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Can too little crimp cause smoke(38spl)

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by stonebuster, Feb 17, 2022.

  1. stonebuster

    stonebuster Member

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    I've reloaded and shot several hundred 38 spl 158gt Xtreme RNFP over 4.3 grains of HP-38 using both CCI SRP & SPP in the past two months with no noticeable smoke. Yesterday I was shooting some recently reloaded rounds with the same data that seemed to be somewhat smoky. No unburned flakes, just a little smoke. I backed off a little on the crimp on these and figured that was why. It's my understanding is that smoke indicates incomplete powder burn. If that is true could weak crimp cause the bullet to start moving before the powder fully ignites?
     
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  2. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    I do know the lack of a good crimp will surely make the rounds shoot poorly. I messed up the crimp on a batch of 2.8 gr Bullseye and a 148 gr WC and they made a “pop” rather than a “bang.” After the last one I thought it squibbed.

    As I made my way through the 100-round MTM box I hit a row of rounds that had crummy crimps. The lowest ones in the black were semi-crimped I guess, the really poorly crimped one tore the target way low rather than cutting a hole through it. :(

    After this cylinder I stopped shooting them so I can inspect and redo the ones that need it.

    E9CC94AC-9039-4D62-B8AB-097AC2C6E456.jpeg

    Consistency rules the roost. I missed these and it shows!

    Stay safe.
     
  3. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I'm not sure if a light crimp would cause smoke. Did you change powders with this batch? Which powder are you using? Is this the first time using that bullet or have you used them before and with the same powder?
     
  4. Bcwitt

    Bcwitt Member

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    Smoke is most likely bullet lube burning. Happens a lot w cast bullets.
     
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  5. mstreddy

    mstreddy Member

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    BCwitt, He's loading plated not lead.
    OP, did the cases come out sooty?
     
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  6. lordpaxman

    lordpaxman Member

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    Was there anything else that changed with these recently reloaded rounds like a different batch of bullets or how you might have lubed cases? I had a batch of plated that smoked and attributed it to whatever lube they had in the process. Yes I know plated implies really clean metals to get ions to attach, etc etc etc, but these smoked a bit. Good luck.
     
  7. stonebuster

    stonebuster Member

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    Same powder weight, HP-38, same Xtreme 158gr RNFP copper plated but a new box of bullets. I did think the bullets out of the new box of 500 felt more slippery than usual although my gloves stayed dry. Some of the cases looked a little dirtier(soot) than usual. I'll crimp some a little more and try them next trip to the range. I usually store the finished product back in original boxes/loading blocks primers down in case the in the hope of eliminating any positional powder issue due to HP-38 not filling the case much.
     
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  8. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    I've read through this and a couple of things came to mind: Yes, a loose or incomplete crimp can allow for less-than-complete ignition BUT (big BUT, like Kim's ;)) that's not the only factor here.
    A SRP (standard? magnum?) emits more gas and at higher pressures than a SPP (standard is assumed here) which can cause a loosely crimped bullet to "jump" the case mouth and enter the throat, lowering chamber pressure when the charge ignites and causing incomplete burn. Thus: smoke. Check to see if the smoky loads were SRP or SPP. You already know to fix the loose crimp. But, that doesn't explain the lack of residue. Moving on....
    How many were smoky and were you shooting a freshly-cleaned revolver? It might not have been your handloads at all but solvent/lubricant left in the cylinder and barrel smoking off. Did you clean your pistol recently and did you remember to mop out any extra oil/lube/solvent? Did the smoke go away after the first cylinder? If it is excess oil/lube/solvent then the first cylinder would have burned off most of it, the second cylinder would have burned off the rest and the third would have been what you're used to, no or very little smoke. This would explain the smoke and the lack of residue. In this case the loose crimp is irrelevant; it is your cleaning and clean-up procedure.
    Not necessarily. Smoke indicates non-combustion. Oil or wax, typically. But grease, lubricants, solvents, and other high-heat combustibles partially burning but not completely oxidizing results in smoke and smudge.
    Which would explain why -
    I suspect either you didn't mop the chambers completely clean or left lubricants in the chamber throats and that's what really caused the smoke. A loose crimp might (might!) be the red herring.
     
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  9. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    Hp-38 is a fast powder that will burn without crimp. I would be inclined to believe a little boost in charge weight would clean it up but it appears your already mid range not low. I would try both solutions one at a time. Do you have good neck tension?
     
  10. stonebuster

    stonebuster Member

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  11. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    Probably the crimp, then. It's all kind of subjective, not objective, when it comes to how we perceive things like smoky and dirty.
     
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  12. Jack Ryan

    Jack Ryan Member

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    Bullet lube
     
  13. mdi

    mdi Member

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    Smoke is not the result from unburned powder, rather the result of burned powder and other items that come in contact with the hot gases. But when loaded light, lower pressure most powders will burn "dirty" with more smoke, and a light/no crimp will lower the chamber pressure a bit (but enough?)...

    X-Treme makes more than one bullet, are you using plated, cast or "soft jacketed"?
     
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  14. bullseye308

    bullseye308 Member

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    I’d say the extra lube probably is responsible for the smoke.
     
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  15. Master Blaster

    Master Blaster Member

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    Plated bullets, use a caliper to check the size. If they are sized a little smaller that would be your issue. Low pressure = more smoke for a midrange powder like hp38/w231, or unique. Could also result in some bullets tumbling and striking the target low and sideways, if they are undersized.
     
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  16. luzyfuerza

    luzyfuerza Member

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    Most reloaders don't trim pistol brass. But non-uniform brass length will create variations in roll crimp strength. Which could create small variations in pressure from round to round and perhaps in smoke generation.

    Perhaps your initial crimp setting was enough to create a functioning crimp on even the shortest cases you loaded in the first batch. And your new crimp setting didn't create enough of a crimp on the shortest cases you loaded in the second batch.

    Suggestions:

    1) Try going back to the initial crimp setting and see if the smoke goes away.
    2) Trim a few cases to a consistent length, set your crimp die to produce a consistent crimp on these cases, and see if this makes a difference.

    Experimentation is one of our most important reloading tools, after all.

    Oh, and let us know what your results turn out to be!
     
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  17. funnelcake

    funnelcake Member

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    Smokeless powder……. x3 on bullet lube….
     
  18. CQB45ACP

    CQB45ACP Member

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    no, no, no, no
     
  19. gwpercle

    gwpercle Member

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    Yes .
    All powders benifit from a decent crimp , not as critical with fast burning powders but very critical with slow burning like 2400 . A loose crimp and maybe a primer that flashed over the powder lying in the case on it's side and you got an incomplete burn. Smoke and soot comes from it . Every once in a while you get a not so tight crimp . 4.3 grs. of HP-38 is not a Too Light load but there is a lot of room in the 38 Special case ...sometimes all the powder gets positioned towards the bullet . Do this before firing your revolver , point the barrel skyward to position all the charges to the rear of the case (NRA Bullseye Match shooter trick) .
    Full wadcutter bullets are loaded deep into the case to take up some of this extra room 2.7 grs. Bullseye gets lost in a 38 Special case . Your load is fine , it was just a light crimp and/or powder position and it could have been a faulty primer ... only getting a partial flash .
    Lately , in the last 10 years , I've seen more Wonky primers than in the preceeding 40 years ... they may have increased primer production but primer duds have increased with them .
    Don't back off your crimp , apply a medium - firm crimp that holds the bullet under pressure from your thumb ... You don't have to go all Magilla Gorilla on the crimp , just a firm one .
    Gary
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2022
  20. stonebuster

    stonebuster Member

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    Sorry my first post didn't specify "plated". It should have as I did in post #7.
     
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  21. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    Lots of variables here. Could be any one or a combination of all of them. Could be something not mentioned like lower temps or polish on the cases. Since you are using a plated bullet, there is only so much crimp you can apply, without distorting it or cracking the plating. That leads to bigger issues than a little smoke. Things like a little smoke, sooty cases and/or unburned powder residue mean little to me. If the ammo is accurate, consistent and reliable, I'm a happy camper.
     
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  22. Ranger99

    Ranger99 Member

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    Pretty much it ^ ^ ^
    Accuracy is paramount.
    All the other things are a distant second.
    I have cleaning rods and patches and
    several ways to clean dirty fired cases
     
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