The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Skunkworks > Handloading, Reloading, and Bullet Casting

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old December 24, 2012, 01:48 PM   #1
Prof Young
Senior Member
Join Date: August 21, 2007
Posts: 1,276
What a difference a load makes.

So even though I've been doing this reloading thing for a couple of years now, there is still so much to learn.

When I first started I pretty much did the minimum recommended load of powder figuring it to be enough and to be very safe. And for the most part that was okay until I had a couple of scary squibs.

So then I started loading closer to the max. I really noticed the difference in shooting my 44 mag. Pow went to BLAM!

Today I was breaking in a brand new Beretta FS92. I had two batches of self loaded ammo. One was pretty close to minimum and the other closer to max. Well the min loads kept stove piping and jamming. At first I thought I'd got a lemon of a gun. However the hotter load ran through it like butter. Really like the gun.

Until recently I didn't really keep track of what powder I'd used etc. It was all by the formulas, but I just didn't keep records. That is changing too.

I think I need to learn more about powders. Will reread that section in the Lee book on reloading. Some of the info.I read when I first started reloading didn't make as much sense as it might now as now I have a much better context from with to learn.

Merry Christmas to every one.

Live well, be safe.
Prof Young
Prof Young is offline  
Old December 24, 2012, 02:15 PM   #2
Misssissippi Dave
Senior Member
Join Date: December 5, 2009
Posts: 1,411
I find I need to keep records of what I load to keep straight what works and what works well. Some powders work best between low end and mid range. Some work best at mid range only. Some only start to work well when you are at mid range to the max load. I also will change powders depending on what I want to achieve from a given load. I guess I could just write a note card to be placed near my press giving the load information of something run of the mill that will work for each caliber I load. Doing that I would never find what works better or worse and I wouldn't have a fall back load to use when the components I have been using are not available.

I keep a book for load information at my press and the same information near my computer in the house. If one is lost or damaged I will still have the other one. When I am trying to find an alternate load to work up I also check my book to see if I have already it before.
Misssissippi Dave is offline  
Old December 24, 2012, 02:21 PM   #3
Lost Sheep
Senior Member
Join Date: January 24, 2009
Location: Anchorage Alaska
Posts: 3,340
As you learn more about reloading you will find yourself understanding the inner workings of your gun as well as the science of interior ballistics.

Your experience with the 44 tells me it is time for you to get a chronograph. It will tell you if you are running velocities low enough that you are in danger of a bullet not clearing the barrel. If you get erratic velocities which are low, I would take that as evidence that you are losing a lot of velocity before the bullet exits the barrel. If you get down to zero muzzle velocity, you have done stuck a bullet.

I keep my loads of any bullet above 750 fps. It would be interesting if you would load a half-dozen of your 44 loads that produced the squibs and see what velocities you get normally.

About your 9mm, I found that if I load near minimum power levels in my 45 Auto or Coonan .357 (1911 style semiauto), I, too, get stovepipe jams and failures to eject because the loads do not produce enough recoil to cycle the slide against the standard spring. However, if I tighten my hold on the gun, it runs reliably. You see, your wrists and forearms are part of the whole "weapon platform" thing. If you allow the gun's frame to move with the recoil, the slide velocity relative to the frame is not enough to cycle completely. If you hold the gun's frame solidly, the slide takes more of the recoil movement and does cycle the full length. This is commonly called "limp wristing" and is known to cause cycling failures and it gets worse with lighter loads. The cure is to tighten your grip or install a lighter recoil spring.

However, it makes it easy to deliberately induce jams at will. This makes it great for practicing tap-rack-bang (clearance) drills.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Lost Sheep

p,s, Chrony brand chronographs can be had for about $100, But get one with the control "brain" and readout that can sit on the shooting bench. It is much more convenient and you can put the sensor unit behind a barrier to protect it against errant bullets.
Lost Sheep is offline  
Old December 24, 2012, 03:04 PM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: January 27, 2010
Location: AR
Posts: 1,390
I always liked the open top slide on the Beretta as it make it easy to clear defective rounds. I have found the Beretta will cycle weaker than normal reloads. The CZ 75 will cycle weak loads also. Most of the others 9mms I have fired need max or near max loads to cycle. I learned this lesson 30 years ago when experimenting with 9mms. I always used the Beretta to blast away weaker reloads rather than pull bullets.
When I first stated reloading, I too never kept records. Primarily because I reloaded only a few calibers. Today, I keep meticulous notes.
chiefr is offline  
Old December 24, 2012, 04:28 PM   #5
Senior Member
Join Date: July 28, 2007
Location: Central Ohio
Posts: 10,983
I don't usually "line by line" reply

...but this one has so many I can reply to!

re: there is still so much to learn.
I'm 24+ years in, still learning, still loving discovering new things and still fully aware of the abyss of things I do NOT know well that's a part of handloading

re:When I first started I pretty much did the minimum recommended load of powder
Me too, many of us, I'm guessing. My squib stuck a bullet in my favorite gun and that bullet was a @#$#%'er to remove. It was a "perfect storm" scenario that made that happen, and a great learning moment. I still happily call that entire event the WORST error I've ever made in this hobby, and I hang my hat on that. And no, that wasn't when I was loading in my first 6 months. That was a handful of years ago and still fresh in my mind.

re: then I started loading closer to the max.
Over the years with all the reading I've done, all the manuals and published data sources I've taken in and the tens of thousands of loaded and fired rounds, I would describe my evolution better by saying simply that I'm so, so, -SO- much less fearful of "max" loads. Proper procedure continues to bring me to MAX loads, but these days-- I don't have even 10% the anxiety about getting there or being there.

re: However the hotter load ran through it like butter. Really like the gun.
I realized shortly after getting rolling in this gig that most all factory ammo is, for most all intents and purposes, "MAX" loads. Not dangerous, not scary, not stupid, just pretty much "in-spec" near the SAAMI Maximum pressure -- most likely, so most everything that the buying public uses them Not Cowboy Action loads, not clearly marked "reduced loads", but the bulk of the range fodder that folks buy (Win White Box, Fed Champion, Blazer Brass, etc etc) is simply a normal weight bullet loaded right to cartridge spec. And that means it's pretty much a max or near max load.

re: Until recently I didn't really keep track of what powder I'd used etc. It was all by the formulas, but I just didn't keep records.
I will laugh at you here -- this is something that took me a couple of years to figure out, but now it's one of my ABSOLUTE recommendations. When I am working with a new handloader, this is stressed just as much as "keep only ONE powder container on the load bench at a time." You only have to repeat the same mistake a couple times before you see the light.

It occurred to me that whatever thought process lead me down a road the FIRST time would likely be repeated if I didn't find a way to remind myself, and that's when I started keeping notes.

The log I keep today is somewhere just a bit short of ludicrous. But I hold my log almost as dearly as I hold my favorite handguns or my supply of component bullets. If the man cave was on fire, I might grab the computer and run! (it'd be a lot lighter than these boxes of slugs)

re: I think I need to learn more about powders.
That was a daunting angle as I approached it but as I've learned, it's been liberating. I believe I have a slight addiction to trying different powders. I'm not sure what I'm after at this point -- I do handgun for the most part and I am actively dipping from NINE different powders, and I am not counting the 4 or so other "handgun" powders that I have on hand and don't typically care to use.

I like that -- but I can't say I recommend that, especially to someone who isn't quite this deep in to it. I'm actively loading across 16 different handgun chamberings, so it makes some sense, but there's little doubt that I could pare it down.

I just don't WANT to. I like my somewhat irrational powder cache and the options and choices it gives me. Maybe the coolest thing is that if I want to dance with a new round or an odd bullet weight, there's a darn good chance that I have at least 1 or 3 different propellants already on hand to give it a shot.
Attention Brass rats and other reloaders: I really need .327 Federal Magnum brass, no lot size too small. Tell me what caliber you need and I'll see what I have to swap. PM me and we'll discuss.
Sevens is offline  
Old December 28, 2012, 12:53 PM   #6
Prof Young
Senior Member
Join Date: August 21, 2007
Posts: 1,276

Hey, thanks for all the thought and help.
Live well, be safe.
Prof Young
Prof Young is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:33 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2017 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.11275 seconds with 9 queries