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Split Case Necks

AmbroseAmbrose Member Posts: 3,032 ✭✭✭
I have an old Winchester 54 in .270 WCF that I bought around 1995. With the #6286, it was built about 1926. This rifle was about used up and much modified when I got it. The bolt handle was forged and a low scope safety fitted. An old Lyman Alaskan with the origional exposed adjustment dials was installed in a Griffen & Howe side mount. The scope has a 3" Lee dot and leather lens covers. The rear sight was removed and a blank put in with an odd winged screw. The obligatory Lyman 48 sight base is on it (I don't have the slide). Some grinding was done on the side of the receiver to fit the mount. The stock has been cut to fit all the above modifications and, in addition, has been fitted with Super Grade sling swivels and bases and a Whelen style sling marked "Stoeger's". The stock has also been cut to a ridiculous length and a recoil pad fitted--with an old Mershon slip-on pad over that, the length is useable. Anyway, to my surprise, the rifle shot very well; under 1 1/2" with loads it likes. It's a bit slower than most of my other .270's, probably the throat is worn.

When I got this rifle, I sorted through my cases and set aside the older Super-X and Super Speed cases as more appropriate for this old rifle. Most of those cases dated to before I kept track of the number of times they had been fired. My routine has been to load a batch of cartridges and keep track of their performance at the range and, when a load shows promise, load another batch soon after. Sometimes, however, another project takes precedence and I don't get back to the range with that load for a while. A couple weeks ago I included that old .270 with the rifles I took to the range along with some of those "promising" loads. The date on the box showed I loaded them in 2004! No notations as to number of times previously fired but probably a bunch! All case necks split.

A few days ago, I took a Sako .223 to the range. Again the cartridges had been loaded in 2004 in cases that had previously been fired 3 times. I had fired half the box in 2006 with no splits but all 10 split this time. I have noted this before that apparently holding tension on the bullet for a long time, especially with smaller calibers and many times fired cases, leads to neck splits. I guess the moral to this story is to load the cartridges just before you fire them. However, I don't plan very well--I go to the range when weather and whatever else is on the schedual permits. And I grab cartridges off the shelf and rifles to fit them depending on what I'm in the mood for and what's there. If there are no cartridges for it, I take a different rifle.

Anyone else note this or am I the only one to shoot 9+ yr. old reloads. What's your routine?

Comments

  • zimmdenzimmden Member Posts: 237 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    I would suspect that your old cases are work hardened from age and numerous reloading and firings. Annealing the necks before the next reloading can cure this type of problem.
  • yonsonyonson Member Posts: 772 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Be sure to avoid using metal polishes containing ammonia as it weakens brass. Was told by a sales rep that Flitz also contains it. There was a caution in American Rifleman some years ago regarding the use of Brasso in the tumbler. Many years ago WDM Bell was plagued by split necks on new ammo (318 Westley Richards and 6.5x54mm Mannlicher). Speculation is that ammonia in the jungle atmosphere sped up the deterioration process.
  • JustCJustC Member Posts: 16,055 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    do a search for tempilaq (sp) heat paint. It is used for annealing to get uniform results.
  • wanted manwanted man Member Posts: 3,276
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by Ambrose
    I have an old Winchester 54 in .270 WCF that I bought around 1995. With the #6286, it was built about 1926. This rifle was about used up and much modified when I got it. The bolt handle was forged and a low scope safety fitted. An old Lyman Alaskan with the origional exposed adjustment dials was installed in a Griffen & Howe side mount. The scope has a 3" Lee dot and leather lens covers. The rear sight was removed and a blank put in with an odd winged screw. The obligatory Lyman 48 sight base is on it (I don't have the slide). Some grinding was done on the side of the receiver to fit the mount. The stock has been cut to fit all the above modifications and, in addition, has been fitted with Super Grade sling swivels and bases and a Whelen style sling marked "Stoeger's". The stock has also been cut to a ridiculous length and a recoil pad fitted--with an old Mershon slip-on pad over that, the length is useable. Anyway, to my surprise, the rifle shot very well; under 1 1/2" with loads it likes. It's a bit slower than most of my other .270's, probably the throat is worn.

    When I got this rifle, I sorted through my cases and set aside the older Super-X and Super Speed cases as more appropriate for this old rifle. Most of those cases dated to before I kept track of the number of times they had been fired. My routine has been to load a batch of cartridges and keep track of their performance at the range and, when a load shows promise, load another batch soon after. Sometimes, however, another project takes precedence and I don't get back to the range with that load for a while. A couple weeks ago I included that old .270 with the rifles I took to the range along with some of those "promising" loads. The date on the box showed I loaded them in 2004! No notations as to number of times previously fired but probably a bunch! All case necks split.

    A few days ago, I took a Sako .223 to the range. Again the cartridges had been loaded in 2004 in cases that had previously been fired 3 times. I had fired half the box in 2006 with no splits but all 10 split this time. I have noted this before that apparently holding tension on the bullet for a long time, especially with smaller calibers and many times fired cases, leads to neck splits. I guess the moral to this story is to load the cartridges just before you fire them. However, I don't plan very well--I go to the range when weather and whatever else is on the schedual permits. And I grab cartridges off the shelf and rifles to fit them depending on what I'm in the mood for and what's there. If there are no cartridges for it, I take a different rifle.

    Anyone else note this or am I the only one to shoot 9+ yr. old reloads. What's your routine?


    I seriously doubt that .002" of neck tension was instrumental in causing the neck splits, regardless of how long ago the rounds were loaded...My bet would be on less than "stellar" original brass, compounded by either work hardening or ammonia side-effects
  • charliemeyer007charliemeyer007 Member Posts: 7,345 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    The old Super Speed was really good brass. A 270 loaded at it's full potential is way harder on brass than say a top end 30-40 Krag load.

    Work hardening is countered by annealing.

    Mercury primers killed a lot of old brass cases. I'd bet I still have some in my collection.

    I have ammo I loaded in the 70's and bullets cast back then too. I'll take them over most factory stuff any day.
  • AmbroseAmbrose Member Posts: 3,032 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    There's little doubt the cases were work-hardened. My point was the cartridges I fired soon after loading held up--after 9 years, they split.
  • JustCJustC Member Posts: 16,055 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by Ambrose
    There's little doubt the cases were work-hardened. My point was the cartridges I fired soon after loading held up--after 9 years, they split.



    brass also hardens with time and oxegen exposure.
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