.45 acp cartridge failure

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.45 acp cartridge failure

Post by humlocker on Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:11 pm

During a 2700 match April 12th. A friend of mine had a cartridge failure, attached is a picture of the cartridge. It blew the grips off of the gun and severely blackened the shooters hand. No damage to the hand. The follower was blown down into the body of the magazine. The shooter received a slight cut from powder or debris on his cheek just below his shooting glasses. At the time we all assumed it was a double loaded cartridge. The shooter is using a Dillon Square Deal loader which has auto indexing and in 25 years has never had a double loaded case. The pistol was a Colt series 70. Subsequent metallurgy tests showed no damage to the gun. The slide had to be beat open.

On April 22 during our local practice the same thing happened to the same shooter with a different pistol, a Springfield 1911. Again it blew the grips off the gun and blackened the shooters hand. A little more damage to the shooters face, being struck with powder or debris in the scab that had formed from the prior incident with several dots of tattooing scattered below it. This was the first cartridge in the magazine. The cartridge below it had the bullet severely dented from the nose to the shoulder and pushed back into the case. That bullet's case had a piece of brass from the failed case imbedded in it. We could not get the slide open at the range.

The shooter is using cast 200 grain semi-wadcutter bullets with with 3.9 grains of Clays powder. I did not ask what primer he was using. All of the remainder of the ammunition in his box were all the same overall length and appeared correct. They were tapered crimped and I could not measure their diameter at the range. He was using Federal brass that has been reloaded innumerable times, but not range pick-ups. What was left in the box was freshly polished and appeared in good shape.

The shooter is not now convinced he is double charging. He says he checks what weight the powder measuring is throwing before he begins reloading each time.

Anyone have any experience with this? Any ideas? Would 8 grains of Clays do this with that weight bullet?
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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by JIMPGOV on Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:49 pm

I HAVE SEEN SIMILAR BLOWOUTS. EACH TIME IT WAS A BARREL THAT WAS OVER RAMPED. HAS THERE BEEN RECENT WORK ON THE GUN? JP

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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by humlocker on Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:11 pm

No recent work and two different guns.

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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by Virgil Kane on Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:14 pm

JIMPGOV wrote:I HAVE SEEN SIMILAR BLOWOUTS. EACH TIME IT WAS A BARREL THAT WAS OVER RAMPED. HAS THERE BEEN RECENT WORK ON THE GUN? JP


This or previuosly shot in a Glock  that has an unsupported chamber.

Maybe not range pick-ups but did he buy once fired Federal brass?


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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by humlocker on Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:34 pm

It is all brass from ammunition that he fired originally. How can you tell it was fired in a Glock, Virgil? It let go right where the 1911 chamber does not support the case. I haven't been able to photograph the second case yet. I will post it when I can.

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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by DavidR on Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:50 pm

Yes 8 gns of most any powder shot in bullseye will do exactly that !!! Also its not his powder measure at fault, he stopped, started or had a mistake he corrected or something else, operator error caused this! That was a double charge pure and simple, regardless of what the person that loaded it thinks. I have done two in my time, same scenario, bullets get crammed down in mag, case blows out on the lower side and wood grips shatter. The best way to stop it is to use a rcbs lock out die, it will stop the press with a low charge or a over charge. If you cant use the die then the best insurance is to be very diligent in your loading and as a precaution only use mags with removable bottoms and install the thin SS grip panels that go on before your grip sold by CMM machine. If it happens the energy is all going down and blows the bottom off the mag, the SS panels saves your hand from injury.

I keep this as a reminder why I bought two lock out dies,



Last edited by DavidR on Wed Apr 23, 2014 2:10 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by LongSlide on Wed Apr 23, 2014 2:02 pm

It really looks like a double charge.

Consider:
* all brass is of known provenance -- no glock brass.
* Hodgdon data shows 4.3gn max charge for 200gn LSWC at 17000 CUP.  So a charge of 7.8gn would certainly be way overpressure.
* primer smear is significant and appears to stop abruptly (slide never retracted far enough).
* Looks like blow-by around the perimeter of the primer itself, indicates excessive pressure.

Tell him to look in each case _before_ putting a bullet on top.  And to use proper lighting to see the powder level.


Last edited by LongSlide on Wed Apr 23, 2014 2:03 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : clarity)

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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by Dr.Don on Wed Apr 23, 2014 2:07 pm

Anything he has already loaded should be disassembled and checked.  I certainly wouldn't want to go for a third try on that lot of reloads.

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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by humlocker on Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:09 pm

DavidR, Thanks for the input. Your photos appear identical. Are RCBS lockout dies proprietary or can they be used on a Dillon? Is there something similar for a Dillon? This has made me very leery just from a witness standpoint. I have a light behind my 550B situated so that I can see inside the case as I place a bullet on it. CMM Machine is that the same company that makes the brass catchers? I have always checked the powder measure throw when I refresh the primer tube, but I have never weight loaded ammunition unless I suspected  I had done something wrong. Those were always squib loads fortunately. Where would I find .45 acp mags like you described?

LongSlide you are right. Both pistols hammers were at what appeared half-cock after the incident. The slide would move to that point and lockup.

I have never used Clays and did not know it was similar to Unique in pressure curve. I have noticed some of his brass has been reloaded many, many times with newer brass mixed in. If 4.3 grains is that hot and most certainly at using 3.9 grains as a customary load some of his ammunition had to have 4.0 grains in it.

With an older, weakened case and perhaps the powder measure not dispensing all the powder at one stroke and then letting go later overfilling that next case. I believed, he believed he is being careful. However, human error, double charge is by far the most plausible. I was just astounded that it happened twice so close together. Again thanks folks

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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by pergoman on Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:36 pm

It is ABSOLUTELY possible to double charge on a Dillon Square Deal press. There is no mechanism to stop the powder measure from dumping a second, third, fourth, charge every time the press is run through the top of the cycle. Short cycling will get double charges. Hell, I do it on purpose when I am adjusting my powder measure. I do 10 throws of powder and weigh the pile in a pan. I dump 5 double charges into the scale pan. A Dillon 650 has a safety mechanism that will not allow a second charge until the station has advanced. SDB is not so designed. I have a SDB and 650. The SDB is only used for 38 loads which are shot in guns capable of handling 357 loads.
Clays is not a forgiving powder in the 45. Loads are 3.9-4.2 grains min to max. Holy hell, how about a little room for error? If I am using Clays I load 3.8 under a 200 gn H&G #130 on my 650 and chrono my loads going faster than max loads listed in the new Lyman cast bullet handbook. I crimp to .469 to fit tight chambers so that might be helping the velocity as the pressure builds. The SD(standard deviation) is terrible compared to Bullseye but Clays is a lot cleaner.

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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by james r chapman on Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:42 pm

You can find published clays loads from a much larger spread than that.

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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by 243winxb on Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:07 am

Bullet setback or double charge of powder?    Photos

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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by GrumpyOldMan on Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:35 am

Although Occam's Razor points to short-stroking before the index operation but after two charges were dumped (I'm no longer that familiar the SDB), the fact it's a case wall failure over the feed ramp cutout makes me ask about the possibility of ammonia embrittlement.


Brasso in the tumbler? I do not know how small of a "dose" of ammonia can produce the bad effects, but case walls are a lot thinner than SCUBA and other pressure tank fittings. Never been around anything brass that blew from that, but I've read firsthand accounts and technical writings that show the weakening can be huge.

If not Brasso in the bucket, any other possible exposures? Ammonia IS a gas at our temps and pressures, so getting dunked in a wet solution of the stuff s not the only way for brass to get attacked.

BTW, that hole looks pretty big to me. Those nasty Glocks in .40 with "unsupported chambers" show a side blowout area less than .10 inch, about 2mm, front to back in the widest part of the crescent. What I see there looks a LOT bigger, so I also wonder if things are made worse by a generous ramp from not-so-recent work on both pistols.

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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by Jon Eulette on Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:16 am

Looking at the photo I'm of the opinion that the chamber has been over ramped. The case is not getting enough support. That's a large chunk of case blown out. Powder charge is another issue that I will not get into Smile
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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by DavidR on Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:37 am

Jon Eulette wrote:Looking at the photo I'm of the opinion that the chamber has been over ramped. The case is not getting enough support. That's a large chunk of case blown out. Powder charge is another issue that I will not get into Smile
Jon

My chamber was not over ramped, ive seen many double charges and the things that happen are always the same as is the look of the shell. If the gun was at fault this should happen again and again would it not??














 "Are RCBS lockout dies proprietary or can they be used on a Dillon? Is there something similar for a Dillon?"



No they can be used on any press that has enough stations to use one, I have them on my Dillon 1050 and on my hornady LNL, Dillon makes a buzzer check system, rcbs also makes a powder cop die, useless imo because you have to watch it every throw, you can still get a squib or double if you look away. the lock out die, stops the press cold if a over or under charge is present.

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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by Dr.Don on Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:24 pm

It appears he blew up 2 different guns in 10 days time using the same(?) ammo.  Has to be an ammo problem, and I would bet on overcharge.

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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by CFPlinker on Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:38 pm

There is a frame on the loading room wall that has a round of brass with a second opening almost as large as the one in the original post along with a pair of grip panels that are split in two, the parts of a magazine that no longer fits in the magazine well, and 4 more rounds two of which have the bullets pushed quite a bit deeper in the case than normal. They are from my one and only overpressure excursion. It was most likely a double charge although with over 30 loadings on that batch of brass it could have been a weakened case. 

There were over 350 round left unfired in that batch of ammo. They were all pulled down immediately and the components salvaged. The brass was retired with honor prior to being smashed so it couldn't be used again and new brass purchased. 

I then looked critically at my loading setup and procedures and improved the lighting so that it lets me look all the way into the bottom of each case at both station 2 and station 3 on the 550B. 

Other than the grips being split there was no damage to the gun. It did take a while before I was ready to start loading again. Now I have a reminder of what can happen of I get distracted or lose concentration. If either of those happens, I stop, remove every cartridge in the shell plate, disassemble any that have seated and crimped bullets, take a break, then come back and resume loading. I have put over 1500 rounds through that gun since then so I have confidence in it.

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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by Rob Kovach on Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:42 pm

I've got brass that I've fired until it splits from mouth to just above the rim.

I don't believe blowouts like this have anything to do with how old the brass is or how many times it's been shot.

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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by james r chapman on Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:53 pm

I remember shooting HP rifle. We used to run a scribe down the inside of the .308 brass feeling for that ridge line at the pressure ring above the extractor groove. with enough firings you'd feel the undercut and knew it was time to toss it...

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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by DavidR on Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:57 pm

IMO you will never blow a case like that with any normal charge used in bullseye shooting.

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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by james r chapman on Thu Apr 24, 2014 8:00 pm

Absolutely right. But, on overcharge and a weakwalled case...

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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by GrumpyOldMan on Fri Apr 25, 2014 2:45 am

DavidR wrote:
Jon Eulette wrote:Looking at the photo I'm of the opinion that the chamber has been over ramped. The case is not getting enough support. That's a large chunk of case blown out. Powder charge is another issue that I will not get into Smile
Jon

My chamber was not over ramped, ive seen many double charges and the things that happen are always the same as is the look of the shell. If the gun was at fault this should happen again and again would it not??

A direct perpendicular photo from the side might help clear up some of this perception. I'm not not positive about it, though what I see *appears* to extend MUCH farther forward from the extractor groove than I remember seeing the ramp go in any standard barrel.

Despite the overcharge theory having the most "traction" not only among our GroupThink but in my own mind, what I know about metals makes me believe that your logic is faulty. I think that we have known a lot more about repetitive stress in materials science/failure analysis for a lot longer time than we do now about repetitive stress bodily injuries like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Maybe not the best comparison. The point is that you have TWO variables at play--case wall durability AND surface area of unsupported case. Brass ain't gonna flow through a visible-only "loaded chamber indicator" which is a notch cut in the back of the barrel hood because of several reasons including the strength of the web and the small size of the cut. But if you extend that cut in the chamber wall all the way forward to the case mouth, the thinnest portion of the brass WILL flow into that unsupported area at some pressure level far below what it takes to crack or breach a normal quality barrel's chamber area.

But any metal strong enough to withstand a specific quantum of shear stress for unlimited repetitions WILL still be weakened by repeated shear stresses that are strong enough. Not enough to cause failure on the first exposure, but on the second, third, or fiftieth. Otherwise, we would never be able to break ANYTHING metal with repeated hammering. We can and we do and I've done it.

So I propose that quality cases under the right balance of "not too much" pressure and "not too many cycles" will be able to withstand a "gun problem" until the wrong balance of repeated stresses overcomes the capabilities of the brass.













 "Are RCBS lockout dies proprietary or can they be used on a Dillon? Is there something similar for a Dillon?"



No they can be used on any press that has enough stations to use one, I have them on my Dillon 1050 and on my hornady LNL, Dillon makes a buzzer check system, rcbs also makes a powder cop die, useless imo because you have to watch it every throw, you can still get a squib or double if you look away. the lock out die, stops the press cold if a over or under charge is present.

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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by Jon Eulette on Fri Apr 25, 2014 10:15 am

What is the dimension of the case from the base of the case to the furthest blown out portion?

Thanks

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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by DavidR on Fri Apr 25, 2014 11:09 am

Case is a federal, from base to far side of blowout is .2670, another point as to it being a double charge is the primer is raised and firing pin hit is blown back out. Same as the case in the OP's picture. Plus since installing the lock out dies ive shot thousand's of rounds with no further incidents.

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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

Post by GrumpyOldMan on Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:23 pm

WHY doesn't the front of the blown out section appear as a crescent that vanishes down to zero at either end?

I see the primer cratering, but the radius of the primer looks like less than .357 Mag pressures (unreliable "pressure sign", I know!). Of course, the case/barrel/ramp system is designed for um, max of 21,000 PSI?  Add a 50% safety margin and it can get dicey with an overcharge yielding "only" moderate to near-max 9mm Para pressures.

Anyone want to give me a grant to study Brasso effects on .45 ACP brass? Could be a lot of fun to expose 50 at a time to increasing levels/times until 10% blow with a reference load... Or 50%.

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Re: .45 acp cartridge failure

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