30-40 Krag Neck Splits


#1

I was just looking at all of the split necks on my 30-40 Krags and wondering how soon the cracks became visible on unfired cartridges. Does anybody know when the neck splits started to show? Were my late 1890’s and early 1900’s Krags already splitting by World War One, or about 15 to twenty years after production?
Thanks-Curt


#2

My understanding is that, for drawn cases, it depends on the brass and the degree the neck is annealed & worked before loading the bullet. That can vary from lot to lot. I have some early .280 Remington with Peters headstamp that split within 3 years. Bought new in 1963 and split by 1966.


#3

There is no predictable pattern, another suggestion is uneven thickness of metal so that the neck tension (ie the tightness of the bullet in the case) pulls hardest at the weakest point in the circumference. Brass being ductile will respond to even a low tension over time.


#4

In US-made ammunition, Annealing the Neck and Shoulders of Formed cases ONLY began during WW I, with Russian Contract 7,62x54R ammunition at Western Cartridge Co., East Alton. The Russian Inspectors insisted on it…and the annealing Oxidation (“flame Marks” ) be left on the cases, as Proof of annealing.
The US gov’t began annealing Neck and Shoulders of Cases (.30 Cal) in the Mid 1920s, with the development of Semi-Automatic rifles, and the experience of WW I produced .30 M1906 ammo, which was splitting Necks by the early 1920s, so much so that over a Billion rounds were “condemned” to DCM use and sale.

During early WW II, crews of US Armed Merchantmen went about sorting .30 cal ammo to separate out the “splitting” Lots, to ensure that their Lewis and Brownings did not jam etc. during Aircraft attack during the Atlantic crossings.

The Problem of Annealing and “Season Cracking” was not really recognised until Bottle Necked, smokeless cases were introduced…as the Older BP cases were virtually “straight sided” in Military calibres (Very slight Necking) as a Result, the fully drawn case ( already annealed) did not suffer much Work-hardening during the final necking Operation, and so "Season cracking"did not occur as often.

The Problem was also seen in Fired .303 Cordite Cartridges which had a tapered case, and a slight shoulder…because of the curious method of Loading cordite ( into an "Un-necked Tapered "case, the Necking and Bullet seating and crimping being done after the Cordite Bundle was mechanically inserted into the unfinished, tapered case…so No “post forming” anneal was Possible, and the necked Brass was therefore under some Stress after Loading. Old .303 Cordite cartridges also “Neck split” with age, but not as much as US and other countries cartridges using Nitro Powder and un-annealed formed cases.

Even with annealing post formation, cases still split if subjected to extreme seasonal variation, over many years.

The .30/40 Krag cartridges, whether Gov’t or Commercially Produced, did not have the final "formed Case " anneal, and as a result, by now (100 years) will certainly have “Age/Season cracking.”

Knowledge of Cartridge Case Metallurgy was better researched in Europe and Russia than the USA before WW I; Also the Large quantities of ammo produced during and after WW I showed the Problem up as longer lead times from manufacture to Use became the Norm in Peace-time. Many countries had to “re-manufacture” WW I ammo of US origin because of this Problem…

EG: US contract .303 British, given to Portugal by Britain at the end of WW I (“M919 Cal 7,7mm”) esp. of W 15 origin, had to be “Pulled down” and the Projectiles re-used in 1926-27 AE 7,7 Production, and the Primed cases scrapped due to Neck cracks.( personal examination of AE 7,7 (.303) cartridges from 1922 to 1937).
The British simply palmed off this WW I ammo to various “New” states (Baltics), to Portugal, to the Empire, or simply dumped it into the North Sea. ( some of the Dupont Powders used were also deteriorating by 1919.).

Newer and more controllable methods of Case annealing ( such as electric induction heating) have rendered the Problem less of a PITA, with Longer shelf life ammo; but the Military still maintains the “Rule of Fives” developed very early on, ( First Five Years: Combat Ammo; Second Five years: Training and Emergency Combat ammo; Third Five years: Training Only; After 15 years in storage: Disposal, Dismantling or Destruction.). The Cause is the deterioration rate of Primers and Powders, as well as the (Now) Minor Possibility of Seasonal Variations also causing Cracking.

Hope this gives some Historical and Metallurgical Background to why your collectible Krag cartridges are split…
Doc AV


#5

Doc AV- Thank you for your detailed response. I really appreciate your hard work responding to numerous posts on this forum (and others which I do not visit). Sharing your vast knowledge and experience is most appreciated, and I have learned a lot from you, and I am sure that I speak for many others as well, expressing my thanks.


#6

XPH2USN:
SPLIT NECKS ARE THE PRICE YOU PAY IF YOU COLLECT CALIBER .30 MODEL 1898 (KRAG) CARTRIDGES. A NUMBER OF YEARS AGO I BOUGHT A WINCHESTER BOX THAT WAS FILLED WITH A VARIETY OF THE EARLY EXPERIMENTIAL CALIBER .30 CARTRIDGES. THEY ALL HAD SPLIT NECKS INCLUDING SEVERAL DIFFERENT EXAMPLES OF THE FRANKFORD ARSENAL RIMLESS EXPERIMENTIAL. THIS SPLIT NECK PROBLEM IS PERHAPS THE REASON THERE ARE SO FEW COLLECTORS OF THIS CARTRIDGE.

DocAv:
MANY THANKS FOR THE EDUCATION. I WOULD LIKE TO AD THAT SOME OF THE EARLY SMOKELESS POWDERS DID A LOT OF DAMAGE OVER THE YEARS, ESPECIALLY IN THE SUB-CALIBER LOADINGS.


#7

Not all of the old Cal .30 (30-40) brass was created equal. About 20 years ago I had a Krag Sporter that I shot, a lot. I had several hundred of the old GI cartridges, including a couple of bandoleers and two cartridge belts. Every cartridge made by UMC had a split neck whereas the FA stuff was in perfect condition. I used the FA brass for several years, reloading it over and over. I gave everything to my son about 10 years ago and, as far as I know, he is still using the FA brass which is now 108 years old.

Ray


#8

My experience is rather like Ray’s in that the early FA Krag ctgs in my collection don’t have neck cracks; the “New Springfield” rounds are, however, another story. While cases in the black powder calibers rarely suffer from neck cracks, base cracks are not unheard of. Jack


#9

I to have noticed that the FA 30-40 seldom has neck cracks.
The .303" cordite ammo dating back to the 1890s is only occasionally found with neck cracks whereas the ammo loaded with nitro cellulose powder seems to be commonly split. Could the deterioration of the early NC powder contribute to the splitting?


#10

Speaking of cracked case heads - here’s an especially bad one. A 45-70-500. Could have been from the mercuric primer, the black powder, or an unusually robust headstamp strike. Not even the tin plating could save this one.


#11

Cracked case heads are usually a problem of the metallurgy and or manufacture process. So case coating or primer/propellant do not play a role in this.


#12

Thank You DocAV and other responders. I think that answers my question.
Curt