New to reloading - how badly can I screw up a 1911?


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Captain33036
July 20, 2013, 12:57 PM
Hello

I am not new to shooting, but new to reloading. I have a RCBS 3 die set and have been getting things put together seemingly OK. I will be reloading .45acp using Accurate #5 powder and CCI LP primers. Once shot cases from commercial ammo.

I am a very ...very careful guy. I will be loading rounds without powder or primers, to test consistency, proper depth, COAL, etc. When I load powder in, I will measure on a scale, often. And visually inspect all cases. Will probably be careful and load no more than 50 at a time. All rounds will get checked using a barrel to make sure they fit the chamber properly.

SO...my question: I have a nice SIG 1911 Scorpion. I really would hate to harm this gun in any way. Should I get a beater 1911 to use as a test bed before using reloads in my SIG?

Thanks

John

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Hacker15E
July 20, 2013, 01:02 PM
I think that would be overly cautious.

G11354
July 20, 2013, 01:06 PM
Follow your reloading manual and you should be fine, I certainly would not buy another gun.

I just started reloading last year and put my first loads through my favorite rifle without issue.

Your reloading manual should provide all of the information you need to avoid harming yourself or your gun. Enjoy and be safe.

TennJed
July 20, 2013, 01:16 PM
I guess your are asking how much damage you could do to your 1911 with a badly loaded round. Well honestly a lot. You could ruin it. Of course you could have a wreck on the way to the range destroying the gun, your house could burn down with the gun in it. My point is, no matter how careful you are, something could still happen Don't let the worry keep you from enjoying.

I think you are being plenty careful. To me there is no point in reloading if you don't enjoy it. The cost savings is canceled out by the time it takes. If you enjoy it, then it is a great hobby that allows you to save money.

bds
July 20, 2013, 01:21 PM
SO...my question: I have a nice SIG 1911 Scorpion. I really would hate to harm this gun in any way. Should I get a beater 1911 to use as a test bed before using reloads in my SIG?
Congrats on the Scorpion! I had similar sentiment when I got my Sig 1911 (almost bought a RIA Tactical) but I don't think you will really harm the pistol if you stick to reloading safety principles. If you want a beater 1911 and have the money, I would suggest the RIA Tactical but my friend who bought his RIA Tactical at the same time as my Sig 1911 has over 5000 rounds through his and doesn't consider his RIA a "beater". :D BTW, both pistols have held up very well and still shooting tight groups.

I have the Sig 1911 railed TacPac which is built essentially on the same XO stainless steel frame/slide/barrel with different Nitron finish.

After several hundred rounds of various factory ammunition, I have over 6000 rounds of reloads through mine. So far, nothing broke on the pistol and the parts look very good. The Nitron finish has held up very well too. I have only replaced the recoil spring with Wolff/Wilson Combat springs. BTW, I have used factory/Chip McCormick 8 round power mags and have not experienced feeding issues with various nose profile bullets.

My barrel has very quick start of rifling with almost no leade so for reloading, I need to use shorter OAL than typical or the bearing surface of the bullet will hit the rifling. The chamber is tight so it requires consistent taper crimp and OAL on the finished rounds to drop in freely with a "plonk". In comparison, the RIA Tactical has a tapered chamber mouth with longer leade/slower start of rifling and will feed even sloppy reloads with varying dimensions.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=165331&stc=1&d=1338347030http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=186057&stc=1&d=1373157699

For various 230 gr plated RN bullets, I use around 1.260" OAL with 1.263"-1.265" being max and .471"-.472" taper crimp.

For various 230 gr lead RN bullets, I use 1.250" OAL with .472" max taper crimp.

For Berry's 185 gr HBRN bullet, due to more rounded nose profile, 1.250" OAL is longest it will freely chamber and spin without hitting the rifling.

For various 200 gr lead SWC bullets, I use 1.245" OAL as max with .472" max taper crimp.

For Missouri 200 gr lead RNFP bullet, I use 1.195" OAL with .472" max taper crimp.

buck460XVR
July 20, 2013, 01:58 PM
If you're that concerned about your reloading practices that you are considering getting another gun just to fire your reloads in, you need to realize that fingers and eyes are not nearly as replaceable as a firearm. If a gun goes KABOOM, the gun itself should be the least of your worries. If you are as safety conscious as you claim, buyin' a beater gun just for your reloads is a waste of monies.

wolf695
July 20, 2013, 02:15 PM
Watch your powder measurements, to much powder makes HOT loads that mess up your 1911, or any gun for that matter.

JShirley
July 20, 2013, 02:19 PM
If you're a very careful guy, you should have no problem.

The absolute "most careful" you could be, would be to buy a very bulky powder that was impossible to double-charge a case. That would still be quite a bit cheaper than buying a whole new handgun. :D

You're looking at between about 7.8-9.5 gr of #5, depending on which bullet you choose (http://www.accuratepowder.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/accurate_load_data_3.5.pdf). .45 ACP has about 25 grains of case capacity.

John

Lost Sheep
July 20, 2013, 02:23 PM
Hello

I am not new to shooting, but new to reloading. I have a RCBS 3 die set and have been getting things put together seemingly OK. I will be reloading .45acp using Accurate #5 powder and CCI LP primers. Once shot cases from commercial ammo.

I am a very ...very careful guy. I will be loading rounds without powder or primers, to test consistency, proper depth, COAL, etc. When I load powder in, I will measure on a scale, often. And visually inspect all cases. Will probably be careful and load no more than 50 at a time. All rounds will get checked using a barrel to make sure they fit the chamber properly.

SO...my question: I have a nice SIG 1911 Scorpion. I really would hate to harm this gun in any way. Should I get a beater 1911 to use as a test bed before using reloads in my SIG?

Thanks

John
buck460XVR beat me to it.

If you have two guns in front of you (your high-end expensive superfine and a good condition, equally strong "beater") and a magazine full of reloads you don't trust in the high-end, do you REALLY want to trust them in the beater? Holding it in your hand? 30 inches from your face?

I have two words of advice for someone in that situation: Bullet puller.

Same concept applies to sky-diving parachutes.

Thanks for asking our advice. There are no stupid questions. Our answers seem to agree: Load carefully and surely or don't load. No other options, no in-between no gray areas. Not for novices.

For experienced loaders who are developing loads or developing new cartridges, the rule is slightly different. The same as crossing a frozen-over river in late spring. Go slow. Test. Go slow. Test again. Watch for oddities. Keep testing. Stop and back off when you hear ice cracking (pressure signs, odd velocities, etc).

Lost Sheep

Captain33036
July 20, 2013, 04:09 PM
Hi Everyone

I appreciate all the replies and great advice. I am a very careful person.

Right now, I am practicing with 200 gr, plated RN bullets, since I plan to reload using those (I have 1000 to start with). I have a three die RCBS set and a Lee press. Everything seems to be coming together. My COAL seems to be about 1.252 inches. Crimp about 0.25" on these rounds. Pulling the bullets apart, they look good and feel as they should (force required to pull the bullet out). Finished rounds (sans powder at this point) slide nicely into a 1911 chamber (barrel taken out of a gun).

So...my main concern should be the amount of powder, from what I am reading?? I can be very careful about that. I do have a Lee powder dispenser, but also a good, reliable grain scale. So, will stick with small batches at first.

I was concerned about the crimp, but the RCBS dies are tapered crimp and it seems as though COAL is more important determines crimp anyway....is this correct??

This is a new hobby for me, and I am doing it to learn and to have fun. Also, develop my own loads for accuracy.

I will be using A#5.

What I am hearing from the comments above, is that there is more danger to ME, then the gun, in the event of a kaboom. And that a kaboom is more the result of a double load.

Correct? That being the case, I think I can proceed when I feel confident enough. And I guess I will not get a beater gun.

It is just that I have had a number of 1911's, RIA, Colt, Caspian, Kimber, SA and I really like my new SIG Scorpion.

John

45_auto
July 20, 2013, 04:22 PM
It is just that I have had a number of 1911's, RIA, Colt, Caspian, Kimber, SA and I really like my new SIG Scorpion.

It only takes one bad load to blow up a gun.

Only way to find it is by firing it.

Not much point in having a beater gun, if you load a bad round the universe will make sure that you use it in your Sig!

Captain33036
July 20, 2013, 04:32 PM
The online Accurate reloading data shows 8.2 gr to be the low end for 200gr RN plated bullets. At least what I interpret to be 200gr and as similar to a plated RN bullet as it gets.

So, even though 8.2 gr of powder is the low end, I might start with 8.0 and do a batch with 8.2. Shoot. And go from there.

J

ps 45 Auto....you are so right

JShirley
July 20, 2013, 04:40 PM
So...my main concern should be the amount of powder, from what I am reading?

Your two extremes there are building a squib load that leaves a bullet in the chamber. This is compounded if you don't notice and fire another. BOOM!
The other extreme is extreme overcharging. Wait for it...BOOM!

Grenades next to your face are bad. :what:

Walkalong
July 20, 2013, 06:59 PM
I am a very ...very careful guyThen follow your reloading manual, pay close attention to every step of what you do, and you'll be fine. The nervousness will change to a big smile when they fire off just fine.

Lost Sheep
July 21, 2013, 01:41 AM
[/QUOTE]
I appreciate all the replies and great advice.
You're welcome.
What I am hearing from the comments above, is that there is more danger to ME, then the gun, in the event of a kaboom. And that a kaboom is more the result of a double load.
Not quite. What we are saying is that you should be more CONCERNED about yourself and people within shrapnel range than your gun. An emergency room visit for the most minimal injury can easily run more than the cost of a (replaceable) gun. Part two of what we are saying is that with any load you would feel UNcomfortable with in your Scorpion, you should feel equally UNcomfortable with in ANY other gun.

Correct? That being the case, I think I can proceed when I feel confident enough. Absolutely yes.
And I guess I will not get a beater gun.
JohnBy all means, get a "beater" gun. But not for the reason you imagine. If/When you decide to carry, get a gun you won't mind being in the hands of an evidence technician in the even of a self-defense shooting. Your "beater" should be MORE reliable than any target weapon you own and sufficiently accurate life-or-death work. Note: Another name for "beater" in MY context is "Every Day Carry" or EDC. But that is probably for another thread.
"Beaters" are not for ammo testing. Ballistics laboratories are for ammo testing. Use their lab reports (summarized in the manuals), double check (as you have done), ask advice of any experts and mentors available to you (as you are doing) and load accordingly. Then go out and enjoy a day at the range.

I started loading in 1975. No internet then. My mentoring consisted of watching my mentor load three .357 rounds as I watched and he narrated. Then I loaded three as I asked questions and he verified I did not do something dangerous or stupid. After that I went on my own, loaded mid-range and enjoyed the sport. (This was with my first gun in my first week of gun ownership. I had only ever shot 50 rounds of centerfire ammunition (outside of the military) loads in my life (and that was just to get empty brass)).

No blowups. But I did shoot slowly those first few hundred rounds and weigh every charge and inspect every cartridge at every intermediate step.

I look forward to hearing your range report.

Caveat: After your first successes, keep your caution level high. While you may detect me telling you that your are over-cautious now, that is NOT the case. After you become confident in your abilities, do not become over-confident.

I have every confidence you are fine and will continue to be.

Lost Sheep

Tom488
July 21, 2013, 02:35 AM
SO...my question: I have a nice SIG 1911 Scorpion. I really would hate to harm this gun in any way. Should I get a beater 1911 to use as a test bed before using reloads in my SIG?
No - but you should take the money you would have spent on a 'beater' gun, and instead buy a chronograph. Actually, this will be much less than another gun, and will provide you MUCH more valuable information as a reloader.

area51
July 21, 2013, 02:54 AM
BDS gave you some good pointers. Be careful, double check every load and you'll be just fine. Weigh each charge carefully until you get the hang of it. Never tried #5 for 45acp I mostly used bullseye and 231 on my 45s. Good luck and stay safe.

hovercat
July 21, 2013, 03:32 AM
Just a FYI. A reloader should work up loads for each individual firearm. Your beater could have a combination of a large area of barrel with no rifling (freebore), worn rifling the rest of the way. different springs, slide tolerance, and a feed ramp that does not set the bullet back. All this can result in pressure changes. Each firearm is different.
For safety, I recommend weighing each powder charge, placing it in the case, and seating the bullet before any other steps. Almost every reloading mistake is a double charge of powder or a missed charge that sticks a bullet in the barrel to pop when the next cartridge is fired.

Fishslayer
July 21, 2013, 03:52 AM
I load on a turret & worry more about squibs than I do double charges. After four years I got my second squib and first in an autolaoder. "Click" That was it. No "poof" no "pop" no nothin'. Racked the slide & an empty case came out. Found the bullet stuck right in the leade. Another round wouldn't have chambered anyway but still... :eek:

Captain you're probably going to find your best accuracy well below any maximum charge weight.

jinxer3006
July 21, 2013, 07:38 AM
These two sentences (from the same post) seem to contradict each other. :evil:

I am a very careful person.

Crimp about 0.25" on these rounds.

Woolecox
July 21, 2013, 09:42 AM
You will have no problems as long as you follow published procedures and published loads.

I would suggest a 4 die set, such as the Lee dies. They have a separate crimping die which is the proper "taper" crimp. That is what you want for auto pistols. Not a roll crimp. IMO, you get a better round if crimping is a separate process from seating.

I have been using Lee and Dillon pistol dies exclusively for pistol ammo for the last 29 years. Makes very good ammo.

splattergun
July 21, 2013, 11:18 AM
Just a FYI. A reloader should work up loads for each individual firearm. Your beater could have a combination of a large area of barrel with no rifling (freebore), worn rifling the rest of the way. different springs, slide tolerance, and a feed ramp that does not set the bullet back. All this can result in pressure changes. Each firearm is different.

This.
Although it is not difficult to make up a load that works in multiple guns, like factory loads, that load won't be optimal in all guns. If you are currently practicing working up your OAL and seating depth using the Sig, you are actually working up your Sig loads. If you get a beater gun, you would need to work the length up for that gun. Each will have its own, if you want optimum performance.

RussellC
July 21, 2013, 11:23 AM
+1 on the Lee dies. I just started reloading (9mm) and use the Lee carbide 4 die set. Works great, no lubing required. My rounds actually worked. No squibs yet, but I hand weigh (lee safety scale) and charge each round (Lee funnel) one at the time. Once I get really going, I will upgrade to the turret press. Using Unique and HP-38 which are "large grained" enough to bring the level within a few 16ths of an inch from the top of the case...making double loads unlikely. To do 100 takes me a fairly long time, but they are each inspected along the way, bullet at the time.

Best advice I can give is two fold: Find this forum. You already did that.

Ask any question until the subject matter is clear to you. Very knowledgeable folk here that will keep you on the good side of safe.

Russellc

Captain33036
July 21, 2013, 12:10 PM
Great advice, greatly appreciated.

I will be measuring each dose of powder on my scale at first. Making up somewhat small batches. This is going to be strictly for the range and strictly for my range gun (which can also be an HD gun). I use a different gun for carry. So, I will need to use my range gun, the SIG Scorpion for testing and shooting. No problem, I will just be very careful.

As for the crimp, I have a RCBS 3 carbide, 3 die set. It does a taper crimp. I should probably start a different thread for the specifics on the bullets and powder I am using. I have 200 gr, plated round nose bullets.

Thanks

J

HexHead
July 21, 2013, 01:35 PM
Don't worry about your Sig. The very first things I ever reloaded were 200gr LSWC over 5.1 gr. of TiteGroup. Shot them in my Nighthawk.

oneounceload
July 21, 2013, 03:58 PM
Careful/cautious is one thing; overly paranoid about them is another. If you fit the former, load them up in your Scorpion and go shooting. if you are the latter, sell your reloading equipment and buy factory ammo in bulk and save yourself the stress so you can focus on shooting well

blarby
July 21, 2013, 05:10 PM
New to reloading - how badly can I screw up a 1911?

With 11 grs of blue dot, pretty damn badly.

With 5 grs of unique, not at all- unless you get violently creative.

Most of the good advice has already been given.

Good guns ? I have to consider every single one of my 45's may end up going through a Kimber Royal II...in my wifes' hands, no less.

No pressure.......

I wouldn't hesitate to use a test gun if it made ya feel better- but know that what works and functions in one, may not in another- especially with hybrid bullet tip shapes.

I'd say start with a 230 FMJ or analogue, and go from there.

orionengnr
July 21, 2013, 07:44 PM
If you are even reasonably competent, you have very little to be concerned with. Very early in my (progressive) handloading career, I had what (upon further reflection) was almost certainly a double charge of 231 in my Kimber 1911. I was having some primer feeding/seating problems and was apparently devoting too much attention to the primer seating and too little to the powder charging.

That imbalance was shortly rectified. :)

Bottom line--I sacrificed a set of wooden grips (split), a magazine (blown out and bulged) and a case (blown at the rim--it is a memento and a reminder to never do that again).

I took a faceful of brass fragments and a few wood chips to the palm.
The 1911 was fine (aside from the grips and mag). Also a severe blow to the ego. None were permanent.

I guess your are asking how much damage you could do to your 1911 with a badly loaded round. Well honestly a lot.

Bolshevist. My 1911 is just fine, and has shot many thousands of rounds since that day.

Don't overthink it. Learn from our mistakes, but don't obsess on them. The .45acp is one of the best rounds to start reloading with--it is a low-pressure round in a big case, fired from a strong pistol.

NORA
July 21, 2013, 08:45 PM
First thing I would suggest to you is to read your loading manual several times before doing anything. Second pick a powder that cant be double charged into the case your loading. Third weigh every charge you throw until your absolutely sure that your measure is throwing accurately every time. Then check weight every 3-5 shells. Enjoy yourself, I've been loading for over 55 years and still have all my parts.

Steve2md
July 22, 2013, 02:08 AM
Should you buy another gun just to test loads in? Sure! any excuse to buy another gun is a good one, but the loads you test and work up in one gun may not be safe in another, so it's probably not the way to go about it.

Woolecox
July 22, 2013, 09:34 AM
.....for running ALL my loaded auto ammo through a case gage. Those that don't pass get plopped into the barrel of the intended gun.

.....for throwing all charges through a high quality power measure, weighing charges often, and then inspecting each case as it sits in the block with a bore light. Very easy to see squibs or double charges.

Now, I load on a progressive. It is manually indexed. Every case is looked at as it goes by to ensure it has powder in it. I watch to see (and feel) every primer that comes from the tube to the seater. Every round still gets case checked, same procedure.

I have caught squibs, double charges (overflow), primers seated upside down and sideways. Cases that have been dumped into the bin with no bullet in them (messy), cases that were not crimped.

These thing rarely happen and are easy to catch if you pay attention. The biggest problem are distractions! Wife, kids, dog, phone, getting another beer, etc. So far, after over 3 thousand rounds, no "others" have made it to the range. Just make sure that when you sit down at your bench, you can devote your full attention to loading with no distractions.

You probably could not wear your Sig out in your lifetime if you tried. But if you did, all the parts are factory or aftermarket replaceable with as good or better parts.

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