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Old 07-05-2018, 01:46 PM
Riggins_Shooter Riggins_Shooter is offline
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Unhappy Problem with squibs and W231

Loaded up 38 special rounds using 158 gr metal jacketed bullets, 4 grs W231 and CCI primers using my Dillon reloader. Reloaded thousands of rounds using reloader without any previous problems. This batch of amount was a bust with bullets hitting the ground 12 yards out and ending up with bullets stuck in barrel. We were lucky the gun didn't blow up. Dissassembly of rounds showed powder loads were on average within the recipe range 1 in 20 sampled had no powder which is exceedingly high in my mind. Powder color appeared fine when compared to powder fresh from container. Any ideas on what would cause a run of problems like this?
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Old 07-05-2018, 02:18 PM
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No powder? Problem with your powder dispenser. Hodgdon says 3.8-4.3 for that weight bullet, so the amount should be fine. I would suggest physically inspecting powder levels before seating bullets with any style press. Otherwise, things like this happen.

231 feeds so consistently through my powder dropper I almost never need to make any adjustment once a desired drop is set. I use 4.1 grains in my 9mm loads, and they are plenty hot enough to ensure semiauto function without concern about a squib.

Last edited by SMSgt; 07-05-2018 at 02:20 PM.
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Old 07-05-2018, 02:29 PM
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Mic the bullets against your bore. When you say "metal jacketed bullets" are we talking copper jacketed or plated ?

Check powder against a known or new container.

I can't think of any other reason that many failures would get the results you ended up with.
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Old 07-05-2018, 02:31 PM
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I've always had good luck with W231 in my Dillon 550, very consistent loads. Have no idea how many tens of thousands of rounds I've loaded.

Last edited by old&slow; 07-05-2018 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 07-05-2018, 02:37 PM
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Well it is NOT the powder but your reloading process. No powder is you or your equip.
I wouldn't shoot jacketed bullets at that low a vel, stuck bullets can happen as you noted, depending on factors like bore size, bbl length & exact powder charges. If you want to run jacketed, run them hotter. Verify each powder charge. If you want to run really light loads, switch to coated lead. They are easier to push down the bore.
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Old 07-05-2018, 03:14 PM
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I think any powder measure is susceptible to static electricity. I have trouble with my Harrell’s and Titegroup. Rub every thing down with a dryer sheet, which seems to help.
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Old 07-05-2018, 03:35 PM
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If you can, measure the length of the case(s) with "no powder" -- are they on the short side? Also, check your powder drop/expander adjustment. A combination of short case or short stroke and marginal drop tube adjustment depth can result in the powder bar not moving far enough to pick up the powder charge. Had this happen loading .357s when a 38 special case got mixed in. As mentioned above, it's wise to look in "charged" case before seating the bullet -- I use a DeWalt snake light.

Paul

FWIW,

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Old 07-05-2018, 04:38 PM
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You have two problems.

1) Your powder measure did not meter correctly for some reason not possible for us to identify.

2) The machine operator did not eyeball the powder level in each case (or use a powder cop) before putting a bullet on for seating. Yes, you need to do that on a progressive press too - now you see why.

W231/HP38 is known as a powder that meters very well.
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Old 07-05-2018, 05:14 PM
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Ok, I have the same problem with 231 and my 550 when loading 38's. I have to check EVERY case to make sure there is powder in it. Never found one that didn't have powder when I check them. I thought the powder was bridging in the drop tube but when I pay attention to every case it just wasn't happening. What I suspect happens is that I miss loading powder when something breaks my routine. Any break in my routine now I completely start over. I do this for every caliber now even though I never had a problem with any other round. Have no idea why it only happens on 38's but it did. A gremlin I'm sure.
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Old 07-05-2018, 06:41 PM
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Quote:
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Ok, I have the same problem with 231 and my 550 when loading 38's. I have to check EVERY case to make sure there is powder in it. Never found one that didn't have powder when I check them. I thought the powder was bridging in the drop tube but when I pay attention to every case it just wasn't happening. What I suspect happens is that I miss loading powder when something breaks my routine. Any break in my routine now I completely start over. I do this for every caliber now even though I never had a problem with any other round. Have no idea why it only happens on 38's but it did. A gremlin I'm sure.
Every guy that ever had a squib or a KB swears the powder charge was correct. It is almost impossible for W231 to bridge, it is spherical, feeds thru any measure.
We can only assume it was a 550, since te OP didn't offer that info. Very easy to not charge or dbl on a 550. You really have to be diligent with any loading system, even something automatic, you have to keep up with the powder charge, each & every time. If you can NOT see it, then you need a lock-out or cop die.
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Old 07-05-2018, 07:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SMSgt;140090286 [COLOR="Red"
No powder? Problem with your powder dispenser. [/COLOR]Hodgdon says 3.8-4.3 for that weight bullet, so the amount should be fine. I would suggest physically inspecting powder levels before seating bullets with any style press. Otherwise, things like this happen.

231 feeds so consistently through my powder dropper I almost never need to make any adjustment once a desired drop is set. I use 4.1 grains in my 9mm loads, and they are plenty hot enough to ensure semiauto function without concern about a squib.
There's the answer ^^ One out of 20? Waaaaaay too many! With the bullets "hitting the ground 12 yards out" and "bullets stuck in barrel", the problem is obviously your powder charging equipment and/or methods. Some are too lightly charged and some are not charged at all. Review your charging method and check on a "powdr checker" and/or looking in each case before bullet seating...

Last edited by mikld; 07-05-2018 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 07-05-2018, 08:07 PM
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I will use mouse phart loads in my 38 and 9mm at bare minimum
manual data but, I also use a single stage and a loading tray.

With a jacket and a light load of any fast powder, I NEVER use
a starting load....
and usually add .3 grs to the lowest load, just because the bullet
has a copper jacket on it !

No problem with lead but copper takes more powder to get it to clear the barrel.
I never had a jacket bullet shoot well at bare bone fps, any way.
Try 4.3 grs of w231 with a light crimp and see what happens.

It might be time to clean that loader............... ?
or at least make sure it is in proper working order.
Way too many errors in that amount of shells loaded.
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Old 07-05-2018, 08:37 PM
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I had a similar problem with a MEC progressive shotshell loader. Turns out a spider and its’ web in the drop tube was interrupting the powder flow. Check your measure for obstructions.
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Old 07-05-2018, 09:11 PM
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Pay closer attention to the powder filled cases before dropping the bullets next time your reloading and if it happens again figure out where the process screwed up. Like others have said there are numerous options.

I've had Trail Boss and IMR Target get jammed inside the powder dispenser on my Hornady LNL. It starts dropping light loads, and then half loads, and then nothing.

Light handgun loads aren't going to blow the gun up unless you shoot another round into the stuck bulket and then it's probably only going to buldge the barrel
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Old 07-05-2018, 10:50 PM
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Every squib I've seen in .38 Spec. has been due to bullet tension in the case. The primer itself going off starts the bullet moving before complete ignition of the powder creating a much larger volume for the powder to build up pressure. Make sure your sizing die is sizing your brass to hold the bullet tight. You shouldn't be able to push the bullet in farther with your thumb or by pushing the bullet against your bench. The 38 case with a small charge of powder already has a large interior case space. I prefer a bulkier powder for 38 Special too. The small charge of a fine grained powder and the powder could be up front behind the bullet, all back next to the case head, or lying in the bottom of the case from front to back. The 38 Special is the squibiest caliber you'll find in reloading. Some .38 cases are thin and sizing dies won't size enough for tight bullet tension. I doubt it's your powder charging unless you did not charge a case. A good roll crimp helps but will not help if the bullet isn't tight to start with.

Last edited by rg1; 07-05-2018 at 11:00 PM.
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Old 07-06-2018, 01:32 AM
geddylee10002000 geddylee10002000 is offline
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You shoot whatever combo you want. Sounds to me it's equipment failure. I assume from previous posts it's a 550. Had a similar experience a long time ago. Double check all the advice mentioned previously. My fix....

Made my own (I'm cheap) I used a bigger mechanics mirror (2' x 3") with a telescopic handle with a holder that I fashioned myself. Infinitely adjustable. I did buy the mirror (I didn't like it but worked very well once set up). You have to add a extra locking nut and adjust it with every die plate change to secure the mirror.
The Original Powder Mirror

Bought the light from Midway

Skylight LED Lighting Kit for Dillon 550

I can see everything. The key is vigilance.

There are also plans for powder checks with the 550 on Google.

Best of luck.
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Old 07-06-2018, 09:58 AM
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I am often laughed at by my belief that every new handloader should begin with a single-stage press and charging each case manually, one-at-a-time. That's how one learns the basics of reloading safety, and hopefully those basics become well-enough ingrained that as the reloader steps up to more automated versions of the task he will still know to follow the individual steps and the cautions that apply to each stage of the process.

You should ALWAYS do a positive check of the charge, preferably a visual inspection of each round, before seating a bullet. And you should NEVER use minimum charges under a jacketed bullet.
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Old 07-06-2018, 11:17 AM
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Once I had a bunch of squibs with 45 ammo reloaded with W231. Missing charges and low charges. Loaded a batch while watching the charge bar on my Dillon 550 cycle every time. Still had squibs. So I emptied the powder hopper to see if the powder was at fault. Nope. The problem was a moth lodged in the outlet of the hopper partially blocking the powder flow! How it got there haven't got a clue.

Might be the issue.
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Old 07-06-2018, 11:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rg1 View Post
Every squib I've seen in .38 Spec. has been due to bullet tension in the case. The primer itself going off starts the bullet moving before complete ignition of the powder creating a much larger volume for the powder to build up pressure. Make sure your sizing die is sizing your brass to hold the bullet tight. You shouldn't be able to push the bullet in farther with your thumb or by pushing the bullet against your bench. The 38 case with a small charge of powder already has a large interior case space. I prefer a bulkier powder for 38 Special too. The small charge of a fine grained powder and the powder could be up front behind the bullet, all back next to the case head, or lying in the bottom of the case from front to back. The 38 Special is the squibiest caliber you'll find in reloading. Some .38 cases are thin and sizing dies won't size enough for tight bullet tension. I doubt it's your powder charging unless you did not charge a case. A good roll crimp helps but will not help if the bullet isn't tight to start with.
Hmmm. I've read the "primer moving the bullet prior to igniting the powder" theory a couple times but have never experienced it. I've been reloading 38 Special since 1969. I've prolly used every suitable powder, primer, bullet and method in my reloads (from .036" balls to 200 gr. RN). I ran many, many with no crimp at all, just rolled the loaded case on a flat surface to remove the flare. The only squibs were from a lack of powder, and my last one was in 1970. I now look in every case I charge with powder...
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Old 07-06-2018, 01:20 PM
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Have used 231 a long time in .38 special.

In hot weather it can clump. Just check powder carefully when pouring.
Do not let it stand in your powder measure when not in use.

Make sure you clean your powder measure regularly, especially the rotor. If not clean, all the powder may not be dropping into the case but rather sticking in the rotor. This causes light drops.

Check your drop weights at regular intervals.

These are a couple lessons learned over the years. But watch out for those darn bugs too!
Jim
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Old 07-07-2018, 07:40 PM
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OP could help us find the solution if he would have told us which type of Dillon he is loading with;the problem is viewed from a different angle if it is from say a Square Deal rather than a 550.
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Old 07-07-2018, 08:35 PM
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Like others have said, I really doubt the W231 is your problem. I've loaded thousands of rounds with that powder and never had a squib. My guess is a lack of powder or maybe even weak primers but a short powder load sounds like the best answer to me. Primers would have to be really bad to not fire. Always visually inspect for proper powder fill. Good luck with this.
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Old 07-07-2018, 09:02 PM
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You made a mistake in the loading process:
1] Didn't cycle the press handle full down and full up
2] The return rod for the powder measure is incorrectly set or the nut on the rod is moving.
3] The powder bar has to go full forward and bell the case mouth.
4] The powder bar has to go full rear to refill. Do you have return springs on the powder bar? See #2.
5] You advanced the shell plate without cycling the press to resize & seat primer, dump powder & bell case mouth, seat bullet, crimp case. Did you have a case without a bullet, case without a crimp, or unsized / unprimed case?

A properly adjusted Dillon powder measure with W231 powder doesn't fail to dispense powder. Something about the measure was incorrect or your press operation was faulty. I am 100% confident in my Dillon powder measures, but constantly monitor my press operations and initial load set-up.
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Old 07-07-2018, 09:28 PM
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Sounds like the fail-safe return rod was not connected and thus the powder measure was not consistently resetting. This is where it’s wise to use a powder lockout or alarm die.
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Old 07-08-2018, 02:50 PM
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Loading on a Dillon 550, if you disassemble the powder dispenser to clean it, it can be put together Incorrectly. The dispenser bars can be reversed so the actuator arm doesn't engage properly. How do I know? When I got some squib loads testing a new load I investigated and sure enough I had put the bars in incorrectly.
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Old 07-08-2018, 05:43 PM
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Out of curiosity; what were you using for primers? Is it possible you had a faulty batch and were getting erratic ignition? I know this is unlikely but I too have loaded 38s with 231 for many years without a hitch.
Jim
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Old 07-08-2018, 05:52 PM
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I had a Dillon 550 and sold it after two double charges. Both of which I accept responsibility for. Bought a 650 which allowed me to add a powder check in the extra station to watch over me.
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Old 07-08-2018, 07:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RGPM1A View Post
Once I had a bunch of squibs with 45 ammo reloaded with W231. Missing charges and low charges. Loaded a batch while watching the charge bar on my Dillon 550 cycle every time. Still had squibs. So I emptied the powder hopper to see if the powder was at fault. Nope. The problem was a moth lodged in the outlet of the hopper partially blocking the powder flow! How it got there haven't got a clue.



Might be the issue.


How would you not notice that before loading? Iíve been using an RL550b for about ten years. Every loading session (even if Iím just loading more of exactly what I loaded last session) starts with calibrating/verifying the powder charge. I also empty the powder hopper after each session. So to start, I fill the hopper, charge and dump about 10 cases back into the hopper. Then I dispense and weigh 5 charges combined and divide by 5 to get the avg charge weight. If a bug had made its home in the bottom of the powder measure, I would think that would be noticed (though now that I think about it, hopefully combing and averaging 5 drops wouldnít mask the issue).
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Old 07-11-2018, 12:16 AM
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To start try throwing 10-15 and checking the powder weights then after that don’t load large amount of rounds say 20 then go to the range to test them also do you leave your powder in the measure I dump mine after each session I use 231 and I make sure there is powder before putting the bullet on the charged case good luck be safe
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Old 07-18-2018, 03:26 PM
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I use several different Dillon press to load my ammo and I've never had a round with no powder. I never empty out my powder dispenser when I finish loading and always top off the dispenser when I start loading. Another habit I have is to tap the side of the dispenser with a Sharpie marker couple times before I start to make sure powders are not "stuck" inside.
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Old 07-18-2018, 05:59 PM
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Strip that powder dispenser down completely, make sure baffle is set correctly and just run a whole lot of cases dropping powder just like you would when loading, no bullets added, put them in a bullet rack ---- then physically check them.
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