My First Real Reloading Mistake

DWier

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Joined
May 16, 2019
Messages
77
Location
Orlando, Florida
I thought flattened primers were the first sign of pressure. Am I wrong? I am a true novice and appreciate your post. I just got quick load and was considering using it but I will definitely start low.
 

Alibiiv

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Jun 17, 2013
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1,175
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Rhode Island
I thought flattened primers were the first sign of pressure. Am I wrong? I am a true novice and appreciate your post. I just got quick load and was considering using it but I will definitely start low.
There's flattened primers and.......there's flattened primers. A hot load will show a primer that is flattened out, an extremely hot (over-pressure) load "will" flatten the primer out and leave no space between the primer pocket and the primer, usually the firing pin imprint will crater and sometimes the machine marks from the bolt will be seen on the primer and the back of the brass. Primer flattening is a pressure sign, also blowing out primers is a very dangerous load as well as a sticky/tight bolt lift, that's a load that is working close to a catastrophic failure. If the primer pockets are getting loose after a couple of reloads, that usually is a sign that the load is a hot load. And..........every load, in every manual will/may not be compatible with every rifle. My son and I both have Ruger 77s in 35 Whelens, made by the same gunsmith, with the same reamer on the same machinery. One year we tried Superformance ammunition in our rifles. My rifle liked the ammunition, however my son's rifle blew out the primers on two rounds, we didn't try three and he doesn't shoot that stuff in his rifle anymore!! I do not use a computer program to develop loads, I reload for a .270 Ackley Improved, so started out with the maximum load for the .270 Winchester and worked up from there using the chronograph and keeping notes. I know the loads are close to maximum due to primers flattening out and also the primer pockets getting really loose after three reloads using Hornady brass.
 

Alibiiv

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1,175
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I have only been reloading my own rounds for about two years. I did not have anyone local to teach me, so I used what I learned here as well as many Youtube videos to start off. Over the last two years, I thought that I had a pretty good handle on the basics and have been getting some very consistent loads developed for several different rifles. About a month or so ago I purchased Quickload to use as a reference. This was about the same time that my 6.5-06 was finished. I have several reloading manuals and use them frequently, but I could not find any load data in them for this cartridge. So I used the Quickload program to figure out max pressure. This was my first mistake. I loaded up several rounds in .5 grain increments up to what the quickload max was. The first rounds that I shot, I did not use my chronograph, just looking for pressure signs. I settled on a powder charge and loaded several rounds with the bullet .020 off the lands. This time I ran them across my chronograph. To my surprise, the first round went 3100fps. I thought that there must be something wrong with my chronograph, because there was no way I was getting that velocity from a 23" barrel with a 143eldx. No stiff bolt lift, no extractor or ejector marks, but slightly flattened primers. So I shot a second round with almost identical velocity. Still no significant pressure signs. Third shot, same velocity. All three rounds went into the same whole at 100 yards. But, this time I blew a primer, the bolt was very stiff, it shoved my ejector back into the bolt face and left a primer mark on the bolt face. Obviously I stopped and did not shoot any more. This was very unnerving. I brought the remaining rounds home and pulled the bullets and dumped the powder. This is when I found the load data in the Nosler manual. I was running these rounds at 5 grains above the book reported max. I decided at this point to start over using the Nosler data with some freshly fire formed brass. What gets me is that I was not really seeing pressure signs up to this point. So, am I just missing the pressure signs because I don't know what I am looking for? To be honest, now I am a little nervous and second guessing my reloading abilities. I know that I should have double checked the load data prior to running it and should have used my chronograph the first time when I was looking for pressure. What else should I have done?
I'd like to congratulate you for what all that you have accomplished reloading in two years, great job. Also like to congratulate you for recognizing a problematic situation and "asking" for some help, again good job. With reloading everyone has and will run into a problem/situation I don't care how long or how many rounds they have reloaded. For me I utilize several manuals. If I cannot find a load for a particular cartridge that I want to reload I will look for load data of a round that is close to (less powerful) what I am reloading and start low. I reload for a .270 Ackley Improved, this one really does not have any data whatsoever, so........I started with the parent cartridge data, .270 Winchester, and worked up from there using the chronograph and looking for signs of pressure along the way.
 

thwatson2

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Joined
Nov 4, 2012
Messages
186
Don’t use programs when hodgdon, hornady, nosler, Sierra and other bullet and powder manufacturers already have your info. Reloadding is very safe, but you got to do the homework. We all make mistakes and learn from them. If in doubt, ask here. Lots of knowledge floating around. Stay safe
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FullCurl8

New Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2020
Messages
3
Location
North Central
I have reloaded for many years, and I have seen Nossler brass soft enough to stretch primer pockets to beyond functional with 1 stout firing in my STW.
As far as silly mistakes in reloading, the OP’s ranks low in my books. He was watching his cases, noticed a change in how the rifle reacted, (stiff bolt) and stopped shooting the load and investigated the occurrence and found the problem. Sounds like a Public Safety Video. Nice work.
And a stiff bolt isn’t always 1/2 a grain from destruction, rifles these days are much stronger than 40 years ago thanks to better metallurgy. I am not sure when the last time I saw a rifle barrel fail at the chamber end from an overcharge, that wasnt a muzzle loader, and max loadings are surpassed daily.
As far a pressure signs, i usually see ejector hole marks on brass prior to flat primers, not a stiff bolt, just a visual appearance that things have gotten hot. Then a stiff bolt that shaves off that ejector hole flow is no good for anything, nor is the vanishing of a complete primer. Did you happen to measure the length of the spent brass of those 3 cases?
 

greatwhitehntr

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Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
178
Location
Northern NEVADA
I thought flattened primers were the first sign of pressure. Am I wrong? I am a true novice and appreciate your post. I just got quick load and was considering using it but I will definitely start low.
It all depends on the gun.
I have a custom rifle with a very tight chamber and all of the fixins bushed bolt so no primer cratering and so on and it doesn't show any pressure till she is locked up and the brass is trash. Ask me how I found all of this out. It is a risk reward system and you have to have a functional brain or bad stuff happens. Always better to air on the side of caution.
 

Dr. Richard Gray

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Joined
Sep 11, 2019
Messages
62
Location
74 Ropers Landing Road, Golconda, IL
I have only been reloading my own rounds for about two years. I did not have anyone local to teach me, so I used what I learned here as well as many Youtube videos to start off. Over the last two years, I thought that I had a pretty good handle on the basics and have been getting some very consistent loads developed for several different rifles. About a month or so ago I purchased Quickload to use as a reference. This was about the same time that my 6.5-06 was finished. I have several reloading manuals and use them frequently, but I could not find any load data in them for this cartridge. So I used the Quickload program to figure out max pressure. This was my first mistake. I loaded up several rounds in .5 grain increments up to what the quickload max was. The first rounds that I shot, I did not use my chronograph, just looking for pressure signs. I settled on a powder charge and loaded several rounds with the bullet .020 off the lands. This time I ran them across my chronograph. To my surprise, the first round went 3100fps. I thought that there must be something wrong with my chronograph, because there was no way I was getting that velocity from a 23" barrel with a 143eldx. No stiff bolt lift, no extractor or ejector marks, but slightly flattened primers. So I shot a second round with almost identical velocity. Still no significant pressure signs. Third shot, same velocity. All three rounds went into the same whole at 100 yards. But, this time I blew a primer, the bolt was very stiff, it shoved my ejector back into the bolt face and left a primer mark on the bolt face. Obviously I stopped and did not shoot any more. This was very unnerving. I brought the remaining rounds home and pulled the bullets and dumped the powder. This is when I found the load data in the Nosler manual. I was running these rounds at 5 grains above the book reported max. I decided at this point to start over using the Nosler data with some freshly fire formed brass. What gets me is that I was not really seeing pressure signs up to this point. So, am I just missing the pressure signs because I don't know what I am looking for? To be honest, now I am a little nervous and second guessing my reloading abilities. I know that I should have double checked the load data prior to running it and should have used my chronograph the first time when I was looking for pressure. What else should I have done?
I prefer to let the powder manufacturers test for maximum charges. A chronograph is not something I would spend my money for. I mainly use Nosler's Load-data (load-data.nosler.com) but compare with Hogdon, IMR, Vihtavuori, and Winchester. I prefer to use 1-2 grains below maximum load, usually about 1/2 way between min-max. It serves my needs now. If I can shoot a 2" grouping at 300 yards, that is efficient enough for my needs.
 

milo-2

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May 1, 2011
Messages
941
Location
Gillette, Wy
Glad it did not get too serious for you. Always research, this forum right here is a solid resource if one has questions.
My advice or solution, if you had fired your first rds over a chrono, you would not have had to post. Always fire any test rds over a chrono, the numbers don't lie, if your first shots are 100fps over published data, it is right there in front of you, the lightbulb should come on.
 

Muddyboots

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Joined
Feb 7, 2013
Messages
839
Location
Michigan
AS stated there is a lot of info out there to find no matter what you are loading for, unless it is your personal wildcat! Even with manuals, you need to recognize how the loads were arrived at in them. Some use standard rifles and others use universal receivers. As result, I have had some rifles never get to max load before showing brass signs that causes me to stop. One of the steps every reloader should be doing is THOROUGHLY inspecting each case after each shot when working up a load BEFORE you shoot the next round. All sorts of indicators to tell you about your load from ejector marks (maybe soft brass or maybe not), primers, cracked necks, stiffer bolt, velocities that are out of line to manual. Some are not related to pressure but still need to be evaluated before moving on. There are other pressure signs when you reload that you have mentioned loose primer pocket which is clearly major indicator of pressure. Sometimes we get in too much of a hurry and fail to see what the brass is telling us before we shoot again. You need to be prepared to shut down the load based upon the brass observations no matter what the circumstances are. When you start to rationalize the pressure away instead of "listening" to your brass is when bad things can happen. Everybody has their own watermark for pressure signs on their brass depending upon what they want to accept for their brass. One of the decisions of every reloader is to define their own stop line based upon brass observations; my stop line is certain to be much shorter than most but that is ok since that is my decision.
 
Last edited:

gator378

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2005
Messages
263
I have only been reloading my own rounds for about two years. I did not have anyone local to teach me, so I used what I learned here as well as many Youtube videos to start off. Over the last two years, I thought that I had a pretty good handle on the basics and have been getting some very consistent loads developed for several different rifles. About a month or so ago I purchased Quickload to use as a reference. This was about the same time that my 6.5-06 was finished. I have several reloading manuals and use them frequently, but I could not find any load data in them for this cartridge. So I used the Quickload program to figure out max pressure. This was my first mistake. I loaded up several rounds in .5 grain increments up to what the quickload max was. The first rounds that I shot, I did not use my chronograph, just looking for pressure signs. I settled on a powder charge and loaded several rounds with the bullet .020 off the lands. This time I ran them across my chronograph. To my surprise, the first round went 3100fps. I thought that there must be something wrong with my chronograph, because there was no way I was getting that velocity from a 23" barrel with a 143eldx. No stiff bolt lift, no extractor or ejector marks, but slightly flattened primers. So I shot a second round with almost identical velocity. Still no significant pressure signs. Third shot, same velocity. All three rounds went into the same whole at 100 yards. But, this time I blew a primer, the bolt was very stiff, it shoved my ejector back into the bolt face and left a primer mark on the bolt face. Obviously I stopped and did not shoot any more. This was very unnerving. I brought the remaining rounds home and pulled the bullets and dumped the powder. This is when I found the load data in the Nosler manual. I was running these rounds at 5 grains above the book reported max. I decided at this point to start over using the Nosler data with some freshly fire formed brass. What gets me is that I was not really seeing pressure signs up to this point. So, am I just missing the pressure signs because I don't know what I am looking for? To be honest, now I am a little nervous and second guessing my reloading abilities. I know that I should have double checked the load data prior to running it and should have used my chronograph the first time when I was looking for pressure. What else should I have done?
Reading pressure signs IMO is trickey. I have been loading for few years and I check my loads over a chronometer and use velocity against the common loading manuals. Anything high or way high raises the red flags. I have been known to ruin a few primer pockets
 

LVJ76

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Joined
Feb 2, 2019
Messages
1,337
Location
Tucson, Arizona
Reading pressure signs IMO is trickey. I have been loading for few years and I check my loads over a chronometer and use velocity against the common loading manuals. Anything high or way high raises the red flags. I have been known to ruin a few primer pockets
We've all done it and some sticky bolts also I'm sure. It's all about learning to see the signs. Most of us including myself are sometimes guilty of wanting to get as much velocity as possible so we see how far we can go.
 

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