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So I blew up a 1911 (Kaboom)

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by essayons21, Feb 18, 2013.

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  1. Kevin Rohrer

    Kevin Rohrer Member

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    1911s Rule

    Glad to see you were using a 1911 when what you were shooting blew-up. That big, steel slide helps protect shooters.

    When I was in MP school, I saw a 1911 blow-up. The first round was a squib (the rounds were made in 1945; it was 1974 at the time) and the FMJ bullet lodged in the barrel. The shooter fired the second round, which struck the lodged bullet. The barrel broke-up and shot out the front of the slide, while the magazine fell apart and fell out the bottom of the frame. The shooter was unharmed.
     
  2. essayons21

    essayons21 Member

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    So I pulled the remaining ~200 rounds. Not a single double charge or squib. I got my collet puller working a bit better. Every single round was plus or minus .1 gr of 5.9gr. There were three 6.0 gr rounds out of the 100 I weighed.

    Which leads me to believe that the cause of this Kaboom was not a double charge as I previously thought (although I will certainly adjust my loading practices according to the recommendations here). Looks like I skipped an important step of double checking the seating depth of my seater die and was seating too short. It has been two weeks since I loaded these rounds, but I remember adjusting for a little bit tighter crimp at one point during the reloading process. This is probably where I screwed up. This combined with loading at the upper end of Hornady's already generous load data caused this kaboom.

    So it really had nothing to do with the press or my setup, it was entirely user error on my part forgetting a basic step to the reloading process.

    Lessons learned:

    1. On a progressive, set up my dies the same way I do on my single stage - One at a time
    2. Check COAL after doing ANYTHING to the seating die.
    3. In addition to regular powder weight checking, I will be randomly checking COAL in the future.
    4. Run rounds one at a time through my progressive until I get everything perfect.
    5. Double check load data TO INCLUDE COAL, and maybe get a few more reloading manuals. Hornady lists starting loads that are above the max loads listed by Speer for the same bullet/powder combos???

    Now I am still very confused over the fact that I have shot hundreds of rounds of this exact same load out of 2 Springfields and a RIA, with no issues and no pressure signs, but I seat the bullet .015 shorter and it blows up my Para? I thought I would see some pressure signs in the brass before such a catastrophic failure.
     
  3. bds
    • Contributing Member

    bds Member

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    When I help set up reloaders on progressive presses, I have them develop a checklist that covers every reloading steps with QC checks to verify critical steps (powder charge, OAL, neck tension, etc.). I have them tape the checklist right behind the press so they can refer to it whenever they need to so as to not skip a step.

    Still, whenever the progressive process is disrupted, it may be a good idea to clear the shell plate and start over with station #1.

    I think the extent of damage to the barrel indicate a double charge or a squib round followed by another round and not a bullet that got seated deeper. Regardless, developing and utilizing safe reloading practice whether the barrel blew up or the magazine simply blew out would be a good idea.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2013
  4. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    I appreciate there's a lot going on with a progressive. Yeah, you can clear the shell plate. Dump all the cases that are filled. Then run one round through until you are sure it all works. But it is still very, very helpful to break it down and look at the root cause at its base. You stuck a bullet over two charges of powder.

    So as long as you do not put a bullet onto a case until you have put an eyeball on the contents, you will not have this problem reoccur. Forget all else, and make this your mantra.
     
  5. essayons21

    essayons21 Member

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    Now, any ideas on getting the barrel out of the slide without cutting it?
     
  6. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I wouldn't think a 6.0 Gr charge of Universal Clays under a 230 Gr lead RN bullet blew up simply from seating one .015 shorter than rounds which were fine.

    That said, 1.211 OAL is very short for a 230 Gr RN bullet, and is already too deep in the case for 6.0 Grs of Universal. If you were seating at 1.265 it would make a big difference.
     
  7. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    Don't know if a hammer and chisel would work to push that bulge on the right side back in. But, if you try, be very careful not to hose up the finish of the gun.

    I can't see how .015" would make that big of a difference. I've had lightly crimped bullets set back that much (or more) and singly fed them (wearing kevlar gloves), without seeing overpressure signs. I seat my 230gr semi-wadcutters in 45 (which have a very long bearing surface compared to a FMJ or JHP), extremely deep in the casing, and they shoot just fine even as I approach the high end of the powder charge.

    Now... if your crimp was too light (or missing) and a bullet got RAMMED back in to the case on chambering... THAT could really mess your day up!
     
  8. kingmt

    kingmt Member

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    I'm betting it was a double. All you hear to do was studder on a stroke to get a second charge in one case.

    It is still passable that you got a bridge also. 4gn in one 8 in the next.
     
  9. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    It wasnt crimp. Crimp doesn't hold a bullet in place in an autoloader.

    I'm going to go with an accidental double charge. I dont believe that too short OAL caused this one. Most of the guns I see , at least in 45acp, that have blown up to that extent we the victim of a double charge or a squib+bang. I am willing to bet that for whichever reason it happened, there was at least 50K in that chamber at some point. Definately more than 35-40K.

    Thats all speculation, of course, and my opinion. I have seen a lot of blown up guns though, and helped more than one person figure out why they did it.
     
  10. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Squibs followed by a normal round don't blow up .45s like that.

    This was caused by a double charge.
     
  11. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    Thats my guy feeling too, looking at the damage. Though I have seen some catastrophic failures of 45s that were squib-banged. You may be right though, I dont know that many of them saw that level of destruction. Most of them were on polymer guns too, so it can be a little more difficult to gauge the damage to the frame. What doesnt show at all on that 1911 could have been a frame broken and cracked all over if polymer.

    Either way, I'm still saying a double charge.
     
  12. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Member

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    I still vote double or a bridge. 0.15 setback doesn't give that kind of pressure excursion. MAYBE a case head blowout, but not shattering the barrel like that.
     
  13. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    What happened to the bullet on that last round? Did it stick in the barrel or did it go downrange while the chamber was getting blown apart?
     
  14. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    Crimp sure as heck DOES help to hold the bullet in place on an autoloader. If it didn't, why would we even bother?

    If I don't crimp my 8mm or 7.62 semi's, the bullet will get shoved back a full quarter inch on chambering.

    When working up my 45ACP jacketed SWC load, if I didn't crimp the case, chambering in a 1911 would set it back .15", an XD would stovepipe and shove it back almost a quarter inch, a Glock would set it back .10".

    So don't feed me that line, I've witnessed setback on both rifle and handgun rounds in autoloaders with my own two eyes, and it is repeatable.

    Sure, neck tension is the primary source of seating strength, but that taper crimp is your insurance. It literally forms a shallow ledge on the bullet itself, which locks it in place and PREVENTS it from being shoved back further in to the case, if it is done properly.
     
  15. kingmt

    kingmt Member

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    Not on my jackets pistol rounds. I don't even have a die that will crimp rifle. If it is being at back .25" something is wrong.
     
  16. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I have to agree with this. Neck tension does the job. If it doesn't, you need more neck tension. A proper crimp on a auto pistol caliber won't help at all. If you crimp enough to make a difference, you are crimping too much.

    Tell me how .001 (Maybe .002) or less "crimp" is going to overcome poor neck tension.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  17. TheCracker

    TheCracker Member

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    Bad lick
     
  18. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    On those jacketed SWC's I load in 45 ACP, I have to crimp enough to deform the bullet (visibly, if you pull it), or they WILL set back, period. When they feed, it's not at all smooth like a FMJ round or a JHP where there is a rounded bearing surface. They get jammed in to the top of the chamber. Due to the shape of the bullet it's a pretty serious impact. Enough so, that it will refuse to feed at ALL in a Springfield XD unless I help it along; the edge of the flat nose and the edge of the shoulder of the bullet both hit simultaneously, due to geometry, and it wedges solidly in place, due to the steep chambering angle of the XD.

    Granted, loading jacketed SWC in an autoloader is "an oddity", but I brought it up as an example to "never say never." If I didn't crimp those SWC's they'd set back far enough to become a serious problem.

    It can and does make a difference, depending on what you are loading, and what you are using it in. :)

    Do I have to crimp that hard on a FMJ or JHP? No, the neck tension is enough (assuming the brass itself isn't worn out, hardened, and not retaining it's sized shape; occasionally I'll run across a piece of old / bad / overworked brass that doesn't hold the bullet tightly, and pitch it).

    I don't shoot the Springfield XD much anymore (it's up for sale), that steep feed angle it has REALLY turned me off to that platform. It chambers cartridges VERY hard.

    Anyway, we're drifting some, my apologies. :)
     
  19. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    No, it doesnt. Those cases headspace on the casemouth. If you push the casemouth into the case they will not headspace properly and will headspace off the extractor instead. Also, you have the issue of brass springing back at a different rate than a bullet, causing loss of case neck tension.

    In the whole scheme of things, taper crimp does not hold a bullet in place, it doesnt prevent setback. If you experience either of these things you have poor neck tension. If you compensate by overcrimping the round you will eventually cause yourself problems in other ways.

    Thats a fact.
     
  20. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    The load I was talking about in the previous post:

    4Fdx4Y3l.jpg

    And two sample pulled projectiles from when I was doing load development, you can see the crimp marks deformed the bullets:

    i0noxxbl.jpg


    (As far as WHY jacketed semiwadcutter in 45ACP... well, it was 2009 and everything was hard to find. So I ordered a thousand off Midway - it was literally the only .451 or .452 they had in bulk. After nit-picking through the load development, and getting it to work in all but one of my handguns, I found that the dang things were highly accurate .. AND packed a wallop against pins, on pin shoots. I set the club record in major auto with this load. :) And subsequently ordered another several thousand.)
     
  21. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    Looks overcrimped to me, definately considering its a plated bullet.
     
  22. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    If I don't crimp it that much, due to the angle of impact at the top of the chamber, and the mass of the slide, it WILL set back.

    If you shorten ANY 45ACP round enough, in any firearm with a steep enough feed angle (to the verge of stovepiping a round), you will get setback unless you've got a firm crimp.

    The OP said he loaded these too short. The 1911 has a moderate feed angle. If he was running his OAL short enough - to where it's on the brink of stovepiping every round, and wasn't crimping, but merely straightening his case walls back out, I *guarantee* additional setback was happening.

    The mass of the slide crushing the base of the case with the nose of the bullet wedged at the top of the chamber? That's a hard impact. And it will set the bullet back.

    Like I said, I *measured* setback on the rounds I was working up with these .452 SWC, it was one of the issues I had to overcome when loading up such a strange 45 ACP load. Getting those to work reliably in all but one of my autoloaders was no small feat.

    On a sufficiently shortened FMJ, or JHP, on a firearm with a moderate or severe feed angle, set back is not a probability, it's a guarantee. The round may (barely) get fed in but the top of the chamber and back of the slide will put that bullet under considerable force while doing so.

    On a proper length 45 ACP, the feed angle is shallower, the nose of the bullet and rear of the casing aren't under as much force, and it slides in easier.

    Either way, a firm taper crimp is SOME level of protection against setback - straightening the case wall isn't sufficient.

    (Too much and you won't headspace; I had to find the right balance on the load above)
     
  23. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    I load 185gr JHP all the time in 45acp, no overcrimping and no setback. I turned the expander down .002 in my 45acp Lee PTX die. It worked just fine.

    Plenty of neck tension, no overcrimping.

    No matter the reason, overcrimping doesnt fix a problem, it covers up one and can present another.
     
  24. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    The main reason to bother tapercrimping a straight-walled semiauto round is to remove excess flare and/or to otherwise get it to feed and to fit in the chamber.

    Rifle is different. When you pull the expander through a bottle-necked cartridge, you have a hollow tube that is only 2 mics under bullet size. Some longer bullets might even seat all the way through the bottom of the neck. Since the cartridge headspaces off the shoulder, this doesn't matter. If necessary, you can roll crimp the cartridge. But even with rifle autoloaders, neck tension, alone, is often all you need.

    When you flare a straight-walled case, you only expand the area where the bullet seats (or using a universal expander, you barely flare the mouth, at all). The rest of the case is more greatly under the size of a bullet. Combined with neck tension, this is ordinarily enough to prevent setback.

    I always tapercrimp 45ACP, because my gun has a tight chamber. The round won't drop in unless I use some crimp. I often don't use any taper crimp on my 9mm and 40SW. I understand a little bit of taper crimp can increase neck tension, up to a certain point. But not much.

    I have run across brass that won't hold a bullet. Instead of trying to add more crimp, the safer solution is to toss the brass.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2013
  25. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    I disagree with you 100%.

    When you taper crimp, you're pushing the casing IN to the projectile. That brass has to go somewhere.

    45ACP brass is .010 - .013" in thickness depending on brand. When that brass is pushed in to the projectile, the sharp edge of the case mouth forms a corresponding sharp edge in the bullet.

    This "ledge" that forms is slight, but it IS there. Moreover, it's provides unidirectional resistance against setback. The bullet can LEAVE the casing because the mass behind the crimp is tapered, and easily pushes the brass out of the way. Conversely, the bullet cannot further ENTER the casing without working much harder, because you've formed a ridge with two sharp edges that mate together.

    You can push that sharp edge of the case mouth in .005" to .007" (about half the thickness of the case wall) across the entire diameter of the bullet and still have positive headspacing due to the taper. The bullet can leave with virtually no additional resistance, but it cannot further ENTER the casing without pushing past that ridge.

    Because the case wall is (generally) straight, there's a lot of resistance to skip past that ridge formed by the taper crimp.

    If you are NOT taper crimping your ammo, regardless of the projectile, or feed angle of the firearm, sooner or later, you're going to run across a piece of overworked, bad, or thin brass and get setback. The steeper the feed angle, the more likely this is to happen. (Case point; Springfield XD. With that severe feed angle it has, I've measured factory Winchester white box before & after chambering and found setback of as much as .007").

    And when that happens, if you are unlucky, your gun will look much like the OP's. You shorten the case depth .100 or .200" and you are DRAMATICALLY increasing the pressure of the cartridge if you're loading anywhere near max. How much that pressure ramps up depends on depth and powder type.

    When I was working up the loads to those SWC's above, if I did NOT crimp, the Springfield XD would force the bullet deep in to the casing; as much as .250". It would chamber - usually, because as the bullet was pushed back the rear of the casing was being lifted by the slide, eventually shallowing the feed angle enough for the round to enter the chamber.

    That's a TON of set back. When I crimped that same load, it would simply stovepipe and stop the chambering of the round in it's tracks, because the bullet couldn't get pushed back in to the casing even with the mass of the slide hammering at it. No setback. No chambering.

    WITHOUT the crimp, that Springfield XD WOULD chamber the round, and if I were working with live ammo instead of dummy rounds, and a load anywhere NEAR max, that chamber would be blown to pieces.

    Anyway, I'm not going to debate the issue further - you are an adult and can choose what you want to do. It's your hands, and eyes, and face; not mine. You might be lucky and never have a problem.

    I'd prefer to have a little ridge form that prevents the bullet from coming back in. The brass itself only offers resistance from sprung tension. The ridge created by taper crimping creates a positive hardpoint of resistance that a bullet has to overcome.

    I've PROVEN this already in my own trials. You're welcome to do the same and draw your own conclusions.
     
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