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Old April 23, 2019, 18:22   #1
MikeF
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Loading for a Bren

Had an interesting experience with my new semi-auto Bren L4A3 in 7.62x51. I have loaded pistol quite a bit but figured keeping it fed might mean I should start loading for rifle.

I bought some surplus Lake City brass, swaged the primer pockets, used a Lee die to full-length size, trimmed to length and loaded with CCI 34 primers, a 147gr pulled bullet and Win 748, five with 45 and five 45.5 grains to test.

The rifle is new, rather stiff, and with both barrels I have had issues with surplus ammo not fully extracting unless I have the gas all the way open. At the normal setting these extracted fine.

But - I had two case head separations. One on 45 gr and one 45.5. Looking at the extracted cases, three now show a ring above the head and you can feel a ring inside the case. Two look and feel fine. After the second case head extraction I didn't fire the last three.

I tested the other ninety LC cases I prepared with a wire and none of them seem to have a ring inside.

I have had no separation problems with other surplus brass ammunition, Radway Green, Portuguese and Indian (OFV). I checked some fired OFV cases. They look fine and don't feel like a ring inside.

With five of the seven reloads either separating or showing a ring after firing, it looks like those cases aren't a good choice for this rifle, but I thought testing for a ring before loading would tell you if there's a problem.

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Old April 23, 2019, 18:27   #2
Tuscan Raider
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Chances are itís machine gun brass.
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Old April 24, 2019, 09:29   #3
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I did the surplus brass thing with a 1000 cases. The amount of case prep and checking for these sorts of issues just ended up being not worth my time.
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Old May 22, 2019, 12:31   #4
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OP have you checked the headspace of your gun? Case head separations from once-fired brass shouldn't be happening unless if the headspace is out of whack and your bolt is able to close on a field gauge.

Even though it's a "newly-built" gun by Historic Arms, I would double-check the headspace to make sure it's okay. Alternatively perhaps the bolt travel speed is very fast and causing heads to "rip off" during extraction, a problem that plagued early semi-auto designs which necessitated the use of fluted chambers or lubed cartridges. Perhaps you can try a lower gas setting if it will still cycle, and/or lube some cases and fire and see if the problem persists with the incipient head separations? Another possibility is that your chamber is rough and causing excess friction on the case to "stick" in the chamber during extraction, which could cause the head separation issues you see.

I have a .303 semi auto Bren myself (built by SMG out of Decatur, TX) that I am looking at converting to 7.62x51mm NATO using a South African barrel from Numrich, but those barrels work a different way than the original L4 barrels in that they utilize the original .303 bolt, so I am interested in hearing more from what you do to fix your issue. Please let us know with an updated post.
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