Author Topic: Learn from my mistakes! Epic Squib Load.  (Read 3160 times)

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Learn from my mistakes! Epic Squib Load.
« on: February 03, 2013, 05:32:08 PM »
The setting:
My wife recently bought a Ruger LCR.  I had 2 boxes of defensive ammo in .38+p, but only a dozen rounds of my standby .38spl plinking ammo.  She wasn't really enjoying the +p after a couple cylinders and wanted more easy rounds to practice.  What I did have was a brand new batch of hand cast bullets with an experimental lube I'd not tried before.  I tested out a few rounds of "beta" ammo in my GP100, and it seemed reasonable.

The problem
We load up the LCR with the hand cast beta lubes:  bang, bang, bang, STUCK CYLINDER.

This was a  squib load, where the bullet left the case, but stopped mid way between the cylinder throat and the forcing cone.  If it had gotten all the way into the barrel, I could have swung open the cylinder, which is more typical.

The cause
This was a combination of problems:
1) too little crimp for the recoil of the snubbie revolver
2) my homemade lube was TOO oily, and it saturated the powder, reducing the ignition

How I know the cause
1) an unfired round in the next chamber jumped the crimp about 1/8"
2) when I later pulled the bullets, some of the powder came out it sticky clumps (think kitty litter)

How I cleared the failure
A locked up cylinder has to be the worst failure, as there's almost nothing to be done in the field, unless you carry a brass dowel and mallet
On my way home from the range, I stopped by a gunshop.  The owner was intrigued, and felt I had enough of a clue he would help me out.
He ended up using a steel punch (which scared the crap out of me), as the wood dowel kept cracking.  Eventually we tapped the lead bullet back into the brass case, and the cylinder swung open.

THIS COULD HAVE GONE MUCH WORSE.

If the bullet had traveled just 1/4" further, it would have cleared the cylinder and I might have fired into the obstructed barrel.  I have to assume a polymer frame would have KABOOMED in this scenario.

I had been hand loading for 2+ years and never had a squib, as I'm paranoid about safe charging amounts.  This however was not a problem with the charge size, but a contamination of the powder from wet bullet lube.

As ammo levels are unpredictable, a lot of new folks are diving into reloading.  Whenever you are trying something radically new (cast bullets, different powder, etc.) always proceed with caution.  I was showing off, trying to impress my wife and it almost ended in disaster.

"An intelligent man learns from his mistakes,  A wise man learns from the mistakes of others."

Be wise.

Offline ag2

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Re: Learn from my mistakes! Epic Squib Load.
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2013, 05:43:16 PM »
Nice summary.  Thanks for sharing.

Question.  I don't know anything about lubing/casting.  Do you (or should you) give the bullet lube time to cure and dry in order to prevent powder contamination?  I don't know why lube is made from.

I had a squib experience in my glock when I was a newbie.  It prevented the next round from chambering properly so it saved my bacon and glock.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Learn from my mistakes! Epic Squib Load.
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2013, 05:56:01 PM »
In my case I had tumble lube boolits.  The typical thing is to squirt some Lee liquid Alox into a bucket of your bullets, swirl around for a few minutes and let dry over night.

I had bought a jug of concentrated alox (X-lock) brand, which you must dilute with mineral spirits.  I cut it WAY too thin, and should have known when it was slippery to the touch 2 days later.

For sizing/lube presses, I'm not certain how long you need to rest your bullets afterwards.

Offline NWPilgrim

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Re: Learn from my mistakes! Epic Squib Load.
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2013, 07:12:58 PM »
Excellent write up Smurf!  Thanks for passing on a lesson learned.  I am planning to start collecting lead and get casting equipment so this is a good heads up for me as I may not have thought of that either.

Offline res45

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Re: Learn from my mistakes! Epic Squib Load.
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2013, 08:11:25 PM »
smurf hunter,I've tumble lubed lots of bullet using the Alox/Xlox same stuff different bottle over the years Alox is Lee's propitiatory  name for Xlox.  You don't need to thin it much about 1 oz. MS to the 4 oz. bottle of lube is plenty. 

If you warm the lube in a cup of hot water for several minutes and shake it well before using it's easier to apply,plus if you warm the bullets in the sun or on a piece of foil on a heating pad before applying the lube it will coat the bullet much more evenly.  I usually only apply about 10 to 15 drops per 100 158 gr. bullets.   Two light coats is better than one big one all you need is a light golden sheen on your bullets.   I also leave my bullets in a pile and don't spread them out and just let them dry for at least 24 hours between coats. 

As far as the crimp goes use a good roll crimp on your cast loads.  Not only does it help keep the bullet in place under recoil,it helps with complete ignition of the small amount of powder. 

For bullets lubed in the lubsizer there is not wait time,most of the lubes that require a heater on the lubsizer just warm the lube up enough so it flows into the lube grooves evenly.  After a few minutes the lube is back to it's original unheated state and your ready to load.  Not all lubes are hard to begin with they stay soft and are designed that way for easy of use.

This is about the amount of crimp you should see on a full house 357 mag. cast load,it may vary depending on the type crimp groove your bullet has but it still needs to be firm.

« Last Edit: February 03, 2013, 08:25:04 PM by res45 »

Offline backwoods_engineer

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Re: Learn from my mistakes! Epic Squib Load.
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2013, 09:30:08 AM »
Mix Alox with a little beeswax to help it spread better.