|CCI Aluminum case with N R headstamp.|
There are a lot of you out there who have done it. Go ahead, admit it. And, you got away with it (most of you) because you used a very weak propellant charge. You found out that they would usually not fail catastrophically on the first firing but split on the second or third. The blogs were also full of reasons we are tempted to reload aluminum cases. They are everywhere at our ranges! You don't care if you lose them. You can just reload them once...and maybe get away with it. They are free! (That one was really common!) Probably the most compelling reason we are so tempted to reload the things is because that is what we do. We are reloaders.
We each decide just how much risk we are willing to tolerate every time we enjoy our hobby. Even the best brass case will eventually fail. Sometimes a brass case will fail on the first firing! If you haven't experienced this yet, you will if you shoot long enough. When the average 9mm case fails, it fails by splitting at the case mouth (about 97% of the time) with little impact on the weapon or shooter.
|Small case mouth split not likely to be noticed by shooter during firing.|
|View from inside case mouth.|
|Large split likely to be felt by shooter!|
We loaded three aluminum CCI 9mm LUGER NR cases. Powder was Accurate #5, charge was 6.2 grains, bullet was a Remington 115 grain Golden Saber, LOA was 1.110 inches, primer was Winchester small pistol. We fired these through a Taurus PT 92.
The case on the left below failed on the first firing, the case pictured in the center failed on the second firing. The case to the right failed after four firings and had only a small split at the case mouth.
|Case failures after firing.|
So here are the answers we found to the questions. Yes, you can reload that aluminum case. The CCI case we looked at has a Boxer primer and ran through our dies easily and without galling (we did use case lube). The primer fit was somewhat loose but no primer failure was noted. You can reload the average brass case many many times, but these aluminum cases had an average life of only 2 firings. Yes, they will fail very quickly and, the most extensive failure was on a first firing! When they fail, they fail much more dramatically than brass! So, is it safe to reload them? Here is my answer:
If...the zombie apocalypse were in full swing after a weaponized viral pandemic raged across the earth, brought on by a world wide economic collapse precipitated by global warming induced natural disasters unprecedented in the human experience, and...I ran out of all my ammo defending my family from the brain eaters, I would reload them ...once... and bang away. Probably praying each time I pulled the trigger. So yes, they are safe to reload under those circumstances. Until then I am going to stick with good old brass cases!