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Danger Signs when reloading?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Eb1, Feb 11, 2008.

  1. Eb1

    Eb1 Well-Known Member

    I have seen a few places that have stickies about cost and other issues related to reloading, but never one that had pics of flat primer, cratered primers, split cases, etc.

    I think it would be a good idea of if some of the veterans (if they had pics) could post up some of these for us novice users to have for a reference.

    What do you think?
  2. 45ACPUSER

    45ACPUSER Well-Known Member

    You are best served by investing in a few hardcover reloading manuals, for reference. You need to read them. The ABC's of Reloading is great read for the noob reloader. No need to ask for photos, as the real reloading manuals have the reference photos you seek.
  3. Shoney

    Shoney Well-Known Member

    Danger SIgns?????????
    1. When you find yourself waiting until everone has gone from the range to start scrounging thru the garbage cans for brass and empty cartridge boxes.
    2. When you salavate as the guy has packed his gear and begins to leave, but his brass remains where it fell.
    3. You sort and tumble brass you do not even have a weapon for - - - YET!
    4. You dream of the rhythmic up and down pulsation on your new progressive press.
  4. ojibweindian

    ojibweindian Well-Known Member

    I've been terminally afflicted for several years now :D
  5. neal7250

    neal7250 Well-Known Member

    I worry about double charging.
  6. xsquidgator

    xsquidgator Well-Known Member

    Funny I was just thinking along the same lines. I've been reloading for about a year and maybe 8000 rounds this first year, no major problems so far.

    But yesterday while shooting all my pistols at the range (including 357, 9mm, 380, and 45ACP) I saw something disturbing while picking up brass. I'm not sure these brass casings were mine, but they easily could be (and I did compare the firing pin marks on brass I knew came from my pistols to what I picked up, this pickup brass is mostly what I was shooting)

    I picked up two 380ACP cases with vertical splits from the neck halfway down the body, and one 45ACP case with the same kind of split. I'll post pix if I get them later, I kept the cases. This is a very clear sign of case failure, no? Both 380 split cases had the same headstamp, "* I * 380ACP" and the 45ACP split case was a "WCC" headstamp.

    The 45s were 230LRN (homemade cast boolits from Lee moulds) over 5.3 grains of W231, iirc the OAL was 1.230". 4.5 grains of 231 is a decent practice load with 230LRN I think, I just wanted them a little warmer to get closer to the feel of factory ball ammunition. I've loaded up to 5.6 grains of 231 before without any problems. These were being shot in a S&W M&P45, I didn't notice anything unusual like stuff blowing out of the action and nothing went kaboom on me that I could tell.

    The 380s were Magnus 100LFP bullets I bought over 3.2 grains of W231, OAL 0.960". That's not supposed to be that hot. I've loaded 95JSP rounds in 380 and loaded them up to 3.8 grains of W231 with nary a problem, I'd think if anything these lead bullets ought to result in lower pressures even if they're 5 grains heavier. These were being shot out of a Bersa Thunder380, which being a direct blowback action tends to be dirtier and grittier for the shooter. But, no kabooms and nothing really that would have gotten my attention in that respect.

    I'm puzzled because I wasn't really shooting a new load. Both the 380 and the 45 were lead bullets I'd loaded up for practice, and I didn't *think* they were loaded that hot. I was advised to throw out all the remaining rounds in both batches of 45 and 380; being stoopid I didn't. I did shoot off the rest of the box of 380 about 20 rounds, this time catching all the brass and checking it. Three more had the "* I * 380ACP" headstamp, and no signs of pressure that I could see and no splits.

    I still have 100 rounds of the 380 loaded up and maybe 100 of the 45. I'm not convinced that I have a problem, but there is this nagging doubt. If you were me would you do anything like throw these out and reduce the powder charge?
  7. xsquidgator

    xsquidgator Well-Known Member

    Hmm, maybe I am a little too warm on the 45s. My recollection was that with 230LRNs I was ok up to 5.6 grains of W231 per my previous testing and research. But reviewing my loading guides reveals that 5.1 to 5.3 grains is the max depending on who you ask. But, the max with lead bullets (per Speer) is not based on max pressure rather based on not exceeding around 1000 fps to prevent leading.

    For 45acp 230LRN with W231 powder,
    Speer #13 5.1 to 5.6max
    Lee #2 4.5 to 5.1
    Hodgdon 4.3 to 5.3

    As it turned out, a box of 50 of these warm 230LRN reloads did cause just a little bit of leading in my M&P, so I was thinking of dropping the charge back down to in the range of 4.5-5.0. If you were me, would you feel ok shooting the remainder of the 100 or 200 of these warmish reloads that are loaded with 5.3 of W231?
  8. redneck2

    redneck2 Well-Known Member

    Unless you anneal your brass, I suspect it's gonna work harden and split.

    I have some cases split in my Ruger 45LC every range session or so. I toss 'em and go on. Sometimes you'll see some during loading where seating the bullet splits the case.
  9. xsquidgator

    xsquidgator Well-Known Member

    I'm glad you mentioned this, gives me a plausible reason to not worry about these. I don't keep much track of my pistol brass history - maybe 20% of it is once-fired stuff I picked up but the rest of it... don't know how many times some of these cases have been used. I just inspect them several times during the reloading process and discard accordingly. Now that I think about it, the only discarding I've done is due to cracks at the neck. I've looked for the "shiny ring" near the base that could indicate excessive thinning down there, and I don't think I've ever found a case exhibiting that, not in pistol anyway.

    Thanks for the info!
  10. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    And you never will find any, no matter how long you look.

    Straight wall pistol & revolver cases do not stretch when fired.
    Unlike bottle-neck rifle cases, they are free to slip back in the chambers before pressure builds. So, they are at zero headspace before the case expands and grips the chamber walls.

    The result is, no case stretching can occur to cause the "stretch ring" and thinning brass you find on rifle cases.

  11. snuffy

    snuffy Well-Known Member

    Split handgun cases are NOT a sign of high pressure. It's simply that the case has work hardened from being repeatedly expanded by firing it, resizing, expanding/belling, then cramming a bullet into the mouth.

    Same goes for primers. Flat primers are not a good way to read pressure. Cratered primers indicate the presence of a too large firing pin hole in the bolt/breach face.

    New reloaders can rely on manuals for load info. Getting load info from the internet is okay IF you cross reference it with a good reloading manual. New reloaders should NOT go for max loads until they gain some experience, or invest in a good chronograph.
  12. redneck2

    redneck2 Well-Known Member

    Handloader Magazine has run several articles about "estimating" pressure including flattened and cratered primers, the proverbial case head expansion, etc. In most cases, the typical signs were anywhere from mostly to totally unreliable. These were evidently used before there was widely available pressure testing equipment, so everybody took them at face value. This is also the reason that the recommended loads have changed over the years.

    Also, pressures vary widely between various rounds. A .45-70 trapdoor may operate at 15k vs. a Weatherby mag at 60k+. The sign of over pressure in the trapdoor probably includes small pieces of metal at hyper velocity.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2008
  13. packnrat

    packnrat Well-Known Member

    only real danger sign i have is running out of beer faster than i can reload.:eek:

    realy for the past ? number of years i have been reloading, i have come across just a small number of "problem" cases,
    when cleaning is when i find them, clean cases show the cracks and other problem better than dirty ones.
    some flatened primers...but that was with mil surplus.

    but my press has a case load checker in one of the stages, so i get a eye on a double or no load each time i pull the handle down,
    other wise i am reloading on a each per case. (one at a time).

    and i have over thirty tubs of cartrages for wich i have yet to buy the gun for them.

    brass hounds all the way.:neener::p:eek::rolleyes:

    when ever i go someplace i allways return with lots of "new" cartrages.

    Last edited: Feb 11, 2008
  14. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Well-Known Member

    This is very good advice that should be well heeded! Going by the book and watching what your chrony is telling you are the ONLY way you're going to get any kind of warnings.

    Short of primers falling out estimating pressures by case and primer appearance is just a GUESS!
  15. lee n. field

    lee n. field Well-Known Member

    I'd say that is a case failure.

    I see this mostly with .38 Special.
  16. res45

    res45 Well-Known Member

    I guess you could call it reloaded I took apart this Mil-Spec Factory loaded Bulgarian 7.62 x 54r. ammo and fixed it,Shoots allot more accurately now also.

    Cratered Primers

    Pulled the bullet reduced the powder charge by 1 Gr.
  17. xsquidgator

    xsquidgator Well-Known Member

    Is this just something that you accept occasionally happens, or is it a "Danger danger Will Robinson" kind of thing?

    I've thought about it a little more, and I'm not as concerned as the guy next to me at the range who saw these. Most all my brass is range pickup, much of which has been shot who-knows-how-many times, so this could just be an old much-used case. I don't recall anything too odd happening (like a kaboom or even a spray of dirt and gas blowing out of the pistols) either. I kind of hope this is just one of those things that happens occasionally.
  18. waumo

    waumo Well-Known Member

    The #1 danger sign

    is when you have been reloading so long without any problems you quit being concerned that something could go wrong.

    Complacency is a sure precursor to disaster.
  19. scrat

    scrat Well-Known Member

    forgot to add.

    when your anctious to shoot your reloads just to have more to reload.
  20. David Wile

    David Wile Well-Known Member

    Hey neal7250,

    Almost from the time I first started reloading I learned how to stop worrying about double charging a case. It really isn't hard to do if you think about it. The only way you can double charge a case is if you are using a fast burning powder that only calls for a charge that is less than half of the capacity of the case. Some folks actually use super fast powder in large cases, and they could in theory triple charge a case with something like Bullseye in a 44 Mag case.

    My thoughts on the matter go something like this. If you have a case of a certain size, why use a powder so fast that it fills the case less than half way? There is simply no performance reason to do so. I have usually opted to use slower burning powders that come closer toward filling the case. You obviously could not double charge a case when it is already nearly full, and you will often find very good accuracy in such loads.

    Use slower powders and stop worrying.

    Best wishes,
    Dave Wile

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