09 July 2012

Range report - squib edition

It was hot today, but I hate the feeling of "It's too hot to go outside and do anything".  So I announced I was heading to the range.  The SCQueen opted to come along while the SCSon opted to stay home.   I think she was looking for the excuse to drive her new car ;-)

BTW, the official SandCastle Weather station reports 111.6F today.  I note while our temps significantly top our Illini friends, the humidity makes a huge difference.  While they "only" hit 105, I would venture our 111.6 was more comfortable.  It's a dry heat and it makes a world of difference.  But when the wet air moves in and we have night time lows of 105 with 85% humidity... yea.  Welcome to the Sonoran Desert.

So we shot a bit of this and a bit of that.  I brought out the .44 as I still need the practice.  The first cylinder landed better than expected.  I had a problem with the lead bullets pulling significantly left.  The theory suggested perhaps the bullets were torquing the gun as it engaged the rifling, more so than the brass bullets.

We shot a bit more of this and that  Then I went back to the .44.  The bullets were a little stiff going into the chambers.  I'm thinking, "this needs a good cleaning now".  Pulled the trigger on the first chamber to a "click".  Then I couldn't advance the cylinder and couldn't pop out the cylinder.  Just then they called "one-minute warning".    I fussed with it until the RO came around and 'fessed up.  He suggested a solution for the duration of the cease fire.  We tidied up the cease fire period and vacated afterwards.

Heading out, I'm weighing my options.  A).  get it into the garage where I can get a close look at it.  (I was thinking the problem was the next round was not fully seated into the chamber.  Recall the chambers felt stiff when loading.  B)  Take it to a gunsmith.  Probably only cost a couple bucks.

There is a gunsmith on site so figuring $20 here is cheap compared to what trouble I could get into in the garage on a many-C-note gun, not to mention the unwanted attention should it go "bang" while trying to clear it at home, even if it landed safely into a sand trap.  Suddenly the saw-buck seemed cheap.  We stopped at the 'smith shack.  I'd give'em some linky love as they have a reputation for good work but he muzzled both of us with the loaded firearm.  

He quickly diagnosed the round stuck in the forcing cone as the result of the squib load.  Ok, my bad.  He cleared the squib in about 10 seconds.  And we know exactly who to blame for that (I see him in the mirror every morning.)  The 'smith also wouldn't take any money for clearing the jam.  He also allowed he'd let me point the gun at him.  I declined reasoning two wrongs don't make a right.

Still they have a reputation for accurizing firearms.  I've always meant to talk to them about a trigger job on my 10/.22.  The "6 month delay" has always put me off.  Today he tells me 1 month.  Hmmmm...  "that's doable"

For the record, today marks squib #3 in my reloading history.  First was a 9mm.  Fortunately it jammed the gun and it wouldn't chamber any more rounds.  2nd was a .300 Win Mag.  The bullet did not even leave the brass.  Today was a .44 Magnum.  It didn't make it through the forcing cone and jammed the weapon.   3 failures in ~10000 rounds.  Even though each of these  "failed safe", I am not satisfied with this rate.  Reloading isn't rocket science, but I need to improve my loading procedures.

This .44 run was problematic.  I recall loading and disassembling the batch at least twice.  First time, the powder measure wasn't firmly attached to the head.  fearing uneven powder throws, I pulled the whole batch apart.  Forget the 2nd issue, but pulled the whole batch (and may have earned a greenstick fracture for my efforts).  I thought the third time was a charm.

Still it was a nice afternoon "date" with the SCQueen.  Thanks for coming hon!

PS... I had to look up Ofay as well.


Old NFO said...

Ouch, muzzled you with a LOADED gun??? WTF??? Glad it was an easy fix, and sounds like a little more attention to detail is required in the set up! But you recognize it, and are actively pursuing it!!!

CapitalistPig said...

I hope Mar had the cylinder swung out during the pointing. Are you using a powder check?

CapitalistPig said...

Mar-something was supposed to be redacted. Whoops!

danno said...

Ayup... Muzzled by the 'smith. Shocked me too. I was careful to keep it pointed in a safe direction, even brought it into the shop in a sock. But the Gunnie seemed oblivious. In hindsight, the jammed weapon wasn't about to harm anyone. Still the heat of the moment it was a bad thing to do and it makes me think less of the 'smith.

The press is a Dillon 550B. No powder check. Bought it from a friend that upgraded to the -650 with the powder check. But that brings it's own problems. It's not a cure all.

I think my "reloading problem" has mostly to do with interruptions. For some reason the SC crew seems compelled to see what I am doing 'round middling of a reloading run. Perhaps I need to hang a sign or duct tape the door shut. The other likely source is "reloading anomalies". That is something goes awry in the process and the recovery isn't correct.

Note one failure I have not had is a double charge. That's because I choose a powder which mostly fills the cartridge. Then any time a double feed occurs, it's obvious because the brass overflows and makes a mess. But the powder mess is less of a mess than a blown up gun. For example, I use ~7 gr AA#7 because it mostly fills the cavity. Others like W231 as a pistol powder because it only requires 3.5-4 grains for 9mm and thus goes twice as far. Powder is the cheapest part of the round, only a penny or two. So running a powder that's only goes half as far is cheap insurance against a double load. Anyway, that's how the math works for me. YMMV

Gotta lock down the interruptions and load anomalies!

David aka True Blue Sam said...

I had the same windage shift when using plink rounds in my .44 Redhawk; couple of click-worth's. I thought maybe it was me, but I think it will require some research this fall when the weather is cooler.

On a Wing and a Whim said...

Help a girl new to reloading out, please: what is a squib load?

I know double-charged, and I know when I've thrown too little, and when I've wrinkled the brass - what else can (and does) go wrong? And why did it get stuck?

danno said...

W&W -

Always happy to help a new reloader.

A squib load is a load with no powder. Just a primer and bullet. So there was just enough explosive force to propel the bulled out of the case but it stuck in the rifling.

In this case, it stuck between the cylinder and forcing cone, locking the whole thing up.