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Can 5.56 M200 blanks be reloaded as live ammo? Completed 6th firing. With video!
WI57  [Team Member]
After reading the thread a while back about reloading fired blanks I decided to try it, instead of just saying it couldn't be done.
I know, with how cheap surplus brass is why would I do it? Well, I figured why not try it and see.

I have a bunch of M200 blanks around, and if they work out it will be perfect for making 3gun ammo or ammo for where I cannot recover my brass.

I started out with 5 good old USGI M200 blanks, Lake City 2004 to be exact.




Then I fired the blanks in my Remington 700 to remove the primer, the powder, and to open up the crimped mouth.
(If fired with a BFA sometimes the crimp won't open up and makes trimming difficult)



Then I slowly ran the blanks as is into my dillon trimmer, this cut off the crimp but left some ugly burrs.



So I cleaned out the burrs with a brush and now full length sized/deprimed them, then passed them under the trimmer one more time to uniform the mouth.



Then I deburred the mouths with a gracey trimmer to remove any excess brass.



Then I loaded with a CCI 41, 26.0 gr of WC844, and a M855 bullet.



Here are the pretty little things in a mag ready to go down range and find some frozen dirt.




And here is the brass, nothing abnormal.




Primers look good, its a hot load and I was barely beginning to see ejector swipes.



No split mouths on the 5 original test subjects.




Just to give this a bigger scale I loaded 30 other blank brass, only one mouth split.




These were a different bag of blank brass, but held up just fine.



Soon to be "leave it lay and not feel bad" brass...?


ETA- to update title, again, again, again, and again.
ajroyer  [Member]
That's very interesting. Thanks for running the experiment. Did you also compare the case length and neck length to a standard spec for .223? It looks like there was plenty of neck to trim in your pics. Did you compare accuracy between regular brass and converted blanks? Was there a noticable difference?
WI57  [Team Member]
Originally Posted By ajroyer:
That's very interesting. Thanks for running the experiment. Did you also compare the case length and neck length to a standard spec for .223? It looks like there was plenty of neck to trim in your pics. Did you compare accuracy between regular brass and converted blanks? Was there a noticable difference?


Uh, no. I just shot them hoping my rifle didn't blow up.

They trimmed to 1.750 just fine, but there was a little rose petal crimp that had to be sized open, then I trimmed again to remove it.

Now if it ever gets warmer and I'm not shivering I'll try for accuracy.
ChrisGarrett  [Member]
Originally Posted By WI57:
Originally Posted By ajroyer:
That's very interesting. Thanks for running the experiment. Did you also compare the case length and neck length to a standard spec for .223? It looks like there was plenty of neck to trim in your pics. Did you compare accuracy between regular brass and converted blanks? Was there a noticable difference?


Uh, no. I just shot them hoping my rifle didn't blow up.

They trimmed to 1.750 just fine, but there was a little rose petal crimp that had to be sized open, then I trimmed again to remove it.

Now if it ever gets warmer and I'm not shivering I'll try for accuracy.


You do realize that the brass used in 'blank' cartridges is very thin compared to normal commercial and military brass?

It's designed to accomodate pressures way under what even a light 223 load exhibits.

I don't think I'd make a practice of loading 'blank' cases as rule. Consider yourself lucky.

Chris

WI57  [Team Member]
Originally Posted By ChrisGarrett:
You do realize that the brass used in 'blank' cartridges is very thin compared to normal commercial and military brass?

It's designed to accomodate pressures way under what even a light 223 load exhibits.

I don't think I'd make a practice of loading 'blank' cases as rule. Consider yourself lucky.

Chris



I halved one a while ago and it looked just like every other 5.56 case, except it has a rose crimp on the mouth.

I'll section one tomorrow and post pics.

ETA- where do you mean when you say thinner?

Just so I can cut these the correct way to see what they look like?
ChrisGarrett  [Member]
Cut them in half lengthwise and measure the web area, just ahead of the extractor groove, say 0-3mm .

Cut some regular Lake City lengthwise and measure the same area. You'll know it when you see it.

Honestly bro, it's your face and you can play chicken all you want, but you're not supposed to make (fire) live ammo using 'blank brass.'

Chris
WI57  [Team Member]
Since the question was brought up about the blanks being able to withstand the pressure of loading live ammo I cut a few and some brass.

I sectioned large FC 223 brass, RP 223 brass, small fc 223 brass, 5.56 LC 09, Blank LC04, and Blank LC08.

The large letter FC measured .184.
The RP 223 measured .183.
The small letter fc measured .190.
The Lake City 09 5.56 measured .194.
The LC04 blank measured .191.
The LC08 blank measured .190.

Here they all are, large FC 223 brass, RP 223 brass, small fc 223 brass, 5.56 LC 09, Blank LC04, and Blank LC08.





My pin, which is a broken decapper pin, measures 3.625".



The first blank LC 08 measures .190".



The second blank LC04 measures .191".



The actual LC09 5.56 measures .194".



The large letter FC 223 measures .184.



I don't see how the blank brass can be any worse than the large letter FC brass.
On the 3rd load I had this one split, and didn't even notice until I picked up the brass.






I'll keep you guys updated as to how it goes, I'll try to upload a video later on.

If my measurments are way off let me know.

As my good friend AMUshooter10 says: "I would rather shoot and see than google and say."
dryflash3  [Moderator]
Thick webs on those used to be blanks.

In for more test results.
AMUshooter10  [Team Member]
I would have scoffed too if I had not seen it with my own eyes. You should call it something like .223 Blank-Out

I soon predict a shortage of blank ammo in our area

Nice right up guy! And thanks for quote, LOL
downrivertrash  [Member]
Its interesting that the round that separated did it at the cannelure near the base. I know .223 rounds can be reloaded more than 3 times without this issue if headspace is not excessive or too hot, so why did this one fail? Also putting the crimp on the case mouth for blanks could possibly stress the brass to where even if you cut off this part you will end up having some split necks because the brass is still stressed from the star crimping (I think). Its interesting and maybe worth it if you have a lot of this brass and use it once only.
WI57  [Team Member]
Originally Posted By downrivertrash:
Its interesting that the round that separated did it at the cannelure near the base. I know .223 rounds can be reloaded more than 3 times without this issue if headspace is not excessive or too hot, so why did this one fail? Also putting the crimp on the case mouth for blanks could possibly stress the brass to where even if you cut off this part you will end up having some split necks because the brass is still stressed from the star crimping (I think). Its interesting and maybe worth it if you have a lot of this brass and use it once only.


The round that tore was a large letter FC 223 brass.

It never had a cannelure but still split in that approx area, so it will be interesting to see if the re-used blanks do that as well.

I was reloading the large letter FC brass to see how long it could go and it gave up on the 3rd firing.

But I didn't notice anything different while shooting, it wasn't until I went to recover the brass did I notice it had split.

I will continue to test 10 of these blank cases and see what happens.

If I can get past 3 loads without the mouths cracking or the heads ripping off I'll be happy loading new blank brass once for places I cannot recover my brass.

This will all be fired out of a 20" AR15 with a 5.56 chamber.
ArmedPete  [Team Member]
That's awesome man, but don't you be taking my lake city brass and giving me blank brass instead in my reloads.
WI57  [Team Member]
Better then I could ever get one to turn out.

http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_3_16/555349_.html
redleg13a  [Member]
I've done it before with no issues, but it's too much trouble. I guess if I ever get hard up for brass, I can pull apart the SAW belt of blanks that I have and use those. I have over 300 rounds of .50 caliber blanks as well. I don't think I'd want to load .50 blanks into live ammo.
heavy260  [Member]
I have a feeling the 50cal blanks are coming;) Can we do 762 next? I know how those come out.
boomfab  [Team Member]
I tried this with a 7.62 LC blank a long time ago. Didn't work too well as the 7.62 blank neck thickness was very excessive.
WI57  [Team Member]
Ok, so the second firing is done, stopped by the range on the way home from work and dumped the rounds into the berm.

Its too dark to get good pictures by the time I'm able to shoot so all you'll see is the AAR photos unless they survive until Friday when I can shoot in the daylight.

Here are ten of the 35 original test rounds, nothing much different.







They did shrink a little, the average length was 1.748"



When full length sized they stretched to an average 1.755"









Then I trimmed to 1.750"



This is where I noticed this little guy, I will have to pay attention to this little guy.
(I think this will be the first one to go)



Loaded with 25.0gr of WC844, CCI 41, and a 62gr M855 bullet.
(I dropped the charge a grain after consulting a mod to slow down the case destruction)




These will be my ten little test subjects, each day I am going to stop on my way home and fire them off.


And now onto the sectioned brass...



Cut a bunch of different ones, all showed the same thing, blank brass is the same in the web as live ammo brass.



Originally Posted By heavy260:
I have a feeling the 50cal blanks are coming;) Can we do 762 next? I know how those come out.



And just for giggles I cut up a .50, want to guess what one is the blank case...



And wouldn't you know...
(But the rose crimp on the .50 brass would prevent loading as live since it is basically the same as a live .50 case with a rose crimp)



And here is to show how much of the case is actually supported by the chamber.



And a blank.



I plan on firing these until they start to crack or give up, I will document any failures.

Please, do not try to do this at home.
heavy260  [Member]
I thought you were testing durability? Dropping a grain is like Happy Gilmore cracking the sand trap rake instead of breaking it and leaving it lie instead of throwing it in the woods! 364 more days until tryouts to toughen up.
WI57  [Team Member]
Originally Posted By heavy260:
I thought you were testing durability? Dropping a grain is like Happy Gilmore cracking the sand trap rake instead of breaking it and leaving it lie instead of throwing it in the woods! 364 more days until tryouts to toughen up.


Tough crowd... . I'll see how they do with 25.0gr as that's probably close to what others would load.

Just because 27.0gr works in my rifle doesn't mean it will in other people guns.

I'll stick with 25.0 as its a good all around load that shouldn't show pressure in most other rifles.
AMUshooter10  [Team Member]
Wasn't that barrel under my 24x PST the other day?

Thanks for cutting it so we can see in detail.

This thread is full of interesting info. Thanks!

And I know where there is a good chrono if you need it.
SandHillsHillbilly  [Team Member]
Explain to this uneducated person why the blank cases are knurled near the base?
WI57  [Team Member]
Originally Posted By AMUshooter10:
Wasn't that barrel under my 24x PST the other day?

Thanks for cutting it so we can see in detail.

This thread is full of interesting info. Thanks!

And I know where there is a good chrono if you need it.


Ha, that barrel was more like the one you trashed at the trijicon shoot.

If they make it past 3 loads I'll fire until they are trashed then start accuracy/velocity testing with a new batch.

I wouldn't even feel bad if a blank-out round took out your chrono, it would make for a good video.
WI57  [Team Member]
Originally Posted By SandHillsHillbilly:
Explain to this uneducated person why the blank cases are knurled near the base?


Honestly I'm not sure, maybe to visually identify the casing if you cannot see the crimp?

I know on the old 7.62 match ammo it was to identify the round as "Not for combat use".

Because it was frowned upon back then shooting people with match bullets IIRC?

I plan on trying to call Lake City tomorrow and seeing what they say, I looked all over for their email and only found the ATK corporate ones.
akethan  [Life Member]
Interesting.
19Charlie_84  [Member]
Pretty interesting thread. I doubt I will ever do it because I dont have a supply of blanks and enough people leave good brass at my ranges that I always come home with way more than I shot. That and case prep is the bane of my reloading existance.

Most .50 blank brass I have ever picked up from my tanks have had the rose crimp completely blown out so it looked like live brass. If you just fire it all off it should blow out the crimp and be a straight case mouth like regular. At least straight enough that it will feed into a resizer die and work it self out. Ive done that with many a .308 and .223 case that someone stepped on or an HK91 gave a healthy ding to.
CBR900  [Member]
For those who are too scared to load 55,000 PSI 223 loads with blank brass, you could still cut them down to 300 Blackout length and load 220 grain bullets to sub-sonic velocity:

That load only produces about 21,000 PSI - which is less than half of what 223 loads typically produce.

And it has been done before: http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_6_42/361422_Can_5_56_blanks_be_cut_down_and_loaded_into_300_Blackout_.html