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Old May 20, 2000, 07:53 PM   #1
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I'm writing this post in order to relate an incident that happened to me while reloading. I think that other reloaders might gain something from my experience, particularly those that reload .40 S&W. This will be a rather long post, so feel free to pass it up.

By way of background, I reload for four revolvers (one .38 Spec, two .357 Mag, and one .44 Mag) and four pistols (two 9mm Luger, one .40 S&W, and one .45 ACP). The revolvers are Colt and S&W. The pistols are Ruger P-95, Glock 17, Browning HP, and Kimber Gold Match. I use a Dillon RL550B for all handgun calibers, and an RCBS Rick Chucker for rifle calibers.

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I shot at an IDPA match. I shot my Browning Hi Power .40 S&W. As usually happens at these events, after I was done shooting each stage, some of the other shooters helped paste up the targets, while others picked up my brass and handed it to me. When I got home that afternoon, I threw our brass into tumblers. When I took the brass out of the tumblers, I noted that some of the .40 stuff was not mine. I could tell because the primer indentation was rectangular like a Glock, not circular like my Browning. I have a Glock (a 9mm), so I'm familiar with Glock firing pin marks. I didn't think anything of it at the time, and threw the brass in with the rest of the fired and cleaned .40 brass on my reloading bench.

This morning, I proceeded to load up some .40 S&W ammo with some bullets that I haven't loaded before, in order to chronograph it at the range next week. Anytime I do anything different with any of my loads, I run every round through a Dillon case gauge. This gauge is made at absolute minimum specs, and it is a little tighter than the chamber on my Hi Power. (All my case gauges are a little tighter than the actual chambers on the guns.)

While most of the completed rounds dropped right in and out of the case gauge, some didn't. A few of them would only go in if I "persuaded" the round with a little thumb pressure. A few rounds (2 or 3 per 50-rd box) wouldn't go in all the way, even with considerable thumb pressure.

I first got out my calipers and checked the new bullets (Remington, Speer, and Hornady) for correct diameter -- they were all OK. Then I checked the diameter of the case mouth of the loaded rounds -- again, all OK. Then I checked the OAL of the loaded rounds -- all OK.

At this point, I remembered that some of the brass I was using had previously been fired in a Glock. Recalling all of the stories I have read in gun mags and posts I have read online about partially unsupported chambers in .40 caliber Glocks, I then assumed that the problem was that athe Glock-fired brass had an enlarged base on the brass just forward of the extractor groove that wasn't being sized by my sizing die. So I started sizing the brass one at a time, and trying it in the case gauge after I had sized it, but before priming it. I thought that I had the problem nailed down when the first five Browning-fired rounds checked OK, and two of the Glock-fired rounds dragged a little when putting them in the case gauge. So I then separated out all of the Glock-fired brass from the cleaned stuff, and proceded to load a box of ammo using only Browning-fired brass. I patted myself on the back for being a great detective, muttered some unkind words about Gaston Glock, and resolved to cull all the Glock-fired brass out of my supply of cleaned brass.

Imagine my frustration when I checked the box of ammo that I had just loaded and found four rounds that wouldn't go into the case gauge! Maybe I wasn't so smart after all! I field stripped my .40 Hi Power and checked the "bad" rounds by dropping them into the pistol's chamber. All dropped right in. So the difference between the "good" rounds and the "bad" rounds was slight, although it was enough to prevent them from going into the case gauge. Although they readily dropped into the barrel's chamber, it meant that they might not chamber if they were a little dusty or dirty.

Then the light bulb started turning on! The difference was very little. In fact, some of the rounds *had* fit into the case gauge with a little thumb pressure. This was beginning to sound like ammo that wasn't quite being completely sized. My size die has a carbide ring, and in accordance with all manufacturers' instructions for carbide dies, I had initially set it up so that the mouth of the die didn't quite touch the shellplate at full "ram up". So I put an unsized case into the shellplate, raised the ram all the way, and got a flashlight, and looked carefully at the gap between the bottom of the die mouth and the top of the shellplate. Yep, you guessed it -- the gap was over 1/16" wide! Somehow, over the past year or so, it must have worked loose a little.

So I readjusted the die downward until it just barely cleared the shellplate (two thicknesses of paper would slide between them). Then I tried it again. The problem is gone. I've since loaded eight boxes of .40 S&W ammo this afternoon using both Browning-fired and Glock-fired brass, and every single round dropped right into the case gauge.

So I thought that I would post this experience here and on a couple of other forums, for a couple of reasons:

(1) There is absolutely no doubt in my my mind that I would have found and resolved the problem much sooner if I had been reloading any other caliber than .40 S&W - the problem I encountered is one of the most basic problems in reloading, and I would have solved it much earlier 40 years ago, when I first started reloading. But, because I was overly influenced by all the Glock .40 stuff I'd read, I got off onto the wrong track before checking the basics.

(2) It's clear that not all .40 caliber Glocks let their ammo expand excessively. Some may -- most likely the earlier models -- but not all.

(3) I think that the advise I got from my now-deceased uncle when I first started reloading still applies. This gent, who reloaded for several decades with a Lyman "nut cracker" tool before he ever got a press, once told me:

"If you start having problems when reloading,
it's probably the operator, not the equipment."

Sorry for the badwidth. Thought maybe this might save somebody some wasted time in the future.
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Old May 20, 2000, 10:19 PM   #2
Bud Helms
Join Date: December 31, 1999
Location: Middle Georgia
Posts: 13,155
Good post.

PS: This is the kind of post the bandwidth is here for.

[This message has been edited by sensop (edited May 20, 2000).]
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Old May 21, 2000, 11:21 PM   #3
Gordon Hanson
Join Date: September 5, 1999
Posts: 32
It's always so easy, after the fact. Thanks for the thought-provoking post.
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Old May 22, 2000, 10:52 AM   #4
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Join Date: January 29, 2000
Posts: 275
Thanks for this post, makes me nostalgic for the first few days that I reloaded 40! I went through just the same thing, but as you so well put it, it was an operator error on my part. I learned the same lessons that you did, and made the same mistakes for the same reasons!


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Old May 22, 2000, 10:19 PM   #5
Big Bunny
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Join Date: August 9, 1999
Location: New South Wales - Australia
Posts: 605
Thanks for posting that....I am now loading 1,000 40S&W for my new CZ-75.... Most cogent and interesting....and topical

Yep...especially they are ALL fired from GLOCK 19s(all ex-NSW Police Service)!!

That is why I like FL so much -it is a mine of information and such nice people too.....
I post mistakes too, the last was a friend who used a 38SPL shell-holder for a 40S&W priming operation

Thanks everyone, great postings!

***Big Bunny***
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Old May 23, 2000, 02:00 PM   #6
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Big Bunny,

I think you probably meant Glock 22 or 23? The Glock 19 is a 9mm.
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Old May 28, 2000, 11:54 AM   #7
The specialist
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Join Date: January 10, 2000
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When I first started reloading it was with the .40. I had the same problems and did the same things you did to correct it. I check every single round I make in a Dillon case gague before it goes in a box for shooting at the range.
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Old May 28, 2000, 04:03 PM   #8
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Location: PA
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Interesting post. I don't reload .40, but this could happen to any caliber. You really do have to stay ever watchful while reloading.
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