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Newbie Reloading Questions

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Sherri, Oct 15, 2010.

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  1. Sherri

    Sherri Member

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    Hello, All.

    I loaded up 50 rounds of .32 S&W using once-fired Fiocchi brass, Speer 98gr HBWC, CCI primers and 2gr of Unique.

    I took them to the range to see how accurately they flew and they seemed to be fine, so I came home and loaded up another 150. I've since sent another 75 or so downrange, and several (9 to be exact), didn't go bang. I don't recall if any of the first 50 failed to go bang. (I get that I need to keep better notes.)

    In the meantime, I realized I'd neglected to install the powder measure failsafe rod on the press (Dillon Square Deal), and wondered if perhaps these rounds hadn't gotten a charge. Today, I disassembled the dud rounds, confirmed they were loaded and carefully weighed each load--they varied from 1.9 to 2.2. The COAL of my rounds are near 0.970 (Speer #14 specifies 0.920). I've inspected the cases of the rounds that went bang, and see no signs of excessive pressure.

    I acquired the primers at a gun show, and assume I got some bad ones. I'll dig the packages out of the trash and note the lot numbers.

    Questions...

    Is it safe to deprime the shells that didn't go bang? Should I put them in my revolver and strike them again (no powder or bullet) to be sure? Or are they scrap?

    Based on seeing no signs of excessive pressure, and on a longer COAL, I'm inclined to fire the remaining rounds. (I'm firing them through a Ruger SP-101 32 H&R.) Does this seem reasonable?
     
  2. bds

    bds Member

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    Just to rule out high primers, can you fire the cases that didn't go bang? (Of course, with no powder/bullet in the case - I usually fire primer only cases in the garage with doors/windows closed - it is a loud POP, so you may want to wear hearing protection).

    If they fire on second/third attempt, your primers were not seated deep enough.

    If they still don't fire on second/third attempt, then primers are suspect to be bad.
     
  3. Skip_a_roo

    Skip_a_roo Member

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    Sherri,

    What you may have had was some primers that were only partially seated. I own 3 Square Deals and have done that on occassion. What happens is this; the primer is fully seated with the first hammer fall and most of the time, they won't go bang. (That is called a failure to fire or FTF.)

    You aren't the first one to do that and you certainly won't be the last!

    The other thing that might have happened is that the anvil in the primer fell out. I would be curious as to what brand you were using. I have caught a couple like that with Wolf although none of them made it to the firing line.

    As for depriming the brass. Yes it can be done on the press, CAREFULLY! Remove all powder from the area, take the measure off of the press. Wear safety glasses and gloves too. If it were me, I'd also make sure that there were no live primers in the primer tube, simply empty it out. Go slow. Remember how they are designed to go bang, force exerted on the cup side, make sure the spent primer is falling out of the press. I have a friend that didn't notice them building up until the press was jammed up pretty bad.

    So, careful as you go!
     
  4. dc.fireman

    dc.fireman Member

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    Welcome to The High Road!
     
  5. Steve C

    Steve C Member

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    Most of the time a FTF with a new loader is the failure to seat the primer until it bottoms out in the primer pocket. Often this is the worry about "crushing" the primer. Don't worry about crushing a primer, it takes lots of force and even a crushed or deformed primer will fire the round on the first try where one not seated fully will not.
     
  6. Sherri

    Sherri Member

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    Thanks to everyone for the kind responses and welcome. Firemen rock in my book.

    I put my calipers on those nine shells, and sure enough, there's a sliver of light either side of the primer. Wow, that's a subtle thing. I'll work on a consistent seat-the-primer stroke. My reloading buddy thought I was a little hard on the lever, Steve. Evidently not.

    I'll let the hammer fall on the cases tomorrow and see if they'll fire. Thanks bds for the tip about hearing protection--I would not have expected a loud bang and would have gone at the first one without my "ears". I think I'll also call my gun-friendly neighbor and ask her to listen--if she can hear the primers fire, I don't need to be messing with that in my garage and will save it for the range.

    The primers were CCI, skip. I'll look for missing anvils (not sure what exactly I'm looking for, but I'll figure it out). Listening for the primer to drop will be a good habit to develop, too--thanks for sharing your friend's unfortunate experience. All of your safety suggestions are noted and will be followed.

    I notice no one touched my second question. I'll take that as an indication that I'm not way out of line and will proceed with caution. I'm not worried about double loads--I was really careful about that. The first 100 .38 I loaded, not so much. I may tear those apart and start over. It would be a real shame to damage my Colt.
     
  7. Steve C

    Steve C Member

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    delete
     
  8. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    Sherri -
    Welcome to THR !

    • Agree it may be your seating, but also note.... if your primers came in a red and black box then they are probably Wolf brand which was all that was available a few months ago. These are third rate primers, and 1 or 2 per thousand don't go off on a usual basis. Next time you buy, try to get Federal, Winchester, CCI, or some other American brand.

    • Noted your powder variations, which are worrisome in such a small cartridge. Dillon makes a wonderful powder measure and variations of that magnitude are not common. If you are using the small powder bar in your powder measure, then you may need to buy the "Extra Small Powder Bar" which is suggested for tiny charges such as you are using.

    Click Here and Take a Look

    If you would like a second opinion, then call Dillon and they will help you. Your powder charges should be right on the money, especially with a fluffy powder like Unique.

    Shoot safe. All the best.
     
  9. Sherri

    Sherri Member

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    Hi, rfwobbly.

    Thank you for the kind welcome.

    The primers are CCI and the boxes are not red and black. (Primarily white and gray or blue, I think.) I'm going to pound those primers some tomorrow and see if they fire. I'll post my findings.

    Thanks for the info. 1 or 2 failing per 1000 seems like a pretty low number, but as I've typed that I've considered the odds that a defensive round would fail. Yikes! That's not good enough by a long shot.

    As I was loading those rounds, I was checking the charge every 10 or so. I noticed a little creep, but I didn't appreciate until today, disassembling and weighing the charges, that the little drift I saw with my mechanical scale represented as much as .2gr. That's a lot with this small load. I was also (today) cross-referencing those charges on the Franklin Arsenal electronic scale my husband ordered for me. Scooting the pan about on the scale displayed weights that differed by as much as .2gr. With these tiny loads, what should I believe?

    I was not aware Dillon offered an "Extra Small Powder Bar". I'll give them a call tomorrow. My press is not new--perhaps my powder measure is not up to snuff?

    I came home from a gun show with a Ruger SP-101 chambered in 32 that shoots like butter. I didn't appreciate that finding ammo would be challenging, and that's what's led me into reloading. I'd like to use the 32 for warm up in place of a 22 if I can find a reasonbly priced way to do so.
     
  10. bds

    bds Member

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    As discussed on several threads previously, primers should not fail.

    Many mention of a "few" primers failing out of 1000 being "OK". I disagree. All reloads should be assembled to go "bang" for obvious reasons. Seating them flush is not deep enough - seat them slightly below flush (- 0.004") to set the primer anvil against the priming compound in the cup.

    Here's a nice guide on proper primer seating. (scroll down the page towards the bottom)
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2010
  11. Sunray

    Sunray Member

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    "...varied from 1.9 to 2.2..." Hi. That's not good for target ammo. Never been a big fan of progressives for new reloaders. Too many things to get just right when you don't understand the process. However, Dillon's customer service is excellent.
    "...Ruger SP-101 chambered in 32..." .32 what? H&R mag? Just curious.
     
  12. bensdad

    bensdad Member

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    None of them. Use a beam scale.
     
  13. noylj

    noylj Member

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    1) I sure hope that you aren't really reloading .32S&W with wadcutters, unless they are seated way out. You should be using at least a .32 S&W Long for wadcutters.
    2) If you have an electronic balance that does not read consistently, no matter where the powder is in the pan, then you need to contact the manufacturer. The pan should have a locator cavity that it fits into consistently.
    3) No matter if you have a 16th century beam balance or a 20th century electronic balance, you have to shield it from any breezes. I know people so intense, they breathe on the scale and wonder why it doesn't read consistently.
    4) If you can load wadcutters that are as accurate as factory .32 S&W Long wadcutters, you are doing a LOT better than I am.
     
  14. Sunray

    Sunray Member

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    "...hope that you aren't really reloading .32 S&W with wadcutters..." There are two .32 S&W's. Long and Short. The Short is long obsolete and isn't the same thing.
    "...If you can load wadcutters that are as accurate as factory..." None of the guys I know who use high end .32 target pistols, all of which are .32 S&W Long,(think 2 grand and up) would ever think of using factory ammo.
     
  15. Skip_a_roo

    Skip_a_roo Member

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    Sherri,

    Using the Square Deal B is a great way to build ammo. Even for a novice, and I'm not demeaning you for being one, I am too in many ways and have been reloading for several decades. When we think "we have arrived" in this hobby, it usually means we haven't really! :D

    Unique in that caliber, through that powder measure, at that weight though is not the best choice. Unique is a good powder for midrange type of loads BUT it meters like big bricks and at that charge weight, it may be VERY inconsistent. I don't think you are going to have a problem with the loads you have loaded BUT, I would like to suggest another powder to you. There are several, and here is one of those things us handloaders seem to argue about, that will meter better through your press. Kind of like Fords and Chevy. If you use them as designed, either will work for you. Depends on what you want in your driveway! ;)

    #1: Bullseye: Old reliable. Not the "cleanest", whatever that means, but it will work and be as accurate as any other powder that has come out during its 100+ year of existence! Period!
    #2: Accurate Arms #2: This powder is a small grained ball powder and measures like "whotideum", consistent numbers and accuracy is very, very good.
    #3: W231/HP-38: This is an old timer too. Flattened ball that will give good results with just about any caliber you use it in.
    #4: Titegroup: Personally, I don't like this powder BUT it does have a following. It is so dense, a little weighs so much, in most cases someone can put in a triple charge and not notice. That being said, that is not going to happen on your Square Deal B unless you do a big no-no, manually index the press backwards with cartridges in it.

    Another safety tip with the Square Deal or any other progressive for that matter, NEVER GO BACKWARDS! If a mistake is thought to have been made, clear the press out in the direction it was meant to be run in.

    I have made a modification to my Dillon presses for the spent primers to go into a coffee can. I'll see if I can find a picture and post it. I do have a tip to remember your setup for the Square Deal press, take a look:

    [​IMG]

    I write down the numbers for each station in my caliber change box and when I go to load that caliber again, I have a starting point. Makes it nice for the powder die, which can be a pain in the rump to adjust once you have powder in the measure!

    (p.s. I know there is rust on the press in this picture. I have 3 Square Deal presses and purchased them all used. Some folks just don't take care of things like they should. It doesn't look like this now!)


    My ammo factory!
    [​IMG]
    Hope this helps!
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2010
  16. Skip_a_roo

    Skip_a_roo Member

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    Square Deal B spent primer tip

    Found them:


    I have the advantage of going to MSC. It is an industrial supply house. I bought some hose barbs that were 3/8" tubing to 1/8" NPT. I had a tap and threaded the hole in the bottom of the press. Since it is cast aluminum, great care must be taken not to strip it out by going too fast or not using a tapping fluid. Once tapped, I cleaned it with brake cleaner, carefully and screwed it in. The hose is 3/8" ID and pushes right on. The rest is pretty self explanatory! ;)
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  17. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    It's the only "high road" thing to do. :)

    Those are quality items and you'll find none better. Please, ignore my feeble comments.

    Per-zactly.

    Exactly my point. If you were loading 8.0gr, then we probably wouldn't fuss too much with 0.2gr variation. But what you need to consider is the variation as a percentage of what you're trying to achieve. 0.2gr on an 8gr load is 2.5% variation, whereas 0.2gr on a 2.0gr load is 10% variation. :eek:

    Those loads are tiny. As others have said, you need to set the scale on a very stable surface, turn off all the fans and vents, don't breathe on the scale, check for a stable power source, etc, etc. to get an accurate reading. In the end, I'm not sure I would trust just any old scale to a measurement that small, especially when your safety depends on it. It would almost have to be an electronic scale in excess of $300 or an Ohaus balance scale with gem stone bearings.

    I'm NOT saying your scale isn't up to the task. I frankly know nothing of the scale you mentioned. However I do have experience that says that less expensive electronic scales have given me the largest reading variations on the smaller loads. If the scale's range is from 0-1000gr, then reading 2.0gr is going to be awfully hard. If the scale's range is from 0-10gr, then 2.0gr is going to be a much easier proposition.

    Do not worry. Your Dillon powder measure is one of the very best measures out there. (Your husband must love you very much. :D ) You only need the addition of the Extra Small Powder Bar for this load. It is designed precisely for loads in the 0.5 to 3.0gr range. With a voluminous powder like Unique, that occupies a huge space compared to other powders, the ESPB should measure 2.0gr right on the money.

    Oh, you've found it. You just needed some tips on machine setup to get you going in the right direction and add to your safety. Accurate powder measurement will reduce the variations in bullet speed. When each bullet travels the same speed, they tend to hit in the same place on a target each time. So as your variation in powder goes down, your groups will likewise improve.

    All the best. ;)
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2010
  18. Sherri

    Sherri Member

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    Thanks for the primer primer, bds.

    >> Never been a big fan of progressives for new reloaders.

    Roger that, Sunray. I'll take measured, careful steps. The Ruger SP-101 is chambered in 32 H&R.

    bensdad--when I said "mechanical scale", I meant beam. Gravity's pretty constant, I'll rely on it. Who took your bullets?

    noylj--I'm loading .32 S&W Long. Sorry if I wasn't clear. There is not a locator cavity on the electronic scale. I just dropped a primed case on the scale and compared it to the beam. It's spot on at 51.4. I'll have to experiment with it.

    I have some factory wadcutters. I'll save them to compare with my own loads when I can shoot over a chronograph.

    Skip--I have a '95 Pathfinder in my driveway. What does that say about me?

    "Clean" is important to me. I bought a bunch of Aguila rounds and they're downright nasty--my shooting pal complains of the smell when he's downwind, and the revolver is fouled to the point of the cylinder jamming after 50 or so rounds. Ick. I sure hope the brass loads ok. Unique seems to burn pretty clean. I'll be checking out some other powders. Thanks for the suggestions.

    I didn't know you could push the press backwards. At the tiniest glitch, I pull everything out and make SURE I know the state of things before proceeding.

    rfwobbly--The electronic scale is a Frankford (not Franklin) Arsenal DS-750 with a max capacity of 50g and the beam is a Lyman 500. I'll spend some time today measuring out 2gr on the beam and see how 5x and 10x measures up on both scales.

    I'll call Monday and order a ESPB.
     
  19. Yarddog

    Yarddog Member

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    Sherri,
    I have the same scale as you, DS-750 Franford Arsenal It reads within .01 of my Beams ; ) PS A little trick to save on Battery life, I tunn light of, When I can JMO
    Y/D
     
  20. Sherri

    Sherri Member

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    Hi, Y/D.

    The DS-750 is new and I don't have much experience with it. I was pushing the pan around on the scale with a 2gr powder load in it, and saw variations in readings that made me nervous. I need to spend some time with it to understand where and to what degree I can trust it.
     
  21. Sherri

    Sherri Member

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    All but one of the FTF primers popped when I let the hammer fall once or twice. The last one took 10 more strikes and still didn't pop. So, the diagnosis of poorly seated primers is spot on.

    I think my next step is to load 1.8, 1.9, and 2.0 (carefully measured!) in some of the Aguila brass and shoot that over a chronograph.

    Thanks again to everyone for the kind responses.

    Sherri
     
  22. SASS#23149

    SASS#23149 Member

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    when seating prmers on my sdb, I push FIRMLY up on the handle,and hold it for a three count,just to avoid the possibility of any 'bounce back'.
    that 3 count won't slow you down enough to worry about,and I do find I get more consistant ignition...my guns are sprung light...doing it this way.I do the same thing on my 550b.
    neiher of my dillon measures is spot on,never have been .what I've found with several different brands of measures is to give the hopper a light knuckle rap ...2 actually..as I'm reaching for a new piece of brass to insert. works wonders for accurate dumps.
    keeping the hopper very full helps also.
     
  23. Skip_a_roo

    Skip_a_roo Member

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    I purchased this low powder sensor for my Dillon machines. One will do, you just have to move it around is all. It puts pressure on the powder and helps with consistency. Another thing I have heard of is using an aquarium pump, taped to the side of the powder measure, to aid in vibrating the powder into the drop part of the measure.

    Never done that though! ;)
    [​IMG]
     
  24. Sherri

    Sherri Member

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    Today was an interesting exercise.

    Having had trouble with seating primers, I figured it would be good to size and clear the primers from some brass, then tumble them some before seating primers.

    I came across a piece of Aguila brass with a lengthwise split. I'm not sure what to make of this. It's one piece of brass in 200+ I've looked at closely. These are cases from commercial S&W Long rounds I've shot in my .32 H&R Mag SP101.

    I have quite a lot of this (Aguila) and was hoping the cases were good for reloading. They're not pleasant to shoot (they foul my revolver, and my shooting buddies complain of the stench).

    My day went further south when I dropped 100 primers into the feeding tube and most of them fell in the bucket, and the rest jammed up the press. 75 of them are retrieved and back in the package, and there's some number still in the feeding tube. A ginger pull on the press meets with resistance, so I called it a night. I'll figure it out tomorrow when I can get a competent buddy on the phone.

    Am I having fun yet? Yes. :)

    I'll be slapping the hopper, for sure.
     
  25. Sherri

    Sherri Member

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    Hi, Skip.

    Looking at your picture, it just registered how helpful that would be. Did you get that from Dillon?

    I'm calling them tomorrow.
     
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