Squib load question


October 4, 2011, 11:20 PM
This question is in reference to the posts I have read about squib loads. Will the primer, with zero powder, be enough to force the bullet into the barrel? I assume it can, although usually not far enough for the next round to chamber correctly, but surely a semi auto would not have enough energy to cycle, right?

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October 4, 2011, 11:44 PM
A service pistol with just a SPP will put the bullet at least part way into the bbl. The bbl diameter, bullet diameter and type bullet and will effect how far it goes into the bbl.

When I first started reloading, I had a no-powder squib in a 9mm CZ. It couldn't chamber the next round because the squib bullet didn't go far enough into the bbl to let another bullet chamber. I was lucky. I believe this would normally be the case, but maybe not always.

October 5, 2011, 12:12 AM
There was a pretty extensive thread on this subject on another forum and apparently, at times, a bullet can at times go fairly far down a barrel powered by primer alone. I suppose it depends on bore vs bullet diameter, primer type, etc.

October 5, 2011, 12:18 AM
Just to let you know, I had exactly what you had stated, primer only and no powder. The bullet went half way down the barrel in my FNX .40S&W, good thing for me I was checking out new loads and only shooting one at a time. Totally my fault for not checking the powder drop.

October 5, 2011, 12:21 AM
Have not tried this but I'll bet a .25 ACP with only a primer will but the bullet alot further down the barrel than a .45 ACP with a SPP and no powder.

Also are we talking about lead or jacketed bullets?

October 5, 2011, 12:35 AM
I have had this exact thing happen once. Put the 124g fmj 9mm(cci spp) just far enough down the barrell of my XDm so that the next round would not chamber. Pulled the bbl, tapped it out with my instructors bullet removal tool. No harm. no foul. Spun up the lathe at work the next day and machined stuck bullet removers for 9mm/.40/.45. Also ordered RCBS powder cop die for the LNL AP.

Lost Sheep
October 5, 2011, 12:50 AM
While the likelihood of a squib being unable to cycle the action on an autoloader, I would hesitate to count on a mistake to contribute to its own mitigation.

Put another way, once something goes wrong, don't expect ANYTHING else to help you out of your dilemma. Go back to square one and check EVERYTHING.

In other words, once I have a squib, I am NOT going to depend on theory or even others' experiences to protect me. I will check it myself. Besides, squibs can come in different power levels. How about a 1.2 grain charge in a case where you were expecting 4.5 grains? What then?

You are right to ask the speculation. You would be wrong to pay any attention to the answer with respect to how you respond to a squib.

Better safe than sorry.

Lost Sheep

October 5, 2011, 09:41 AM
That's a pretty opened ended question because of so many variables that are present. Barrels are all different, some have more/less tapering to the lands, and various primers perform at different pressure/pressure curves. And then there are the variables with jackets some heavier/lighter. And distance to lands is variable also.

Personally, I've never had a squib in the 30 or so years of loading metalic, so I can't even relate to this question with experience. But my real concern here is the frequency at which I see squibbs occuring by reloaders , seasoned as well as new guys. I know now days many guys are trying to increase productivity because they shoot a lot. I'm certain if I had a need for high production I would be doing the same thing.

But aren't there some safe guards or fail safe steps and tools that will nearly completely eliminate the occurance? In the same manner by which I've avoided squibbs, can't the standard of looking at each powder charge be incorporated into any process, or not? This topic is important to me because of the alarming number of squibbs that are happening, and some that are resulting in serious injury. And I get the feeling that a lot of the cause is the equipment and not always operator error too, which concerns me even more.

October 5, 2011, 10:06 AM
That's a pretty opened ended question because of so many variables that are present


I had a squib launch a 55gr FMJ completely clear from a 16" barrel. The sound of the shot and recoil was noticeably different. I dropped the mag, opened the rifle, removed the bolt and was very surprised to find an unobstructed barrel. I was so surprised that I quit shooting and cleaned my barrel (figured if a cleaning rod would go through it a bullet could too!).

Watch for any changes when shooting, it's not safe to assume a squib will prevent the next round from chambering / firing.

October 5, 2011, 12:33 PM
It's hard to know. I have seen a few squib results. One time I was shooting with a buddy who was shooting some reloads he got when he bought a S&W 629 44 mag. He noticed one round didn't sound right, like it was a primer only. We checked the barrel and it was clear. About 10 shots later, he had another one. We checked the barrel (8 3/8") and the bullet was lodged about halfway down the barrel. Those were lead bullets (he threw the rest away). Awhile back I was shooting with another guy who was shoooting a .480 Ruger with heavy jacketed bullets. He had an obvious squib. In this case, the bullet got stuck just past the throat, partly in the barrel, partly in the cylinder so that the cylinder couldn't even turn. That was kind of a mess. Luckily, he had a cleaning rod and was able to pound the bullet back into the case to allow the cylinder to turn.

October 5, 2011, 05:23 PM
range rods (see Brownell's, and other suppliers) are marvelous to have in the bottom of the bag and, if they save a few cleaning rods, will pay for themselves for the ham-handed among us.

Jim H.

October 5, 2011, 06:34 PM
Probably depends on the firearm, bullet length and weight, primer, your throat/bore erosion, and god knows what else. Even if there isn't enough space, you might successfully chamber a round where the round following the squib is actually pushed back into the case (if you're not crimping your bullets).

A good practice is to seat each bullet immediately after filling the case with powder, and not measuring out powder in batches and then seating bullets in batches. With this habit, its pretty hard to seat a bullet in an empty case. So far no squibs for me!

October 5, 2011, 09:12 PM
Aguila makes a primer-only .22LR that works in my .22LR revolver and pistol. As in, sounds like a mouse fart, but puts a hole in the paper 25 feet away.

I have seen a squib in a 9mm that not only travelled far enough down the barrel to allow the next round to chamber, but cycled the action and actually did chamber the next round.

I also read about someone who stuck all six WC rounds of .38 into the 6" barrel of a revolver before realizing that "something was wrong". :)

I have seen a squib in a .45acp that did not travel far enough to allow the next round to chamber, but did cycle the action and attempted to chamber another round.

That leads to my hypothesis, which is unproven but based upon at least a bit of math. The smaller the caliber, the fewer square inches of bullet in contact with the rifling, and (perhaps) the easier it is for the bullet to travel a bit farther down the bore. Granted, I am leaving the variable of primer size/type out of the equation.

October 5, 2011, 11:02 PM
orion: I did not think it would be possible for the action to cycle with a primer only squib, at least in the larger calibers, and the reason for the original post. I still question if it is possible due to the fact it is unknown if it was a partial powder drop as opposed to a missed powder drop in most cases.

October 5, 2011, 11:33 PM
Pretty sure that each of the examples I listed was primer only.
Not 100% certain (because I did not load them, with the exception of the .45 acp, which definitely had no powder...bad on me), but I have encountered a few very weak loads (easily discerned by the "poof" instead of a "bang"), and each has sent the bullet downrange and cycled the action...

With double hearing protection (plugs plus muffs) it is difficult to tell a primer-only from a weak load, but it's not hard to tell the difference between a proper charge and either of the above, both by sound and by recoil.

Jeff F
October 6, 2011, 10:40 AM
I know of a Colt Python that squibbed the first round and then stacked the next four up in the barrel until it locked up. Gun was toast, barrel was bulged and cracked the frame where it screws in.

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