Quantcast

Scary Learning Experiences - And What Changes They Caused?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by otisrush, Dec 3, 2018.

  1. otisrush

    otisrush Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2010
    Messages:
    704
    I've really loved @Olon 's First Reloads thread. It really made me realize the depth and richness of experience that exists here.

    In that same vein, I'll throw out a corollary question:

    What scary experiences are you willing to share and, more importantly, what do you do differently in your reloading processes now as a result? I'll encourage us to not be judgmental - as we've all made mistakes. But I'm wondering/hoping there are experiences out there that, if shared, we can benefit from.

    I've got two.......

    I write out load details for a given load on a small piece of paper and post it by the bench when I'm actually charging and seating bullets. It has caliber, bullet and weight, powder, charge, and either COL or base-to-ogive I'm loading to. I then periodically scan (like an airplane pilot) paper->powder bottle on bench->bullets->scale setting....and make sure all is correct. One day I was loading pistol and my intent was to load 3.8 gr. I'd charged about 1/2 a block of cases. By this point I'd probably been through my scan 5 times. Then I noticed the scale was set on *2*.8gr. It really shook me. On the one hand I was glad I caught it and I was lucky it was on the low side of error. But I realized how easily it could have been on the high side. What I do differently now is 1/ I take some sort of pointing device like a pen and point to the lines on the scale and 2/ while I count them I actually say the numbers out loud to myself.

    When I set up for the first time my 9mm dies I knew I had to check function - but frankly - I can't say that I recall I knew about the plunk test. I DEFINITELY didn't know that different pistols might have differently sized throats. So I loaded up about 5 dummy rounds, loaded them in my Hi Powder, they all chambered and extracted fine using manual slide operation. I figured all was good, so I loaded up about 15 real rounds. I go to the range and shoot some out of the Hi Power. They all worked great. Then I put a few in my Walther PPQ. First one fires, second one doesn't go into battery....the trigger is flapping in the wind. But worse, the slide is COMPLETELY locked up. I cannot for the life of me get it open. I'm pulling and pulling and pulling. After about 20 min I get it open. It turns out the PPQ has a REALLY short throat. I've now put thousands of rounds through it - but man that experience was really scary to me. It was a new gun, so I was worried I hurt it. And then I realized what if it had been in battery but the bullet jammed into the lands. Yuck. Now, every few hundred rounds, I spot plunk-check a handful of rounds. I keep good records and by tracking COL I know all should be good. But given how scared that made me I only really feel calm if I know I periodically throw a few in the barrel and make sure they just fall out.

    Anyone else care to share?

    OR
     
  2. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    57,783
    Location:
    Alabama
  3. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Messages:
    9,535
    Location:
    The Land that Time Forgot
    The case head stamp just makes that picture awesome.

    Please tell me you shot it out of a Glock.

    Please.
     
    LoonWulf, sparkyv, Demi-human and 4 others like this.
  4. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    57,783
    Location:
    Alabama
    lol.......nope. :)
     
    Glockula, bds and LoonWulf like this.
  5. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Messages:
    9,535
    Location:
    The Land that Time Forgot
    I've had two. Accidentally ran my hopper dry without noticing. Loaded 4 or 5 squibs. Caught it though. Pulled them and charged them proper. Procedural change? Dump more in than you think you'll need! Not really scary but I could have bulged a barrel and locked up my gun.

    Second was I had my scale slightly misaligned. Caught the issue. Pulled a few rounds and measured the charge. The load was a 10mm with a 180 gr bullet. The charge was over 15 grains of AA#9. Like 15.3 or 15.7. Umm, that's too much. Procedural change? Don't load anmo when you are mad at your girlfriend.
     
  6. mstreddy

    mstreddy Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2010
    Messages:
    1,615
    Location:
    SE Fla -- land of sunshine, liquid and otherwise.
    Walkalong, would that have been a "mistake" or error in loading, or just worn out brass that failed on that firing?
    I've had a few in 9MM, maybe a couple in 40 S&W. And yes, not all in Glocks.
    I had a "value" box of factory reloads in 9MM. Ultramax brand. It was a 250 round pack. I went through nearly 200 rounds and the last 50 pack yielded 1 or 2 rounds that went something close to that 40 but the head was not torn off. I pulled the remaining rounds, loaded up the brass with my powder and projectiles and a known recipe. Low and behold -- I had another 1 that failed the same way. All I can figure is that whatever process they used on the brass weakened it. Or they were bulged and they brought it "back in spec" -- but still had the weak spot. Needless to say, I pulled my loads and put the cases aside. Marked them as bad.
     
    Glockula likes this.
  7. Ironicaintit

    Ironicaintit Member

    Joined:
    May 7, 2015
    Messages:
    1,421
    Location:
    Colorado
    I didnt do it myself, but I inherited some reloads that taught me a lesson!

    This batch of 380 JHPs I had finally gotten around to firing. Not labeled, but they looked good, OAL were consistent. load 'em up in my mauser HSc and took a shot. didnt blow up the gun, but man were they stout! like holy crap, that cant be right!
    didnt fire any more, took them home and tore them apart. I found a dose of Bullseye in there that wouldve made a stout 9mm load. I cant remember the exact weight I found.....

    anyways, I learned to label everything, and I keep a 3x5 card with the recipe Im building close to hand. check, and double check that everything is square!
    My mauser doesnt seem any worse for the wear... but im lucky I ran them in a quality iron, for sure.
     
    Glockula likes this.
  8. adcoch1

    adcoch1 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2015
    Messages:
    1,958
    Location:
    Centralia Washington
    Was loading some starting load h110 in 44 mag and double charged a case. Literally caught it as I did it before it even finished spilling out on the bench, but I was new and it kinda freaked me out.

    Another time i charged about 20 44 mag without primers in them. Luckily i clean out my charging blocks, so I just dumped all the powder on a sheet of paper and started over. And after almost making other errors with charge weights for load workup, I write down what charge and coal i am going for so I don't read from the wrong line in the manual.
    A 3x5 card per load is a great idea I have been using a small notebook and tearing the page out to stick in the bag or box with the loaded cartridges.
     
  9. Dibbs

    Dibbs Member

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2018
    Messages:
    466
    I had one. My first large equipment purchase, included a Lyman beam scale. I was loading
    exactly 5 grains of Win231, and I loaded 2 boxes of bullets, before I noticed that the scale
    was set to the next notch, 10 GRAINS! My next purchase was a bullet puller, and I realized
    I had loaded every round with a double charge. Consequently, my next purchase was a Dillon Precision
    scale, and I now measure every load I set up on two scales, to verify it's exact weight.
     
  10. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    57,783
    Location:
    Alabama
    Not 100% sure. Would like to blame it on the brass, could have fired out of battery, don't know how. All the other test rounds fired fine up to that one. I did make a .5 Gr jump in powder weight, wasn't as cautious as I should have been.

    So dunno. Made notes about it and to not use that load and back off .5 Grs if I tried that powder again, which I did. I know Universal can be "peaky", I knew better. But, all the others fired fine, looked fine..........
     
    LoonWulf likes this.
  11. badkarmamib

    badkarmamib Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2016
    Messages:
    1,625
    Location:
    Virginia
    I am sure I have mentioned it before, but it bears renewing for less-experienced reloaders (of which I am one):

    Loading like I always have with IMR4350, doing a load workup from min to max for my Dad's 2 .30-06's. Scoop into the pan, and trickle up (the only way I have found for that cursed, awesome powder). Took the loads to the range, proceeded to shoot through them. At the top, bolt lift got hard, and had ejector marks on the case head. Quit shooting, thinking the rifles just didn't like the top end. Went home, and double-checked everything. My scale was not in the exact spot that it usually was, and, of course, I missed one common-sense (now) step. Now, before I start loading, EVERY TIME, I rezero my scale. It doesn't matter how level I think my bench is, and how sure I am that the scale is in the EXACT same spot, I recheck, since I was a full grain over max that day.
     
    Glockula and Bfh_auto like this.
  12. Tilos

    Tilos Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2010
    Messages:
    1,190
    Thanks for posting this experience...
    I found a place to put my scale where I won't have to move it, marked where the feet touch the shelf, and taped it down so it can't be moved via a bump.
    All presses swap out to the same location so I don't have to move the scale "down the shelf" to be near another press.
    that's what works for me,
    sorry for the drift,
    :D
    edit: I've never loaded anything at or near the max and don't see the need to do so.
    jmo
     
  13. mdi

    mdi Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Messages:
    2,623
    Location:
    Orygun!
    My major lesson was in 1970 when I had a squib. I was using a Lee Loader and missed the charging step. Now I look in every case that has powder in it (or not). I've also caught a double charge (one) by visual checking...
     
    Glockula likes this.
  14. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2011
    Messages:
    7,175
    Fairly early in my reloading career, I had what I'm pretty sure was an overpressure event. I was shooting 10mm 180 grain loads charged with Unique. The recipe was from the Speer manual which, I later noticed/learned, had a max that was higher than the other manuals. I wasn't at max in Speer, but I was at it in some other manuals. More significantly, though, I was using some PPU brass that had been through a couple of cycles of that same load. Suddenly, in the middle of a session shooting 50 or so of these rounds, I got a dramatically louder bang coupled with a significantly stronger recoil impulse. Although it kind of smarted, I was not injured. The gun survived intact, but lubricant had been blown out of every hole in the frame... clearly something had happened.

    I did not manage to identify the case (I was shooting at an indoor range... it may have crossed over and been lost), but I was pretty motivated to figure out what happened. I confirmed that a double charge of that powder wouldn't fit the case, so that wasn't the answer. Unique was one of only two powders I had at the time, and the other was Blue Dot, which had even higher load ranges... so I couldn't have swapped in a charge of fast powder. I started pulling down the ammo and was surprised that some bullets came out very easily with the impact puller. As in, one half-hearted tap and the bullet would pop right out. Hmmmm... that shouldn't be. Obviously the case wasn't gripping the bullet very hard. The bullets all measured in-spec... must be the case. I started looking at the un-pulled rounds and discovered that with about 5% of them I could easily set the bullet back by pushing it against the edge of my bench.

    Well, that same kind of force gets applied to the front of the round during the loading process in the gun. My hypothesis was and remains that the event occurred when the round experienced significant set-back during loading... I had basically stuffed a near-max 10mm load into a .40 (or shorter) length case and flirted with a kaboom.

    I hated to do it, but I retired all that PPU brass (I had quite a lot of it, and this was during one of the recent shortages). I tried various different measurements to see if I could predict which individual cases would lose all neck tension.... nope. Not weight, not measured thickness of the brass at the mouth, not case mouth diameter after resizing... I could only tell if the brass was "bad" by checking every round after seating a bullet. By that point, of course, I had put a primer and powder in place, and salvaging those components meant a lot of work. Worse, just because one case didn't exhibit the behavior on, say, its 2nd reloading, that did not mean it wouldn't exhibit it by its 3rd or 4th or 5th time through.

    What did I learn? You need to get to know each kind of brass. There's good stuff and bad stuff.... and it's not solely by brand. I'm perfectly happy to use PPU brass in some other chamberings... just not 10mm. Maybe it was just one large bad run that they had. But it definitely had some characteristics that made it unsuitable for repeated, high-pressure loadings. What else? When you're working with a new (to you) kind of brass and/or a new projectile, and you're loading for a self-loader, check for setback problems. Take the first 20 rounds you load and push them against the edge of your bench... see if the bullet moves.
     
    Glockula, 460Shooter and Toprudder like this.
  15. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2016
    Messages:
    1,935
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    I was loading cfe-p for a 44 mag target load. What was supposed to be a starting load ended up being about 2 grains over max and blew up a Blackhawk.
    If I have a headache, I don't reload. If I'm loading with a scale, I use a Lee dipper that is the next step up from the charge.
     
    Glockula likes this.
  16. mstreddy

    mstreddy Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2010
    Messages:
    1,615
    Location:
    SE Fla -- land of sunshine, liquid and otherwise.
    Bfh_auto, where was that starting load listed?
    Scary.
     
  17. CrankyCraig

    CrankyCraig Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2016
    Messages:
    228
    Location:
    Texas,USA
  18. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2016
    Messages:
    1,935
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    I had a migraine and bumped the scale 5 grains... Having never loaded the powder in 44, I didn't have a reference for case fill.
    It was not a data error.
     
  19. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    57,783
    Location:
    Alabama
    Pretty much my reaction at the time. :)
     
    snakeye and ATLDave like this.
  20. Toprudder

    Toprudder Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2014
    Messages:
    2,606
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    Forgive me for saying this, and I know I may get flamed for saying this, but I could not help but notice that several people posted about the same thing - overcharge due to a beam scale setting error. This is one reason why I like my digital scales. If I were to use a beam scale, I would have a digital scale next to it to verify the setting.

    I have not over-charged anything (yet) but did have one squib load. Procedural change.
     
  21. Starter52

    Starter52 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2005
    Messages:
    1,835
    Location:
    Northeast USA
    ^^^ I got rid of my balance beam scale the week after buying my first digital scale. No regrets.
     
    BiknSwans, Bfh_auto and Toprudder like this.
  22. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2016
    Messages:
    1,935
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    My dad's old RCBS never bumps. My Hornady changes if you look at it cross eyed. I fixed that with a rubber band.
     
    Toprudder likes this.
  23. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Messages:
    9,535
    Location:
    The Land that Time Forgot
    It's a mistake you only make once, because it sure is a wake up call.

    That being said, I'm probably going to pick up a Gem Pro this coming year.
     
    Bfh_auto and Toprudder like this.
  24. sparkyv

    sparkyv Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2014
    Messages:
    764
    Location:
    Texas
    I, too, has a 9mm case head split. It caused my CZ P-07 poly frame to flex and dump out it's slide stop, safety and spring onto the shooting bench, and some of the blast warmed up my hand and dirtied it a bit. No injury, and the handgun went back together, no damage. It was startling! Was using range brass in my handloads, and the best I could tell, the cartridge never fully went into battery, but was still in the chamber deep enough for the trigger to be pulled.

    What I do differently in my reloading processes now as a result? I check every pistol cartridge with a gauge, and iron out no-gos with a bulge buster. Nary an issue since. Note that I have made process changes at times from reading about others' mistakes on threads such as this one. Thanks for stating this thread, otisrush.
     
    Glockula and Tilos like this.
  25. Bbear

    Bbear Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2013
    Messages:
    315
    Location:
    Tom Green County or thereabouts
    My 'eye-opener' was getting an LC 308 case mixed in with a bunch of Hornady 308 cases. Blew the bolt shroud off and locked up the trigger.

    Lesson learned: ALWAYS check each piece of brass before charging.

    I now have NO LC 308 brass in the house (of course, after the fire, I have NO brass in the house at all)
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice