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Old September 26, 2006, 05:03 PM   #1
arkie2
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Really HOT! load at the range

Yesterday I was shooting my Ruger sp101 with .357 mag loads and experienced a hot load. The case was wedged into the cylinder so tight I needed a punch to get it out and the case mouth and the top 1/3rd of the case were silver colored from contact with the cylinder wall, not brass colored. There is no apparent damage to the pistol but I've got several questions. Load data was 4.7 grains of Titegroup (5.0 is max) behind a 158 grain LSWC, Win brass and Federal SPM primer. I use a Lee three die set to reload these. I don't suspect the crimp had anything to do with this as I didn't make any changes to the dies.

1. I'm guessing this was a double load of powder even though I'm very careful, inspecting each case after primer and powder. However, the .357 case is difficult to see in, especially with such a small amount of powder. I could have missed a double load. My question is, wouldn't the pistol have sustained major damage from a double load? Is the Ruger strong enough to take a double load and not send parts flying?

2. If it wasn't a double load my suspicions fall on the primer. Hodgdon calls for a magnum primer but the Lee load data calls for a small pistol primer. I've run over 100 loads through the pistol with the magnum primers but is there any way this was a result of over pressure caused by the primer? In any event, I won't be using magnum primers anymore for this load.

3. What should I look for insofar as the possible damage to the pistol? A visual inspection doesn't reveal any obvious damage, the cylinder rotates freely and dry firing it double and single action doesn't reveal anything. The crane appears to be undamaged but I'm no expert. Does the barrel need to be inspected by a gunsmith for alignment? If I'm inspecting it, what should I look for?

Any info would be appreciated. To say that I'm doubtful of my quality control at this point is an understatement. To say that I'm happy I didn't sustain anything more than embarrassment would also be an understatement. Thanks.
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Old September 26, 2006, 06:25 PM   #2
OneInTheChamber
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1. Yes, you could have sustained a double load. Most wheels guns are highly tolerant of high loads. This doesn't mean purposely overload, but generally a revolver will take a lot more punishment than an auto.

2. I'm not sure on the primer, but I know the reasoning behind many primer differences his blow out pressure. A small rifle and small pistol primer burn similarly; but the rifle primer has a thicker cup to contain higher pressures.

3. From what you say, the gun seems fine. I would try some light loads out first.

Accidents can happen to anyone; and most people who have been reloading for a long time have had one. I haven't yet; thank God. I'm glad you're okay too.
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Old September 26, 2006, 06:52 PM   #3
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Hummmmm - - -

arkie2 --

First - - We're all glad you weren't injured, and that your Ruger appears to have not suffered any damage.

I haven't used any Titegroup, so I checked on the Hodgdon's web site. Your charge weight is well under max for the 158 gr JHP in .357 cases. You might be getting a bit of leading with lead bullets, but there's no reason for such terrific pressures.

Please take no offense at this line of questioning, but is there any possibility you could have had a barrel obstruction? Had you been shooting prior to that particular shot, or was it the first one for that shooting session? Is there any way you might have stuck a bullet in the barrel with a prior squib load?

Also, leaving a cleaning patch or even a bore brush in the bore can do amazing things to the pressures.

You mention that the mechanics of your revolver are apparently in good shape. Have you cleaned the barrel and then carefully inspected the bore, to see if you might have ringed the barrel?

If this was the first shot, have you pulled several other bullets and weighed the powder charges? Strange things can happen . . . . Were these thrown charges or were you weighing them? Once upon a time, I was weighing .308 charges and carelessly set my scale wrong. I weighed out and loaded quite a few loads before I noticed the scale was WAY off. Happily, the charge weight was ten grains too LOW, but it could as easily have been ten grains too HIGH.

Just brain storming, here.

Also - - you haven't told us what loading gear you were using. Progressive, single stage, or turret? If single stage, you might consider placing our prepared cases mouth down in a loading block until you pick up one, charge it, and then immediately seat the bullet. This might provide you with an added margin of safety and give yourself added confidence in your qualty control.

This is about all the suggestions I can make. Best of luck to you.

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Old September 26, 2006, 07:10 PM   #4
Buckythebrewer
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Any chance that powder is not what it claims to be?
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Old September 26, 2006, 07:40 PM   #5
silicon wolverine
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It is also possible that with the load listed the powder burned front to back causing high pressure. While rare, it happens.

SW
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Old September 26, 2006, 07:41 PM   #6
arkie2
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Thanks for the replies. I'll cover all the questions posed in all the posts here.

I use a Lee turret press. I seat the primer then throw the powder from a Lee auto disk powder measure, then pull the case out of the shell holder and inspect it. When I got back from the range I set up the powder measure, which is unchanged since I loaded the rounds, and it threw a perfect load.

There was no barrel obstruction. I loaded 50 rounds of ammo and have three rounds left so the hot load was the 47th round I fired. The round before it fired also.

Johnny. You mentioned ringing the barrel. What would that look like and where would I look?

I haven't broken down the three rounds left yet but will do that tomorrow. If I find any inconsistencies I'll let you know.

It's good to hear that revolvers are so tolerant of excessive powder loads. I was also shooting my 1911 .45 yesterday. I don't want to contemplate what might have happened if I had a double load there!

Oneinthechamber. You say the gun sounds fine but how would I ensure the chambers are still aligned with the barrel. Is there an easy way to check that?



Finally, in addition to switching from a magnum primer I'm going to switch from titegroup to a powder that comes closer to filling up the case so it's easier to detect a double load. I'll stick with titegroup for the .45 because I like the powder and can inspect the .45 cases easily during reloading but the .357 cases are too hard to see into. Powder recommendations anyone?
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Old September 26, 2006, 07:43 PM   #7
arkie2
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Wolverine

That's an interesting observation and I've never heard that before. Do you have any more info or references to describe it?
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Old September 26, 2006, 09:18 PM   #8
OneInTheChamber
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Quote:
You say the gun sounds fine but how would I ensure the chambers are still aligned with the barrel. Is there an easy way to check that?
I couldn't think of anything that would be 100%, but I found this:

Quote:
Timing

5) You really, REALLY want an unloaded gun for this one. This is where the light comes in. With the gun STILL held in full lockup, trigger back after lowering the hammer by thumb, you want to shine a light right into the area at the rear of the cylinder near the firing pin. You then look down the barrel . You're looking to make sure the cylinder bore lines up with the barrel. Check every cylinder - that means putting the gun in full lockup for each cylinder before lighting it up.

You're looking for the cylinder and barrel holes to line up perfectly, it's easy to eyeball if there's even a faint light source at the very rear of both bores. And with no rounds present, it's generally easy to get some light in past where the rims would be.
....from: http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/...threadid=57816

I hope that solves your problem. The above link seems like a really helpful thread for revolvers too.
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Old September 26, 2006, 09:28 PM   #9
silicon wolverine
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Arkie ill have to dig a little to find it. Ill post it when i locate it.

SW
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Old September 27, 2006, 08:03 AM   #10
Johnny Guest
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Ringed barrel detection

Actually, if you go through the Revolver Checkout List mentioned by OneInTheChamber, you'll see it. A clean barrel makes the task easier. The ring is exactly that, a slightly enlarged area in the bore. It is seen as a dark shadow in the barrel interior, usually all the way around but not necessarily.

A barrel ring is also detected in cleaning the bore, using a tight-fitting bore brush or patch. After any gross leading streaks are removed, the patch or brush should push through with a more-or-less constant pressure. One should be suspicious of any momentary lessening of the pressure needed to send the rod down the bore. Frequently, especially with a lighter-profile barrel, the ring may be seen or felt on the exterior of the barrel.

If a barrel ring is found, the only real cure is barrel replacement. Sometimes, a barrel ring may cause little or no effect on the shooting of the firearm, depending on several factors - - Location in the barrel, depth of the ring, type load to be subsequently fired. Most shooting enthusiasts are not content to tolerate a ringed barrel in a high quality arm, but this is personal preference.

Best of luck - -
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Old September 27, 2006, 06:47 PM   #11
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OK heres the scoop on teh "light load" i mentioned before. The original website is gone but i have a printed copy of it my papers. The revolver was a Colt king cobra .357 magnum. the ammo was ultramax 158 Gr JHP (that right there should tell you what you need to know). The issue was when the gun was fired it acted as a "hangfire" for about half a second (according to the shooter) and when it fired it blew the top strap off and split the cylinder. There was a lawsuit between the gun manufacturer and ultramax as to who was to fault. Eventually they came to the light load theory and tyhe powder burning from front to back. Ultramax was found at fault. I personally have had a KB from ultramax ammo and i wont touch it with a ten foot pole.

SW
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Old September 27, 2006, 08:38 PM   #12
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Wolverine,

The only reference to a light load of powder in a large case causing the problem you mention is when you use a small charge of slow burning powder in a large case. This is the reason why H110 shoud never be reduced by more than 10% of minimum charge weight. It causes erratic burning and pressure spikes.
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Old September 28, 2006, 02:58 PM   #13
arkie2
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Problem solved. Too much crimp. First let me say thank you to all the folks who had suggestions and valuable insight. My gun is fine. I completed the inspection as published and nothing seems amiss.

When I broke down my remaining three rounds though I got an eyeful. All the powder loads were right on the money. My first hint as to my real problem was that the bullets were extremely difficult to remove with my kinetic bullet puller. When I got the bullets out they were all deformed with a deep indentation all the way around the bullet where they were crimped. I pulled a .45 bullet that I had reloaded recently and there was only a slight crease where it was crimped. I also pulled a .38 round I had made on the same die as the .357 rounds and again there was only a slight crease around the circumference of the bullet. I can only conclude that somehow changing my die set over from .38 length to reload .357 I increased the crimp considerably.

I've reloaded quite a bit of .38 and .357 on these dies and have always followed the Lee instructions to back out the bullet seater 2 turns to adjust for the longer .357 case length. Since I'm new at this and since the Lee instructions don't say anything about adjusting the crimp setting I've never given it a second thought.

Another lesson learned the hard way! I've probably been shooting those .357 rounds with too much crimp all along. I just stepped up the powder load from the minimum recommended on this last run of 50 though. I'm guessing the higher pressure from the increased powder load and the excessive crimp generated the HOT! load.
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Old May 19, 2007, 01:59 AM   #14
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This is why I trim my revolver brass. I have measured once fired brass after resizing at + or - .005 this will vary the crimp and change the pressure of the load. If you are loading near max. or using a fast burning powder this maybe relevant. Sorry to dig up old bones, but this was a thorn in my side until I bought a case trimmer.
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Old May 19, 2007, 08:24 AM   #15
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arkie2 - not to doubt your analysis since I cannot eyeball your setup and no one can examine the fired rounds for the crimp. However, I seriously doubt it was the crimp even though if they are as you described, you do need to adjust as you already know.

The reason I doubt it's the crimp is that I also doubt that you happened to crimp only 4 in that manner and those 4 happened to be the last 4 rounds; 1 that you fired and 3 that you didn't fire. Highly unlikely.

I think your very first supposition in this thread is the most likely culprit - a double load of powder or at least an overload. A too-tight crimp will rarely if ever give the kind of severe symptoms you described with that one round.

A little tip that has served me well over the years: after you've thrown the powder charges and have a tray full of charged cases, take a flashlight (or do this under a bright light) and glance inside each and every case. Do this at an angle such that you can only see the edge of the powder column. That way you can quickly detect an overload and even an underload, they will be readily apparent since will either see a lot more of the powder column or none of it. You can check the entire tray in only a few seconds.
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Old May 19, 2007, 09:20 AM   #16
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Double charge.

The degree of crimp or the type of primer is not likely to cause such a major pressure jump. Titegroup is a fast burning powder meant for light to medium loads and has to tolerate airspace in most cartridges, so I doubt it was any sort of anomalous ignition phenomenon.

Looking at Hodgdon data, the maximum 5 gr TG and a 158 gr lead .357 is only rated at 24,000 CUP. Many makers do not show SAAMI maximum pressure loads for lead bullets because their customers will complain about leading from heavy loads and cheap bulk bullets. Which is why your gun withstood a double charge, twice as much of a load that normally gave 40,000 CUP would have wrecked it.

Titegroup is a dense, dark, fast powder, hard to see down in the bottom of a tall skinny case like .357. The best thing to do is to get 50 charged cases in a loading block and go down each row under a strong light to be sure each one contains one and only one load.

You can select something that fills the case better by comparing your Lee measure chart versus handbook data. Pick a powder that takes a big cavity to approach the top load.

An overload will not likely hurt the barrel, I have seen pictures of guns blown to pieces but leaving the barrel reusable. If there was any damage done, it will have been to the cylinder. A real gunsmith could gauge the chambers to tell, or you can just shoot the gun. If the chamber that fired the overload was "jugged", extraction will be difficult to impossible even with a standard load.
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Old May 19, 2007, 07:50 PM   #17
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powder check

get a pencil flash light,it will make it easy to see in case.put cases in block as you powder them.your technique will cause to miss.powder all cases then check powder then put bullet in.then seat and crimp.I have lee turret press and I use it as a single stage.goes fast and safe.
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Old May 19, 2007, 10:34 PM   #18
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It was probably a double charge. I use a Lee turret press and if you get distracted while you're expanding the neck/dropping the powder, you could dump powder twice if you double pump the lever even just a quarter of the way.

If you pull the lever down to expand the neck and charge the powder, then let the lever up just alittle, you can reset the powder measure but not pull the case mouth off of the expander. Then if you pull the handle down again, it'll throw another charge - Thus giving you a double charge.

It's pretty easy to do. If you lean over abit or if someone asks you a question while you're in that stage, it's really easy to do. The only ways I found to ensure this doesn't happen is always pull and push the lever with a positive movement and pause between each cycle. I do it like you'd shift gears.

Of course, you could also switch to a powder that's physically too big to throw a double charge without you noticing, like Unique.
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Old May 21, 2007, 12:33 PM   #19
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Arkie: Look carefully at the forcing cone area of the barrel. I have seen tiny cracks there from high pressure situations.
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Old May 21, 2007, 02:17 PM   #20
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Jim Watson has it right. The steel is thinnest at the cylinder and is where damage will occur first. I had a double charge burst in a 1911 years ago. The main damage was the case opened up in the unsuported area under the barrel extension (hood) and brass fragments blew back through the slide ways into my face. Fortunately I was wearing my glasses or I'd be blind. As it was, I just got a few stiches where the doctor had to open a puncture in my cheek to fish a brass fragment out. The remaining cartridges in the magazine were deformed and the grip panels cracked. The action had to be hammered open. The revolver relevent part is that the barrel's chamber area, where the metal was thicker, was just fine, but the thinner part of the tube just ahead of the chamber grew 0.002". I replaced the barrel.

You can slug your cylinder chambers to check for swelling. The reason the case sticks is the steel stretches so far with the brass that it springs back on the brass and sizes it back down. So, its like a case in a sizing die without lube. Pretty hard to remove. What you want to check is that the steel came all the way back to its original size by comparing its diameter to the other cylinders. If it's not bigger than the others it didn't hit its yield, and will be fine. If it got fatter, that chamber is no longer as strong as it once was and the cylinder should be replaced so it is strong enough to protect you in the event of another such accident.

The crimp won't be the problem. Neither will the primer. The fast powders don't really care about the primer much. Slow ball powders are hard to light and require the magnum primers just to get burning well. The only two causes of any likelyhood are the double charge or an inadequately or uncrimped case that let the bullet push way back into the case. In straight wall cases, pressures increase rapidly with seating depth. This is not so likely to have happened to you, however, since revolver recoil tends to back bullets out, not push them in.


Flutedchamber:

I have to correct two misconceptions on your part. Detonation is not limited to slow powders. It was simply first publicized by a writer whose experiments with reduced charges of surplus 4831 had caused a detonation. There is a destroyed .308 Mauser action toward the bottom of this page that was burst by 2.9 grains of Vihtavuori N320, which is a fast pistol powder similar in burning rate to Bullseye.

Secondly, the reason 296/H110 loads are not recommended to be reduced is not the danger of detonation. It is entirely due to the powder's performance in revolvers, where it is used most often. The powder requires a substantial start pressure to begin burning quickly. A light load has too much empty case space for this ignition to get going well-enough before the bullet clears the case mouth. In this instance, as the bullet base pases the barrel/cylinder gap, the inadequate start pressure vents out through that gap faster than it is being made up by the poorly burning powder. Thus, the load squibs out, leaving the bullet stuck in the barrel. The next round, if it lights up properly, then fires into the bore obstruction created by the first bullet, and that can be disasterous. Fired in barrels without a venting gap, like self-loading pistols or in rifles, this powder can be safely reduced as far as other powders can.

The reduced load warning is posted with explanation on Hodgdon's web site.

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Old May 21, 2007, 09:10 PM   #21
joneb
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Well I'm still glad I have a case trimmer It took the frustration out of crimping my revolver brass.
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