing to specs and the chamber was long.
  14. myfriendis410

    myfriendis410 Member

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    I read somewhere that the belt is an artifact left over from the days that cartridge brass was of lower/variable quality. It was there to re-direct gasses from a failed case through the vent and away from the shooter. I agree that there is really no need for the belt now, and it's proven with all of the newer short magnums being produced.

    As my guns are used for hunting I want absolute reliability from my handloads, so I FL size my brass.
  15. oldpapps

    oldpapps New Member

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    Re: Seperated Case Removal - REVISTED

    TEXXUT's story is what is worrisome.

    That is exactly why I try to keep my brass segregated. Out of the gillions of reloads I have made and fired, the best I can remember is having 2 or 3 actual head separations. Only two required the use of an extractor tool.

    My 'first line' loads are all fully checked and I feel sure are fully functional.
    My 'play' loads are also fully checked but for one reason or another not included as worthy to be in the 'save my skin' group.

    Always error on the side of safety and enjoy,

    OSOK
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