View Full Version : Catastrophic Failure of Rifle Due To Double Charge of Blue Dot

February 27, 2009, 01:41 PM
Following are photos of a .257 Wby Mag (Vanguard) that had a catastrophic failure apparently as a result of firing a round that had a double charge of Blue Dot.


For quite some time I have been shooting reduced recoil loads that I have loaded using Blue Dot powder in my .30-30, .243, and .257 Wby Mag. I have never had a problem and have developed some very good loads using Blue Dot.

I had been working up some new reduced loads for my .257 using the 117 grain Hornady BTSP. At one point in my reloading process my wife had walked into the room and had asked me several questions. After finishing our conversation, I completed loading the set of variously charged cartridges. It was getting late in the afternoon and I wanted to go out and try them, so I hurried and got my ammo and gun and went to shoot.

I was shooting the lowest charged cartridges first and was working my way up, watching for pressure signs. The ammo was shooting really well when it happened. I pulled the trigger and for a few seconds I didn't know what had happened. I vaguely remember seeing the scope coming back at me and I knew something wasn't right. I looked down and saw that my gun was demolished. I realized I had had a catastrophic failure and went to check myself in the mirror for injuries. I was bleeding several places on my face and around my eyes.

I hurriedly picked up the pieces of the gun. The barrel was laying out in front of my shooting bench about 7 feet and it was intact. I went home an cleaned my wounds. I am so very fortunate--there were no serious injuries. I could easily have lost an eye, or even have been killed, but only minor cuts and bruising occurred!

I sent the gun into Weatherby to make sure the rifle wasn't at fault. It wasn't. They said it was the result of firing an extremely high pressure round in the firearm. Although I have never double charged a load before, apparently I did this time, and it was a double charge of Blue Dot.

I am sharing this incident as a warning of just how dangerous it is to use Blue Dot or other fast burning pistol powders for reduced loads in rifle ammunition. I am blaming no one but myself and I'm not saying its going to happen to everyone who uses Blue Dot for reduced charge loads. I know that thousands of rounds of Blue Dot charged rifle ammo has been successfully fired. I believe this event occurred because of negligence on my part. I believe that I allowed myself to become distracted while reloading this batch of ammo.

If you continue to load rifle ammunition with Blue Dot, PLEASE BE CAREFUL! Do everything you can to keep from double charging a load and do everything you can to check to make sure you haven't double charged any cases.

I am blaming no one except myself for this mishap. I am so lucky/blessed that I did not suffer a serious injury. You might not be so lucky.

February 27, 2009, 02:02 PM
:eek: WOW, I've never seen a rifle damaged that bad. Glad your injuries were not any worse! That's a lot of pieces flying around. Lucky some finger weren't ripped too from the looks of the damage.

February 27, 2009, 02:10 PM
Thanks for the story and I am very glad you are ok. I love it when people share issues such as these because it makes me take a real close look at my processes for reloading. Also, we can all take a lesson from you on "manning up" and taking responsibility for what happened. Many people would have tried to find someone to blame and been filing a lawsuit against the gun company, bullet manufacturer and the company that made the soles of the shoes that carried the person to buy the components to reload.
You da man!

Go Kiwi
February 27, 2009, 04:39 PM
Wow - hard to imagine how you still have fingers to type with:eek: Always good to see people sharing a serious safety heads up and reminder that we are playing with fire so to speak.

There are safer options for reduced recoil loads out there: http://www.hodgdon.com/PDF/Youth%20Loads.pdf these work well and dont require filler or leave room for a double charge. Basically any load for H4895 at up to 60% of max

February 27, 2009, 04:41 PM
MAN You are so lucky that you were not seriously hurt lost an eye or worse i have seen this once before but this guy lost an eye and needed Surgery for deep cuts to his face and he was Scared for life,

God was looking down on you, im am sure you will never make the same mistake again to be honest

I have never herd of anyone using blue dot in a 257 wby mag for shooting reduced recoil loads you picked the wrong cartridge for that type of shooting.
The 257 wby likes near max loads of slow a burning powder.

James R. Burke
February 27, 2009, 04:56 PM
I am very glad you are o.k. The rifle is a bummer but it can be replaced you can't. Glad you shared that. Makes us all think a little more. I always try to use a power that gives me the largest fill for a few reasons. You cant double charge that way, and most the time you will get a much more accurate round. Again glad your o.k. and thanks again for the post.

February 27, 2009, 05:00 PM
G'day, glad to hear that you are OK. Any chance you can claim warranty on the scope?:rolleyes:

David Wile
February 27, 2009, 05:36 PM
Hey Red,

Glad to hear that you are still in one piece. With Blue Dot and the interruption of your loading process, I wouldn't be one bit surprised to find out that it was a triple charge. I, too, like to use reduced charges, but I simply choose a slower powder that fills the case more than half way. Can't double charge that way, and it is easy to look in the cases and see all the powder levels.

When I have worked up a load for a cartridge where there is no modern load data, I start out with a faster powder like Blue Dot or 2400. I start with a charge that is so low there is no possibility of it being too hot. Of course when doing that, you have to make sure the low charges actually make the bullet clear the barrel.

The last one I did was for an 1876 model Winchester in 40-60 caliber where we had to have loading dies made by RCBS, and we also had to make 40-60 cases out of 45-70 cases. The first load was so low the bullet barely went 20 feet out of the barrel. I continued up the charge weights by a grain each shot, again making sure the bullet cleared the barrel each time. After ten or so shots, the rifle started to make a "cracking" sound, and the primers started to show some signs of starting to flaten. We kept raising the charge until the primer was really flat and decided that was our "hot" load.

Having the load data we gathered for the fast powder, we then studied modern load data for similar cartridges and came up with a very reduced charge of a slower burning powder, and we started the whole process all over with the slower burning powder. Again, our starting loads were very low, and we had to make sure the bullets cleared the barrel. Again we worked up to what we considered our "hot" load by viewing the primers, and then we backed down to a milder load that still "cracked" when shot. Having the load data for the slower powder, we were able to also come up with similar loads for other slow powders.

Looking at your pictures, I was wondering if your barrel can still be used in another action?

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

February 27, 2009, 05:48 PM
Looking at your pictures, I was wondering if your barrel can still be used in another action?
I had the same thought, I am wondering what the new chamber size will be.:D

David Wile
February 27, 2009, 06:14 PM
Hey Skull,

I would think the chamber could be measured to see if it still chambers properly. It looks like the action took all the pressure. I would be curious if a gunsmith could determine whether the barrel could be reused or even rechambered?

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

February 27, 2009, 06:27 PM
Glad you are OK.

I have to say that's the oddest rifle burst I've ever seen. I've never seen one that disassembled the action that didn't blow up the chamber first, yet the barrel appears completely intact? Something's peculiar there. The split receiver and the chipped boltface recess rim (if I'm seeing the photo right) make it appear the casehead blew up as if it had fired without the bolt being fully closed. Any chance that occurred? Second, would you mind giving what the load should have been? If you don't want to publish it, please PM me with the intended charge and the bullet length and the COL used. I would like to calculate what the double charge pressure would have been?


February 27, 2009, 06:45 PM
It is so remarkable that given such destruction, that you came out OK. Thank Goodness.

Thank you for posting these pictures. Such visual images really reinforce the caution warnings that come with reloading manuals.

February 27, 2009, 06:55 PM
i double charged a 45 acp once. i also redoubled my caution mode while reloading. thank the Lord for your relitively minor injuries. bobn

Tex S
February 27, 2009, 07:10 PM
Wow. Glad you're ok.

February 27, 2009, 07:46 PM
Glad you are ok. LUCKY

I think the scope is still usable. ;)

February 27, 2009, 09:23 PM
That's some damage! Glad you're OK and only had minor injury.

Also thanks for your post. Some guys wouldn't do it. It's not easy to say "I made a mistake". So three cheers to you for sharing and maybe saving someone else from this type of problem.

February 27, 2009, 09:30 PM
I shoot a lot of reduced loads. Glad you are OK. With such loads I think it is imperative to look into the cases with a flashlight and verify that all powder levels are the same. In fact, I do this with every round I load, reduced or not.

February 27, 2009, 09:43 PM
Glad you're OK and thanks for posting with the pictures. I hope this makes some of the newbies take heed of the safety precautions that sometimes seem to be discounted based on some posts I've read.

Again, glad you're OK.

February 27, 2009, 09:52 PM
Jeebus it's for posts like this that I go an extra step.
Maybe I'm paranoid....but I weigh each and every round that I reload after I've finished a batch...as a safety check... am I the only one?

February 27, 2009, 11:31 PM
Gad! I'm really surprised that you weren't hurt any worse than you were! :eek:

Honestly, I've never done any reduced power rifle loads -- yet. I can see the day, in the not so distant future, where I will be doing so. I'll keep that in mind.

That said, I'm all too familiar with the hazards of double (or triple) charging. I do a lot of handgun reloading, and of that I do a LOT of .38 Spl using low volume, high energy powders such as HP-38 and Bullseye. Knock on wood, but I've never double charged yet, even though with such low volume powders you really can't tell if you've double charged even by visual inspection. My SOP is that if I am interrupted on any one case, or have any question about it, the best practice is to dump the case and start over on it. Better safe than sorry.

February 27, 2009, 11:50 PM
Good article in last months Readers Digest about such things - how a small distraction can have huge reprocussions.
I worry about overcharging so I take a few seconds after loading and weigh all rounds on a digital scale.
I am not looking for 4 or 5 grs. but if I ever find one that is 10 grs or more I will check that round out.
Thanks for you input. Happy and safe shooting from now on.
Helps all of us to be a little more aware of what we are doing.

February 28, 2009, 09:26 AM
Man you are lucky to be OK. That gun kind of looks like some of the guns PO Ackley Blew up testing action strength. I have seen a few guns let go but nothing like that. It does look like the gun fired with the bolt not all the way closed. The action has all the damage and the barrel looks fine.

February 28, 2009, 11:09 AM
There are some strange warnings about Blue Dot that I don't undersand the physical reasoning for. See the "sticky" at the top of this forum.

I WONDER if the Blue Dot light load in such a large case was producing extremely large pressure spikes, due to some sort of internal pressure waves that affected burning rate or something like that. These would not be evident in the velocity or recoil, but could have caused cracking to develop in the gun metal over time with repeated exposure. If so, then MAYBE a SINGLE-CHARGED case could have caused the receiver to split open like we see in the photographs.

I suggest that you contact Alliant and ask them what they think about using Blue Dot for this application. They might do the equivalent of "No comment" out of fear of liability, but I think that it is still worth trying if you intend to keep using Blue Dot for low-power loads.


February 28, 2009, 12:53 PM
Thanks to all for your replies! Weatherby did not recommend using the barrel for another application. They say it may have been stressed enough to have weakened it?

One note I don't believe I mentioned in the original post is that I always check all the cases in a block, using a flashlight, for overcharges. My flashlight batteries were low and so the light was dim, but I didn't take time to replace the batteries (another mistake). In such a large case, a double charge of Blue Dot is not easily seen, but it can be.

As some mentioned, I believe I'm going to start weighing all my completed ammo on my digital scale. I'll not be looking for small changes, but enough to indicate a serious overcharge.

Thanks again.

February 28, 2009, 01:12 PM
Thanks for sharing the photos. Glad you came out ok aside from an expensive mistake.

I think it's impressive to see someone step-up and admit fault without the lawsuit-oriented speculation that seems so common in society today. Kudos. ;)

February 28, 2009, 02:31 PM
IM<E Blue Dot is for certain 10mm loads ONLY.

Unique is a better choice in reduced-load rifle chamberings.

February 28, 2009, 08:22 PM

Can you PM me with the Blue Dot charge weight and bullet weight? I'm curious whether a double chrage would calculate out to more than a proof load for your Weatherby. I can do the calc and let you know.


February 28, 2009, 08:29 PM
One thing I do when reloading is check each finished load on the digital scales to make sure I didn't double load, this also works if you missed a primer..
Some body tell me if this wrong...


March 1, 2009, 01:32 AM
Send that pic and story in to Hodgon to help market Trailboss. I hear they used to have a gallery of one eyed, nine (or less) fingered cowboy shooters; they can add that one to it. It will make a nice change from them thar lever action and single action shootin' iron pieces.

March 1, 2009, 08:10 AM
I had a problem the other way, squib load. Bullet stuck in the barrel. It was easy to fix and there was no damage.
I have started weighing my loaded rounds. Since case weight varies, I made up a chart with a range of normal weights. This will show a squib or double charge. Due to the case weight problem, it will not show a light charge or a heavy charge. Not perfect but better than nothing. Works best with a digital scale.
The other thing I did was to mount a reading light near the press. With this positioned to light the charged cases, I can easily see the powder level before the bullet is placed.
The last problem is keeping my mind focused on all steps of the job when reloading. If I notice that my mind is drifting a little, I'll take a break. I'm sure I'm not the only one out there that has noticed those little losses in attention when reloading. What are your tricks to keep focused?

June 18, 2009, 10:22 AM
I tend to agree with Unclenick that this is an unusual failure, though my (admittedly speculative) reconstruction would be a bit different:

It looks to me like on ignition and combustion, the case backed into the bolt face (as it should), transmitting the above-normal force, which was in turn transmitted to the locking lug recesses by the bolt, at which point the receiver front ring failed. Once that happened, the three legs of the receiver (no longer connected by the front ring) split wide. Luckily for you, this vented the pressure, and the bolt handle (acting as a third lug) prevented the bolt from drilling aft into your face.

Any chance this was a cast receiver?

June 18, 2009, 10:36 AM
Welcome to the forum.

That's a good question. The bolt face recess rim blowing off is typical of gas jet damage caused by caseheads letting go, but in all of Hatcher's experiments with Springfields and some other military bolt guns, that would blow out the bottom and damage the magazine floor plate and splinter the stock, but the action would otherwise tend to survive if the metal heat treatment was correct. "Burned" steel could come apart like that, and they could tell if the heat treatment was bad by the grain size or by striking the remains with a hammer. Today a metallurgical lab could tell you more specifically. I don't know that receiver's gas relief scheme, specifically, but I'd be looking for defective receiver steel or heat treatment if I were investigating.

Mike Irwin
June 18, 2009, 10:52 AM
Wow. I missed this when I first posted.

The only firearms I have seen that have been similarly damaged have been from people accidentally substituting a handgun powder for rifle powder.

My old gunsmith had a Remington semi-auto that the owner had run about 40 grains of Red Dot through. First shot opened it up like that. That one was easy to trace becuse every one of the 20 rounds in that box was loaded with Red Dot.

June 18, 2009, 10:55 AM
Well, they suspect a double-charge of a reduced load made with Blue Dot. Not exactly a fast pistol powder, but quicker than a rifle powder. We still don't know what the load was supposed to be?

Uncle Billy
June 18, 2009, 10:57 AM
I became suspicious that my Redding powder measure was throwing inconsistent weights, so in the process of reloading a batch of 50 I set each primed case on a small portable digital scale I bought and hit the "tare" button; then charged the case and reweighed it. Sure enough, the powder measure was varying by a number of tenths of a grain, sometimes a lot more than that, which required that I dump the charge back in the measure and try again. If the right weight didn't get thrown after a few tries, I readjusted the micrometer on the Redding and went ahead. Since the load was supposed to be 7.5 grains of Unique (to keep the recoil down a little for a new shooter), a few 10ths variance seemed to me to be excessive. I reloaded the whole 50 of them that way, and sought to find a more dependable way to weigh the powder without weighing each case twice. It would be immediately obvious if I had screwed up and double-charged a case. While this process isn't much of a bother for small quantities, doing it this way for a large number of cartridges would get tedious I think. But there's no way a double charged round can wind up in the gun.

I admire ryalred's candor and his efforts to help us avoid such errors. That's a great example of looking out for others and reflects how we all should go about in the world. Obviously he sees his ministry is to everyone.

June 18, 2009, 10:57 AM
You need to go out and buy a lottery ticket immediately! You are one lucky dude... That nothing serious happened to you when your rifle exploded, is a miracle. That is without a doubt, the most damge I have ever seen to a gun before. Glad you didn't get hurt worse than you did.

June 18, 2009, 11:40 AM
Uncle Billy,

Just FYI, Unique is known far and wide as the hardest powder to meter consistently from a powder measure. Lee says flat out that their Perfect measure won't work with it. The big flakes bridge across the entry to the powder metering chamber and stop it from filling completely. Some people add a vibrator to the powder measure to help break that up, though I haven't tried it personally. You have to be careful you don't vibrate so much you pack the metering chamber too tightly for the measure to operate. Only ball powders seem able to meter within .1 grains consistently.


That ship may have sailed already. The OP is from late February.


June 18, 2009, 11:49 AM
Ryalred, please do post the intended charge weight, as well as the bullet you used.

I've done lots of reduced loads in .30-06 and some with .375 H&H, but I've typically used 2400, IMR4227 or IMR4895, and I've only done it with cast bullets. That's not to say I wouldn't try it with Blue Dot--I just haven't had any on hand for quite awhile.

Like you, I eyeball the powder level in each and every case before I seat the bullet, but I think it's much easier for me to notice a discrepancy in powder level with the .30-06 and it's wider case mouth and narrower case body.

Anyhow, good to hear you're okay!

June 18, 2009, 12:04 PM
Your admission and warning is admireable.

Weighting charged cases is okay, I suppose. But it's less likely to catch smaller but still significant charge variations, especially in pistol cases.

Visually checking the powder colume in a tray of charged cases before seating begins will easily show doubled or skipped charges and also effectively shows smaller variations as well.

In some 46+ years, I've NEVER seated any bullet without an eyeball check of the powder, under a bright light, first. Never had a squib or over-charge either, but would have a few times without the visual check!

June 18, 2009, 12:12 PM
Holy crap! I guess that's why I don't trust myself to reload!

June 18, 2009, 12:49 PM
This example is very eye opening. Glad you had it in you to post this mistake. Thank you.


June 18, 2009, 01:16 PM
Visually checking the powder colume in a tray of charged cases before seating begins will easily show doubled or skipped charges and also effectively shows smaller variations as well.

In some 46+ years, I've NEVER seated any bullet without an eyeball check of the powder, under a bright light, first. Never had a squib or over-charge either, but would have a few times without the visual check!

I think you may have missed where he said that he did in fact do this using a flashlight, although his batteries were dying.

I think this particular caliber is tougher for eyeballing the powder level because of the cavernous case and little tiny .25 caliber case mouth.


June 18, 2009, 02:03 PM
Glad you are OK.

This is the reason that after I charge a case, I seat the bullet....no exceptions.
I either have a finished round or an empty casing.

It doesn't slow me down at all, ya have to do the operation anyway, might as well do it after charging the case and it will save you the time of weighing each round after you are finished.

Man, you really were lucky on that one, if that bolt handle would have sheered off, ( I saw it happen once many years ago) you would have been injured big time.

Mike Irwin
June 18, 2009, 02:43 PM
"Well, they suspect a double-charge of a reduced load made with Blue Dot. Not exactly a fast pistol powder, but quicker than a rifle powder. We still don't know what the load was supposed to be?"

Reduced charges of powders like Unique, Red Dot, and Blue Dot in a rifle case of that volume would probably be a MAXIMUM of 12 or 13 grains.

So, 24 to 26 grains of Blue Dot would very likely cause a horrendous problem like that we're seeing.

I've shot a LOT of 10-grains of Red Dot behind a 130-gr. lead bullet out of my .30-06 and .300 Savage over the years.

But, I always did so on a single stage press and did every cartridge one at a time.

Magnum Wheel Man
June 18, 2009, 03:24 PM
I'd almost suspect a low charge to air detonation from the looks of the rifle ( pieces )

I doubt I'd try to do reduced loads with a double based powder with that much case capacity...

you are very lucky... I'm "exprimenting" with lots of powders, loads & calibers right now, & honestly the light charges scare me more than the heavies... I only hope if I should expirience such as yourself, that I'm as lucky as you were...

June 18, 2009, 05:29 PM
Ouch! Glad you are ok. Tim

June 18, 2009, 07:32 PM
"I think you may have missed where he said that he did in fact do this using a flashlight, although his batteries were dying."

I think you may have missed I said under a bright light. If he'd light enough to see, he would have seen. ???

June 18, 2009, 07:37 PM
This is why distractions need to be eliminated when reloading. :eek:

June 18, 2009, 08:10 PM
There is no mention of recovery of any part of the case in the OP's report. That said, I wouldn't be surprised to see evidence that the case failed, most likely just in front of the web, but to me that leaves open the possibility that the case may have been a victim of the reciever ring failure, versus a cause of the failure itself.

Once the front ring failed, the bolt face no longer supported the head of the case. As the barrel and bolt separated from one another, one would expect the case to fail just above the web, and this may have allowed enough hot gas to vent to cause the failiure (a secondary failure) of the portion of the bolt face rim.

Uncle Billy
June 19, 2009, 07:52 AM
Thanks Nick, for the comment on Unique. I'm glad to find out that my powder measure isn't the trouble. Guess I'll just keep doing the tare-charge-weigh-repeat as necessary process.

Dipper's routine of seating the bullet right after charging the case seems like a smart idea. That way there are no cases around that may or may not have powder in them- as he said, they are clearly either loaded or empty.

June 19, 2009, 09:19 AM
Seating a bullet right after charging a case has the potential of creating a no-powder squib load if you get distracted.

I prefer to load in batches, where I charge a complete group of cases, put the powder away, put away any empty cases, THEN inspect all the cases with a strong light or a dowel to see that they are ALL charged and the NONE have significantly more or less powder in them. Then I get out ONLY the bullets that I want to load and seat the bullets in that group of cases.

I mention the dowel because some posts have had comments about not being able to see well enough into bottleneck cases. A dowel that fits easily inside the case neck with a mark on it where it should stop at the case mouth when the charge is correct will help detect a significantly off-weight charge.


June 19, 2009, 09:46 AM

First, you must thank your guardian angel, you owe him (her?) big time!:)

For all of us, one of my considerations when choosing a powder, is to use one that will overflow out of the case if I ever put a double charge.

Since all of us are prone to err one day, I feel that this gives me a better chance to spot it in time.


F. Guffey
June 19, 2009, 10:45 AM
"For quite some time I have been shooting reduced recoil loads that I have loaded using Blue Dot powder in"

I do not know if the damage was caused by a double load of what ever or a steady diet of sudden shock on a rifle that was designed to absorb shock produced by slow burning powder, or I do not believe the damage was cause by the last cartridge, I believe it was caused by the ammo fired before the last one.

F. Guffey

Uncle Billy
June 19, 2009, 11:21 AM
Quote: "Seating a bullet right after charging a case has the potential of creating a no-powder squib load if you get distracted."

If I've charged a case and then anything happens that breaks my concentration before I get to seat the bullet, I'll just dump the charge back into the measure. A case with powder in it either gets a bullet right away, or gets emptied of powder right away, there are no other options- it doesn't get set down on the bench or put into a loading block, it either goes back with the empties having been emptied, or gets a bullet seated and is put with the loaded cartridges. Short of dying on the spot, I intend that nothing intrude on that moment to divide the tasks. My theory is that there ought to be a minimum amount of time during which cases are charged but without bullets.

I guess the central idea is the same- take extraordinary effort and concentration so as to be sure of what gets done, and it doesn't start with charging cases, it starts much earlier in the checklist, as we all know.

Double Naught Spy
June 19, 2009, 11:41 AM
I think that with a little work, that scope can be salvaged along with the sling screws and such. :D

Glad you are okay. Wowee-wow-wow

June 19, 2009, 11:42 AM
Uncle Billy,

I think we agree that working out a procedure that minimizes errors is the key.

It is just that, for me, distractions can be completely internal. It is really monotonous charging a case and seating a bullet, charging a case and seating a bullet, charging a case and seating...(repeat a few hundred times). So, eventually, my mind strays for an instant. I usually snap-back and ask myself if I actually REMEMBER whether I really put powder in that last case or if I just picked up a bullet and seated it. I have sometimes pulled a bullet just to be SURE.

Maybe I just have a case of to many things on my mind and not enough mind. But, I think that isn't uncommon. For me, at least, it is much easier to maintain focus when I am doing only one step at a time. So, I made powder charging one step and charge checking a separate step.

Whatever works well for YOU is your best method.


June 19, 2009, 11:59 AM
Seating a bullet right after charging a case has the potential of creating a no-powder squib load if you get distracted.

Only if you are blind, mentally handicapped,hallucinating, or there is some kind of magic afoot!!

The case gets charged and never leaves my hand and the bullet gets seated....I don't see the room for error.

I think we agree that working out a procedure that minimizes errors is the key.

I think seating a bullet immediately after charging IS a procedure that minimizes error....if someone has a attention span of less than 5 seconds, they shouldn't be reloading in the first place.

Uncle Billy
June 19, 2009, 12:32 PM
I agree 100%, working out a procedure that minimizes errors is the first order of business, and that's an individual process.

What you wrote is true: like so much to do with guns and shooting, knowing one's mental makeup and how to manage it has everything to do with how safe and successful engaging with firearms is. What works well for one of us isn't necessarily what would work for another whose awareness is built differently, whose concentration has a different nature. There is no "better or worse", there is only "what succeeds and what doesn't" in establishing a methodology that keeps it all safe, a self-discipline that's responsible and balanced. Effective self discipline is mandatory, and different for everyone.

Uncle Billy

F. Guffey
June 19, 2009, 03:31 PM
Reloading without a plan results in making excuses and guesses, I believe the rifle failure is the results of sudden shock, that being the case it was going to happen, when it happens ever one is pointing off in another direction blaming powder, methods, mistakes etc.. I believe reduced loads are cute AND NO one can explain why failure does not happen ever time but believe shooting 25 rounds proves it is not going to happen the next time the round is fired.

Having passed up every opportunity, start over, I would not continue to shoot the rifles that have been shot frequently for a long time with reduced loads but I would suggest; start reloading with a plan, If a reloader does not know the weight of his brass, primer, bullet and powder, he is reloading without a plan and has no way to determine if sudden shock or a double charge rendered his rifle scrap.

Match brass to weight, add the weight of the powder charge, bullet and primer then total, after reloading is finished compare the total weight of a round with the individual component weight, a no powder round will equal case, bullet and primer weight, a double charge will equal case, bullet, primer and 2X the powder weight. The electronic scale shines when this technique is used.

F. Guffey

Uncle Billy
June 19, 2009, 05:30 PM
My procedure of "tare"ing the digital scale with the primed case, then charging it and reweighing it - the scale reading then is the weight of powder in it- shows that there is some variance between the empty weight of cases. The weights of the bullet and the powder are most important; the weight of powder seems to me to be the primary concern. This "tareing" procedure seems to me to be the best way (but surely not the quickest way) to know what's in the cartridge because you have direct knowledge of the charge in the cartridge. Seating a bullet immediately thereafter seals the deal, case closed (pun intended).

June 19, 2009, 09:29 PM

That is exactly how I check my charges, I do this on the first 3 then about every 10th one, gives me that warm and fuzzy that the powder charges are correct. A little time consuming, but I am sure a hospital visit or worse a funeral:eek: would take longer

June 19, 2009, 10:29 PM
I have a Hornady 5 station press which makes it easy to miss a charge or double charge if not paying attention. I would always double check the powder charge by looking into the case or using a dowel, then Hornady came out with something called a "powder cop", it screws in like a die and sits between the powder charge station and the seating die, and has rod that moves up and down with a marker on it showing you if you have the appropriate charge.

June 20, 2009, 03:34 AM
I've shot thousands of blue dot loads in several different cartridges (the .223 really loves it) and I've seen a couple of rifles destroyed by possible double charges. There are several ways to insure you don't have a double charge that will work, but you have to be consistant everytime or nothing works. I love my BD loads, but I don't trust them fully. No one shoots them but me.

Mike Irwin
June 20, 2009, 09:36 AM
Agree with you 100% dipper.

Loading such cartridges one at a time - size, reprime, measure powder, charge case, seat bullet - move to next cartridge is about as fool proof as you can ever hope to get when loading ammunition.

Let's face it, ANYTHING can happen when loading if you become distracted. That's why you minimize distractions.

I turn the phone off in my loading room when I'm reloading, and I keep my dog out of there, as well.

If I AM called away for some reason, any powder that is out of the measure and not in a complete loaded round gets poured back into the measure before I deal with the distraction.

The ONLY problem I have ever had in over 30 years of reloading was double charging a .45 ACP with 9.8 grains of 231, and that's because I was loading using a new press. It was a built in distraction, I was using a loading block for the first time in years, and I simply missed the fact that there was a double charge in the case.

That was a huge wake up call, and it also led me to abandon that new press (a Lyman T Mag) for loading handgun ammo and go to a Lee Classic Turret, where the liklihood of something like that is great reduced.

June 22, 2009, 08:04 AM
I think that with a little work, that scope can be salvaged

Sure thing, if all you're gonna do is burn some ants! :D

June 22, 2009, 10:08 AM
I will add another vote of respect for you offering your experience to us.
I will also offer another "Glad you are OK."

My 2 cents

If we had a barrel with no bore,only a chamber,it would not be a rifle,it would be a bomb.The pressure needs a place to go.

As we go with larger cases and smaller bores,expansion ratio diminishes.That is,when the bullet moves an inch down the barrel,the combustion chamber volume is not increased by a great percentage,yet the pressure will increase rapidly.
With this in mind,realize that cartridges like a 7mmSTW,7 RUM,257 WBY,are not flexible and forgiving.They are not the best testbeds for experimentation,as things happen suddenly with a large case with a relatively small bore.

Powders are designed to function within certain pressure ranges.Some,like Varget,are flexible enough to function through a broad spectrum of pressures,but many powders perform poorly outside their range of design pressure.296/H-110 is 1 example.Heavy magnum handgun loads.
Outside of the design pressure,burning rates change.Typically,at higher pressures,burning rates accelerate.At some point,just as a gasoline engine might create destructive "ping",the progressive burn becomes detonation.

Blue dot,intended for shotguns and handguns,might have a designed performance range in the 9000psi to 38,000 psi range (pure guess,thinking of a shotgun or 38 super pressure).Who knows how it burns a 50,000.That sort of pressure can be achieved with a low velocity reading as the pressure curve is quick,at the breech.
I think,purely from recall,I could be wrong,Blue dot is a double base powder with a fairly high nitro content.I don't know how important that is.

Another thing about pressure.It is good when it stays inside the seal the brass case provides.If the case fails,the pressure is relesed,and it then finds more square inches to push on,places not designed to withstand pressure.
Belted magnum cases have a problem.
They headspace on the belt,with a fairly large headspace spec from the original safari dangerous game application.Reloading was not an issue,chambering reliably was.Design intent then causes dies to set the shoulder back on these cases,to redirect headspace control to the belt.
This leads to the stretch ring at the case head,creating thin,brittle brass at the worst location.An RCBS precision mic will help set up dies to minimize case shortening(try .002 in bolt guns) using the shoulder to headspace.Also,the bent paperclip trick to check for that ring inside the case should be part of your routine.Scrap the brass if it has a stretch ring.
Case failure is a bad thing.

Any wreck where nobody gets hurt bad is a really good wreck,lets just learn all we can.

June 22, 2009, 09:48 PM
I am amazed you are not really injured. On a tangent, if you're an NRA member, and I hope you are, you have insurance on your rig up to $1000, I believe. Contact them and see if your covered. Might be the only bright spot in this accident.

June 22, 2009, 11:08 PM
Congrats on getting through what could have been a deadly event more or less unscathed. No lectures from me on this, but...the thought has occurred to me that more people get themselves into trouble when working up super-light loads than heavy loads.

June 24, 2009, 08:29 AM
One thing I do when reloading is check each finished load on the digital scales to make sure I didn't double load, this also works if you missed a primer.

Oh, you'll know when you miss a primer - this will only happen when you load the finest-grain, bounciest powder in your inventory.

I haven't found weighing finished rounds to be very useful, especially if you're using brass that's been trimmed; I find that there are just too many variables and my fear is that it may give you a false sense of security. If anything, I think visual inspection, using a dowel or weighing charges are much better "safety checks".

November 1, 2009, 01:09 PM
AllI can say Is WOW and you are very lucky ,I use a single stage RCBS ,I will keep it that way ,I will charge my loads put a Bullet crimp safe and Happpy ,I will stck with a single stage Glad you did not get hurt it could have been really really bad :eek::eek::eek:

Saguaro Firearms
November 2, 2009, 11:45 AM
i give you much credit for posting this, i loaded ammo once under distraction and also destroyed a rifle, not quite as bad as yours but destroyed none the less, and know how you feel, and i give you credit for posting your story, glad your okay, and i wouldn't worry about the barrel, worth more as a story than a barrel.

November 2, 2009, 12:05 PM
Even with a progressive I check powder load. With that damage I would have suspected detonation for a too light a load. Have seen what a squib load can do to a rifle. In this case the owner said it was a load he'd used for awhile. The powder distribution in the case can be a factor. Light loads can be very surprising. Hey, knock on wood .. or something. Maybe skip the range and go to church Sunday!

November 2, 2009, 01:10 PM
Reloading is a constant vigilance.

I saw a shooters' revolver blow up, live, and two benches at the range between us. You really remember vigilance after that.

My special tool is a small flashlight.

After loading the powder in the cartridges, still in the blocks, and not loaded with a bullet, I take the flashlight.

I check the relative loading cartridge by cartridge, with the flashlight. They are either all loaded correctly or none are loaded correctly. If it were the latter, it would be time to retire.

A little check of the powder loaded cartridges with the flashlight, seems a good idea I came up with years ago.

November 2, 2009, 03:33 PM
Do you weigh every charge?