I don’t usually gripe about customer service -in fact, my experience with firearms-related customer service - and reloading related customer service in particular - have been very good. But I had a bad experience with Federal just now, and thought I’d share it, because it was so unusual in relation to the service I’ve gotten on other ammunition issues.
So, yesterday I had brought a brand-new silver box of Federal Classic ammo to the range to try in my new-to-me pre-Model 30 Improved I-frame. The Federal Classic ammo was 98-gr RNL .32 S&W Long, part no. C32LB, lot number 3 19J155. Federal ammo is more expensive in this caliber than Eastern European stuff, but I figured the good thing about using big maker ammo from Federal would be that I’d be able to reload the empties. Based on decades of past experience, I figured I’d get quality brass after firing the low-pressure .32 S&W Long factory loads.
The ammo shot well enough (group at 10 yards), though was pretty tame (M 667.8/ES 78.95/SD 32.31).
But wait! Upon firing, I noticed that one round did a very odd spurt of stuff out of the bbl/cyl gap, and was surprised to find that I had to hammer
on the ejector rod to get the rounds out of the cylinder. Out of five rounds, four split - and one had its primer pop out the back.
This was NOT the fault of the gun - I fired four other loadings on the same outing (two handloads - ironically in Federal cases, and two factory loadings by S&B and Aguila) with no problems whatsoever.
So, since this ammo wasn’t going to give me the reloadable cases that I’d been after, I figured I’d contact ATK; on advice of friend, I went to their site and filled out a contact form:
Four out of five cases split on a new silver box of Federal Classic .32 S&W Long ammo, part no. C32LB, lot number 3 19J155. One primer protruded. The cases had to be forcibly extracted by hammering the ejector rod. This was not a problem with the gun, as several other loadings performed flawlessly.
Here are some photographs:
I deliberately purchased what I thought to be quality Federal ammo because I wanted the spent cases for reloading. Please contact me about this.
I was really surprised when Federal wrote back a terse, “Go Away” email:
You bought old ammo, it has been sitting on the shelf. The brass split due to stress corrosion cracking. It was manufactured in 2003.
I was pretty amazed by this, and responded:
Are you kidding me, or are you just insulting me? I've been happily reloading much of the same brass since the '80s, and you're going to tell me that your new, never-fired brass from only ten years ago will split when fired in a low-pressure factory loading in the .32 S&W Long cartridge.
I’ve not heard back. I’m not pleased with Federal/ATK’s handling of the situation; I would have expected that Federal/ATK would stand behind its products or care more about its customers.
I'm carrying the little Improved I-frame, by the way - it's really something with some of Phil Sharpe's old loads from the '30s!