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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Last week my best friend and I headed to the range. It was pretty chilly but hey, that just gives us a chance to practice with gloves.

I enjoy shooting a lot, but never felt the need to get into reloading. Since this ammunition crisis my thoughts have changed on that. I have always used bulk ammo for my 1911 and other 45 ACPs. It's factory made, just boxed up differently. Last week I got a squib round in my SR1911. This is the second one of those with the same batch of bulk ammo. The first one required a trip back to mother Ruger for the 1911, since I blew the barrel before I knew there was a blockage. This squib stopped short enough in the barrel to prevent the next round from going into battery.

I started rolling my own 9mm last year and I have noticed that my hand loads are noticeably hotter that range ammo. I'm not trying to make hot loads. I looked up 115 grn 9mm and loaded to the minimum, 5.1 grns of AutoComp, sometimes CCI primer sometimes Winchester. That depends on what's available.

People at the range want to know what I shooting because it is noticeably louder and very destructive to the real estate. One of my hobbies is ground aeration!

It is snappier to shoot too, but my take is the factory loaders are economizing the ammo, and they are pushing through so much product that quality control measures maybe aren't what they once were. When was the last time ammo from a big name maker chronographed the same speed they advertise? Most of the tests I have watched on YouTube are at least 10% short of spec. They say atmosphere or gun differences.

Here's what I found out of what was left of 1000 rnds of bulk ammo. Using my digital office scale (my Lee powder scale only goes to 100 grains) I found the vast majority of my 45s weighed 21 grms. About 10% weighed 22grams. and out of 1000 rnds, 10 weighed 20 grams. (I used grams because the scale offered grams, ounces, and lbs; and grams seemed to be the most precise) I through away the 20 grm. ammo. Just for kicks I weighed a box of my hand loaded 9mm. Each of them weighed 12 grams.

I am concluding that the loader at home takes more care in setting up his powder measure and press, checks COL and overall quality more often; and consequently can make better quality ammo.

So, this season I 'll start tooling up to load 45 apc as well. I already have most of the things I need. Just change dies or get another press.
 

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Weighing complete rounds really doesn't tell you much. Brass and bullets can vary in weight giving you a little variance even with a fairly consistent powder charge. Having said that though... If I had already had two squibs (and destroyed a barrel) in one batch of ammo, I would be pulling bullets and discarding all of it! Not worth the risk to fire any more of that ammo in my opinion.

Chuck
 

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Weighing complete rounds really doesn't tell you much. Brass and bullets can vary in weight giving you a little variance even with a fairly consistent powder charge. Having said that though... If I had already had two squibs (and destroyed a barrel) in one batch of ammo, I would be pulling bullets and discarding all of it! Not worth the risk to fire any more of that ammo in my opinion.

Chuck
Can't argue with that.

And by the Hogdon reloading guide online 5.1 grains of AutoComp is the starting load for 115grain 9mm with 5.6 being the maximum with 115 grain Speer Gold Dot Hollow Point - have you tested your throws periodically as you go to see how consistent they are? On the other hand, for Lead Round Nose 5.1 grains is max with 4.4 being the starting load. I don't think you specified the projectiles you are loading.

Regarding finished rounds - IF they were all the same headstamp - and IF the components were all very consistent match grade for example then possibly weighing finished loads might tell you something.

As for sound - that can depend on factors such as the length of your barrel and how much you crimp and setback etc. The Hogdon site lists the following:

Case: Winchester
Twist: 1:10"
Primer: CCI 500, Small Pistol
Barrel Length: 4"
Trim Length: .750"

I am not sure if twist would affect report - but unless you chrono your loads you may not be able to tell if they are too hot for your gun.

If you are getting good consistent ejection and accuracy on your loads you could try stepping down the load a bit - maybe try 4.9 grains and see if you still get good results. When I started working up 9mm loads my first batch only had about 2 in 10 that fully cycled the firearm I used for testing - that was at the bottom of the range for IMR 700X - when I stepped up to middle of the range I got maybe 2 in 10 that did not operate properly - so I stepped it up again to near max and they all worked.

Grams might not be the best unit of measure if you are trying to detect a difference of a couple grains since there are about 15 grains in a gram. Also you scale that shows 20 grams (if it has no decimal as in 20.1) means that one could be anywhere from 19.5 to 20.4 and the scale is rounding to 20 and the 21s could be anywhere from 20.5 to 21.4 and 22 reading is 21.5 to 22.4 - which means where you see 20, 21, 22 could in fact be 20.4, 21.0, and 21.5 which is still a variation of 1 gram or 15 grains. As an experiment, when you next have a batch of cleaned empty brass weigh a bunch of em and see how consistent they are.
 

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Are you sure this was factory ammo, and not Joe's Ammo and Lawn Mower Repair reloads?

It can be hard to tell, just looking at the rounds themselves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Both you guys are right, a better scale would tell a better story and I ordered the ammo from the highly advertised National vendor on the Glenn Beck show. They sell many brands, this was their offered bulk from a company in Montana that is well reputed for hunting rounds and other ammunition.

I haven't invested in a Chronograph yet. I can see good reason for one now. I have also learned the loading is not like the videos on youtube. Those guys video themselves running a progressive press as quickly as possible with never any problems.

I have found it to be a very precise thing. powder measure, COL, crimp, primer seat, clean up, set up, die measurements, etc... all of that matters. It's your life, health, and gear; so to me it matters a lot. I have a Lee 1000 progressive press, which I am only good enough to use as a very nice turret press. There are too many operations for me to watch all at once. If you overlook any of these it will result in a poor/bad round. So, I run 1 at a time through. I was never any good at factory work.

As for load specs. The projectiles I bought come from Extreme Bullets. They are copper plated round nose. My first inclination was to load them to the LRN spec. I called Extreme to inquire since I could not find any load data for CPRN bullets in that size. I assumed, unless the plating was very heavy, it would be a very well dressed LRN. The people at Extreme told me they load them equivalent to Spear Gold Dot. I may have been misinformed, when I get a chrono, I will know.
 

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Are you sure this was factory ammo, and not Joe's Ammo and Lawn Mower Repair reloads?

It can be hard to tell, just looking at the rounds themselves.
Who was the vendor of the failed squibs? That may be helpful to the rest of us that buy bulk ammo. For example, my "bulK" is usually just 100 round packs, not the big cans or boxes. However, I certainly want to shoot with confidence without having to weigh the rounds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The 500 rnd bulk boxes were purchased from Cheaper than Dirt. At the time there big box ammo was manufactured by Bitter root Valley Ammunition Company. In just shopping I notice BVAC is no longer available. Their big box maker now is "American Ammo". This may be a different maker or just a name change. For obvious reasons I haven't looked into any more bulk.

I haven't taken the issue up with CTD or BVAC because the first words out of their mouths will be "prove it."

Some say factory re-loads are bad. Maybe they are. But to the shooter who doesn't re-load it would seem in a manufacturing environment the product would be good. Inspected brass, good components, process controls...to a non-loader it seems like it should be better than the neighbor's special recipe or learning to load your own. My experience is not so. I used them for 3-4 years with no problems, but the stress of the ammo shortage and the increased output may have made a difference.

As a businessman myself it would be terrible to have the biggest impending event in the history of guns and ammo, with the largest sales window ever, and not be able to obtain primers, bullets, powder, or brass. If you're a great factory re-loading company, that would suck. I suspect they have gone through the same market shortages we all have. If you happen to be a less than great businessman, you could make the decision to get it out any way you can.
 
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