The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Skunkworks > Handloading, Reloading, and Bullet Casting

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old February 17, 1999, 11:28 PM   #1
thaddeus
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 6, 1999
Location: San Diego
Posts: 351

With all the factors involved I always fear overloading my charge. So far, no problems but...

My question is, should I be able to FEEL it when I shoot if I am putting too much powder in, or setting the bullet too deeply or crimping it too tightly thereby causing too much pressure?

I shoot enough of both factory and reloads to get a feel, and I am hoping that that is good enough. Usually my reloads have about the same feel as factory, and I don't notice any greater "kick". Sometimes, my loads even have a little noticably less kick, so I feel safe.
Right now I don't reload to build the "ultimate cartridge", but because it is CHEAP. So, I don't want to blow up my gun, and I don't care if the round is supremely accurate. I just want to plug rounds out of my gun in mass quantities until it is second nature. I have never noticed any of my rounds being innaccurate.

Anyway, is there a way to know if I am loading too heavily before I damage my gun or myself? I cannot buy any fancy stuff like chronos and such. I was hoping that I would be able to FEEL the recoil and know if the load is too buff.


thanks,
brasshopper
thaddeus is offline  
Old February 18, 1999, 12:45 AM   #2
bfoster
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 13, 1998
Location: N. of Fords Switch, OK, USA
Posts: 297
1. Any load which does not extract freely is far too hot.

2. If you have access to a blade micrometer, measurable expansion in the case head and web area beyond perhaps 0.0003" (compared to the original diameter of that case) indicates that you have exceeded the elastic limit of the brass. The case is, in effect, a gasket between you and disaster.

3. Any evidence of gas leakage around the primer (usually seen as soot) is cause to stop immediately.

4. Unusual flattening of the primer itself may be a sign of pressure, though other factors than pressure may contribute to this. In any event, if you observe flat, cratered or pierced primers, stop immediately, and find out what the cause is.

5. Any evidence of split or "ringed" cases (a ring is a shiny circumferential line which wll usually form just ahead of the case web and is due to the stretching of the case), except possibly a split at the neck clearly due to work hardening of the brass due to many load/disacharge cycles.

6. Indeed, odd handling or strange noises upon discharge of the firearm would be cause to cease fire immediately. The problem (and the road to safety- if you are constantly observant) is that charges are worked up gradually, and in most instances you will see a problem with the case long before real troubles occur.

There is an old saying that the safety of a gun is between the ears of the user: this applies doubly to handloading.

Good luck with your loading & shooting.



------------------
bfoster is offline  
Old February 18, 1999, 04:02 AM   #3
Walt Welch
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 3, 1998
Location: Alamo, CA
Posts: 424
bfoster. Junior member. Hah! Obviously a 'ringer.' His reply is extremely intelligent, lucid and correct. Shucks.

The bar has just been raised. Walt
Walt Welch is offline  
Old February 18, 1999, 08:33 AM   #4
bfoster
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 13, 1998
Location: N. of Fords Switch, OK, USA
Posts: 297
Walt... In response to your query (by e mail) as to what a blade micrometer is: imagine the tip of a gunsmiths' screwdriver. Instead of a steady taper from the shank of the tool to the tip of the blade, these are usually "hollow ground:" viewed from the side, a short parallel section which fits (nicely) the slot of the screw is joined to the shank by two radii. In a blade micrometer, there are two opposed hollow ground "tips" between which the object is measured, the anvil being one, and the end of the spindle being the other. In this case the spindle doesn't rotate, movement back and forth only. The advantage in using one of these to measure case head expansion is that greater precision in measurement is obtained. Most rifle cases are tapered, as are most cases for "automatic" pistols- being able to repeat where you measure is much easier with a blade mike- if you can't repeat where you initially measured, you don't know what you are measuring. In practical terms, "readability" with blade mikes is approximately 5 times that of a good set of dial calipers. Any clear increase in case head size read on dial calipers would be cause to back off charge weight. Bob

------------------


[This message has been edited by bfoster (edited February 18, 1999).]

[This message has been edited by bfoster (edited February 18, 1999).]
bfoster is offline  
Old February 18, 1999, 10:20 AM   #5
Contender
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 10, 1998
Location: NY
Posts: 680
bfoster, I've taken a factory load, fired it in the gun,then measured(with a blade micrometer) the case head, and used this as a guide when reloading ammo for the same gun to indicate pressure. This seems to work out well. The only thing is to get used to measuring to .0000. This is something you can't really do accurately with a calipers. Micrometer is a must for this.
Contender is offline  
Old February 18, 1999, 06:10 PM   #6
Patrick Graham
Junior member
 
Join Date: January 18, 1999
Location: Kokomo, Indiana USA
Posts: 674
Thad..
A quick way to tell if you're overdoing the powder charge to to check and see if the primer is flattened and "flowing" on to the bolt face. If it is.. back the powder off.
Patrick Graham is offline  
Old February 18, 1999, 07:21 PM   #7
Walt Welch
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 3, 1998
Location: Alamo, CA
Posts: 424
Thad; here are 10 generally accepted ways that you know you are loading 'too powerfully.'

10: Other shooters, wearing ear plugs AND muffs, move away from you as far as they can.

9: You have to pound the bullet in with a mallet; even then, with a heavy crimp, you have to shoot the cartridges within 24 hours as the bullets keep creeping out.

8: The muzzle blast of your pistol prompts a visit from the fire department.

7: The rimmed ammunition you are loading comes out of the revolver rimless.

6: The rimmed ammunition you are loading comes out of your revolver not only rimless, but lacking the entire case head.

5: You try lead bullets, and your target appears as if shot with a shotshell and #12 shot.

4: After the first 50 rounds through your pistol, you discover the rifled bbl. has become a smoothbore.

3: Despite a mighty grip, your pistol tends to land about 30 feet behind you with every shot.

2: You shoot some factory ammunition, and find yourself going through the 'hangfire' drill everytime, despite holes in the target.

And, with apologies to David Letterman,

The #1 reason you know you are loading 'too powerfully':

When you take up your position at the range, the range masters start erecting splinter shields around you. Walt
Walt Welch is offline  
Old February 18, 1999, 11:46 PM   #8
bfoster
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 13, 1998
Location: N. of Fords Switch, OK, USA
Posts: 297
Patrick... You can't really go wrong insofar as safety is concerned by the study of primer flattening and flow, but the material used in primer cups varies greatly in both composition and hardness. Even within a given brand and type, there are normal lot to lot differences. This makes interpretation of your observations problematic. As an aside, the flattest primers I've ever seen were produced by a relatively current lot of RWS 6,5X68S factory ammo which produced a mean pressure of about 62,000 psi- this is relatively mild by the standards employed in some U.S. commercial loads.

------------------
bfoster is offline  
Old February 19, 1999, 12:14 AM   #9
bfoster
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 13, 1998
Location: N. of Fords Switch, OK, USA
Posts: 297
Contender... In the fireforming of wildcat cartridges some stretching of the brass in the head area is almost always going to happen. A bit of the brass flows back toward the head of the case relative to the that area of the cartridge which will eventually become visible as the stretch ring. To a large extent, the physical characteristics of this displacement are a function of internal case design. Some case designs like the ?X57 Mauser/?-06 family show little if any diametric expansion at sane pressure levels. Others like the 220 Russian/?PPC family can show a very few "tenths" diametrical expansion- they were designed to do so- safely. Bob

------------------
bfoster is offline  
Old February 21, 1999, 11:58 PM   #10
Ed
Member
 
Join Date: November 13, 1998
Location: Geogia, USA
Posts: 85
I'm not much of a technical whiz, so I just use my own method of avoiding excess pressure in my reloads. I never load heavier than the LOWEST maximum load I can find in any of my manuals, or now on the websites of the powder manufacturers. Actually, I almost always load midway between the starting and maximum charge weights. Makes for very pleasant shooting without worrying about any loud ka-boom noises and flying metal chunks. I don't hunt anymore, and I use only factory ammo for defensive purposes, so why push it?
Ed is offline  
Old February 22, 1999, 01:20 AM   #11
Contender
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 10, 1998
Location: NY
Posts: 680
Perfectly logical Ed. I've taken the maximum load from a number of data sources for a particular cartridge and averaged it out for what I call the "adjusted" maximum load. This falls in the middle somewhere. Ed Matunas recommended this approach in the American Rifleman when asked about differing maximum loads in the various data sources.
Contender is offline  
Old February 23, 1999, 10:38 AM   #12
Ed
Member
 
Join Date: November 13, 1998
Location: Geogia, USA
Posts: 85
Contender- Your method sounds better than mine. It is surprising how much variation you can find between different manuals load listings. I used an old Lyman book years ago, and now when I compare it to some later manuals I get scared thinking of some of the stuff I've loaded in the past.

I think it was Walt who wrote on another thread that the manuals are becoming more conservative with their data as the new and more accurate means of pressure testing are becoming available. I think that's all to the good, too many people want to squeeze out that last little bit of velocity without realizing the risk they may be taking. The older I get the more I realize how unimportant it is to worry about a few fps of velocity compared to the possible loss of vision or digital extremities.
Ed is offline  
Old February 23, 1999, 11:39 AM   #13
Contender
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 10, 1998
Location: NY
Posts: 680
Ed-When I first started as a handgun hunter, I too was hung up on the "velocity at all costs" bandwagon. But, soon found that other factors accounted for just as much or more than having to use a needle nose to pull the fired cases out of the cylinders.(jest)

Range,Shot Placement,Proper bullet design,Proper cartridge for the job at hand, were all factors.I've pretty much settled on cast bullets in the larger caliber handguns for hunting. They don't require high velocity to get the job done.

I believe Skeeter Skelton once wrote that a game animal can't tell the difference between a few hundred feet per second if the shot is well placed to begin with.

For target work,the mid-range loads are frequently more accurate and less fatiguing.

One of the best investments I ever made was a good chronograph.

Take Care
Contender is offline  
Old March 20, 1999, 09:46 AM   #14
RJ in Rome NY
Member
 
Join Date: March 7, 1999
Location: Rome, NY, USA
Posts: 16
Hey Walt... I loved some of your answers...
The only test I have ever really used is the primer one.. if its getting flattened your NEAR max load.. If you see the leakage or the primer is cratered , then back off...
But I pose a question back to the issue of the most powerful load.. WHY ?
I realize that in handguns and assault scenarios accuracy of the round isn' t ALWAYS important, however I think it worth mentioning that the most powerful / highest velocity round is not necessarily
the most accurate round.. IMHO
Have learned this after many years of shooting in IHMSA with targets at 200 meters
with my "handgun" .. Thanks.. and Happy Shooting..

------------------
RJ in Rome NY is offline  
Old March 20, 1999, 11:37 AM   #15
hal becker
Member
 
Join Date: March 19, 1999
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 15
if you have at least 3 reloading manuals they
all give a starting load, if you not trying
for benchrest scores or 1000 yard target
loads then stick with bottom loads, bfoster
said it all,

and walt welchs 10 generaly accepted ways to
tell is a GAS, got a good laugh ,thanks!
hal becker is offline  
Old March 22, 1999, 10:48 PM   #16
James K
Staff
 
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 19,464
You know your rifle loads are too hot when the case head dissolves into molten brass and hot gasses at 110,000 cup blow out the magazine and come back into your face through the firing pin hole and the bolt raceways.

Stick to the manuals.
James K is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:54 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.09811 seconds with 9 queries