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Since I’m new to reloading, I’m not quite sure when to pitch old shells. If I see a tear in the mouth or some other obvious damage, sure. But when do you toss old shells that look fine but are just a bit burnt?

Attached is a pic of the toastiest Gun Club I gave on the left, with a once fired one on the right. Is it still good? How do you know when to toss it?
Liquid Cylinder Lighter Fluid Electric blue
 

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From a technical standpoint, so long as the hull will hold all the components together, it's good to go. From a practical standpoint, for me, it's a peer pressure thing. When the guys I shoot with start ridiculing me for having ratty looking reloads, I load 'em once more and let 'em fly.
 

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Looks like one is a 1x and the other is probably mid-life.
The little crack that's barely showing on the toasty one may turn into an actual split down the road, but I'd reload it without a thought.
Take a few that you think might be getting close and reload them. Then take a look at how they seal when crimped and I think you may be hard pressed to see what had you concerned. Mark them with a sharpie and take another look after they get fired again. I'm guessing you can reload them 2 or 3 more times before you go, "No friggin' way!" and finally toss them.
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Since I’m new to reloading, I’m not quite sure when to pitch old shells. If I see a tear in the mouth or some other obvious damage, sure. But when do you toss old shells that look fine but are just a bit burnt?

Attached is a pic of the toastiest Gun Club I gave on the left, with a once fired one on the right. Is it still good? How do you know when to toss it?
View attachment 50802
Videos are out there suggesting 5-7reloads for standard target loads on the Gun Clubs. 14+ on STS/Nitro hulls. I reload the gunclubs about 4-5times, then consider pitching them. I have buckets and boxes of GC’s, STS/Nitro and AA’s. All load similar. I’ve dedicated the FEDERAL GMG for steel or bismuth loading (other euro hulls as well).
 

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It also depends on your gun type. You need set a higher standard for semi-autos than break-open. When my wife is boxing them up she puts obviously bad ones into boxes marked-practice/discard. We shoot O/U.
 

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I load them until they split down the side or will no longer contain the components. I don't care how burnt they look.
Same here, and for grins and giggles, even if one petal is missing, if it closes, I use it one more time.
 

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If that frosted effect is isolated to the upper half of the hull, with the severity tapering off as you come down from the crimp, I don't worry much about it.

However, a patch of frosting on the side of the hull, especially on the lower half, usually indicates a crack in that area. Those I toss in the trash.
 

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Lots of life left in that hull!
 

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It would embarrass most people how long I will load a hull. The one on the left is far from being tossed, I don't think it has reached adolescents yet. Several more loadings and it will be time to head to the cut off wheel and turn it into a 2 1/2" hull. Then one more turn at the wheel to become a 2" hull.

My buddies give grief on the condition of my hulls. I laugh and tell them when they can consistently beat me I might listen to them. So far they haven't given me any advice I needed to hear.
 

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I tested reloads for pressure and velocity against the number of times they were loaded and there is a fall off after four to five reloads that runs into several hundred FPS. The ES and SD's get much wider and seems to be dependent on crimp pull. I am trying to make a device to measure the crimp pull accurately but it has been on the back burner for a while. Thanks, Squid Boy
 

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Glad to read the responses on this thread because I have successfully loaded and shot some very crispy ratty hulls. Would listen to guys saying they throw them out at the first crimp split and these are hard to get 16 gauge hulls. 😳

For basic clay shooting as long as they hold shot and go bang I'll shoot them. Never noticed any difference in my scores either way.
 

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I once conducted experiments as described by @Squid Boy and found that as the crimp weakened the velocity dropped accordingly. As the velocity dropped it took increased lead to break a bird. The 4' I see on station 4 now became a 5' required lead to break the bird.
If a shell has "had it" then it's out of rotation. I either cut and reclaim or fire one more time and then discard. Hulls are cheap, misses at the wrong time can be costly...
 
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