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Thread: Stay Awake!

  1. #1
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    Stay Awake!

    I periodically see posts (on other forums) from people who talk about playing music or chatting on a speaker phone while reloading, and I always cringe when I encounter such comments. When hand loading ammunition, you are working with things that can damage your firearm ... or your person. Ammunition is not something to take for granted.

    And I always follow my own advice. I don't listen to music when reloading. I don't have a television going so I can keep up with the latest news or watch my favorite sports team playing in a championship game. When I'm reloading ... I'm reloading. Period.

    Consequently, I was more than a little upset when I encountered my first-ever squib load at the range today. Mercifully, the gun gods were watching over me. The squib was the last round in a magazine. I noticed that the fired case hasn't ejected, but I was trying a new, lighter-than-my-usual load so I mentally wrote it off as "maybe this load is just a bit too light." And then the first round from the next magazine wouldn't chamber fully. Upon field stripping the gun on the bench, I immediately realized that I wasn't seeing anything when I held the barrel up to the lights. Oh, oh.

    Sure enough, once I took a brass rod and punched out the obstruction, it was a bullet. This was a first for me, and I've been shooting for about 65 years. I guess I've been lucky. I think if you shoot enough, it's always a question of "when" rather than "if." But I don't want a repeat, because the next time the bullet might stop far enough down the barrel to allow another round to chamber, and that would not be "a good thing." So ... what happened?

    It took me awhile to reconstruct, but I'm 99% certain that I know what happened, and it was a case of running on autopilot and not paying attention when I got knocked off my routine.

    I was working up a new .45 ACP load, using a different bullet than I've loaded before. Since it was new, I was using less powder than my usual load, and I was only going to load twenty rounds for evaluation so I was checking each case visually after charging to be sure the powder had dropped. I didn't think I could have missed one, but I must have. How could that happen? And then I remembered ...

    The new bullets seem to have a sharper shoulder than the Berry's 230-grain plated round nose bullets I usually load. I was having trouble keeping the bullets upright on the case mouth for seating. Sure enough, mid-way through the run of twenty rounds a bullet started at a cant and got stuck. I felt it immediately and stopped pulling on the press handle, but the bullet was seated far enough that I couldn't pry it out by hand. So I inserted the round into an inertia bullet puller and knocked the bullet out. Of course, this also dumps the powder with the bullet.

    Next, I dumped the powder and bullet out of the inertia hammer into a plastic cup so I could retrieve and inspect the bullet, removed the bullet, poured the powder back into the reservoir. and set the primed case back in the shell holder on the press. And then I spent several minutes inspecting the bullet, trying to decide whether or not to try using it again. If it had been lead I probably would have, but it was a plated bullet and the canted entry had damaged the plating on one side. Ultimately, I decided to discard the damaged bullet, and I grabbed another one, went back to the press, and seated it.

    Notice what I didn't mention doing? Right ... I got so absorbed in checking out the damaged bullet that I completely forgot that the case I had just put back on the press wasn't charged. My dinosaur brain was so focused on getting the bullet straight so it would seat that I overlooked the fact that I had not recharged the case. I carefully seated and crimped a new bullet into an empty case.

    And that's how accidents happen. I've had my wake-up call. When reloading, you simply can't pay enough attention to what you're doing.
    Hawkmoon
    On a good day, can hit the broad side of a barn ... from the inside
    Likes (6) :
    ncviking (6th March 2017), Ric4509 (9th March 2017), Spyros (7th March 2017), Walstr (21st June 2017), Warbirdnut (6th March 2017), will52100 (20th August 2017)

    Last edited by Hawkmoon; 5th March 2017 at 17:02.


  2. #2
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    Good reminder to pay attention.

    Most mistakes happen when we are interrupted for some reason. All it takes is loosing our focus for a split second. I have gotten to the point that when interrupted, I completely stop the process and start over.

    Glad that you were not hurt, other than possibly your pride.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for sharing that with us. It just shows to go that you can't always sometimes tell what you least expect to happen the most.

    Cheers
    When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind. [Lord Kelvin]
    Likes (1) :
    kc2bya (9th March 2017)


  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by niemi24s View Post
    It just shows to go that you can't always sometimes tell what you least expect to happen the most.
    Ummmm .... yeah. Exactly. I think. Sorta.
    Hawkmoon
    On a good day, can hit the broad side of a barn ... from the inside

  5. #5
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    Glad you didn't get hurt. That could have been a really bad thing if that next round chambered.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Warbirdnut View Post
    Glad you didn't get hurt. That could have been a really bad thing if that next round chambered.
    Absolutely.

    It's a good thing I was shooting a 1911. The spirit of John Moses Browning was looking out for his creation.
    Hawkmoon
    On a good day, can hit the broad side of a barn ... from the inside

  7. #7
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    I'm glad to hear you're OK and that all you got out of it is a valuable lesson! It could have turned out very differently.
    Too many people miss the silver lining because they're expecting gold.
    M. Setter

  8. #8
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    I find keeping my mind on what I am doing much easier with MUSIC playing. Otherwise, my mind can drift.
    Find what works for you and do it, but don't think that what works for you works for everyone.
    NRA Life Member

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by noylj View Post
    I find keeping my mind on what I am doing much easier with MUSIC playing. Otherwise, my mind can drift.
    Find what works for you and do it, but don't think that what works for you works for everyone.
    While you are free to do as you choose, don't for one split second think I'd recommend playing music to a new handloader. I'd recommend "Absolutely no distractions - not even soft background music."

    Regards
    When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind. [Lord Kelvin]

  10. #10
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    Like my boss told me long ago.... replay the tape. if you get interrupted, distracted, ect, replay what you've done. Can save your , or your life.... Good advice for reloading too. glad to hear you weren't hurt, and no damage to your gun.

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