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Old October 5, 2013, 10:53 PM   #1
Gaz_in_NZ
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Commercially Reloaded Ammo... not very happy.

Just got back from the pistol club.
I used some of their Commercially Reloaded Ammo and thought it shot like crap.
I used a club 6"-686 (that really needed a session of deep cleaning performing on it) and my scores in the comp I shot in was mediocre to say the least.
I examined some of the fired cases half an hour ago at home (the club takes the brass back for reloading so I left 50 back there) and found that 2 out of the 20 I brought home with me were actually split!!
Further, I examined 30 un-shot rounds and found 2 that had split cases AND had been sent out from whoever reloads .38's for the club with splits in the cases!!!
I also noticed that there was some "yellow" residue on the shooting stall I was using that was dropping out of the fired cases when I was ejecting them.
And the ejected cases showed bad carbon type discoloration on the outside from being shot.

At present I don't have a reloading setup but I think I really need to get one pronto.

A couple of photos of what I'm talking about.


Split cases and a live one with a split (found another one after taking the photo).



Yellow stuff stuck in the case... and this was all over the area where I was ejecting them.


Dirty cases after shooting them (I would have thought a Commercial Reloader would have used a clean burning powder).
Also the cases they have used don't appear to have been cleaned very well as there is a black ring in between the Rim and the body.

I have never had any of my own reloads get black powder burns on them (when I was in the UK and reloading my own).



Thoughts please, especially on the safety aspect of inadvertently shooting a reload with a split case.

New factory S&B .38 in a wad-cutter is $5 more/50 than this stuff the club has for sale... and I can keep the brass.

Cheers and Thanks in advance.
Gaz
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Old October 5, 2013, 11:52 PM   #2
Nick_C_S
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And the bullet isn't seated properly. And the sizer die used is worn out (longitudinal marks).

That is true crap.
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Old October 6, 2013, 12:03 AM   #3
Mike38
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I would imagine that a commercial reloader uses the least expensive powder they can get their hands on. Regardless of how clean or dirty it burns. They probably change brands often. Same for the other components. As for shooting those split cases, I wouldn’t.
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Old October 6, 2013, 12:12 AM   #4
Gaz_in_NZ
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I hadn't noticed the marks showing that the sizer die was screwed.
I can't actually find anything to say that is not negative about this Commercially Reloaded Ammo.
Looking at the bullet seating you're right, they are way too high, looks like they were done on a 357 setup.

I'll stick to factory new until I get my reloading bench setup.

Cheers
Gaz
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Old October 6, 2013, 12:13 AM   #5
Sevens
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I am not nearly as worked up over this as you are. I'm not even going to attempt to "apologize" for that ammo as I truly have no idea how bad or "not so bad" it really is, and I don't feel the need to defend that ammo anyway. However, I can find a couple answers (or possible answers) for some of the listed complaints.

The neck splits? This simply HAPPENS in used brass. In my .38 supply, I get this all the time, though usually with much of my nickel brass that I bought in a bulk box back around 1992 or so. The stuff does get brittle, especially the nickel stuff, and repeated work just makes it fail. The neck/mouth of a piece of cartridge brass is like a paper clip. Bend it back and forth a few times and it snaps.

Some stuff lasts longer than others, some gets beaten up and gives up quickly. I split some of my 10mm brass, and that stinks because my supply is limited and hard to replenish. I'm finding that I torch some of my .327 Federal brass awfully quick, as I -KNOW- I haven't put it through nearly as many loadings as my .38 brass. However, my .38 brass sees 17.5k PSI max, and I run my .327 Federal well over 40k PSI. I'm sure that's a factor! However, these things are the same no matter when, where, or how I split the brass:
1) I can't use it again
2) it did -NO- harm
3) it ran -perfectly fine-
4) and I only notice it upon inspection after the fact.

The "shots fired" from the brass that splits was perfectly fine and did exactly what I asked & expected it to do.

The "yellow residue and chunks" ? Looks like unburnt powder. Sometimes, depending on the load and the powder, it happens OFTEN. I use a lot of Hodgdon Universal, and I find in -some- loads, I get THAT, and a lot of it. It ends up on the brass, in the gun, scattered all over the shooting area, too. I collected some of it once, and lit it with a match, and yeah, it did burn. Truth is-- that's quite often about the load it's running. Typically, unburnt powder is an indicator of a light load.

And the dirty, sooty exterior of the brass? Also a go-to indicator of a light load. Brass isn't obturating and carbon is going wherever it's allowed to go. Ramp the load up, make it HOTTER and you lose some (or all?) of the unburnt powder and you lose a lot of the sooty cases.

You may be seeing the commercial reloader being cautious with their ammo, perhaps something that MANY people would want, or even praise them for.

Most folks who don't handload also don't realize that almost *ALL* factory ammo runs right up at max pressure. Why? Because it runs cleaner, and it tends to run handguns (semi-auto pistols, mostly) better because it gives them the energy they are designed around.

That ammo? Maybe it sucks. Maybe it's just not what you like, but it's not because they are a shoddy outfit. Perhaps they are cautious... too cautious, and you are seeing them result of that.
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Old October 6, 2013, 12:19 AM   #6
Gaz_in_NZ
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Thanks Mike.
I thought the split cases were a bit dodgy and probably downright dangerous.
I mean there were 50 cases I just gave back and never checked.
I shot 70 rounds in that comp and every shot felt different and the groups looked like they had been shot by a novice (which I'm not), dunno how many split cases I probably did fire. And just what the hell is that yellow stuff that was all over the place and stuck in most of the fired cases.

I am writing to our club president about this crappy ammo and its possible dangers if they are sending reloads with split cases out.
Their QC must be totally nonexistent to allow crap like that out of the door...

Cheers
Gaz
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Old October 6, 2013, 12:27 AM   #7
Gaz_in_NZ
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Quote:
That ammo? Maybe it sucks. Maybe it's just not what you like, but it's not because they are a shoddy outfit. Perhaps they are cautious... too cautious, and you are seeing them result of that.
I have 2 out of the 30 unfired rounds left that have been reloaded into split cases... That does nothing to alert me to the fact that they are in any way shape or form cautious. That says to me shoddy outfit with no QC.
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Old October 6, 2013, 12:41 AM   #8
Sevens
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That was -not- made clear in your original post. If they were loading ammo in to already split cases, that is not only shoddy, it is far beyond.

The question I *thought* I was answering was, "is it bad when the cases split upon shooting?" and my answer is, "no big deal."

Loading ammo in to crap cases is the work of a careless amateur. In a revolver, it's just silly. In a semi-auto round, it's BEGGING for disaster.
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Old October 6, 2013, 12:43 AM   #9
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Not to beat a dead horse, but if I spend money on a box of ammo (haha, rarely do I ever do that...), and I take a round out and it's in a split case, I'm talking refund and in short order. That's not hard to spot, I would think.
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Old October 6, 2013, 12:44 AM   #10
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Commercially Reloaded Ammo... not very happy.

I tried some of the reloaded stuff around here, and it's the only stuff I've ever come across that will not feed reliably in my G20. It's loaded so puny that it won't eject sometimes (no modded springs on this factory pistol). I would have at least shot the whole box, but I noticed a bullet loaded backwards (bullet tip facing primer and base facing forward) and just gave the rest of the box back...

A buddy of mine tried a box of 40 s&w through his glock 23, and I could literally see the projectile leaving his barrel and traveling to the target. It was kind of cool other than the realization that he was probably nearing BB gun velocity.
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Old October 6, 2013, 12:46 AM   #11
Gaz_in_NZ
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Quote:
That was -not- made clear in your original post.
Yes it was I'm afraid...
See first photo with a split case live round in it... with the comment below it :- "Split cases and a live one with a split (found another one after taking the photo)."

Also in the text I wrote :-"Further, I examined 30 un-shot rounds and found 2 that had split cases"

Gaz

Last edited by Gaz_in_NZ; October 6, 2013 at 01:01 AM.
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Old October 6, 2013, 12:48 AM   #12
Gaz_in_NZ
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Quote:
Not to beat a dead horse, but if I spend money on a box of ammo (haha, rarely do I ever do that...), and I take a round out and it's in a split case, I'm talking refund and in short order. That's not hard to spot, I would think.
Would you check 100 rounds for splits when they are from a so called professional outfit??? I doubt it very much.

I bought them 10 minutes before the start of the comp as I had run out of the CCI .38 that I had.
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Old October 6, 2013, 01:05 AM   #13
Sevens
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Yup, you got me -- I missed those details.

You did get some craptastic ammo!
Quote:
Would you check 100 rounds for splits when they are from a so called professional outfit??? I doubt it very much.
Haha, I can't see how I would miss that stuff coming from a box that I paid for... especially considering how much I would imagine you might have paid for it.

I certainly don't miss that stuff at my load bench. EVER.
(I definitely missed it in your post! )
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Old October 6, 2013, 01:19 AM   #14
Gaz_in_NZ
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Yep, craptastic for deffo.
I just can't believe a supposed "pro outfit" could turn out such garbage, especially to a well known club in the capital city of a country....

I need to get my ass in gear (and my wallet) and get a reloading bench set up.
I suppose my next question is going to be the old chestnut "Which Press"?
I am used to using a Lee Pro1000 (which I had in the UK before emigrating to NZ) but most of the club members keep trying to convince me that I should use a Dillon, a Lyman, Hornady etc, etc, etc, ad infinitum ad nauseum.

Cheers
Gaz

Last edited by Gaz_in_NZ; October 6, 2013 at 01:37 AM.
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Old October 6, 2013, 01:34 AM   #15
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Since most revolver rounds are roll crimped, the mouth of the case gets a lot more work than most semi-auto pistol rounds that are reloaded. This leads to brittleness in that area and a tendency to crack. Should those have been sold to you? No they shouldn't. Are they dangerous? Probably not. The crack would have to extend back quite a way into the body of the case for anything like a dangerous amount of gas to escape upon firing. However, they will give "uneven" results and poorer accuracy as the tension on the bullet is not consistent round to round because of the weakened case mouth holding them in place.
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Old October 6, 2013, 01:43 AM   #16
Gaz_in_NZ
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These gave very poor accuracy indeed.
Cases splitting after shooting them I can live with, just a few expletives and chuck it in the scrap brass recycle bin at the club.
What I can't live with is being sold defective ammo (or other things) that should have been properly QC'd before leaving the factory.

Cheers
Gaz
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Old October 6, 2013, 03:47 AM   #17
Bigdog57
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I have gotten similar yellow granular residue in .38 Special I loaded using "Flammable Dirt".... aka Unique. Crap powder. It left enough residue to get under the extractor star and jam the Ruger Securitysix after several cylinders full. It also gummed up my Colt M1991A1 (.45ACP) after a few magazines - got to the point that slide movement was literally in 'slow motion'! Needless to say, the remainder of that pound of powder went into the flower patch. Maybe it works better as fertilizer. It's lousy for reloading.
I never have that trouble with Red Dot or Bullseye, my two "go to" powders for handgun.
I have used 'commercial handloads' from Georgia Arms, and a vendor that used to do our local gunshow. Both were good. The vendor made the absolutely most accurate .22 Hornet and .22-250 ammo I ever shot. I have just about figured out and duplicated his Hornet load.
I did once try some .45ACP that a Navy buddy loaded. I had to use a pocketknife to trim the lead flash off the case mouth before it would chamber. He didn't worry about details. I do.
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Old October 6, 2013, 03:53 AM   #18
Mike / Tx
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I have to say I cannot argue with any of your pointed complaints, Be sure to throw up a note after speaking to whom ever at your club.

Many years ago, I would occasionally purchase reloaded ammo from a local indoor range for my 41mag. The main reason was that I not only got to keep the cases but also I got a nice plastic box which it came in. The price they were selling it for was proper at the time as well. My friend and I would shoot and then have half a box or so left over to haul to the woods with us on the weekend. When we returned we would clean them all up and load them with proper loads. We never found the cases to be split or even dirty, before we shot them. Now after being shot yes they as well as the revolvers were filthy, and all needed a good cleaning. But for $10 per 50 rounds I wasn't expecting name brand type ammo anyway.

As for the splits, yep I have had them split when shot, I have also had some which split after loading and sitting there for a month or so. I actually thought I was seriously missing something, until it happened between the time I loaded it and it made it into the box several hours later. Granted the split "might" have already been there, but it wasn't opened up when I seated the bullet, as I would have seen it upon final inspection as it came out of the press.

Not saying that is the case here, but it can happen.
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Old October 6, 2013, 10:06 AM   #19
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You'd be much better off taking your complaints to the club, or better yet directly to the loader.
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Old October 6, 2013, 11:50 AM   #20
Gaz_in_NZ
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Thanks to all who replied, very much appreciated.
I won't be buying any more of that stuff in the future that's for sure.
As for price, $30 for 50 rounds (told ya ammo was expensive in New Zealand) and I can buy S&B or Geco 38's new factory wadcutter loads for $35 for 50, I don't know anything about Geco ammo but the S&B is OK.

Cheers
Gaz
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Old October 6, 2013, 12:03 PM   #21
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Only once have I seen reloads that bad. WOW.

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Old October 6, 2013, 12:10 PM   #22
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I don't see any safety problem involved in shooting cases with split necks, but reloading those cases indicates poor quality control on the part of the reloader. I also note that the cases were not polished, a mark of a quality commercial reloader. Also not a safety factor, but indications that his QC may be lacking in other areas as well and there could be a safety factor somewhere else.

It looks to me like a low level "commercial reloader", probably some guy in his basement with a Star tool, or maybe even a Dillon and time. Yes, I would complain to the club as they are his customer.

(Note that I don't know how scarce .38 Special brass may be in NZ, so perhaps every case has to be used until it is beyond salvation.)

Jim
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Old October 6, 2013, 12:31 PM   #23
Sevens
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Quote:
I don't see any safety problem involved in shooting cases with split necks
In a revolver round, about the only argument you can make is one with regards to tying up the cylinder with unintended bullet creep or crimp jump under recoil.

In a semi-auto pistol round however, the particularly violent feed cycle that handles the rounds could potentially result in unnoticed or unintended bullet setback which, depending on the chambering and load could potentially cause a radical uptick in pressure with unpleasant results.

Obviously, the rounds in question are .38 Special. I, for one... use a HEAP of .38 Special in my Coonan, but I would have a tough time making even that argument as the pistol is obviously designed to run normally at TWICE the rated pressure of .38 Special.
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Old October 6, 2013, 01:48 PM   #24
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Quote:
I used a club 6"-686 (that really needed a session of deep cleaning performing on it) and my scores in the comp I shot in was mediocre to say the least.
If you care about your scores, you should handload your own ammo.

You can either learn to make the best ammo you can make, or take what somebody is sellin' ....... as cheaply as they can make it.
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Old October 6, 2013, 02:23 PM   #25
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Commercially Reloaded Ammo... not very happy.

The thing I'd be unhappy about is that split brass has likely been fired upwards of 30 times being .38 brass. That's a pretty low pressure round. The cost of that brass being that used is practically free for the loader then combine that with the crappy powder used and they are making an absolute killing on that ammo when they sell it.
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