'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

24 September 2010

The Powder Measure Is My Friend

This made the rounds in 2004 but many may not have seen it and Sarge reminded me that reloading safety needs to be trotted out and dusted off from time to time.

I think this is probably the actual introduction of this thread (But I may be wrong. Anyone else have it earlier?). It seems that the general consensus is a double load of something hot, like Bullseye (Alliant). I once shot what I later figured to be a compacted load of IMR 4227 in my Redhawk with no serious consequences (except to my BVD's and my poor hand) but I believe Bullseye and some others may be a bit hotter.

In my humble opinion this shouldn't have happened with a double charge. The gun is a S&W 629 and it's a pretty robust design. More likely is a squib folowed by a full charge round. It seems likely that the shooter was a novice or even a rookie reloader. Hot loads and squibs are the banes of newbie loaders everywhere.

Regardless, it is a lesson for all of us. Pay attention when you're loading and on the line. If the bang doesn't sound right..STOP..keep the firearm pointed downrange for a minute or so, then make the firearm safe and run a rod down the bore.

Work up to those hot loads. If you just gotta, determine max load incrementally in a couple of bench and range sessions and then back off your hottest load by 10 percent as a safety factor. Frankly, I have never seen the need to go past the hottest listed loads in my reloading manual and then only rarely. I have never flattened a primer (compacted load notwithstanding) and I don't intend to. Max pressure loads put a lot of needless stress on your gun and they wear out brass at an advanced rate. Brass is expensive and I'm cheap.

Pay attention at the reloading bench. Read your manual and follow it exactly. Seat primers fully (and carefully) and pay particular attention to powder charges. Use the appropriate powder and charge for the gun and cartridge. Don't overseat or over crimp bullets. A bullet seated or crimped too deeply can cause pressures to skyrocket regardless of the powder load. It's easy to make mistakes here and they can have terrible consequences.

I've been reloading for a while but I know some of you out there are probably more knowledgable than I so if you have some more tips (or if I screwed something up) drop them in comments and if necessary I'll add them as an addendum to this post.

Happy shooting.



Ed Rasimus said...

I've seen these photos before and they are always impressive reminders of what is happening in your fist when you touch off the hand cannon. I did some digging last time I encountered them and there was some question about the cause with most discounting a simple double charge. A lot of opinions were that the cause factor was a broken pawl or indexing problem which allowed the gun to fire without barrel alignment. Regardless, safe gun handling requires continual awareness.

Six said...

Yeah, I've shot what amounts to a double charge in a handgun before without a catastrophic failure so I agree Ed. Indexing would handily explain this.