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I hate to admit that I erred when reloading, but feel someone else out there may benefit from my mistake and not do the same.

Recently I have been reloading 32 ACP in a Colt Pocket Pistol built in 1915. The gun is in very good condition with the exception of some bluing wear.

The old saying that, "If a powder can't be found in a manufacture's published reloading manual, DON'T use it!" The other saying, "When testing out recipes, start with the lower volumes on the range of powder weights listed".

Fortunately I always start with the lightest loads and work my way up to a weight I feel comfortable with shooting. The first thing I did with the 32 ACP loads was to take apart some factory loads of 71 grain FMJ rounds. I found they had 2.3 grains of some type of fine powder. So I consulted two or three reloading manuals and found powders which seemed to be more popular than others. I actually found N310 and N320 listed for use with a 60 grain JHP, and a variety of powders starting at 1.5 and 1.6 grains for a 75 grain caste bullet.

I loaded up some of the powders listed starting with 1.6 grains of Bullseye, PB, and even N320 for a 78 grain powdered bullet. The PB showed mid 600's, and the Bullseye and N320 were in the mid 800's.

That's when I got the idea to try N310 at 1.5 grains. I figured it would be a cleaner shooting powder in the small case. Big mistake, two of the rounds functioned normally, but the third caused the case to stick and jam the gun. I was fortunate that it only caused the barrel to swell ever so slightly. The case came out without much effort, but I couldn't initially get the barrel freed from the slide.

Fortunately a friend showed me how to put a threaded rod in the barrel with a nut on the inside. By placing a washer on the outside with another nut, we were able to turn the outside nut and pull the barrel out of the slide.

I am so lucky that I didn't have a Kaboom and destroy the gun, or get myself or anyone else injured!

I researched on line and found a business that makes new replacement barrels for the 32 ACP and .380 ACP Colt Pocket Pistols. I ordered a barrel and it was a very tight fit. After shooting about 75 rounds through it, I was able to easily remove the new barrel for cleaning.

I have since found it is quite common to find the 32 ACP Colt Pocket Pistols with bulged barrels. The metals just weren't that strong in the early 1900's and it doesn't take much to damage them with new factory ammo.

So I will never again load powders not listed by the manufacturer for reloading. I will continue to start at the lower charges when testing out new recipes.

Be safe out there!
Steve
 

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Friends Call Me "Flash"
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I won't load any recipe that isn't in a published manual. That being said, I will take two recipes and load one from the middle of two listed. I have about 24 different manuals so the information is in one of them...... I just need to find it!

Most of the time, I follow that old trick of loading at the minimum shown and working the load gradually upwards. That applies for all manuals except for Lyman 49 & 50 manuals. Lyman is the most conservative manual that I've found, so I start in the middle of their data and work upwards.

Had ONE KABOOM in nearly 50 years of reloading. It was from a Remington 11-48 shotgun that was purchased used and extremely dirty inside. The semi auto jammed and as I was clearing it, the shotgun fired with NO finger near the trigger! Everything in the shell came out the ejection port and the bolt handle came off in my right hand.

Shooting glasses saved my day! My face was black and the glasses were hanging off of one ear. The crimped end of the shell was still in the chamber.

Flash
 

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Well there is a lesson in all that. Pretty sure I would never use a powder recipe that I could not find in a manual somewhere.
 

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Another consideration is the age of the firearm, Big difference in a new firearm and one that was built 115 years ago. Also the powder used back then I doubt is even close to today standards.
 
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I often consult multiple manuals getting an idea of powder charges and OAL for lead as plated bullets. Then I average them up to find a nice range of charges that I think will be safe for my hitek costed bullets that never have any published data specific to them.

And even then I stick to the middle powder charges. I never want to even approach a max load unless I’m using the specific projectile in the listed data.
 

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Friends Call Me "Flash"
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With so many manuals in my library (24+- ), there's opportunity to compare their data. The "hot rodder" of the bunch is the Lee manual by the late Richard Lee. There are some routine loads in that book that are over maximum in other manuals! Lee actually publishes pressure data for their loads.

Since the manuals vary some, I compare the data to select what is right for me.

Be advised that load data DOES change over the years. I stopped loading for a while, and when I returned to it, found that loads that formerly specified magnum primers, now called out standard primers! Use current data!

FOLLOW the recipe data! After working on the development of .458 Socom rounds, that was very apparent. That rifle round uses large magnum PISTOL primers! That's what was used in SAAMI pressure data tests and if you want to stay within SAAMI specifications, that's what to use! Your best data for .458 Socom is found in the Lyman #50 manual.

SAAMI= Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturing Institute (since 1926).

SAAMI develops the maximum safe pressure allowed for a specific firearm and cartridge. Then they test each recipe with pressure devices to ensure that pressure of that load is within the SAAMI specifications. When they say "MAXIMUM", they mean that recipe is right at SAAMI pressure limits, so go no hotter.

SAAMI pressure is being revised from "Copper Units of Pressure" (CUP) that uses a copper crusher to determine pressure to "Pounds per Square Inch". You will see both types of pressure readings as they are changed over.


I never use data from the Internet unless it's from a powder company. If they test the recipe, publish the data in a book and put their company reputation behind it, the data is solid information!

Flash
 

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I use to have an reloading book by the NRA from the 1960's. Pretty much all of the loads listed in there were way over the listed loads of today. And usually by a lot.
 

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SAAMI specifies loads for specific firearms, too. The best example is with the 45-70 cartridge. A load that shoots just fine in a modern Marlin lever gun, will destroy an antique Trapdoor Springfield. Those loads are handled separately in the loading manuals.

Flash
 

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Were these hand weighed & scrupulously verified? I am betting you had a double charge??
I have gone off book many times with powders not listed for a given caliber. It isnt for the inexp reloader but can safely be done. I have never blown anything up. Find the burn rate close to something listed & use starting data. You really must use a chrono to track the results. It doesn't tell you pressure but you can compare it to book data & see where you are at.
 
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Discussion Starter #11
Were these hand weighed & scrupulously verified? I am betting you had a double charge??
I have gone off book many times with powders not listed for a given caliber. It isnt for the inexp reloader but can safely be done. I have never blown anything up. Find the burn rate close to something listed & use starting data. You really must use a chrono to track the results. It doesn't tell you pressure but you can compare it to book data & see where you are at.
I wasn't using my press monitor at the time because I was using my RCBS Chargemaster 1500 and manually loading each charge at station 2. There is a possibility that I got distracted and inadvertently double charged the case but I don't think that happened.

Steve
 

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I wasn't using my press monitor at the time because I was using my RCBS Chargemaster 1500 and manually loading each charge at station 2. There is a possibility that I got distracted and inadvertently double charged the case but I don't think that happened.

Steve
The firing sequence doesnt jive. If you fired 2rds & nothing happened, the 3rd wouldnt have done anything either. I doubt 1.5gr of anything in a 32acp would over pressure & cause a barrel bulge. No one ever thinks they doubled.:faint:Though there isnt much room for error. Looking at Clays data, 1.5 is starting & 1.7 is max.
 
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Discussion Starter #13
I agree, I believe I double charged the case and was fortunate that I was loading using the least amount of powder instead of the maximum. It’s the only thing that prevented damage to the rest of the gun.

I’m very fortunate to have only damaged the barrel!

Steve
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Well I loaded up about 20 rounds and shot them at the range this afternoon. Velocities were in the mid 600’s with mild recoil and accuracy. I’m looking forward to shooting this handgun. I can see why they were so popular in their day.

Steve
 
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