Quality Control for Reloading


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bds
July 14, 2011, 10:25 PM
Over the past 16 years, I have seen many pistols blow up at the range by rounds loaded by not-so-new reloaders who admitted they were distracted while reloading and must have double charged their loads. This is THR and after reading the latest incident posting (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=603222) of this, I decided to start this thread to help prevent another such incident and benefit new reloaders start off with more safe reloading practices to include quality control.


Post your experience of reloading mishaps that you addressed by change in reloading practice/steps and any quality control steps you added. This will immensely help especially new reloaders avoid potentially dangerous situations.


Incident:
I had several bottles of powder on the bench and in a rush to get to the range, got the load data mixed up. When I fired the first round, I felt the biggest recoil and loudest "bang" I heard. After bringing the pistol down from above my head and checking my body for damage, I went "Boy, I won't do THAT again!"

Change in reloading practice/Quality Control:
I now keep only one bottle of powder on the bench and triple check with the load data to verify that I have the right load data for the powder I am using. All unused powder gets poured immediately back into the bottle when I am done.




Incident:
I was at an indoor range shooting when I saw a large fireball and very loud "bang" from few lanes down. The shooter was uninjured but the pistol he was shooting suffered split chamber and crack ran down the barrel. According to range staff, the shooter was not a new reloader. After the clean up, the shooter admitted he was distracted and was rushing the reloading process and stated he must have double charged.

Change in reloading practice/Quality Control:
Double charges are preventable if proper reloading steps and practices are exercised. I was a fairly new reloader when I saw this incident and did not want to have a double-charge incident myself. I was loading on a Pro 1000 progressive press and made sure I "fully cycled" the lever up and down. If I ran into any problem, I would STOP and took my time to investigate the problem. Before I resumed reloading, I double checked all the stations. If I had any concern, I CLEARED the shellplate and started over.

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1SOW
July 14, 2011, 11:23 PM
Loading 9mm on a turret press:

Incident: Had a 'squib' that travelled almost to the end of the barrell. I luckily didn't fire the second rd of the controlled pairs I was practicing due to the sound difference. When reloading, I had a small problem with the press where I needed to "wipe it down" and "re-oil" just a little. I stopped loading before the cartridge was complete. The squib wasn't 'primer only', and I suspect I contaminated the powder or primer just enough to cause the squib.

Change in reloading practice: DO NOT stop before all the dies have done their job, OR stop and remove the partially finshed cartridge and start over AFTER the interruption.

Fishslayer
July 15, 2011, 02:01 AM
I had a squib on exactly my seventh handloaded round of powderpuff .38.

Fired my first cylinder. YAY! Reloaded. Seventh trigger pull. "Pffft."

Somehow the powderless round I used to set up my dies made it into the finished ammo box.:o The squib lodged in the CB gap & locked up the revolver, so no harm no foul. Kinda embarrassing to have to get the range guy to knock the bullet back for me tho.

john16443
July 15, 2011, 11:29 AM
Loading 9mm and 45 ACP on a turret press.

Incident: testing my 4.5g Titegroup loads in 45 ACP this week with my 1911. I wear ear plugs AND muffs, but still heard the dreaded "Pffft" in the middle of a magazine. Stopped, removed mag, racked slide, ejected empty case with serious discoloration. I have a plastic mallet and dowels in my range bag, so removed the barrel, looked inside, but the barrel was clear. The bullet managed to make it downrange to 7 yards, but barely broke through the paper about 8 inches below POA. It didn't appear to be a primer only charge, based on the significant blackening of the outside of the case. I bent the case so it isn't reuseable.

Change in Reloading Practice: Stopped at Harbor Freight on the way home and bought the flexible LED flashlight to mount on one post of the turret. Even though I have sufficient light in the reloading area, this LED allows high visibility inside the case at all times. I use the short one. http://www.harborfreight.com/2-piece-flexible-shaft-led-light-95414.html

MtnCreek
July 15, 2011, 11:58 AM
Incident:
Started to work up a new load for 7mm Mag. I used data for a 130 gr projectile w/ a 140 gr projectile. I discoved the mistake after loading 10 rds and before fireing any.

Change in reloading practice/Quality Control:
I stopped reading / loading with data directly out of the book. I use a notebook (per cal) to work up my loads. Data from the book is written in the notebook then triple checked and all components are checked. Once I have a load that I will use, I make a load card to hang behind the press when loading. For me, I feel that only having data for one load (bullet weight, powder....) has made me safer. I treat the load card with the same respect as other components.

Fishslayer
July 15, 2011, 12:08 PM
The bullet managed to make it downrange to 7 yards, but barely broke through the paper about 8 inches below POA. It didn't appear to be a primer only charge, based on the significant blackening of the outside of the case. I bent the case so it isn't reuseable.



When my Lee Auto Disc was making some noise I put a wee drop of oil where I was SURE it wouldn't get into the works.

While loading the next batch one of my charge weight spot checks turned up a 1.2gr charge vice the 4.2 it should have been.

Inspection showed that oil had indeed gotten into the charge tube and formed a partial, intermittent bridge. I threw some charges & found they were anywhere from zero to 3 gr.

Luckily I only had to pull about 75 bullets. I was lucky that my spot check turned up a light charge. The others I checked were OK.

1. ALWAYS spot check. I now weigh about every tenth charge.
2. Inspection. I now inspect the charge path EVERY time I change powders or discs.
3. Watch the oil. I now use a dry lube on moving parts.

Walkalong
July 15, 2011, 02:20 PM
I have worked with tools and equipment all my life. I still have all my fingers and toes, as well as two good eyes. It is a matter of concentration once you learn how to do something safely. It only takes a second to make a mistake.

THe Dove
July 15, 2011, 02:40 PM
It only takes a second to make a mistake.

Amen Walkalong, and one second can change a life forever.

We talk about double checking and triple checking and I agree this is a must in this type of operation. However, one must remain sharp and never sub-consciously think, "well, I already checked this once or twice", and then just go through the motions of checking. See what I'm trying to say???

The Dove

Walkalong
July 15, 2011, 07:32 PM
Yep.

I have seen many people using bench grinders with no eye protection. "It will only take a second", they say, "I don't have time for putting on safety glasses".

I know a fellow with one eye who would beg to differ.

When I see people driving like maniacs, my first thought is, boy, they sure are in a hurry to get to the scene of the accident. Sooner or later they will find it.

Be careful out there. Go slow, pay attention, and when you can not do these things, stop until you can. Only you know how fast you can go and be careful, and only you know when your concentration is not there. AC

bds
July 15, 2011, 08:51 PM
Incident:
Earlier in my reloading years, I used to rush to reload so I could shoot. Sometimes, I used to procrastinate and put off reloading (bad reloading practice #1) until the morning of the match or practice range session with other shooters (I know, I know. But I was in my 20's and had better things to do during the week, like dating :D:D). I would cut into my sleep (bad reloading practice #2) and get up early in the morning to reload. Well, I would rush things and cuss while I got distracted and when things didn't go smoothly (bad reloading practice #3). Fortunately, I only had one failure to fire during match stages that was probably a high primer as the round went off on the second strike (shot after the match).

Change in reloading practice/Quality Control:
- Now I only reload when I am free from distractions and not rushed. I usually do my brass sorting, processing (tumble polish, resizing/depriming, trimming of rifle cases, etc.) and hand priming during weekday evenings when focus is not needed but reload only in the quiet early mornings of weekends (I am usually up around 5 AM) while everyone is still asleep. I am fully rested and have couple cups of coffee in me before I reload. If I have weekend afternoons free with wife and daughter out shopping, I will also do some reloading.

- Now I only reload when I am "fit" to reload. I have tried reloading when angry or mad and it just does not work! You'll make careless mistakes like squib/double charge/inconsistent loads. If I am tired, under the weather or distracted with life's issues, I don't reload. I either sleep, relax or do something else but I won't "push" myself to reload. I view reloading as a relaxing hobby and only reload when I am "in the mood" to reload - believe me, I have loaded some of several hundred thousand rounds of reloads in past years because "I needed match/practice ammo" and it was downright "grueling work" to press out 500-1000 rounds while sleep deprived, tired and hungry in about an hour.

- I try to maintain a "par level" of calibers I shoot. I prefer to have at least 1000-2000 rounds of each caliber on hand so when family/friends/neighbors want to join me to the range, I just need to pack up and go. This "par level" allows me to shoot whenever I want to/feel like shooting and reload when it is convenient for me/family.

Naterater
July 15, 2011, 09:34 PM
Incident:
I was firing some of my new .308win reloads when I had a FTF. I tried multiple second strikes, but it never fired. I pulled the bullet and found some discolored powder near the base of the case and the primer also seemed to be discolored. I couldn't figure out any reason why this could be... until I remembered what I did to the brass just before loading.

Due to my brass being unusually dirty and the fact that I didn't have a tumbler, I washed my brass with some hot water and a scrub pad. The day of loading I went straight from washing to loading. I had dried off the cases on the OUTSIDE, but not on the inside. They looked fine, but I didn't realize that they were still wet on the inside--Thus wetting my primer and powder and causing a FTF.

Luckily I haven't had any dangerous situations yet.

Change in reloading practice
I purchased a case tumbler which obviously works very well for cleaning my cases. I also keep moisture out of my powders and primers by keeping them sealed in my basement in a cool, dry place as recommended. I won't ever wash my cases again.

GaryL
July 15, 2011, 11:18 PM
MtnCreek I like that idea

I've been fortunate that my incidents have mostly occurred at the bench. If that can be considered fortunate. :uhoh:

A couple that come to mind:

Incident
Finished a reloading session, and walked away from the bench with 2 bottles of powder on the bench. I was fortunate that they were both Dot powders, with Red Dot in the hopper, so I was able to return the powder to it's proper container, and there was no mix ups.

Solution
I now put a 3x5 card in the hopper with the powder clearly labeled so there are no mix ups.


Incident
Distractions while reloading. They are unavoidable, as I'm married to one and fathered several others. I have had to break down a few cases to verify that that they were not an issue, and they weren't, but it makes me nervous just the same.

Solution
I usually load on a progressive, so I have switched to using powders that fill or overflow the case on a double charge, and look into every case to verify the charge. Here's my solution for 223: http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=601279
Some cases are hard to fill, like 45 Colt, but double charge of Unique is obvious enough.
I did like Bullseye in 45acp, but Bullseye works great in 380acp, so it's not going to waste.



Incident
Showed up at the range with some 223 with the bullets not seated properly by ~0.013". Accuracy wasn't what I expected, and they didn't feed as smoothly as I expected. Turns out I made the mistake of not checking the OAL when I switched from one type of bullet to another.

Solution
That happened this week. So I haven't decided on a solution, or come up with an error proofing method yet. I may have to implement a checklist like pilots do on a preflight. Hoping to see some good ideas in this thread.

jhansman
July 15, 2011, 11:25 PM
Incident
When only rookie reloader who didn't pay attention to proper powder use, I loaded up several rounds of FMJ 30-30 with Trail Boss, a powder designed for lead bullets. Result-squibbed not one, but two rounds (I know!) in my Marlin 336, which I ended up selling to a gunsmith at a healthy loss. I'm lucky I didn't blow the gun up.

Solution
Read about and research any powder I use thoroughly to ensure it's application is safe and appropriate. Nothing like it has happened since, so I must have learned something.

A sign is posted over my reloading bench that reads "What have I forgotten?"

john16443
July 15, 2011, 11:57 PM
When my Lee Auto Disc was making some noise I put a wee drop of oil where I was SURE it wouldn't get into the works.

While loading the next batch one of my charge weight spot checks turned up a 1.2gr charge vice the 4.2 it should have been.

Inspection showed that oil had indeed gotten into the charge tube and formed a partial, intermittent bridge. I threw some charges & found they were anywhere from zero to 3 gr.

Luckily I only had to pull about 75 bullets. I was lucky that my spot check turned up a light charge. The others I checked were OK.

1. ALWAYS spot check. I now weigh about every tenth charge.
2. Inspection. I now inspect the charge path EVERY time I change powders or discs.
3. Watch the oil. I now use a dry lube on moving parts.
I've always spot checked every 5th round for powder weight and COL and continue to do so.

I also now make it a point to verify the expected powder level for each cartridge before seating the bullet. The light helps here quite a bit because that bright LED really lights up the inside of the case.

I don't oil anything except the ram on the press, haven't had a need to do anything lubrication wise with my pro auto disk or my micrometer charge bar.

gamestalker
July 16, 2011, 03:27 PM
BDS, you are on the right track. I've been loading for over 30 yrs. and still managed to make a mistake that could have been really bad.
I was loading some .40 not too long ago and because I wasn't paying attention to the task at hand, I managed to load 20 or so cases with H110, instead of the HS6 I intended to use. I only had one canister of powder on the bench at the time but had accidentally grabbed the wrong one off the shelf. But in my own defense, I was able to prevent the mistake from making it to my firearm. I noticed my error when I was pouring the H110 back into the canister and didn't even have to pull any bullets.
I also double charged a few of cases over the years. But because I only load with slow burning powders, I've never had a one slip by me, this is due to the obvious and almost impossible to over look spilled powder.
I was working on my car one day and thought it was too much trouble to use jack stands and ended up traped under my car for hours. My wife was at work and when she came home I had been under the car and barely able to breath for over 5 hours.
I remember a guy with his family in a van going by me at a high rate of speed on a snow covered road. My wife and I both said the same thing, "well he will be in the ditch soon". Sure enough not but a mile or so down the road he was upside down in a snow bank.
I'm sure most of us have a host of experiences to attest to the importance of safety first. But therre is always going to that person who thinks they are just a little bit more capable, or feel it just can't happen to them, or just plain and simple reckless in how they approach any task.
This is a really good thread you've started BDS. Safety is first and formost when doing anything that is inherently dangerous, driving, reloading, and the list goes on.

SlamFire1
July 16, 2011, 03:54 PM
I received a Lee Flow through expander die in 45/70 and did not properly clean the thing out.

I loaded some rounds and shot them at the range. The last shot clocked 1945 fps. The primer flowed around the firing pin and I was unable to open the breech block.

I suspect I had powder bridging in the flow through die and got an extra large charge in one case.

Took the Martini Henry home and the rifle is fine. I am amazed that a 1870's action could take a force equal to a 458 Win Mag and not be damaged.

However, don't want to do that again.

Change in Practice: Keep the powder funnels clean.


45/70 Martini Henry

405 LRN 27.5gr AA5744 R-P cases WLR
Apr-04 T = 80 F

Ave Vel =1545
Std Dev =347
ES = 601
Low = 1344
High = 1945:what:
N = 3

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/MartiniHenrywithNewStockDSCN3711.jpg

bds
July 16, 2011, 07:08 PM
This is a really good thread you've started BDS. Safety is first and formost when doing anything that is inherently dangerous, driving, reloading, and the list goes on.
Thank you. I hope this thread impress upon/help new reloaders based on our mistakes and keep them from making the same.

Cherokee
July 16, 2011, 08:16 PM
In over 50 years of reloading, I have avoided any serious accidents but one reason for that is awareness of what happens when I pull the trigger. If it don't sound right, stop; if it don't feel right, stop. With my 32-20 I had a FTFire (bullet stayed in the case) which I found out was fouled powder, it was a hard lump when I pulled the round down; don't know how that happened to that one round. With my 30/30 a couple years ago, I failed to put the powder in some test loads and found out at the range (again the bullet stayed inthe case). I had been distracted in the process and I had violated my rule of looking at the powder level in the case before seating the bullet. Rededicate myself to follow my "check everything" rules.

Coltdriver
July 16, 2011, 10:50 PM
I started reloading .223 because I was more than a little nervous about pistol rounds.

I do load pistol rounds now and after I have loaded a batch I weight every one of them on an electronic scale. Just takes a couple of minutes. They will all be within a grain or two of each other. But if a charge is missing or doubled it will be very apparent.

So far I have not failed to load a round nor have I ever doubled a charge, but if I do I will catch it on the electronic scale.

If you enjoyed reading about "Quality Control for Reloading" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!