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Lapua .223 Brass Broke in Half

GunnyUSMC

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Nov 24, 2022
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Wondering if anyone has encountered a situation like this...

I bought some Lapua brass for my .223. I have reloaded this brass 5 times. My reloading process includes, de-prime, anneal, wet tumble, full resize, mandrel, prime, and load. After the 5th firing, I found one of my brass broke in half in the wet tumble. Later, when i got to the mandrel stage, i found four of my brass collapsing at the shoulder. At this point, i retired the whole batch of 50 Lapua Brass due to safety concerns.

As for the loads themselves, I am running 24.3gr of IMR 8208 in order to push 80gr Berger VLDs at 2940fps. My barrel is a 1:7 twist at 28" bull barrel. I observe my brass after each firing and have never seen any signs of over pressure. When the brass is ejected after firing, it is barely warm at all.

I have other brass from Lapua and Peterson for my 6.5 creedmoor. I am able to get up to 10 loads from each. But for my .223 Lapua Brass, it seems i am lucky to get 5 reloads.

Any thoughts?

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bump the shoulder .001 min or .002 max. if you don’t have a heavy bolt lift the chamber shoulder is roughly .001 longer than fired case.
 
Agree with the others... the load is definitely spicy hot, and it makes the idea of minimal bump important since you are certainly into higher than normal pressure.

Can you verify your chamber headspace and the sizing are coordinated?
 
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2940 fps seems fast for a 80 gr projectiles but i only run up to 26 inch barrels.
I say back up powder charge and buy a comparator.
 
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I have no idea about your shoulder bump but I can tell you that you are way over max for those Bergers . Try 21.3 and see if your brass survives , that is the book max in the Berger book .
 
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I have no opinion on how hot the OP’s load is, but no amount of pressure will separate a case that high up.

Here’s an exploded AR-15 from another thread many of you have probably seen. Only part of the case thats damaged is the part that protrudes from the chamber. OP has a sizing issue.
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Although either the uber-hot load and excessive shoulder bump each or together may have caused this, I wonder if the case overall length has been exceeded from the above practices and there was an end-of-neck pinch of the bullet in the chamber which spiked the pressure. It's hard to see from these poorly focused images if there is a slight ring or crimp at the end of the case neck. (Back the camera off to sharpen the focus and repost?) OP: what are the case length measurements of your other retired 5X cases?
 
This is a shoulder movement problem not a pressure problem. I would wonder why he is only getting 10 out of other Lapua brass. Primer pockets=too much pressure CHS=too much shoulder movement.
 
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This is a shoulder movement problem not a pressure problem. I would wonder why he is only getting 10 out of other Lapua brass. Primer pockets=too much pressure CHS=too much shoulder movement.
Yeah that's what I was wondering. I have gotten at least 15 firings and counting and no sign of pocket issues.
 
I just ran his combo through Quickload...pressure is 75963 psi at 2.375 COAL
Wow! I didn't realize 8208 was that much more than Tac for example. I shoot 24 gr of tac under a 75gr without issue. It's hot but not crazy hot. I don't go quite that much in my AR with the 77 though and I'm jumping a little but still.
 
I could be wrong(havent used 8208 in a while) but that seems hot. Also as others said if youre sizing down more then .003 youre over doing it
That's not true at all. .002-.003 is fine for benchrest, fclass and other shit where you don't get wet and dirty chambers and the ammo is protected. If you shoot in field conditions especially in the rain and snow, you can and will run into chamber pressure and chambering issues. Alot of guys bump .004-.006 for this reason and you will get loose primer pockets and split necks way before... ( liken 20-30 firings) before you get case head separation or web failure.

My guess would be excessive headspace in the gun combined with hot loads. I can't see failure happening any other way with 4 to 5 firings out of lapua brass.
 
That's not true at all. .002-.003 is fine for benchrest, fclass and other shit where you don't get wet and dirty chambers and the ammo is protected. If you shoot in field conditions especially in the rain and snow, you can and will run into chamber pressure and chambering issues. Alot of guys bump .004-.006 for this reason and you will get loose primer pockets and split necks way before... ( liken 20-30 firings) before you get case head separation or web failure.

My guess would be excessive headspace in the gun combined with hot loads. I can't see failure happening any other way with 4 to 5 firings out of lapua brass.
Id put money on the average across prs is .002. Thats what i bump mine even for semi auto. The difference in a go nogo is .004. .006 is out of spec.
 
Id put money on the average across prs is .002. Thats what i bump mine even for semi auto. The difference in a go nogo is .004. .006 is out of spec.
Yea average person does what people on internet tell them. If you talk to high level prs shooters and listen to their podcasts..many of then are running more bump than .002 for the aforementioned reason. They also aren't worried about getting 30 firings becuase they are going to loose or retire that brass way before then. It's a non issue with good brass like alpha , lapua, Peterson and adg.

You are wrong about headspace. Most Sammi spec is about a .010-.012 range. If your barrel is on the ragged edge of either you could run into issues but good smith's don't.
 
That's means nothing. Arbitrary numbers the gages are made to. It's better to understand what the numbers mean than blindly follow something arbitrary.
I know where you're coming from, but commercial headspace gauges marked "nogo" are sold and marked as such. Their dimensions vary between manufactures. and min +0.004 to +0.006" is an accurate range. Whether you or anyone else use them or not for a particular chamber is irrelevant. The good news is that your reputation here remains intact, which is unfortunate for the rest of us.
 
Though most of us occasionally disagree on this site I still wonder if you ever post without arguing?
He's technically right though. Most people mistakenly believe (due to oddball nomenclature) that a "No Go" Gauge is the upper limit (max) SAAMI chamber size spec gauge. It's not. A "Field" gauge is the max (safe) chamber spec gauge. A "No Go" is arbitrary. Usually a No Go is made at a spec that is at the half way point between a Go Gauge (min spec) and Field Gauge (max spec), which is around +0.004" but since there's no exact specification requirement for it, it could very well be -0.001" under Field or +0.001" over Go and still be considered a No Go.

Edit - Whoever came up with the nomenclature decades ago basically screwed up. Naming convention should've been Go for min spec (that will function with min-max SAAMI cartridge spec factory ammo), Field Gauge as "Field conditions/slightly more generous headspace/in between spec, and No Go as the max allowable safe spec (that can fire both min through max SAAMI cartridge spec), but instead they flipped No Go and Field around. 🤷‍♂️

Edit 2 - https://saami.org/technical-information/ansi-saami-standards/ cartridge/chamber drawings are free and should be used to see where in the range of specs your gauge falls into. Most of the chamber drawings have the 0.010"-0.012" range from min/max.
 
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I think these go, no go tools are useless,unless ones goal is to spend money needlessly.
Buy a headspace comparator and size to your chamber.
I have 2 prefit barrels,1 wont close on a go gauge, the other will close on a no gauge. Probably because i put to much or not enough anti seize on the threads, and to much or not enough torque on the barrel. I size to my chamber and have no problems.
 
He's technically right though. Most people mistakenly believe (due to oddball nomenclature) that a "No Go" Gauge is the upper limit (max) SAAMI chamber size spec gauge. It's not. A "Field" gauge is the max (safe) chamber spec gauge. A "No Go" is arbitrary. Usually a No Go is made at a spec that is at the half way point between a Go Gauge (min spec) and Field Gauge (max spec), which is around +0.004" but since there's no exact specification requirement for it, it could very well be -0.001" under Field or +0.001" over Go and still be considered a No Go.

Edit - Whoever came up with the nomenclature decades ago basically screwed up. Naming convention should've been Go for min spec (that will function with min-max SAAMI cartridge spec factory ammo), Field Gauge as "Field conditions/slightly more generous headspace/in between spec, and No Go as the max allowable safe spec (that can fire both min through max SAAMI cartridge spec), but instead they flipped No Go and Field around. 🤷‍♂️

Edit 2 - https://saami.org/technical-information/ansi-saami-standards/ cartridge/chamber drawings are free and should be used to see where in the range of specs your gauge falls into. Most of the chamber drawings have the 0.010"-0.012" range from min/max.
They keep changing the URL for the cartridge/chamber drawings. I haven't been able to access them for a number of weeks and have had to use an older download and/or a different database. Anyone else here had this issue or have a valid link to the drawings?
 
I’ll echo what @DeathBeforeDismount is saying here. .004-.006” bump is absolutely acceptable, if not even preferred for PRS/field matches for the exact reasons stated.

Still, there’s no telling how much OP has been bumping his shoulders. Anything more than .006 can/will depreciate case life considerably.
 
More case head separation.


Let me guess, bottoming die out on the case holder, not measuring shoulder bump.
Correct...

I measure shoulder bump on my 6.5 creedmoor at .001 but not the 223.

grrr...

i only just recently started shooting the .223 in a bolt action. Previously it was just for my AR-15 and my loads were closer to normal specs.
 
I am mot adjusting the full length resizer at all. I have the Redding competition die set and set the case holder at the base of the die
Yes but even at that "default" setting, it could be bumping the shoulder back a "significant" amount relative to your actual chamber dimensions. Unless you have a comparator to measure your fired brass compared to your size brass, you'd have no real way of know how much the shoulders are bumped back by "default."

If you're using the body die in the competition set in a press with cam over, you'd also have to account for the amount of bump caused by the cam over vs no cam over, especially if your case sizing process is inconsistent. Which can happen if you're in a rush.
 
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Yea average person does what people on internet tell them. If you talk to high level prs shooters and listen to their podcasts..many of then are running more bump than .002 for the aforementioned reason. They also aren't worried about getting 30 firings becuase they are going to loose or retire that brass way before then. It's a non issue with good brass like alpha , lapua, Peterson and adg.

You are wrong about headspace. Most Sammi spec is about a .010-.012 range. If your barrel is on the ragged edge of either you could run into issues but good smith's don't.
A lot of those "top shooters" are buddies of mine. I dont have to hear it in a podcast ill just call and ask. When multiple world class gunsmiths tells me the same thing on a personal level i listen
 
so.... another great learning opportunity for me.

I guess it is a good idea to provide more detail about my rifle...

This is my first bolt-action for .223. I have a Zermatt Arms Origin SA and a 28" Criterion bull barrel chambered in .223 match with a 1:7 twist. The barrel is a non-shouldered pre-fit. When i mounted the barrel, I did use the go & no-go gauge. I did not measure my chamber beyond that.

I started out with the Berger 80gr VLDs and just started testing the Berger 85gr Hybrid

I am also starting out in FClass FTR. Today i had a 800yd practice session with the 85gr. My average MV is 2920 and I am getting good SDs (9-10) and about .5 MOA groups at 800yds. Actually, once i i got my scope dialed in, of my last 20 rounds 14 were Xs and 6 were 10s.

I am aware that my loads are hot. I worked my way up to this level and did not notice anythin of concern along the way. I check pressure points, like the primers, and neither the barrel or the cases are ever much more than warm.

Is it the consensus that 2920 is too fast for the 85gr (or 2940 for the 80gr)? I need to go back to the Berger web site and see if i can find recommendations around MV for their bullets. I did not see anything earlier.

I guess i should also admit i do not have a head space comparitor for the .223. I will fix this immediately. I do for my 6.5 creedmoor which is why i am bumping those rounds the way i do.
 
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A lot of those "top shooters" are buddies of mine. I dont have to hear it in a podcast ill just call and ask. When multiple world class gunsmiths tells me the same thing on a personal level i listen
You are not alone. It's a small community. Now that you didn't win the dick measuring contest you can just admit I'm right and we can move forward. Everyone has their own opinion and unless that gunsmith shoots prs or games that his guns are tailored to then I don't really give a shit what their opinion of the matter is. Real world experience trumps whatever theoretical world half of you live in.
 
so.... another great learning opportunity for me.

I guess it is a good idea to provide more detail about my rifle...

This is my first bolt-action for .223. I have a Zermatt Arms Origin SA and a 28" Criterion bull barrel chambered in .223 match with a 1:7 twist. The barrel is a non-shouldered pre-fit. When i mounted the barrel, I did use the go & no-go gauge. I did not measure my chamber beyond that.

I started out with the Berger 80gr VLDs and just started testing the Berger 85gr Hybrid

I am also starting out in FClass FTR. Today i had a 800yd practice session with the 85gr. My average MV is 2920 and I am getting good SDs (9-10) and about .5 MOA groups at 800yds. Actually, once i i got my scope dialed in, of my last 20 rounds 14 were Xs and 6 were 10s.

I am aware that my loads are hot. I worked my way up to this level and did not notice anythin of concern along the way. I check pressure points, like the primers, and neither the barrel or the cases are ever much more than warm.

Is it the consensus that 2920 is too fast for the 85gr (or 2940 for the 80gr)? I need to go back to the Berger web site and see if i can find recommendations around MV for their bullets. I did not see anything earlier.

I guess i should also admit i do not have a head space comparitor for the .223. I will fix this immediately. I do for my 6.5 creedmoor which is why i am bumping those rounds the way i do.
That's one of the things with pressure. When you use good components it's not always obvious. Lapua brass can handle much higher pressures ( on top of it being thicker which means you need less powder relative to something like lc or hornady) and mask the signs. It's always a good idea to run it in quickload or GRT to make sure you are in the ballpark for acceptable pressures. I don't like to go much above 50-53k psi even with lapua or alpha brass for the simple reason as it gets warmer or wetter, pressure will spike and take a gun that's safe into dangerous territory. More than a few times I have seen amatures to some of the top shoots in the world deadline their gun at a match due to pressure when it's raining/snowing or gets super hot outside
. You always want to build in saftey margins so your loads will work in any conditions, which is also why many of us will bump more than .002. We spend way to much in this game to let something easily preventable ruin a match or trip.
 
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You are not alone. It's a small community. Now that you didn't win the dick measuring contest you can just admit I'm right and we can move forward. Everyone has their own opinion and unless that gunsmith shoots prs or games that his guns are tailored to then I don't really give a shit what their opinion of the matter is. Real world experience trumps whatever theoretical world half of you live in.
No shit its a small community thats why i dont get why you talk like you're the only one here that plays the game. The smiths im talking about are the ones youd know from prs(Keith, Dan, etc). Chad and Francis are the only ones i know of who bump .003-004. Everyone else i know that shoots ag level bumps .002 or at least trys for that. Lately more people are getting less picky reloading because everyone knows matches arent won at the bench and .25moa as opposed to.4 isnt helping
 
Wait. What does this mean?

“I check pressure points, like the primers, and neither the barrel or the cases are ever much more than warm.”

Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I read these threads
 
That's one of the things with pressure. When you use good components it's not always obvious. Lapua brass can handle much higher pressures ( on top of it being thicker which means you need less powder relative to something like lc or hornady) and mask the signs. It's always a good idea to run it in quickload or GRT to make sure you are in the ballpark for acceptable pressures. I don't like to go much above 50-53k psi even with lapua or alpha brass for the simple reason as it gets warmer or wetter, pressure will spike and take a gun that's safe into dangerous territory.

I wish i could run Quickload or GRT but they only run on Windows.... everything i have is MAC based.

Any thoughts there?
 
Wait. What does this mean?

“I check pressure points, like the primers, and neither the barrel or the cases are ever much more than warm.”

Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I read these threads

One of the signs, or so i have been told, of over pressure is around the primers to see if they are bulged or pushed out.

If this is not correct and if you have other guidance for us lesser experienced shooters, please educate me
 
Is it the consensus that 2920 is too fast for the 85gr (or 2940 for the 80gr)? I need to go back to the Berger web site and see if i can find recommendations around MV for their bullets. I did not see anything earlier.
This isn't about the limits of a particular bullet. This is about the pressure limits of the cartridge.

The same bullet can be used in several different cartridges, but those cartridges will all have different energy levels. The materials used for the parts around the chambers and the brass determine the operating stress and pressure levels and that energy difference isn't the same as pressure or stress.

Unless you are locked into 223/556 by rules like in F-T/R or some hybrid Palma matches, the 223 will hold you back.
The folks who can run 223 in F-T/R will give you better advice. Talk to somebody like Bob Gill for example.
Play it safe Gunny, if you really need to push a 80 or 90 grain bullet to those speeds, consider a different case where the pressure is lower. YMMV

ETA: a perspective many don't take, is the energy level for a given design.

A typical 223 is roughly 1200 - 1300 ft*lbs and the rifle and brass pressure and stress safety factors will balance around those levels.

For example, a typical 5.56 77 OTM doing 2750 is roughly 1293 ft*lbs and is renowned for being harder than average on brass life, but is considered typical with a pressure of roughly 51 KSI in a 24" barrel to hit those speeds.

You are running an 80 to 2940 which is roughly 1536 ft*lbs which is roughly 19% higher than what is considered safe energy level for a 223.
A fellow poster estimated the pressure for you above at up to 76 KSI.

Margin of safety being what it is, you won't burst the barrel, but you are certainly going to flirt with very short brass life no matter how you size your brass. YMMV
 
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One of the signs, or so i have been told, of over pressure is around the primers to see if they are bulged or pushed out.

If this is not correct and if you have other guidance for us lesser experienced shooters, please educate me
What does it mean about the cases or the barrel being “warm”?

Is it a confusion between the vernacular meaning of “hot” in the context of reloading and the literal meaning of “hot” as in “emitting heat”?
 
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so.... another great learning opportunity for me.

I guess it is a good idea to provide more detail about my rifle...

This is my first bolt-action for .223. I have a Zermatt Arms Origin SA and a 28" Criterion bull barrel chambered in .223 match with a 1:7 twist. The barrel is a non-shouldered pre-fit. When i mounted the barrel, I did use the go & no-go gauge. I did not measure my chamber beyond that.

I started out with the Berger 80gr VLDs and just started testing the Berger 85gr Hybrid

I am also starting out in FClass FTR. Today i had a 800yd practice session with the 85gr. My average MV is 2920 and I am getting good SDs (9-10) and about .5 MOA groups at 800yds. Actually, once i i got my scope dialed in, of my last 20 rounds 14 were Xs and 6 were 10s.

I am aware that my loads are hot. I worked my way up to this level and did not notice anythin of concern along the way. I check pressure points, like the primers, and neither the barrel or the cases are ever much more than warm.

Is it the consensus that 2920 is too fast for the 85gr (or 2940 for the 80gr)? I need to go back to the Berger web site and see if i can find recommendations around MV for their bullets. I did not see anything earlier.

I guess i should also admit i do not have a head space comparitor for the .223. I will fix this immediately. I do for my 6.5 creedmoor which is why i am bumping those rounds the way i do.
I would double check your headspace again.

A few years back, I had a non-shouldered prefit that was installed and torqued by a pro. He machined the barrel as well.

About 600 rounds later, I started having the same issue that you have. It turned out the barrel nut had backed off about 20 thousandths.

Are you having light strike issues? That is another symptom of headspace being out of spec.
 
This isn't about the limits of a particular bullet. This is about the pressure limits of the cartridge.

The same bullet can be used in several different cartridges, but those cartridges will all have different energy levels. The materials used for the parts around the chambers and the brass determine the operating stress and pressure levels and that energy difference isn't the same as pressure or stress.

RegionRat, thanks for that... it makes total sense...

When i decided to go with a .223 in bolt action, my plan was to have two calibers (.223 and 6.5 creedmoor) where i have both the semi-auto and bolt version so i can use the same ammo (kinda sorta) in either one. I guess my mistake was thinking that i could make the .223 perform in ways it is not intended. I am actually able to make it work and perform very in ways it was not originally intended but it comes at a cost and i just have to accept that, and overstressed brass is one of those costs.