Scary Experience

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by gdmoody, Aug 25, 2008.

  1. gdmoody

    gdmoody Moderator Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2007
    Athens, Georgia
    I have been reloading for probably 30 years. For the first time ever I had a "squib" load. I don't know if this is the proper term but it is what I call a cartridge without any powder in it. :eek:

    Last week, my 14 year old grandson and I were at the range, he was firing my Sig 229 in the next firing lane. I was watching his target between shots and noticed that some of his bullets were hitting very low. Some even in the dirt in front of the elevated target. I thought he was just "limp wristing" it and just plain missing the target. That is until I heard a very quiet "pop" come from his lane. Even though it had never happened to me before, I knew immediately what the sound was. I basically dropped my Contender to get to him before he could even think of chambering another round. He is not an experienced shooter and I did not know if he would or not. That pretty much ended the shooting that day, even though I disassembled the SIG and removed the bullet from the barrel, that was scary enough for me to just call it quits for the day

    I can only blame myself for the squib load, but a few months ago, I bought a Lee progressive loader and loaded several hundred .40 cal cartridges. I now do not trust any of those loads, along with not trusting the progressive press. I have a very large task before me of pulling every one of those bullets to check the powder. I don't look forward to this but it has to be done.

    Just out of curiousity, has this happened to any of you more experienced reloaders?
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2008
  2. Popgunner

    Popgunner Active Member

    Dec 3, 2005
    .357 mag wheelgun. I wasn't thinking about a squib load maybe happening & I had the hammer back again after the squib & was aiming when it hit me that I shouldn't shoot. Scarry feeling:eek:

  3. artabr

    artabr New Member

    I've had a sqib or two.
    Moody, You might want to try this.
    Load a round that would the same as your orginal suspect rounds were suppose to be.
    Weigh that round. Use it as a control weight.
    Then weigh your orginal suspect rounds.
    Any rounds that weigh less, you pull.
    This will save you from having to pull all your rounds including the ones that are ok.

  4. TranterUK

    TranterUK Guest

    When I was reloaidng regularly I used a cartridge tray from one on the reloading firms. You have about 50 or so sitting face up, so after dumping powder you can look at each cartridge in the tray easily before going on. I know at least one guy who made one out of wood.

    It only cost a couple of dollars but in many thousands of reloads I never missed a charge.
  5. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    I loaded tens of thousands of .45 rounds on a Pacific Pro-7 progressive with a Lee Auto-disc powder measure back in my IPSC days and never had a round that didn't get powder, the auto disc is a very reliable automatic powder dropper activated by the case going through the expander die, and the sliding disc was at eye level so you always saw it slide over then back to get a fresh charge.

    However I SAW a lot of squibs and stuck lead bullets on the practice range, and ONCE a guy have TWO back to back at a MATCH!:eek:

    The RO saw it after he jacked the slide back the SECOND time and called cease fire, and sure enough there were TWO stuck bullets in the .45, and after they were driven out with a dowel the round that had been chambered was would have been disaster had it fired with the two stuck bullets....

    The culprit back then was the manual powder measure on the Dillon reloaders, that you had to "punch" the pluger to drop the powder, and "going too fast" in the reloading sequence/rhythm and missing a "punch.".

    It was so common with the early Dillons it was the common joke....."How do you know a guy uses a Dillon?" "He's the guy with his hand up on the line asking if anyone has a dowel rod and a hammer!":p:p:p

    A buddy of mine (an "A" class shooter, a "D" class reloader) used to have it happen so much with his "practice" ammo he immediately recognized it when it happened, so never blew any of his .45s up, and once with a bunch of us on the line he actually had a "PHHFT!" and the bullet actually exited the barrel and fell to the ground!

    There was a stunned silence, then an old guy said, "Boy now THAT is good bullet lube!":p:D:D

    The GOOD news was he took more care with his "match" ammo, so never had the problem in a match, only when he was "rushing" to get his 1500 or so rounds he shot each week in practice turned out usually late at night....

    But it can happen with factory ammo too, I saw a PA-63 that blew up on the range, and the guy was shooting Wolf 9x18 ammo, even though he SWORE he had not jacked the slide on a misfire, I saw the "remnants" and the barre; was bulged right in front of the chamber, there could have been no other explanation. My guess it was the last round in a magazine that had "stuck," and the first round of the next that blew it.
  6. carver

    carver Moderator Supporting Member

    I also use a Lee progressive loader, and like you I have had one squib load; .44 mag. The suggestion of weighing each load that you have a question about is a good one. Any load that does not have a powder charge will show up right away. As for the loading blocks, a great tool, I use two, and move the primed and empty cases from one block to the other as I charge them. If for any reason I have to leave the loading bench, and return later, it's easy to look at what I have done and pick up from there.
  7. mrkirker

    mrkirker New Member

    Jul 13, 2007
    I've had three, one in .45 acp, another in .44 mag., and one in .44 with black powder, (but that's another story).

    From my 'batch notes' I noticed that each smokeless reloading event occured with rounds loaded late at night, when I was 'behind' on loading, preparing for a range trip the next day, was really TIRED, and was doing the 'marathon' loading thing.

    After the second 'event', I tightened up my quality control, began loading in small batches, began using a load block as Tranter did. Also, I have a short wooden dowel marked for each calibre. Each round gets a gentle dowel dip to insure that the cartridge is charged. AND, I simply refuse to load when I am too tired to be fully, totally aware of what I doing! Common sense, I know . . . .

    The idea of weighing the rounds will save a LOT of time, and it works.
  8. h2oking

    h2oking Former Guest

    Jul 13, 2008
    Carson City Nevada
    gdmoody In your post you mentioned more experienced loaders. I don't know how much more or not than you but I do consider myself an experienced reloader. I have not yet set myself on fire or blown a gun up but I too have had the experience of bullets sticking in the barrel. Thank God not while rapid shooting a double action revolver. I want to bring something else to everyones attention since we are discussing "squib" loads. Never, never deliberately make up a "light load" for your wife or kid using any slow burning powder in a rifle or pistol. A 50% load of 4831 or 4350 will blow up just about any rifle cartridge you can think of and when I say blow up I mean blow up even far worse than if you overloaded it. You can find the same results with 50% of Win 296 or H110. If you just have to make up a light load do it with a fast burning powder and then add enough cream of wheat to make it a compressed load to insure that the powder stays near the primer. If you would like to read a little about what I am stating here I suggest reading P.O Ackley second addition on pages 42-44 as a matter of fact he writes about various causes of "blow ups" all good reading. As for the suggestion to weigh a round as a data point to prevent having to pull them, I would suggest not to do that unless all of the cases are of the same manufacturer because the variance in the weight of different manufactures cases could be far more than the powder weight variance you are looking for. I would suggest that unless you think you have an overload or double charge(if even possible with the powder you are using) I would just go shoot it up. The gun will not cycle if the bullet does not leave the barrel so no danger there provided you don't jack another one in. Cut yourself a wooden dowel that barely fits the bore, get a heavy plastic hammer and go have fun.

    Last edited: Aug 27, 2008
  9. mrkirker

    mrkirker New Member

    Jul 13, 2007
    Do you mix different brands of brass in the same 'batch'?
  10. h2oking

    h2oking Former Guest

    Jul 13, 2008
    Carson City Nevada
    Yes Johnny, when loading for hand guns that I usually use for plinking or killing jackrabbits which is most of what I do, I never look at the manufacturer head stamp on brass. When loading serious target loads or hot loads I always use the same manufacturers brass. I would also caution that using the weight method to check loaded ammo for powder charge on especially small capacity handgun cartridge like the 40 and one is using cast bullets the variance could be more than the powder charge itself. As such weighing small capcity loaded ammo in my view would be an unreliable method of determining if you had a light or heavy load. I hope that answers your question even though a simple yes might have done the same thing.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2008
  11. Dirtypacman

    Dirtypacman New Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Merrimac Valley, MA
    I have not had it happen (yet) but I am sure it will at some point.
    I still have concerns over anybody but myself shooting my reloads just for the fact if something god forbid ever went wrong I would feel horrible.

    I check and double check the majority of every step still at this point only reloading for a couple years.
  12. Shellback

    Shellback New Member

    Jul 10, 2008
    Broken Arrow Ok
    Yes I have had a couple squibs when I got in a hurry and was working on rythem instead of taking my time and enjoying what I was doing and they where almost back to back, however I always have a spare barrel with so the second one I shut down went home and weighed the rest of the batch didn't have any more but weighing them I could get a good idea of how many grains I was off when they are no more then a couple grains I know they are proper.
  13. gdmoody

    gdmoody Moderator Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2007
    Athens, Georgia
    Ron, When I said more experienced reloaders, I guess that I meant any one who has been reloading for a couple of years or so. I have been reloading for about 30 yrs so I do consider myself experienced.

    I do like your suggestion to go out and just shoot the ammo, that sure would be alot more fun. I do not really look at the head stamps on the cases so I really don't know what kind of brass it is. I really don't think that weighing each round will work (even though I AM going to try that first). I would think that each manufacturer's brass would be slightly different in weight themself and each bullet is going to be a slightly different weight, also. But, as I said, I am going to try the weighing each one before I start pulling or shooting them up.

    UK, When I reload using my single stage press, I do use a cartridge tray and I do look into each one before I seat the bullet - but - that is not really possible if you truly want to be "progressive" by using the progressive press.

    I guess I will just go back to using the single stage press OR be alot more observant of what I am doing. I may just have to try a way to rig my RCBS uniflow powder drop up and quit using the Lee disk measure.
  14. h2oking

    h2oking Former Guest

    Jul 13, 2008
    Carson City Nevada
    gdmoody, I hope you didn't think I was implying that you were not experienced or that you didn't know what you were doing because I was not. I took it I believe how you meant it like hey guys can you give me some input here. I would like to expand just a little on my comments about weighing the loaded rounds but first I would like to say I have been reloading since I was 7 years old when my dad had me helping him clean cases etc. I was dropping powder at about 10 years old, using a powder then as I recall was called HiVel 2. My dad stopped reloading not long afterwords and I picked it back up at about 15 loading mostly shotgun shells because I liked shooting trap. By about 18 I got into loading and shooting a lot of 44 mag and today I load for everything I own in the way of a gun with the exception 223 and 308 as I buy that ammo and shot shells. I have been blessed to be able to afford a myriad of guns and I load for and have dies from 25acp to 50BMG. I have owned several double rifles in my life including a 700 Nitro for which I did not even shoot because my 577 Nitro was all the Nitro I wanted. Getting back to weighing loaded ammo as an example I would guess that you are using a powder that you are using less than 10 grains of where as in my 50BMG I use 226 grains of powder so weighing loaded ammo in a 50 could make some sense but in a small capacity case like your 40 which I load for as well you will find 10 grains difference in brass and you are trying to find 5. That is why I suggested what I did. I would also like you look at a thread I wrote on the post of reloading questions about I think a 7.54 Russian thing I know nothing about. What I wrote I am sure will be controversial on this forum but is correct and very interesting reading.:)

  15. gdmoody

    gdmoody Moderator Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2007
    Athens, Georgia
    Ron, I didn't think that you were implying anything, I was just trying to explain what I meant by more experienced. I had already read that thread and did find it interesting. I am off work for the next couple of days and will look into weighing cartridges. I will probably just go out and shoot the things like you suggested (I really do like that suggestion).
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