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Old January 25, 2012, 09:18 AM   #1
Orochimaru
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Handloads for 1911 vs M&P 45

I have an unusual issue that, frankly, has me a bit stumped.

A while back, I purchased an RIA 1911 - amazingly my first 1911 after many years of owning firearms. After some initial finicky behavior due to an overly tight extractor, it has behaved very well. I have developed about 8 different loads for this 1911. All are based on either FMJ or plated rounds, and all but one of them is based on Round Nose bullets -- simple, basic ammo. Nothing fancy.

** All of them fire and cycle flawlessly in my 1911 **

Recently, I purchased an M&P45 (full size) with a round count of ~ 800. Great condition - very clean, etc. I took it to the range for the first time yesterday to see how it performed. Some factory ammo, as well as a sampling of my handloads went with me.

Factory ammo (Aguila) chambered, cycled, and shot perfectly from the M&P. Some of my handloads did not. All failures of my handloads had the exact same problem: failure to feed. This included my 1911 "go to" round (230 FMJ RN/5.2 Win231). This was VERY surprising to me. I would expect the M&P to be forgiving and the 1911 to be picky, yet ammo that works flawlessly time after time in my 1911 won't feed in the M&P. I have no idea how some of the recipes shoot from the M&P as I was never able to get a single round to chamber! The range was busy, so I didn't have a lot of time to mess with it, or even take pictures, but after I got home I noted the following:

* The Aguila ammo has a longer OAL (1.262) than any of my handloads (1.240).
* Some of my handloads with shorter OAL (185 grain HB-RN) worked, however.
* The Aguila ammo is undersized slightly. Case diameter at the mouth is 0.466. My handloads are all set to 0.469
* The Aguila ammo *and* ALL the handloads pass the "plunk test" using the barrel as a headspace gauge. They are all headspacing on the case mouth. I had cleaned the barrel prior to running this test.
* My dummy rounds (no powder/primer) that I make when developing a new recipe all fed properly -- even when I was intentionally guiding the slide. This was tested after I disassembled and cleaned the firearm.
* Comparing bullet and shoulder profiles to the Aguila ammo revealed significant overlap, although different OALs, of course. Nothing stood out as an abnormally unusual slope, angle, or profile.
* Two of the recipes were post-sized with the Lee FCD and they happened to work. This may be simple coincidence, as I stupidly forgot to mark whether the other handloads had been post-sized or not. (I'm not trying or wanting to make another darn FCD thread -- I'm merely adding this as a note)
* One batch of reloads was working and shooting exceptionally well. Halfway through the box, they flat-out refused to feed. I don't change process or specs halfway through a run, so this one really boggled me...
* Factory ammo worked every time.

I'm at a bit of a loss and could use some advice/opinion -- especially from fellow M&P owners that also handload. I have a couple of theories, but I'd like to hear other thoughts before I share them.
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Old January 25, 2012, 10:15 AM   #2
PawPaw
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I also have a 1911 and an M&P45. I had some handloads last summer that exhibited the same problem that yours exhibited. The M&P wouldn't go fully into battery. I re-seated the bullets by a thousnadth or so and everything fed fine. I think that my handloads were just a tiny bit too long for the M&P. It may have been a throating issue and the difference between my M&P barel and my 1911 barrel was such that one fed fine and the other did not.

By the way, I was using my 230 grain home cast LRN bullets, lubed with Lee LLA and loaded in a mixture of range brass. My ammo has always fed and fired fine in the family 1911's, but the M&P suffered a hiccup.
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Old January 25, 2012, 10:46 AM   #3
Adamantium
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Alright, lot of information to sort through . I don't have an M&P but I am an avid 45acp reloader so I'll try to help out.

If you are having a hard time finding patterns to address testing several reloads through one gun it might be because there are so many variables at play here. Shooting a reload that works fine through a new magazine is even adding another variable.

Quote:
failure to feed
At what point are they failing to feed? Does the nose bury itself into the feed ramp or is it getting caught at the top of the chamber before the rim makes it under the extractor? Or something else?

Quote:
My dummy rounds (no powder/primer) that I make when developing a new recipe all fed properly -- even when I was intentionally guiding the slide. This was tested after I disassembled and cleaned the firearm.
Is this a new load that you worked up for the M&P or are these from the work ups you did before that FTF at the range? Also intentionally slowing down the slide is a good test to check a too tight extractor on a 1911 but doesn't replicate the true feeding of a gun.

I know every handloader is different and has different goal in mind but 8 loads, all target, for one caliber seems excessive. The powder inside isn't going to effect feeding but the external dimensions (and the Lee FCD) will. Perhaps in would be easier to manage two guns with different tastes by finding the one load that works for both and stick with it. From reading what you wrote it looks like you have as many as 3 already.

Also mark your magazines with numbered masking tape on the bottom and record jams by magazine as well. There could be more than one problem at work.
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Old January 25, 2012, 12:37 PM   #4
Orochimaru
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My day job involves working on computers... I wish it was something glamorous like "International Spy", but it isn't. In the world of computers, we have a term called "PEBCAK" (alternate spelling is PEBKAC -- either works)... Stands for:

Problem
Exists
Between
Chair
And
Keyboard

And that turns out to be the problem here... the problem is with the guy pulling the trigger...

I took the *exact* same ammo (along with some additional test ammo) to the range today and absolutely *everything* fired flawlessly. FCD, no FCD, short OAL, long OAL, factory --didn't matter. It all fed and fired.

What was the difference? Before going to the range today, *I* cleaned the firearm.

Yep -- I made the stupid, STUPID mistake of trusting the previous owner's cleaning. The firearm looked immaculate and seemed to cycle and work flawlessly. However, whatever he had used was apparently too sticky -- or had become too sticky while the gun sat unused. Residue, etc, stuck EVERYWHERE and gummed up the works. The undersized Aguila's were still working, but I'm betting that had I continued to shoot yesterday, they would have eventually failed as well. This also explains why a recipe that was working early in the session yesterday stopped working.

When I cleaned it last night, I couldn't believe how much dirty stuff came out of the firearm -- and that is how the "cleanliness" theory (one of the theories I mentioned in the original post) got started. Even though I shot more rounds today than yesterday, my firearm is visibly cleaner in and around the chamber/feed ramp than yesterday. The slide felt snappier today as well -- amazing what a significant reduction of friction will accomplish.

To make matters worse... I know better. I've seen problems similar to this cause malfunctions in other peoples' firearms. I've even seen grease-turned-glue cause problems for electromechanical devices. I had to completely disassemble and clean a high-end tape deck that simply wouldn't engage because the "lubricant" had turned so sticky it had basically glued surfaces together.

So -- now I can get on with the task of finding which combination of bullet/powder produces the best result in each firearm, etc. and reduce my recipe-count to a smaller number.

I'm sharing this not only to reinforce my status as today's idiot-of-the-day, but as a reminder to not forget the basics. This was relatively minor and not an oversight in the reloading process - thankfully. Nothing happened, and the only injury is to my pride...
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Old January 25, 2012, 12:51 PM   #5
Sevens
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Well done!
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Old January 25, 2012, 02:02 PM   #6
PawPaw
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Quote:
I'm sharing this not only to reinforce my status as today's idiot
Ha! That's normally my job. I think I'll have a sign made for my door. Better yet, a Tee-shirt.
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