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  1. #1
    Plinker
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    How to tell if ammo is reloaded?

    I'm looking to buy ammo in the classified section. I prefer to buy factory ammo and not reloads. Is there a way to tell if ammo has been reloaded just by looking at it? Thanks for any and all help.

  2. #2
    Marksman karl77's Avatar
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    sometimes there are extractor/ejector marks on the brass, or mixed head stamps (IE: UMC/federal in a winchester box). when in doubt, don't buy it.

  3. #3
    INGOer #483 Indy_Guy_77's Avatar
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    If all the brass has been sorted by headstamp (which many competition shooters do), then there's good chance that the primer cup will be a different color than that of the factory loaded ammo.

    IE: factory Ammo Brand X will have a brass-colored primer... so if there is a silver-colored primer in Ammo Brand X cases, it MAY be reloaded.

    MAY being operative. There are scenarios out there where a small boutique ammunition manufacturer will buy their brass from various sources. So, while the head stamp may say Ammo Brand X on it, it'll really be constructed by Ammo Brand ABC.

    Confusing, ain't it?

    -J-

  4. #4
    Plinker
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    Without specifying a year, I have had some Winchester primers purchased several years ago that were "silver or nickel" colored. More recently purchased Winchester primers were brass colored. I am not sure about Winchester factory loads over the years. I reload most of my center fire ammo.

  5. #5
    Shooter
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    The most obvious sign is if the brass headstamps don't match. Also, you can look to see if the primers are different colors. Straight walled pistol ammo will have a swell im the top of the brass where the bullet was inserted.

  6. #6
    Grandmaster
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    Check a variety of things:

    As IndyGuy said already, primer color. If it's Winchester, brass colored. Federal and Remington are usually nickel colored, same with Speer/CCI. If a different color, avoid.

    Mixed headstamps is a huge giveaway. If something is a know reman, such as Ultramax, then obviously... Corbon USED to have R-P brass but have moved to their own "CORBON" stamped brass, but you might find an older box out there.

    Unless it's Federal Champion or CCI Blazer, check the bullet. If the finish looks "wavy", it's a plated bullet and usually used by commercial handloaders instead of actual jacketed to keep costs down without going to a lead component bullet. Lead bullets with a FMJ marked box is also a dead giveaway.

    Thirdly, check the source of the ammo. If you find it at a gunshow or store and they don't let you open the box to examine the ammo, don't buy it. Yeah, yeah, some dealers or sellers won't let you open ammo boxes due to some issues with theft, or damage or etc... but if they won't let you check it after you say you want to buy it pending inspection, walk away. Having been at a range through two panics, I can tell you: We've had a TON of handloads at the range I work (many dangerous, overpressure, popped primers or exactly the reverse, squibs) that were in factory boxes that the seller was pushing as new ammo. If I can find out those people, WORLD OF HURT awaits them...

    Check the cleanliness of the ammo in it's box... If it has a thick film on it or the brass looks damaged, fired, stained... question it's source and origin. Manufacturers generally make SOME effort to clean the ammo before packaging.
    Gone! See you all in the funny pages!

  7. #7
    Marksman IndyGlockMan's Avatar
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    Look at the brass. If you look close, you should be able to see if it's been through a re-sizing die or not.
    Factory new ammo will be very straight and clean. Reloaded ammo won't be quite as perfect.
    Also look for tarnish on the brass. A lot of the brass I reload has stains and imperfections that don't fully come out in the tumbler - unless they wet tumble, then it gets pretty clean

  8. #8
    Plinker
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    Check for light scoring, or small dents on the case. Also the case head might have marks from an extractor. Mixed head stamps are a give away as well.

  9. #9
    Expert Cerberus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IndyGlockMan View Post
    Look at the brass. If you look close, you should be able to see if it's been through a re-sizing die or not.
    Factory new ammo will be very straight and clean. Reloaded ammo won't be quite as perfect.
    Also look for tarnish on the brass. A lot of the brass I reload has stains and imperfections that don't fully come out in the tumbler - unless they wet tumble, then it gets pretty clean
    This is about the only true way to tell. Every brand of dies I've tried over the years has left those tell tale marks. Do not rely upon primer colors. I've got factory brass out in the man cave from most brands that have different colored primers over the years.
    "It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere." Voltaire

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