Typical Limit to Number of Times .470 NE Brass can be Reloaded


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May 18, 2011
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I'm considering the idea of reloading, but I have much to learn. .470 NE ammo is not cheap, and so far I've tried Hornady and Federal (nickel plated cases, Barnes bullets). I've been saving the cases, and I've been saving my .375 H&H cases. I have no idea, however, how many times one can expect to be able to reload the cases before it's time to start over with new brass. Also, what effect does the nickel plating have on case life or ability to reload? Any insight would be appreciated.

Tons of variables to that question, but here is an excellent example of that variability in case life.


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As Brickburn points out there are many variables in how many loadings a case will yield. Most rimless cases in a bolt rifle with less than max loads can expect at least 10-20 loadings and sometimes more if headspace is good and the sizing die is properly set so as not to set the shoulder back too much every sizing. Rimmed cases usually get fewer loadings depending on the platform they are fired in especially lever actions. Again though its all about the headspace. Belted cases are notorious for failing early but mostly because little effort is made to headspace on the shoulder as in the rimless case. If done that way belted cases can give long life. My own belted cases have shown no signs of early failure as I try to headspace on the shoulder. The main issue with nickel cases seems to be the nickel chipping after some use. Not aware of it affecting case life per se. As we have discussed before on here, the main thing to watch for with any case thats been loaded a few times is to watch for so-called "bright ring" around the case head about 1/4- 3/8 of an inch above the rim. It takes practice to detect this but if seen it means the case will likely fail if loaded again. One must try to catch these because too many failures can damage a chamber or the whole rifle for that matter, though serious damage or injury is rare. And to add another variable to the mix, different brands of brass will last longer than others. I have the best luck overall with Winchester in most of my guns, though others swear by different brands. In my .375 I used mostly Remington with good results and nary ever a failure of any kind. Use Rem also in my 8X57 Mauser and a couple others too. Use Fed in some guns though again, mostly Win., seems to hold the most powder generally and last longest.
Nope never have. I recently had to chuck some Prvi brass in 9.3x62 after 6 loadings because the necks were collapsing around the rings on Barnes Triple Shock bullets so I suppose they could have needed it but I dont want to bother with it.
There are two kinds of common brass failure. In my experience of loading many different calibers for over fifty years, a split on the neck of the cartridge is most common. This can be addressed with annealing. How often to anneal is debatable, and you'll note from the chart provided by Brickburn that the quality of brass varies widely. Annealing after every 4-5 firings will probably work for most. Ultimately the brass itself will tell you. A neck split is not dangerous, but the brass is ruined because you cannot get neck tension on the bullet, required for proper combustion of the powder. The other kind of split is what Brickburn showed in his photos which is head separation. This is caused then the brass is full-length resized which causes the shoulder on the brass to be moved back a little bit (thousands of an inch) but each time it is fired the brass stretches to fully form in the chamber. The place it stretches is at the back of the case, hence the shiny ring. An improperly adjusted full-length sizing die will exacerbate this problem by moving the shoulder back too much. If you see this IMMEDIATELY DISCARD that case as the brass can catastrophically fail and completely shear there. Most modern guns have good gas escape systems so probably no damage to you (always wear protective glasses) but when you eject the round you'll pull out just the sheared head and now most of the case is stuck in the chamber squeezed in by thousands of PSI of pressure. They are difficult to get out and you may have to go to a gunsmith to get it out. More importantly, you said you want to reload .470 NE. You ain't shootin' bunny rabbits! You sure as hell do not want a broken shell stuck in your chamber when hunting DG. Your actual hunting ammo should be new or once-fired brass - don't risk it. There is a good solution to this stretching problem and that is not to full-length resize every time. Assuming you are shooting only one .470 NE, your brass will fire-form to the chambers. You can just neck-size the brass and it will last much longer and likely gain a little accuracy. Assuming again you have a double rifle, each chamber is unique, so you would have to keep the brass separate for each chamber, although you can experiment and see if the chambers are close enough to be interchangeable. You will know if the finished round drops in and closes without a problem. You still have to watch your overall case length as some stretching will still occur, but a LOT less. Trim as necessary and full-length resize when they won't drop in as they should. PS: full-length resizing will also make your cases grow in length faster so you have to trim more. Hopefully, I haven't scared you away from starting to reload. I virtually never buy loaded ammo unless that is the only or cheapest way to obtain brass. You will get to pick whatever bullet you want and tune the load to your specific rifle. You can tune the point of impact on your double by adjusting the powder load, so may get an accuracy bonus as well. All that said, there is a substantial investment in reloading equipment to take on the .470 NE. You'll need a press big enough to handle NE cartridge length, dies, scale, powder measure, a trim machine or trim die, loading blocks, etc. It will add up but your payback will be fast at $10 - $15 a round for purchased ammo. The bottom line will be how much you practice with your 470 NE and whether you consider crafting your own ammunition enjoyable. If you just shoot a couple of boxes before a hunt it won't payout. I shoot hundreds of rounds in practice before any safari so I get a huge savings. Good luck!
Depends on many things....
What brass...
Rifle chamber specs.....

You can have brass failure on the best after 2nd shot if chamber specs are out.....

All in place you should outlive the brass you have especially in a 470 NE...
My picture shows the H&H 577 double rifle I owned and foolishly sold. I obtained Kynoch brass from David at Kynamco. I believe this was newly manufactured at the time I bought it in 2005. I probably shot that rifle 400 - 500 times using the same 60 cases and never lost a case due to case fatigue or failure. My experience was the straight-walled cases are very forgiving. They never split and the rifle just had extractors - they just fell out, no problem. This was a Ntro for Black load that is lower pressure though.

I bought the rifle from Champlin at the 2005 SCI show and immediately took it to the H&H booth. I was fortunate the head of the rifle shop was there and he examined the rifle. He said it was a "Best Gun" and as fine an example of that type H&H had ever made. The rifle was made in 1895. He offered, without my prompting, that it would make Nitro proof. The rifle had once belonged to Jack Lott and Boddington told me a wonderful story of them shooting it. He personally witnessed Jack shoot full 750 gr NE rounds in it! At 12.75 lbs I never did, choosing instead to develop Nitro for Black using formulas from Graeme's excellent book. I used GS Custom mono-copper custom bullets built specifically to this rifle's bore dimensions and Woodleigh 650 gr soft point bullets. After some load development, this rifle would shoot cloverleaves at 50 yards about 1.5" high. Good enough for me! These loads chrono'ed at 1980 fps. I asked several highly respected PHs about using this on elephant before my hunt. Four said it would work with only one saying he thought it wasn't enough. Gibbo and I were hunting tuskless in the Chewore in a dry riverbed and we came upon a small herd of 6-7 with the largest a tuskless. We had already been hunting 6 days (and many many miles) and this was the first tuskless we had seen. Gibbo instructed me to use a head shot if we were able to, but shoot for the heart if they ran. Well, they ran so I ended up shooting several times. Actually hit it in the heart on the first pair but even Gibbo was stunned the .585" bullet went 3" or more through the wall of the heart without going in! Huge bruise on the heart though. I don't know if it's OK to show that kind of picture here, but I have it. The GS solids were delivering complete pass-through on body shots. I did recover one bullet that went in at the left shoulder and was recovered at the front of the head. Could have almost reloaded it.
Exactly you have a new double with screwed up chambers 1 shot is what you get....

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