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Old September 12, 2013, 12:26 PM   #1
Dunecigar
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Squibs... the killers.

American citizen (BT.380, DP-51, CD M-5, CCWP) living in Guatemala City, Guatemala, Central America:

My dear dear fellow handgunners,

Though I'v mentioned this in passing once or twice. Allow me to tell you what happened to my beautiful SW442 that I lovingly nicknamed The American;

During one of my outings to the range to run the 500 initial rounds through my guns, a squib lodged in the barrel (that's why they are called squibs) of my SW442 and the following round at full power slammed into it thus blowing the barrel all to hell.

No one was hurt, thank goodness, but the gun is ruined.

Because of Guatemala gun laws a barrel is considered a gun so I just can't simply order a new barrel and have a smith attach it. It must be bought by an armsdealer who deals with Smith and Wesson on a wholesale level. Hence it will take months before I can fix The American.

Any how...

I have a question. Guatemala is a tropical country, very moist. In order to prevent squibs I heard that fingernail polish around the primer and where the projectile attaches to the cartridge will preserve the round.

So the question is...

Is that true? Does fingernail polish stop squibs from occurring?


Need your help.

Best regards,
Duncan Idaho
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Old September 12, 2013, 12:31 PM   #2
mrray13
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I won't say stop them, as anything can happen, but prevent moisture from getting to the powder, it can help. I'm sure others will come along with other ways as well.
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Old September 12, 2013, 12:55 PM   #3
Willie Lowman
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Sorry to hear about your Smith.

Sealing the primers can help prevent squibs. Fingernail polish and any other primer sealant is not a 100% end all solution to squibs.

I have experineced squibs in factory ammo three times in the last ten years. Once with a Winchester 9mm round and twice with Hornady .357. I don't know if the primers on those are sealed or not. Ohio can be as humid as Guatemala, just not for as many months of the year. High humidity ruined a pound of H110 When I was loading .44 magnum rounds once. I experienced some squibs from that batch I loaded. I discarded the remainder of the rounds from that batch.

The difference between my squib experiences and yours being when the round went *pop* without noticeable recoil instead of *BANG* I stopped and inspected the gun. That attentiveness has prevented my beloved S&W, Ruger, and a friend's HK MP5 submachinegun from blowing up.
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Old September 12, 2013, 12:57 PM   #4
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I've never heard of any tropical climate causing squibs. Squibs are most often the result of poor handloading technique.

The best way to keep a squib from ruining your world is to -STOP- shooting when something doesn't feel right, and don't take the next shot. A simple bullet lodged in a barrel is an annoyance, and little more. It doesn't end up being catastrophic until the follow-up shot is discharged.
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Old September 12, 2013, 01:39 PM   #5
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Since I put the bug in your ear (or does that literally happen in G'mala? ) I thought I'd look into this for the forum. It seems that there are primer sealants available from Brownells etc.

Here are some previous threads on the subject of waterproofing:

First Thread

Second Thread

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Old September 12, 2013, 01:59 PM   #6
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I think you probably heard a weak report from the squib round and felt weak recoil, if you had stopped firing and inspected the weapon you could have just removed the bullet from the barrel and the American would have been fine.

A squib caused by a weak round will plug the barrel with the bullet, but you get the chance to STOP SHOOTING when you hear the weak report, and fix the situation.

If you ever get a round that doesn't seem to seat completely in the chamber, DON'T FIRE IT, it could be a double loaded round, where two bullets are seated in the case or a round where a single bullet has been seated too far into the case causing the case to expand slightly, and it could detonate, due to over pressuring, turning the gun into a hand grenade. I found one of these recently, a round with 2 bullets seated in the case, it was a commercial round from Federal, not a home grown reload. I weigh each and every one of my rounds now before loading them into mags.

If I had managed to seat that round, and fired it, I would be minus a gun and possibly a hand and/or an eye. It just goes to show, most accidents are inconceivable until they happen.
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Old September 12, 2013, 01:59 PM   #7
Jim Watson
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You have to seal the bullet, too.

I have been working my way through ammunition exposed to smoke, fumes, and water during my house fire. Some of it is shootable, some of it is shootable with an occasional misfire, some of it has many or all misfires and I pull them apart to salvage the bullet and brass.

I note that there are fewer misfires in reloads with lead bullets than reloads or even some brands of factory load with jacketed bullets.
I conclude that the soft lead and bullet lube seal the case mouth better than a copper jacket.
(The red lacquer on Sellier & Bellot ammunition at primer and bullet appears to do exactly nothing.)
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Old September 12, 2013, 02:20 PM   #8
3.Shot.Group.
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+1 on lead sealing better than brass. I remember getting .22 ammo, years ago, that was jacketed, but it has a ring of lead around the bullet where it contacted the case.

I don't know if they still make .22 that or not, I haven't seen any for a long time.
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Old September 12, 2013, 02:52 PM   #9
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All the steel ammo from commy block is dipped in varnish. Is that to seal the cartridge or just to prevent the steel case from rusting. The ones I have seen appear to be plated steel prior to the varnish.
I have never owned or bought steel ammo, thats why I ask the question.
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Old September 12, 2013, 06:50 PM   #10
spacecoast
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Squibs are usually caused by a lack of powder.

I've had two, both were factory rounds. Fortunately I caught both before firing the next round.
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Old September 12, 2013, 08:03 PM   #11
Bob Wright
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I have experienced two squib loads in my time, both using H110 powder in .45 Colt. These were due to insufficient neck tension and/or a loose crimp.

I returned home with the unfired ammo and ran it into a crimping die, adjusted to obtain a tighter crimop, and everything worked fine. Winchester 296 and Hodgdon H110 are notorious for not giving optimum results with very light bullets and not enough bullet pull.

In my case I was using CCI Magnum primers, Winchester brass, and Hornady JHP bullets. The primer fired, driving the bullet up into the bore and sort of "pelletizing" the powder charge.

I keep my powder sealed in its original container until use, and re-cap it after and never been plagued by high humidity.

New Orleans invented high humidity, Memphis improved on it.

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Old September 12, 2013, 08:12 PM   #12
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I once had a squib on a .38 special tracer load. I had an old box of them and we were playing with them at night. It sure gives you a real picture of the arc a .38 makes in flight.
The squib tracer was interesting to say the least. It got real hot in the barrel, and lodged itself in pretty good. I had a heck of a time getting it knocked out. In the end, there was no real damage to the barrel.
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Old September 13, 2013, 11:49 AM   #13
Dunecigar
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Dear Firing Line members,

Just want to thank you for all your input. Especially Bart Noir.

I'm going to give sealing the primer and the case a try.

In truth, Guatemala really isn't that humid. It's just very wet. It rains here all the time and mold grows everywhere.

Thanks again. God bless. God bless The United States of America.

Best regards,
D. Idaho
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Old September 13, 2013, 12:03 PM   #14
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The easiest way to get a stuck bullet out of a barrel is to pour mercury on top of it, and stand it in jar overnight. In the morning, the bullet and the mercury will be in the jar.
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Old September 13, 2013, 02:02 PM   #15
dahermit
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Quote:
The easiest way to get a stuck bullet out of a barrel is to pour mercury on top of it, and stand it in jar overnight. In the morning, the bullet and the mercury will be in the jar.
Current thinking on Mercury is that doing such would contaminate the area in which it was done and subject the doer to Mercury contamination.
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Old September 13, 2013, 02:04 PM   #16
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Quote:
In truth, Guatemala really isn't that humid. It's just very wet.
Not sure if you meant that as humor or not...you may just have a dry sense of humor.
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Old September 13, 2013, 02:52 PM   #17
Bob Wright
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Quote:
3.shot.group said:The easiest way to get a stuck bullet out of a barrel is to pour mercury on top of it, and stand it in jar overnight. In the morning, the bullet and the mercury will be in the jar.
So will a portion of the rifling from the barrel. Mercury is extremely corrosive to steel.

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Old September 13, 2013, 04:36 PM   #18
FrankenMauser
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Quote:
The easiest way to get a stuck bullet out of a barrel is to pour mercury on top of it, and stand it in jar overnight. In the morning, the bullet and the mercury will be in the jar.
Except for the fact that any scratches in the barrel can allow the mercury to infiltrate the crystalline structure of the steel, and substantially weaken the barrel. (Aside from the health risks.)
The process is not as pronounced as it is with aluminum, but the end result can be the same: Mercury attacks Aluminum (video)

Bad.
Bad.
Bad.
Bad idea.
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Old September 13, 2013, 06:10 PM   #19
James K
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A stuck bullet in a revolver barrel can be removed easily by driving it back into the cylinder (if the cylinder won't open) or back into the cylinder window if the cylinder will open. A stuck bullet in a rifle barrel is another matter for another post.

Squib loads usually are the result of a lack of powder in the case and that can (but rarely) happen with factory loads. The primer has enough force to drive the bullet into the barrel or lodge it between the barrel and cylinder. Bad or damp powder could cause a squib also, so moisture could cause a squib. For that problem, nail polish would be perfectly fine as a seal for the primer and case mouth, but with factory ammo there is no way to know if the damage may have already been done in storage before the customer purchased the ammo.

Jim
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Old September 13, 2013, 06:31 PM   #20
g.willikers
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I've run many rounds, that were hiding in my jeans pockets, through the washing machine.
And they've all fired just fine.
And that has to be more of a water threat than high humidity.
I'd bet this squib was caused by no or low powder, as the few that I've experienced were.
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Old September 13, 2013, 07:22 PM   #21
3.Shot.Group.
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Mercury is hazardous, if you handle it with your bare hands, or if you heat it, in which case it becomes a gas, a very heavy gas, but none the less a gas.

Lead is toxic as well, so are some of the gases formed when gunpowder burns. Makes me wonder how toxic the air is at indoor ranges.
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Old September 14, 2013, 12:13 PM   #22
g.willikers
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Now you tell us.
When I was a kid in high school, we played with mercury in chemistry lab all the time.
It was neat the way it could be rolled into a ball, from a puddle.
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Old September 14, 2013, 02:12 PM   #23
DaleA
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Quote:
When I was a kid in high school, we played with mercury in chemistry lab all the time.
Same here. Used to shine up dimes with the stuff. Now loose mercury is cause for school evacuations.

http://www.beloblog.com/ProJo_Blogs/...e_mercury.html
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Old September 14, 2013, 02:21 PM   #24
johnwilliamson062
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Quote:
I've run many rounds, that were hiding in my jeans pockets, through the washing machine.
I can confirm they still fire!
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Old September 17, 2013, 07:59 AM   #25
Skans
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Squibs are usually caused by a malfunction in the loading process where no powder, or a very light powder charge is dumped into the shell. The problem with Squibs is that they have just enough punch (sometimes) from the primer to lodge the bullet into the barrel, still permitting another round to be chambered with a severe barrel obstruction. We all know what happens next.

The problem the OP describes is really more of a hang-fire, a delayed ignition of the powder by the primer usually because the powder is damp or there is some problem with it. Most factory ammo already have sealed primers, some have some kind of sealant where the bullet is seated. In that case, further sealing the cartridge with nail polish probably won't do much. But, if I were going to be carrying a gun in a very wet, jungle environment, I might take some extra precaution and put an extra seal on the primer and around the bullet. Just don't over do it, and there shouldn't be any problem.
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