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Old May 15, 2005, 03:12 PM   #1
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Are my reloads just too low pressure (scorching)?

Ok, so I'm about 500 rounds into my .45 ACP reloading career, and I'm having great success. My chosen load, 5.4 gr Unique, 230 gr FMJ performs marvelously in my 1911. Great accuracy, not a single malfunction of any kind. They are functionally perfect. Except for one thing - they scorch the heck out of my brass.

Basically every round ends up pretty nicely toasted after firing.

This brass went from tumbler to loaded to fired in <= 1 week. Now, my 1911 has always been a little prone to scorching things, but on a much much much lower level. Before I started reloading, it was fed a steady diet of ball WWB. Most rounds tended to have just a small bit of scorching just at the lip, and only in one small part. Nothing even close to this.

This load is right near the middle of the Hornady listing (ranging from 5.1 to 6.1 gr of Unique). I use a very slightly higher than "light" crimp according to my Lee factory crimp die. I'm meticulous measuring powder.

As I understand it, scorching like this is indicative of low pressures not expanding the case mouth upon firing.So what's the deal here? Is it something I'm doing wrong? Could it be partially the fault of my gun? An issue with the brass (source: WWB)?

Further - is this something I should be concerned about? Or is it kosher as long as I don't care about having to do a little extra cleaning of the gun and polishing of the brass?

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Old May 15, 2005, 03:24 PM   #2
novus collectus
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I have no idea, but I wonder if it is some kinda oil you started using for your 1911 and the residue burned the case? I was using candle wax for lubrication when was reloading .45 long colt in my Leeloader and I did not clean it off the brass afterwards. Now some of my .45 long colt brass looks kinda like yours because that stuff got into the cylinder and made even the factory brass look burnt.

I used 5.1 grains of unique in my 1911 as well for a while with 230 grains jacketed and lead bullets, but my .45 acp cases do not look like yours.
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Old May 15, 2005, 03:38 PM   #3
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I'm using Lyman case lube on a pad. I don't wipe them off, but generally by the time I'm done with the whole process, they don't appear to have any significant amount on them.

I do have a bottle of some other kind of lube laying around. I'll definitely give it a try on the next run.
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Old May 15, 2005, 03:59 PM   #4
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I've always found Unique to be a little sootier than other powders in the same burn rate range. Fiseyou, I would up the powder amount a bit. 5.4 gr of Unique is below the minimum recommended by Speer (5.5/6.5) and well within the lower 1/3rd of the range suggested by Lyman (5.0/6.8). Checking my Hornady #4, I'm reading a different range than you quoted. They say 5.3 min to 6.2 gr max for Unique; so you are low in their range as well. I believe your assessment of cases failing to seal is correct.

That being said, if you like the rounds you're making, I see no reason to change the load. A little soot doesn't hurt anything as long as you don't mind the little bit of extra cleaning it might add.

Are you using a carbide sizing die? If so, why are you lubing the cases at all? You can take that out of the equation altogether.
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Old May 15, 2005, 04:33 PM   #5
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I don't believe my sizing die is carbide. I have the Lee 4-die set.

The date on my Hornady manual is 2003. The load I'm looking at is for 230 grain jacketed bullets. They have 5.3 - 6.8 for 200 grain LSWC, and 5.1-6.3 for LRN.
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Old May 15, 2005, 06:02 PM   #6
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Change powder that stuff is awful dirty might try Winchester 231 or something else that burns hafeway clean I at one time used Unique but gave up after shooting hands and cases were black.
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Old May 15, 2005, 08:33 PM   #7
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If you clean your cases in a tumbler, why worry about it???

OTOH, the loading manuals tell you to ALWAYS clean EVERY TRACE of lube off of your cases after loading.

A carbide sizing die is, in my opinion, a necessity for loading pistol cases.
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Old May 15, 2005, 10:16 PM   #8
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What does the label on the instructions that came with the dies say? I can't imagine that you'd be loading with non-carbide dies. You might consider not lubing; increasing your load; slightly increasing your crimp.

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Old May 15, 2005, 10:55 PM   #9
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I used a 225g LRN & 6.5g Unique as my staple load for a long time before switching to a cleaner powder. I shot craploads of that load in my Colt 1911 and never had a problem or a high pressure sign. You could easily bump that load up a little. (Work it up slow, be careful, yada yada yada.)

Crimp should be .470-.471
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Old May 15, 2005, 10:57 PM   #10
Robert M Boren Sr
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The lee 4 die sets are carbide sizer. Take the die apart and clean it out then try it without lube. I have several lee 4 die sets and all are carbide sizer.
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Old May 16, 2005, 06:58 AM   #11
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I use a very light load of Bullseye and my cases are similar to yours, but only about half as scorched. I wonder if we are crimping too tight...will have to recheck using the above .470-.71 figures.
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Old May 16, 2005, 03:22 PM   #12
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Unique likes pressure, it burns kind of poopy if there isn't enough pressure.
Carbon soot OUTSIDE the cases are a sure sign of a poor gas seal, most likely from (Drum roll, please.) pressure too low for the application.
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Old May 16, 2005, 03:30 PM   #13
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Up the charge if you're worried about it. Might also be under belling the cases. I used to have the same thing going on with Bullseye. The brass will never come out as nice and clean coming out as they do going in.
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