Cartridge Case Head Separation

Cartridge Case Head Separation

This is a problem that can arise with multiple reloadings.  I have been watching out for it with my 223 Rem cases.  I figured the normally robust little cases would develop this sooner or later because I have been full-length resizing them and they have seen a few hot loads as well.

This situation has come about because of the number of review rifles in 223 Rem that I have worked with over the last few years.  It is nigh on impossible to keep all the cases separated and, in the end, it was easier just to full-length resize every case.

What you need to look out for is the bright, thin line around the case about 5mm (1/4 inch) above the extraction groove on the case head.  That fine, bright line is the tell-tale sign of the case wall thinning at that location.  The photo shows three stages of development of this problem, from the faintest line to a shell that has cut right through nearly all the way around (it was a minor miracle that this shell did not separate!).

You can make a highly effective tool to detect that.  All it requires is a paper clip, preferably one of the larger size variety.  I actually made mine from a short length of nickel wire, after my paper clip tool went rusty.  I also filed a little chisel edge on the point in order to pick up the faintest beginnings of thinning and crack development.  However, that is nit really necessary; the blunt end of a bent paperclip will work fine.

It takes no more than a second to check a cartridge case.  Having inserted the bent probe into the case I move it in and out three or four times as I rotate the case in my fingers.  This effectively checks the entire inner surface of the shell.  Any cases that have visible and/or probe detected thinning go into the bin.  There is no fixing them.  The last thing you want is a full separation of the case.  When that happens, the front part of the shell remains wedged tightly in the chamber while the extractor yanks out the separated base.

This is hard enough to fix at home in the workshop, let alone out in the bush on a hunt.  The key lesson here is to always clean and inspect your fired cases before reloading.

For the Latest News, Reviews and Stories

Signup for the Aussiehunter Newsletter

In order to keep my readers up to date with the top posts, gear reviews and news I’ve started the Aussiehunter Newsletter. No need to worry about spam and you can unsubscribe anytime. Its easy, just submit your email using the form below.

Wild Boar Bonus

Wild Boar Bonus Since getting back from my southern trip I have been chasing wild dogs once more.  On returning home, a number of farmers have contacted me about wild dog activity on their farms, and concern for their calves. My Dutch friend, and sometimes hunting...

read more

Weatherby Vanguard HSP Varmint Rifle Accuracy

Weatherby Vanguard HSP Varmint Rifle Accuracy Today I put in a big range session, testing a variety of handloads in the Weatherby Vanguard HSP Varmint rifle in 223 Rem.  Once again, I was highly impressed with this rifle’s inherent accuracy.  It is the most accurate...

read more

Trail Cameras and Wild Dog Monitoring

Trail Cameras and Wild Dog Monitoring A couple of days ago I did an early morning wild dog stand on my neighbour’s farm.  I spent an hour or so on the fence that runs along the ridge line.  The cattle came up the steep slope to visit me, hoping for a scratch or maybe...

read more

Trail Cameras for Hunting

Trail Cameras for Hunting Trail cameras are a wonderful asset for hunters.  Now you can see the game present in an area and what time it was near the camera.  That information is invaluable, but does not guarantee success. Yesterday afternoon, at about 17:45, my...

read more

Accuracy in the Weatherby Vanguard HSP Varmint Rifle

Accuracy in the Weatherby Vanguard HSP Varmint Rifle After my initial testing of the Weatherby Vanguard HSP Varmint Rifle in 223 Rem I was pleased with its accuracy.  I decided it was time to take the rifle out for a field test, hoping to shoot some marauding wild...

read more

Seeking Wild Dogs

Seeking Wild Dogs Seeking Wild Dogs After doing a few chores, we were setting the patio table for late breakfast.  It was a beautiful, cool, sunny morning following the recent rain.  As always, the first things on the table were a pot of strong brewed coffee and my...

read more

Stake-out Stand for Wild Dogs

Stake-out Stand for Wild Dogs This morning I again rose at 5AM.  Today I did not waste any time with coffee but set off to my neighbour’s farm.  I turned the vehicle lights off before I turned and coasted through his gate and down the track, but not as far as I...

read more

Trail Camera MMS Alerts for Predator Hunting

Trail Camera MMS Alerts for Predator Hunting This morning I was up at about 5AM.  I had some breakfast and brewed a pot of coffee while waiting for first light, which is around 05:50 at the moment.  My last sip of coffee was interrupted by the chirp of my mobile...

read more

Using Trail Cameras for Predator Hunting

Using Trail Cameras for Predator Hunting This afternoon I resumed my pursuit of the wild dogs responsible for attacks on cattle and calves.  The monsoon trough has retreated to the north, after delivering eight inches of rain.  There are still a few showers about, but...

read more