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Question for Springfield M1A Reloaders...

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by uneasy_rider, Dec 16, 2007.

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  1. uneasy_rider

    uneasy_rider Member

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    I loaded some 308 Winchester 150g FMJ bullets to an average velocity of 2400 fps. I used them in my FAL (gas setting on 4), and everything went fine. In my Springfield M1A, I had a variety of feeding and ejection problems. Sometimes the spent case would not eject, and if it did, I don't think the bolt went back far enough to pick up a fresh round out of the magazine.

    I know this is a light load, but would have figured 2400 fps would have cycled the action OK, but I am thinking maybe this is too light.

    What is your opinion?

    Should a 150g, 2400 fps projectile have enough energy to cycle my M1A?

    What is the lightest load you have used that would cycle your M1A?
     
  2. Winger Ed.

    Winger Ed. Member

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    150gr at 2400 cycle a M1A?
    I would think so,
    If I remember correctly, the 150-odd grain NATO load is only going about 2600fps.

    I mostly shoot cast lead 170gr round nose in my Springfield M1A.
    I forget the specifics, but these are SLOW, something in the teens for MV.
    They are tuned down for accuracy and just barely cycle the bolt,,,,,
    you can watch the bolt/operating rod fly, but they do fully cycle it-barely.
    They are the same load/bullets I use in a .30-30 for paper punching and turtles down at the pond.

    These same loads won't even unlock- much less move the bolt in a buddy's .308 HK.

    Lock the bolt to the rear.
    Turn your rifle upside down, then back up.
    Listen for the gas piston moving around up there near the end of the barrel.
    You should be able to hear it slide back & forth.
    If not, it may just be be 'sticky' from powder fouling.

    The gas piston is what makes the thing cycle.
    It works like that game at the fair where you hit the little pad with a sledge hammer,
    and make the marker (hopefully)go WAY!! up the pole.....

    With the bled off chamber pressure from a shot--
    the gas piston only travels a fraction of a inch,
    but 'whacks' the operating rod hard enough to cycle the action.

    If the gas piston isn't moving freely--- that's probably your problem.

    .
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2007
  3. realbuffdriver

    realbuffdriver Member

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    I believe that 2750fps is the standard for M80 ball ammo. I looked back at my data and found the following, all of which cycled my M1A:

    Powder Load Mean Vel
    IMR4895 41.5 2651
    WC846 42.0 2694
    WC846 42.5 2747
    WC846 43.0 2760
    WC846 43.5 2797
    WC846 42.8 2752

    This is for USGI pulldown 147gr FMJBT projectiles. Be careful duplicating my loads here, as the WC846 powder is pulldown and will vary considerably from lot to lot. As you can see, I didn't use any loads anywhere near 2400fps. Further, that velocity is near the minimum that I have found in any reloading manual. It probably is too low to reliably cycle the M1A mechanism.

    Cheers,

    RealBuffDriver
     
  4. Winger Ed.

    Winger Ed. Member

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    Real,
    You're probably right on M80 ammo.

    Here's one for ya...

    I think US GI ammo is a little hotter than standard (European) 7.62NATO.

    Years back, I got ahold of a bunch of W. German surplus 7.62.
    I didn't have crono. back then to really check it out, but it did hit a few inches lower at 125 yards,
    and had less (felt) recoil than the FMJ stuff I'd loaded myself to GI specs.
    I don't know if it was my imagination,
    but I'd swear the bolt didn't fly as fast with the German stuff either.

    .
     
  5. Mark whiz

    Mark whiz Member

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    2750fps is the Mil-Spec for 150gr ball ammo. The closer you are to that, the better feeding you will get.

    I have 2 questions that might shed some light here:
    1. What powder did you use?
    2. Are you using mil-surp and/or Springfield magazines or aftermarket ones that don't have the lug welded onto the mag?


    There are only a 1/2 dozen or so powders that can be used successfully in a M1A and the cheap magazines aren't worth their weight in scrap.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2007
  6. GunTech

    GunTech Member

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    I'd look at powder too. You want to use a powder no slower than 4064. A slow load with the wrong powder can mean short stroking. This seems to be particularly the case with newer M1As. How many rounds do you have through your rifle?

    Have you tried shooting single shot with the magazine in? Does the bolt lock open? Think about how you adjust the gas system on your FAL, but in this case, it's the load.
     
  7. uneasy_rider

    uneasy_rider Member

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    Here's more info.... I appreciate the help so far.


    The powder I am using is Winchester 748. I was using 41 grains in Lake City Brass. I picked 41grains because I thought I needed to reduce the load some since I was using LC brass. I was hoping to get around 2600 fps, but only got 2400. I would like to use 748 if at all possible, because thats what I load in 223 also, and it makes logistics easier. What is your opinion of this powder?

    I was using a 10 round Springfield magazine... It might be part of the problem, but it didnt really act like a bad mag. Some of the rounds would not even eject from the rifle, and some were ejected, but I think it was short stroking and not picking up a fresh round out of the mag. I will use Surplus GI mags next time to see how they do.

    I have owned this rifle for about 2 years. It probably has 500 rounds through it maximum. It is a full size gun, not the scout model. It has never had any feeding issues at all until I tried my reloads. I have used surplus South African and surplus British 7.62x51 Nato ammo through it with no issues.

    I think before I do anything to the gun, I will load some rounds with 43 and 44 grains and see how they run through the gun. That ought to get me closer to 2600, I hope.
     
  8. Mark whiz

    Mark whiz Member

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    748 is definitely an acceptable powder - pretty much the standard for ball powder.
    I'd definitely up the charge to get up to the 2700fps mark or so.
    As far as using the Lake City brass, you do need to drop the charge when compared to commercial brass - the old NRA standard is 12% less and that has worked pretty good for me.

    The Springfield mags are fine to use - as long as they have the welded on lug you can be pretty sure they will work fine.

    I also have to ask, have you cleaned the gas system lately? If it hasn't been cleaned in 500 rounds, it is past due.
     
  9. GunTech

    GunTech Member

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    W748 is an ideal powder for 7.62x51, giving the best velocity for pressure and having the right port pressure characteristics. 43 grains in a military case should give about 2700 fps in a 22 inch bbl with a chamber pressure of about 48,700 PSI. This is well within spec for 7.62 NATO (PMax of 3800 bar, or 55,114 PSI) and should be safe for your FAL as well.

    The spec for M80 ball is 2750 with a 147gn bullet. M59 ball is a 150 grain projectile. You have to go to 43.8gn of W748 to get 2750, and you'll be over 50,000 PSI. Still safe.

    Note that the above charges assume military 7.62 NATO brass. In commercial brass, you'd have to got to about 45.5gn of W748 to get 2750.
     
  10. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Member

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    You've been given good advice on bumping up the load. I've got a Standard M1A and a National Match M1A. They both require ammunition that is loaded to about the same specs as M80 Ball to function properly. With the right ammunition, the M1A seldom has any feeding problems, as long as it's lubed properly.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
     
  11. uneasy_rider

    uneasy_rider Member

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    Thanks for the help.

    I will load up a small batch with 43.0g and another with 43.5 grains and see how they do.

    What OAL do you guys load to? I am loading to 2.800" and the rounds fit in the magazines ok, but not a lot of extra room. Is that a good length to load to?

    Also, the bullets I am using are Hornady 150g FMJ BT's. They have a cannelure, but when I load to an OAL of 2.800", the cannelure is not in the case. Its probably about 1/16th of an inch outside the case. Is that a problem?
     
  12. Mark whiz

    Mark whiz Member

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    2.800" should be fine as an OAL. Most mil-surplus I've checked run between 2.700" and 2.750" but you have to remember those were made for full auto use, so the shorter length is just good insurance for proper feeding.

    I wouldn't worry about the cannalure, I've almost never seen bullets that load to the cannalure unless they are loaded way short or the cases are way long.

    Personally, for safety and feeding's-sake, I load ball ammo around 2.780 to 2.790 and and trim my brass to 2.005" and I've had no issues to date. Match ammo I will bring up to 2.795".

    The 2 things you really want to make sure of when loading for a M1A is that your cases aren't too long and that your primers are seated slightly below flush with the case head. This will greatly reduce any possibility of a dreaded "slam-fire" (out of battery ignition).
     
  13. GunTech

    GunTech Member

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    If you are really worried about slam fires, other than Mark's excellent advice, you can get CCI#34 primers. These are milspec and a bit harder than regular commercial primers.

    You can load to the canneleur and crimp. I think my loads are about 2.750 when i do this. 2.800 is the maximum over all length. You can always load shorter. Just be careful if you have a compressed charge.
     
  14. 30Cal

    30Cal Member

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    I shoot a 125gr Speer TNT doing 2450fps out of my Supermatch. I use IMR4895. I've shot maybe 2k of them and haven't had a hickup yet. But that's my rifle.
     
  15. uneasy_rider

    uneasy_rider Member

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    OK, here is an update.

    I loaded some more 308, this time with the same 150g FMJ BT, over 44 grains of Winchester 748. I get a velocity on average of right at 2600 fps, which I think is close to NATO spec, and ought to function well in my M1A.

    I tested the ammo first in a FAL, and it worked great. No feed problems whatsoever.

    I then tried my M1A. I can hand cycle rounds through the M1A with no problem. However, I had the same cycling problems I was having before. Sometimes, the spent cartridge is not ejected from the rifle at all. I don't think the bolt even opens when that happens, but its hard to tell. Sometimes, the spent case is ejected, but a new round is not fed into the chamber. I can't tell if the bolt is going back far enough to pick up a new round. I think it might be short stroking. About 20% of the time, it will eject a spent case, and pick up a fresh round like its supposed to.

    This was the first time I have shot this rifle in over a year. I have never cleaned the gas system, but have field stripped the rifle and cleaned it when I put it up last year. It has about 500 rounds max through it, and has never had a cycling problem til now.

    Also, when I lock the bolt to the rear and turn the rifle upside down and then back up, I can hear the piston moving, so I dont think its stuck.

    What is my problem?
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2007
  16. GunTech

    GunTech Member

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    Did you try shooting with only one round in the mag? Does the bolt lock to the rear?

    NATO spec is 2750 for M59 150gn ball. M80 is 147gn ball at 2750.

    I asked a few friends, and some SA have turned up with undersized ports drilled in the barrel.

    If you are using commercial brass, I would load up to 45.5gns (commercial brass only - do not use in military brass) and see if that makes any difference. If not, it's time to call Springfield Armory.

    When all else fails, I try the gold standard M1A load. 168 SMK over 41.5gn H4895. If you rifle won;t shoot this, and shoot it fairly well, you have a problem.

    Here are some useful articles:

    Reloading for the Match M14: http://www.zediker.com/downloads/14_loading.pdf

    M14 maintenance
    http://www.zediker.com/articles/m14_1.1.pdf
    http://www.zediker.com/articles/m14_2.1.pdf
    http://www.zediker.com/articles/m14_3.1.pdf

    Good luck
     
  17. uneasy_rider

    uneasy_rider Member

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    No, I didnt try that, but sometimes the spent case would not even be extracted from the chamber. I dont think the bolt even went back part of the time.

    I am using once fired Lake City brass that has been resized using RCBS small base dies.
     
  18. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Member

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    You've probably already checked this, but make sure your gas valve is locked in the open position. If it's turned slightly, it would be partially blocking the gas port. The indicator should be at a right angle to the bore.

    If it is locked open, turn it several times. This will break lose any carbon that may have built up in there. You may want to disassemble the gas system and make sure there isn't any blockage of the gas port, or possibly rust.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
     
  19. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Member

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    Another thing to check is to make sure the bolt is lubed enough. This is pretty critical on the M-14/M1A rifles. I remember from Boot Camp that whenever there was a malfunction similar to what you describe on the firing line, the Drill Instructors got all over the shooters for not properly lubing their bolts.

    Use Lubriplate, Tetra Lube or any other high quality grease on the roller, locking lugs and roller recess on the operating rod. Also on any bearing surfaces the bolt and operating rod touches. This just may cure your problem.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
     
  20. 30Cal

    30Cal Member

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    You need to check to make sure the brass is, in fact, being sized enough. See my post in the rifle forum for how to do that.

    I have to ask if the M1A has ever worked 100%, and what ammo you were using at that time. If it worked great before, get some more of that ammo and test the rifle so you can figure out whether the rifle or the ammo is your problem.

    Also, have you trimmed your brass? If it's too long, it'll get crammed up into the throat and that will cause issues.
     
  21. 10X

    10X Member

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    This is not an ammo problem.
    The ejection problem sounds more like the gas valve is not open or the port is partially plugged. At worst case it could be bad chamber. Pull out your manual or get one on line from Springfield and check the valve first. Then make sure the port is clear.
     
  22. uneasy_rider

    uneasy_rider Member

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    OK, Here is another update... Its my reloads, not the rifle.

    Today at lunch I tested my rifle again using Georgia Arms, Winchester, and surplus British 308 ammo.

    ALL three of those worked perfectly in my Springfield M1A. Then, I retested my reloads, and I had the same problems again. Some rounds did not eject, and if the rounds were ejected, the bolt did not travel back far enough to pick up a fresh round out of the magazine.

    I tested one round at a time in the magazine also. With the commercial and surplus ammo, the bolt always locked back on the empty magazine. With my reloads, the bolt NEVER locked back on an empty magazine.

    I think my problem is definitely my reloads. The only ammo my M1A can't cycle is my reloads.

    My formula is this:
    Hornady 150g FMJ BT
    Winchester 748 43.5 grains
    OAL 2.800" (is this too long? the book says it is what I should load to)
    Winchester Large Rifle Primer
    Once Fired Lake City Brass that has been resized with an RCBS small base die, and trimmed to length and chamfered.
    I used a Lee Factory Crimp Die, with a half turn of crimp
    Chronographed velocity is 2600 fps.
    Inspection of fired brass shows no sign of too much pressure (eg, flattened primer)


    Are my reloads too long? Could this be lowering chamber pressure so my rifle does not cycle correctly?

    Am I not sizing correctly? If not, I don't see what I am doing wrong. I have never used a case gage and don't really even know what that is. What is a case gage and how does it work?
     
  23. GunTech

    GunTech Member

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    If you use a case gauge, you just drop it in and if the case is flush with the gauge, your loads are GTG.

    I'd be happy to duplicate your loads and send you some ammo to check if it something in the reloading procedure or you dies. I use Redding full length match dies, followed by a small base die and a lee factory crimp. I have an 8 pound jug of W748.

    You are full length resizing, followed by small base resizer?
     
  24. 30Cal

    30Cal Member

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    You don't need to do that. The SB die does the same thing, but squeezes tighter at the case head than the regular FL die.

    OAL isn't going to create cycling problems until you get past 2.85" when the cartridges just won't fit in the magazine. Really, the rifle should function fine over a pretty large range of powder charges/velocities. 100-200fps below nominal velocities shouldn't really be causing hick-ups. If you manage to get the bullet far enough out that it's stuffed into the lands, you'll see high pressures--to check, stuff a cartridge into the chamber with your thumb. If it falls out from gravity alone, then you're fine.

    Your sized brass should fit in the chamber and the bolt should close without effort. If it doesn't, then either your not pushing the shoulder back far enough, or the case head is too fat (which should be fixed by your SB die) or they've grown too long (which should be fixed by trim&deburr). I'd be careful about just screwing the die in further though. If you go too far (which is a hair past "just right"), you'll start to see premature case head separations.

    I prefer this gage above all others (I've got Wilson, & RCBS Precision Case Mics). It's the best for getting quick and repeatable measurements.
    http://www.sinclairintl.com/cgi-bin/category.cgi?category=REMTHT&item=HK-55&type=store

    Zediker has two very thorough discussion on sizing and brass that are better than anything I can tell you. He hasn't shot the M14 in over 10 years now, so keep that in mind. Varget's OK, IMI brass doesn't exist, etc. He also takes things to extremes and sometimes makes them harder than they need to be.
    http://www.zediker.com/downloads/m14.html

    You might try coming up 1.0grs to get closer to the 2750FPS nominal. If you have problems at that velocity, then I think we could pretty confidently say the problem is caused by your brass.

    It's possible that the gas port on your barrel is just a little undersized. SA Inc had a few of these a couple years back. USGI barrels should be immune from this. They've also had some rough chambers (typically in stainless barrels) which might show up as a raised ring on your fired brass--but I would think that would affect all ammo similarly, and not just your reloads. The extractor is another possibility, but again, I would think it'd be problematic across the board.
     
  25. uneasy_rider

    uneasy_rider Member

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    No, I was just using the RCBS small base resizer only. I thought the small base resizer also full length resized. Is that not correct? Should I full length resize with my Lee sizing die first and then use the small base resizer??
     
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