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Old August 2, 2022, 11:34 PM   #1
cdoc42
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.380 Auto issues

I have a Browning 1911-380 that has been giving me problems with failure to go into battery both initially when I release the slide for the first round as well as periodically during shooting.
I am using multiple case brands (RP, MRP, PMC, FC, WIN, Hornady) and they have been fired more than once. The bullet is a jacketed (Non-plated) 95gr HP from Everglades Bullet Co. in Florida. Primers are Remington Small Pistol and the powder is exactly 4.0gr of CFE-Pistol (max 4.2gr).
I reloaded 18 rounds today and 6 malfunctioned. I thought I had it figured out because I bought box of Fiocchi 90gr rounds and took one apart. The case measured 0.673" and the complete cartridge measured 0.954".

The recommended trim-to length of the case is 0.675" to 0.677" depending on the reference text. I loaded 7 with cases that measured 0.674"-0.675"; 6 that measured 0.673" and 5 that measured 0.671." The majority of my fired cases are less than 0.675; some as low as 0.668.”

I previously had seated the bullets to a COL of 0.970." They all passed the plunk test, but some did not function as described. But this time I seated them at 0.945 to 0.952." Again, they all passed the plunk test, and none of the bullets were seated below what I considered the start of the ogive curve. There were NO bulges in the cases either.

The very first round, COL 0.947” failed to completely go into battery and I had to “nudge” it to close. The third round, 0.951” failed as well, as did #11 (0.948”), and #15 (0.945”). Number 16 fired normally but #17 got jammed, held in an upright position in the chamber.
When I returned all of these to the magazine and tried again, they all functioned normally (!!??)

Another strange thing happened for the second time I’ve had this gun to the range. A cartridge failed to fire and when I examined it, I found a primer imprint and the outer edge of the primer (i.,e., 12, 3, 6 or 9 o’clock) When I chambered it again it fired normally.

I thought I might need to change powder for more energy, but a review showed CFE-Pistol at 4.0gr provides the greatest velocity and CUP compared to HP-38, Universal, and Titegroup.
I fired 5 Ficocchi factory rounds without any incident.

I had completely cleaned the gun before this trip to the range.

So I’m stuck for a solution and I would appreciate any thoughts you guys might have.
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Old August 3, 2022, 12:57 AM   #2
rc
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I have two suggestions since those are reloads. Bump your overall length down a bit to match typical factory length and check to make sure you get full length sizing with no buldge left near the base of the case. Your gun may swell the cases due to weak springs or large chamber and you sizing die is not able to get them down to spec to be reliable.
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Old August 3, 2022, 09:19 AM   #3
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What kind of press do you have?

When I first started reloading, I had a C-style press that I needed to screw my dies in a little further to get a good full length resizing.
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Old August 3, 2022, 12:38 PM   #4
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Would consider making a dummy round and feeding it from a fully locked back slide using the slide release. Measure the col and several case diameters before and after. Reliable firing of the factorys rounds may indicate need to adjust handloading procedure, and the rounds chambering on the second try indicate they may have been altered somehow during the first try. If you can find what got altered during the first try, maybe adjust your procedure to mimic it.
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Old August 3, 2022, 05:09 PM   #5
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A couple of thoughts. The plunk test, are you using the actual barrel, removed from the gun? Will it fall out when turned upside down?
The FTF is usually associated with high primers, are you visually inspecting? I do but will still miss one occasionally. Cataract surgery is scheduled.
How far down are you sizing. Some calibers I barely touch, just removing the flair while others I go almost full length.
My gut feeling is you are too concerned with length, I’ve never worried about it with pistol ammo. Try focusing on size, not with calipers but more attention when you deprime/size.
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Old August 3, 2022, 06:37 PM   #6
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Is this a new problem with a pistol that has not had any previous issues?
Or is this a new pistol that might still need some breaking in?
When you cleaned it, did you thoroughly clean behind the extractor claw?
What shape are the case rims in on the rounds that failed to go into battery?
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Old August 4, 2022, 06:48 AM   #7
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Thanks to everyone; let me respond in order.

rc: as mentioned, originally I was seating at .970 with occasional chambering difficulty. I tried .960 and recently settled on .950 based on the factory ammo I purchased.
My Lyman, Hodgdon, Speer, and Hornady references for COL with a 95gr bullet range from .900 to .980!!

I will pay closer attention to resizing. There is a rather wide variation in case sizes. Fired and resized I have cases that measure .668 through .675. Only rarely do I have a case that reaches the max of .680.

Seanc, my press is a RCBS Rock Chukar. The resizing issue may well relate to the variation in case lengths where longer cases are not sufficiently resized.

Zeke, I did exactly that. I made 3 dummy rounds and chambered and extracted them rapidly without issue. I thought I had the problem solved. I have not measured any diameters since all passed the plunk test. But I will do that now.

Jag2, I did the plunk test both with the barrel removed and the new tool made by Lyman. I did notice my rounds were slightly below the top surface of the Lyman tool while the factory rounds were flush. All rounds dropped in, and out of both when inverted.

higgite, this is not a new problem but is happening much more frequently. I don’t know how clean the extractor claw is, but if 3 out of 11 rounds fail to chamber, I’m not sure that is an issue. More likely the condition of the case rims may be an issue and I’ll look more closely at that.

In summary, my next move is to readjust the sizing die down, but I’ll measure the diameters after resizing before I do that, then once again afterward. That sounds like the most reasonable culprit.

I’ll also pay attention to the rim conditions. Stay tuned.
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Old August 4, 2022, 08:09 AM   #8
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Another thought, since you're using mixed brass of various lengths, could it be that the shorter cases aren't getting all the flare removed during crimping? Have you measured any case mouth diameters after seating and crimping?
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Old August 4, 2022, 08:55 AM   #9
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higgite, thanks again for your thoughts. I usually find, esp. with 9mm, if I forget to flare they won't initially chamber or fit into the Lyman "plunk" test tool. But these .380 autos fit the latter and I have looked at the smaller cases with a magnifying lens to see that the flare has been removed in addition to measuring them when I set the crimp die.

Virtually all the failures have been those that do enter but not completely and I have to push the slide to totally engage battery. Based on the opinions here, it really sounds to me that the base of the case may not be completely resized, and when I do push them in, the next time they DO go all the way, so that small amount of push "resizes" them, I'm guessing.
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Old August 4, 2022, 09:12 AM   #10
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Some basic questions:

Do factory rounds function properly? If so, how close is the nose profile of your bullets to those in the factory rounds that work?

What is the weight of the 1911's recoil spring?

Has the feed ramp been polished?

Have you checked that the bottom edge of the chamber entry throat doesn't overhang the end of the feed ramp with the action open?

Have you measured the case diameters all the way down the case? I would use an OD thimble micrometer that resolves 0.0001" for this, as calipers can sometimes be fooled by beam or jaw flexing. Normally the 380's would be about 0.470" at the case mouth and would not exceed 0.473" anywhere. The SAAMI drawing allows 0.4739" maximum right in front of the case head, but that extra almost-a-thousandth is not present most of the time and 0.470" is a more typical average diameter.
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Old August 4, 2022, 10:31 AM   #11
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Ok i am old and have a slow acting memory, and read my notes. Because am using .380 range pick ups for practice rounds, invested in custom Lee factory undersize die (ordered from Lee) and Lee factory crimp die. The undersize die, in addition to Lee bulge buster kit, allows any .380 i have used so far to be fully resized to appropriate diam. It also allowed increasing case neck tension on the bullet. Invested in this because of the wide variation of .380 firearms, and how they treat brass. While not relevant to most situations perhaps, also found that when using a PPK with heavier recoil spring, instead of bullet set back, had bullet pull resulting from the feeding cycle.

Yes it is an extra couple of steps, but once done normally resizing can be used for same pistol.

Edited to clarify the bulge buster is used with the factory crimp die, and the undersize die is used to neck size the case after. THe case mouth is not expanded back by factory plug.

Last edited by zeke; August 4, 2022 at 10:40 AM.
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Old August 4, 2022, 01:48 PM   #12
cdoc42
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Unclenick:
"Do factory rounds function properly?" YES

"If so, how close is the nose profile of your bullets to those in the factory rounds that work?" I bought those that virtually matched what I have, except they are 90gr rather than 95gr.

I'm not clear on those measurements. My Lyman, Speer, and Hodgdon resources say
0.373 at the mouth and 0.374 at the head. That's what I get, but it depends on how firmly or lightly I close the calipers, so I always measure multiple times. I cannot say that I see a larger head than it should be.

"What is the weight of the 1911's recoil spring?" I don't know.

"Has the feed ramp been polished?" Yes, like a mirror.

"Have you checked that the bottom edge of the chamber entry throat doesn't overhang the end of the feed ramp with the action open?" Yes; as a matter of fact, the front of the magazine is higher than the ramp until you load it with a bullet, then the bottom of the bullet is in line with the ramp.

I readjusted the size die from scratch and I loaded 10 rounds with cases that measure 0.674". I removed the barrel and did the plunk test and all but one dropped in-and-out freely. Only one - a Winchester case - went in but stayed in when I inverted the barrel.
It came out easily just using the edge of a fingernail. I can't detect any difference in measurement, but it may well be poor technique. I was planning on testing them right now (!!) but 90+ degrees directed me to a Scotch instead so I'll wait until tomorrow a.m.
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Old August 4, 2022, 01:49 PM   #13
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Forgive me for the question, but that is a 1911 (year) not a pared down 45 ACP ?

If its 1911 built 380, that is getting pretty remote from a modern die.
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Old August 4, 2022, 02:42 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RC20 View Post
Forgive me for the question, but that is a 1911 (year) not a pared down 45 ACP ?

If its 1911 built 380, that is getting pretty remote from a modern die.
https://www.browning.com/products/fi.../1911-380.html

Didn't know they were still making em, but believe this is what op is reffering to
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Old August 4, 2022, 09:59 PM   #15
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You got it, Zeke. I have the Black Label Medallion without the rail. When it didn't jam up I was able to put all 8 rounds in the 9-10 rings from 10 yards. It's basically a "mini" model 1911 in .380 caliber.
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Old August 4, 2022, 10:21 PM   #16
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Ya learn something new sometimes. Had not a clue they had taken it down to 380.
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Old August 5, 2022, 10:25 AM   #17
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Well, guys, thanks for all of your opinions! The situation has been resolved! I reloaded 12 rounds with cases that were 0.674-0.675 inches, and 6 that were 0.670 to 0.672 inches and there were NO failures to go into battery and all fired. So the problem was insufficient resizing.

I was thinking about this conversation and I likened it to being surrounded by good neighbors who I can count on for solid information and valuable opinions. The only thing missing is a picnic atmosphere with beer!
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Old August 5, 2022, 01:07 PM   #18
cdoc42
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Well, here's a twist.
Note above my loaded cases ranged from 0.670 to 0.675. The recommended size is 0.670-0.680 with 0.675 in the middle being preferred.

I measured the 18 fired cases. ONE was 0.670 and the rest were all less than that - the smallest being 0.667. I resized a few for the heck of it and they went up to 0.671 and 0.672.

Since I have never measured these cases before, it seems possible that higgite was correct when he said the shorter cases may not have had the flare removed during taper crimping.

Is it reasonable to set the taper crimp die for the smallest case, i.e., 0.670? Will that make the crimp even tighter on cases in the 0.675 + range? Will it create pressure concerns?
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Old August 5, 2022, 04:06 PM   #19
higgite
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdoc42 View Post
Is it reasonable to set the taper crimp die for the smallest case, i.e., 0.670? Will that make the crimp even tighter on cases in the 0.675 + range? Will it create pressure concerns?
I do that all the time (since I learned) with 9mm and 45ACP. Just don't go crazy with it if you're using lead or plated bullets. I have scraped a little plating off of plated bullets, but not enough to be an issue. I've had no issues at all with jacketed bullets.
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Old August 6, 2022, 11:09 AM   #20
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Or just cull the short ones.

-TL

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Old August 6, 2022, 01:28 PM   #21
cdoc42
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Tangolima: "Or just cull the short ones."

I can agree with that recommendation for those cases that are shorter than 0.670", which is the minimum size that extends to the maximum of 0.680". But I have found cases that are under 0.670 after firing that upon resizing still fall in the lower area of the .670-.680 range. The 50th Edition of Lyman manual tested .380 loads with cases that measured 0.677." I guess one can trim every longer case to the mid-point of 0.675" but I'd lose a lot of brass that falls below that measurement that is not likely to grow to it after firing and resizing.
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Old August 6, 2022, 02:38 PM   #22
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I would keep the bucket with the highest population and recycle the ones that fall outside.

Well you don't really have to go that extreme. It is a pretty easy round to load. I don't even have a dedicated die set for it. Sizing is by Rem 223 sizing die. Seating is by 9mm luger seating die. From time to time I feel like I need to close up the flare a little more. I just use the rem 223 sizing die to nudge on it a little.

-TL

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Old August 10, 2022, 11:44 AM   #23
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This may be useful for the op.

My 380 acp load has coal of 1" which is over the max of the spec. But it fits well in mag and has no problem in my Femaru 37M. Not that I want to do that. I just don't want to have dedicated bullets for this one, but would rather to use the same 125gr 9mm luger bullets.

-TL

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Old August 11, 2022, 12:25 PM   #24
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Thanks for the suggestion, tangolima!!
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