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Old January 22, 2013, 10:23 PM   #1
bt380
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Dropping Round Into the Chamber

Have a question for you techy types that get into the science of ammo: Read an article, "Ammunition Failure Warning," http://www.bluesheepdog.com/2012/03/...ilure-warning/ I have read about bullet setback issues but a comment in this article stated, "when loading the weapon, load from the magazine and do not drop the round directly into the chamber." So what's the difference if you drop a round into a revolver cylinder vs a pistol barrel? Also, why would it make a difference if the round is dropped in or rammed in from the pistol slide?
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Old January 22, 2013, 10:30 PM   #2
Bob Wright
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Some auto pistols require the cartridge to ride up the feed ramp to properly engage the extractor. If the extractor is not engaged, the round may faile to extract the fired case when fired.

I've loaded rounds into the chamber with a Colt Gold Cup without a hitch, but made sure I let the slide slam forward without "riding" it forward with my hand.

But my knowledge of auto loaders gained over the years would not fill a thimble compared to others on this forum.

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Old January 22, 2013, 10:34 PM   #3
Doc TH
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In a revolver, there is not an extractor that must "slide" over the cartridge rim. The revolver extractor is an integral part of the cylinder (double action revolver). In a SA revolver there is no extractor per se, and only one method of loading the cylinder. In a semiauto pistol, an extractor must slide or "jump" over the cartridge rim when the slide moves forward. There are theories that the point of impact will differ if the slide is eased forward over a previously seated cartridge vs allowing the slide to strip the cartridge from the magazine, or that extraction will be more certain or reliable if the slide is allowed to move forward stripping the first round from the magazine.
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Old January 22, 2013, 10:47 PM   #4
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^^^What he said.
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Old January 22, 2013, 10:50 PM   #5
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Extractors can be forced around a cartridge rim, there's no denying that, but it's bad on the extractor to do that...probably some guns more than others. Some extractors can break despite being incredibly harder than the brass case they're slammed against. The movement of an extractor is not intended to be pushed out and around a rim and it's been told to me that it will mess with the mechanisms behind the extractor as well.

Basically, as posts 2 and 3 describes, the natural or intended way to load a round in the chamber is from a magazine so that the movement of the slide going into battery can guide a round up into the extractor's grasp as it enters the chamber. I wouldn't slam the slide on my 1911 around a chambered round I put in because there's no natural resistance and it's pretty much the same as slamming the slide on an empty chamber.

Can you get by with slamming your extractor around the rim of your manually inserted cartridge? Probably. Are extractors easy to replace, sure. Are you risking a reduction in shell extraction consistency? Possibly. Would you like to run the risk of FTEs when your life is on the line? I wouldn't.

I was faced with this debate and I err'd on the side of caution because you can't know from the testimony of others how your gun will fare. Also, it's not a big deal to load that +1 via the mag, then top off the mag and do your loaded check before you leave the house.
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Old January 22, 2013, 10:54 PM   #6
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There was a thread about this not long ago. When chambering a round from the magazine, in most autos the case rim slides under and up into the extractor. When manually loading the round into the chamber and releasing the slide, the extractor hits the back of the case rim and rides over it rather than the case sliding up into it. It is said that this can put excess wear and stress on the extractor overtime. Certain guns like the Beretta 92 are designed to be manually loaded if need be, and is perfectly safe for the extractor to drop a slide on a manually chambered round.
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Old January 22, 2013, 11:01 PM   #7
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I'll convert to the mag load vs the drop in for that extra round in the chamber. Then remove the mag and insert another round into the mag. Good reply details, thanks.
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Old January 22, 2013, 11:07 PM   #8
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You probably don't need this, but you can see how the round gets loaded into the extractor at the 3 second mark in this video. No wear, no tear.
http://youtu.be/fg0-vfb6c7Q
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Old January 22, 2013, 11:11 PM   #9
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Not a "techy type" but I do have a few decades of experience. Basically what happens is that dropping a round into a revolver chamber is gentle, and only gravity assists.

Now, when you do that in an auto pistol, it is the same thing, until the slide closes. Now, some pistol designs allow for the extractor to flex or pivot to snap over the rim of the case. Others do not.

And, closing the slide has complications also, depending on the manner used. If you ease the slide forward, and the extractor doesn't snap over the rim easily, then the slide may not go fully into battery.

Conversely, allowing the slide to slam forward on the round has risks as well, dependant on the specific design of the pistol. If the extractor isn't designed (or modified) to snap over the rim, you risk breakage. If the firing pin isn't designed to be held, or if the sping holding it is too weak, it could slam forward and fire the round. The slide moves significantly faster when it isn't pushing a round into the chamber, and what is safe when loading a round may not be if the slide is let slam shut on a chambered round. Also, even if there is no risk of firing, the slide slamming shut may drive the round too deeply into the chamber, with the issues that causes...

It depends on both the design, and the condition of the gun, what is, or is not safe. Loading from the magazine is the intended method for all the autos I know of (and I know quite a few). Some of them will allow safely single loading without risk, others will not. I have one semi auto where the manual specifically forbids letting it slam shut on a chambered round.

As to the risk of bullet setback in am auto pistol, this does not happen with properly constructed ammunition. Even when the round is fed over and over again. With correct neck tension, the bullets doesn not get pushed back.

HOWEVER, not all rounds are built to that rigorous standard. And even rounds from the big name ammo companies can escape the proper QC, and have enough neck tension to be loaded once in perfect safety but suffer setback from repeated feedings. It does happen.

Making rounds well enough to survive multiple chamberings is quite do able, but might not be done, as it is always a cost/benefit thing. I have personally seen a single .45acp round chambered thousands of times over a couple decades, to the point where the nickle plated case had brass streaks all over it from the nickle wearing through. That bullet never moved. And when the owner finally did fire it, it fed and fired perfectly. It can be done. The fact that not all ammo is made to this high standard does not mean that some isn't, even today.

And a good reloader can make their ammo perform just as well.
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Old January 22, 2013, 11:17 PM   #10
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Dropping a round into the chamber of a 1911 can damage the extractor. It's designed to feed from the magazine. A 92FS can be loaded into the bbl by hand. The extractor on the Beretta has a spring that allows it to ride over the rim of the cartridge. The extractor on the 1911 is hand tuned by bending it to get the correct tension on it, loading one in the chamber and letting the slide slam will probably load but sooner or later you'll see extraction/ejection problems.
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Old January 22, 2013, 11:34 PM   #11
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Yeah a Beretta 92FS is the only one I know of that talks about how you can load one directly into the chamber without a magazine, in case you lose a magazine you can still use it loading 1 round at a time with no need for a magazine. Since it's a combat weapon makes sense. If a soldier for whatever reason losses a magazine, or one is faulty, the soldier can still load rounds one at a time directly into chamber with the Beretta M9/92FS. Part of the Beretta open slide design.
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Old January 23, 2013, 01:21 AM   #12
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Ruger also states in their manuals that at least some of the P-Series pistols can be direct-chamber loaded.

Basically, if the manual doesn't state it is acceptable, it's not a good idea.
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Old January 23, 2013, 08:39 AM   #13
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Quote:
"when loading the weapon, load from the magazine and do not drop the round directly into the chamber." So what's the difference if you drop a round into a revolver cylinder vs a pistol barrel? Also, why would it make a difference if the round is dropped in or rammed in from the pistol slide?
That's generalizing from a rule that's true for most (but not all) autoloaders.

My Ruger P90's manual, for instalnce, specifically recommends dropping a round in the chamber for single loading.
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Old January 23, 2013, 03:29 PM   #14
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I don't see a reason why anyone would want to do that in the first place.

External extractors for the most part, are easier to do this with.

Internal extractors for the most part, are harder to..and more likely susceptible to damage.

Me? I don't do it.
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Old January 23, 2013, 03:37 PM   #15
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FWIW, one of the tests the Army ran on the 1911 before it became the 1911 was to be sure the forward movement of the slide would let the extractor ride over the rim of a chambered round. The reason was thay they had the idea that magazines might become lost in combat and felt that the pistol should at least work as a single shot in an emergency. (The same reason they rejected a magazine safety.)

There is no problem when the extractors are made from the proper spring steel. Only recently, when most extractors are made from cheap cast junk metal (old chewing gum wrappers, I think) has there been a problem with extractors breaking.

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Old January 23, 2013, 04:35 PM   #16
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I did not know that ^^^^^^^

Thanks for the info.
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Old January 23, 2013, 05:24 PM   #17
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The Walther P5, Sig P6, and H&K P7 were also designed to allow safely dropping the slide on a loaded chamber. It was one of the requirements that they had to meet to be adopted as service pistols. I know the Beretta 92 series pistols allow this as well.

All these pistols have an extractor with a ramp on the outside surface of the extractor, forward of the hook, to allow it to slide over the rim of the casing more easily.

I don't personally see the purpose of doing this regularly, on any pistol, even if the pistol and extractor were designed to allow it, and if I lose the magazine and I need to load the pistol and fire it, I would load it and fire it regardless of whether or not the pistol and extractor were designed to allow it.
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Old January 23, 2013, 05:42 PM   #18
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After reading all the foregoing, I was reminded of a military pistol, maybe a Webley but not sure, where the magazine catch was two positioned. The purpose was to partially load a full magazine into the pistol and keep it in reserve while handling and firing the pistol as a single shot. Then, if the situation demanded, the magazine could be slammed home for semi-automatic fire.

Sounds like a completely absurb idea all the 'way around, to me. Now, I'm really curious, need to look that up again.

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Old January 23, 2013, 06:17 PM   #19
Bill DeShivs
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03 A3 rifles were made with a magazine block for single shot loading.
I can't think of a pistol with this feature. The LeFrancais and some Berettas used a tip up barrel that can be single loaded, but don't have mag blocks.
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Old January 23, 2013, 06:36 PM   #20
Jim Watson
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Yes, Bob, it is indeed the .455 Webley auto that has two latch notches in the magazine to serve the purpose of a cutoff.
The concept was soon abandoned for military rifles* and the pistol is a real oddball of optimism.

*The cutoff on a 1913 Springfield is also the bolt stop and could not be removed as it was from other service rifles. I don't know why they didn't just quit machining the two positions, though.
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Old January 23, 2013, 08:20 PM   #21
bt380
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Thanks for the information on the other pistols. Lots of good pointers as well.
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