Winchester Brass = Two Thumbs Down

Recently I blew a casing in my Glock at a match, during a stage. Now, “blew a casing” sounds a lot more dramatic than it really was. A tiny, rectangular area of the casing, right above the web, peeled back. Blew the magazine out of the gun, didn’t damage me or anything on the gun, not even the magazine. Stuffed another mag in the gun (I could see by the target I was shooting on at the time that the bullet had exited the barrel and hit the target), cycled the slide and drove on to finish the stage.

Another shooter actually picked up that shell casing and handed it to me as I was walking off the stage. Out of idle curiosity I checked the headstamp: Winchester. A local Master class shooter, Tom Kettels, who hadn’t seen the casing, said to me, “I’ll bet that’s a Winchester casing.” I said, “Yeah, it is, actually.” Tom: “I have seen that so many times. It’s always a Glock, it’s always the stock barrel, it’s always a Minor load, and it’s always a Winchester casing. It’s cheap brass, you load it a few times and it blows out in the unsupported area over the feed ramp. That never happens with a Major load because guns set up to fire Major all have fully supported chambers. It’s always a Glock, always the stock barrel, always a Minor load, and always a Winchester casing.”

My solution to this problem was threefold: (1) I dropped my load a bit. Probably didn’t need to do that, I was already .4 grains under book max, it just made me feel better. (2) I installed a Stormlake stainless steel match barrel with fully supported chamber. (3) I went through my brass supply and pulled out every single Winchester casing. This took awhile since I am not exactly the most brass-poor individual in the world, but eventually the process was complete. I have run into the attitude, from one person I know, that pulling all the Winchester casings was overkill, there was no need to do that, the idea that Winchester brass is substandard was just silly.

A few days ago, I was talking to my friend and fellow shooter Joseph Dorage, and he told me, “I had a case blowout at a match. I was shooting factory reloads. It blew the magazine out of the gun but it didn’t damage the gun, or me.” I said, “I’ll bet it was just a little rectangle of brass that peeled back.” Joseph: “Yes, it was.” Me: “And I’ll bet it was a Winchester casing.” Joseph: “Yes, it was.” I said, “Wow, looks like that Duane Thomas guy knew what he was talking about, huh?”

The truly sad thing here is that, even if Winchester eventually gets their act together, their brass supply has been corrupted for handloaders forever. How could we ever know if any particular casing was the new, decent stuff or the old crap? The only solution is to avoid Winchester brass forever.

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