Signs of MINIMAL "Overloading"


February 27, 2005, 03:22 PM
Hey folks, my first post! :rolleyes:

I read someone's comment "Watch for signs of overloading", I think. Can we discuss these without geting into WAY overloaded horror stories (Yahoo)? :banghead: Excuse me, I had a poor experience with a different Message Group, before I joined the Highroad.

Lets discuss an overload of say LESS than.5 gain. And if it helps to pinpoint, lets consider the fast burning powder Bullseye, which I am using for 9mm, 38 Super, and 45 ACP. Finally, lets NOT imagine that I want to push the envelope beyond book loads, or that I want to overload to the hottest imaginable load (for an auto!), or that I dont do my homework, I dont weigh my loads or that I dont take careful loading seriously, beause I DO! :neener:

What started this question? Alliant has a max load recco of 4.9 grains for 9mm Luger, with a 125gr FMJ for Bullseye on their site right now. I have since found other sources on the 'net that recco only 4.2 gr (Rainier, MD Smith). Thats .7 gr of Bullseye difference!? Dont tell me that huge difference is from FMJ to plated. What a good reason to check many sources! So, I have already decided to stop at the lower one, (my choice) OK!? :fire: I am NOT interested to find out how overloading a 9mm ,with almost the same charge for a 38 Super +P case & same bullet, will work! Or how well it works if I havent tried it yet, either, by the way. I will NOT be trying it, because thats what I shoot 38 Supers for. Sorry, too much background info, disregard for this topic if necessary, or just respond on that, if you have something.

But what are the signs of "minimal" overloading? Just so WE might be informed if it happens someday, somehow? I have heard that they can even happen with factory loaded ammo.

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February 27, 2005, 03:49 PM
That .7 grain difference IS FMJ vs. Plated (Lead).



February 27, 2005, 05:40 PM
the most popular signs of overloading are flattened primers and difficulty to extract. these aren't binary values. as you add powder, they get more flattened and more difficult to extract.

careful though, as has been mentioned before, some primers are softer than others and flatten some even on light loads. and other things could make it difficult to extract (e.g. you don't clean your chamber properly.

Black Snowman
February 27, 2005, 06:07 PM
The best measure of pressure signs for those of us on a budget is to check case head expansion, preferably with a micrometer. If you're are seeing true flattened primers on one of the lower pressure rounds you're probably already into the "too much pressure" realm. The only real sure way to know is with a properly caliberated and installed strain guage. that's kinda pricey but finally availble to the general public. But it doesn't work on every gun configuration.

February 27, 2005, 09:07 PM
just simply flat primers is a hard way to say you have reached the max. in my experience most loads that are close to but not even at max (in the books) will flatten primers. i would say flat is a sign your getting close but when primers begin to "flow" or "Crater" now you have reached max.

Flow - when the primer begins to form into the fireing pin hole. instead of being a flat surface with a dent you get a bullseye effect, the metal around the "dent" is raised. ie "flowing" into the fireing pin hole.

February 27, 2005, 09:53 PM
Now what made me think you might reply a loud bang, a big shake, and being off target too high?

My local reloading shop, unless one "crosses the great waters", ran out of regular small pistol primers. As I am forced to take what I can get here in the middle of nowhere, I am now testing Magnum primers. So I'm glad you brought primers up!

The guy said they work about the same except they are thicker, so the firing pin would need to make a good strike, is all. Maybe it would be harder to see if they were flattened.

I dont have much concern about the strike in the Berretta or the Colt. Please tell me I'm not going to get any surprises if I'm NOT overloaded.

February 27, 2005, 10:05 PM
offhand, i'd say your local guy is crocked.

magnum and regular primers aren't officially interchangeable and few recommend it w/o a good reason, however it is possible. if it's simply a problem of supply, and for some reason, you can't mail order them, then at LEAST take your load back 10% when you switch.

February 27, 2005, 10:32 PM
Trust me, this was not my idea Taliv. You are at the mercy of the FFL dealers here in Hawaii. No Hazmat shipping to individuals that I can find.

I will take your advice and load lighter, thanks.

Ol` Joe
February 27, 2005, 11:54 PM
Just a question for the guys that look at primers to "judge" pressure.
At what psi do small or large pistol primers flatten??

For the three cartridges listed at the start of this thread we have:
9mm (Luger) at 35000 psi
38 Super at 33000 psi
45acp (I know, large primer) at 21000 psi

Now, will the small pistol primer that shouldn`t show flattening (pressure) at 33,000 psi in the 38 Super show it at the same pressure (33,000) in a 9mm that is rated for 35,000 Max?
The same small pistol primer is recommended in the 357 sig with a max psi of 40,000 psi CIP :what: Does it flatten at normal 357 sig pressures?

What psi is needed to flatten one in a 38 spcl?
The 38spcl has a max psi rateing of 13,000 psi , one third the max of the 357 SIG. What pressures am I at, if I flatten a primer in my 38 :confused:

If I flatten a primer in my 45 acp with a load at 150% max pressure (~30,000psi) will the same primer flatten in a 45 Win Mag at a normal pressure of 43500 psi CIP :banghead: :banghead: :banghead:

I`m so confused................what do primers tell us??

The Bushmaster
February 28, 2005, 12:09 AM
Flattened primers and not flattened primers do creat a bit of a problem when inspecting them. Might I suggest that when you are working up a load from 10% below max that you start looking at your primers to compare them as you progress to hotter loads. I would believe that when you reach the point that the primer is hard to distinguish from the case head that you might consider lowering the grains of powder. Ol' Joe. I agree with you that primers are not the only item to look for when watching for an "overload", but they, if we are observent, do give us a hint that we may be exceeding max load for that particular firearm.

February 28, 2005, 12:31 AM
I think ol Joe is right
What psi is needed to flatten one in a 38 spcl?
The 38spcl has a max psi rateing of 13,000 psi , one third the max of the 357 SIG. What pressures am I at, if I flatten a primer in my 38

In handguns we use the same primer for cartridges that have sammi pressures 2x other cartridges. I think the primer reading thing should be thought of as a Rifle indicator rather than a pistol indicator. In Rifles many calibers operate within a 15% range of each other sammi pressures.

Ol` Joe
February 28, 2005, 12:41 AM
Bushmaster, I`m not sure if a primer is ironed into the case head we have a problem. Extreem case. Concider, A starting load in a rifle often will show heavy flattening of the primer. Why? The primer is backing out of the case on ignition and is pounded back in its pocket by the case when it sets back. Raise the charge and wonder of wonder the flattening goes away. The flattening had nothing to do with high pressure.
As I stated earlier, a very heavy load in a 38 spcl would have a pressure of say 30000psi. (SAAMI max is 13,000psi- the +P is 20,000) This should show sticking of the case, heavy recoil & flash, maybe the primer would pierce, or the expanded case would lock the cylinder on a revolver. Yet this is a extreemly light load in a 357 SIg and the sig shouldn`t show flattening at 44200 psi CIP. Why won`t it flatten in the SIG at 30000psi ?? Are you sure it will show flattening in the 38 at this pressure?? Pressure is pressure reguardless of what case it`s in. If the metal cup of a primer becomes pliable in one case at a given pressure why won`t it in another??

Sorry, I just don`t feel it`s a reliable indicator of anything.

February 28, 2005, 10:09 AM
I'm with old Joe on this,I don't think there is any way to reliably tell when you are at "max safe" or slightly over safe by looking at primers or by case head expansion in pistols. An example is 3.8 bullseye and a 124 lead bullet in my 9mm with federal sp primers had flattened primers, the same load with rp or ww primers had nice rounded edges even up to 4.3 grains of bullseye. The very same Federal primers in my .357 Mag with 10 grs of Blue dot and a 170 cast looked similar to the rp's and ww's in the 9mm and the .357 load is in the 35k range. IMO trying to guess pressures in pistols is like reading tea leaves, I stay close to manual max loads and don't worry about it.

February 28, 2005, 10:25 AM
automac, ouch! :eek: when you said "middle of nowhere", i thought you meant, like, arkansas or something. I can see how UPS ground shipping to hawaii would present some challenges! egads, that would suck.

Black Snowman
February 28, 2005, 10:32 AM
The gun itself will have an effect on the primer as well. If the headspacing is loose the primer will look differant than it would if it's close even with the same load.

Be careful when substituting Magnum for Standard primers, reducing 10% isn't enough in some cases. In my Glock 24P, back when I was first starting to reload, I ran out of standard primers and did this on some very light (well below starting) 165 gr target loads in .40 S&W using Universal. The pressure went from roughly "way low" to huge bulges in the brass that looked like they were on the verge of case failure.

February 28, 2005, 12:40 PM
when you said "middle of nowhere", i thought you meant, like, arkansas or something.

OUCH! Even us backword folk here in AR have feelings!

The Bushmaster
February 28, 2005, 08:20 PM
No problem Ol' Joe. Like I said. I agree with you, though I believe that if you know your particular firearm and you are working up a new load and if the primer starts to look suspicious...Not to mention sticking and split cases. Badly smashed primers could be a hint to look a little closer. One must know one's firearm. Incidently. My .30-30 win. backs them out about .030 in. unless I move the shoulder forward .030 in. It doesn't smash them, just leaves them stickin' out there. :)

Now I wish I had kepted a few of those .357 magnum cases that I loaded with AA#5 when I watched the primers progressively flatten as the temperature rose. I started with rounded primers and ended up the day with almost welded primer and case. No change in load. In fact I took some home and disassembled and reweighted the charge of AA#5. Recoil incressed on each set of five fired in a Ruger Black Hawk. No split cases, no stuck cases, They were balooned though. (Winchester brass cases have always impressed me for their strength).

Ol' Joe. Doesn't cratered primers give you a hint? Especially those that have the imprint of the firing pin hole??

March 1, 2005, 11:13 AM
Bushmaster--The original question at the start of the thread was signs of "minimal" overloading. Sure when you have to pound cases out of a gun and the primers flow back into the firing pin hole those are not slight overloads when working with handguns. As has been stated before .38's and .45acp's operate max around 20K. You will not stick cases and flow primers at 30K which is not a "minimal" overload in those cartridges by any strech of the imagination! The 9mm at 40K is not going to show any pressure signs. Many years ago Lyman listed a load for their 168 gr "Keith" bullet in the .357 of 10 grs of Herco. I probably put at least 5000 rounds of that load thru my Ruger Blackhawk with no stuck cases or flowed primers. Todays Lyman manual lists 7.0 grs of Herco with that bullet as max @ 39000 CUP. I would speculate 10 grs of Herco was well over 50000psi! When you show obvious signs of pressure in a handgun you are way past max IMO.

March 1, 2005, 11:34 AM
Good point fecmech. So in that case your load was 3 gr over current reccos, and you had no signs of overloading at all?

Ol` Joe
March 1, 2005, 11:41 AM
Exactly what I was trying to say. You did a better job though, with a lot less wind.

March 1, 2005, 03:15 PM
lwsimon: "OUCH! Even us backword folk here in AR have feelings!"


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