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Old August 31, 2000, 03:21 PM   #1
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Join Date: October 13, 1998
Location: N. of Fords Switch, OK, USA
Posts: 297
Pressure testing is among the services my business offers. This morning I received several samples of 9X19 ammunition from a major firearms manufacturer which had been
handloaded by an individual with a powder purchased at a gun show in Northern Ohio as
WC150. This "propellent" has destroyed the breech area of three arms.

While the powder, judging from its' appearance, was probably manufactured by St. Marks Powder (the division of Primex which produces the powders sold by Winchester), it is not a "smokeless powder" in the usual sense. It is orange in color, has a bulk density of approximately .246, and generates pressures high enough to cause case head and case web failures at the load level which the vendor recommended. Steve Faintich of St. Marks Powder states that the only orange colored product they make is called "Fluid Ball", and that this product is not intended for use in any kind of arms. It is sold only to Tek Ord for use in the manufacture of detonators, squibs etc.

I do not yet know how this material was obtained by the vendor.

The damage to the brass and the breech is as bad as I have ever seen from an arm which is
still somewhat intact.

I do not yet know why the individual who loaded the ammunition persisted in placing more cartridges in the gun after a single, let alone, repeated case failures.

I strongly urge anyone who has acquired any propellent matching the above description not
to use it in any arm under any circumstance.

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Old August 31, 2000, 04:20 PM   #2
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Join Date: December 10, 1998
Location: NY
Posts: 680
This just goes to show you that purchasing repackaged, mislabelled, surplus powder can be quite a dangerous experience. This is false economy that can cost you a body part.
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Old August 31, 2000, 05:12 PM   #3
Art Eatman
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Thanks! And future "thank you"s if you run across any more instances like this.

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Old August 31, 2000, 09:14 PM   #4
Mike Irwin
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 39,212

Cripes, that sounds like the modern day equivilent of the old EC Flash powder that was used to load blanks for the military and for purposes not unlike those you mention.

Numerous guns have been destroyed over the years by people pulling the powder out of blanks and using it for loading regular shells.

Not a good thing to do at all.

Beware the man with the S&W .357 Mag.
Chances are he knows how to use it.
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Old September 1, 2000, 03:57 AM   #5
Tom Matiska
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Join Date: April 12, 2000
Location: Wilkes-Barre, Pa
Posts: 1,026
When I was a novice reloader about 25 years ago I was sold some Red Dot which oddly enough didn't have any red dots in it. I knew just enough about reloading to suspect the plain black powder wasn't Red Dot.

I took it back to the shop that sold it to me the owner looked at it and turned pale. I stopped buying bulk powders after that.

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Old September 1, 2000, 09:38 AM   #6
Good Guy
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Join Date: August 4, 1999
Posts: 638
Golly Gee Wiz! Shouldn't the orange color of the powder been a tipoff that something wasn't quite kosher !?!

Too bad there is no minimum IQ required to purchase reloading components.

Just one of the Good Guys
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Old September 1, 2000, 01:03 PM   #7
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Location: Birmingham, AL
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Bfoster, what does a pressure test series cost? I'd be interested to know how many cartridges constitute a valid sample, how you publish the results, etc. From whom will your company accept test ammo? Where is the company located? What is the usual turnaround time? I have a real bee in my bonnet about this. If the Moderator so decrees, we can take this to e-mail, but I bet others are interested.
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Old September 1, 2000, 05:29 PM   #8
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Please count me in. I am very interested.

Carlyle Hebert
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Old September 1, 2000, 11:44 PM   #9
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Hutch & Southla1... I' m located in Cardington, Ohio. In answer to your questions I'll respond with an outline of how we develop commercial loads. Feel free to accept or reject them as you will; they are partly guided by the conservatism of an engineer working in a litigation plagued field.

When we receive a sample of a bulk powder (non-canister grade), brass, primers & bullets, we start with a very low charge and work up with a long series of shots using a modification of Creighton Audette's load development method: we are looking at bullet placement, pressure and velocity of single shots loaded in small, progressively increasing increments.

If you are not familiar with the Audette method, it is described in Volume III, Highpower Rifle Shooting, NRA Championships Training Clinics Manual Series. A few years ago Randolph Constantine published a worthwhile development of this in Precision Shooting. I don't have the reference at hand (I have loaned it out), but I am sure that it was republished in one of the Precision Shooting Annuals. While the core of the article delt with barrel vibrations, nodes, load tuning et cetera, the author added a chronograph to the test- (the description of the physics involved may be debatable, but the results achieved speak well for the method used). I have simply added (Oehler) pressure sensing instrumentation, and ginned up a simple bit of software to help sort through the data generated.

Once "promising" loads are identified, we revert to a more standard type of load development- we fire strings of at least 20 because we are looking for a combination which will give a high sigma.

The pressure gun itself is simply a modern adaption of the old Universal Bond type.

As testing is carried out for commercial purposes, and as commercial components do vary on a lot to lot basis far more than do the products available to reloaders, I do not publish results.

When I have, on occasion, given specific data on some of the forums (including this one) It has (almost) always been backed up by my own tests. Likewise, some of the data Saeed has published on the 244 H&H (at may, in part, derive from data which I provided to him. This was generated as a result of ongoing experiments with "exotic" barrel designs.

Given the current legal climate we accept work only from commercial enterprises. That said, within the rather narrow range to which we have applied ourselves, I do have some data on consumer grade components. While the expense of running tests for individuals is probably prohibitive, (as would be tests conducted by H.P.White Laboratory etc.) If I have data which might be of use for ordinary handloads I am more than willing to share it.

The e-mail link in my profile is still good. Frrl free to contact me.


[This message has been edited by bfoster (edited September 02, 2000).]
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Old September 2, 2000, 03:32 PM   #10
Johnny Guest
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Join Date: August 28, 1999
Location: North Texas
Posts: 4,121

Bob, your expertise and input are very valuable and much appreciated. I had no idea we had such a professional "on staff," so to speak.

Please, PLEASE chime right in at any time you have information which will help the membership, in the cause of general information, specific loads, and ESPECIALLY pertaining to safety.

Man, this is a sincere invitation--If you have expertise, don't hide your light under a bushel. Some folks with specialized knowledge are hesitant to throw it out in a general conversation, for fear of being considered a know-it-all or a $mart A$$. Others, like me, with only the most general knowledge are fully willing to freely share the depth and breadth and length of our ignorance. Oughta be the other way around.

My only worry is that we'll pump you for free information from which you should be making legitimate money. Also that your expertise is such that I can't even understand what you're telling us. THAT has happened in the past.

Thanks very much for your input.

---The Second Amendment ensures the rest of the Bill of Rights---

[This message has been edited by Johnny Guest (edited September 02, 2000).]
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Old September 3, 2000, 06:35 AM   #11
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Bfoster, I'll email you on Tuesday, back at the "office". I have a great deal of interest in your process.

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