View Full Version : Reloading Horror Stories - Funny :)

09-19-2005, 04:33 PM
I would like to share a few reloading horror stories about calibers other than 5-7. I didn't want to put this under reloading, as from my understanding, that part of the site is for 5-7 reloads. Moderators, feel free, of course, to put this thread wherever you would like :)

I hope that by sharing sometimes funny stories about what we did wrong will help all those who either do not reload but are thinking about trying (and those new to reloading) to learn about attention to detail, double and triple checking charge weights (through measurement and visual inspection) and what to do should something really bad happen.

I have been reloading since the mid 70's, it was one of the few Father/Son activities besides shooting my Pa and I participated in.

Under his supervision I would reload 45 ACP, 44 MAG, 38/257, 223, 30-30, 30-06, etc. Never once, Im sure because of my Father's Obsessive Compulsive nature (I say that lovingly, were it not for him I would probably be handless and blind by now) had I a single overcharged case. On occasion I undercharged a case, but that is relatively harmless if you don't try to shoot another round before the bullet is removed from the barrel.

Fast forward 25 years. I took three troops of Boy Scouts and their parents/leaders on a three day shooting trip. I carefully placed the correct ammunition for the firearm at each station. I notified everyone during each safety meeting (one in the morning and after each pause in shooting for lunch, breaks etc.) that ammunition was not to be removed from the station PERIOD. Should I find anyone sharing or moving ammunition, they would be sent home. I helped them to understand that even though some cartriges look similiar, they are not always compatible. For example: While .38 will chamber in a .357, one should never attempt to fire a .357 from a .38. Same thing goes for .380 and 9mm para. Since I had no illusions about their ability to learn ballistics in 3 days, I had my rule that NO ONE was to move or disperse ammunition but myself. After all, every gun there was my own.

The third day the boys were very excited and constantly doing stoooopid things. After lunch, and another safety meeting, I observed one of the adults handling my 6" Python. I watched as he fired one shot, and observed the light recoil. I knew immediately that he had taken from my van ammunition that I was keeping for my .357 686 snubbie. I tried to stop him before he fired, but in the niose he either could not or would not stop shooting. Big suprise, the third time he fired, the top strap bacame a new hat band for the guy. Now, I have no malice towards this moron, other than to say that people like him are the reason health insurance premiums are so expensive.

Long story short, he did in fact try to shoot my "squib" loads for my snubbie out of my Python. $400 in parts, $300 in labor to fix, and THANKFULLY no injury. I should have just bought a new piece, but I had over $3k in work done to the piece. Lesson learned??? More supervision, and LOCK THE DOORS to where ammunition is stored.

Second horror story. JUNE 2005.

My father and I were reloading for our matching (consecutive serial #) SW model 29 .44's. As he got up from the bench, I sat down to load the same cartrige, same powder, same projectile. Stupid me, I trusted the scale without re-calibrating (Ohaus M-5 balance beam) the zero.

I loaded 50 rounds of 240grn copper wash (TMJ) semi-wadcutter w/ 13grns of power pistol. Upon arriving at the range I shot 45 from my USP for approximately 1 hour. When I finished I got out my 29. It has been several years since I shot the weapon (shoulder and elbow surgery) so I was unfamilliar with the reciol of 44 magnum. The first round was PAINFUL. Not having any recent exerience with the 44 I attributed this to the fact that I was a "puss." I should have stopped. I should have realized that a muzzle blast 10' long that set things on fire, was REALLY bad, and the HEAVY recoil was indicative of serious overpressure. Stupid me, I fired 5 more rounds. Incredible reciol, and flame from the barrel. I opened the cylinder to examine the cartrige head. The primers looked almost unfired. The extractor rod was barely able to remove the brass. I went upstairs and bought 44 special wadcutters to see if the recoil was uncharactaristic. I put in the rounds and guess what??? The cylinder would not even index. I had stretched the top strap and frame. My pistol was completely wrecked. I still am waiting for S&W to return my repaired 29.

When I returned to my office I pulled the rounds and began to check powder weights. Everything was perfect. EXACTLY 13 grains... Until I realized that the balance bar had been moved to 18 GRAINS!!! 5 more than a nearly max load.

Moral of the story??? Zero the scale, use a check weight, visually inspect the amount of powder in the case, and if so inclined, weigh the finished cartriges for uniformity against a known correct load.

I have learned my lesson. I now use TWO scales (both Ohaus M-5's with a dillon scale as backup) to check each powder load when shooting high density powders (powders that are not dense, in many cartriges, will overflow if an excesively heavy load is dropped or if a double charge was thrown) to ensure that I am not over or double charging a case. It takes a LOT longer, but I am satisfied that I will never break a gun again. I also visually check EVERY load. I use my progressive loader only for calibers without much case capacity (like .45 etc) and for rifle ammunition (a grain or two RARELY is dangerous to weapons that are designed for high pressure rifle ammo). All large cased handgun I do on a single stage RCBS Rock Chucker. Just an added level of security. I am still a little gunshy.

If you are unsure of a load, STOP SHOOTING. Pull the rounds, check the charge. But most of all, if something seems wrong, it probably is.

Learn from my mistakes. Don't be me :)