Reloading Fail PSA: Don’t Forget to Crimp (Warning: Graphic Injury Images)

A reloading PSA has popped up in a Facebook forum known as the Shooting Bench, complete with pictures to really hammer the message home. Apparently the reloader in question was loading .45-70s and failed to crimp; his account follows:

“Anyone ever wondered what an exploding .45-70 Marlin guide gun will do to a person’s hand. All my measurements and charges were correct. But I forgot to crimp the bullet. This caused the bullet to seat deeper and deeper with every shot which ultimately seated the bullet to a point were the pressures were dangerously high causing the pressure to build before the bullet could leave the barrel.” (spelling and punctuation his)

The original poster was not identified, but the damage to his hand is clear enough. According to the Shooting Bench the reloader was told his hand could not be fully sutured because there was such extensive tissue damage the doctors have been left with the option of grafts and the need to be able to remove necrotic tissue as time passes.

Warning, guys, the images of his hand are fairly graphic.

 

Reload1

reload2

reload4

reload3



katie.ainsworth

Katie is an avid shooter, hunter, military journalist, and Southern girl. Firearms are her passion whether at the range or on a spot-and-stalk after a big buck. She’s a staff writer at The Firearm Blog and writes about guns, hunting, and the military for various publications both online and in print such as Outdoor Life, Handguns, and Shooting Illustrated. Shoot her a message at ainsworth.kat@usa.com


Advertisement

  • FrenchKiss

    Ewwww! Gross.

  • KestrelBike

    Noooooooo….. that’s terrible : ( Lesson learned, I suppose, could have been a lot worse!

  • M.M.D.C.

    Ouch! and Gross! It’s a good PSA. I don’t reload but I do carry. It’s a good “reality check” for all shooters to see images of what happens if we get careless.

    • I saw the one with the soldier who knackered his hand on the BMG. There’s another post on here somewhere about a guy who appendix carried. He got careless with holstering and shot himself in his gentleman’s area. He didn’t get to write about it though because he died from it on the operating table 8( glad this guy survived! CAC never be too careful.

    • missourisam

      Even factory loads need to be inspected closely on a regular basis. Everyone who carries knows that the constant unloading and reloading of a semi auto pistol to placate the anti gun crowd can cause a bullet to set back in a factory round. I never just rotate the top two rounds, but rotate the whole magazine full on a regular basis, and check each load for set back when I do. Sounds like a lot of trouble, but what is your hand or eyes worth to you?

  • Jeff Smith

    I’ve always thought about reloading, but then I see articles like this. It’s terrifying to think that a small mistake can result in such a horrendous injury.

    • LG

      That was not a small mistake. there are no SMALL mistakes in reloading, only ‘SMALL RELOADERS”. Just do it correctly or do not do it. Reloading is fun, enjoyable, and very safe if proper techniques are fastidiously observed.

    • Jason

      It is always best to select a power that fills up your case, so you avoid mistakes like this.

      • Jason

        powder

    • Kivaari

      Follow the manual and you should not have issues. These loads would have been fine in a single shot, but not a magazine like this.

  • jeff k

    i dont belive this was caused by bullet setback . that normally happens when a bullet IS clamped and pushes back into the case. but if the bullet wasnt clamped, no matter how far back it pressed into the casing, there was nothing stopping the bullet from leaving the case and the pressure shouldnt have spiked . jmho

    • tazman66gt

      Wouldn’t between the concussive blast and spring pressure from the tube magazine compress an uncrimped bullet deeper into the case? It isn’t like a revolver where there is no outside pressure on the bullet and it is allowed to move forward.

      • jerry young

        you are correct in revolvers the opposite can happen, if not crimped the recoil can cause the bullet to move out of the case causing the cylinder to jam or the the bullet could fall out completely, when reloading you should always crimp rounds used in tube fed guns and heavy magnum loads unless otherwise stated in reloading data found in most reloading books, if unknown a light crimp is better than no crimp at all

    • Sianmink

      Nope setback alone can cause overpressure, simply because there’s less space for the powder to burn before it starts pushing on that heavy 45/70 bullet.

    • ostiariusalpha

      Wow, no. Uncrimped setback has blown up a huge number of guns through history, ever since people have started using metal casings. It is a very well understood and documented malfunction. The powder space behind the bullet is very sensitive to compression, causing exponentially greater pressure spikes the further the bullet is set back. An overly deep seated, uncrimped bullet won’t simply squirt out with no complications if you shoot it; it won’t have time to move into the barrel before the gas pressure of the burning powder peaks, and you get a KB pretty consistently.

    • Kivaari

      The other commenters are correct. This set back while in the magazine could easily create excess pressures. Try this with the NRA tests with the .38 special using 2.7 gr. Bullseye and seating the bullet deeper. Pressures spiked until the revolver self destructed.

      • jeff k

        they used crimped bullets. did u read the story? hes saying an uncrimped round overpressured.

        • Paul Epstein

          Are you unclear as to the concept of momentum? A bullet is going to resist the forward motion of the propellant, regardless of crimping. Especially a big, heavy one like .45/70. While it’s doing that, the pressure of the burning powder goes up at a much higher rate than normal due to the confined space.

          If you truly believe there is no possibility of a detonation, go ahead and try it yourself. Take an uncrimped, and therefore according to you, ‘safe’, round and push it as far into the case as you can force it, then fire the round.

          Otherwise, stop running your mouth about this.

          • Kivaari

            A .45-70 un-crimped is only safe in single shot rifles. As you know, this was a real ohshit moment.

          • jeff k

            so glad we have internet experts like you Paul. did you read my first comment Nazi? it says IN MY OPINION. if you do not like my opinion Hitler then don’t reply. no one asked for your so called expertise. i live in the free country of America and i am entitled to “run my mouth” on my own comment all i want. congratulations everyone thinks your super smart ..ALL HAIL PAUL THE SETBACK EXPERT!!

          • Paul Epstein

            Are you trying to assist somebody in internet tough guy bingo?

          • Kivaari

            That’s an ignorant response.

          • Kivaari

            I just re-read your remark. You were wrong then, and now.

          • Mustascheo

            Paul is using this thing called physics that explains such behavior….. Physics doesn’t have opinions, it’s all a pretty solid science.

        • Kivaari

          If you read the story, then you would know why I referenced the NRA tests regarding deep seating of bullets, and how the pressures can go off the charts destroying guns in the process. The NRA used the 2,7 gr. Bullseye load with a 148 gr. HBWC, shoving the bullet deeper into the case, like these .45-70 bullets getting deeper seating thanks to recoil. In both cases the air space was reduced, and pressures soared. This shooter realized after the fact, and blow up, that he failed to crimp. Do you understand why this rifle exploded? I do.

      • RegT

        The issue with Bullseye in such small amounts is the fact that, instead of burning it _detonates_ in the case. That is why the damage is so extreme, even without bullet set-back. This has been known for many years by us older reloaders – the ones paying attention, anyway.

        • Kivaari

          Until the last few years Bullseye was the fastest burning powder on the market. It has a high level of nitroglycerine. If detonated with a blasting cap, it has the same once for ounce performance of TNT.
          I wonder why so many people have such a limited knowledge of how pressures can soar when seating bullets too deeply.

  • wetcorps

    “(spelling and punctuation his)”
    Cut him some slack he’s probably typing one handed :b

    • Andrew

      Too soon.

      • Mustascheo

        Too funny.

  • rob in katy

    ’tis nothing, a mere flesh wound…

    • Rooftop Voter

      Bondo and duct tape on the hand, good as new.

    • Kivaari

      It’s going to really hurt and it will never function properly in the future. I have broken thumb from firing a homemade blank in a 37mm USN flare gun at 00:00:1 January 1, 1966. When I went to the ER for suturing, the staff asked, “Was that what we heard?”. It could have been. It hurts to this day, and it was nothing like this level of destruction. I proved that college students can be really stupid. A mix of Bullseye, 4831 and black powder, held in place with toilet paper, produces a bomb. The missing lock latch left a scar on my head I can see to this day. Live and learn.

  • Sianmink

    Ok that’s honestly not as bad as I thought it would be. I’m sure I might change my mind if there were ‘before’ pics of his hand laid open like a fileted fish though.
    It’s possible I’m a bit jaded to gore pics at this point.

  • Anonymoose

    So are Marlenades now a meme?

  • Years before he gained fame as an AutoMag gunsmith and Class III dealer, Kent Lomont lost a chunk of his left hand from a magazine tube blowup in a Winchester Model 71. He was using hard cast roundnose projectiles in a .450 Alaskan conversion.

    • Kivaari

      Yep, even those round nosed hard cast bullets can and did create issues in the magazine.

  • Rock or Something

    At least he still has his digits. Just the other day I was looking at pictures of what happens when a reckless Soldiers tries to use a 50 caliber bullet to “jimmy” a Ma Deuce into a pintle mount. The results were…well, ever see hamburger meat on a wrist?

    • dan

      Yea i seen those too, someone had a very bad day.

    • Johnobody

      The .50 BMG incident leads to a question of what type of round was he using. If he used Ball, I’d ask what set the round off. (Did he attempt to drive it into a gap by hitting it on the base with a hammer?) Or was it a special purpose round such as Tracer, Armour Piercing Trace Incendiary? (and I am sure there are others. I just don’t remember them anymore)

      • Kivaari

        Probably API. The incendiary round goes off with a brilliant flash.

      • Joe

        I heard that he used the actual base of the cartridge as a hammer, striking the primer in the process.

      • Surly Old Armorer

        Wouldn’t matter what sort of projectile. The damage was done by the propellant charge rupturing the cartridge case.

  • Swarf

    This is why I only reload .22 shorts.

  • iowaclass

    A Don-Draper level advertisement for factory loads.

  • sliversimpson

    Many say that the Marlin lever-actions are built like tanks. If that is truly the case, this man is lucky to stl have a hand.

  • HKGuns

    Gross.

  • Kivaari

    This guy needs a better surgeon. Perhaps this was an ER quickie patch job.

    • Rick5555

      Actually, the suturing was done properly. You can’t over stretch the skin. Or else, the sutures will pull away, opening the wound. As well as, possibly left open in some areas to ensure nerve damage was kept to a minimal. I would have to see the chart. However, I’m a gastro-intestinal surgeon. And looks as if this will heal quite nicely. Considering the extent of the damage.

      • Kivaari

        Your right. The initial surgery to simply keep things in place is fine. Cleaning up the wound at a later date and letting granulation to fill things in just takes time.

  • Kivaari

    Not related, but I had a customer that was loading an auto priming tube when it exploded. His had was worse than this mans injuries. One primer also entered his abdomen, and nearly killed him. The surgical incision was about 14 inches long. This stuff can be dangerous.

  • Robert Griffith

    Ouch!

  • Norinco45

    Was he using pointed bullets in a tubular magazine? It’s my understanding that using pointed bullets in a tubular magazine is a big no go because the point of the bullet acts as a firing pin on the next round every time a round is cycled and the rounds in the tubular magazine cycle towards the action.

    • Barney Samson

      The round was in the CHAMBER. Nothing to do w/the magazine or pointed bullets.

      • Martin Grønsdal

        the round that exploded was in the magazine before it became chambered. Recoil from rounds shot before the exploding one made the bullet in that catridge seat itself deeper into the casing, creating less room for powder to burn.

        It is much like when you hit the handle, or helve, of an axe on a rock or hard surface, to make the head seat itself more firmly.

        • Barney Samson

          The post I was replying to seemed to imply the round was detonated by a bullet point-to-primer interaction inside the magazine, which was not the case here.

          • Kivaari

            Actually, that comment was not about pointed bullets in tube magazines. It was about round nosed hard cast bullets hitting the primer. Everyone knows about pointed bullets being an issue. The round nosed was considered “safe”, until the loads recoil get too much. The Alaskan was a shortened case that ran at higher velocities having serious recoil.
            This was a bullet seat back. The other commenter was adding another tid-bit.

          • Barney Samson

            The post/comment I first replied to most certainly WAS re pointed bullets in a tube mag. One more time:

            To wit: “… using pointed bullets in a tubular magazine is a big no go because the point of the bullet acts as a firing pin on the next round…”.

            In case it’s not clear, the quoted passage is from the post I first responded to. The detonation in this article was not caused pointed bullets setting off a primer in a tube mag, as the poster seemed to elude happened.
            .

          • Kivaari

            I was referring to the gunsmith Kent Lomont having a magazine issue while using hard cast round nosed ammo. This particular case involves a chambered round, having the bullet seated too deeply. The failure to crimp allowed this to happen. Had it been a pointed bullet, chances are it wound not have fired since the bullet was so loose it moved.

          • Barney Samson

            If you notice the way the posts line up, it shows my response was to Norinco45’s post; I have quoted a passage from it several times now. In HIS post, he seemed to believe the detonation in question may have been caused by a pointed bullet in contact w/the primer of another round inside a tube mag. Nothing I have posted has anything whatsoever to do w/anything you or anyone else other than Norinco45 has posted. I cannot be any clearer and hope you will understand why I will not be responding further.

        • Kivaari

          It was a chambered round, not one in the magazine. The bullet was seated deep because of spring tension and recoil while it was in the tube. Then it was chambered, and fired.

          • Martin Grønsdal

            Yes. You wrote what I wrote using other words.

      • Hank Seiter

        Technically it does have something to do with the (tubular) magazine. The bullet “set back” was cause by it being loaded in a spring tensioned tubular magazine. The repeated recoiling of the rifle along with a tubular magazine spring under tension (making more tension because of the tube being filled with rounds) conspired to push the bullet deeper and deeper with each shot until it was chambered. That’s why when it comes to the old cowboy loads the rule of thumb (if you have one left) is to ALWAYS crimp the bullets and NEVER use pointed bullets in tube fed rifles like the Winchester 73, Marlin 1895 and the like. A non-crimped bullet in a revolver doesn’t pose a safety hazard but heavy recoil (if you load the cartridge to the max or are using a full black powder load) of revolvers can work the bullet FORWARD thus jamming the cylinder and a non-crimped bullet in a tubular magazine can be “set back” by subsequent recoil cycles (or possibly even the spring tension within the tubular magazine itself!) thus “compressing the load” and generating a possibly dangerous high pressure spike as evidenced by the subject of this article. Powder burn rates and pressure spikes are actually two different phenomena so this could happen even with very slow burning powder.

    • Kivaari

      The rounds in the magazine, under tension and recoil allowed the bullet to get seated too deep. Most likely flush with the case mouth. It is easy to drive pressures too high by changing the seating depth. Some loads with safe pressures, but the bullet seated a few thousandth too deep, or to far out, engaging the rifling can go bang in the wrong way. It is why following the reloading manual, including seating depth for the proper bullet, is the wise thing to do.

  • sam

    I crimp most mornings.

  • Archie Montgomery

    Some posters have posted messages about not using pointed bullets in a tubular magazine. That is a valid concern, but looking at the picture of the rifle indicates this was a chambered round at over-pressure.

    Yes, pushing a bullet deeper into the case – especially a (more or less) straight walled case like .45-70, or most handgun rounds – will reduce the functional size of the chamber and thereby increase pressure.

    I’m glad it wasn’t worse on the shooter. I’m sure the rifle took it rather personally.

    Just like driving on the freeway – always pay attention to what is going on.

    Anything other than single shot arms need a crimp to either prevent bullets either being pushed deeper (recoil in a columnar magazine can ‘bounce’ rounds back and forth, pushing them deeper) or being pulled out in the style of an inertial bullet puller.

    Even in single shot firearms, a decent crimp assists the initial stages of propellant burn and results in a more uniform burn, shot to shot. This cannot hurt accuracy; my experience suggests accuracy is helped.

    • RegT

      Shooters in Black Powder Cartridge rifles – at least the most accurate, competition winning shooters – do not crimp their cartridges. The owner of the Shiloh Sharp Rifle Company and many of the shooters at the competitions he hosts, specifically state they get better accuracy with un-crimped cartridges in their single-shot Shiloh rifles. That being said, it should be noted that rounds in those calibers – especially 45-110 (2 7/8″), which I shoot in my Shiloh Sharps – are all lightly compressed loads, so bullet set-back is not an issue.

      As a reloader of over 40 years, I am simply incapable of not crimping a cartridge, so I sacrifice a bit of accuracy on my 45-110 loads with a light crimp. My old eyes aren’t worth a damn at even 600 yards without a scope, let alone 1000 yards, so that extra bit of accuracy won’t help me.

      For the novice reloaders, compressed loads are – to the best of my knowledge – all constructed using fairly slow powders where some compression is quite safe. Some powders are so slow that you cannot over-fill a case, beyond not leaving enough room to seat your bullet. Most of the powders used in reloading .50 BMG are of that type.

      • Kivaari

        Crimps inject many variables that do effect every aspect of firing a round.

      • Archie Montgomery

        Reg, you picked the (in retrospect) obvious exception.

        Black powder always burns at the same rate, whether in the open or confined. (Which technical makes it a ‘low’ explosive rather than a propellant.) Crimps on cartridges using propellents (smokeless powders) assist in the early burn process.

        Black powder cartridge reloaders also take advantage of another ‘technique’ also applicable to smokeless powder cartridges. Sizing the neck to be tight enough to hold the bullet securely in place prior to loading and shooting.

        Good call and completely correct, Reg.

    • frodo

      THAT is not a “valid concern” it is a total NO NO

      the FIRST thing you do when you start to reload.

      Is buy a reloading manual. like a lyman 49th edition
      The 2nd thing you do.
      READ READ READ READ READ…when your eyes bleed
      READ SOME MORE
      It says right in the book.
      what to crimp what not to crimp.
      what gets a round nose and why
      tube vs magazine

      I have no sympathy for some one who jumps off into reloading with out doing research first.
      A bullet is a small bomb, you are setting off, inch’s from your face

      think about that

  • Don

    You should start selling popcorn, this is better than watching a WWE match 🙂 🙂

  • Leigh Rich

    At least you are not blaming the gun..

    • 1 million internet points awarded to Leigh Rich

  • Hank Seiter

    I’m glad the only .45-70 I have is a vintage 1884 single-shot Springfield Trapdoor. In any case, I ALWAYS crimp my bullets, especially with regard to the .44-40 and .38-40 I handload for my vintage Winchester 73s.

    Though I use smokeless powder in handloading these cartridges all loads are well beneath the maximum published data for these black powder cartridges. Those who load the .45-70 should be aware there are three levels of power to which the cartridge can be loaded. The first and original level of pressure is somewhere around 19,000 to 21,000 CUP and can be duplicated with IMR 3031 in the mid 30 grain range (start at 30 gr. and work your way up and never exceed 36 gr. ACCORDING TO THE BOOK … btw, it’s all on you). The second level of power the .45-70 can be loaded to is for the vintage 1895 Marlin and similar lever actions of that era and it generates about 28,000 to 30,000 CUP of pressure and I will not share my loading data for that. Dittos on the third level of power is designed for more modern firearms capable of handling 45,000 CUP. And there you will find the true buffalo and bear killing combination for the .45-70 when using a 350 grain or heavier hollow-pointed jacketed bullet … or 405 to 500 grain lead bullet.

    However, my first handloading love has always been the 5.56 and 7.62×51 rifle cartridges as well as the .45 Auto and 9mm pistol rounds. I shoot of metaphorical ton of these rounds every year.

    BTW, has anyone else had any experience with the new Ruger Precision Rifle in .308? I can say from experience it’s the most accurate, reasonably priced precision/match-grade rifle I have ever shot. And it’s half the price of Armalite’s AR-30 which uses proprietary 5 round magazines — ugh. I’m using my baseline match-grade handloaded ammunition that consists of Lake City brass (some of it stamped match and sorted separately) and the military WC846 powder pushing a 168 grain Nosler match bullet. This load works great in my Rock River LAR–8, Remington 700/M24 and Savage Model 10 heavy-barrel with flutes.

    This match combination is loaded using the published maximum loading data from the Hornady reloading manual for the H335 powder. But start at the minimum load and work your way up. I’ve been getting many groups of 1/2″ to 1″ AT 200 METERS! And after installing a competition muzzle brake the felt recoil is like a .243 and the RPR actually got a little more accurate and more consistent! Go figure. Also I have any number of MagPul 20 round and 25 round mags for Ruger’s SR762 that work great in the RPR. It comes with 2 ten-round Magpul SR mags and the MP SR 20 round mag is the maximum mag length one should use when shooting from a prone position.

  • Iblis

    Hope he heals fast and complete. Thanks for sharing. Learn from the mistakes of others so we don’t do them ourselves.

  • Johnobody

    As a novice reloader, I have questions. Some of the loads in my manuals call for the load to be compressed (usually on a relatively large necked cartridge and usually at its max load). Is this type of compression safe at all? Does the chamber pressure just increase faster once the powder begins to be compressed and the max safe chamber pressure is not exceeded as long as the specified amount of powder and degree of compression are followed?

    • RegT

      Yes, the loads listed as compressed are safe, having been tested, and the pressures monitored. Besides, the two greatest hazards, detonation and bullet set-back, are negated. The bullet cannot set back in a compressed load, and detonation cannot occur in a full case, or when a set-back bullet is resting on the powder. Detonation occurs only when there is too little of a _very_ fast burning powder such as Bullseye along with enough empty space in the case.

      • Johnobody

        Until recently, I’ve been loading 12 gauge for my two sons who shoot on a trap league. As a result, I have only worked with REALLY fast powder (Red Dot/Promo) and have had to carefully balance the need for velocity with the danger of overpressure. I was going to use the same powders for my pistol loading, but I may rethink that strategem based on the fast burn leading to an early peak in pressure. Primarily, I’m doing this hand loading because subsonic ammo is so much more expensive than high velocity.

  • BigR

    I’ve learned one big lesson from this! Definitely, don’t forget to crimp!

  • Anthony “stalker6recon”

    Yummy. I have seen some nasty wounds from all sorts of malfunctions. 2 or the worst, while in the Army.

    The first, happened to a friend of mine. Someone thought it would be funny, to load a live round, in a magazine that was intended for a BFA (blank fire adapter). The resulting explosion ripped a 9 inch long hole in my friends thigh. Don’t know who would do such a stupid thing, but it was no accident. Since the magazines were handed out in bulk, no charges could be filed.

    The second, was a cook-off down range. 50cal ma’deuce, and yet another exploded thigh. At least this was not done on purpose, hell of a way to get on a plane too Lanstuhl either way.

    Both made full recoveries.

  • Kivaari

    You are protected in your right to speak, but you don’t own the facts.

  • David Trainmore

    First of all, this guy is, and will still be, right handed. Its his left paw which got burned when the rifle blew up. But I got into the cleanup of another Marlin SS Guide Gun blowup, where the handloader was afraid of the recoil and loaded too light. His too light, but crimped loads blew that one up. I helped pick up some of the laminated forearm wood from around a shooting bench. The shooter had already staggered off, so there wasn’t any after action report. He got some slivers in his arm, but that was really minor. Both of these Big Marlins kept their bolts in battery, and that’s saying something. Personally, I believe both of these blowups were from secondary pressure excursions. The non crimped slug didn’t kick up the pressures so much in a straight walled case. What probably did it was that the slug without any crimp jumped out into the throat, and that left way too much space in the case/chamber. So just like with the above mentioned handloader, this would cause the blowups. Our R.O.’s mentioned that many more target 38 revolvers were blown up by too light of loads of Bullseye, than ever were, from double charging them with this fast powder. The other Marlin bug bear is that they “influenced” the mag tube over to the loading gate to help get the big rims of the old 45-70G to make the turn. So the bottom round in the tube stays canted up against the primer of the second round. This means that the handloader must stay aware of where his meplates are gong to bear against the case head of the round above it. You don’t need a pointy bullet to cause a blowup. However, the new Hornady Flex Tips solved this problem in a flash..

    • LetsTryLibertyAgain

      First, I DO believe that undercharges can be dangerous in some calibers with some powders, but I believe the problem is usually related to a small charge of powder being suspended in the case during recoil and all of the surface area of the powder flakes being exposed at once, leading to a rapid mass ignition that results in a pressure spike that is close to a detonation. However, I do not subscribe to the “secondary pressure excursion” theories.

      “What probably did it was that the slug without any crimp jumped out into
      the throat, and that left way too much space in the case/chamber.”

      I’m not buying that the powder started to burn, the bullet jumped out into the barrel resulting in a lowered pressure that slowed the burn rate, the bullet slowed and acted similar to a barrel obstruction, then the pressure spiked back up and blew up the rifle. There are nonlinearities in powder burn rates, but I don’t think that sort of scenario is possible.

      On the other hand, Hodgdon issued a warning against loading less than 97% of the max load for H110 because it was dangerous. They no longer seem to have that warning and their load data includes much lower starting loads. To my knowledge, Hodgdon didn’t say WHY they were worried about undercharges, but many (most) internet reloaders believed the problem was inconsistent ignition, particularly at low temperatures. If the primer didn’t properly ignite the powder, the primer’s squib load could push a bullet into the bore and the next round would have a bore obstruction. Others believed that the squib load could lodge a bullet in the bore and the smoldering powder could cause a hang fire situation, the powder could ignite a second or two later, and there would be a bore obstruction from the same round. That’s similar to the “secondary pressure excursion” theory, and I can see how that might happen.

      I think most of the reported undercharge kabooms are the result of using a powder charge that’s so light that there is room for a double charge that goes undetected, so they’re actually overcharges and not undercharges. Those would be difficult to distinguish from the suspended powder flash igniting that I initially described.

      I love the experimental nature of reloading that allows us to create truly unique and even weird loads that are not commercially available, but whenever we stray from the powder manufacturer’s reloading data, we’re experimenting and it can be dangerous. Know the risks and accept the risks. Like the maps of old, I think the margins around the load data charts should be marked “There be dragons here.”

      This article provided something for me to consider when I’m reloading 45-70 loads for my Magnum Research BFR revolver and particularly my Rossi Rio Grande lever action rifle.

      • David Trainmore

        Marlins do have max diameter chambers. Without any crimp, and the bullet being driven deeper into the case, I think the primer pushed the now solid cake of powder out with the bullet into the throat. Then a pressure wave started back and forth between the cake and the case head. Same thing happens when you don’t get a patched R.B. all the down in a muzzle loader. In his Marlin I figured that the bullet got a few pushes and then a detonation occurred. This is why Win. said not to load 41 mags, using 296 with light bullets. The hangfires can generate the conditions for the pressure wave excursions. When I went to a Lyman 410426 the hang fires stopped, when using that softie 250 gr. G.C. slug, made for the old 410 WSL carbines. Looking at that case, I don’t think it split from a push, rather it came apart from a detonation, while it was still F.L. sized in a maximum diameter chamber. So we will have to agree to disagree. I once loaded bullets seated deeply in 41 mag. cases in a S&W M-58 with the idea of gaining a bit more effective bbl. length. It didn’t seem to hurt anything. Plus, some apps used the powder column in a straight walled case as the stopper for the bullet without a crimp. But they used a lot of neck tension.
        I did get some blips loading min. CAS Tite Group loads for 38 Specials in the longer 357 Mag. cases. Maybe one in five would jump up a bit. So now I make sure that I use the minimum loads published for the 357 Mag, in the longer cases. Tite Group is the canister version of Bullseye 23, which is used in many commercial pistol loadings. It doesn’t matter where it lays in the case, but you still need enough of it, just like regular canister Bullseye.

    • Because the .38 Special has so much more case capacity than you need for any smokeless pistol powder, I’m not sure that undercharges are really the issue here.

      • David Trainmore

        I used the same powder, the same swaged lead bullet, and the same powder. I now think everyone should take published minimum charges very seriously. Tite Group’s edge is that it ignites evenly no matter where in the case it lays. So I used it as a bell weather. Two or three rounds in the CAS match really bucked up. Since my two six shooters are 357’s, it wasn’t any big deal. Going back to the slightly smaller 38 Spec. cases solved things. Going up to the correct minimum charge for the 357 probably would have fixed it too.

  • thanks for this…..and I hope all works out healthwise, too.

  • RPK

    I have some reloads for sale. Anyone interested?

  • Doom

    Not too bad, though that is after getting stitches I guess. My fingers looked worse after running through a table saw.

  • DAVE WAYNE

    Actually looks better than the last 45-70 accident I saw online. A fella leaned his cocked and loaded rifle against a wall. As it fell over striking a chair and firing…the bullet entered just over his left shoulder blade, scooted along and exited in a 6 inch hole on the back of his neck. Everyone that sees the pics including me remarks how a person so dumb had such good luck.

  • Maximus Max

    I’m totally confused. Rifle is blown out on the ejection side of a right handed weapon, but the guys left hand sustained the damage. Explanation?