The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > Hogan's Alley > Handguns: The Semi-automatic Forum

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old February 9, 2010, 01:07 PM   #1
Huck1969
Member
 
Join Date: December 9, 2009
Posts: 28
Case Head Separation Sig 226 40SW

I would like to hear from those with experience reloading for the 40SW and specifically those reloading for the Sig 226. My friend just bought a new Sig 226 40SW and he and I (we both have nine years experience as rifle caliber and 45ACP reloaders) reloaded about 300 rounds for it. We used scrounged brass (I know what some will say to that), that was tumbled clean and sized with a Lee 40SW carbide sizing die; CCI small pistol primers; Rainier 180gr HP's; and 5.3gr of W231. We weighed every 10th charge from the powder dispenser. COL was 1.125in and the seating die was Not set for a roll crimp. Although having a Lee Factory Crimp Die, we did Not use it.

I was not with my friend at the range but here is what he experienced. Initially he fired 50 rounds of factory loads with no surprises. After firing approximately 100 rounds of our reloads (with normal functioning) he experienced a case head separation just forward of the head with the majority of the case stuck in the barrel and the case head ejecting. Additionally the ejector was blown out of the pistol. He also described "lots of smoke" which may or may not be helpful to you. No one was injured but it sure got his attention.

Because of our sound habits with regard to powder measurement and checking level in poured cases with a flashlight before bullet seating, I feel confident this was not from a double load. A friend has also offered the theory that it could have been a case previously fired in a Glock that apparently is designed with a partially unsupported chamber, resulting in a weakening an area of the case, that failed on our subsequent firing. Additionally, if your wondering, the reloaded round that failed had not been chambered and unchambered; thus had not experienced the possible "set back" into the case problem, causing high pressure, that has also been brought to my attention.

Already I have resolved to use the Factory Crimp Die on all of the reloads we already made and future reloads to guard against the "set back" issue. I am also weighing all of the remaining reloads of that batch to confirm no double loads.

I value your advice; what do you guys think?

Thanks in advance. Huck
__________________
Huck
Vietnam Veteran Linebacker Two
Huck1969 is offline  
Old February 9, 2010, 04:49 PM   #2
mete
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 14, 2004
Location: NY State
Posts: 5,156
Scrounged brass ! You would have been safer if you had examined each case for thinning of the wall .School of hard knocks !
mete is offline  
Old February 9, 2010, 04:53 PM   #3
silversimpson
Member
 
Join Date: February 5, 2010
Posts: 42
Question from a noob (me):
What does an unsupported chamber mean? I'd like to be able to understand this concept, thanks!
silversimpson is offline  
Old February 9, 2010, 05:14 PM   #4
silversimpson
Member
 
Join Date: February 5, 2010
Posts: 42
In response to myself:

I Googled the information and found this website to be quite compelling:

http://www.thegunzone.com/glock/glock-kb-faq.html

I think that the high-pressure rounds (.40S&W, .357 Sig) seem to be the ones to be worried about, but there are other factors.
silversimpson is offline  
Old February 9, 2010, 06:07 PM   #5
NYPD13
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 10, 2008
Posts: 345
Quote "What does an unsupported chamber mean? I'd like to be able to understand this concept, thanks!"
This refers to a chamber which does not fully encapsulate a cartridge. In some pistols the feed ramp intrudes upon the bottom of the chamber at the breach face. This leaves a small space where only the thickness of the cartridge case contains the pressure during discharge. Examples are Glock and standard 1911 series pistols.
__________________
"THE CONSTITUTION ONLY GIVES PEOPLE THE RIGHT TO PURSUE HAPPINESS, YOU HAVE TO CATCH IT YOURSELF." ~BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.
NYPD13 is offline  
Old February 9, 2010, 08:35 PM   #6
mete
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 14, 2004
Location: NY State
Posts: 5,156
The proper term would be "partially unsupported case".
mete is offline  
Old February 9, 2010, 08:51 PM   #7
tincanhunter
Member
 
Join Date: July 3, 2009
Posts: 94
My guess is the case had a crack/fracture in it that you guys didn't catch. I've reloaded more scrounged range brass in 40 & 357 Sig than I can count without a single failure. I also check the brass over before I reload.
tincanhunter is offline  
Old February 9, 2010, 09:04 PM   #8
jborushko
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 5, 2009
Location: Tacoma WA
Posts: 465
its the difference between a revolver and a auto loader --for pure simple comparison...

the revolver: the cylinder COMPLETELY encases the casing...


where as the auto-loader... the bottom rear portion of the casing in not surrounded by metal like in the cylinder of a revolver
ps i stole this image from thread (http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/...11#post3931711) courtesy of member "Sturmgewehre"

notice the area around the lip of the casing that is not protected by anything... hence "unsupported case"


...pictures are king
__________________
EDIT: yeah i always "edit" my posts

Last edited by jborushko; February 10, 2010 at 02:04 AM.
jborushko is offline  
Old February 9, 2010, 11:38 PM   #9
Huck1969
Member
 
Join Date: December 9, 2009
Posts: 28
Great pictures and really demonstrate the unsupported case issue. Thanks to everyone for the input thus far.

Yeah you're right Mete; I should have examined each piece of that scrounged brass more closely and definitely learned that lesson; but would I have seen the Glock "bulge" that is talked about on the forums? By the way, I just ordered 500 new 40SW Starline cases from Grafs for this gun and will only pickup those Starline spent cases in the future.

As a practical problem, I'm now stuck with more than 300 loaded cases. Of course I could just pull the bullets, save the powder, inspect the cases and reload or here's an alternate game plan:

1) Weigh each reloaded round and sort out any, more than one half grain above the average weight
2) Examine around the base (area of web) of each case for signs of a bulge or other abnormal appearance
3) Save those rounds that pass the "weight" and "bulge" tests; crimp with the Lee Factory Crimp Die and shoot them. Pull the bullets on the other rounds and discard bad cases; reload good cases that seemed heavy.

One final consideration. The case that had the head separation was PMC. After inspection I found about 30 of the 300 reloads to also be PMC brass. Going with the assumption that the PMC case separated because of having been fired in a Glock or other unsupported chamber gun, those other 30 cases scrounged were probably fired from the same gun. With that assumption, I will pull those bullets and discard those cases.

This seems to be a prudent enough alternative to pulling all 300 bullets.
What do you guys think?
__________________
Huck
Vietnam Veteran Linebacker Two
Huck1969 is offline  
Old February 9, 2010, 11:58 PM   #10
Niner4Tango
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 28, 2007
Location: Vancouver, WA
Posts: 250
Quote:
Additionally the ejector was blown out of the pistol.
Was it the ejector or extractor?

Is this a new P226 (like $800)?

I don't know man, how much are you saving on reloads using this funky brass?
Niner4Tango is offline  
Old February 10, 2010, 04:19 AM   #11
bamaranger
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 9, 2009
Location: North Alabama
Posts: 4,088
Please note.......

the square firing pin strike on the great pics, which mean a Glock, yes?

The .40 operates at such high pressure, one of its drawbacks, I believe.

Me, I would pull all 300, reduce the charge a tad, (I've not researched the load, but if it was near max I sure would!) and start over.

Time and effort, a small price to pay for peace of mind and both eyes and all your fingers.

I pulled a gallon bucket of mid range .44 mags about a year ago because of a possible glitch in a progressive reloader (my fault). Got all my primed cases back, 3/4 of the powder if not more, and 3/4 of the slugs (lead SWC). Did 10-20 a night and was done soon enough.

Pretty careful sorta guy.....and have thus far lived a fairly long and healthy life resultant.
bamaranger is offline  
Old February 10, 2010, 09:40 AM   #12
N.H. Yankee
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 17, 2004
Location: Rural N.H.
Posts: 1,586
I scrounged some once fired glock 40 brass about 2000 cases and had to throw the majority away due to over expansion. I miked them and some were more than double the acceptable limit. I now only reload my own brass fired from guns with supported chambers.
__________________
The real danger to America is not abroad but within..
Having an open mind is a good thing, but not so open that your brains fall out!
Save America, abort liberalism.
N.H. Yankee is offline  
Old February 10, 2010, 11:04 AM   #13
Huck1969
Member
 
Join Date: December 9, 2009
Posts: 28
To answer a question or two; it is a new P226 (Yes, the $800 variety), and the extractor that blew off, leaving an empty "slot" on the right side of the slide where it fits. The charge is well under max; I never load at max for any caliber. I will reconsider possibly pulling all 300 bullets but with a load well below max, and having weighed all the loaded rounds (case, pmr. bullet and powder intact), and sorted out only three that were half a grain more than the 25.4 grains average (probably due to slightly heavier bullets) I know the powder loads are below a max load. Given that, sounds like the advice to pull all the bullets would also include advice to discard the brass and I may decide to do just that. However, given what I have tested thus far, that seems very conservative; still, I may do just that for peace of mind.
Everything we do when reloading is in some way based on probabilities, with no guarantees. I and don't say that to sound reckless; I am cautious by nature. Carrier landings were hazardous but not reckless; yet the only way to eliminate landing accidents at the ship was to never attempt them. Thanks again for the input.
__________________
Huck
Vietnam Veteran Linebacker Two
Huck1969 is offline  
Old February 10, 2010, 11:47 AM   #14
AK103K
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 1, 2001
Location: PA -- In the shadow of the Shade
Posts: 7,605
The unsupported case isnt an issue (or normally isnt) with the SIG's, and while I'm not 100% certain, I believe Glock may have addressed the problem now too with their .40's, or at least they have with the 357SIG, as my 31 has a chamber much like my SIG's in 357(and .40), which are supported and nothing like the one in the pic above.

Redding makes a "push through" die for the .40 that restores the cases with the bulge to the proper dimensions. Now whether or not that bulge has created a problem or not, I cant say, but the Redding die does seem to be in use and I havent heard anything in the negative about brass sized with it.

While I do have .40 barrels for my 357SIG guns, I dont load for it as I dont shoot it all that much. I've never had any troubles loading the 357SIG fired from both SIG's and Glocks though.

It could be you just had a bad piece of brass. I've used range scrounged pistol brass for years, and never had an issue with it. I wount use scrounged rifle brass though, for a number of reasons. Usually with the pistol brass, I shoot it until failure, which is usually split case necks or cases that will no longer hold the bullet tight. I cant ever remember having a handgun case blow out at the case head though, or have a separation there.

Setback may have been an issue since you said you didnt crimp. Personally, I only use taper crimps on my auto cases these days. They do a much better job, and dont mess with headspace. Not sure what the Lee factory crimps do with pistol rounds, but if they are anything like the factory rifle crimps, I wouldnt use them. I tried their factory crimps with my rifle rounds when they first came out, but quickly quit using them due to what they did to the brass and the bullets.
__________________
“The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he is on.”
― Joseph Heller, Catch-22

Zeitgeist - The Movie
AK103K is offline  
Old February 10, 2010, 11:53 AM   #15
Niner4Tango
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 28, 2007
Location: Vancouver, WA
Posts: 250
Looks like you're hot on the powder charge. I looked here and got 4.1 gr as a starting load and 5.0 as the max: http://data.hodgdon.com/cartridge_load.asp

I can't get this to format, but you can see the numbers...



Hodgdon Powder Company
Cartridge Load Recipe Report - 2/10/2010
data.hodgdon.com
40 S&W
Load Type: Pistol Powder: 231
BW: 180
Cartridge Information
Case: Hornady Barrel Length: 4"
Twist: 1:16" Trim Length: .845"
Primer: WINCHESTER SP

40 S&W
Cartridge Load Data Starting Loads Maximum Loads
Bullet Weight (Gr.) Powder Bullet Diam. C.O.L. Grs. Vel. (ft/s) Pressure Grs. Vel. (ft/s) Pressure
180 GR. HDY XTP 231 .400" 1.125" 4.1 797 23,800 PSI 5.0 947 32,900 PSI

NEVER EXCEED MAXIMUM LOADS
Niner4Tango is offline  
Old February 10, 2010, 12:03 PM   #16
azredhawk44
Junior member
 
Join Date: September 28, 2005
Location: Mesa, AZ
Posts: 6,465
Quote:
We used scrounged brass (I know what some will say to that), that was tumbled clean and sized with a Lee 40SW carbide sizing die; CCI small pistol primers; Rainier 180gr HP's; and 5.3gr of W231.
Two problems:

#1 - Scrounged brass.

#2 - 180gr HP bullets.

Scrounged brass, particularly in the .40, is a bad idea. You need to know the history of your brass so that you can monitor its bulge, number of times loaded, growth/shrinkage and such.

However, in the .40 S&W, 180gr bullets are a BAD IDEA. Dillon Precision was handing out fliers in their store a couple years ago urging reloaders not to use 180's in their .40 reloading. I was loading for .400 corbon at the time and bought some 180gr cast bullets and got the flier and explanation from one of the folks there.

180's fill up too much of the internal case of the .40. When you have a hollowpoint 180, it fills up even more of the case than a solid 180. That cavity represents lost material that has weight. A hollowpoint 180 is longer than a solid 180, so it protrudes even further into the case interior.

My guess as to what happened:

Failure #1 - You used mixed headstamp brass. Different brass makers use different thicknesses. This can affect the strength of your crimp later on.

Failure #2 - You didn't monitor the OAL of the naked brass casings. Some cases may have been fired more often than others. Handgun brass tends to shrink between firings, just slightly. This affects the strength of your crimp later on.

Failure #3 - You used 180 grain bullets, the least tolerant of internal combustion volume in a high pressure cartridge.

Failure #4 - You did not crimp sufficiently to avoid bullet set-back during the feed process.

Failure #5 - You did not hand cycle a control set of reloaded rounds through your gun, looking for before and after OAL to see if set-back was going to be a problem.

Result - Your gun blew a case head and was damaged.
azredhawk44 is offline  
Old February 10, 2010, 02:00 PM   #17
BigJimP
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 23, 2005
Posts: 11,049
Niner4Tango gave you the load out of the Hodgdon book - 4.1 grains minimum and 5.0 max / you said you went clear to 5.3 grains .... but the load in Hodgdon's tables uses a Hornady XTP bullet not a Rainier bullet... and you were out of specs on that load ....

Rainier recommends you use a "lead bullet" recipe for their bullets or drop the load on jacketed bullets by 10 % meaning you should have started around 3.6 grains .....

http://www.rainierballistics.com/loaddata.htm

I'm not a big fan of Rainier bullets / the jackets are inconsistent - and on 180 gr bullet they may be + or - a couple of grains easy .... so you can't weigh the finished rounds you have and come up with any useful or accurate data on what you did. You need to pull all of the bullets / and reduce your powder drops ...

I load a lot of .40S&W for Sig 226's and other guns ( 1911's, etc ) - and I scrounge brass from the indoor range where I shoot. But I clean and inspect the brass carefully / I load to min specs / I primarily use Montana Gold bullets in 180 gr .....

Based on what you told us / I'm not sure you can rule out a double charge ...and I'm assuming you're not using a press with a "powder check die in it" verifying every drop on every round .... .45 acp is a very forgiving case / .40S&W is not. I also suggest you check every finished round / by hand / and use a case gague on each and every round as you box it up as well. You might have found a little crack in a case by doing that / or a dent or something that caused that case to give way ......
BigJimP is offline  
Old February 10, 2010, 03:20 PM   #18
Huck1969
Member
 
Join Date: December 9, 2009
Posts: 28
I'm learning a bunch from you guys.
Didn't know about the 180gr. bullet issue. I weighed about 10 bullets and noticed some quality control issues Ranier seems to have. Four of ten bullets were as much as 183 grains.
Thanks Niner4 for the Hodgden link. The Sierra manual shows a max of 5.7gr W231 (.4 more than I loaded) but I've decided to back off to 4.8 just to be safe.
I tossed the PMC brass and pulled bullets on all loaded with it. As I mentioned previously, I'm going to new brass for the 40SW and keeping only my brass after firing.
And finally (saved it for last), I am pulling all 300 bullets. I thank all of you for influencing that decision. Lived through the carrier landings; might as well live through this too.

Would some of you please describe your pre- loading inspection procedures for your pistol brass. Do you use tools to measure for bulges before resizing? I use case gages for rifle brass, do you use them in this process? I noticed the Wilson Max Cartridge Gage 40SW on Midway but read a review that it was .002" undersized and the Dillon was better.

And AK103, I'll check on that Redding die you mentioned.

Thanks again
__________________
Huck
Vietnam Veteran Linebacker Two
Huck1969 is offline  
Old February 10, 2010, 03:40 PM   #19
BigJimP
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 23, 2005
Posts: 11,049
Rainer bullets recommend you use data for lead bullets - not jacketed ... You're still loading them to hot ...if you're above 4.5 grains. Hodgdon makes the powder / I would use their data with Rainiers recommendation of backing off 10%.

Pre loading inspection / toss out any bad cases / then tumble them clean and re-inspect them. There isn't any sense in measuring anything until you resize them ..... but inspect the base areas carefully .....if they're dented or marked dump them.

I use Dillon case gagues on all of my finished rounds. Some hairline cracks are easy to miss with visual inspections / and you'll pick them up when you case gague everything.
BigJimP is offline  
Old February 10, 2010, 04:15 PM   #20
Huck1969
Member
 
Join Date: December 9, 2009
Posts: 28
Thanks BigJim.
The powder I'm using is W231; Winchester not Hodgdon and I am referencing the Sierra, Winchester and now Hodgdon charts for W231 powder. Didn't know about the bullet manufacturer, Ranier's, recommendation to use lead bullet data with their copper jacketed bullets. Hornady 5th edition manual shows max load for LEAD 180gr. with W231 is 5.7gr. I had loaded 5.3gr and am pulling all bullets and was planning on reloading with just 4.8gr. I suppose I could use 4.5gr instead. I'll load a few and test fire before finalizing the load.
I went to the Ranier web site and read their recommendation to use Lead data or use jacketed bullet data and reduce the Max charge by 10 percent. Sierra manual Max of 5.7gr becomes 5.1gr. Hodgdon and Win manuals 5.0 max becomes 4.5gr.
Thanks again.
__________________
Huck
Vietnam Veteran Linebacker Two
Huck1969 is offline  
Old February 10, 2010, 04:21 PM   #21
41mag10mm
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 7, 2010
Location: The Zoo, NC
Posts: 271
OK, I'm going to step out here and disagree with a few points. Many cartridge manufacturers offer 180gr loads for the .40 S&W so I don't agree the 180gr bullets are a bad thing per se. Scrounged brass is probably the worst of the potential causes. Not only does one not know whether they were fired in a partially unsupported chamber, but they could have been reloaded many times. One additonal question for the OP would be inspection of the spent case primers. First thing I do when trying a new load is limit the number of rounds to 50. That way I don't have a lot to waste if there is a BIG problem. Next is carefully inspect the first few rounds for signs of pressure. Are the primers flattened or obvious case bulges? Since you had run some factory rounds first you have a good example of what a good case and primer should look like. Personally I'm not a fan of Lee reloading products. I have Hornady and Redding dies for almost all my calibers. I do have a few RCBS dies but can't stand them. No flames please, that's my opinion alone and my reasons don't apply to anyone else. You pay more for Redding dies but they are without equal and are worth every cent.
__________________
NRA Endowment Life Member
41mag10mm is offline  
Old February 10, 2010, 04:26 PM   #22
azredhawk44
Junior member
 
Join Date: September 28, 2005
Location: Mesa, AZ
Posts: 6,465
Quote:
The powder I'm using is W231; Winchester not Hodgdon and I am referencing the Sierra, Winchester and now Hodgdon charts for W231 powder.
Hodgdon makes and markets Winchester powders. In all senses, they ARE winchester powders. They are the authoritative source for Hodgdon/IMR/Winchester load data.

Quote:
Didn't know about the bullet manufacturer, Ranier's, recommendation to use lead bullet data with their copper jacketed bullets. Hornady 5th edition manual shows max load for LEAD 180gr. with W231 is 5.7gr. I had loaded 5.3gr and am pulling all bullets and was planning on reloading with just 4.8gr. I suppose I could use 4.5gr instead. I'll load a few and test fire before finalizing the load.
Any plated bullet manufacturer recommends treating their product like lead bullets when looking for load data.

The goal with reloads in semiauto handguns, at least in my opinion, is to use the least amount of powder to get the slide to reliably function.

You aren't going to use them for self defense (hopefully), and the 100fps difference between min and max velocities isn't worth the danger factor.
azredhawk44 is offline  
Old February 10, 2010, 05:23 PM   #23
Huck1969
Member
 
Join Date: December 9, 2009
Posts: 28
Most of my dies are Redding also, and just ordered another set for the 450 Marlin. Probably have 20 sets of Redding, 8 RCBS and 4 Lee die sets. I use mostly a T-7 turret press with two turrets; one for 30 calibers (308, 300W and 300RUM) and one for varmint calibers (223, 22-250 and 204). I also have two single stage RCBS presses set up for other calibers and separate operation decapping. I confess I got the Lee dies because my son had ordered and set up a Lee Pro 1000 set up for 45 ACP a couple of years ago and thought the Lee 40 SW would be easily switchable with the 45 set up. Turns out it wasn't easy to change out and wish I'd bought Redding dies and another turret for the T-7 to dedicate to 45ACP and 40SW.
__________________
Huck
Vietnam Veteran Linebacker Two
Huck1969 is offline  
Old February 10, 2010, 06:44 PM   #24
BigJimP
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 23, 2005
Posts: 11,049
Like others advised / Hodgdon is making Winchester powders now .....so I would use their data. Between Hodgdon's / Rainiers data ... what they are suggesting is 3.7 Min / 4.5 Max .......

Its your gun / your eyes, your hands ...... but most everyone on here responding to you has suggest you start at the Min / not the Max ....

I would recommend you drop it to 3.7 gr / load 3 or 4 shells at 3.7 / same at 3.8 and a few more at 3.9 / a few more at 4.0 / and last, a few more at 4.1 --- and test fire them for accuracy and how they cycle the gun. I would not go past the mid-point of 4.1 for any reason ( but that is if it was my guns, my eyes and my hands ...)...

By the way, for test firing -- I would only put 2 rounds in a mag - then fire 1 round at a time ....make sure the slide seated properly with the 2nd round / then clear the round from the chamber by racking the slide. Then repeat / 2 rds in mag / firing 1 round at a time. Then check for accuracy....
BigJimP is offline  
Old February 11, 2010, 12:13 AM   #25
Huck1969
Member
 
Join Date: December 9, 2009
Posts: 28
Thanks once again BigJim. I like that progression and I will reload a few at a time in that manner beginning with the starting loads you have suggested. And yes I value my hands, eyes, etc. as do the rest of you. There are definitely a few more variables with reloading for the 40SW than the 308's, -06, 243 etc. that I'm used to. When I buy Sierra, Hornady, Nosler or Barnes bullets for my rifles, I can count on each bullets weight being within a couple of tenths of grains NOT, within 3 grains as with these 180 Rainiers. That's an absolute set-up for a hot load with a bullet almost 2 percent heavier than advertised.
__________________
Huck
Vietnam Veteran Linebacker Two
Huck1969 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 05:56 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2013 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.13503 seconds with 9 queries