View Full Version : Whats your oldest brass?

March 18, 2007, 19:21
Whats your oldest brass or if brass could talk.
Was sorting and checking through a batch of 45acp brass that I picked up and ran through the tumbler. Couple of neat "finds". Brass cases: 1 case marked
F A 28, several marked U.S.C.CO. 17 and couple REM-UMC 17's. If these are indeed the manufacture date codes, would love to know what they've been through.
Tried taking some photo's but can't figure out how to do macro mode to work with the digital camera.

March 19, 2007, 15:48
I also have some 45 acp brass that age. I have some FA17 and FA18. Also U.S.C.Co. 18.
I have over a hundred loaded rounds of steel cased E.C. 43. I know this stuff came back from the P.T.O. I wish the gentleman who brought it back was still with us, I'll bet that ammo had an interesting "life".

April 05, 2007, 18:47
Got some in a grab bag of mixed ammo from my local gunshop last week. Bought a large box of mixmatched old stuff of various calibers. Several with headstamp U.M.C. and .30 ARMY for the 30-40 Krag. Also several .45 ACP marked REM-UMC 18.

April 05, 2007, 22:02
Twenty five years ago a neighbor who was a retired FBI gave me an assortment of about 500 .38 Spl. There were wadcutters, semiwadcutters, lead round nose, jmf, tracer and some of the infamous Evansville steel cased WWII vintage .45. I shot it all and put all the brass in plastic boxes and have been reloading it for 20+ years. My Dad id'ed some of the cases as WWII and some from the 50's.

April 06, 2007, 09:13
I have an ammo can full of LC42, LC43 30carbine ammo.

April 06, 2007, 18:35
RA 18 and U.S.C. Co. 18.


April 06, 2007, 19:09
I have a handfull of ballon head .32 S&W cases, no idea how old they are though

April 07, 2007, 09:53
Some pre-datemark .45 Gov't loaded rounds.
Some original 40gr BP .45 LC loads.
Some pre-headstamp .45-70 500gr loads...
Some early .25-21 Marlin cases (not a typo).

GySgt D
April 07, 2007, 10:06
The Lake City once-fired brass that I bought from Midway the Fall before last, quite a few of the cases were from the sixties. They are now loaded up, and hopefully haven't become too brittle to use.

The eastern european 7.62x54r that has been sold recently dates back quite a few decades.

April 07, 2007, 11:19
Probly some Turkish sh1t from the 1930s.

April 07, 2007, 14:54
Originally posted by GySgt D
The Lake City once-fired brass that I bought from Midway the Fall before last, quite a few of the cases were from the sixties. They are now loaded up, and hopefully haven't become too brittle to use.

The March 10, 2007, issue of The Shotgun News contains the following words of wisdom from Reid Coffield in the "Ask the Gunsmith" column on Page 24:

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Q I am enclosing some empty .223 cases that I would like for you to look at. You will note that the necks are split. In one instance, the neck separated from the case upon firing. In this caused by a bad chamber?

A As best as I can tell, your chamber is probably fine. The cases were not dimensionally oversize at all. What struck me was the age of this brass. Some of the cases are well over 30 years old! I believe that your problem may well be related to the age of the brass. If you are going to reload .223 brass, by all means, try to use new commercial brass or at least use military brass that is less than 10 years old. Unlike fine wine or good whiskey, cartridge cases do not get better with age!

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Let me summarize the thrust of this answer...

It's just bullshit...

It's another good example of expertise in one area not transferring to another, but not stopping the 'expert' from commenting in his area of non-expertise...

In terms of any practical effect on cartridge brass, age alone will not be a problem. Two days ago I ran a number of rounds through my AR-180B that I had loaded in 1977. The cartridge cases that I had used were mid-sixties dated RA and TW military cases. Every round fired like it was loaded last week...

If stored properly, age will not make brass brittle...

Brass can be too brittle because of manufacturing errors (lack of proper annealing). The Israeli TZ80 7.62mm NATO brass is a good example of this. It's prone to head splits because it was too brittle to begin with...

Before case necks were routinely annealed by the ammunition manufacturers, it was very common to have case necks split/crack over time in storage because the brass be too brittle without the annealing step. However, this brass did not become brittle with age, it just started out too brittle and it took time for the brittleness to result in the split necks...

If the cartridge case was manufactured correctly, there are only a couple of likely ways that it becomes brittle over time...

One way is to use mercuric primers. Mercury is not a friend to your cartridge cases. When used in primers, it impregnates the brass and will relatively quickly render the case unusable by making it too brittle. The cases in the picture in the SGN news article look like mercury embrittlement to me. However, it has been quite a while since most manufacturers have used mercury compounds in the production of primers for small arms. I would be extremely surprised if mercuric primers have ever been used in the original production of 5.56x45mm/.223 Remington cartridges. You usually see mercury embrittlement in handgun and rifle ammo from early in the 20th century...

Another way is the use of ammonia in cleaning cartridge cases. The use of ammonia will also destroy the brass in cartridge cases. When I first got into reloading (many decades ago), I initially used Brasso to shine up some of my cartridge cases. I quickly realized that I was getting dramatically fewer reloads out of the cases that I had treated with the Brasso. The cases usually failed because the necks quickly, with repeated reloadings, became too brittle and I would end up with cracked/split necks (again, similar to the picture in the SGN news article). Don't use ammonia based cleaners on your brass...

The third way that cartridge cases become brittle in reloading has to do with the working of the brass when resizing and dragging the expander button out through the case neck. Work-hardening of brass cartridge cases is normal. In addition, the force of the exploding gases on the neck, leading to brass flowing forward into the neck, itself also leads to the brass becoming somewhat more brittle. When I'm reloading 6.5x55mm cases, I find that I need to anneal the case necks after about 6-7 firings to keep from getting any split necks. You can easily feel the growing brittleness of the case necks with each additional firing by how the expander ball acts when it's pulled out through the neck. You can't feel the increasing brittleness from the sizing alone...

So, my guess would be ammonia cleaner or work-hardening being the cause of the split necks in the .223 brass in the SGN photo. Having said that, I've loaded some .223 cases over a dozen times and have never felt the need to anneal any of the necks due to perceived brittleness problems...

If you think that old brass is dangerous and bad, please just send it all to me and I'll be more than happy to dispose of it for you...


It's amazing what kind of misinformation makes the rounds...

For example, I once had a guy at Jumbo Sports here in Colorado Springs tell me, when I stopped in to find some .35 Remington ammo, that ammo was only good for about a year and that he could give me half off the marked price of any of the .35 Rem. ammo that I was looking for... Of course, all the stuff that he had on the shelf and in back had been in stock over a year, so I bought it all...:)

Of course, being really stupid and suffering from tunnel vision, it didn't occur to me until later at home that I should have bought thousands of dollars of other ammo there in stock over a year and, when I called over the next day, he no longer worked there and it was not long before Jumbo Sports folded (by the way, I did try to tell him that the one year ammo deal was incorrect, but he would have none of my explanation...)



April 07, 2007, 17:21
FA 1915 30-06, still loaded and in clips and bandoleers from just before the Big One (WW1), and quite a few FA 1916-1918 45 ACP cases, shoot just fine thank you. I've got some odds and ends laying around in loaded ammo that date back to the 19th cent. but for "using" rounds, these are my oldest.