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Old February 18, 2011, 04:03 PM   #1
lostinperiphery
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Unique + .38spl. sticking in barrel :(

I've just gotten into reloading, and have chosen to start with .38 special. I'm using Unique powder, cci primers, and 125 grain hornady XTP jhp.... After reading several reloading manuals and familiarizing myself with the safely loading, I started with the minimum load data in my Hornady data book for this load, which is 5.1 grains....

when I got out to my families farm to shoot, 2 out of the first five rounds got stuck in the barrel!!!... I assumed it was likely to be something I was doing wrong in my process, and thinking it would be rather foolish of me to just bump the charge up, I had my experience friend load the same charge using his equiptment. Same thing happened.

they were plugging the barrel in multiple guns, so it rules out the firearm. He eventually assumed the data must be very conservative and bumped the charge up to 5.6 grains (a +P load according to Hornady).... this seemed to help, but even the other day after about 100 rounds firing well (albiet the recoil seeming to vary a bit from shot to shot), another stuck in the barrel!!

So, I'm still a bit concerned that I'm doing something wrong. Or my powder's bad, or god only knows. My equipment is a cheap Challenger kit from Lee, though I just upgraded the scale to an RCBS. I don't trust the Lee one, or my ability to accurately read the 10ths on it.

Anyone else load this charge? Is the data just too conservative, or am I doing something wrong?... I'm not one for trial and error when miniature explosives are at hand heheh
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Old February 18, 2011, 04:26 PM   #2
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Alliant lists a max charge with 125gr Speer GDs at 6.0gr Unique.

Is your revolver a 38spl or 357mag that you're loading 38spl rounds for?

You're not using 357mag cases and loading 38spl loads are you?

Seems like it can't be your scale if the same thing happened to your friend. Seems like your friend would know better than to load 38spl loads in 357 cases too. It's highly unlikely that your powder is bad. It should smell and look pretty terrible if it is.


You got me. I don't know.
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Old February 18, 2011, 04:28 PM   #3
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Unique paired up with light bullets/light loads in the 38Spl "...has been reported..." to do exactly what you describe:
give inconsistant ignition to the point of squib load. Unique's at its best w/ full power loads.

`Suggest you go to a heavier (158?) bullet/crimped well, or to Bullseye powder (or both).
`Sorry you had to experience this first time out.

The good news story here is that you caught the squibs before firing the next round.
You have no idea how many folks have simply said "huh?", rotated the cylinder to the next round, and.....

Last edited by mehavey; February 18, 2011 at 04:40 PM.
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Old February 18, 2011, 06:08 PM   #4
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Are you measuring your loads or useing the Lee auto disc? The disc tends to be lighter than the chart. I've had to go up two or more sizes to get the correct weight.
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Old February 18, 2011, 06:20 PM   #5
lostinperiphery
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Quote:
Unique paired up with light bullets/light loads in the 38Spl "...has been reported..." to do exactly what you describe:
give inconsistant ignition to the point of squib load. Unique's at its best w/ full power loads.

`Suggest you go to a heavier (158?) bullet/crimped well, or to Bullseye powder (or both).
`Sorry you had to experience this first time out.

The good news story here is that you caught the squibs before firing the next round.
You have no idea how many folks have simply said "huh?", rotated the cylinder to the next round, and.....
That's good to hear. It'd crossed my mind that perhaps the ignition from the primer could be igniting the powder differently for light loads, depending on where in the case it happened to be sitting or something... I'll try some bullseye!

I'm definitely glad I knew better than to try after a gun goes 'pop' and theres no recoil ... the results probably would've really turned me sour onto reloading

I'm certainly not discouraged, and have enjoyed the process thus far, even if my introduction was tainted with troubleshooting ... I'm going to buy some .308 dies to get started with that soon! any chance theres a versatile powder that I could use to load both .38spl, and subsonic .308?
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Old February 18, 2011, 06:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Are you measuring your loads or useing the Lee auto disc? The disc tends to be lighter than the chart. I've had to go up two or more sizes to get the correct weight.
no I just use a normal Lee thrower, but I weighed ever few charges. Being my first time reloading, I wasn't about to trust my math skills with volume/weight conversions hahaha

I've since gotten a much better RCBS scale, so I will, more than likely, do an even better job accurately weighing the charges.
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Old February 18, 2011, 06:26 PM   #7
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this does seem very weird.

I'd try a different batch or brand of powder......

unusual for powder to go bad but perhaps....
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Old February 18, 2011, 06:28 PM   #8
lostinperiphery
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Quote:
Alliant lists a max charge with 125gr Speer GDs at 6.0gr Unique.

Is your revolver a 38spl or 357mag that you're loading 38spl rounds for?

You're not using 357mag cases and loading 38spl loads are you?

Seems like it can't be your scale if the same thing happened to your friend. Seems like your friend would know better than to load 38spl loads in 357 cases too. It's highly unlikely that your powder is bad. It should smell and look pretty terrible if it is.


You got me. I don't know.
Nope these were loaded into .38spl cases. though I have wondered about loading .38's into .357 cases... guess theres more to it than just using .38 data then?
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Old February 18, 2011, 06:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lostinperiphery
Nope these were loaded into .38spl cases. though I have wondered about loading .38's into .357 cases... guess theres more to it than just using .38 data then?
357 cases are longer, so there's more space for the powder to burn in, therefore less pressure is created by a given amount of powder.... so you could easily squib (stick in barrel) if you used 38 load data in 357mag cases.


Quote:
Originally Posted by lostinperiphery
I'm going to buy some .308 dies to get started with that soon! any chance theres a versatile powder that I could use to load both .38spl, and subsonic .308?
You could use several pistol powders to load subsonic .308 but you might have trouble finding load data for the .308.... if you use lead bullets in the 38spl, Trail Boss is a WONDERFUL powder for mild 38spl loads and very, very mild .308 loads. It burns very clean. It makes a rifle sound like a corkgun almost.

Pistol powders like Unique or Bullseye can be used for light .308 loads too, but you'll probably need someone with a program called QuickLoad to generate some load data for you. There are several of us with QuickLoad on this forum.
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Old February 18, 2011, 10:11 PM   #10
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Lostinperiphery, The immediate question that occurred to me was/is-- How much crimp is being applied to those jacketed 125s? I don't think that I have ever loaded jacketed bullets in my .38spls but I have never experienced inconsistency of ignition with Unique...However, all of my rounds have high case/bullet tension and a firm crimp.
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Old February 18, 2011, 10:17 PM   #11
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It sounds to me more like you forgot to put powder in some of the cases, or your powder measure is bridging and not dropping powder occasionally. I had that happen a while back, using Titegroup which is hard to see in the cases so I missed it. The symptoms were exactly like yours.
Quote:
I'm certainly not discouraged, and have enjoyed the process thus far, even if my introduction was tainted with troubleshooting ... I'm going to buy some .308 dies to get started with that soon! any chance theres a versatile powder that I could use to load both .38spl, and subsonic .308?
Red Dot will do that, but you'll want to use cast bullets instead of jacketed in the rifle. You should be able to buy cast .30-30 bullets and use them in .308
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Old February 18, 2011, 10:32 PM   #12
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Quote:
Seems like your friend would know better than to load 38spl loads in 357 cases too

357 cases are longer, so there's more space for the powder to burn in, therefore less pressure is created by a given amount of powder.... so you could easily squib (stick in barrel) if you used 38 load data in 357mag cases.
A lotta folks, myself included, do this all the time with perfect results. The difference is not great and is usually not a problem (~1/16 of an inch difference). I don't generally start at min though when doing this, I'll go mid and work down because the potential is there, but honestly most of the time the differnce in case length is not a big factor.
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Old February 18, 2011, 11:28 PM   #13
lostinperiphery
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Quote:
Lostinperiphery, The immediate question that occurred to me was/is-- How much crimp is being applied to those jacketed 125s? I don't think that I have ever loaded jacketed bullets in my .38spls but I have never experienced inconsistency of ignition with Unique...However, all of my rounds have high case/bullet tension and a firm crimp.
not really sure how to quantify it, or what to compare it to. I used the roll crimp built into the Lee seating die and crimped so that it was visibly rolled into the bullet a bit. my buddy said it looked fine to him, but he mostly reloads rifle.... I have another 100 or so left that were loaded with 5.6 grains, I'll try putting them back in the seating die and increasing the crimp to see what happens.

Quote:
It sounds to me more like you forgot to put powder in some of the cases, or your powder measure is bridging and not dropping powder occasionally. I had that happen a while back, using Titegroup which is hard to see in the cases so I missed it. The symptoms were exactly like yours.
no chance I missed charging a case. I quadruple checked all my steps as i was concerned for safety. light charge was possible, but unlikely... after I charged all the cases, I dumped and re-weighed ever 3rd case or so so i could have some confidence in the powder thrower.... could've missed the one in 100 at the 5.6 grain charge, but 2 out of the four shot with 5.1 grains? I highly doubt it.... I've been extra careful not to make any oversights
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Old February 19, 2011, 08:22 AM   #14
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I think you just stumbled on a bad bullet/powder combination. I don’t like Unique for jacketed bullets, I would try Power Pistol or Titegroup. Bullseye is my favorite for cast bullets, but not jacketed. If you can SEE the roll of the crimp is should be OK, Don’t over crimp it just shortens case life. Make sure your OAL (over all length) is correct, as per load data. Use the Unique for cast bullets. Sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders. Keep it up. Good shooting.
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Old March 13, 2011, 07:45 PM   #15
lostinperiphery
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UGH!!!

Just tried some loads with titegroup instead of unique, and again!! a squib on the 7th round!! this was 4.5 grains of titegroup (hodgdon's data for 125xtp's is 4.3-4.6 grains)

I'm totally stumped. Several people, including a few here in this thread, recommended titegroup for .38. I can't imagine what my problem might be? the cases are marked R-P, most of them are once fired (though I keep pulling the bullets to try a new loads)... I've not cleaned them, but I can't imagine anythings blocking some flash-holes, the deprimer pin would've cleared them? any chance I should try new primer's?

I was extremely careful with my charges and weighed EVERY charge before charging the case, to eliminate the chance my thrower is missing charges... I used a trickler to ensure they were all EXACT....


just to recap, all with 125 grain hornady XTP's, and CCI primers
5.2 grains Unique: 3 squibs in first five rounds... gave up and pulled bullets
5.6 grains Unique: 100 rounds of inconsistent feeling recoil... 1 squib
4.5 grains of Titegroup: 6 rounds felt good, 7th squibbed...

here are some pics of the cases loaded with titegroup; the fired cases, and a few unfired to show crimp.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over?!?!



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Old March 13, 2011, 10:12 PM   #16
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Do those primers look incredibly soft/mild to anyone else?
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Old March 13, 2011, 10:18 PM   #17
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Have you verified that your scale is calibrated correctly?
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Old March 13, 2011, 10:42 PM   #18
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Quote:
Do those primers look incredibly soft/mild to anyone else?
Yeah they do, and after all the evidence the primers/flash holes not being clean is the only thing I can think of that would give you this much trouble.

First go get 100 federal or Winchester primers something with a harder cup(not knocking CCI just trying to eliminate variables)

Second get something like this: http://www.midwayusa.com/viewproduct...tnumber=599554

don't get the RCBS brush type one(the bristles bend) take the tip off the handle chuck it in a bat. powered drill and SLOWLY clean the primer pockets this will eliminate the chance of the spark not getting to the powder.
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Old March 13, 2011, 11:00 PM   #19
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What you really need to do is get someone experienced in reloading to set down with you to figure this out. 5 grns of unique should have no problems pushing a 125 grn bullet out the barrel.

Lyman's 49th addition shows 4.0 as the min for a 125 grn bullet.

There is something wrong somewhere and you need to set back and get someone to help you before you ruin a gun, or worse cause injury.
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Old March 13, 2011, 11:02 PM   #20
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Wiith your combination of powder and cases and 125 gr. bullets I would 1st recommend to check your sizing of the RP cases. The bullets need to have a tight grip in the case BEFORE crimping. Light bullet, lighter than normal charge of a powder that performs best at near maximum charges, can be a problem and cause squibs and stuck bullets IF the bullet is loose in the case. The primer by itself can start a bullet moving before the powder is fully ignited. If your expanding die is doing no expanding and you feel no resistance when expanding then your sizing die isn't sizing down enough. Check a seated bullet before crimping and if you can push it further into the case with your thumb or by pushing the bullet against the side of your bench. If you can move the bullet then it's not gripped tight enough in the brass. I've seen this several times at the range by my own .38 loads and also by others. I never got a stuck bullet but I had wild velocity variations by as much as 300 fps. I have seen others with stuck bullets and bullets blooping out and falling to the ground at 20 yards or less. RP brass CAN have thinner walls than some other .38 Special brands. Your combo 38/357 mag sizing die may not be sizing the RP brass down enough. I'd measure the expander plug also to make sure it isn't over size. You will see more problems like your experience with .38 Special than any other pistol caliber that is loaded. I got another .38 Special sizing die that would size down thin .38 cases and all problems disappeared. Check your case sizing. Possibly try another case brand. I like RP brass but some lots of RP brass seems to have thinner case walls. From your pics, I see no slight bulge on the outside or the case at the base of the bullet which "could" indicate that the bullet is not tight in the brass? How many firings with your case? Many firings can harden the brass and you could have more spring back when sizing? A crimp by itself is NOT enough to hold the bullet for reliable consistent ignition.

Last edited by rg1; March 13, 2011 at 11:13 PM.
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Old March 13, 2011, 11:40 PM   #21
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Ok, perhaps your primers are defective somehow.

Being the cheapskate that I am, I'd prime about 20 shells (no powder or bullet!) then fire them as blanks and see if there are any inconsistencies. For some reason the powder isn't getting ignited properly, or at all. With the squib is there unburned powder everywhere?

Tell us what your reloading procedure is, ie resizing etc.

Another thought, you didn't accidentally buy bullets for a 9mm, did you? Those measure .355.

Last edited by chris in va; March 13, 2011 at 11:45 PM.
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Old March 13, 2011, 11:56 PM   #22
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OK, here's a couple thoughts that I had about the issue. When you have a bullet get stuck in the barrel, is there a lot of unburned powder also in the barrel/case? If so, that would tend to indicate bad powder, a very weak primer, or a very weak crimp.

Another thought was (until rereading the post) possibly an oversized bullet. With very low recoil compared to non-stick loads, I don't think that is very likely though. So, back to my first thoughts on it.

If the powder has been improperly stored or possibly having gotten wet at some time, it could be very inconsistent in it's burn rate. How old is the powder? How old are the primers? Are you using Magnum or Standard SP primers?

Your crimps looked good in the posted pictures, but I noticed a cannelure showing on some but not all your rounds. Is your overall length the same on all rounds?

Just tossing out ideas here. I have heard of some manufacturers having QA issues with some of their lighter bullets. It seems like diameters were one of the issues. I don't recall if the XTPs (or even Hornady for that matter) were among those listed with inconsistencies or not. My experience with XTPs has been pretty positive, but I have always gone for the 140s or 158s in .38 caliber for use in the .357magnum. It has been over 25 years since I have loaded anything jacketed into a .38Special case.
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Old March 14, 2011, 12:10 AM   #23
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@RG1... best answer yet, and is what I'm betting on at this point... I definitely recall being able to fully seat a few bullets with thumb pressure alone, and I've no doubt that any of them could be seated by pressing them into the bench... However I did not realize this was indicative of a problem.... I had noticed, when a few rounds squibbed, that unburnt powder scattered on my hands. perhaps like you say, the primer pushed the round out before the powder had a chance to burn.

The brass was all from a handful of 20 year old .38's of my dad's. I have a new box of winchester white box that I will shoot up next time at the range, and see if i have different results on the reloading bench...

@Don H: as best I can without a special weight. Compared my new RCBS to my lee scale, they both read the same. and have weighed/averaged various bullets and they seem to be on target.

@kraigwy: I've had my friend, who's reloaded thousands of rounds, load with me. He's stumped too, however its only been with my components, and my dies, as he doesn't shoot .38...

@b money: I have a similar tool that came with my Lee kit, I'll give it a shot!
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Old March 14, 2011, 12:42 AM   #24
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I think your problem may be the jacketed bullets. Speer has a warning about them.
Quoting from the Speer manual.
Quote:
Jacketed bullets create more resistance than lead bullets and can actually stick in the bore with charges that are too light.... To avoid these problems, we are showing jacketed bullet data for only the 110 and 125 grain bullets. Heavier bullets may not attain sufficient velocity to reliably overcome friction. Note that these loads are marked "DNR" meaning "do not reduce". Reductions of loads below the levels shown can result in a bullet-in-bore condition in revolvers with excessive barrel/cylinder gaps.
For the 125 grain jacketed bullet they are showing a charge of 5.7 grains of Unique and 4.4 grains of Tite-Group.
You're below their minimum for Unique, and right at the limit for Tite-Group.
I would suggest you just switch to cast bullets.
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Old March 14, 2011, 08:39 AM   #25
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This still doesn't explain those primers.

Lostinperiphery, would you please weigh out a charge (e.g., of TiteGroup) and take a picture of the scale showing both powder and scale settings?

Thx

Last edited by mehavey; March 14, 2011 at 08:45 AM.
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