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Old October 25, 2012, 10:51 PM   #1
Tom Servo
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The Heartbreak of Bullet Setback



Take a good look, kids. Don't flinch. Don't avert your eyes. Bullet setback is real, and it could be happening in your very own neighborhood as we speak.

"Impossible," you say. "My community is free of hippies and bullet setback! It could never touch our halcyon lives of quiet desperation!"

You'd be wrong. Dead gun wrong. See Timmy with his new 1911? Look how shiny it is! A wholesome, all-American boy with his all-American gun! But watch as Timmy loads up a magazine and slaps it into the pistol to "function test" it. He dry-cycles the ammunition by racking the slide to chamber and eject each round.

The sad truth is, Timmy's in bed with Communism. The Reds want him to have a negligent discharge! If they can't succeed at that, they'll make darned sure he has a case-head blowout at the range, just like the one pictured above.

What Uncle Joe Stalin knows is that the bullet gets pushed slightly into the case each time it hits the feed ramp. Setback can also occur with folks who constantly unload and reload the top two rounds of their carry ammunition.

"Well, Vladimir's not getting to me!" you might say. "I'll get one of them newfangly plastic pistols!" I have one word for you: Kaboom.

Glocks are vulnerable, too. It's not the gun's fault. As the bullet gets pushed further into the case, pressures increase, and that's gotta go somewhere. It's not just the .45, though. The combination of hollowpoints and the 1911 seems to be a good recipe for this, but I've seen it happen with most major service calibers and guns.

Now, there are other causes, such as improper seating or crimping, but most of the issues I see are from the two aforementioned practices. Dry-cycling ammunition doesn't prove any sort of functionality (or lack thereof) that won't become apparent in live fire. All it does is damage the ammunition, and possibly the gun.

And that's just what the Bolsheviks want.
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Old October 25, 2012, 11:27 PM   #2
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Yes, for a number of reasons I’ve always felt it was safer to simply load a gun, holster it and leave it there until needed. When not on my belt I leave my gun in the holster and lock it up. Then every week or two I go to the range and empty out the ammunition from the chamber and magazine on an unsuspecting paper target. Then I start all over again with fresh ammunition.

The idea of cycling and recycling ammunition just seems dangerous on a variety of levels.
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Old October 26, 2012, 12:11 AM   #3
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Agreed. I loaded my 1911... Oh, seven months ago? Well, I guess I cleaned it once recently. I do rotate which bullets get to live in the chamber, for that exact reason.
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Old October 26, 2012, 12:17 AM   #4
MonsterB
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A very real reality. The other day I checked a speer g dot 9mm that I had chambered in my 229. It was definitely setback. Only had been chambered once or twice. Ended up tossing it, not gonna take a chance. Out of curiosity I took another from the same mag, and chambered it a bunch of times, and no setback.
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Old October 26, 2012, 01:53 AM   #5
warningshot
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Plated bullets & set backs

How much of this set back involves reloads using plated bullets?
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Old October 26, 2012, 09:09 AM   #6
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OK Tom, this takes the prize for um, creative forum post wording.

Frankly, I'm still trying to figure out how you type so well when you have springs for arms, and Joel or Mike have to carry you everywhere.
Quote:
How much of this set back involves reloads using plated bullets?
I can't see how plated bullets would be any more prone to setback than jacketed bullets. OTOH when reloading for autoloaders, IMHO the Lee Factory Crimp Die™ is your best friend. Although rimless autoloader cases shouldn't be crimped per se, this dies squeezes the case around the bullet so firmly that it really stays put. I've accidentally dropped several reloaded rounds that have gone through the FCD and I've observed virtually zero measurable bullet movement.

I've had problems with plated bullets jumping forwards under recoil in Magnum revolvers, but this is really a different issue, and is solvable by applying a slightly firmer crimp; getting the right degree of crimp on a plated bullet in a revolver cartridge is a trial-and-error process of figuring out how hard you can crimp without penetrating the plating at the case mouth.


[EDIT] I am not a handloading nerd to nearly the same degree that I'm a history and gun design nerd. I didn't realize that the Lee FCD was such an acrimonious topic until I did some searching. I'm retracting this portion of my post so this thread doesn't turn into another slugfest. Peace, y'all.
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Last edited by carguychris; October 27, 2012 at 09:02 AM. Reason: Let's forget that I brought up the FCD, m'kay?
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Old October 26, 2012, 09:51 AM   #7
rebs
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different caliber, but

I loaded some 223 for my AR and the coal was short so I wanted to deseat them, I pulled the bullet part way out and then reseated them to the right coal. Now I am afraid I may have lost enough neck tension that the bullets may set back when I fire the rifle, what do you guys think about loading them one at a time in the chamber without loading them in a magazine or should I empty the powder, resize them, put the powder back in and seat the bullet again ?
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Old October 26, 2012, 09:54 AM   #8
RedBowTies88
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I had to toss 2 magazines woth of hornady 9x18 due to this very problem
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Old October 26, 2012, 10:41 AM   #9
Sparks1957
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Definitely, something one has to watch out for. Better to be safe than sorry.

I thought politics was off-limits here, Tom? I guess it's OK to discuss communist plots, however.
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Old October 26, 2012, 10:56 AM   #10
Hal
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Quote:
How much of this set back involves reloads using plated bullets?
More or less effects all ammo - factory or not - plated or not - jacketed or not...

At one point, many of the ammunition companies put a cannelure on the cases right where the base of the bullet was to help prevent setback.
It seems that practice has declined in recent years..

A cannelure on a case these days is just slightly less rare then a CD mark on the dial of a radio...

Both of which would deter the evil red menace...

Quote:
I loaded some 223 for my AR and the coal was short so I wanted to deseat them, I pulled the bullet part way out and then reseated them to the right coal. Now I am afraid I may have lost enough neck tension that the bullets may set back when I fire the rifle, what do you guys think about loading them one at a time in the chamber without loading them in a magazine or should I empty the powder, resize them, put the powder back in and seat the bullet again ?
You have what, 100 - 150 thousand psi inches away from your face?
Sort of makes it an easy decision eh?
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Old October 26, 2012, 11:40 AM   #11
chris in va
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Wow 150,000psi. That's some hot 223!
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Old October 26, 2012, 11:43 AM   #12
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Quote:
At one point, many of the ammunition companies put a cannelure on the cases right where the base of the bullet was to help prevent setback.
It seems that practice has declined in recent years..
The Federal 230gr +P HST's that are my preferred SD loading in .45 ACP have such a cannelure which is one of the reasons that I prefer that particular loading.
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Old October 26, 2012, 12:07 PM   #13
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with my glock 19 empty and slide locked back i put a round directly in the chamber with my fingers. next i pull the slide back unlocking it and slowly let the slide all the way forward. been doing that for years, no problems.
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Old October 26, 2012, 12:15 PM   #14
AH.74
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Quote:
A very real reality. The other day I checked a speer g dot 9mm that I had chambered in my 229. It was definitely setback. Only had been chambered once or twice. Ended up tossing it, not gonna take a chance. Out of curiosity I took another from the same mag, and chambered it a bunch of times, and no setback.
I saw the same thing with a Speer 9mm round. I found this round had undergone setback after only one chambering. After I found that I have been much more careful about never chambering a round a second time.

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Old October 26, 2012, 01:00 PM   #15
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Unintended/unnoticed bullet setback is a very real phenomenon and in my opinion, is the LION'S share of the KB results that often get blamed on "double charges." Certainly, it happens more often with handloads than with factory loads, but I still contend that it's much, MUCH more an issue with case mouth tension and bullet setback than it is with a gross overcharge of powder.

This thread is a very good one as it relates to Factory ammo as it's a very, very real phenomenon with factory ammo. As noted--especially with high dollar defense ammo as THAT'S the stuff many folks continually chamber and re-chamber.

As it drifts to handloaded ammo however, it may indeed drift to the off-topic. We have a whole forum to discuss exactly this phenomenon in handloads and we actively do just that.

Not that we shouldn't discuss it here -- but there are some phenomenal minds in the proper area that won't ever see this thread. If you want the real scoop from that angle, discuss it in the Handloading & Reloading area.
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Last edited by Sevens; October 28, 2012 at 12:51 PM.
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Old October 26, 2012, 01:23 PM   #16
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I also have just dropped a bullet into the chamber instead fo slapping them in, unless I going to fire the round I'd slapped in.
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Old October 26, 2012, 01:59 PM   #17
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I've always been in the habit of loading a single in the chamber any time a pistol is loaded, same bullet every time, and comparing it to a pristine, new round each time it is loaded... If there is ANY visible setback, it is chucked into the "no more usage until firing time" box, and chambered only once more for firing. To be clear, I am talking fractions of a mm setback, here...
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Old October 26, 2012, 02:20 PM   #18
iraiam
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Yes it is a valid concern, I always check rounds that have been chambered for setback, factory rounds or reloads, I also check a few reload rounds after my dies are set up and I'm ready to produce. I chamber them from the magazine several times and make sure that none of them have setback.

I will let a small amound of setback after a few chamberings go, but any setback after a single chambering will have to be resolved before producing ammo.
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Old October 26, 2012, 02:37 PM   #19
polyphemus
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With all due respect Mr. Servo,there are no kids here.But the adults might like to know exactly what happened to the rounds you exhibit,seeing as accidents do happen what would help others avoid them is how.Bolsheviks notwithstanding relevant information regarding this particular malfunction would be helpful.Thank you.
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Old October 26, 2012, 02:42 PM   #20
Hal
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Quote:
Wow 150,000psi. That's some hot 223!
That why setback is such a problem...
Pressures spike well beyond what the case and/or gun is made to handle.

Or did you think it was normal for a case head to blow out like that at normal operating pressures?

Or are you just making some smart ass remark?

Last edited by Hal; October 26, 2012 at 02:57 PM.
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Old October 26, 2012, 10:03 PM   #21
Tom Servo
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Quote:
Bolsheviks notwithstanding relevant information regarding this particular malfunction would be helpful.
The gun was a Kimber Pro. The owner needed help removing the blown casing. He looked at it and pronounced that this incident was the reason for him not using Winchester ammunition any more.

He also mentioned that he'd had this problem before, and with other guns. At that point, he made a show of unloading the remainder of the magazine and handing me the bullets. Upon inspection, the setback became apparent.

Quote:
Unintended/unnoticed bullet setback is a very real phenomenon and in my opinion, is the LION'S share of the KB results that often get blamed on "double charges."
I can verify at least two Glock "kabooms" in law enforcemtnt as having been caused by the practice.

Quote:
Frankly, I'm still trying to figure out how you type so well when you have springs for arms, and Joel or Mike have to carry you everywhere.
Actually, I dictate to Cambot, and...wait. Wait. Is that a swipe at my disability? Because, if so, my lawyers will be in touch. I'm not sure where to find one in outer space, but they're bound to be somewhere.

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Old October 26, 2012, 10:44 PM   #22
warningshot
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We are talking about improper crimp aren't we?

A properly crimped bullet should go thru the loading cycle just fine if the gun is working properly...right? If the crimp is no bueno then the bullet could set back or move forward, right? If it's an improper crimp then it's anyone's guess which way the bullet will move.

So....is there anyone here whom can properly apply a uniform crimp on an FMJ or on a standard cast bullet in the same manner & result as with a plated bullet? I can't.

Warning: Bragging about to occur. Under match conditions, me and my 9mm & 38 Special & 45acp reloads have been holding the 9 ring on a B-27 target at 50 yards in 4 positions since 1986. I will pay close attention to those posters whose work results can consistently claim same, close or better..
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Old October 26, 2012, 11:03 PM   #23
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Was at the range last week and seen a FMJ 9mm set back so far that less than half the normally exposed part of the bullet was showing.

It was sitting on the counter... it was a good hands on example I could show my fiance and new to shooting friend.
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Old October 27, 2012, 06:47 AM   #24
polyphemus
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The bullet appears to be JHP and it's notched,Winchester 9mm or .45?those rounds are being somehow damaged by the pistol.Thank you again.
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Old October 27, 2012, 07:12 PM   #25
drail
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Setback is not a problem if you pay attention to case neck tension. Without it no crimp is going to hold the bullet in place. Cannellures are a good idea but adds another step to the manufacturing process.(which is most probably why it went away) Rotating a setback round and shooting it "later" isn't going to save you either. If you see a setback round do not shoot it because if you chamber it again it will most likely just setback some more - maybe enough to blow your chamber. Setback is prevalent now because the ammo companies have lowered their QC and inspection process and a lot more people are carrying autos now and believing that it's OK to unload and reload the same round repeatedly in their daily routine. With factory ammo you are taking a serious risk rechambering the same round multiple times. It's not worth it.
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