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June 22nd, 2020

Fingers Blown Off by Smokeless Powder in a Muzzle-Loader

muzzleloader muzzle-loader smokeless black powder overcharge Kaboom fingers sever

What you see above is what happens when you shoot the wrong powder in a muzzle-loader. Specifically, a charge of smokeless powder was used instead of black powder or black powder substitute. The difference in energy (by weight and volume) between black powder and modern smokeless powder is huge. You should never, ever run smokeless powder in a black powder recipe. The result can be catastrophic. In this case the hapless shooter lost a couple fingers. So he got a free twin-digit amputation, thanks to his reloading mistake. The lesson to learn here is to always double-check your propellant before loading. And never “re-bottle” smokeless powder into a different container with a different label (or worse yet, no label at all).

This incident happened in Indiana a couple years back. As reported by the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR), this was a classic case of “user error”: “Corporal Eric Doane worked a firearm accident last night in Martin County that resulted in the shooter losing a couple fingers. This is what can happen when you shoot smokeless powder out of a muzzle-loader designed for black powder.”

Credit to The Firearm Blog for finding this story.

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February 18th, 2020

RCBS Reloading Videos — How to Load Better Ammo Safely

RCBS reloading equipment instruction video series chargemaster progressive rock chucker press case prep

RCBS makes some of the most rugged and durable reloading products you can buy. The RCBS Rock Chucker press is legendary — for good reason. The Editor uses one that has been in my family over twenty years. I also own an RCBS 2000 progressive press that has loaded many thousands of rounds, and features the excellent APS strip priming system. RCBS is serious about reloading, so this company has created a very complete series of instructional videos showing reloading precedures and equipment. You’ll find over 60 videos on the RCBS Video Resources Page and RCBS YouTube Channel.

We encourage readers to check out the RCBS Videos. They can help you master the basics of handloading — case prep, priming, sizing, and bullet seating. In addition, these videos can help you select the right equipment for your loading bench. Videos show presses, case tumblers, ultrasonic cleaning machines, powered case prep centers, and more.

Here are three of our favorite RCBS Reloading videos, along with links to a dozen more:

Basic Safety Precautions for Reloading

Every novice hand-loader should watch this video. It covers the key safety principles you should follow, such as “Don’t use components of unknown origin”. We would add — always double check the labels on your powder bottles, and if you don’t know 100% what powder is in your powder measure — dump it out. Some of the most serious injuries have occurred when reloaders put pistol powder in rifle cases.

Setting Up the Sizing Die Correctly

This video address the common complaint some novices have when their hand-loadeed cartridges won’t chamber properly. Kent Sakamoto explains how to set up the sizing die properly to size the case body and bump the shoulder.

Choosing a Case Cleaning System

Here Kent Sakamoto looks at the three main types of brass cleaning systems: Vibratory Tumbler, Wet Tumbler (with media), and Ultrasonic Cleaning Machine. Kent reviews the pros and cons of each system.

More RCBS Reloading Videos

Here are twelve more helpful videos from RCBS. These cover both reloading techniques and reloading equipment. There are currently over 60 videos on the RCBS YouTube Channel.

Reloading How-To Videos
Case Trimming, Deburring, Chamfering
Measuring Case Length
Crimping — When and How to Crimp
Primer Pocket Cleaning
Priming with a Hand Tool
How to Use an Ultrasonic Machine

Reloading Equipment Videos
Rock Chucker Supreme Kit
RCBS ChargeMaster Lite
RCBS Pro 2000 Progressive Press
Universal Case Prep Center
Summit Single-Stage Press
RCBS Turret Press

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November 20th, 2017

Glen Zediker Offers Smart Advice on Priming

Primer Forster Co-ax priming tool
The anvil is the tripod-shaped thin metal piece protruding above the bottom of the primer cup. Getting the primer sitting fully flush on the bottom of the case primer pocket, without crunching it too much, requires some keen feel for the progress of primer seating.

top grade ammo book Glen ZedikerIn two recent Midsouth Blog articles, Glen Zediker offers helpful advice on priming. First he examines what happens to the primer itself as it is seated in the cup. Glen explains why some “crush” is important, and why you never want to leave a high primer. Glen also reviews a variety of priming tools, including his favorite — the Forster Co-Ax Bench Primer Seater. Then he offers some key safety tips. Glen provides some “rock-solid” advice about the priming operation. You’ll find more great reloading tips in Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, which we recommend.

Priming Precision vs. Speed
Glen writes: “The better priming tools have less leverage. That is so we can feel the progress of that relatively very small span of depth between start and finish. There is also a balance between precision and speed in tool choices, as there so often is.”

Benchtop Priming Tools — The Forster Co-Ax
Glen thinks that the best choice among priming options, considering both “feel” and productivity, may be the benchtop stand-alone priming stations: “They are faster than hand tools, and can be had with more or less leverage engineered into them. I like the one shown below the best because its feeding is reliable and its feel is more than good enough to do a ‘perfect’ primer seat. It’s the best balance I’ve found between speed and precision.”

Primer Forster Co-ax priming tool

Primer Forster Co-ax priming tool

Load Tuning and Primers
Glen cautions that you should always reduce your load when you switch to a new, not-yet-tested primer type: “The primer is, in my experience, the greatest variable that can change the performance of a load combination, which is mostly to say ‘pressure’. Never (never ever) switch primer brands without backing off the propellant charge and proving to yourself how far to take it back up, or to even back it off more. I back off one full grain of propellant [when I] try a different primer brand.”

Primer Forster Co-ax priming tool

Priming Safety Tips by Zediker

1. Get a good primer “flip” tray for use in filling the feeding magazine tubes associated with some systems. Make double-damn sure each primer is fed right side up (or down, depending on your perspective). A common cause of unintentional detonation is attempting to overfill a stuffed feeding tube magazine, so count and watch your progress.

2. Don’t attempt to seat a high primer more deeply on a finished round. The pressure needed to overcome the inertia to re-initiate movement may be enough to detonate it.

3. Don’t punch out a live primer! That can result in an impressive fright. To kill a primer, squirt or spray a little light oil into its open end. That renders the compound inert.

4. Keep the priming tool cup clean. That’s the little piece that the primer sits down into. Any little shard of brass can become a firing pin! It’s happened!

These Tips on Priming come from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available at Midsouth Shooters Supply. CLICK HERE to learn more about this and other publications from Zediker Publishing.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 1 Comment »