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Herter's .308 steel cased ammo failure (ruined my rifle)

This is a discussion on Herter's .308 steel cased ammo failure (ruined my rifle) within the Ammunition forums, part of the M14 M1A Forum category; You know all those guys who said not to buy or shoot this crap? The guys I ignored? They were right. First few shots through ...


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Old May 30th, 2011, 08:09 AM   #1
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Herter's .308 steel cased ammo failure (ruined my rifle)

You know all those guys who said not to buy or shoot this crap? The guys I ignored? They were right.

First few shots through my Ishy Enfield. Some of the cases look fine, but (afterward) examining about half of them have primers backing out, and one, the last one in the magazine (luckily) ruptured. The shooter (my friend) got a face full of gas/particles but he was wearing eye protection and is fine. The rifle extracted normally (with noticeable more smoke throughout the action/magazine) and we examined the casing:





The bolt will not close now. It seems to ME that the bolt head has been damaged in some way. The bolt rotates into position fine without the bolt head installed.

Anyone with an Ishy enfield, could you please take a close up pic of the gas relief port on the left rear of the barrel and post it up? Mine kinda looks like a figure 8 and I'm not sure if it did before or not.

I'm going to try to get my money back (or at least store credit) from Cabela's, as there's no WAY I'm running any more of this through my rifles. At least in .308. I've run several hundred TulAmmo .223 through my AR and Mini with zero issues. I wonder if they just didn't get the recipe right for .308.

IIRC it was about .50/rd or more when I bought it... I was desperate for some .308 and now it appears I've paid the price.

More pics fyi... click for larger.














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Old May 30th, 2011, 08:20 AM   #2
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wow that sucks, sorry to hear that. Hope they replace not only your ammo, but the cost of repairs to your weapon.

I will say ive shot a ton of steel 5.56 and have yet to have an issue, but ive never messed with the russian 7.62.

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Old May 30th, 2011, 08:58 AM   #3
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I've never fired Herters ammo. Wolf is good in my M1A.
Let me know if you can't return it and want to sell it.
Did you try it in any other 308's?
Maybe it's just the combo of that rifle and that ammo??

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Old May 30th, 2011, 09:07 AM   #4
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Yeah, maybe a head space issue could have contributed to the failures? I hope you can get your rifle repaired. I've seen Herter's ammo @ Cabelas but I decided to pass on it even though it was cheap.

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Old May 30th, 2011, 09:13 AM   #5
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The THR guys are certain it's a headspace problem... I have never checked this rifle for headspace issues. Maybe as you said, a combination of headspace issues and this ammo.

I thought headspace caused case head separation but along the side of the case, not in the base as pictured. But I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed.

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Old May 30th, 2011, 09:30 AM   #6
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I browsed up this thread:
http://www.sksboards.com/smf/index.p...c=19259.0;wap2

I don't have go/no-go gauges so I realize this info is probably not useful, but my bolt head measures .6325.

Anyone know a good enfield smith who may have proper-sized bolt heads available?

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Old May 30th, 2011, 09:47 AM   #7
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Big sign when your primers are protruding out after firing, that's very likely a head space that is generous.

Yes normally long head space will have case head separation, however your firing steel cases not brass and head case separation will happen more often with reloaded ammo.

Sorry, I do not think you can return the ammo. Store Liability issues. (trying to save you a trip to the store) you might as well sell it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 1KPerDay View Post
The THR guys are certain it's a headspace problem... I have never checked this rifle for headspace issues. Maybe as you said, a combination of headspace issues and this ammo.

I thought headspace caused case head separation but along the side of the case, not in the base as pictured. But I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed.

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Old May 30th, 2011, 09:55 AM   #8
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Cool

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1KPerDay View Post
The THR guys are certain it's a headspace problem... I have never checked this rifle for headspace issues. Maybe as you said, a combination of headspace issues and this ammo.

I thought headspace caused case head separation but along the side of the case, not in the base as pictured. But I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed.


Just a question 1K, have you had any problems firing factory brass cased ammo in this gun? dozier

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Old May 30th, 2011, 10:35 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrokenVet View Post

Sorry, I do not think you can return the ammo. Store Liability issues. (trying to save you a trip to the store)
I believe you're correct; that is their policy. Thought I might give it a go just in case. Cabela's is right down the road from me.

I guess I might be talked into trying this stuff in a rifle with known good headspace... sure scared me, though.

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Old May 30th, 2011, 10:36 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dozier View Post
Just a question 1K, have you had any problems firing factory brass cased ammo in this gun? dozier
None... but I wasn't really examining the brass carefully either. It was before my reloading days and I was shooting berdan brass (and a bit of magtech).

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Old May 30th, 2011, 11:49 AM   #11
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i dont think you can blame the ammo for this. #1 rule with milsurps is to check headspace before ever firing. enfields are notorious for closing on a field guage. long headspace and a steel case made for a failure. a brass casing in your rifle maybe would have survived 1 firing.

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Old May 30th, 2011, 01:15 PM   #12
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Backed out primers are an indication of low pressure, not high. What many do not appreciate is that the primer backs out first, then as pressure increases, the case stretches to the bolt face, stuffing the primer back in the case. If pressure is insufficient to stretch the case then the primer stays backed out.

I figured this out when I started lubricating my cases in my M1a. Lubricated cases had nice rounded primers but dry cases had flattened primers. Obviously combustion pressures were the same so what was happening was that the front end of dry cases were sticking to the chamber walls, the primer backed out, and then the case stretched over the primer stuffing it back in the pocket. With lubricated cases the whole case slide to the bolt face and the primers had rounded edges. You can see a CAD program of this at http://www.varmintal.com/a243z.htm

These cases were fired in a SAKO, I think, with a load of 150 SMK, 47.5 grains IMR 4895, mixed cases CCI #34ís. The pressures were low and the cases did not stretch over the primers. Which is actually a good thing.





For your Herterís ammunition the pressure was not enough to stretch the case over the primer. These are steel cases and I donít know how much stretch you can get out of a steel case.

There was some sort of a case flaw for a case head rupture. I have seen similar ruptures in brass cases that were probably exposed to ammonia in cleaning,


and I know a shooter who had new LC 308 ammunition split through the case head. This 7.5 Swiss case ruptured through the case head face.


The ammunition is obviously defective, the rifle protected your friend from serious injury, could have been worse, it could have been a single heat treat Springfield.



Try to find a new bolt head and maybe you can get your rifle working again.

I would dump the Herterís.

Thanks from Swamp Rat
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Old May 30th, 2011, 03:06 PM   #13
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Interesting info, thanks.

Is it possible that headspace was so great that the primer backed out but there was so much room that the rest of the case never got properly mashed against the bolt head? Basically the same effect as low pressure, but a different problem with similar symptoms?

Lefty, you're absolutely correct. I definitely should have had headspace checked.

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Old May 30th, 2011, 06:44 PM   #14
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Quote:
Is it possible that headspace was so great that the primer backed out but there was so much room that the rest of the case never got properly mashed against the bolt head? Basically the same effect as low pressure, but a different problem with similar symptoms?
If the pressure was high enough the cases would have stretched.

Headspace is the alllowable case stretch before case rupture. Depending on the brass hardness some cases can stretch more before rupture. US military brass tends to be quarter hard brass and headspace is directly related to allowable stretch before case rupture.

If you have excessive headspace and the pressure is high enough to stretch the case then you will experience case head separations.

If primers are sticking out like yours, that is an indication the case did not stretch.

You could have excessive headspace but the signs the cases are showing are low pressure signs. However it is always worth checking the headspace on these military surplus rifles.

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Old May 30th, 2011, 08:06 PM   #15
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I agree with slamfire1 to an extent but I also believe that the head space is the issue rather than an arbitrary case failure.

I agree that the primers are pushed out initially and then the case is stretched until the head contacts the bolt face, at which point the primer is re-seated.

But in the case of excessive head space the following course of events can occur under the right circumstances.
  • The primer moves until it contacts the bolt face. The primer cup height for a large rifle primer is about 0116" so the head space could be very large, like 0.030" or more and the primer could still move far enough to contact the bolt face and not come out of the primer pocket.
  • The brass begins to stretch but the head space is so excessive that the brass (which can only stretch so far, something like 0.010" - 0.020" (?) before it yields and cracks) cracks before it stretches enough to contact the bolt face.
When the crack occurs, the gases are immediately reduces to a level that the brass quits stretching. At this point, the primer would still be unseated. Pressure wouldn't have to be excessive to create this scenario and the brass wouldn't have to have had a structural problem, it would just be the excessive head space that would have caused the case failure while allowing the primer to remain backed out.

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