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  1. #1
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    My first firearms related accident

    I am normally an extremely meticulous reloader. I have been reloading no less than 15 years and probably longer than that. What happened here is the brass was home-formed brass made out of 223/5.56. The case walls (which became the neck) were too thick but after forming you could drop the empty case in a chamber gauge and it would look fine. Once a bullet was seated though it was too thick and would not fully chamber. It was basically an out of battery detonation. It was out of battery just enough to where the bolt was not locked so when it went off it jammed the bolt into the carrier and split it.

    In no less than 15 years of reloading all the time this is my first accident. Not cool.

    It took me about 4 hours to remove the bolt and carrier from the upper. I broke everything down into pieces including removing the barrel (for inspection purposes) and it appears like this bolt carrier group is the only casualty here.
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    Sorry to hear man. Glad you're ok.

  3. #3
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    Thanks. No digits lost. First accident in at least 15 probably more like 20 years of reloading. It was bound to happen but ammo wise it was from something hard to detect until it was too late.

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    Yikes. Glad you are ok.

    So, what do we learn from this? How do you check for and prevent this from happening again? Measuring neck thickness?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BoilerUp View Post
    Yikes. Glad you are ok.

    So, what do we learn from this? How do you check for and prevent this from happening again? Measuring neck thickness?
    Either to neck turn each piece or to buy commercially produced brass. A or B. Dropping every single round every time into a case gauge is possible but it has it's downsides as well.

    Neck turning sounds like a lot of work but once I get a couple thousand pieces it will last me for a while. I will have to check on the prices of commercial brass but odds are I will just go that route.

    I'm broke but not so broke that I am willing to risk another blow up. I like reloading but I like it for the sake of doing it. Saving money is another thing all together. 300 Blackout is still a very new round to me for the most part and I was operating under my standard safety protocols which have worked good for a long time already. Bad components are a whole other animal though.

    People said you can form your own brass, and yes that's true...but I learned the hard way that forming your own brass comes with a big fat asterisk.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alamo5000 View Post
    Either to neck turn each piece or to buy commercially produced brass. A or B. Dropping every single round every time into a case gauge is possible but it has it's downsides as well.

    Neck turning sounds like a lot of work but once I get a couple thousand pieces it will last me for a while. I will have to check on the prices of commercial brass but odds are I will just go that route.

    I'm broke but not so broke that I am willing to risk another blow up. I like reloading but I like it for the sake of doing it. Saving money is another thing all together. 300 Blackout is still a very new round to me for the most part and I was operating under my standard safety protocols which have worked good for a long time already. Bad components are a whole other animal though.

    People said you can form your own brass, and yes that's true...but I learned the hard way that forming your own brass comes with a big fat asterisk.
    I really appreciate that you've shared your experience here so we can all learn from it. I never form my own brass but that's largely because I really don't like the idea of having brass that doesn't match its headstamp. For 300 BLK brass my preferred approach is to shoot factory ammo and save the brass. The S&B loaded ammo can be a pretty good value compared to buying just brass.

    For the rounds you already have loaded, should you inspect each round with a case gauge? That should pick up any bulging issues, I would think. I never do that with loaded ammo but in this case it seems like it would tell you if you have any more rounds out of spec.

    Also, I wonder if running the formed brass through a Lee Collet neck sizer as one last step would help. If the neck is too thick, I suspect the brass would mushroom and be ruined in the collett die.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BoilerUp View Post
    I really appreciate that you've shared your experience here so we can all learn from it. I never form my own brass but that's largely because I really don't like the idea of having brass that doesn't match its headstamp. For 300 BLK brass my preferred approach is to shoot factory ammo and save the brass. The S&B loaded ammo can be a pretty good value compared to buying just brass.

    For the rounds you already have loaded, should you inspect each round with a case gauge? That should pick up any bulging issues, I would think. I never do that with loaded ammo but in this case it seems like it would tell you if you have any more rounds out of spec.

    Also, I wonder if running the formed brass through a Lee Collet neck sizer as one last step would help. If the neck is too thick, I suspect the brass would mushroom and be ruined in the collett die.
    Great questions... and yes that was the primary motive. I want others to learn what to watch out for.

    As far as forming brass I am not worried a bit about mixing up brass for range ammo. 300 BLK is totally different in shape and size. Now though I am obviously rethinking that. Before the only time I really segregate brass was for match ammo etc. And I am not loading match ammo in 300 BLK :)

    Fortunately I just loaded a little bit. I was actually finishing off shooting the remainder of the batch I had when the blow up happened. After 2 or 3 mags I had something like 20 rounds left and I just threw them out. Some of those rounds were damaged so I didn't want to mess with that obviously.

    After forming the brass the cases would drop freely into a gauge but once a bullet was inserted the problem manifest itself. I would have to drop test each loaded round to detect it.

    I do use a collet crimp die but that doesn't help. At very least if you crank it way down it will deform the bullet a lot before it does anything regarding neck thickness. I am not sure if that's the same die you are talking about but that is already in use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alamo5000 View Post
    I do use a collet crimp die but that doesn't help. At very least if you crank it way down it will deform the bullet a lot before it does anything regarding neck thickness. I am not sure if that's the same die you are talking about but that is already in use.
    No, the collet neck die is different. They are primarily used when shooting bolt action and all you want to do is resize the neck. This will keep your brass fire formed to your chamber and really doesn't work the brass at all so you can pretty good brass life. Eventually you'll have to bump the shoulder back. I keep them around for semi-autos as it's an easy way to take care of dented case necks without having to fully resize and therefore work the brass. No lube is required, either. The collet neck basically just "squeezes" the neck into shape and, to some extent, thickness. For your problem, though, i don't know where the brass would "flow" but I presume it would lengthen the case a tiny bit if the neck was too thick.

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    It's not even a matter of being careful. I am extremely careful when I reload as noted by my fairly long (in my mind) track record without incident. Taking statements like "you can form your own brass" at face value is not absolute. And even checking each piece of brass before loading they pass. After loading not so much. And it only takes one problem to cause a major problem. I am fortunate that mine only cost me a bolt carrier group.

    All things said I am still kind of pissed about it. Not that it helps. I just have to take measures to prevent it from ever happening again. No matter what.

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    What bass was this?

    You donít run a case guage in batches? I always had it on the bench , check a handful here and then again 30 later or so..

    I always did and sorted comm. to military brass. Just to also take all I could out of the possibilities.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mustangfreek View Post
    What bass was this?

    You don’t run a case guage in batches? I always had it on the bench , check a handful here and then again 30 later or so..

    I always did and sorted comm. to military brass. Just to also take all I could out of the possibilities.
    I am not sure the brand of brass because the base of it largely got messed up. When the brass was formed you could drop it into a case gauge and it would drop in freely. It would pass that test. When you load a bullet into the case though the neck thickness was just thick enough to prevent full chambering.

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    Did it vent through the mag and blow it out?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Did it vent through the mag and blow it out?
    The bolt was still in the extension and only held in place by some tiny shards of brass that were lodged in there. That's what took me so long to get it out. Most of the explosion was actually quite contained but yes it did blow the magazine out. Visually there is no damage to the mag at all. Just a lot of soot on it.

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    Really glad you are okay. I've never tried making my own cases, and have never felt the need for a case neck turning tool. May have to reconsider that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry R View Post
    Really glad you are okay. I've never tried making my own cases, and have never felt the need for a case neck turning tool. May have to reconsider that.
    It's really not hard to do at all. It works great but some brands of brass obviously create a big problem.

    I have to figure out how much of a hassle neck turning is because I don't normally get that involved for most rifles.

    Odds are that I will just buy a couple thousand cases of commercial brass and leave it at that.

    If and when I shoot commercially loaded ammo I might save that too but overall cutting, trimming, and turning brass eventually has a negative rate of return. A couple hundred dollars for brass and I can be all set for quite some time and have a lot more peace of mind.

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