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

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Captain33036, Jul 20, 2013.

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  1. Captain33036

    Captain33036 Member

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    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
     
  2. Hacker15E

    Hacker15E Member

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    I think that would be overly cautious.
     
  3. G11354

    G11354 Member

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    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.
     
  4. TennJed

    TennJed Member

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    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.
     
  5. bds
    • Contributing Member

    bds Member

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    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.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    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.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2013
  6. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    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.
     
  7. wolf695

    wolf695 Member

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    Watch your powder measurements, to much powder makes HOT loads that mess up your 1911, or any gun for that matter.
     
  8. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

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    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. .45 ACP has about 25 grains of case capacity.

    John
     
  9. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    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
     
  10. Captain33036

    Captain33036 Member

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    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
     
  11. 45_auto

    45_auto Member

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    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!
     
  12. Captain33036

    Captain33036 Member

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    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
     
  13. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

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    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:
     
  14. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Then 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.
     
  15. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    [/QUOTE]
    You're welcome.
    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.
    Absolutely yes.
    By 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
     
  16. Tom488

    Tom488 Member

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    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.
     
  17. area51

    area51 Member

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    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.
     
  18. hovercat

    hovercat Member

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    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.
     
  19. Fishslayer

    Fishslayer Member

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    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.
     
  20. jinxer3006

    jinxer3006 Member

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    These two sentences (from the same post) seem to contradict each other. :evil:

     
  21. Woolecox

    Woolecox Member

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    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.
     
  22. splattergun

    splattergun Member

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    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.
     
  23. RussellC

    RussellC Member

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    +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
     
  24. Captain33036

    Captain33036 Member

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    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
     
  25. HexHead

    HexHead Member

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    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.
     
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