keyholing pistol


August 11, 2010, 01:07 PM
So I got a new used pistol out yesterday and ran some of my reloads through it. {I can't remember the exact numbers offhand, but they're 124grn lead truncated cone over about 3.5 or 3.7 grains of red dot and zip along at around 1050-1100 fps.} they run fine in my glock with both factory and lone wold barrels, fine in the hi-power, keltec, and xd. but in the witness elite match they keyhole bad. 8 out of 10 rounds turned completely sideways at 10 yds. the barrel is leaded more toward the muzzle than the chamber. I put the same bullets through the glock and the shot fine. back the the EM, keyholing. I put about 100 rounds though it and 80% keyholed.

Now the elite match is advertised with a poly barrel, but I can look down it and tell you it's not. it's a standard cut rifling barrel.

I know I'm stripping the bullet, but they don't strip in the other guns, and they're not very hot. I suppose I could try another powder. something that burns slower maybe, but something seems wrong. the lead's not particularly soft. I run the same lead in a 44 mag rifle at 1250 fps without problems. anybody have any great ideas?

reduce crimp? slug bore?

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August 11, 2010, 01:51 PM
Slug the barrel.

leaded more toward the muzzle.
The other thing is, the Elite match may have a longer barrel then most of the other guns you mentioned. Maybe the bullet lube is burning out before it gets out of the barrel.
What kind of bullet lube?


August 11, 2010, 01:55 PM
I would definitely slug the barrel. I've shot pistols when I loaded so low the gun wouldn't cycle and so hot I was flattening primers and no where in between did I keyhole. Unless your crown is messed up the only reason you should be keyholing is the bore is large (this is on a EAA Witness Match .40 S&W). This oversize bore happens a lot on older military guns. But you could have a whacked out barrel or crown.

Steve C
August 11, 2010, 02:24 PM
Since it was a used pistol the barrel could have already been fouled with copper or lead. Clean it thoroughly using both a lead remover followed by a copper removing solution with ammonia to remove any copper fouling below the lead you just added. Lead will build up on copper fouling quickly. They try again with a few rounds.

Leading at the muzzle end usually indicates too high a velocity or running out of lube in a clean barrel.

August 11, 2010, 03:19 PM
I'm using lee alox lube. yes the barrel is a little longer than the others, but I don't have a problem when I load these dame bullets into 357's and run them down a 6" smith or an 18" marlin. the crown looks good. heck, the whole pistol's near mint.

I'm leaning toward maybe an oversize bore, too fast of powder or too much crimp with the lee factory crimp die maybe sizing the bullet too small. I'll slug it tonight. anybody got a good suggestion on a place to get a soft lead ball 9mm sized?

Berry's MFG
August 11, 2010, 03:31 PM
All of the Elite Match pistols come with a polygonal barrel, not recommended for lead bullets. I have a Elite Limited in 10mm with a polygonal barrel and it shoots our bullets very well.

August 11, 2010, 03:46 PM
anybody got a good suggestion on a place to get a soft lead ball 9mm sized? Walmart fishing department in little clear plastig bags.

Look for lead egg sinkers or bullet sinkers slightly larger then bore size.

Don't get the lead-free hard ones.

Or better yet, just use one of your cast bullets before you size & lube it.


August 11, 2010, 04:15 PM
I'm leaning toward ... too fast of powder or too much crimp with the lee factory crimp die maybe sizing the bullet too small.

The fact they run fine out of everything else tells me that you don't have to consider them as factors.

Jim Watson
August 11, 2010, 06:50 PM
Probably an oversize barrel. Many companies turn out barrels larger than the nominal .355" and that is death on a cast bullet. A lightweight cast 9mm is hard enough to get to shoot and you are lucky it works in your other guns.

August 18, 2010, 10:55 PM
well I slugged the barrel tonight. .355-.356 so good news, the barrel is ok, but the problem still isn't fixed. sigh.... I guess I'll load up some different loads, and I bought a box of factory jacked ammo. back to the drawing board.

August 18, 2010, 11:23 PM
I would try a good hard bullet sized to .357" and see if that cures the problem.

Hope this helps.


Mal H
August 19, 2010, 07:39 AM
.355-.356 so good news
I'm not sure that is good news. If your bullets are, say, .356 in diameter, they aren't getting much purchase by the lands, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if it isn't just sliding down the barrel without much spin imparted at all. I can envision the lands acting like a cheese grater on the bullet instead of doing what they are supposed to be doing.

Slug one of the barrels that does work well with your bullets and see what it is.

August 19, 2010, 08:55 AM
Was there any tight or loose areas in the barrel when you slugged it?
Slug measured on the raised portions, the barrel grooves, not the lands. right?

Something definetly ain't right, to be keyholing that much at just 10 yards, the bullet is proberbly being shaved down in the rifling instead of being spun.

Have you checked out any recovered fired bullets?

Maybe try load up a batch of starting loads and see what it does then.

August 19, 2010, 10:31 AM
yes, there was a tighter spot than the rest, but I wouldn't put it past me fishing weight just being tapped and turning at a slight angle there. (in other words, I may have done a poor job slugging the bore)

the lands are pretty shallow. or the rifling is not deeply cut. it's still standard cut rifling, it's just not real aggressive and deep. My bullets are sized to .357, but I am unsure what the lee FCD does to that sizing.

I have been unable to recover any of my bullets.

I'll keep working on the problem, and I appreciate all the suggestions.

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