QC of reloaded ammo

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Garrett
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QC of reloaded ammo

Post by Garrett » Tue Nov 01, 2011 8:56 pm

I generally do my reloading in batches of 500 or 1000. Prior to that, my brass gets sorted and cleaned, and each caliber dumped into its own bucket. The down-side of this system is that the brass on the top of the bucket probably gets loaded more often than the brass at the bottom, since I don't usually get all the way to the bottom. I've noticed the Uzi and M11/9 tend to mangle the brass a little more than most guns. You can often see a little half-moon bump-out on the head of the brass where the extractor channel was. This brass still will load and function just fine in most of my guns, though.

The last couple of matches, I've had an unacceptable number of malfunctions with my guns. I chamber-check all my ammo after loading it, so I don't think that's the issue. But if I switch to factory ammo, the malfunctions drop off. On my reloads, I'd started using an EGW undersized sizing die several years ago, and bulged cases went away almost completely, and pretty much everything passes the chamber gauge. But if factory ammo works, what's different? So I revisit my loading / checking routine. I will admit I sometimes get a case with just a little ding on the rim. The ding won't let the rim drop into the gauge, but the rest of the case goes in and drops out just fine, as shown in the picture.

Image

I didn't think this was an issue, as the rim doesn't even get close to the chamber, like the same round shown above, dropped into an Uzi barrel:

Image

But if the factory ammo works, this is one thing to check on. So I went through a thousand or so rounds of my ammo and re-check them with the Dillon 9mm chamber gauge. Of those, I found around 80 where the rim wouldn't drop into the gauge, so I separated them. I ended up with a bit of a mix here, with lead and plated bullets, sub- and super-sonic loadings.

I took the Uzi to the range and shot 5 or 6 mags of my re-inspected ammo and had zero malfunctions. I used the same mags and loaded the dinged-rim ammo. The first shot was a nose-dive failure. Second round the same. Then I got a good burst off. But I had 4 or 5 failures in that 80 or so rounds, where I'd had zero with the same ammo without the rim issue.

I'm thinking the dinged rims could cause enough drag to keep them from chambering properly. I'll have to try this out with the M11/9 some time as well, but I suspect I'll get the same results.

I'll also have to do a little more testing, but I don't believe there was any issue running this brass through my various 9mm pistols. So I may be able to just keep loading my mixed brass and segregate pistol vs. SMG ammo. Or that will be my practice ammo, with throw-away brass. If it has issues in the pistols as well, I don't want to be loading up a pile of ammo and have to reject a bunch of it. Components get expensive, and while reloading ammo is okay, tearing it back down is not so great. Since the fired brass won't usually drop into the case gauge, worst case I'd have to resize the brass, then sort, then load.

But it's a start.

Medic21
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Re: QC of reloaded ammo

Post by Medic21 » Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:50 pm

Good post. I agree, the Dillon 9mm chamber gauge (and 45) have saved me a bunch of grief.

Ulwembu
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Re: QC of reloaded ammo

Post by Ulwembu » Wed Nov 02, 2011 1:01 am

I use a chamber gage for my 223 ammo and it has saved me several malfunctions which I had before I used it. Good post!

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Garrett
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Re: QC of reloaded ammo

Post by Garrett » Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:39 pm

I've been debating how to move forward with this. I haven't loaded up much 9mm lately, so the issue hasn't been on the top of my list. (Now that silencers are legal in Michigan, I'm working on loads for the .300 Whisper again).

I was thinking about how to best proceed. 8% reject isn't a whole lot, but it's annoying and it adds up after a while. I don't really want to have 80 or 100 rounds out of every thousand to basically throw away (okay, not that I really would).

So I'm thinking I'll start sizing all my 9mm brass on the single-stage press and then chamber check it. And then I can run it through the Dillon. Yes - this adds an extra couple of steps. But if it saves me a malfunction during a match, it's probably worth it.

Medic21
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Re: QC of reloaded ammo

Post by Medic21 » Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:27 pm

I now have an interesting situation. I have a single round 9mm Dillon case gage as well as a 7-round EGW case gage. Many rounds that fail the EGW case gage check easily pass the Dillon check. There are a few that fail both. Either the Dillon has way more tolerance or the EWG is closer to SAMMI. Not sure which - any ideas?

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Garrett
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Re: QC of reloaded ammo

Post by Garrett » Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:41 pm

Medic21 wrote:Either the Dillon has way more tolerance or the EWG is closer to SAMMI. Not sure which - any ideas?
I couldn't say which was closer to spec. But I was having problems loading .223 ammo that would pass the Dillon gauge, but would stick hard in the chamber. They would shoot and eject just fine. But if you chambered a round and then tried to remove it without firing, it would stick. It wasn't an issue with a particular chamber either. I'd tried multiple AR15s, a Mini 14 and a Norinco 84S.

It turns out the expander ball was pulling the case necks on the up-stroke after sizing the brass. I eventually found out I need to pay special attention and make sure the inside of every neck gets a little lube. But these would all pass the Dillon gauge, and drop right out. So I've been a little suspect of Dillon's chamber gauges since. (for the record, I've got Dillon gauges in 9mm, .38 Super, .223, and .45, and I've never had a problem with the pistol gauges.)

I'd stick with the EGW gauge for a tight target gun, but the Dillon should be fine for a loose SMG chamber.

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Garrett
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Re: QC of reloaded ammo

Post by Garrett » Tue Jan 31, 2012 6:45 pm

I tried pre-sizing and gauging my brass last night, prior to loading. I started out using an RCBS sizing die, but it appeared it was only actually sizing the top 1/4" or so of the case. After 20 or so cases, I switched to a Dillon sizing die, and it appeared to size essentially the whole case.

I ended up sizing 377 cases (a big scoop out of my 9mm brass bucket), and of those, 21 did not pass the gauge (5.5% failure rate). Afterward, I loaded 300 rounds on the Dillon, leaving the EGW U-die in the sizing station. Once done, I tried running the reject brass through the U-die as well after-which 7 of the "bad" cases passed the gauge check (bringing the initial failure rate to 3.7%).

Of the 300 loaded rounds, only one did not pass. I can live with one out of 300. After loading a couple thousand rounds, I might have enough rejects to fill half a mag to use for practice ammo. That's a lot better than having 2 or 3 full mags of reject ammo for every few hundred rounds loaded.

It's an extra step, but if I'm going to use range pick-up brass, and run it multiple times through the subguns, it's probably the best way to go. If I really want to start cranking through it, I could just put the sizing die on a toolhead, dump the cleaned brass into the casefeeder and start cranking on the handle. For now, I'll probably stick with sizing the brass on the single-stage press.

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