revolver squib avoidance?

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fjlee

Bearcat
Joined
Feb 2, 2007
Messages
21
Location
Denver CO
I've been reloading and shooting centerfire rifles and shotguns for many years.

I've been reloading and shooting a .357 Mag revolver for 3 years.

I have a Ruger GP100 that I bought new. I've shot approx. 1,500 rounds thru it. All were my reloads. No big problems occurred. Those 1,500 rounds covered a wide variety of loads....tho all were with 125 grain WW JHP bullets.

I've never shot this .357 rapidly, either double or single action. I figured my learning curve was too steep to mess with another item to think about.

This .357 will soon be put into self & home defense duty, so I feel it's time for me to do a few hundred rapid fire shots. I want to do a training regimen of 3 shots rapid fire, double action.......directed towards a life-size human-silhoutte target.. This rapid fire exercise will employ 125 grain WW JHP bullets. I plan on initially using a low-recoil load, and gradually increasing the intensity of the load.

I worry about a squib........of the type where the bullet gets far enough into the bore that the cylinder WILL rotate....and the weapon is capable of "firing". another round. I pucker-up a bit when I think of a JHP bullet being driven into another JHP bullet that's already lodged in the bore.

My question: I want opinions on what usually causes a squib of this type. Is it total lack of powder? Powder amount too small? Contaminated powder? Weak primer ignition, for whatever reason? In the real world, if everyone told 100% truth 100% of the time, what is most likely to cause me to experience a squib that drives the jacketed bullet into the bore?

I am handicapped in rapid-fire "squib detection" I suppose, in that I have _VERY VERY_ bad hearing, and I also always wear both ear-plugs and ear muffs, both of which have a high level of noise reduction/attenuation.

I guess I feel that my chances of detecting a squib, and reacting _IN TIME_ , during a rapid-fire exercise with a revolver, is not good. Therefore, I want to do everything possible with my reloads to avoid a squib.

Thank you for any possible response..........

FjLee Denver CO
 

Cherokee

Single-Sixer
Joined
May 21, 2003
Messages
472
Location
Medina, Ohio, USA
In my opinion, the most common cause is the omission of powder. I have been reloading for 50 years. I had my first squib load just a couple of years ago with the 30/30 - I forgot to put the powder in. Bullet did not go into the barrel. Had a 32-20 fail to fire shortly after that. Again, bullet stayed in the case. Took the load apart at home and the powder was one small lump-don't know why, guess contamination. Never had a squib problem with handgun ammo. These are my personal experiences.

I have always tried to avoid reload problem by being very careful in my process, step by step checking. I use quality components. I chose a powder that will give me a reasonable powder level in the case being loaded, charge each case and verify the case has approprate level of powder before seating a bullet.

It's easier to do with single stage press, harder to do with a progressive but checking each case can be done. Obviously I had a lasp with the 30/30 and failed to charge any of the cases in the loading block the night before. I remember that now every time I start to load. I use the powder check tool in my Dillon 650 and a strong shop light positioned so I can see into each case before seating the bullet.

With all of the care used in my reloads, I have never worried about squib or over loaded rounds. Just be aware, if the recoil does not feel right, stop. The 30/30 for example, there was no reasone for it not to fire, so when it did not, I stoped. Rapid firing a revolver makes it harder to recognize a problem and stop, but I have not experienced it - so lets hear from those that have.
 

Jimbo357mag

Hawkeye
Joined
Feb 22, 2007
Messages
10,200
Location
So. Florida
First I would stay with reasonable loads like 38special level. Then work with a double tap once in a while. No reason to go to rapid fire all at once. If you take the time to shoot aimed fire (getting back on target) there will be time to contemplate each shot. Stay in your comfort zone.

The only time I had a squib was when I tried a very light load in my garage. I know better now. :D :D

...Jimbo
 

WESHOOT2

Hunter
Joined
Mar 19, 2005
Messages
2,124
Location
Duxbury, Vermont, USA
Utilize some mechanical device that physically checks the powder charge, like the RCBS check die, or the Dillon powder-check station (that I have on all ten of my toolheads).

Use Universal or Power Pistol for non-'hot' 125g JHP 'practice' loads.
Use Federal primers for greater possibility of light-strike firing pin hits.


All my revolver shooting (exception: certain accuracy and chrono-testing) is done DA.
 

nn

Single-Sixer
Joined
Feb 22, 2008
Messages
427
Location
NC
Seems you have been doing a good job of reloading, just keep up the care you have been doing. Shoot you could get killed walking across the street. Just go shoot and don't worry so much about it.
 

bearing01

Bearcat
Joined
Sep 15, 2009
Messages
71
Location
San Diego
The only squib I ever had was in my revolver. The bullet barely left the chamber throat and it locked up the cylinder. Cause = no powder in the case. That was a copper plated bullet. I figure the same would happen with a jacketed also.

I went back through that box of ammo and weighed the rest of the rounds. You see a typical 3 or 4 grain or more variation through an entire lot of ammo, so if you only have around 5 grains of powder then the weight test doesn't help. Best thing is to shake and listen to each round to make sure they have powder.

Also to note, that squib I did have it happened in an indoor range. I was wearing foam ear plugs with muffs. I did not feel any recoil and heard no pop. I thought it was a misfire. If the cylinder didn't lock up I probably would have kept on pulling the trigger. From that I learned to always check that the barrel is clear after a misfire.
 

wixedmords

Blackhawk
Joined
Aug 5, 2006
Messages
903
Location
Wixed - Lakes Region of NH
I've always thought that getting an eye inside of each case to see there is the proper amount of powder in there is worth its weight in gold.

A loading block under a light works fantastic. You can see the powder and quickly estimate if the powder is basically at the same volume.

I like the flex light setup I have seen on progressive presses to see into the powder drop process. That would be the spot on a progressive I would be keeping my eye on the most, glancing at the primer feed occasionally.
 

Driftwood Johnson

Blackhawk
Joined
Sep 25, 2007
Messages
699
Location
Land of the Pilgrims
Howdy

I shoot a lot of Cowboy Action, and we get a lot of novice reloaders. We also get a fair amount of squibs. Most often they are a complete lack of powder in the case. But we also get a lot of guys who load below the minimums specified by the manuals, to minimize recoil. Sometimes one of these will leave the bullet in the barrel.

Most of the time a lack of powder will tie up the gun, rendering it completely harmless, because the bullet never gets all the way into the barrel. It hangs up halfway out of the cylinder and halfway into the forcing cone. The primer alone has enough oomph to get the bullet out of the case and into the forcing cone. The cylinder will then not turn and the gun is useless, the bullet has to be shoved out of the bore and back into the cylinder to clear the gun. I keep a brass rod and a hammer in my guncart for this purpose and have had plenty of opportunities to use them.

However every once in a while a light powder charge will leave a bullet in the bore, clear of the cylinder. It does not happen very often, but it does happen. The best one was when a friend had a 45 Colt bullet just poking out of the muzzle of his revolver. It did not quite get out.

In Cowboy shooting there are usually three spotters and a timer operator, as well as other onlookers from the posse. SOP is to holler STOP real loud if a squib is suspected. I ain't seen any guns blow up yet, we usually can stop the shooter in time. In fact the timer operator is supposed to be in arm's reach of the shooter for exactly that reason. Like I said, most of the time with a squib in Cowboy, the gun becomes inoperable and it is not a problem. But there is always that chance.......

When I was learning to reload on a single stage press the best practice I learned was the Two Loading Block Method. Basically, you pass each shell from one loading block on one side of the press to another block on the other side of the press for every operation. You never put a shell back in the same block. This way you can keep track of exactly what has been done to every shell. If you use more than one block, you just need to have one extra to keep rolling. When I load rifle cases on my single stage press I still use this method. I have a whole bunch of hardwood loading blocks I made up many years ago. Plus eyeballing an entire block full of charged cases before seating any bullets, that is probably the best safety practice. The eye can be trained to pick up a light charge or a heavy charge. But if you use two blocks, and pass an empty case from one block, 'through' the powder measure, and set it in the other block, you will never double charge a case.

My two Hornady progressive presses are five station presses. I usually keep the station right after the powder measure empty, and have a strong light shining down at that spot. I eyeball every case as it goes by to make sure there is powder in there, and to make sure the level looks about right.
 

Steve C

Bearcat
Joined
Oct 8, 2005
Messages
14
Location
Phoenix, AZ, USA
Squibs are mostly caused by lack of powder or not enough powder. The current more common use of progressive presses is probably the largest contributor to this as many are more interested in speed and volume rather than good quality control and don't check or invest in a powder cop die. Using a loading block and performing a visual check that's commonly done with a single stage press makes a squib a rare occurrence.

The other common cause of squibs is an improper load, especially with volume sensitive powders like H110 or W296. Failure to follow directions to maintain sufficient charge weight, provide heavy crimp and use magnum primers results in squibs.

Contamination of the powder from oil or other lubricant can also result in a squib.
 

Glassfixer

Bearcat
Joined
May 1, 2008
Messages
77
Location
Paola, Kansas
In the last 20 years I have had only 2 squibs. Last year a friend and I were shooting out back and he had a number of squibs from his lightly loaded 38 spl.that ended up stuck in the barrel. It seems he did not put a tight enough crimp on his taper crimps. After a couple of squibs, he went inside and crimped them tighter, this solved his squib problem for the rest of loads. My theory is that the bullet exited the case before there was enough pressure developed to create enough velocity to get the bullet completely out of the barrel. My .38 spl. loads get roll crimps. My only squibs were in my early years of reloading with a Ruger Blackhawk in .30 carb., with a taper crimp. I would appreciate other forum members thoughts on my theory as to the cause of squibs. - Glassfixer
 

revhigh

Hawkeye
Joined
Aug 31, 2005
Messages
5,590
Location
PA
Glassfixer":8jbmc4yx said:
he had a number of squibs from his lightly loaded 38 spl.that ended up stuck in the barrel. It seems he did not put a tight enough crimp on his taper crimps.

If a bullet was crimped that lightly (basically not at all) to 'not allow pressure to build', you would have been able to push the bullet into the case with your fingers. Downloading that low is an incredible danger .... I'd surely suggest shooting a more appropriate caliber if recoil is an issue ... like a .22.

REV
 

Jayhawkhuntclub

Buckeye
Joined
Aug 28, 2007
Messages
1,110
Location
Kansas
There are two parts of my proceedure that help to avoid powder level issues.

1) I keep a flashlight in the desk drawer. After the charges are dropped, I systematically check each case powder level with the flashlight prior to placing bullets in the case mouths.
2) The other extreme is double charges (which should also be caught by my step 1). Every time before I throw a charge in a case, I tip the case up side down. If it has powder already in it then it will be emptied and avoid a double charge. I'm generally more worried about double charges than empty cases. At least with a squib, you have a reasonable chance to detect it before things get ugly. Double charges aren't so friendly: or so I've been told.
 

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