Avoidable frustrating responses involving pressure

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by cfvickers, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. cfvickers

    cfvickers Well-Known Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Some of those here who have read my posts in the time I have been here may have noticed that I discuss things, sometimes offer a point of view, and at times relate my own experience with a bullet or cartridge. I never claim to be anything that I am not. I am obviously no shooting encyclopedia and the only place I have any advice to offer other than basics is in this section. (Reloading) I don't have a huge post count on this website because I read a lot more than I post, but I have been reading on here for several years. I have also been reloading for several years. I regularly load for a good variety of cartridges but there are only 3 where I have enough experience to say I have something to offer as far as advice. Those are the 300 win mag, 6.5x55 and 6.5-284. My most broad experience is with loading for 6.5x55's which have long been my favorite. But in the 300 win mag I can tell you within a very close margin what a good start and stop point is with Reloader 22 with just about any of the major manufacturers bullets from 165-210 grains. And with the 6.5-284 I can do the same with Reloader 17 from 120 to 140 grain bullets.

    I seldom ever even comment if I cannot speak from my own experience. But when someone asks a question and I see that I am somewhat familiar with the combination they are using and or the problem they are having. Even then I will never say this is definitely your problem because I am not looking at it in front of me.

    But one thing that drives me insane is the propensity of fellow reloaders to point directly to powder charge and automatically assuming that the round is just loaded hot. Every single component in a loaded round can cause pressure problems if it has any abnormality or is not a good fit with the rest. High pressure can cause serious harm to both the gun and the shooter. High pressure is either caused by a faulty rifle or a faulty reloader/shooter 100% of the time. If you have high pressure either you screwed up somewhere along the way or your gun has issues. That said, when someone asks a question it is absolutely imperative that we read the entire question, try to visualize ALL parts of his problem, pay attention to the frequency of the pressure problem, and if he does not mention any of this ask questions. If he mentions his load, consider whether it is getting close to maximum. If it is at least 1 full grain under then the powder charge is NOT LIKELY to be the culprit. Notice I did not say that it is not, I said NOT LIKELY. So you then have to question the loaders procedure. Of course he isn't going to normally mention his mistake in his first post, he doesn't know what he did to cause the problem, that is why he comes here expecting experienced loaders to ask these questions so he can figure out what is wrong. Remember that factory ammunition is routinely loaded to near maximum pressure levels, so if he is well below maximum charge, again that is not likely his problem. The most common mistake I have seen in newer loaders is forgetting or failing to trim brass, seating the bullet to improper depth, using a magnum primer with a maximum load in a standard cartridge, and assuming that you can substitute data for one, say, 200 grain bullet for another manufacturers 200 grain bullet. They have not yet grasped the differences in bearing surface and how it can cause pressures to differ. All of these things can cause problems with pressure and this is not all that can cause pressure problems but only a short sample. Yes I am leaving out temperature variations but that is for another day. My main point is that I wish everyone would pay closer attention. The recent aptly titled "300 win mag confusion" thread is just the latest example of many not understanding or taking the time to grasp an issue someone has posted. I have been guilty of the same so I am not calling anyone out, just hoping to remind others, and remember myself. I am not bringing this up to say I was right either, I could just as easily have been wrong and I am not afraid nor ashamed of being wrong in any case where noone gets hurt. I will say though that all advice he got was very sound and completely agreeable to me at least.

    In that case the length of the brass was causing a potentially very dangerous situation. The reason I believe this bears repeating is it drives home the point I am making. In a case where the brass is well beyond the length tolerance of the chamber's dimensions simply reducing the powder charge, seating the bullet deeper, changing the primer, or anything else he may have tried still would result in a dangerous load. Even at a full 10% below maximum it had the potential to damage the rifle and possibly rupture and cause bodily harm in some way. On the same token where I berated one man for assuming that everything else was properly prepped and it was the powder charge, I made a similar mistake in assuming that he was seating the bullet to the proper depth. My LT at my last command in the navy used to say "Assumptions are the mother of a @#$% ups!!" There is not a truer statement than that. Newer reloaders come to forums like this and others to ask questions when things go wrong. The rifles they shoot may not allow the same mistakes twice, so if we choose to answer them, we all owe them the respect of ensuring that we have a full picture of the problem and when we give an answer with a likely diagnosis it needs to be as thorough and informed as we can make it (of course with the disclaimer that we still might be wrong).

    To new reloaders, If you see signs of pressure or your case does not look like the ones you had after firing factory rounds, STOP don't go any further or fire another shot until you have identified and fixed your problem. You can find answers to most of them either by asking here or at another reloading forum, or by looking it up in just about any reloading manual (I prefer lyman and speer for the tutorials)