Don’t Blow Up Your Glock!
Well, while cruising YouTube the other day, I ran across one where the dude was filming himself shooting his .45 caliber Glock. Things were going fine…until the thing blew up in his hands! Ouch! This isn’t an exclusively Glock problem, but strangely seems to happen to that brand more often than we would like. Read on.
Fortunately, other than some bruising, he was OK. Watch his ‘boom’ and his analysis of what happened here. He is spot on for the cause of his malfunction, as he pointed out that he had shown someone what over crimping of a hand reloaded cartridge looked like and forgot to reset his sizing dies back to where they were supposed to be!
Folks like him and myself, who reload their own ammo, have an obligation and self interest to pursue this activity with the utmost care and caution, because “simple” mistakes like this can be devastating! One may find all sorts of ‘load guides’ on the internet for hand reloading of cartridges, but unless you’re an experienced person who is self confident enough to risk blowing up a weapon and possibly losing a finger or eye in the process, you should stick with the ‘professional’ guide books one can buy or download free from the gunpowder manufacturers websites, such as Accurate Powders. These books and online sources are the ONLY sources of information on this ‘hobby’ that I trust.
If you’re feeling not quite up to par, or you’re emotionally distracted (fussing at the kids or arguing with your wife), or have a headache or a TV going in your loading area, you are asking for trouble because of dangerous distractions or missing a detail you would normally catch if you weren’t feeling bad. So, load another day when you feel OK….and turn off the stupid TV!
As the Glock boomer pointed out, the critical mistake he made was over crimping the case neck as his loading gear produced the final stage of the process of seating the bullet into the case. His nice illustration pointed out that in that situation with his Glock, or any other auto-loading, straight walled cartridge firing weapon, you have a possible disaster in the making. The bullet, wedged into the area ahead of the chamber neck, has no place it can go, so the massive pressure of the gunpowder gases has nowhere it can go other than to find the weakest area of the weapon to escape through. And considering the typical chamber pressures of a normally fired .45 caliber bullet is in the area of 20,500 PSI, when it’s backed up against a bullet “plug” in the barrel, well, then you can count on disaster. A .357 magnum full power load cartridge can routinely hit over 34,000 PSI, but that’s a different critter altogether, for a completely different firearm.
Now, I’ve reloaded my own handgun (and some rifle) loads for quite the while now. And I have had an issue or two that could have been much worse than they turned out. On one occasion I was running .357 magnum handgun cartridges, lightly loaded for Cowboy Action shooting. I switched over to .38 special on the same loading machine and ran a few hundred of those. Then I went back to the .357 cartridges, but forgot to ‘reset’ the powder measuring device for the slightly longer .357 cartridge. So, I get out to the next competition match for that sport and about halfway through the day, I’m in a stage, shooting away when my rifle goes ‘putt’ instead of ‘bang!’. I instantly noticed that, and as I worked the lever, sure enough an empty casing is ejected. I knew then that I had fired a ‘squib’ load, which is an under charged situation which lodged the bullet in the barrel instead of firing it out to the target. Had I not paid attention and fired the next bullet in line, that would have probably blown up my Winchester lever gun. Instead, just lesson learned and match lost.
I no longer use that particular loading machine ( a Lee Pro 1000) not just for that issue, but additionally because I now prefer to inspect each and every bullet, case, primer and powder charge for every single cartridge I reload on my Lee turret press. And the turret press can switch over to a completely different cartridge setup by just changing the turret assembly with the required dies installed into it. It takes a few more pulls of the handle to crank out a cartridge, but I feel the process is worth it for the better quality ammo I can produce. I also meticulously weigh the powder load at the start of every session, and again half way through the usual 50 cartridges at a time, verifying the charge against the manufacturers data, and use calipers to measure the finished cartridge dimensions to make sure they are as close as possible to those specs, plus or minus within .002″ particularly of the case neck as I reload 9mm Luger ammo for my new toys and other 9mm handguns. Reloading your own can save a pile of money. Or get you better stocked up for ‘whatever’.
For a 9mm cartridge, as you see above, the highlighted numbers are the crucial ones. The .380 neck diameter MUST be met as closely as you can, for every cartridge you reload. Being .002″ over probably won’t hurt anything, unless the gun is so filthy the firing chamber won’t allow the cartridge to seat at all. The overall length must not be exceeded or you’ll be having failure to feed properly issues and / or the situation also pointed out in the video where the bullet ‘ogive'(at the .3550″ dimension) is too close to the start of the rifling which can also create a disaster. Being undersized, say at .370″, is where you start risking a ‘boom’.
Anyway, if you were on the fence about reloading your own ammo, don’t be too put off buy this kind of thing. But you must be extremely vigilant about every step of the process. Watch the YouTube channels of people who have been successfully doing this for quite a while, like FortuneCookie 45LC or perhaps Ammosmith Reloading for some useful ‘how to’ information.
Safe shootin’, pardner.