squib load experiences


July 16, 2007, 10:05 AM
I've recently gotten into reloading. I have a lee 4 hole turret and bought a pro auto disk seperately. The pro auto disk came without the return spring...and it took about two weeks to get one from Lee. So, being impatient I decided it best to go ahead and just push the disk back into place after each load. Worked well in about 349 loads of .45acp, 1 round however...

I got one squib load. the 230 gr lead RN stuck in the rifling and would not allow another bullet to chamber. It also took quite a bit of force to back the spent round out of the barrel.

What are your first hand experiences with squib loads? Ever blown up your gun or injured yourself like I've heard? Just wondering if anyone has had any of these experiences first hand or if these stories are just stories.

I'm not saying that sloppy reloading practices are excusable, and I'm a very careful reloader. Sometimes mistakes do happen, and I'm concerned that if this happens again, it may end up killing me (like the stories say) ...so I may as well just buy factory ammo in that case so at least my widow can collect some dough. ;-)

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July 16, 2007, 10:36 AM
I've had 2 squib loads since I started reloading about 4 years ago. In both cases, they were .38 waddcutters from Rainier. I don't load those any more. I've found that a squirt of WD-40 helps free up the stuck round.


July 16, 2007, 10:43 AM
It's mostly about feel and sound. If something does not feel right or sound right when the shot is fired, it's prudent to stop and check the barrel of the gun.

I reload for 8mm Lebel, was using large rifle primers and working up my own load for H335 powder. I had 3 squibs, sounded just like a complete dud, only heard the click of the firing pin. When I opened the bolt, there was a mess of yellow gunk that looked like very old broken down styrofoam. Discovered the primer had almost failed completely to ignite the powder and the bullet was stuck just barely in the barrel.

Switched to large rifle magnum primers and all is well. But with the .45acp sounds like you might have missed charging a round and you got the primer in an empty case. If the bullet was far enough into the barrel to allow a round to chamber and you fired that, you probably would have blown up the gun.

Mal H
July 16, 2007, 10:48 AM
Don't increase your insurance just in case of a squibb load. :)

The death toll from firing after a squibb and other detonations in handguns rarely result in really severe injury, and even more rarely in death. The injuries range from nothing to a bad stinging sensation to some moderate to severe hand injuries.

Rifles exploding are far more dangerous because of where your head is when the explosion goes off, but even then, death is rarely the result.

Squibbs can be caused by several factors, and almost all of them are controllable or foreseeable if you know what to look for. Most common is the no-powder-in-the-case squibb; the primer pushes the bullet into the barrel for a short distance. Sometimes a good load of powder fails to ignite, and again the primer does its thing.

I've had one squibb to date. It was caused by a standard load of H110 failing to ignite all the way. H110 (and W296) are notorious for being hard to ignite and always need a magnum primer. I did everything right, except I think I had a particularly loose crimp on that round. That's supposition since the crimp disappears quickly when the bullet leaves the case. The bullet made it about 2" into the barrel which means a small portion of powder ignited, but not much, most of it was in the cylinder, the barrel and on the bench . All the other rounds in that batch worked as expected.

July 16, 2007, 01:25 PM
Good info!
Do yall let your youngens or the mrs. shoot your reloads?

July 16, 2007, 02:01 PM
Of course my wife shoots my reloads--why not? I want her to have the best!:D

She shoots two different .45 ACP guns, a Wilson and a Glock 21. In the past year, out of around 5000 rounds we have had zero squibs when loading on a Lee Load Master and on Classic Turret Press.

I have had one squib with .38 Spec. when trying to load very light charges of Clays. It is a small flake powder and doesn't meter great. Hve to whack the Pro Auto Disk Powder Measure to make sure it flows and drops properly. Since I started doing that no more issues.

50 Shooter
July 16, 2007, 02:27 PM
For those of you that remember the saying from being in the military, it was "pop and no kick". That was the saying to remember for squib rounds, if you got it you unloaded the rifle/pistol and checked it to be safe.

This came back to me a few years after I got out of the Army. A friend that I reload with made a mistake while reloading and then made a bigger mistake by not correcting it. He thought it would be okay to just let some rounds go that he knew didn't get powder. Seeing how we reloaded a couple thousand 9mm he didn't want to break it all down and start over.

So we're out shooting and I hear my dad and some friends laughing, someone said "the bullet is probably laying about 10ft in front of you". This is where my ears perked up and I asked what happened. My dad was shooting my SIG 9mm and just so happened to load up one of those rounds, got the pop and no kick. Now I'm up to speed and ask him for the pistol, drop the mag, rack the slide (round drops out) and take apart the pistol. About 2" down the barrel is a bullet and that's how I found out about what my friend did while reloading.

Just a little something to help you remember what to do if you get a pop and no kick. Or if you over hear someone else that gets it and doesn't know what could possibly happen if they pull the trigger on the next round.

July 16, 2007, 03:31 PM
Hell yes wife shoots my reloads - that's the only way I can keep her fed! And she's great at testing unproven loads....:uhoh: I'll be the one standing behind the glass partition

July 16, 2007, 04:29 PM
that's it? this is all the experience in the group?
Nobody's missing a finger or lost a hand due to a squib load?

July 16, 2007, 04:38 PM
Squibs are more of an annoyance than a problem. Get them out and start shooting again. Double charging a case can lead to gun wrecking or permanent injury to a shooter. This can and has happened with commercial ammo. One of my bosses no longer shoots much due to permanent nerve damage from an overcharged round.

July 16, 2007, 04:40 PM
I think you are worried about KaBooms, which are not squibs.

If you have a squib with a semi-auto the chances are very, very small that anything is going to happen --

First, you will know it was weird because there's no recoil; second, the action isn't going to eject the empty. You will stop and examine the thing.

With revolvers it's a little more of a possibility to get into trouble because you may be firing rapidly and even though the squib is just a poof, the cylinder will rotate and you could pull the trigger on the barrel with a bullet in it. But again, there wouldn't be any recoil, or vastly reduced recoil.

Pay attention to your weapon and it's behavior and you're not going to get into trouble.

I also carry a brass rod and rubber mallet which I have used to get my one squib out of the barrel; others have used it at our range to do the same. I'm sort of the designated "squib rod carrier"

July 16, 2007, 04:51 PM
i didn't know this....
1993: Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee, was shot and killed by a prop .44 Magnum gun while filming the movie The Crow. A cartridge with only a primer and a bullet was fired in the pistol prior to the scene Brandon was in; this caused a squib load, in which the primer provided enough force to push the bullet out of the cartridge and into the barrel of the revolver, where it became stuck. The malfunction went unnoticed by the crew, and the same gun was used again later to shoot the death scene, having been re-loaded with blanks. However, the squib load was still lodged in the barrel, and was propelled by the blank cartridge's explosion out of the barrel and into Lee's body. Although the bullet was traveling much slower than a normally fired bullet would be, the bullet's large size and the nearly point-blank firing distance made it powerful enough to severely wound Lee. It was not instantly recognized by the crew or other actors; they believed he was still acting


July 16, 2007, 04:54 PM
Something else to keep in mind is that you may not hear a"pop" and the primer may still have put the bullet in the bore. If the slug is far enough down the pipe to chamber another round or you rotate to the next chamber on a revo things will get interesting. If it does'nt go bang and recoil always check the bore.

July 16, 2007, 05:34 PM
As said earlier. In my autoloaders, a primer by itself will not work the actions. So no chance of another round being chambered, unless I do it myself. Revolvers would be a different case. Have to be on your toes. I utilize a Lock Out die from RCBS in all my pistol reloading. It physically prevents the press from moving if a no powder or double powder situation arises. BTW- I have never had a squibb, but I do carry a small hammer and wooden dowel in my range bag in case I need it.

July 16, 2007, 07:23 PM
I had a 9mm squib a few weeks back. I didn't notice a lack of recoil or only a "pop". I pulled the trigger again and nothing happened. The squib had enough energy to cycle the action and attempt to chamber another round but the bullet from the squib was stuck at the very start of the barrel and would not allow the next bullet to chamber properly. I have been wondering what would have happened if the squib had gone say half way down the barrel and I had actually fired the next round.

July 17, 2007, 11:50 AM
gaowlpoop: from what I've heard, you die. There's a lot of horror stories about squib loads killing people or maiming them, but I really don't think it's as big of a deal as a lot of folks project.

Just like getting the perfect amount of powder in a bullet.

Jim Watson
July 17, 2007, 12:08 PM
A stuck bullet*, shot out by a live round, will seldom do more than bulge the barrel in a pistol, I have seen a number of them... although not with a maximum magnum, which might change things.

A stuck bullet* followed by a live round in a rifle is a dangerous proposition, it will usually demolish the barrel and maybe the whole gun.

You guys need to work on your QC.

*I say "stuck bullet" because when I was coming up in shooting and reloading, a "squib" was an ultra light load normally made up for indoor shooting. Seems the language has evolved to where "squib" now denotes a screwup, but I will stay with it as I originally learned.

July 17, 2007, 12:33 PM
"A squib load, also known as a squib round, pop and no kick, or just a squib, is a firearms malfunction in which a fired projectile does not have enough force behind it to exit the barrel, and thus becomes stuck. "


July 17, 2007, 12:50 PM
I wonder how many haven't posted a "no problem yet" report for fear of jinxing the matter.

Not that reloaders are a superstitious bunch or anything...

SAAMI's glossary definition of "load, squib" differs from Wiki's in that it may result in the projectile remaining in the bore.

July 17, 2007, 12:54 PM
A clerk was told by a shooter that the Glock 17 he had rented had failed to cycle after being fired. The clerk assumed that the shooter was limp wristing or guilty of some other user-error*. He took the gun, racked the slide, and shot a round to make certain that the gun was working properly. The gun fired but the slide locked up. There had been a squib lodged in the barrel. When the clerk fired a round the barrel bulged to the point of contacting the slide with sufficient force to prevent it from cycling. No injuries.

*While working there I had made the same assumption many times, fortunately without incident.

Jim Watson
July 17, 2007, 01:00 PM
Ah, yes, Jason, good old Wikipedia, undying facts chiseled on a hard drive.

How about: "Squib loads can be defined as 15 to 75 foot specials. They offer what many of us need from down-cellar refresher courses to squirrel or grouse shooting in thick cover."
'Soft Speaking Handloads', A.J.E. Shay and H.M. Stebbins, Handloader's Digest, 1964.

July 17, 2007, 01:03 PM
I should have specified, that's where I got my definition...and it's the definition that I follow Jim. I wasn't trying to say that there is only one way to define a squib.

I can't say it better than the wiki, so I just cut and paste. I cited it so yall wouldn't think me a pompous ass by using big words like 'projectile'.

July 17, 2007, 02:46 PM
Not too long after I began to shoot my own reloads, I was at our indoor range shooting. This range did not have return targets so you had to wait for the line to go quiet and call for it to clear before checking or changing your target.

Bullets were deflected by an angled steel plate into a sand trap and holding the sand in place was a 10 inch wide board.

Several of us were shooting at the same time but the others were waiting for me to finish to call for a cold line. So everyone was watching me. One shot left the barrel, hit the floor about 15 feet in front of me and slid along the concrete floor to the board as the base of the bullet trap. The impact sounded like a slap and everyone just stood there for a few seconds. Then someone said, "Son, I think you were just a little low with that shot!"

Nothing was damaged except my self esteem. Everyone else cracked up laughing!

Charlotte, NC

July 18, 2007, 01:29 PM
I got a batch of squibs when loading some .38s at minimum charges of Unique with a Lee Auto Disc. Not a good combination. I'm sure some of the rounds got less than the minimum charge.

July 18, 2007, 03:19 PM
When my dad first started hand loading 38 Spcl he got one that was severely under charged. He was shooting with my older brother (7 years old or so) and a couple of buddies at a rock quarry. About half way through one of his cylinders, he fired and heard the distinct pop of a squib load. The bullet left the barrel and traveled about 15 ft where it hit the ground with a little poof of dust. My brother, knowing what my dad had showed him with reloading, ran out and grabbed the bullet and brought it back to my dad proclaiming "Here, daddy. We can reuse this one." That was only one of many times that my brother took an embarrassing situation and escalated it beyond all hopes of a dignified recovery.

July 19, 2007, 12:03 AM
Only one squib, but it was memorable. I was shooting a Kel Tec sub 2000 9mm, the projectile went to the half way mark of a 12" barrel. I used a wooden dowel rod from the chamber end to tap it out ( it folds in half making this easy). The dowel rod was smaller in Dia than I wanted but it was all that was available at the time. As I was tapping it suddenly started moving easy, thinking I was home free I kept right on tapping. Then it became harder and harder to move the rod in any further, so I try to pull it out and it won't budge. It turns out the wooden rod had cracked in a steep angle and the two pieces wedge inside the barrel :banghead::banghead:. Packing up from the range was a tad embarrassing with the dowel rod sticking out from the rear of the gun. Not as embarrassing as winging my chronogragh but bad enough. I now always have a brass rod in the range bag, just in case.

July 19, 2007, 01:55 PM
Okay, I'll play.

I loaded some .40 S&W loads and while shooting my Sig P239, I had a primer only load lodge the bullet in the barrel. Darn. No tools with me. Put it away for later.

I'm thinking it's an isolated incident so I grab the Ruger P944 to enjoy the rest of the day. Midway through the first magazine, same thing. Pop, no recoil, empty still in chamber.

I got home to pull them apart and I found 3 more out of a box of 100. They were all in a row in the storage box.

What I learned: When you take a break from reloading and turn the powder measure off; remember to turn it back on when you pull the levers again.

July 19, 2007, 05:28 PM
When I first started reloading, I had a few myself.
The wife was shooting .38spl while I was filling a mag of 9mm.
I heard a bang and about 1/2 a second later I heard the bullet hit the box with a thud.
Before I could get over to her she fired again.
This time there was hardly a bang, but maybe a bit more than a pop.
I stopped her and took the revolver.
The bullet was stuck, and was about halfway out of the business end of the barrel.

I'm sure it was a matter of being excited about reloading and not taking my time.
Now I live in a relatively healthy of fear of the squib.

July 21, 2007, 06:41 AM
Mention was made of a double powder charge! Can happen. Best to use a powder that more than half fills the case. (Or better still, completely fills the case to the base of the bullet without overload).

July 21, 2007, 08:07 PM
I had two squibs from reloading. After the second one I actively pursued fixing my quality control isues.

I have an older press, a Dillon 450 progressive. I did not have a good way to look down into the casing after the powder had been measured into the casing.

I devised a dental mirror and a light setup so I could see directly into the casing from my normal sitting position in front of the press. I now double check powder level visually everytime before I position the bullet onto the casing for the final crimp.

No more squibs have been encountered since that modification to my reloading routine.

BTW, I was reloading 9x18 makarov cartridges. Not hard to do, after a little trial and error. Getting the two squibs out took a fair amount of force. Basically a punch and a hammer were used both times.

I noticed the squib right away, due to the squib not cycling the action on the makarov. It also made a "foof" sound rather than the "bang" sound. The casing had all kinds of black around it, as the primer did not develop enough pressure to seal the cartridge when it went pop.

A very educational experience that I hope I have learned from.


July 21, 2007, 08:24 PM
I ahd a squib with a factory round once out of several huinderd thousand rounds I've fired. I never had a squib with a reload. That's due to the multiple checks I do. I do each stage before I go to the next when I reload (size all the brass, bell the case mouth, etc). I think one of the reasons for many squibs is progressive presses. Pull the handle 50 times and I have a box of ammo.

I don't have a high volume per hour, only quality ammo.

July 22, 2007, 04:29 PM
I had one yesterday. It was my last round. Thank you angel! It went phuff and I noticed the strange sound. I got home and went to clean the barrel, and found it. It lodged partially inside the chamber, if it had gone down the barrel and I had fired another shot... Kaboom. Check powder charge twice. Got a light at harbor freight today that has a magnet on it to light the shell. I wish they would make a clear tube on the risers so you can see it drop. Or a bell or buzzer or something to indicate it dropping. But I would look anyway. Some people charge them in a block to visibility look at all of them first to compare for double charging or no load.

July 22, 2007, 06:22 PM
What a coincidence! I am pretty sure today that I had 2 or 3 out of a box of 9mm 147LFPs I made a week or two ago. I suspect problems with my Lee auto-pro disk powder measure and Unique powder, the last couple times I've used it I've gotten a worrisome tendency for it to put only a couple tenths of a grain in on some charges, when it ought to be doing 4.0gr.

I was shooting my Kahr CW9 and had 3 rounds out of this box that definitely sound like the pop-no recoil, and on one of them the slide didn't cycle at all. I bet that there was no powder or very little in the cartridge. I field stripped it and fortunately the bullet made it out of the bore, but the sound and feel of the rounds were definitely off. I am once again slowing down the production rate when using my Lee classic turret press until I can get the bugs out of my powder charging operation.

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