Dents in .38spcl casings
I ordered a case of Canned Heat from Georgia Arms in 158gr copper plated semi-wadcutters. Tonight I decided to break it up into 24 round "snack packs" for the range since I had some small 3x4 ziplock bags. In going though them, there were lots of various nicks and such on the casings but about 20 rounds had what look like pretty significant dents and dings. The flash makes them look a little more shallow then they actually are but here are some pics.
I got these specifically for range use in my S&W 686 .357 mag. For those of you that reload or those of you that buy a lot of reloaded ammo, do you feel safe firing loads with damage like this? I bagged them separately and they're at the bottom of the pile. At the very least it reinforced my habit of inspecting all ammo before shooting it. Below are some pictures of some of those rounds.
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I'm wondering if the lack of any replies is due to anyone that tried shooting ammo in this condition being killed by kabooms.
Read the following and proceed at your own risk.
You are shooting .38 spcl rounds in a .357. If it were me, I would proceed IF the rounds slide into the chamber without added pressure. I would not be pleased that factory ammo had dented cases and I would not purchase that brand anymore. However, because the .357 weapon is designed to handle significantly higher pressure than standard .38 spcl rounds generate, I personally would use them. Again, proceed at your own risk.
Looks like a bit of rough handling, perhaps from automated equipment. Nothing to be concerned with for shooting purposes. The brass is ductile and one function of the case is to seal the chamber upon firing. The cases will safely lose the dents when they are fired unless the powder charge is unusually light. Those cases would still suit for subsequent reloadings too. Even .38 Special cases with deep longitudinal scratches will last through several reloads and then a crack will appear in the scratch which is then tossed. Some scratched cases never crack.
The cartridge case is a lot more resilient and durable than might be supposed when used with mild to moderate loads. I've been handloading .38 Special ammunition since 1976 and am still seeing some of the same cases come through the loading process that were being used back then. There's no telling how many times they have been reloaded. When sizing this large supply of cases amounting to a little over 2000, I may toss out a half-dozen due to cracks in the case mouths. This is normally the way .38 Special cases expire.
Used to know a Fort Worth policeman who provided target wadcutter handloads to fellow officers and who claimed that for the very light loads the cases with cracked mouths were fine. He continued to load cases if the cracks were small and just around the edge. I decided that I wasn't so hard up for supplies of .38 Special brass to continue to use obviously worn out cases that were trying to die. Besides which, the crack could compromise the crimps tension which could cause both accuracy problems and bullets walking out of their cases under recoil.
If the ammunition is otherwise satisfactory, priced right, and provides acceptable accuracy then don't let a few mildly dented cases put you off. Iron out those dents and fire those rounds. It will be a nonevent and you may learn something about the beneficial properties of brass.
As previous posters have said, minor dents that do not prevent chambering are safe to fire and the dents will be fireformed out. It is not uncommon to find dents such as those when buying bulk packed ammo especially if it has received rough handling.
For revolver shooting, I do feel fairly comfortable firing them. Just wanted to know what the general thoughts were. I would not feel comfortable firing dented casings from a semi-auto though as the dents could possible cause a feed issue I'm guessing.