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1911 kabooom

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by chrt396, Oct 18, 2011.

  1. chrt396

    chrt396 Well-Known Member

    This always happens when I play hooky from work. It was kind of slow..so I took off early from work and decided to go to the club and do some shooting! All guns are clean...lots of ammo..plenty of targets...it's gonna be a great afternoon! :D I'll work my way up to the point in a minute.
    I started reloading about 8 months ago. I started out with a RCBS Rock Cruncher single stage press. I have never had ANY issues with my work. I think I've had probably 3 or 4 light loads..but enough to operate the slide. I don't push maximums..and I don't knowingly do anything stupid. I attempt to err on the side of caution. I purchased a Dillon 550 B about 4 mos. ago. That's when the factory started. I reload now..just cuz' I'm bored and nothing is on TV. I probably have enough ammo to last for another 5months..and I shoot about 400 rounds a week. I have had no problems with anything except assuring that my 40 cal stuff is done correctly so I don't experience problems with my Glock.
    I made 100 rounds of 45 acp self defense ammo using Hornady Hollow points when I first started out on this single stage press. The powder I used was Unique. I used a middle of the range charge and CCI primers and once fired brass. I was learning under the direction of a guy that works at a local reloader's shop. He sat with me while I loaded 100 rounds of .308 ammo. I learned a ton. When I put together this 45 ammo..I set the crimping/seating die up in one step. I don't do that any more..but I did then. When I was done, the loads would not chamber properly in my 1911. I went back to him and he said to set the crimp a little tighter to eliminate the flare in the mouth. I did it..and it worked. I have fired off the first 50 of these loads without incident. I had a full 8 round magazine of these loads in my range bag, so I decided to fire them off for giggles. I normally don't shoot with them..but in this case..this day...I did.
    I'm on the line...I shoot the 1st 6 rounds. All is good. The 7th round...KABOOooM!!! :what: I could feel the explosion in my hand, and I felt something hitting me in the face..but it didn't really hurt all that bad...kinda like when your next to someone firing a revolver and you feel the crap coming out of the side of his gun on a crappy load. Anyway..the explosion shocked me a bit and I knew something was seriously wrong. I placed the gun on the bench. I felt something on my face..like sweat or something. Nope...it was blood..and a lot of it!! I picked up the gun sock that I use to cover my pistols when not in use and by the time I stopped bleeding and could get to a bandage, that gray sock was ALL burgandy! You could actually see streaks of what looked like sweat all up and down the front of my black shirt. Nope..no sweat..that was blood as well. I hustle over to the bathroom..bleeding all over and finally with the help of some cold water got the bleeding to come to a light dribble. Slow enough to at least get a bandage on before the area got covered with blood.
    OK..enough details about the gory parts. Now..lets go see what the gun looks like! I was using my Les Baer 1911 witha Wilson Combat 8 rd. mag. The magazine was still in the gun, but the base plate...spring and follower was missing. They retrieved the mangled spring about 20 feet away and the metal base plate about 10 ft away. The 8th round was jammed in the bottom of the mag. I thought for sure that my
    most expensive pistol was toast at this point. I nervously kept shooting with my other guns for the next 3 hours. My accuracy sucked..cuz' I was apprehensive and gun shy. :eek:
    I get home that night and after I appealed to my wife for sympathy and didn't get any..I proceeded to the garage to try and break down my Les B. 15 minutes later..I retrieved the casing that was still jammed in the barrel. I put the pistol back together..cycled it..and all seemed well! Just a magazine blow out! The casing that was stuck in the barrel was toast. The bottom..just above the extractor lip was blown out.
    OK..that's the story. The question is....WHY? The case wasn't worn out. It was once fired brass. It was not double charged...I know..cuz' I was watching that VERY carefully when I started reloading. The bullet was seated at a measurement within the specs of the Hornandy reloading manual. The pistol used was a Les Baer 45 acp with a supported chamber. :confused:
    Here are some pictures to gander at. My thoughts are that it fired while it was not in full battery..but I may be wrong. Especially on a 1911.

    Crappy photo...Iphone with bad lighting! Hopefully you can see enough detail.

    Attached Files:

  2. chrt396

    chrt396 Well-Known Member

    ...and three days later...a black eye!!!! :cuss:
  3. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Care to share bullet weight and powder charge info?

    As to Why?
    Where did the extra powder from the light loads end up going??
    It would be my guess some of it went in the case that blew.

    Hope you have learned that 3 or 4 light loads is not at all acceptable in reloading.
    If one is too light, the next one could very likely be too heavy.

  4. chrt396

    chrt396 Well-Known Member

    I don't have that right in front of me..but I will get that to you when I get home. It was a moderate load. The few light powder charges were minimal at best..not bad ones, and that has been over the course of 100's of rounds. But I do understand what you are saying. What doesn't go in this case..goes in to that case! I'll get the details for you later today.
  5. MtnCreek

    MtnCreek Well-Known Member

    Could be fired out of battery, could be too much Unique. What kind of powder measure were you using?

    Stopped the bleeding and went back to the line and shot for 3 hrs. That right there is dedication!
  6. rsrocket1

    rsrocket1 Well-Known Member

    Is it possible that one of the cases was too long, you crimped too much and the mouth slid beyond the chamber lip and got wedged into the rifling area?

    Bridging is always a possibility, but if you were loading mid range (4-5 grains), even 6 grains ought to still be safe.

    It looks like the case took the brunt of the pressure, but:
    Did the bullet leave the barrel?
    Are you sure the chamber isn't expanded?
    You didn't "customize" or polish the feed ramp and barrel did you?
  7. chrt396

    chrt396 Well-Known Member

    Using a RCBS Uniflow Powder measure. I don't have the grains until I get home..but it was mid level.
  8. chrt396

    chrt396 Well-Known Member

    Well...yes I did polish the feed ramp and chamber. Could that cause a problem? The bullet did leave the chamber and I have shot another 200 rounds with it two days after I had the kaboom. I was still apprehensive..but it shot OK. My accuracy on ALL my guns was off. I think I was just having a bad range day. To polish it..all I used was a felt tip on a Dremmel and some super fine polish from Lowes for polishing only..no cutting.
  9. MtnCreek

    MtnCreek Well-Known Member

    More info please. Love those dremil tools, but never thought polishing a ramp could hurt anything.
  10. doorman

    doorman Well-Known Member

    Well, the case just in front of the case head looks as thought there was to little support.
    I have had my SA 1911 loaded not go completely into battery but the back of the slide always prevented the hammer from striking the firing pin.

    Maybe I'm a chicken. But I've been loading since 2007 on a rock chucker and have been ok with moving at snails pace.

    I would pull the bullets from that batch, if you still have them, and measure how much powder is behind those rounds.
  11. mavracer

    mavracer Well-Known Member

    Common over pressure causes would be squib round on the previous shot causing barrel obstruction, inadequate neck tension causing a deep seated bullet in addition to a simple over charge.
  12. chrt396

    chrt396 Well-Known Member

    I too had thought that there was no way the gun could fire if it was not in complete battery. I guess I was wrong!
  13. Ridgerunner665

    Ridgerunner665 Well-Known Member

    That sure looks like a double charge...or a bullet that got pushed deeper in the case upon feeding.
  14. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    You can't really say for certain that it wasn't double charged with a powder that is easy to double charge with. I have heard that time after time with reloaders coming into the shop with KB's. Most claim they are absolutely sure they didn't double charge. Truth is, you'll never be able to eliminate the risk of a DC if your using fast powders. It has to spill all over your loading tray to guarentee it doesn't slip by.

    I don't load on anything but a single stage, and even so, I have had a good number of powder spills all over my loading tray, because I did manage accidental double charges. If not for the slow burning powders I use, I'm certain I would have missed some over the last several decades.

    It could have fired out of battery, and in fact that sounds to be the case here. But unless your are taking some step that won't allow DC's to ever slip by, you'll never be 100% sure it didn't happen and will be left guessing what caused the KB.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2011
  15. bds

    bds Well-Known Member

    This is a serious incident that warrants a more detailed root cause analysis.

    Whenever I run into any problem while reloading or shooting, I STOP before I do anything else (it's kinda like preserving the crime scene so all evidence/data could be reviewed).

    Without a full review, my guess would be a double charge. I would do a detailed review of every one of my reloading steps to prevent another incident.
  16. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

  17. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    A Les Baer 1911 would be one of the last guns in the world I would expect to be able to fire out of battery.

    Course, it would be one of the last guns in the world I would expect to need a feed ramp polishing too!

    Anyway, a 1911 just about can't fire out of battery, as a properly fitted slide & disconnecter unhooks the trigger from the sear unless the gun is fully closed & locked.

    I agree with others that said it just about has to be an over-pressure event of some sort.
    * Too much powder in one round?

    * Loose bullet fit in the case and it telescoped during feeding?
    (But even then, it would not cause a Kaboom unless you were already on the MAX bleeding foreskin with your loads.)

    * Squib load stuck a bullet in front of that one. (Two 230's, or 460 grains of bullets would certainly blow a case!)

    I'd carefully inspect all the cases from that gun, looking for guppy-belly swelling at the feed ramp location.

    * If you find a bunch of them, your load is too hot, or your feed ramp is cut to far into the chamber.

    * If you only find 3 or 4, your powder measuring procedure is very suspect.

  18. T Bran

    T Bran Well-Known Member

    I once thought that a double charge could not possibly happen to me. Then one day I was loading up some .223 cases with powder Varget I think its been a while. For some reason the powder would not flow down the funnel couldnt figure out why I was tapping and shaking to no avail. It finally dawned on me that I was trying to fill an already full case to say that I was shocked is an understatement. I have always been careful to choose a powder that fills well in excess of 50 percent of the case. That is the only thing that saved my butt and to this day if I dont have a powder on hand that meets this requirement I dont load anything period.
    Since this little episode I also stopped batch loading with powder. As I charge each case a bullet gets seated while the case is still in my hand. Probably not necessary but it adds one more level of security. I visually inspect each charge as it is thrown and weigh at least every third or fourth. On small batches I scoop directly into the scale pan on my balance and trickle it up from there.
    Im sorry to hear about your bad experience it could take some time to get confident again so slow down and reasess your procedures and choice of powders. I didnt even have a kaboom and it shook me up a little as you can tell from my list of procedures.
    Stay Safe
  19. sugarmaker

    sugarmaker Well-Known Member

    Do you use any other faster powders (Bullseye, etc...) in your measure? Could you have had some trapped in the metering chamber after swapping over? Possible you didn't get all of the bell out of a case causing an out of battery? Do you fill the entire block with powder and then visually eyeball the cases in the block 1 by 1 before proceeding to seating, or do you fill then seat each one? I prefer the 1st method as the MK1 eyeball is pretty sensitive to something being different. Do you use pick up range brass? Have any of the case heads been subjected to heating (like annealed too far down or been in a campfire or burn barrel?)
  20. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Not possible, if it won't chamber and lock, a 1911 won't fire it.


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