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Old July 9, 2012, 10:43 PM   #1
ScottRiqui
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Troubleshooting a very intermittent feeding problem

When you're handloading for a semi-automatic, how do you go about troubleshooting an intermittent feeding problem? I'm not talking about where one or two rounds from each magazine won't feed; I'm talking about where you have one or two FTFs per 100 rounds.

Obviously, you've got it *mostly* right, or else the other 98 or 99 rounds wouldn't have worked. Do you start tweaking OAL? Or maybe stick to one single headstamp for the next few hundred rounds (assuming you were using mixed brass before)? Or for something this intermittent, are you thinking it's an issue with the magazine, feed ramp, or something else about the gun and not the ammo at all?
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Old July 9, 2012, 10:51 PM   #2
Jimro
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FTF can be anything from bolt over ride to magazine double feeds. If it is very intermittent...you need to document WHAT each FTF was, and what magazine it came from.

I recommend taking pics of each FTF with your cell phone and dictating some notes into a recorder (assuming you have a smart enough phone, a camera and tape recorder work just as well).

As of right now you can't tell if it is the ammo or magazine or a weak spring in your firearm.

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Old July 9, 2012, 10:58 PM   #3
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I documented the issue in a little more detail here. In a nutshell, it's a fairly-new Remington R1 with the factory magazine. The ammo is the Missouri Bullet "Softball" (230 gr LRN). CCI large pistol primer, 4.7 gr of W231, and an OAL of 1.19". Mixed headstamp brass.

Twice in 100 rounds, I got what looked like a double-feed - one round halfway into the chamber with the next round pushing up on the rear of it. In both cases, removing the magazine let the slide continue forward into battery on its own, chambering the round that had been stuck halfway.

Next time, I'll definitely take pictures, and set aside the stuck round as well as the one beneath it in the mag.
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Old July 10, 2012, 04:41 AM   #4
JT-AR-MG42
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Scott,

Sounds like responsible reloading on your part and 230 RN is as reliable as a .45 ACP bullet can get.

I would be tempted to first check every round with a 'saami' die or cartridge die.
I use one for all my autoloading guns. An extra reloading step, but I pride myself on my reloaded ammo feeding EVERY time and it does take the ammo factor out of the troubleshooting process.
If using range pickup brass like I do, you'll find the occasional .45 case that has a slightly larger than normal rim diameter or dings on the rim that keep it from freely going in and out of the die.

That said, I don't think your ammo is the problem since you mentioned that the misfeeding rounds chambered and fired.

Sounds like the extractor is missing the case as it starts out of the mag.

Either the extractor is out of spec/strength or the magazine lips are releasing the shell too soon.

Switching magazines and comparing them to the magazine in question is the simplest place to start. Maybe make up some dummy rounds and watch the feeding process while cycling by hand to look for differences in the magazines.

Will be interested to see how things shake out on this.

JT
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Old July 11, 2012, 08:51 PM   #5
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Maybe you should increase the powder charge just a tad. There are several brands of aftermarket mags that are much more reliable; maybe you should invest in a couple. Many FTFs are magazine related even in new semiautos. I had to tweak most of the ones I had for my 10mm.
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Old July 11, 2012, 09:32 PM   #6
ScottRiqui
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Quote:
Maybe you should increase the powder charge just a tad. There are several brands of aftermarket mags that are much more reliable; maybe you should invest in a couple. Many FTFs are magazine related even in new semiautos. I had to tweak most of the ones I had for my 10mm.
Yeah, I thought about the powder charge, too. The problem I'm running up against is that the max load in one of my manuals is the same as the starting load in one of my other manuals, so I didn't really know where to start. To play it safe, I'm a little above the starting load in the lower of the two ranges. But it's times like this I really wish I had a chronograph. The current load is accurate as hell when it works, and it works 98% of the time, so I'm hoping the problem lies elsewhere

For right now, I'm suspecting the magazines as well. I've ordered two Wilson Combat #47 magazines, and they should be here in time for me to take them to the range Saturday. Who knows, maybe the new mags will help with another problem I'm having - getting 185 gr lead semi-wadcutters to feed right. I should know pretty quickly if the new mags fix that problem, because right now, I can't even get through a box of 50 of the semi-wadcutters without 3-4 FTFs.
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Old July 11, 2012, 10:42 PM   #7
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In my pistol if I don't crimp down to .470 at least then I have the same problem as you. I try to keep it .469-,470 and I don't have any problems with SWC, RNFP and RN.
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Old July 12, 2012, 07:02 AM   #8
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The cause of a one or two percent feed failure may never be found.
That's why it's important to practice clearing the weapon of a jam, and being able to continue shooting without hesitation.
Even a perfectly operating weapon can change its mind without warning.
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Old July 12, 2012, 07:18 AM   #9
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New gun not completely broke in not unusual,lube more during shooting session,some lead bullets IMO are more prone to jams,due to wax/dirt on bullet, plus I aways polish my feed ramps however not familiar with your gun. I tend to run new guns very wet during break in period.
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Old July 12, 2012, 03:46 PM   #10
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Invest in a Hodgdon #25 or #26 manual; they are found used for peanuts really. That way you have the mfg. data to go by. The #27 is out there, but people want waaay too much for them still. Pick up a couple older (2008) or so free manuals too. They have real good data also.
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Old July 15, 2012, 06:00 PM   #11
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Well, here's an update:

I got the Wilson Combat #47 magazines in on Friday, and went to the range today. Had one FTF with the 230 gr LRN cast bullets, but it wasn't the same type of jam I'd been seeing with the factory mags:



Sorry for the crappy photo - it didn't look that fuzzy when I previewed it on my phone. The bullet fed fine on the second attempt.

At this point, I think I have the sizing/crimping okay, since all the rounds "plonk" into the chamber just fine. I'm on the low end of the powder range, so I may make up a few small runs of different charge weights and see if that makes a difference.

Also, I think I may play around with the overall length as well. Right now, I'm loading the 230 gr at 1.19", and that seems to be on the short side compared to other reloaders' "pet loads".

The 185 LSWC are another story - couldn't get through a full magazine without feeding problems. Always the same thing - the slide would stop about a 1/8" or 1/4" from going fully into battery. Most of the time I could press forward on the slide with my thumb and it would go the rest of the way into battery, but not every time.

I'll post another update after I can get more ammo loaded and get back to the range. Thank again for all the help so far.
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Old July 15, 2012, 06:25 PM   #12
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From your photo I'd say that you need to up the powder charge; failure to pop the slide all the way to the rear. This caused the live round to not clear the ramp because the slide wasn't far enough back. JMHO. CB.
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Old July 15, 2012, 07:29 PM   #13
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Yeah - I'm hoping that just a little more "oomph" will iron out the 230 LRN problems. One of my books lists 4.5 - 5.1 gr of W231, while another lists 5.1-5.6. The Hodgdon site says 4.3 - 5.3.

So depending on who you believe, the 4.7 gr of W231 that I was using was either .2 to .4 gr above minimum, or .4 gr below minimum. I've made up a small batch at 5.0 gr, which still keeps me below maximum on the two lower ranges.
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Old July 15, 2012, 09:22 PM   #14
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Ive been shooting a RIA 1911 and I initially had issues like yours which turned out to be a crimp issue. So I would definitely check to make sure you have enough crimp. On the rounds that don't feed properly, is the nose of the bullet getting chewed up by the feed ramp?

I would also play with the OAL a little bit. I found 1.26 inches to feed the most reliably in my 1911. Any reason you are sticking to a fairly short OAL? I found 1.26 oal with 4.8grains w231 to be a tame load that cycles 100% in my 1911.

With the gun unloaded does the gun cycle smoothly or does it hang up on that last 1/8 to 1/4 inch?
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Old July 15, 2012, 09:35 PM   #15
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The crimp on a loaded round is at 0.468, and they all "plonk" into the barrel beautifully. There doesn't seem to be any deformation or shaving on the rounds that don't chamber.

The slide does have some spots in its travel that feel a little rougher than others, but not near the end of its travel - no matter how slowly I move the slide during the last inch, it always goes all the way into battery without a hitch.

As for the short OAL, I had been using the minimum listed in my manuals, which was 1.19". I've made up a batch at 1.25" which I'll try out in the next few days. All of this is for the LRN bullets. For the 185 gr LSWC bullets, they flat-out won't feed if they're longer than about 1.16" or so. I've gone as short as 1.135" and that helped, but I still had *lots* of feed issues.

I've bumped up the charge a little on both the 230 LRN and the 185 LSWC. For the 230, I'm hoping that (combined with the longer OAL) will fix the 1-2 % FTF rate I'm having. For the 185 LSWC, now that I've found more load data, I think the charge I was using might have been too weak - it's a little over some books' published minimum, and a little under minimum according to some other books.
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Old July 16, 2012, 09:57 PM   #16
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I had the same problem years ago with the same 185 grain swc. I just never could get the little beggars to feed reliably, so I went with a 200 grain rnfp. Problem solved; I use 5.1 of Titegroup or 5.6 of W231 with them. My neighbor kid just shot 50/50 on the CWP range with 35 of them through the same hole out of his Gold Cup. YMMV.
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Old July 16, 2012, 10:01 PM   #17
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Yep - right now, it's a race to see whether I get the feeding problems with the 185 gr LSWCs resolved before I run out of them - I'm certainly not buying any more.
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Old July 17, 2012, 12:07 AM   #18
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Scott,

One of the best treatises I've found on tuning a 1911 and ammo for it is on Arfcom in this Thread.

Also on Tuning 1911 extractors

Maybe they can help you.

All 1911's and their magazines are not created equal. Feed ramp angles vary, and magazine lips vary. Where certain Wilson magazines work great for some 1911's others just find them trouble. Same with other brands. Wilson makes different mags for that very reason.

You mentioned that you need to play with OAL. Absolutely true, and different feed ramps require different OAL. Same goes for magazine lips. Their angles determine what length works best. Good luck with your Remington.
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Old July 17, 2012, 12:14 AM   #19
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Thanks for the links - I've saved both of them and will peruse them tomorrow. I'm really wanting to get the last few wrinkles ironed out of the 230 gr LRN loads, and I think I'm on the right track with lengthening the OAL and upping the powder charge a little bit.

I won't be heartbroken if I don't ever figure out the 185 gr LSWC load. If I still want something a little lighter for target practice, I'd probably give the 200 gr cast bullets a try before I bought another box of the 185s.
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Old July 17, 2012, 08:36 AM   #20
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Quote:
If I still want something a little lighter for target practice, I'd probably give the 200 gr cast bullets a try before I bought another box of the 185s.

Not sure why the smaller bullet for target practice,recoil or money saving issue.?
The 1911 is built for 230gr ball and may take some minor gun smithing to use other ammo, I stopped using lead some years back and now use plated only, never had any luck at all with the 185grswc. I now load only 230gr and both 1911's run consistent without ftf. I use a 1.250 oal.
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Old July 17, 2012, 08:44 AM   #21
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My thoughts were a combination of recoil, cost, and that the SWC bullets cut a cleaner hole in paper than the round nose ones. It wouldn't be a problem to just use 230 gr RN exclusively, though.
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Old July 17, 2012, 09:16 AM   #22
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Quote:
I've ordered two Wilson Combat #47 magazines
Did the new magazines help? FWIW, I have had very good performance out of Chip McCormick 8rd Power Mags.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottRiqui
Missouri Bullet "Softball" (230 gr LRN). CCI large pistol primer, 4.7 gr of W231, and an OAL of 1.19".
1.190" maybe too short. I use 5.0 gr of W231/HP-38 with the same bullet and the load reliably fed/cycled various 1911s using 1.250" OAL (some reloaders will load longer at 1.260" OAL). My Sig 1911 has very short start of rifling with almost no leade and I need to load shorter at 1.240" OAL or the round won't fully chamber. I would use Unclenick's guide and determine the OAL for your barrel starting at 1.270" OAL.



Attached Images
File Type: jpg MBC230RN.jpg (45.2 KB, 47 views)
File Type: jpg Sig1911OAL.jpg (60.1 KB, 47 views)

Last edited by BDS-THR; July 17, 2012 at 08:40 PM. Reason: added pics
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Old July 17, 2012, 11:01 AM   #23
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good to hear you're on the right track...

For what its worth ....I gave up on lead bullets long ago primarily because of feeding issues / but the excessive smoke is an issue as well ...over FMJ or CMJ bullets at least.
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Old July 18, 2012, 07:17 AM   #24
wingman
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Quote:
My thoughts were a combination of recoil, cost, and that the SWC bullets cut a cleaner hole in paper than the round nose ones. It wouldn't be a problem to just use 230 gr RN exclusively, though.
Actually the 230gr can be super easy to control recoil wise with correct powder/loading,I use AA5 with Berry 230gr.
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Old July 22, 2012, 07:40 PM   #25
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UPDATE:

Went to the range this morning. I had loaded up 21 of the 230 gr LRN with a slightly heavier charge (still well under max), and lengthened the OAL from 1.19" to 1.25". No problems at all. That's not definitive proof that I've fixed the feeding problem, since I was only having the problem once or twice per hundred rounds, but it's encouraging. I'll load up a few more boxes with the same specs and see how they do.

The 185 gr LSWC is still giving me fits. I also loaded up 21 rounds of it, with a heavier charge (again, still under max), and an OAL of 1.16" I know that seems short, but if I go much longer (like 1.19"), the first round won't even load from the magazine when I pull back and release the slide.

On four of the 21 rounds, the slide would stop about 1/16" short of going fully back into battery after a shot. The problem bullets didn't appear to be "chewed up" or have any markings on them, and I could always press forward on the slide slightly to get it to go the rest of the way into battery.

Before I increased the powder charge, I was having better results with an OAL of 1.135" than I did with 1.16", so I think I may go back to 1.135" for the next batch, while keeping the powder charge the same. But at this point, I'm just troubleshooting out of curiosity, since I've almost finished the box of 185s and I don't foresee buying any more.
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