Avoiding bullet set-back with multiple chamberings (CCW topic)


July 31, 2007, 10:52 AM
I've seen discussions here and there about being on the lookout for bullet setback in the context of CCWing with a semi-auto pistol, that is, in the course of loading your carry piece, carrying, clearing the piece and then later repeating everything for the next time you go out... you have to be careful not to re-chamber the same round too many times. Apparently the security guards at one of the national labs inadvertently did this because each change of shift involved clearing the guard's weapons, which was then reloaded. The same round always ended up on top, the bullet got pushed in a bit and kaboom during the next range visit.

Some people avoid this by rotating and/or using up their carry ammo periodically. I sort of do this but had another idea I was wondering if it would be an ok thing to do.

Bullet set back can eventually occur if a round is loaded into the firearm by racking the slide, and letting the action pick up a round from the top of the magazine, up the feed ramp and into the chamber. How about if I were to lock the slide open (back) without a magazine inserted, manually place a single round into the chamber, and then release the slide (and re-insert the magazine)? It seems to me that this way there isn't any force pushing the bullet back into the brass casing, and would avoid the setback problem.

Would this work? I've been doing it for a while and haven't seen any signs of bullet setback, even after 8+ months now with some of the same carry ammunition. Of course, I never saw signs of bullet setback when I was chambering rounds the normal way either, but this other way seems better to me. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

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July 31, 2007, 10:58 AM
It works for setback , but is hard on the extractor ( which normally has the round slip under it rather than having to snap over the rim ) and somewhat hazardous I have seen rounds not seated well slam fire when dropping the slide on a chambered round . Ammo is too cheap to break an extractor or have an AD over imho .

Jorg Nysgerrig
July 31, 2007, 10:59 AM
Depending on the design of the gun, that can be pretty hard on one's extractor. Some guns recommend not loading via that method, others are ok with it.

July 31, 2007, 11:12 AM
Well, how about that:what:
I'll be rethinking that then. Thanks for the information!

July 31, 2007, 11:18 AM
This is from the Springfield Armory 1911 manual, page 8:

Warning: Improperly loading the 1911 by
manually inserting a round in the chamber may
cause accidental discharge. Always load the
pistol using the magazine. When loading the
pistol, always point the muzzle in a safe direction.

Not to re-mention what other posters said about breaking extractors..

Other semi-auto pistols MAY be different, so check what the Users' Guide says.

July 31, 2007, 11:19 AM
When chambering a round after cleaning, I usually manually lower the slide with my hand and give it a good push forward push to make sure it's fully closed and in battery. Works every time.

July 31, 2007, 11:55 AM
I dont see how a 1911 with a firing pin block can possibly discharge if you drop the slide on a round...

Any pistol with an external type extractor will have no problem with dropping one in the toob (Glock /HK type pistols) and dropping the slide on it.

As for 1911 pistolas with older internal extractors... get an AFTEC Extractor and dont worry about it...these have a pivoting claw on them, and allow the Extractor to snap over the rim..case closed.

July 31, 2007, 12:22 PM

The AFTEC extractor is one of those things that you don't have to have. Consider it an insurance policy. The extractor of John Browning's grand old gun has worked since 1911. Oh sure, once in a blue moon one breaks and when it does the gun won't work anymore, but it is not a large scale problem.

I understand that you have to drill out the regular extractor hole to fit this one in, and thereafter, you can't use a standard in-the-slide extractor.

I've always said that extractors are consumable items. By the way, my commercial model 1911 worked fine all day long with a broken extractor, since the residual gas pressure blew the case out quite normally. I didn't even realize the extractor was broken until I got back to camp, dropped the the magazine, and racked the slide a couple of times.

I then "dry" fired it at a fencepost. (I broke the inspect the chamber rule, I did, I dood.)

They say there's nothing louder than a bang when you expect a click, unless it's a click when you expect a bang, but that was the loudest shot I ever heard.

I know it was functioning without the extractor hook, since I found the broken tip on my workbench a day later, and I had not brought the gun into the shop in the meantime.

Inspect the chamber! Let me put that more plainly so everybody can understand it.

Inspect the chamber.

July 31, 2007, 12:25 PM
Springfield Armory afaik is the only producer here in the US building 1911 pistols in pre 70 series configuration. No FPB but instead they use a 38super sized titanium firing pin and heavy FP spring.
Fewer parts to muck up is a good thing.
Many custom shops produce non blocked pistols also.

July 31, 2007, 01:43 PM
Yeah, thats true.. With an Extra Power firing pin spring, I still don't see it happening...

July 31, 2007, 01:52 PM
It looks mainly to be an issue with those who repeatedly clear their firearms and then re-chamber rounds. For most conceal-carry folks, there just is no reason to do that (if you worry about access to the firearm, then get a lockbox). The only time I clear the weapon is for dry-fire practice or for cleaning (usually done at the same time), and simple ammo rotation is more than enough.

Setback can vary depending on the type of ammo. Some stuff I've seen get noticeably shorter after as few as two chamberings, other stuff has gone longer before that happens.

Yes, there are those who must clear the firearm daily, and I'd recommend those folks have a larger amount of rounds they can use to rotate, or else just get a revolver if possible.

July 31, 2007, 02:02 PM
Any pistol with an external type extractor will have no problem with dropping one in the toob (Glock /HK type pistols) and dropping the slide on it.

There are actually several pistols with external extractors that don't recommend loading the pistol with that method, such as the BHP and the CZ-75, and even the 1911s that come with external extractors.

There are some that it's okay to do that with, like the Beretta/Taurus 92s.

I view it as bad form to load the pistol in that manner. Yeah, it can be done in an emergency, but I agree with a previous poster that it's not worth the risk of breaking parts. Ammo is cheaper than an extractor.

FWIW, I chamber my carry ammo 3 times before I set it aside for range use. I don't have to worry about setback (even though I still inspect for it), and my carry ammo stays pretty fresh.


July 31, 2007, 09:21 PM
I'm still puzzled. I've intentionally rechambered the same round 50-100 times in .380 and .45 (mostly WWB) and have not seen any setback that I can measure. Is this problem more common with certain cartridges or manufacturers?

August 1, 2007, 08:51 AM
How embarrassing - I re-read my owner's manual (Kahr CW9) and it does say in there not to do what I described, because of the extractor wear and tear mentioned by several people here. It had been in there all the time and I just didn't notice it. Mea culpa - that's the 2nd time I've missed something in the Kahr manual the first time around. Reading their instructions about loading the gun by releasing the slide with the slide release corrected the problems I'd originally had with feeding HPs.

August 1, 2007, 10:18 AM
Like obxned, I have measured chambered rounds after repeated chamberings and not found any setback in my 9mm. Only .001" - .002" variation between all rounds including those that have been chambered. I don't worry about it.

August 1, 2007, 10:46 AM
I've seen setback occur with my SA 1911 when I was repeatedly loading a WWB round trying to work out a problem it was having loading the first round in a mag. After having the slide dropped on it multiple times, the bullet sank lower and lower into the shell casing. I threw the round away when I was done and the loading problem eventually went away.

August 1, 2007, 11:02 PM
Some guns really shove on the bullet to get it to feed... 1911 types will push on a bullet more than a P7 or a SW Auto...larger Ashtray hollow point boolets are harder still to feed and are more prone to pushing into the case.

August 2, 2007, 01:57 AM
Beretta Tip up Semi-Auto pistols don't have the problem of set back, and breaking extractors by loading directly into the chamber. ;)

August 2, 2007, 12:10 PM
Some firearms and ammunition are probably more prone to set back than others.

I've also not found se tback to be a problem, I chambered the same 40 S&W round in my Sig P229 150 times and had .001 difference (measuring every 10 times).

Even if I limit each round to 10 chamberings with 3 magazines, 12 rounds each that is still 360 chamberings with one set of carry ammo.

I cycle my carry ammunition every 4 to 6 months and measure before I start carrying and before firing it off, I've yet to find a round with an unsafe OAL (carrying GS and Hornady XTP).

I have found some brands of ammunition have a pretty large OAL variance, so you have to measure before you start carrying it.

Vern Humphrey
August 2, 2007, 01:21 PM
Simple solution is to load the gun and leave it loaded. If you take it off, put it somewhere safe.

Next solution is to shoot the ammo regularly -- don't repeatedly chamber the same round, shoot it.

Then you can always run your ammo into a taper die and give it a bit more crimp it if you can't bear to adopt the other two solutions.

August 2, 2007, 09:26 PM
Just keep the darn thing loaded! It's safer as well. If you've ever been in a police locker room the bullet holes you'll notice are from cops constantly loading/unloading at the start and end of their shifts.

I use my carry gun as one of my primary HD guns as well. I just keep the thing loaded all the time. I do "chamber check" if it's an auto before I reholster or open the cylinder on the revolver to double check, just to make sure, but I'm not constantly loading and unloading the darn thing.

Obviously, you'll need to keep the loaded gun secured when it's not physically on your person. That's just basic gun safety.

August 3, 2007, 08:34 AM
I usually drop the mag, and fire a round into the ceiling. It helps me to cycle out the top round and keep it from set back. :)

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