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Old April 26, 2006, 04:00 PM   #1
Benzene
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Features for failure

I'd be glad to be able to pinpoint features that cause rounds to malfunction in semi-auto pistols. Obviously, a primer seated too deeply could cause a light strike. But what about overall cartridge length, bullet shape, irregularities in case walls, etc. that could/do affect how the round chambers?

I'm becoming more skeptical about semi-autos (compared to revolvers) for self defense. I find myself more inclined to use my Taurus 608 (8 rounds of .357 magnum) as my "1911", but the thing is heavy.

If I have a good enough knowledge of the physics of the functioning of semi-autos, I might be more comfortable carrying any of my several semi-autos. Purely on the basis of trial-and-error, I often use my PT145 Mill Pro loaded with Winchester 230 grains HP. I don't find it logical to assume that, because 100s of rounds of a particular brand of ammo functioned well, the next round will also do so. Highly probable, yes, but certainly not scientifically sound.

The views of our experts here would be very much appreciated. I like the terms "resident experts" and "gurus".
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Old April 26, 2006, 04:11 PM   #2
caz223
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I don't know how you could seat a primer too deep to cause a light strike.
Not deep enough will cause light strikes. Matter of fact, primers not seated flush can tie up revolvers, had it happen.
OAL too short, nosedive, possible kaboom.
OAL too long, round may get stuck in magazine.
Bullet profiles can indeed affect feeding reliability.
Most modern autos can handle ball, JHP and most readily available ammo.
Not necessarily semi-wadcutters, esp. seated a little deep.
Creased brass, improperly seated bullets, poor crimp, and many, many other things could tie up an auto or make it unsafe to fire.
Most of these things would be unsafe to shoot in a wheelgun, but since you're loading them in the chambers beforehand, you'd notice if they wouldn't chamber fully.
Don't reload self defense ammo, maintain your gun properly, use common sense, and you won't have a problem.
I haven't had one of my personal autos jam in a very long time, years, in fact.
It was with a 357SIG factory round failing to go into battery IIRC...
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Old April 26, 2006, 04:18 PM   #3
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It's rarely the ammo; malfunctions are generally caused by the magazine, the gun, or the shooter.
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Old April 26, 2006, 04:40 PM   #4
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Once you stray off the beaten path (Stuff like shooting lead instead of jacketed in autos.) and deviate from the normally accepted standards (Like abnormal profiles, over and under loads, etc.), ammo failures get more and more common.
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Old April 26, 2006, 04:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Once you stray off the beaten path (Stuff like shooting lead instead of jacketed in autos.) ... ammo failures get more and more common.
Oh, really?

I dunno a single bullseye shooter who shoots jacketed.
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Old April 26, 2006, 09:22 PM   #6
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I dissagree about handloading for self defense.I don't shoot any factory ammo.I have loaded many different type of bullets and charges in my ar15 and did through 1000's of rounds.I forgot to clean the primer pocket in 20 rounds and had five duds because of it.besides that day I have had flawless loading and extracting in 2 different ar15's.and for that matter i have seen far more factory loads fail in guns than reloads in my experience.Yes I am confident with my reloading but I am carefull and will continue to be ..for anybody that is new or is unsure about there loads I 2 recommend buying at least some factory ammo just so you have some security and piece of mind,but for me I have piece of mind in what works and doesn't fail me..my self defense load is 77 smk magazine length Oh ya
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Old April 27, 2006, 06:04 AM   #7
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You conveniently left out the part about deviating from normally accepted standards.
At the minor velocities those guys shoot, jacketed barely grabs the rifling.
Those aren't stock guns either, they got lighter springs, etc.
He asked the question as pertaining to carry loads.
Lead isn't that popular for self defense.
*shrug* whatever.
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Old April 27, 2006, 09:41 AM   #8
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Only part that I was addressing was the assertion that lead is more prone to malfunction. I ain't seen that claim defended, neither.

Ain't seen the discussion limited to stock guns, neither. I would not consider using an auto as a carry piece without a few hours of careful attention and a couple hundred rounds through it without malfunction.
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Old April 27, 2006, 11:49 AM   #9
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Specific factors

I'd imagine that the functioning of the cartridge-gun pair is not subject to "emotional" but physical factors - OAL, shape of bullet, shape and cleanliness of case (including the "ring" that seems to exist, the ring on the case indicating the inserted extremity of the bullet), cartridge weight, etc. This forum is replete with invaluable empirical data, thanks to the "gurus" and "resident experts" - I really admire those folks.

The input "It's rarely the ammo; malfunctions are generally caused by the magazine, the gun, or the shooter," went a long way in restoring my confidence in my semi-autos.

I DO look forward to learning from others, instead of basing my decision on my going out to the range to "burn" hundreds of SD rounds (not to mention the $ involved) alone.

I'm grateful for the shared experience.
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Old April 27, 2006, 01:13 PM   #10
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I'm not saying that lead is less reliable.
Read my post again.
I said there was a learning curve, as with anything new....
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Old April 27, 2006, 01:41 PM   #11
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DJ, I guess I'm going to have to relearn everything. Lead isn't that popular and it's prone to malfunction. Can you imagine that? Thirty years of casting, hand loading, and shooting right down the toilet.... I guess I've just strayed too far from the beaten path, so to speak.

btw, my carry gun (a semiauto) is stoked with home made cast boolits. It is reliable. How do I know? I shoot it regularly. Point is, if you're gonna depend on something, you better use (and maintain) it regularly..., very regularly..., like go to the range..., alot. The Army calls it 'train as you fight'. When you train, you use your 'go to battle equipment'. If you don't, you don't know that it works.

See y'all in school. sundog
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Old April 27, 2006, 03:00 PM   #12
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This forum is replete with people asking about numerous problems associated with loading lead for the first time. You need only search for proof.
The jacketed boys aren't the only ones with problems.
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Old April 27, 2006, 05:04 PM   #13
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Quote:
The input "It's rarely the ammo; malfunctions are generally caused by the magazine, the gun, or the shooter," went a long way in restoring my confidence in my semi-autos.
That's a sad fact of life, Benzine. It 's a mighty rare pistol that comes from the factory ready to be used as a carry piece. They need some handwork to be completely trustworthy. Most pistolsmiths offer carry gun package deals. A bit of slicking goes a long way towards perfect functioning.

There are also God's plenty of magazine problems. There's some pure junk on the market. Even a good magazine can wear at the securing notch or get dinged lips from being dropped during a speed reload.

I'm not saying that autos are poor choices for carrying guns, just that they need some intitial attention and regular care.
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Old April 27, 2006, 06:09 PM   #14
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Thanks

Even a good magazine can wear at the securing notch or get dinged lips from being dropped during a speed reload.

This is precisely the kind of information I'm looking for. Could you please elaborate on the "carry gun package deals". Thanks.

When you train, you use your 'go to battle equipment'. If you don't, you don't know that it works.

I couldn't agree more! That is why I'm trying to build my own ammo "prototype". This way I hope to be able to customize ammo to suit each of my handguns, my individual shooting peculiarities, shoot as frequently as is practicable for me, and maybe save some $. Am I too deep in "dream-world"?

I'm also trying to keep track of serious comments about legal implications relating to reloads for SD. But that's another matter.

Thanks, y'all!
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Old April 27, 2006, 07:54 PM   #15
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Benzene, I've been out of smithing for about 15 years so I don't know current prices. I charged $50-$75 (low, even for the time) plus parts and ammo to bring a 1911 to carry trim. That got the ramp polished, the chamber throat altered to feed anything and matched to the ramp, the breech face polished, the firing pin hole deburred and lightly radiused, and the extractor lightly radiused and polished. I also checked the mag release to make sure it fully engaged the mags, and deburred the grip safety. During function testing, I'd watch the ejection and alter the angle of the ejector tip, if needed. Some smiths enlarged the ejection port, but I never felt that was necessary

Most of my customers wanted an oversized safety fitted which would have been extra. Another very good option was slightly higher fixed sights.
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Old April 28, 2006, 12:34 AM   #16
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Cast 230 grain RN's and FP's bullets work just fine out of my Colt .45 and have for eons. There's no reason, other than keeping the manufacturer's marketing types happy, to use only jacketed bullets in a semi-auto. For carry or anything else.
"...overall cartridge length..." Yes, if the OAL is too long the round won't seat in the chamber properly.
"...irregularities in case walls..." Means your sizing die is damaged.
"...bullet shape..." Yep, that can cause grief. Generally, SWC's don't feed as easily as a round nose or flat point. Too many edges that can get caught. Mind you, lots of them are used every day. They're just more difficult to get to feed reliably. Taper crimp only.
"...customize ammo to suit each of my handguns..." That's exactly what you should be doing. That's what reloading is all about. Tailoring your ammo for your firearm.
If your primers are going in too deep, something is terribly wrong. Likely poor brass.
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Old April 28, 2006, 10:24 PM   #17
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Useful info

T. O'Heir, thanks. The information you provided is specific and useful to me.

I think I recall reading that the Taurus 24/7 Pro shot 10,000 rounds of Winchester cartridges in two days without a single malfunction. I think Winchester cartridges were used. I don't know what (i) bullet shape, (ii) OAL, (iii) other physical feature(s) accounted for this admirable performance.

In view of Leftoverdj's practice of having "the ramp polished" and the part of his comment that "malfunctions are generally caused by the magazine," would it help if cases reloaded are polished (with the mineral spirits/NuFinish mixture)?

By "irregularities in case walls," I mean "the 'ring' that seems to exist, the ring on the case indicating the inserted extremity of the bullet."
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Old April 28, 2006, 11:46 PM   #18
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Benzene, brass is pretty slick in its own right. Polishing it might help minimally, but it's no substitute for having the steel surfaces deburred and polished. Sharp edges can actually cut into the brass.

I forgot a couple of touches on a carry gun job. The rails on both the frame and the slide need to be checked and and polished if any roughness is found. An overpower slide spring should be installed if the gun is only to be used with full house loads.
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Old May 1, 2006, 05:01 AM   #19
silicon wolverine
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If you crimp 9mm luger too tightly it wont headspace on the mouth of the case and go too deep into the barrel.

SW
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Old May 3, 2006, 06:07 PM   #20
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Quote:
That's a sad fact of life, Benzine. It 's a mighty rare pistol that comes from the factory ready to be used as a carry piece. They need some handwork to be completely trustworthy. Most pistolsmiths offer carry gun package deals. A bit of slicking goes a long way towards perfect functioning.

I own a CZ75B 9mm, I've run over 2000 rounds through it in the last few months, without one malfunction. I know I didnt get the only good one I reload for all my guns, if you stay close to factory oal, bullet profile, and dont get gun ho with your loads, you'll be fine.
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Old May 3, 2006, 09:01 PM   #21
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Benzene - There are several threads out there about reloads as carry ammo - legal issues, not reliability, as I believe careful reloading practices can produce 100% reliable ammo.

One thing I've done is settle on Speer Gold Dot ammo for carry, because I can buy their bullets as components and reload my practice ammo for about a third of the cost of factory stuff. With access to a chronograph to measure the factory stuff and to check your reloads you can pretty much duplicate the factory experience.
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Old May 4, 2006, 11:07 PM   #22
Benzene
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Specifications

Wrangler5, could you please state the specifications of your reloads?
powder wt. & name = ___; bullet wt. = ____; OAL = _____.

Thanks.
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Old May 6, 2006, 01:57 AM   #23
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benzene,
the biggest problem with carry reloads are legal issues. after you legally use your gun to stop a felon according to your state's rules of engagement, you and your gun will take a little backseat ride to talk to the boys with badges. your gun and its ammo will be kept in the evidence room, and you will be sent off to court. the lawyer on the other side may try to spin a negative image of you, to convince the 12 mostly ignorant folks off to the right that you are, in fact, a sociopath who obsessively works up handloads in his basement during the wee hours of the morning, fanatically intent on killing people. that is not a pretty picture. if you are on trial, it would look a lot better if you bought factory rounds advertised for self-defense from the local sporting goods store. cor-bons are my choice, there are a number of highly effective factory loads out there. don't give them anything to pin you down with- remember, it is increasingly unpopular for joe schmoe civilian to use a gun to protect himself.

that said, i have to agree with other posters about faulting the magazine. imo, most ftf malfs are magazine related. in autos, limp-wristing also causes ftf (or fte, if you are really softpawing it).

a compact revolver is always the most reliable carry gun. it is simple and idiot proof (mostly). autos take more practice, but they remain my carry weapon of choice. i suggest you join up with the local IDPA group, and get your regular practice. you need to establish muscle memory, such that drawing and operating your pistol is second nature.

as for factory autos, my hk usp has several thousand rounds through it, without a single malf. my carry baby this year is a glock 27, which has not yet malfunctioned after about 2k rounds. (boston's gun bible convinced me to go glock). btw, 95% of the rounds fired from both guns are reloads, and neither has had any work, except tritium dot sights.
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Old May 6, 2006, 09:01 AM   #24
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More than one has mentioned 'legal issues'. Can any of you point directly to any case where this has come up and actually worked against the person who legally defended himself. sundog
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Old May 6, 2006, 05:57 PM   #25
Benzene
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Precisely!

Cranky, please allow me to say to you, "Welcome". I'm sure you'll find this a great forum. And thanks for the input about magazines. I wonder whether there are specific ways to check these potential problem points, additional to those alluded to by Leftoverdj.

About legal issues, "sundog" has hit the target! This is a question that is almost always raised by buddies of mine who actually conceal carry reloads without "fear". They dismiss it as a useless hypothesis that further robs us whatever sense of security cc affords. I recall reading somewhere that this entire line of discussion was initiated by those with a vested interest in the profits from manufactured ammo sale. Another old wives tale? Possibly. That's why I separate the issues - specifics of reloading from legalities.

I'll keep it that way. IMVHO, I'd consider it a plus on the legal side that the one who was forced to put down one of the growing number of vicious felons had taken steps to achieve as-near-as-practicable match between tool (gun-ammo combo) and user, and had trained adequately.

I sincerely hope that none of us (law-abiding folks) ever becomes forced to use a deadly concealed weapon, but I realize that criminals cannot be merely wished away, and that once upon a time Satan was a resident of Paradise - the abode of perfect peace.
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