Reloading Shame


Hondo 60
July 14, 2011, 01:13 AM
Never, Never, Never, NEVER let your guard down!

I think this was a dbl charge, but I'm not sure.

The case marked #1, I found a few feet away.
The case marked #2, was stuck inside what was left of the magazine.

It looks like the next 2 rounds, the bullet was pushed back.

The left hand grip cracked in half.
The magazine body remained in place.
I found the baseplate, most of plastic around the baseplate and the follower.
I never found the spring.

I took a couple of pin pricks to the face (probably from the grips)
But I had eyes & ears on, so nothing got damaged.

I guess all I can say in my defense, is that because this was a brand new caliber for me, I had to change my usual loading method.
I usually load on a progressive, but don't have all the pieces necessary for 45 ACP.
So I charged these using a loading block.
One would think that would be safer, but apparently not for me.

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Steel Talon
July 14, 2011, 01:25 AM
When using loading block I check powder drop every 10th round. Once I fill loading block I inspect in well lit area to ensure all powder levels appear the same. No Dbl charges or over charges.

July 14, 2011, 01:25 AM
Glad 'you' came out mostly unscathed, but sorry the pistol took a beating. Good job with eyes and ears.

Was the bullet two down from #1 "forced" into the case from the blast.? Could setback due to a sizing/crimp problem be the cause of the kaboom? Have you checked other cartridges not involved in the accident?

Whatever, it sounds like this got your attention.

Hondo 60
July 14, 2011, 01:32 AM
Was the bullet two down from #1 "forced" into the case from the blast.?
Yes, the bullets were forced into a set-back from the blast.

Definitely got my attention!

I've fired off about 4 boxes of my reloads with this gun & haven't seen any evidence of setback til now.
SO I think my dies are set right & techniques are OK.
But I haven't dbl checked the rest of my rounds yet.
I have 3 boxes that I'm gonna pull just to make sure this doesn't happen again.

And the worst of it is, this gun is only about 2 weeks old.
The magazine was a nice one & the grips were custom made.

Of course on the bright side, I still have the original grips.

July 14, 2011, 01:43 AM
Of course on the bright side, I still have the original grips.
No, the bright side is you weren't injured. (Thank God)

Probably not a double charge because you were loading by hand but WOW, that looks scary!!

July 14, 2011, 02:02 AM
Sincerely glad you weren't hurt.

That's pretty typical of a 1911 blow up. The force of the blast goes down, since that's the path of least resistance. The next round down typically tears open, or collapses, and it's common for the bullets below that to be pushed back into the case. I've seen several of these, and this one looks like all the rest. There are also probably marks in the inside of the grip panels from the gases escaping through the witness holes in the magazine.

It could have been caused by a double charge, but it looks more like an overcharge of fast powder, or possibly a weak spot in the case that happened to chamber over the unsupported area of the barrel.

Back in the late 1970's, there was a batch of foreign .45 acp ammunition with the headstamp "CCC", where a maximum load was combined with overly soft brass. The ones I saw that had let go were exactly like the one pictured as #1. Anyone who runs across this headstamp would be well advised to scrap it.

Hope this helps.


July 14, 2011, 09:15 AM
Bullet setback maybe the cause. Click photo for larger view. (

July 14, 2011, 10:42 AM
So that's what I heard over by the lake!?:what::neener:

Just trying to lighten the mood. I too am glad you're not badly injured.

Been there-done that- got the "T" shirt.

In my case,(no pun), I was working up a load with a bulk-surplus powder I got from Jeff Bartlet @ gibrass . com. It's designation was NM-04, a chinese powder made for shotshells, supposedly could be loaded using data for IMR_PB or Alliant green-dot. It displays a pressure spike when used in handgun shells. Works fine in 12 Gauge shotgun.

My grips survived, they were soft rubber. The barrel did NOT! The chamber looked like it had swallowed an egg! It cost me a new barrel and charges to have it fit. The normal fired case is to give it perspective of how it should look!:p

Take a close look at YOUR barrel. Use a micrometer over the chamber area.

July 14, 2011, 10:48 AM

What powder were you working with?

Thanks for sharing and glad you're OK.

July 14, 2011, 11:12 AM
WOW. Do you have any pictures of the upper part of the gun? Slide/barrel etc. How much damage did they take?

July 14, 2011, 11:30 AM
Glad you are OK!

Miata Mike
July 14, 2011, 12:32 PM
Glad you are OK Hondo. I have been doing a lot more .45acp and thought that was one of the safer loads a guy could do. :eek:

Given the fact you were using a loading block, I too think it could have been bullet set back. What powder were you using? Before unloading the others you have loaded, try pushing the bullets deeper with your thumb to see if any are real loose.

I have been using 200 grain .452 LSWC bullets, and it looks and feels like the larger diameter lead is staying put. Does make a guy step back and think.

July 14, 2011, 06:01 PM
First off , Glad no serious injuries resulted !!!!

Second , do you leave the cases in the tray & move the tray under the powder measure ???

Or move the powder measure over the cases ???

I`ve developed moving & charging 1 case at the time then placing it in a different tray.

& even then check em 2-4 times for powder levels.

But yes getting out of your groove requires alot of thought & attention !!

July 14, 2011, 07:46 PM
I`ve developed moving & charging 1 case at the time then placing it in a different tray.
& even then check em 2-4 times for powder levels.
That's how I do it with revolver & rifle cases.

Hondo 60
July 14, 2011, 08:03 PM
The powder is Accurate #5.

The right grip had 3 perfectly round burn marks.
I'm sure they're somehow related to the rounds that were in the mag, but I was able to wash it off quite a bit.
The slide & frame look perfect.

My first thought was the barrel as well.
It looks fine, but this my first & only 1911, so I'm not real sure what I should be looking for.
I've only had this gun for about 2 weeks.
I've chambered several fresh rounds & they didn't seem to have any excess play or tightness.

My toolhead & caliber conversion kit came in today's mail, so I'll be back to my regular reloading methods.

July 14, 2011, 08:39 PM
A while back I discovered Aguila 45 acp cases don't hold a bullet very well. I happened to give one a squeeze, and the bullet sank right into the case. Spent the next hour squeezing and sorting freshly loaded ammo. Had a few that needed to be unloaded the hard way. After that, I learned to cull certain headstamps. First time I loaded the MB IDP #4 200gr bullet with it's beautiful crimp groove, I realized I had the perfect bullet for those 'other' headstamps.

July 14, 2011, 09:07 PM
Ironically i sort of followed in your footsteps today Hondo.
I was loading for 38 spl last week, and finally got out to the range today to try them out. I had noticed during the loading session that i had powder sticking in the funnel on one of the charges. I didnt think too much about it, I cleared that cartridge, and pulled the one before it and re-charged it. Apparently it had done it somewhere else down the line that i didn't catch.

Today One one of the shots i noticed it felt light. Noted it as odd, and then went to fire the next one. I swear it felt like a 44 magnum. If i had a chrono, i would bet it was pushing 1.1K FPS. It took me 4-5 minutes to get the shell out of the cylinder.
About 30 rounds later, the cylinder fell out of the gun.
Now that I'm home and cleaning it with a good source of light, i see Winchester imprinted on the frame.

Simply WOW.

July 14, 2011, 09:34 PM
Here's one to consider.....

When unloading You will drop the mag and then cycle the action to clear the chamber...

When reloading you rack the slide to chamber a round and then drop the mag to top off.... usually with the round that you ejected.

As you repeat this process over time, you will rotate the top two rounds over and over, repeatedly chambering them (
i.e. Slamming them into the feed ramp) and can set back even a well crimped bullet.

I empty my expensive personal defense ammo and reload with ball at the range, and then reload the good stuff when I'm done. I recently noticed that my top two rounds were set back and they measured 0.040" short of my COAL.

Fortunately, I was using a COAL that was longer than the min., and though the loads are warm, they are below max, so would likely have been safe anyways, but I pay much closer attention now. Even the 0.040" is apparent when placed next to the third round in the mag.

Fuel for thought.....

Fill us in on your lad data and make/model pistol.

Hondo 60
July 14, 2011, 10:26 PM
The 2 brass cases that took the abuse were Federal, once fired by me, so I know they really were once fired.

SSN Vet: The ones that went kaboom, were the 3rd & the 4th rounds in the mag.
They were fed into the mag just once.

July 14, 2011, 10:54 PM
Glad you did not get injured and thanks for sharing.

July 14, 2011, 10:57 PM
Are you seating and crimping in one step?

Federal is the thickest 45acp brass of all that I've loaded and should be good to go.

July 14, 2011, 11:09 PM
That is just one of the reasons I use oonly slow burning powders.
On another note, I'm glad to hear you are OK, and sorry to hear about the death of your gun.

Hondo 60
July 15, 2011, 08:59 AM
Are you seating and crimping in one step

No, I'm using a Lee 4 die set

Also, I was concerned about the crimp, so I upped the crimp just a hair & re-crimped all the rounds I have.

July 15, 2011, 10:29 AM
BTW, thanks for posting your experience. It's good to be reminded on a regular basis of what to look for.

I went to the range with my son Wednesday, and had some rounds that weren't feeding real well or shooting like I expected. Came back home, measured them, and they were 0.013-0.015" too long from what they were supposed to be (for that rifle). I had forgotten to reset the seating die when I changed bullet brands from the last time I loaded that caliber. I did measure them - it was written on the box, but didn't check my records, and they looked "about right". They weren't.

July 15, 2011, 03:51 PM
I guess I don't use a loading block the same way as everyone else.

I've been using a single stage Rock Chucker since the 70's and worked out this process a long time ago. I size and de-prime a lot of brass all at once, then I check length and clean primer pockets on the sized lot and throw them in the tumbler. Once cleaned I inspect each case, make sure the flash holes are unplugged, then prime, by hand, the lot. When done I have fully prepped and primed cases ready to go.

When loading I take a prepped case, fill it with the powder from a freshly set powder measure, visually inspect the powder height, top it with a bullet, then seat it. If I use a loading block at all it is to hold the prepped cases or the loaded rounds. I never have multiple cases with powder open at the same time. I do this for rifle or pistol. I usually don't even bother with the blocks and prefer to use old plastic food containers.

To those of you using modern automated, progressive, 3000 round per minute loading machines my coal-powered manual method must seem painfully slow. But this process has never failed me and it is actually surprising how much ammo I can load up in an hour this way.

July 15, 2011, 06:34 PM
Sad story. At least you can still count to 10 on two hands. Really a shame about your pistol.

I use a loading block but I also use a custom dipper I made from a spent case. I also take one case when I start charging, put it in the far corner of the block and put in a double charge so I know what it looks like. I do this especially for fast powders like Clays, 700X etc. After comparing all the cases under a light I immediately dump the double charge.

No problems, yet. Always gotta be wary.

All the Best,
D. White

Hondo 60
July 15, 2011, 08:45 PM
Well, I went to the range this morning & the pistol fed & shot just fine.

I'm not too accurate & that continued today.
I have a strange club - they have targets at 50, 100 & 200 yards.
(nothing shorter - but we're working on it)

So it seems like all I lost was a magazine & a custom set of grips.

Thank you to all the members who said they were glad I wasn't hurt.
This site has been a great place to learn & share. :D

July 16, 2011, 10:23 AM
I am glad you were not hurt, and that your pistol is ok.

I have seen a 1911 that was double charged...Dillon 550
that did not get turned. It was basically destroyed.
I have also seen a Glock 23 that was toasted by a
double charge.

I would guess that your situation was caused by bullet
setback. Obviously, that is just a guess. But, a double
charge would likely have done more damage.

Hondo 60
July 16, 2011, 05:44 PM
Ya, I'm kinda wondering about that now.

It would be less concerning if it was a dbl charge.
But if it was a set-back, then there's always the possibility that it could happen again.

That is a much more concerning possibility.

I still have a couple of pin-prick marks on my face 3 days afterward.
And the first round I fired 2 days after the kaboom, was nerve-wracking.
I jumped when the gun fired. But it fired just fine, so I guess all is OK.

In the end, I DID tighten down the crimp, so I pray that it never happens again!

July 16, 2011, 09:56 PM
Your case #1 looks almost exactly like mine did. I suspect that I double-charged mine with 231, early in my progressive reloading career (not long ago, and I did not start with a single stage, which was probably my first mistake).

Mine cracked both wooden grips and blew the mag out the bottom. Mag was a throwaway, 1911 was closely inspected and put back into service. I have put thousands of rounds through it since, and am carrying it as I type this.

I got my face peppered with brass specks and powder. Ever have a firecracker go off in your hand? When you say, "Crap, I don't know if I really want to look and see how many fingers I still possess..." Yeah, that's what it felt like, but no permanent damage, except to my psyche. Lesson learned...big time.

Not sure "shame" is appropriate. We all live and learn. When I did mine, I was ashamed (just as I was with my ND 25 years ago).

But you "manning up" and sharing may spare someone from replicating else the experience. My hat is off to you.

Edited to add--.45 acp is far less prone to the affects from bullet set-back, mostly because it is a low-pressure round. The pressure can increase due to set-back, but the level of increase is far less. Consider that a .45acp operates at 18k psi, while a 9mm or .40 operates at 36-40K.

I would bet two weeks pay that your experience was a double charge. This is fairly easy to preclude in the future. Has worked for me, anyway...but to tell you the truth, that one experience was motivation enough for me.

July 17, 2011, 11:48 PM
I was working up a load with a bulk-surplus powder I got from Jeff Bartlet @ gibrass . com. It's designation was NM-04, a chinese powder made for shotshells, supposedly could be loaded using data for IMR_PB or Alliant green-dot.
I have a rule that I follow.... I never use a powder who's loading instructions consist of, "place on ground - light fuse - get away" :D

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