.38 Special case split

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Mobuck

Hawkeye
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
Messages
7,797
Location
missouri
A memory hit me just now. A guy brought me an older S&W revolver that displayed this case splitting scenario frequently. Upon inspection, I determined that at some point this had been a '38 S&W' chambered gun which had been 'bored out' to accept 38SP cases. I told the guy to STOP shooting the old clunker especially with 38SP ammo.
 

kean57

Bearcat
Joined
Oct 29, 2005
Messages
80
Location
Akron, Ohio, United States
I had a batch of Federal .32s (either Mag. or .327s) that did the same when firing the factory load. There is some history with bad batches of Federal brass in .32. Don't know of any for .38.
Years ago I had a box of Federal .32 Mag where every other case split on the first firing. After I sent Federal some photos, they sent me a letter saying that some of their .32 Magnum brass had not been annealed properly. They also sent me two free boxes of factory ammo.
 

kmoore

Buckeye
Joined
Mar 29, 2017
Messages
1,319
Location
Idaho
When revolvers were duty guns, I collected thousands of empty nickel plated brass ( that's the shiny stuff). I had random cases split as did friends. As stated it's more brittle than the not shiny brass (not nickel plated).
When I wanted to load .357 for a rifle, I seeked out new brass cases only just to get more use out of them.
I also found that when the sniper ammo was nickel plated .308 match ammo, it split after a couple of handloads vs non plated brass cases lasts many times longer.
I suspect 9mm and .40 will be the same and just handload non plated brass.
 

usbp sw

Bearcat
Joined
May 18, 2006
Messages
31
Location
San Diego, CA, USA
In my experience, cartridge cases are nearly always to blame for many of the problems I have experienced in more than fifty years of reloading. I have had brass that was too soft and flowed into the ejector, in the starting load. I have had primer pockets expand and become unserviceable after initial firing. However, I have also experienced brass that was too hard and brittle, that split on the first firing. I have had factory ammo that came from the factory with split cases. I have also loaded and fired cases nearly thirty times before experiencing any failures. These things vary from lot to lot and there is no easy remedy, especially in the current environment, when you essentially take what you stumble onto, in the way of components. This even applies to nickel casings, I have discarded nickel casings because the plating was peeling and they looked hideous, they had been loaded numerous times but did not split. Starline has been consistent quality, in my opinion, perhaps more than the major manufacturers.
 

jgt

Blackhawk
Joined
Jul 30, 2008
Messages
872
Location
coleman texas
I agree with the above post. One thing I have noticed over the years is all cases have a life. When they have been loaded many time they do stretch. When they are about to separate due to case fatigue they usually show a line round the case just above the base. If you straighten a paper clip and put a short L shape in the end, you can run it down the inside wall of the case and feel the difference where the line is showing on the outside of the case. That line is where the case will separate when the time comes. When that happens depends on the amount of pressure you produce in the load. In mild loads it will be several more loadings. In high pressure loads it can be the next time the case is fired. The ones that split length wise do not seem to exhibit a vertical light colored line like the one around the base from normal case fatigue.
 

GasGuzzler

Hunter
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
Messages
2,043
Location
DFW Area, Texas
It concerns me someone that reloads refers to empty cases as bullets.

6.3 grains of Unique is a pretty hot .38 Special load.

Why such a light for cartridge bullet loaded so hot?

Without a picture posted, no one can say why they failed for sure but it's likely a problem with the brass combined with an abnormal load.
 

beentheredone

Single-Sixer
Joined
Mar 27, 2022
Messages
178
Location
SC
"It concerns me someone that reloads refers to empty cases as bullets."

No kidding. Interesting how many of these posts pop up, clearly indicative of someone who needs to stop, re-read the manuals, and re-evaluate what he's doing. It is also edifying to note how many people will read a post consisting largely of a reload recipe, and ask, "Is that a factory load, or a reload?"

If you can't comprehend, you're not reading, folks ...
 
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