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Discussion Starter #1
Here is a recap of what I've been going through the last couple months:
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TO: Western Powders, Inc.

Dear Ma'am or Sir,

In the last month I have had two rounds explode in the chamber. The first time no injuries to myself but there was enough damage to my pistol to require servicing. The second one happend less than 30 minutes ago. I am concerned that I have a bad lot of powder, I have had 2 other persons experienced reloaders, check my techniques and equipment (after the first incident) they all they said it was fine and couldnt find any errors.

I've loaded over 3,000 .45 ACP cartridges using Alliant Red Dot without issues. Plus other large caliber hunting rifle calibers using Hodgdons.


Equipment:
RCBS Carbide Dies (.45 ACP)
RCBS Uniflow 2 w/ baffle and micrometer set screw
Lyman Turret press
RCBS 505 Scale
Your website for loading data
Sierra 5th edition for cross reference of load data
Lyman 47th Edition loading guide for techniques / loading procedures.

Test Pistol: Kimber Custom Classic (series 1)


First Round that overpressured: (Assembled on Aug 12, 2003)
PMC Brass (1st reload / Once fired)
Remington 230gr. FMJ (Ball ammo)
#300 CCI Large Pistol Primer
5.8 grains of Ramshot ZIP
OAL 1.268"

The first round was originally worked up from a 5.2 gr starting point. I had incremented by .1 gr all the way up to 6 grains without a problem or any signs of over pressure. No flattened primers, case bulging etc. My Shooting Chrony clocked the 5.8gr load:

837.0 FPS average
90.6 FPS Extreme Spread

I had since disassembled the remaining rounds of this batch and re-scaled the powder and could not find any variance in grain measurements of the powder in the cartridges. (58 cartridges dis-assembled and checked) Explosion occured in SA V-16 Longslide, rated for up to .45 Super ($125 dollars for repairs).

Second Round that Overpressured (Assembled 9/27/03) (Today's round):
S&B Brass (1st reload / Once Fired)
Remington 230gr FMJ (Ball ammo)
#150 Federal Large Pistol Primer
5.6 grains of Ramshot Zip
OAL 1.268"

This second round I was actually working up a new load, to account for new / different primer and brass as well as verify my previous findings. I had started at 5.4 grains (20 Test Cartridges). I had no problems moved to the 5.5 grains (20 test cartridges), again no problems averaging about 700 FPS so I moved to the 5.6 grain loads. On the 12th round of that lot is when the explosion occured. Rounds of the 5.6 grain loads where in the 740 to 780 FPS range roughly and the first group of 6 didnt show any signs of pressure.

I know I measured the weight of the powder charge for the second round using the scale versus just using the Uniflow Powder Measure. I know that there was not a double charge as once the powder is funneled into the case I immediately seal the case by pressing on the bullet with a taper crimp.

The first time, I could accept I made a mistake the second time I am convinced it is not my equipment or my techniques.

Sincerely,
Difranco

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I post this not to disparage any company but rather to find a solution to my problem. The company responded wanting me to send them 50 cartridges for testing and so I did. They said they have done some testing " ...We received the 50 rounds that you sent to us. Initial testing shows 12,000 to 13,000 psi at approximately 680 fps with no pressure spikes." However, they said they hadn't completed the testing and are looking into other factors / circumstances that may have contributed.

At this point I am at a loss and am afraid to reload at this point. It has made me a bit flinchy when I pull the trigger now. Does anyone have any suggestions. If I could figure out what cause my problem I would feel much better about reloading again. Until then I will be shooting factory.

Any help is appreciated.
 

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FWIW, you may want to remove the firing pin and spring for examination and also have a look for debris in the firing pin tunnel. You may be experiencing slam fires if the firing pin isn't fully retracted after each shot. I've seen that happen on a 1911 and a Sig 226. Also glad to hear that you are OK.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
hjk said:
FWIW, you may want to remove the firing pin and spring for examination and also have a look for debris in the firing pin tunnel. You may be experiencing slam fires if the firing pin isn't fully retracted after each shot. I've seen that happen on a 1911 and a Sig 226.
Thanks for the suggestion. I detail stripped both pistols and all parts were adequately lubricated and clean. Remeber each incident happened in different pistols.
 

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When I read your post, I got the impression that the cartridge exploded when the trigger was pulled and the hammer fell; is that correct? If so, it's not a slam fire, and binding of the firing pin is not an issue.

The following hypothesis is unlikely, but possible: If the round you fired before the kaboom had a very light charge, it could have lodged in the barrel and caused extreme pressures when you fired the next round. that would probably have bulged or burst the barrel, and your comments didn't say that happened.

Your loading techniques sound more meticulous than mine, and I've had no problems after loading about 18,000 rounds.

You're fortunate to be uninjured; continue to use factory ammo until you/we can assign a likely reason for the incidents. Save the once-fired brass!
 

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Just for the heck of it-----this did happen to me---but no Ka-Booms.... Pour a little powder onto a small clean plate----Then check under very good light and magnifiers if needed by your eyes. Look for all the powder to look the same.....All Flakes, small cut tubes, ball shape etc etc.--But ALL the same looking..... BUT if you see TWO different looking pieces of powder.. Like a Ball & a Tube pieces..Or a flake and a ball shape..you might have a mistake at the factory or at your house of mixing TWO different powders into the same container..... I got mine from the factory----two different powders. It was a rifle powder and made a huge flash coming out the barrel.... Just a thought---but check it out..You just never know anymore........

Go back to your original powder(Red Dot) and test a 100 or 200 and go for it!! Got to get back on the horse after it throws you.....
Be careful too!! Like don't use the KaBoom powder anymore....
 

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Glad to hear your fine and no injuries to the gun or yourself.

I've loaded several hundred thousand rounds and I've only seen this with others who reload and not myself. The two circumstance that happend were:

1: double charge or at leaset enough extra powder to blow the case.

2: bullet lodge in barrel like someone mentioned above.

If you are concerned about the powder, send back a sample and have them test it. Be sure you never had any other powders in the powder charger.

I'm guessing it is one of the two mentioned above but, you never know. Hope for your sake you find out soon.

Remove the barrel from both guns and look down it with a light. If you see rings or bulges you know what happened.

Good luck and safe shooting.

Paul Schwenke
 

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KaBoom

I know the feeling and it is unnerving at best.

When I started loading for my 45 I really thought I knew what I was doing. I was loading what I now know were pretty warm loads. No problems and it was a beautiful thing........until KaBoom. Grips split, bits of brass in my face, mag bottom blown out, hand numb, next round stovepiped and bullet pushed....my beautiful Kimber ruined????

To this day I really never could be sure of the cause and I still think about that feeling sometimes when I shoot.

At first I would not believe but now have accepted it as fact that I had to have 2X charged a case with over 10 grains of Titegroup. I ended up disassembling over 300 rounds and starting over because I could not trust that it was the only one. With Titegroup it's very hard to even visually see a double and even a triple will fit in the case.

The incident ruined the pleasure of shooting for a long time but I now consider it a wake up call to how serious reloading is.

I am not implying that you screwed up the same way I did just sharing an experience. Glad your OK and hope your enthusiasm for the hobby returns.

Dog
 

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Difranco,

First, I'm glad that you're okay.

I understand your reticence about reloading and shooting after your experience. I had something similar happen a couple of months ago, but my problem was in the opposite direction: I managed to load part of a box of 9mms without a powder charge. I've been leery of my own reloads ever since; in fact, this past Sunday was the first time I've reloaded since then. And you've never seen anybody be more of an over-cautious, nervous Nelly at the reloading bench than I was that day.

When it happened, my first thought was that it was something other than me: a bad batch of primers, maybe, or an oversized bullet. But after looking at all the evidence, I had to face the fact that I had screwed up. I'd gotten distracted during a loading session, missed a critical safety step (visually inspecting each and every powder charge), and paid the price.

Oh yeah, did I mention I discovered I'd loaded squibs during the second leg of my first-ever practical shooting match? Talk about embarassment.

I know it's hard to accept, but it sounds for all the world as though a couple of your rounds were double-charged.

One thing to check is the bulk of the powder charges you were using. How well do those charges of that powder fill up that nice, fat .45 case? If they're small enough, it might be possible to miss a double-charge with your Mark 1, Mod 0 eyeball and to seat a bullet over it without any problems.

For pistol rounds, I make a point of picking powders that will fill the case pretty close to where the base of the bullet will be when it's seated. I theorize (haven't proved it empirically) that this gives me more consistent ignition and thus better accuracy, but it also means that a double-charge would either fill the case to the mouth or, more likely, overflow it.

Unfortunately, this is easier to do with 9mm and .357 than it is with .45 ACP.

The one thing I notice about your case-charging method is that it keeps you from making a visual inspection of the charges in multiple cases at once. Inspecting all the charges in a loading block at one time makes it easier to spot a double-charge of a light charge of fast-burning powder--"Hmmm, that one's a little higher than the others...."

Mind you, I'm not saying that this is definitely what happened. However, it's something to which you might want to give some thought.

Keep shootin'!
 

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Am I correct that a too-light load (as opposed to a too-heavy load) may create a flash-over effect that results in overpressure and a possible kaboom? I'm just throwing this out as one other possibility.
 

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The too light of load is a theory kicked around for several years. No one has been able to reproduce this in a lab enviroment, atleast no one I know. Kind of like cold fusion. Someone said they did it but not proof. Paul
 

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I'd try using a slower powder. Even AA#5 takes 8+ grains in .45ACP for 230gr. bullets. In the event of setback, using a fast powder with a heavy bullet will result in problems like you're experiencing.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I could accept that I made a mistake on the first one. But on the second one I know I scaled the powder charge for that round (i only did a few cartridges that day). Possibly bullet set back I suppose, but I do use a taper crimp.


What about too tight of a crimp?

As far as mixed powders go, it's the same kind through and through.
 

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Bullet set back can raise the pressures. I don't think it would be enough to cause this trouble. Are you usinga single stage press or progressive? Depends on what you call fast burning. I know people who use 5.5 gr of Bullseye (one of the fastest) with 255 gr swc in the 45 ACP. No problems. The velocities your bullets were running are slow, at the load above they are going about 900fps.

Did the weather change drastically when you were out? Some powders are really affected by temp changes.

Paul
 

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Crimping is not for preventing bullet set-back, case neck tension is. Unless the bullet has a cannelure crimp won't be holding it in.
 

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as a matter of fact if you crimp too much you will loosen the bullet not tighten it...

load a dummy round with out crimping it and see if the bullet pushes in the case with moderate pressure.

if it does you need to size your neck sizing die till it doesn't move....

sno
 
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