Question about squib loads


Michael of Charlotte
June 26, 2010, 05:19 PM
Hello all,

I'm new to shooting and had a question about squib loads/rounds. I recently went through one of the NRA's basic handgun classes. Before then, I had a healthy respect for firearms and the two times I went to the range with friends were pretty fun. Now my reaction is 180 degrees.

I went to a range here in Charlotte alone. Everytime I fired a round, I kept thinking squib round. It got bad enough that I fired only 12 store-bought rounds and left. Suffice to say, I'm now extremely nervous/fearful around handguns.

Can anyone offer me some advice? I'd really like to be confident with handguns but right now, I'm anything but. Can you hire folks to keep any eye on you as a novice?

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June 26, 2010, 05:26 PM
A squib round won't harm you, it's the one you fire after the squib that you have to worry about. You will notice the difference in sound, felt recoil and lack of impact on the target, unless you're banging away mindlessly. If you fire a squib, stop and make sure the barrel is clear before firing again.

June 26, 2010, 05:28 PM
I've seen squibs a few times. 99% of the time, if you get a squib you will notice. The bang isn't as loud and the recoil isn't as bad and the case will probably not eject from the gun.

What would probably be healthy is to figure out what a gun actually going bang feels like first before presupposing every other round is a squib.

June 26, 2010, 05:31 PM
I don't think you need to worry much unless you shoot a lot of really lousy .22. I've never had a squib with any center-fire ammunition.

If you have one, you'll notice it, for sure.

June 26, 2010, 06:18 PM
I have had a squib once, it was some guys ammo that he loaded himself. It didn't fire and I heard a click-hiss. I knew something was wrong so I field stripped the gun and saw the bullet. I had someone help me get it out then I continued shooting.

Blue .45
June 26, 2010, 06:44 PM
I had a squib with a .357 reload. The sound and recoil was similar to a Co2 pellet gun. It must have been a bullet and primer, with no powder at all. Very distinguishable. Like heron said, If you have one, you'll notice it, for sure.

Hk Dan
June 26, 2010, 09:06 PM

In an auto the squib will not cycle the gun. There well be a <pop> and an empty case will eject when you hand cycle it. If you think it was a squib, drop a pencil down the barrel. If you see the eraser in the ejection port (racked slide), you're good to go.

There will be no doubt in your mind when you fire a squib.


Jim Watson
June 26, 2010, 09:15 PM
Stuck bullet "squib" loads are caused by negligence in the reloading process. They are caused by lack of a powder charge. It is HIGHLY unusual to run into a cartridge without powder in factory loads. The best way to avoid a squib is to buy name brand factory loads or to load your own with care. Avoid gun store, shooting range, and gun show no-name cheap reloads or stuff turned out by the guy down the street who has been reloading for two weeks.

You have been panicked by careless people who take the attitude "I had a squib, ho hum, so what, I'll just keep a hickory stick in my gun case." Relax and go shooting.

June 26, 2010, 09:19 PM
In an auto the squib will not cycle the gun.

I can say from personal experience that this is NOT always the case. When I owned a 1911, I had a squib load that did indeed cycle the slide, enough to cause a stovepipe.

While it is uncommon, saying that such a thing will NEVER happen is asking for trouble.

June 26, 2010, 09:32 PM
I made the mistake of showing my grandson how to reload .45's, then left the press all setup and unattended. He decided to "help me out" by making a couple of rounds, but I had the Lee powder dispenser set to "off". Had a couple of squibs in two different 1911's in the same day, and I never noticed EITHER of the weak rounds. Fired a second round right into each of them, and my guns both seized up. The barrel bushings locked up on the swollen spots in the barrels.

Colt on top, RIA on bottom. New barrels and away we went.

So, yes, squibs in autos CAN cycle the actions, here's proof. And also proof that guns don't always grenade because of a squib. But they sure as hell could!

I keep my press locked up with a bicycle chain lock on it now, and never leave it set up anyway. Bullets, powder, dies, etc., all locked up too.

The Lone Haranguer
June 26, 2010, 09:43 PM
A squib load is a cartridge where only the primer fires but the powder fails to ignite (or there is no powder at all!). The bullet will not have enough pressure behind it to push it out of the barrel, leaving it lodged. If you then fire another cartridge, the blockage will damage the gun and may also injure you if the barrel ruptures. If you fire a shot, hear a very muted report and feel no recoil, stop shooting and do not continue until you verify the barrel is not obstructed.

June 27, 2010, 07:08 AM
So, yes, squibs in autos CAN cycle the actions, here's proof.

That's amazing. I've experienced a couple of squibs and witnessed many others, but have never seen a primer powerful enough to cycle an action. What brand were you using?

Michael of Charlotte
June 27, 2010, 07:46 AM
Thanks for the comments all. I wasn't sure exactly how rare they were. It sounds like I shouldn't have to worry about squib loads since I'm using solely factory produced ammo. Obviously I can't completely disregard them but I should focus more on more typical safety practices. I'll give it another go today.

Hk Dan
June 27, 2010, 08:44 AM
Dittos Eddie. Maybe it was a partial charge? If the blast is powerful enough to cycle the action, it should be powerful enough for the bullet to clear the barrel.

The Bushmaster
June 27, 2010, 09:20 AM
Michael...Shoot away. Most people [using proper caution and good judgment] never have a squib. I've been shooting 50 years and reloading for the past 24 years and have never had a squib. Though I've seen others with squibs. Most are from carelessness or shooting someone else's hand loads (which, I guess, would fall under "carelessness" too).

Those that have told you what to watch [listen] for have given you sound advise. Anything at all that does not sound or feel right requires a "stop shooting and investigate".

June 27, 2010, 04:51 PM
After all my years of shooting, I finally experienced a squib load several months back.It happened with my 15 year old grandson.The round just barely entered the barrel and locked it up. The good thing about it was that we had been talking about squib loads a couple of weeks eariler. He knew exactly what to do.

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