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38 Special failure to fire


kmca
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I had 11 out of 12 failures to fire yesterday.

I was loading 158 grain Bear Creek round nose bullets into mixed brass, Winchester primers and Titegroup. I was running low on bullets and I found some Berry's plated 158 grain round nose, so I loaded a couple dozen between batches of Bear Creek. They were loaded on a Dillon 550. Nothing was changed except the bullets, same primer batch, same powder, same mixed cases.

Now, I shot the first stage using Bear Creek without a problem. Second stage, I loaded the Berry's and had 11 out of 12 failures to fire. I rotated through the cylinder, so several were struck the second time, without firing.

I talked to several other shooters and they also were at a loss to explain the failures to fire. Some thought it might be an OAL problem, but since I am using 38 special brass in a S&W Model 19, I can't see OAL to be a problem, but who knows? Some thought the different rim thicknesses on the brass was the problem, but all my Bear Creek bullets fired using the same mixed brass.

I am at a complete loss of what's wrong.

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I'd look at the firing pin first.

I'd also pull some of the bullets that FTF and see what the primers look like. Make sure the anvil is actually there.

It would seem odd to get so many of them in one group but I can't see how the change of bullets would cause a primer to not work.

BTW - what brand of primer ?

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Bullet type should have no effect on the primer/firing pin interaction. Something else is happening. Have you fired any of the older stuff since then? That might rule out a problem that just started with the gun itself. Try some factory(I know it's tough to find). If the factory works, that rules out a hardware issue.

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1. Firing pin strike looked a little lighter than the one that fired.

2. I'll pull some bullets this afternoon, but I can't believe 11 out of 12 didn't have an anvil, but you never know. They're Winchester small pistol primers.

3. I know bullet shape shouldn't have anything to do with the problem, but it's there. I shot the first stage with Bear Creek bullets, no problem. Second stage Berry's and that's where the failures to fire occurred. Third stage, went back to the Bear Creek and no problem.

The Berry's bullets were reloaded during the same session as the Bear Creek bullets. I do have a few hundred factory loads, but the gun is still shooting my Bear Creek reloads without problem.

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The only time I had a ton of light strikes, it came from a loose shell plate on my 550. The primers were high. This is a long shot, but is it possible that the high primers are seated more fully by the pressure of seating the bullets? When the seating die comes down, the shell is pushed down into the floor of the ram.The bear creek bullets maybe looser and don't have as much downward force. Can you hand prime a few? As I said, a long shot.

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Yup, second strike usually sets them off, except with this revolver/reload. I'll try seating a few primers by hand and see what happens, but I don't see that as a cure. Like I said, I loaded approximately 100 using the Bear Creeks, loaded about 50 Berry's, then loaded about 100 more Bear Creeks. Didn't change a thing. This one really has me stumped :(

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If the primer ignites, and if there is sufficient powder in the case to propel the bullet... the bullet type makes no difference at all when it comes to "non-igniting light strikes". The actual head on the cartridge plays no part in the process of - primer ignition, powder ignition, bullet being propelled forward.

I would look at primer seating depth (first) and possibly no powder drop (second). If you have a primer that ignites, and powder that burns, the bullet plays no role is being propelled from the barrel.

It's not the bullet type used.

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If the primer ignites, and if there is sufficient powder in the case to propel the bullet... the bullet type makes no difference at all when it comes to "non-igniting light strikes". The actual head on the cartridge plays no part in the process of - primer ignition, powder ignition, bullet being propelled forward.

I would look at primer seating depth (first) and possibly no powder drop (second). If you have a primer that ignites, and powder that burns, the bullet plays no role is being propelled from the barrel.

It's not the bullet type used.

I pulled the bullets and the powder was right, the primer didn't ignite. I appreciate that the bullet shape should have nothing to do with primer ignition, but that's the only thing that changed. Those bullets were loaded during the same run, same tube of primers, same powder, same cases and didn't fire, yet the Bear Creek ones did.

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Different brands of brass have different primer pocket depths. Primers seem to seat at different depths, especially if the shell plate is a little loose. If you have a light action revolver, there is always the chance that the brass was coincidentally some of these other brands. Seller and Belliot and Winchester come to mind as problems. What you put INTO the case has no effect on the primer. It's completely illogical. Even if there was insufficient powder or no powder in the case, this has zero effect on the primer ignition. You would hear the primer go off.

I'm not trying to sound like the snarky internet guy but these shooter friends of yours are not too bright and I really would not take reloading advice from them. The overall length, as per the above paragraph, has no effect on primers going off. Taking reloading advice from people who are ignorant is a disaster waiting to happen. The rim is also irrelevant here - I use mixed brass that has been loaded tons of times and they all have different rim thickness.

In addition, you can't compare the "hit" on a primer that didn't ignite with the "hit" on a primer that did. When the primer goes off, it hits the back of the firing pin and makes a nice size dent and is not indicative of the actual firing pin's hit on the primer. I've made this mistake in the past.

Perhaps your strain screw backed out?

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The advise I've gotten from multiple sources is filtered, some rejected, some requiring more thought. I don't see how the bullet shape can make a difference (in a revolver) but that's the only thing that has changed.

I checked the strain screw, although I don't see how that could be the problem if the cartridges with BC bullets fire.

The OAL with Berry bullets is about .030 longer than the BC bullets, so I adjusted to the same length as BC bullets. I also can't see that it would make a difference, but I thought I'd give it a try.

Anyway, thanks for all the thoughts.

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Seeing as how you pulled some of the bullets and powder was in place, I would look at the bullet noses to see if there was a mark on them. I don't know how long the chambers are on your gun, or if it has a detent instead of being straight walled, but if the nose of the bullet is somehow hitting the detent instead of seating cleanly, it could be held up slightly from fully seating and when the primer is hit it drives it forward slightly. Still, I would think the second strike would still set it off unless the round is still being hammered forward instead of seated in the cylinder on its rim. This is the only scenario I can think of that would involve the change of bullets, all else being equal. The bullet, if not interfering with complete seating, should not affect the ignition in any way.

The only other thing is that those primers somehow got exposed to oil or water before being seated or some other contaminant. Hopefully they all went from package to primer tube in the usual manner as per specification, and did not spill out and be picked up by fingers or fall on some contaminated surface.

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If you still have the primers in the pulled cases, try putting the pulled (empty) case back in the gun and see if the primers will pop this time.

If you do this and the primer fires the primer setback will probably lock up the cylinder.

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Seeing as how you pulled some of the bullets and powder was in place, I would look at the bullet noses to see if there was a mark on them. I don't know how long the chambers are on your gun, or if it has a detent instead of being straight walled, but if the nose of the bullet is somehow hitting the detent instead of seating cleanly, it could be held up slightly from fully seating and when the primer is hit it drives it forward slightly. Still, I would think the second strike would still set it off unless the round is still being hammered forward instead of seated in the cylinder on its rim. This is the only scenario I can think of that would involve the change of bullets, all else being equal. The bullet, if not interfering with complete seating, should not affect the ignition in any way.

The only other thing is that those primers somehow got exposed to oil or water before being seated or some other contaminant. Hopefully they all went from package to primer tube in the usual manner as per specification, and did not spill out and be picked up by fingers or fall on some contaminated surface.

Since it's a 38 special going into a gun that's made for 357 magnum, I can't see it being a problem

If you still have the primers in the pulled cases, try putting the pulled (empty) case back in the gun and see if the primers will pop this time.

I threw those away :(

Gremlins. :surprise::ph34r:

I'm probably going to go with this one, or as a friend in the electronics industry said "it's fm" (F*****g magic)

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I experienced this one time, using mixed brass like you are. I had a lot of dud primers. After a while, I realized that some of the .38 brass I had picked up somewhere had been used for shooting wax (paraffin) bullets for practise. They still had a bit of the paraffin in the cases, which completely killed the primers. I cleaned out the cases (I am too cheap to toss them), and they worked fine.

If you ever play with wax bullets (paraffin with primers only), that is the reason you only seat the primers immediately prior to shooting them (the wax kills the primers within a day).

Long shot, but just sayin'.....

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Just a quick update.

I pulled 12 bullets, reprimed the cases and loaded them .030 shorter. They all fired. I took some of the batch that wouldn't fire, shortened them .030 (that's the only thing I did) and they fired. At this point, I'm not going to argue with success, but I sure am baffled.

Thanks for all the help :)

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