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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Would the appearance of the case after a double load look similar to a case that a separation occurred on one side? My case - at the point where separation usually occurs - had a rectangular piece cut out cleanly about 1/5th around the case. However I don't think it was cased separation.

Here's the part I have to admit my screw up. First, I'm lucky and so's my S&W 1911. I suspect I had a double load - a bigger than normal boom and the grip on one side split in half and the magazine ejected right out of the gun. Nothing happened to me other than a couple little tears on the sleeve of my shirt and a couple pinpoint scratches on my right cheek. The shot hit smack dab in the middle of the bullseye:)

I made those rounds earlier in my reloading experience and I suspect it was when a primer misfed and I removed that cartridge and put in a new one, not thinking that more powder was being loaded at the second station.

I was having some misfeed problems with my Dillon 550 initially, which I have mostly corrected after advice from this forum. I still have occasional problems like when I discovered Win NT's had crimped primers. What I do differently now is remove all the cases from the stations when I have a misfeed and start over (dump the powder back).

Besides castigating me for my oops :( any thoughts on the appearance of the case - should I cut into it with a dremel and investigate further?
 

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Glad you're okay. I know first-hand how dangerous a case blowout can be.

What does the primer look like? If it looks normal that might suggest it was bad brass. If it is flattened in might indicate excess pressure.

Got a picture?

I imagine that there are a range of results from excess pressure ammo that can be as little as case blowout to complete case separation.

Many pictures I've seen of double charges result in catastrophic failure and complete case separation (including serious damage to the gun, such as burst barrel and destroyed frames). But it might depend on the gunpowder, the gun, and whatnot. It can be hard to troubleshoot the exact cause sometimes unless something like a double charge is a genuine possibility. See some of the links below for examples.

http://forums.1911forum.com/showthread.php?p=1749568
http://www.brianenos.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=102633
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=732981&page=3
http://www.glocktalk.com/forums/showthread.php?p=17006646

Cases have been known to fail simply because it was bad brass, or at least that is the conclusion based on what information the user provides. It is certainly possible.

The sound might be louder than usual and still could be a standard pressure load since now the "blast" sound is not all directed out the front of the gun. Now some of it is coming back in your direction. But I'm speculating here.

Guns with less than full case support, like a tradition non-ramped 1911 barrel are subject to blowouts. Weak brass or excess pressure can cause blowouts in these guns. An example of case blowout from a known case with excess pressure, but not a double charge, is shown at the link below in Figure 10.

http://38super.net/Pages/9X23.html
 

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I suspect it was when a primer misfed
and I removed that cartridge and put in a new one,
not thinking that more powder was being loaded
at the second station.
A very valuable lesson. Wash your shorts out, and from this day forward
PAY ATTENTION !!!

Nothing more you can learn from that case right now. Set it aside
and look at it again in 5 or 10 years. Nothing you can learn from it
at this stage of your progress as a handloader.
 

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There is very little to be learned from examining the damaged case, I doubt it will provide you with any conclusive evidence regarding the exact cause. Be very thankful no serious damage or harm came from this object lesson. However it will be a good reminder that double checking your work and should something cause a "hitch" in your progressive press you need to be very suspicious of any rounds in the press.

Glad you're OK,
Grumpy
 

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I think you made the correct diagnosis. A separation is very rare in straight wall cases but an overcharge produces exactly what you describe.

The blowout is in the area of the feed ramp and you can usually see how it was lined up in the chamber.

I'm sure you already figured out that you have to pay attention.
 

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Assume it's an overcharge, and move on. The only investigation worthwhile is into the loading practices that allowed it to happen.

Since this has happened to you once, the next time your press "jams" consider removing all shells in progress before or during diagnosis, dumping any powder back into the PM, and starting over properly beginning with your already primed cases.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
should something cause a "hitch" in your progressive press you need to be very suspicious of any rounds in the press.
Yes - big time lesson. Early in my reloading I tried to remove the misfeed at the priming station without disturbing the other stations thinking it was efficiency. I caught myself double filling at the powder station which of course was the result of resizing the new case at the first station. My solution was to remove the case at the powder station and resume production. I progressed to, and from now on will, immediately remove all cases from all stations and start over.

The blowout is in the area of the feed ramp and you can usually see how it was lined up in the chamber.
Yes I'm sure you are right; interestingly the rectangular hole in the cartridge looked almost cut out. Besides blowing out the magazine it pushed in the bullet on what would have been the next round. Whew I feel lucky.

Thanks for all the responses.
 

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It is important to determine the cause of something like this while you may not be able to do so I wouldn't suggest just chalking it up to just reloading. Possibility and probability aren't the same thing but it is both possible and probable it was caused by an excessive charge. However the less probable/likely cause being excessive headspace or defective brass can be determined by process of elimination. The case was damaged beyond further testing but you can still closely inspect normally charged loaded cases coming out of that firearm. And checking the chamber with gauges would be my recommendation. I'm guessing you are going to find the chamber within spec which will suggest it was either the load or a detective case. If that's the case you could continue checking the barrel for damage like bulges or other signs of stress. My estimation is you won't find any other physical signs unless you used a microscope. Metal in the barrel is stressed each time a shot is fired. The majority of times the physical effects are microscopic and it takes a long long time for it to get stressed enough to where it starts being a problem. A hot load essentially reduces the overall number of rounds a particular barrel can tolerate with the maximum number often being more than any one person would fire in their lifetime. I hope this helps and apologize for being long winded.
 

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A very valuable lesson. Wash your shorts out, and from this day forward
PAY ATTENTION !!!

Nothing more you can learn from that case right now. Set it aside
and look at it again in 5 or 10 years. Nothing you can learn from it
at this stage of your progress as a handloader.
Got that right. A good lesson and it's great nothing was hurt including yourself in this.
I always physically look at the powder in each round or watch what is being dropped to make sure there is not a double load.
Since I mainly run light target loads for my Blackhawks I am not in much danger if I do have a double load but I don't leave it to chance.
Nothing beats looking in a case and saying "that don't look right"
 

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I repeat . . .

What does the primer look like? If it looks normal that might suggest it was bad brass. If it is flattened in might indicate excess pressure.

Got a picture?
 

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I think you've done the major investigation by understanding how you can create a double-charge on the 550. I think error conditions like that are important to understand regardless of the press type. Knowing how to create a double is probably one of the best ways to avoid it. Consider also using a bulkier (usually slower) powder that overflows the case when doubled.

It is my understanding that most brass is good for about 70K psi. For a case head to separate, (since that is the only part not supported), the brass would have to thin considerably - something that occurs with rifles having incorrect headspace.

All of the pistol brass I've seen split from work-hardening did so inline with the cartridge and always way above the case head. Here is a picture of what I mean - split case

If the gun fired out of battery, the case would burst above the case head by a good margin - where it is thinnest.

The 1911 is one of the best at handling these events because there aren't any interesting parts below the cartridge - except the magazine and the grip panels. Glocks tend to ruin the frames because the chambered cartridge sits more atop the trigger unit.
 

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I think it's important to clarify that brass will fail at pressures much, much lower than 70,000 psi if they are not supported, such as in a 1911 with a traditional unramped barrel. Don't want nubes to come to the wrong conclusion here and start supercharging their ammo. :eek:
 

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RCBS Lockout Die would have caught this. Get One they are invaluable for loading pistol rounds.
 
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