Still having problems with reloads


February 25, 2005, 01:33 PM
Hi there,

I am still having problems with my .45ACP reloads. For some reason, I am only getting partial ignition of the powder and when the powder does fully ignite I have large black flakes of stuff everywhere. Again, I did have the powder in the basement for a couple of years so I replaced the powder that was left in the hopper with opened powder that was still sealed in the original container. No change in the problem. Now I bought all new gun powder to see if that clears it up. I'll find out at the range tomorrow morning. The other possiblity that I have come up with; is it possible the tumbler media is contaminating the inside of the casing? When I was loading last night I noticed a large flake for dark red what looked like media or something came out of one of the casings. After that, I changed the media in the tumbler as this has also been sitting for a couple of years. Do you guys think that's a possible problem?

I am using 4.0 grains of Clays and Federal primers. The gun is a 625 with a light trigger and extended firing pin.

Any help is appreciated.


If you enjoyed reading about "Still having problems with reloads" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
February 25, 2005, 01:55 PM
Hi Alan,
First determine whether problem lies in gun or ammo. How does the gun perform with factory ammo?

Good shooting and be safe.

February 25, 2005, 04:20 PM
What weight bullet? Unless it's very light that should be a resonable load. Does the load perform normally other than the soot?
I've never heard of media residue causing problems like that.

February 25, 2005, 04:31 PM
Hi guys, thanks for the replys.

I am using 200 gr jacketed from West Coast but just switched to the Reiner from Midway.

My friend was loading for me until I could get my press up and running and his loads worked OK, except for the Winchester primers not going off every time because of the lighter trigger. We fixed that by going to Federal primers but at the same time I started using my old powder. Besides the flaking, it is very smokey and after firing I can see little pieces of powder burning in the air around the gun. Kind of looks like fireworks going off, like little streamers or something.

I really don't think the problem is the gun. It will fire my friends loads OK.

Thanks for the help. Please keep it coming.

February 25, 2005, 04:42 PM
When you tumble your cases do you make sure the flash holes are clear of media before priming?

February 25, 2005, 04:50 PM
Following a mention from Jamz here - on a thread of his --- had you cleaned cases and possibly left moisture within? Just another base to cover.

Primers are pretty much bang or no bang - and that charge should ignite just fine - if powder and primers uncontaminated. Even crimp degree should not cause that much problem.

The Bushmaster
February 25, 2005, 09:40 PM
For god's sake...Get rid of any thing that is old and start with new powder and primers. Make sure that your cases are clean and dry. Get that pistol to the gunsmith and have it checked. Quit fooling around and do it right just like the book before you hurt someone like your friend.

February 26, 2005, 04:23 PM
OK. I have new primers and I bought new powder. Still having the same problem. I think I have this narrowed down to primer/powder combination.

Bushmaster, thank you for your concern on safety and I do take that quite seriously. I do wan't to try one more thing. It has occured to me that the only time I have had any problem is when using Federal primers and Clays powder. The gun worked fine using factory ammo. It also worked fine with Winchester primers and Clays powder except the Winchester primers were very hard and do always detonate on the first hammer strike. I have another friend from the gun range that uses HP-38 with Federal primers in his 625 and is very happy with the results. I am going to try that next to see if this fixes the problem. After that, I will take the gun into a gun smith. I just really don't think the gun is the problem. It seems I am narrowing this down for to a compatability problem between Clays and Federal primers.

I will keep everyone posted.

Thanks again.

February 26, 2005, 05:02 PM
You've got a revolver that will only fire when federal primers are used and you don't have a gun problem???? It sounds like the mainspring tension isn't high enough. Unless you did the trigger work yourself, I'd take it back to the gunsmith and make them get it right this time (preferably with something close to the stock mainspring). Will this revolver even shoot factory ammo? I've never heard of such primer/powder mixing and matching to find one solitary combination that would actually fire on the first hit.

February 26, 2005, 11:39 PM
This is relatively common in a 625 when the spring has been changed out. I had the work done at a professional gunsmith who has a 625 of his own and he states he has to use Federal primers because they are softer.

There are about a dozen people at my range that use a 625 and they all use Federal primers but use a different type of powder.

Right now I am not using the gun in competition until the problem is solved. I am doing very slow fire with it. So far I haven't had any rounds that have not went off with Federal primers but they are inconsistent and weak.

Austin Charles
February 26, 2005, 11:43 PM
This time take the gun to someone different.

I don't know why you even think that this is normal.

February 27, 2005, 12:05 AM
Misfires should NOT be common in a S&W 625 that has been PROPERLY modified to provide lighter trigger pulls EVEN IF the hammer spring is replaced with a reduced power spring. I currently have four S&W 629 revolvers that use the same action and have owned/sold two others. All of my pistols were tuned to provide single action trigger pulls of 2 lbs or less and NONE of them have ever failed to fire either factory ammo or my reloads using Win LR primers. I have also modified actions on several S&W K and L action guns with same results.
It sounds to me as though someone has bent the original hammer spring too far and reduced the power to where it does not provide sufficient primer impact. Note that the weight of trigger pull actually has nothing to do with hammer fall/primer impact. S&W K, L, and N frames use two different springs internally. One is for trigger return and controls weight of trigger pull. Another totally separate spring provides power to hammer and this is the spring which has been lightened too much. Replace this spring with original S&W spring OR Wolff reduced power hammer spring for S&W N frame and I think your misfires will go away. You should see little, if any, change in trigger pull. Wolff original or reduced power hammer springs are available from Brownells at modest cost.
Note: I have been reloading for 40 years and NEVER have had to select special primers for a standard pistol load to fire. You shouldn't either.

Good shooting and be safe.

ps: I think you need another gunsmith.

February 27, 2005, 12:22 AM
I'll second what LHB1 said. Sounds like an 'almost good enough' mainspring.

Have you checked the mainspring tension screw and made sure it's tight? If not, give that a try. It may stiffen up your double action pull, but it will ignite the primers better.

February 27, 2005, 02:37 AM
From what you are posting, it sounds like a problem with crimp.

Measure your crimp diameter. You should be seating to the same OAL as a factory ball round, with a good taper crimp.

Get a set of dial calipers and measure at the case mouth with a seated bullet. Your crimp diameter should be .468 to .470.

For what it's worth, I use 4.0 of Clays with 230 grain ball for a 25 yard load for Bullseye shooting. It's a sweet load.

February 27, 2005, 10:26 AM

You are correct that you revolver is fine eventhough you have to use federal primers. Almost EVERY competitive revo shooter uses federal for the same reason that you do. The most experienced gunsmiths in the world recommend this for that exact reason. People outside the competitive arenas dont know this though. You have an interesting problem. Try the different powder and see if that works. It also would have nothing to do with crimp or anything else. Something is either still burning or didnt competely burn. Try buying a new pound of powder and use the new bullets.

February 28, 2005, 08:24 AM

Thank you. I did buy a brand new pound of Clays and it's still doing it. I am going to go pick up some HP-38 today and try that. If that doesn't work, I wonder if it's possible I got a bad batch of primers?

Anyway, thanks again. I'll keep everyone posted as to what happens. I can't be the only one using this site that has used Federal primers with Clays powder but so far nobody has come back and said "yea, mine works fine" so who knows.


February 28, 2005, 08:33 AM
As a follow up to everyone else trying to help me, thank you.

I haven't checked the hammer spring screw and that's a good suggestion. I'll do that.

I have checked the crimp and it is the same as the loads my buddy is making. Here is one interesting thought though, I have never reloaded round nose bullets and have been using a Semi Wad Cutter seat die in the press. I do have the correct dies on order and they should be in today or tomorrow, I didn't see anything wrong with using that die in the mean time but it does flatted out the nose of the bullet. That really didn't seem like a big deal at first but given the problem I'm having, is it possible the bullet isn't getting seated far enough down?

Thanks again for everyone's help.

Ol` Joe
February 28, 2005, 10:30 AM
You say the powder sat for a couple years. Did it fail to burn properly before the trigger was reworked?? I agree with the others the hammer spring is at fault or there is tumbling media stuck in the flash hole. Clays is a fast burning easy to ignite powder from what I`ve seen. Federal primers are a tad softer then others but a pistol should fire with any suitable primer/ammo. I`ve also experianced squibs from a light hammer spring in a old M29 that I let a "smith" play with. His idea of a trigger job was to turn down the spring tension (there`s a little screw on the bottom side of the grip frame). It did lighten pull but the gun didn`t operate properly. There`s the easy way and the right way to lighten triggers, fit barrels, ect, mine went with the easy way.
Try the load in your buddies gun and I`ll bet it fires fine, if so see a different smith.

February 28, 2005, 12:35 PM
Hi Ol'Joe,

The powder burned properly but that was with a different gun. Model 65, the same gunsmit worked that gun for me and I never had any problem.

I took the grips off the gun at lunch today and found the main spring (or hammer spring, the one that runs through the grip) screw was backed off 1/2 turn. I tightened it up. Possible cause for my problems?

February 28, 2005, 03:40 PM
Hm. This is getting interesting.

By the way, count me in as one of the satisfied users of Clays. My load--the one I use for Bullseye competition--is 3.8 under my own cast LSCW, sized at .452 inch. The primer of choice is Federal. For ball ammo, I load a 230 grain ball round with 4.0 of Clays; same primer.

As a matter of fact, while I do use other primers for plinking and practice, I use Federal primers almost exclusively.

For my light handgun loads, I also use Clays powder almost exclusively. I have NEVER had a load with this combination fail to burn with full force and power.

OK. Let's start from the beginning.

1. What brand of sizing die are you using? And, what type of sizer is it--carbide, full length sizer, etc.?

2. How do you have the die adjusted?

3. Do you tumble your rounds? If so, what is the media you are using?

4. When was the last time you disassembled and cleaned the sizing die?

5. Have you lubed, or attempted to lube any part of the priming or powder charging equipment you are using? If so, with what lube?

6. Are you shooting cast bullets?

7. What is your primer seating depth--flush or below flush, or where?

8. What are your loaded rounds looking like.

9. I noted that this occurs out of a 625. Are you using full, half, or quarter moon clips?

Let's investigate this..... :)

February 28, 2005, 05:57 PM
Hi Powderman,

Let me try to answer these for you.

1) I use an RCBS Carbid die. It's on the same stage that the decapping pin is set.

2) It is set (I think) so that the whole brass piece goes up in the die. I will have to run down to my press to check though.

3) I do tumble, I am using the Lyman walnut media with the polish already added.

4) Never.

5) No, I have never lubed anything on the press.

6) I am currently shooting Ranier TMJ.

7) Flush with the brass

8) Loaded rounds look OK other than the seater die I have been using is for a Semi Wad Cutter so it has been flattening the nose of the round nose bullets. My new die came in today though so I will be switching that over tonight.

9) They are Wilson Combat full moon clips.

Thanks. I hope this all helps shed light.

I am shooting PPC with my buddy on Wednesday night this week and I asked him to bring his H&K .45 so I could try the rounds out of that gun to see what happens. This should shed light on Gun or Ammo very fast.

Thanks again.


The Bushmaster
February 28, 2005, 08:00 PM
Seat primers just below the case head. If flush you may not have activated the primer and it can move when the pin hits it. Activated may be the wrong word, but I am having a brain fart at the moment.

February 28, 2005, 08:11 PM
The word I use is ''sensitized''. As the anvil hits bottom of primer cup - it is put under stress and so the center portion presses into the priming compound. Then when the firing pin impacts primer to indent it - the anvil is right there up close. Hopefully, bang every time.

March 1, 2005, 09:13 AM
Thanks, I'll make that adjustment tonight.

I have a new problem now (as if I need one). Last night I changed all my dies over to brand new RCBS carbide dies and the correct seater plug. I adjusted all the dies per the manual that came with them. I adjusted the crimp/seater die (both on the same one on the RCBS press) to the correct spec. Now every once in a while its crushing the brass cass or it (wrinkles?) the bullet. Almost like its smashing the bullet in. Not sure what I screwed up here. The other dies and seater plug didn't do this at all but the old seater plug was for SWC and I put the correct RN plug in. Anyone have a suggestion?

The Crimp and length are to spec.

March 1, 2005, 09:44 AM
You are not belling the case mouth enough to allow proper seating!

March 1, 2005, 09:58 AM
Wow, that's it?

Thanks a million. In the directions it said to bell just enough to let the bullet seat. That makes total sense.

thanks again.

March 1, 2005, 10:14 AM
Just adding re belling - it is a fine line between not enough and too much. Excessive belling of course stresses the brass and you get more work hardening and shorter life.

The bullet base should, if offered up by hand - just engage the inside of case mouth - by maybe only a 1/64" or less ... but once base is safely started then those probs you have described should be gone.

March 1, 2005, 04:12 PM
Two problems: Your powder problem sounds like you have tumbling media stuck in the flash holes. If you decap, and then tumble, you should still run the cases through the decap operation when you resize just before loading, to ensure the flash hole is clear.

Case mouth belling is often unnecessary when you load strongly-jacketed bullets with a slightly beveled base. But belling is essential when you use lead or thinly-jacketed bullets such as the Raniers. Just don't makes the loading operation more difficult and can reduce brass life.

March 2, 2005, 09:00 AM
If the brass is wrinkled after the crimping/seating station then it if from excess crimp.

March 3, 2005, 08:50 AM
OK. Narrowing down the problems here. I went and shot PPC last night. After tightening the spring screw in the grip things were much better. Nearly all my bullets shot OK. Nearly! I had my buddy load up 60 rounds using 230 gr bullets, clays powder and Winchester primers and every one of those worked perfect. Not any problems, all powder burned, etc. They shot really well.

So he and I went home and took my powder charge apart on my press and it had a lot of "gunk" in it. Looked like old powder, grease, etc. caked on the inside of the tube running from the powder hopper to the nozzle. We cleaned everything out. Also we removed the lock out die and put a bullet seating die in its place and put the crimp die on the next station. That solved my problem with crushing cases and damaging bullets. I made up about 24 rounds to take over to my range tonight after doing all this to test those. If this doesn't fix it, I am going to quit shooting and take up a different hobby. Maybe electric trains or something!

March 3, 2005, 02:33 PM
Shooting electric trains would get expensive after a while. :neener:

March 3, 2005, 04:40 PM
Not if I use the bullets I'm making. Probably ricochet. :rolleyes:

March 3, 2005, 08:16 PM
Try pottery, it's really relaxing, and if it gets frustrating, you can always throw it across the room, not like your .45...........

March 4, 2005, 07:01 AM
Try pottery, it's really relaxing, and if it gets frustrating, you can always throw it across the room, not like your .45...........


March 4, 2005, 08:12 AM
...a lot of "gunk" in it. Looked like old powder, grease, etc. caked on the inside of the tube... There ya' go.
You were contaminating your powder and more than likely throwing inconsistant charge weights.

And the mainspring screw should always be tight. A loose strain screw is a sure sign of a kitchen table gunsmith.

Check out this thread ( for my hint of how to keep your seat/crimp dies in spec.

If you enjoyed reading about "Still having problems with reloads" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!