Seriously, how much risk is there?

Seriously, how much risk is there?

This is a discussion on Seriously, how much risk is there? within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; I am looking for a no BS assessment on some reloading issues. To start off with, I went out to price some reloading components locally ...

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Thread: Seriously, how much risk is there?

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array Sticks's Avatar
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    Seriously, how much risk is there?

    I am looking for a no BS assessment on some reloading issues.

    To start off with, I went out to price some reloading components locally (primers, powder, bullets) and I also was looking for a book on reloading to get some more education on the subject.

    After reading through a couple of books on the matter, they both stressed "DO NOT USE ONCE FIRED OR RANGE BRASS! Only use your own factory fired brass, or new." and went on to stress the risks of such a venture, and a lot of emphasis on previous fired gun head space.

    1. Are the chances of a catastrophic - as in ruined gun and/or body parts - failure that high (70% or better as a guess) from using purchased once fired or range brass?

    2. None of the books and guides showed the bullets, powder (same brand, different flavor) or primers that I was looking at using. I know the powder has a recipe on the label, but how does one compensate for the bullet?

    3. Charge pressure - I have no access to a chronograph. Is there a better way to load other than trying to match by feel against a preferred factory round?

    4. Pistol case length. They all indicated mic-ing the cases and trimming if needed. The thought of mic-ing 1k used cases and trimming/deburring is a little depressing. That critical or use a go/no go gauge and pitch the losers? None of the books gave a +/- tolerance.

    If someone could recommend a good book to get, or better yet, someone just tell me outright (x amount of y powder with Zero (brand) 180gr FMJ bullet) what to use for my .40 and .44 mag (Magtech 240 gr SMJ/FMJ) I'd be eternally grateful.

    Insult to injury this is all going to have to wait until next year unless I get a good win fall. My Dodge diesel pickup injection pump decided to go TU as I was pulling out of the parking lot. I am a diesel mechanic and I knew what it was, and how much it is going to cost me (with my back door deal) as soon as I heard the engine sputter and saw the white smoke. Right about the same price as the progressive reloader and 1k of each .40 and .44 mag., So much for the monthly IDPA shoots. No $$$ = No ammo = No shooting.



    6 years of doing everything I know how to prevent this high dollar part from crapping out. Unfortunately there was a couple of weeks in there that I am sure contributed to the downfall while I was waiting on parts, never mind the EPA ultra low sulfur diesel, and some minor performance tweaks.

    Sticks

    Grasseater // Grass~eat~er noun, often attributive \ˈgras-ē-tər\
    A person who is incapable of independent thought; a person who is herd animal-like in behavior; one who cannot distinguish between right and wrong; a foolish person.
    See also Sheep


  2. #2
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    Array HotGuns's Avatar
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    Liability. Its all about liability.

    With range brass, you don't really know what you are getting. It could be what you are picking up is what some one else reloaded 25 times and he figures its wore out brass, so he ain't picking it up.

    As for once fired, its not quite the issue, but if they were fired in an nonstandard chamber, it'll work the brass more than normal and it could cause cracking.

    Now that we got that out of the way, I have been using both for over 25 years without any issues.

    Fact of the matter is, I shoot the stuff until it cracks. Then I chunk it. All it will do in a modern gun is to sound different and not shoot to point of impact. Sure it could cause a catastrophic failure, but so could a brand new store bought round.

    You don't have a way to measure charge pressure. A Chronograph measures speed of the bullet, which has nothing to do with charge pressure. Use published loads by reputable manufacturers and you should be OK.

    Case length on a handgun isn't that big of a deal. If you are using a roll crimp die, then you want the cases to be the same length or your crimp wont be consistent. This isn't quite the issue with a taper crimp, but if you are shooting for accuracy, all of the cases need to be the same. If you are just shooting at rocks or plinking, it shouldn't matter.

    Semi autos can be more sensitive to case length than revolvers.

    You can download most of the ammo makers manuals off the net. There is no reason to have to figure anything out. The tolerances for case length are usually posted somewhere in the book, sometimes its on the page with the reloading data.
    You should use exactly the same stuff as outlined in the manuals. If the bullets weight the same and their profiles are pretty close, it should be OK as long as you aren't using full house load. If you are going balls to the wall, you need to use components exactly as the published load.
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  3. #3
    Member Array SGTMOE's Avatar
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    Do you really want a No BS Assessment.....I also thought about what you are thinking.....so I did some research and what I came up with is.....
    I don't use range brass because brass weakens really fast...it
    become's soft.....not good....I only use reloads once and then i
    leave them on the floor where the belong...

    Its a waste of time and money unless your doing competived
    shooting............

    You have to figure up the amount of cost of buying EVERYTHING
    that you need to do the reloads and then all the supplies and then
    add the time you spend setting everything up and the time
    actually doing it.....

    My pappy use to always tell me (Time is Money) and see thats
    where alot of people forget to consider in to the the whole
    process od reloading.....

    This is what I do......I usually hit three gun shows a year...I pickup
    my reloads for the target shooting through out the year.......you
    might have to try a couple different guys to find the best reload
    guy....which I had too and found a really good one.....I get S&W
    40 cal box 100 for $20.00 bucks.......

    And my EDC defense rounds and when I'm doing competive
    shooting I order online.....

    I am sure that someone out there that will disagree with
    me.....Thats ok....everybody's different......I don't know if this will
    help you....

    But just my 2 cents worth......

  4. #4
    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    Listen to the voice of experience. That would be all of HotGuns' post pretty much. The only thing I want to add is that you always feel confident in what you do, and do your research well....rely on your judgment, your equipment, and double check yourself at a minimum. Reloading takes a dedicated space and time....never be disturbed or predisposed. Bullet manufacturers generally have load data freely available if you call and ask. Tech support is the best way manufacturers can sell their bullets. Your powder manufacturer should also provide ample tech support and so forth. You are only alone in the reloading field if you want to be alone. Reach out and get your questions answered, and have faith in your abilities.

  5. #5
    Member Array chuckE's Avatar
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    When I was reloading, I picked up - literally off the ground - every empty I could find. I would toss all of them in a tumbler and when they nice and shiny go through them one by one. That's when I would find cracked or otherwise unacceptable brass.

    I think I reloaded for about 5 years total and I've had cases split and I've had double charge rounds, but since I reloaded .45 SWC in 200 gr, I've never had any problems.

    As for a reference book, I just used the book that came with my first single stage press. I can't remember the name though.
    Bitter and clinging to my guns and my religion.

  6. #6
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    "I don't use range brass because brass weakens really fast...it
    become's soft.....not good...."

    It actually work hardens. Can't say that it weakens really fast. Have had many reloads from the same batches of handgun brass. Once finally tossed a test batch of .30-06 brass that I used for high-power competition after 16 loads. Was trimmed once.

  7. #7
    Member Array SGTMOE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    "I don't use range brass because brass weakens really fast...it
    become's soft.....not good...."

    It actually work hardens. Can't say that it weakens really fast. Have had many reloads from the same batches of handgun brass. Once finally tossed a test batch of .30-06 brass that I used for high-power competition after 16 loads. Was trimmed once.

    That's great you got 16 loads......like i said before everybody does it different and I have better things to do than sit around all day long punching brass....and I run 185gr Lapua's 30-06 through my rifle....

  8. #8
    VIP Member Array Sticks's Avatar
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    Thanks for the input guys. Any money I can save right now is better than nothing. If it only means $50 per1k of .40 then so be it. Since I won't do gun shows, and I have searched and searched online for the cheapest ammo and one place that sells reloads, even if I send in my brass I am still ahead $50.

    I agree that time is money, but since I am working for myself, I get the family rate.

    After reading those books, my butt puckered up quite a bit and gave me pause to the whole thing. If money was not so much of an issue, well, this thread would not be here.

    My reloading will be strictly for practice and IDPA. SD is Factory.

    Please keep your own personal experience and answers coming.
    Sticks

    Grasseater // Grass~eat~er noun, often attributive \ˈgras-ē-tər\
    A person who is incapable of independent thought; a person who is herd animal-like in behavior; one who cannot distinguish between right and wrong; a foolish person.
    See also Sheep

  9. #9
    VIP Member Array Cupcake's Avatar
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    I've heard that most pistol brass will be lost long before it wears out, unless repeatedly loaded really hot. That is hearsay, as I am a reloading neophyte myself.
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  10. #10
    Member Array Jay6's Avatar
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    1)First off, I use 100% once fired or brass I pick up from others at the range. And to give you an idea of how much I shoot, I load and shoot about 20,000 rounds a year for practice, IDPA, or USPSA matches with no problem at all. Granted, when doing this I have to be fairly careful to inspect the brass after it is cleaned to weed out any cracked cases but you should be easily getting 8-10 reloads out of each case before you start seeing a lot of cracking.

    2) As far as not finding the information in books regarding components. As long as you are matching up weight and "type" of bullet you will be safe with the midrange powder charges listed. I would however use a powder that is well documented. I for one use Tightgroup for the majority of my handgun loads which is cheap, and fairly clean. Plus you can usually find a TON of recipe information on it. Laastly as far as the primers I use Winchester and CCI for the most part which are cheap and fairly easy to find as well. Unless you are shooting a lot of revolver I would stay away from Federal as they are very soft and you need to be more careful with your press as to not set them off.

    3) As far as charge pressure, what was said earlier is right on the money. A Chrono measures bullet speed not chamber pressure. Since it sounds like you are loading partially for IDPA matches I would tend to load on the low end of the spectrum as you do not need anything close to full power loads to compete. I run much lower than normal charges in my .45's so that I just make major power factor which is about 100 FPS less than what you would find in normal winchester white box. This way I have a softer feeling round for matches while I also do not have to pay as much attention to OAL which can effect pressures just as much as powder charge can.

    4)DO NOT WORRY ABOUT CASE LENGTH IN HANDGUN ROUNDS. Rifle is a much different story but with handgun rounds this is not something you really need to sweat.

    Lastly, I would be very carefull taking direct advice from anyone ie. x amount of powder since your OAL (over all length) plays a HUGE part in the chamber pressures and can actually differ with different barrels and guns. What is good for someone else can be unsafe for you. As far as a book, I have the Lee loading manual which I used a lot when I was first getting into loading and I still open every now and then. Not a bad book to start with to get a baseline on your loads. No matter what, start small and work your way up VERY slowly if you want to go with hotter rounds but have fun and you will be a seasoned vet in no time at all!

  11. #11
    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    I pick up 100% of my brass at the range and I reload about 5000 rounds a month,I've never had a problem with brass,It only costs me about $4.00 to $5.00 100 rounds 155grn LRN .40 or 45 or 44 magnum
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  12. #12
    VIP Member Array Kerbouchard's Avatar
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    Risk...non-existent, or guaranteed catastrophic failure. That's what makes reloading great. It completely depends on you.

    If you use a low density powder(i.e. fills more than half the case in one charge) than your chances of a double load are almost non-existent since a second charge would overflow the cartridge.

    As far as a tumbler or case trimmer, I don't think its necessary with handgun ammo. I pick up brass off the range, throw it in a bucket, brush it off(making sure the primer pocket is nice and clean, of course), and reload it.

    Once you get your dies set up, its all pretty easy. Your OAL and charge weight are not going to magically change. If I haven't reloaded in a while, I will weigh the first 2-3 powder charges and check the OAL on the first 2 or 3. Other than that, set it and forget it. I'll also check again every 50 or so rounds.

    As far as your bullet weight vs powder charge. Every reloading book will give you the charge for the specific bullet weight and powder you are using. Type of bullet does not matter. The reloading book will also give you an OAL(over all length) measurement. This is a minimum OAL. Usually +5-10% is your tolerance, but it is not difficult to put it right at the recommended OAL. Longer is generally not a problem unless it will not feed in your gun. Shorter can cause serious problems because it will increase chamber pressure.

    To summarize, in a modern handgun in good condition, with a little bit of care, reloading is a great hobby. I don't know that you will save tons of money, but there is nothing quite like shooting your own make.
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  13. #13
    VIP Member Array farronwolf's Avatar
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    Don't worry.

    Sticks,

    I am going to agree with the majority on this thread.

    Once fired, or range brass (assuming your not digging it out of the dirt) is fine to reload with for pistols.

    Depending on your dies, for rifles it might not be the ideal choice, but since your doing .40's it is not going to make one bit of difference.

    As for the fear factor. You will quickly get over that. Take your time load up 50 or 100 rounds, at the recommended starting charge, take them to the range and run through them. Then work your way up to loads that you like.

    Like others have said, there is plenty of info on the net about loads and such from the manufacutures ect. I use Lyman's no 48 manual, and some manuals from Hodgdon, Accurate and Alliant. Some places that sell reloading supplies will have load books by the powder manufactures.

    Good luck and enjoy your time with your reloading gear.
    Just remember that shot placement is much more important with what you carry than how big a bang you get with each trigger pull.
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  14. #14
    Member Array Jay6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerbouchard View Post
    Risk...non-existent, or guaranteed catastrophic failure. That's what makes reloading great. It completely depends on you.

    If you use a low density powder(i.e. fills more than half the case in one charge) than your chances of a double load are almost non-existent since a second charge would overflow the cartridge.

    As far as a tumbler or case trimmer, I don't think its necessary with handgun ammo. I pick up brass off the range, throw it in a bucket, brush it off(making sure the primer pocket is nice and clean, of course), and reload it.

    Once you get your dies set up, its all pretty easy. Your OAL and charge weight are not going to magically change. If I haven't reloaded in a while, I will weigh the first 2-3 powder charges and check the OAL on the first 2 or 3. Other than that, set it and forget it. I'll also check again every 50 or so rounds.

    As far as your bullet weight vs powder charge. Every reloading book will give you the charge for the specific bullet weight and powder you are using. Type of bullet does not matter. The reloading book will also give you an OAL(over all length) measurement. This is a minimum OAL. Usually +5-10% is your tolerance, but it is not difficult to put it right at the recommended OAL. Longer is generally not a problem unless it will not feed in your gun. Shorter can cause serious problems because it will increase chamber pressure.

    To summarize, in a modern handgun in good condition, with a little bit of care, reloading is a great hobby. I don't know that you will save tons of money, but there is nothing quite like shooting your own make.

    That is very dangerous advice to give! The type of bullet most certainly DOES matter. A powder charge for a jacketed bullet can be ok but will be past the danger level with a lead bullet as they tend to create higher pressures.

  15. #15
    VIP Member Array Kerbouchard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay6 View Post
    That is very dangerous advice to give! The type of bullet most certainly DOES matter. A powder charge for a jacketed bullet can be ok but will be past the danger level with a lead bullet as they tend to create higher pressures.
    You are correct. I always purchase my bullets. Casting your own bullets change just about everything. It didn't sound like Sticks was planning on casting his own at this point in time, so I am sorry if my post was misleading.
    There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.

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