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Old January 2, 2013, 06:34 PM   #1
idek
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squib load: possible causes?

I starting loading about 9 months ago (only 38 sp/357 so far). I haven't loaded a ton of ammo--I've shot maybe a couple hundred handloaded rounds in my 1894c carbine and S&W 66 revolver. To keep things simple, I've only used one recipe and the same components, and I've never had any problems.

But today, I went out to shoot the 1894c. I loaded the magazine, and fired the first shot. I sounded and felt normal and I saw the bullet hit the target. I cycled the action, saw the case eject, and saw the next one load in the chamber. I pulled the trigger again and "click." I worked the lever, and an empty case with a well-struck primer ejected.

I emptied the gun and checked the barrel and no light was coming through. I assumed a bullet was lodged in there so I came home and tapped it out with a cleaning rod. It hadn't gone far at all and was stuck very near the chamber. The bottom of the bullet was blackened and had the smell of a fired shot.

My assumption is that I had forgotten to load powder in the cartridge, but before I fire that gun or that ammo again, I just want to double check if their could be other possible causes that I should be worried about.
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Old January 2, 2013, 06:39 PM   #2
sourdough44
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No powder is the most likely cause. Had there been powder that didn't ignite you would see it in the chamber when you opened the action.
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Old January 2, 2013, 06:45 PM   #3
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A few tidbits of information may be helpful.

What load were you using? (Powder,bullet,primer.)

What kind of loading? (Progressive, turret, or single stage.)

The powder, and charging method would be of the most importance.

If single stage how are you charging? (Powder measure, or dipper)

If progressive, or semi progressive such as a Lee turret with an auto disc it could have been from a low hopper, short stroke of the ram, or bridging of powder. If so be careful. If it causes one round to be under charged. Then it will cause another to be over charged from the bridge breaking.

(Bridging is when a flaky or bulky powder sticks in the throat of a powder funnel, or measure causing an under charge. When enough weight, or the jarring of the press breaks it loose it over charges the next one.)

Inattention, and being in a hurry, or being distracted that brief moment can lead to one forgetting that a case was not charged.

The good part is you caught the event, and know what to watch for in the future.
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Old January 2, 2013, 06:51 PM   #4
tank1949
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Depending on type press and powder, it is real easy to NOT fill certain caliber rnds. My older Dillon has since be offered retros by mfg to reduce this from happening. Example: If you shoot 5 or 6 grain of Unique in 38/357 hulls and get distracted sometimes you advance the station too soon. Been there!!! These mishaps are not as frequeint with HP rifle cases like 308 or 30-06, if usin a single stage press to load them and always dispense powder into hulls via redding and put them in a trey for examination.

I reload 9mm and 45s with the Dillon but I can easily inspect deep inside of case to determine if I had fully loaded powder into hull. 38s and 357s are very long and small powder loads are difficult to verify.

If you single stage each round, get you a loading trey to examine each rnd. If you use trurret press, try a powder that will almost fill case.
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Old January 2, 2013, 06:56 PM   #5
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A way to avoid not charging a case when batch loading with a single stage is real simple. Put the uncharged cases in a bowl. Take the case out turn it upside down, then turn upright. Place the funnel on the top, charge with a powder measure, or dipper. Place the charged round into a loading tray. Repeat till the loading tray is filled, or you run out of cases.

Before seating a bullet look inside the case before putting it in the press.
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Old January 2, 2013, 09:34 PM   #6
reynolds357
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No powder. If the primer moved the bullet, it was not a faulty ignition system.
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Old January 2, 2013, 09:53 PM   #7
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Are you using Lee equipment?

I've had this happen to me when using my Lee Auto Disk measure. I like it, but if you're not belling the case enough, then it will sometimes throw a light charge. That's easy to check, though. I've never had a squib because of this adjustment, just something I know to watch when I setup my dies.

I've also had the same measure throw a light charge when equipped with the adjustable charge bar set to LESS than .4 cc using a flake powder. At .4cc and over it's great, less than that and mine will throw a squib or two in .38 special. Lee warns against using flake powders in the charge bar when set to less the .4cc, I thought Bullseye would be ok, but I was incorrect. Stick to the cavities when loading under .4cc and for really light loads use the micro disk.

Other than learning my measure, I once checked the powder and then forgot to load the powder.

Finally, I had squips in .357 magnum once with Russian primers that absolutely refused to ignited Blue Dot. I ended up with partially burned gun powder down the barrel and a bullet lodged in the bore. I switched primer brands and all is well.

Last edited by testuser; January 2, 2013 at 09:59 PM.
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Old January 4, 2013, 07:50 AM   #8
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I agree with the other posters that stated no powder... if the powder failed to ignite, you'd have a mess in your action ( even one case of medium load, spills alot of powder when it gets spread around )

I have a buddy that watches TV when he loads ( I've told him many times, but he seems to let the advice go in one ear & out the other... but you need to eliminate all distractions when reloading )

the result for my buddy was 5 bullets stuck in the barrel of this revolver...

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Old January 4, 2013, 08:13 AM   #9
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Someone ought to mention bad primers !
I have experienced ,and others whom I know also, bad primers . When this has occured it happens a number of times with one box of primers . So more than once with one box of primers -- dump the box !! You don't need squibs. You may also get a box that the bad primers give higher pressure than normal .That's happened to me.
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Old January 4, 2013, 08:39 AM   #10
Magnum Wheel Man
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I had thought of bad primers, as I've had some that were dumping the yellow priming powder out... but I still think if the case were properly charged with powder, & the primer had enough "pop" to push the bullet out of the case, but not burn the powder, there would have been noticeable amounts of powder in the action, & or barrel, when he knocked the bullet out...
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Old January 4, 2013, 09:33 AM   #11
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Idek,

It seems pretty clear you missed charging that case. The main worry, then, is did the charge find its way into another case that already had a charge. That's not common, but It's probably prudent to weigh all the remaining cartridges, get the average weight and the standard deviation, then set aside any individual rounds that are more than two standard deviations heavier or lighter that the average value and pull them in an inertial puller, just to add a layer of safety. You'll be able to reuse the components.
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Old January 4, 2013, 02:09 PM   #12
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Here's a picture of what can happen when the primer fires, but the powder fails to ignite. This round is from my Ruger SRH .454 Casull, you see the boolit that was found about halfway through the barrel and the clumped power behind it.


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Old January 4, 2013, 02:43 PM   #13
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No powder and do not be embarrassed

My brother has been loading at a low level for 25 years. I got back into it a year ago.

Both of us ran into that, mine were 9mms and his were 30-06.

Had to go back to the basics, charge all the cases with powder, then look at each one before you start putting a bullet in the end of any of them.

Progressives and such with auto powder I will leave to others.

In my case I was trying to be sequential and I got lost (two I think).

I think he found 2 or 3 that he missed.
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Old January 4, 2013, 10:12 PM   #14
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I'll add my 2 cents worth on the side of --oops I had no--or little --powder in the case..............

To go a bit further--I'll add that if you load cases with powder based on faith--that is you trust your measure to drop the right amount of powder EVERY time--you will get more squibs--especially as one other poster has already mentioned--you use Lee equipment.

I use a lot of Lee products and will defend them to, well, not the death, but pretty far, but I HATE Richard Lee's idea of powder handling. I think he really truly saw no reason why any person would need to use anything but dippers...read his books...consequently all Lee powder measures I have used and I used every last one they marketed until 2009 I have found to be inadequate. Lee measures are VERY prone to bridging - at small drops and even large--though the consequences are not so disastrous when dropping large mounts of powder and only missing 2 grains out of 30 as when missing 2 grains out of 3 or 4 in handgun cartridges.

To be fair, ALL volumetric measure must be checked closely, because they are ALL prone to bridging with certain powders and especially if you have narrowed the aperture in order to drop a very small charge. My RCBS uniflow will bridge when I try to drop a lot of small charges for things like .32 acp. or .380 loads. I just get irritated about the LEE stuff because it bridges so often and so badly--and this idea that making a die that causes you to have to jerk it loose when doing a charge--does not fix the bridging problem and may even make it worse in small charge weights.

I try to only use my PACT system to weigh each and every charge--rifle or pistol, BUT sometimes you want to use up odds and ends of jugs of powder and you use a volumetric--I've learned my lesson there too-- I use my Lee dippers, so Rick has his revenge after all, a little.................
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Old January 4, 2013, 10:50 PM   #15
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I had the same thing happen as 454PB showed above. Twice in one morning trying Ramshot Enforcer with standard primers in .45 Colt and .357 magnum. The loads would fire great or not ignite at all. I've since switched to CCI magnum primers and up'd the load a bit.

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Old January 4, 2013, 10:57 PM   #16
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No powder was likely the cause
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Old January 6, 2013, 11:41 AM   #17
tank1949
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Other posts are 100 % correct about distractions, including wives and kids. Keep them out of your reloading area!!! Do one cal. at a time. Never have more than one brand/type powder on bench. TRUST ME!!!!!!

I have never experience good results when loading bottle neck cases with progressives. Most of the fellow reloaders at the range that I go to share the same feelings. Although most progressives have enormous ram pistons, the progressive's design is prone to deliver more than acceptable bullet run-out on large bottle neck cases, SB dies don't SB size, and the smaller powder dispensers built into the progressives like 223s, the powder sometimes log jams. I have enen experienced jams in 300 Win mags using IMR 4831, since the powder logs are huge. The result is a mess or inaccurate powder fill. Ball type powders may still jam on small bottle necks because the powder dispenser is trying to dump a lot of powder down through a very small hole via a cam principle. Sometimes you may fail to full inspect 223 case necks for burrs, etc. These will cause major messes. TRUST ME!!! For bottle necks cases use a single stage and quality powder dispenser and long neck powder funnel. If you use a tray to place charged cases and then examine for consistency, you'd be amaized at the realiably. It is a slower process, but until someone come up with a solution, I'd use progressives for pistol ammo only. AND LOOK INTO CASES before setting bullet. Good luck!!!!
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Old January 6, 2013, 12:44 PM   #18
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I know 1st hand, no powder.
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Old January 6, 2013, 05:41 PM   #19
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Thanks for asking our advice.

Only one thing to add to the excellent (and 100% correct) answers already given.

If you load in batches, as on a single stage press or a turret staying stationary:

(I will assume a batch of 50) Put each primed, empty case in a loading block, primer side up. When the loading block is full, inspect all the primers for seating depth.

Take one case out, charge it with powder and put it back in the block (or a second block) primer side down. Repeat 50 times with each case in turn. When the loading block is full, shine a light into all the cases and see that 1) all cases have a powder charge and 2) the powder charge is all the same depth.

Take one case out, seat a bullet and place the assembled unit in a loading block. Repeat 50 times with each case in turn.

Some people prefer to load in batches even though it is slower than continuous loading just for the added safety of the whole-batch powder charge verification step.

If you load in a continuous process (as a progressive press or turret, rotating the head as you load each cartridge such that each cartridge is loaded start-to-finish before the next cartridge is started)

You have to be cautious, attentive and aware of the dangers. Powder-check dies are popular to add some safety. A light (goose-neck LED taped to the press for example) shining into the case so you can see (sometimes people will position a mirror) are helpful if it is difficult to see the powder in the case. Other people simply pull each case out of the press, look at the powder and put the case back in before continuing.

Good luck. And congratulations on paying attention to what your carbine told you while you were shooting.

Lost Sheep

p.s. Nice thing about dippers. You cannot unknowingly run them out of powder like you can a powder measure and bridging is nearly impossible.
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Old January 6, 2013, 10:00 PM   #20
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I loaded a sqib in 308 once. I changed my proceedure to insure it would never happen again. I use a strong light to make sure the powder levels are all about the same before putting bullets on the now powdered cases.
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Old January 9, 2013, 07:48 PM   #21
tank1949
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Measure twice, cut once! Use loading blocks and LOOK. Squibs really suck and make you look dangerous. Been there and done that!!!!!
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Old January 25, 2013, 04:41 PM   #22
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A few years back, had a few squibs with 9mm using Titegroup powder, and
loading with a Lee Classic Turret with Pro Auto Powder drop.
Since then as others have stated, I prefer loading in batches manually advancing my turret.
Also, found Accurate 5 dispensed better than Titegroup.
As others, I always light my batch before seating any lead.
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Old January 26, 2013, 10:29 AM   #23
Unclenick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShootingNut
…I always light my batch before seating any lead.
I presume that by this you mean that you illuminate it and that no source of ignition is involved.
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Old January 26, 2013, 02:42 PM   #24
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unclenick,
Yes sir, didn't think using a match was the best!
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Old January 30, 2013, 03:57 PM   #25
tank1949
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Beware Swaged bullets!

Any squib loads that I have experienced have caused bullet to only slightly go into the revolver's cone or riflings, until now. I have always shot jackets rifle bullets which never develope anough pressure to case mouth. I shoot nothing but CCI. I have always shot hard cast or jacketed pistol bullets. If a squib load, the primer would propel the bullet just enough to jam a prohibit next rnd from going to battery.

Recently, I started using soft swaged 38 158 grain bullets. They are very accurate but soft and a dry case with only a primer will lodge them into a revolver cone, and you will be able to spin cylindar for next shot, which will be bad news. I tested one. I tapped it out via cleaning rod.

I have had malfunctions with jacketed and hard cast lead bullets, but apparently the metal was too hard for just a primer to force bullet into the barrel where another charged bullet could come behind it.

Be careful!
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