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M1A Reloading SNAFU


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I took my M1A out to the range today to shoot some ladder loads I've worked up for competition shooting. I'm using IMR 808 XBR powder and 150 grain Hornady FMJBT bullets.

I started out shooting some Winchester White 147 grain factory ammunition to warm up the barrel and put scope on paper. These shot perfectly fine and I was able to shoot about 20 rounds and easily get sub moa accuracy. The rifle shot great and felt great.

I then moved to my reloads. I started with 5 rounds in my magazine. This first group of 5 were for 40.0 grains of IMR 8208 XBR powder.

I'm not precisely sure the exact order of malfunctions but I believe this was the sequence of events:

1. Fired first round. Hit on paper. No issues.

2. Fired second round. Hit on paper about 1" from first hit. Double feed.

I noticed that the rife was not in battery and fixed the double feed. While doing this I noticed that the bullet being fed from the magazine had been slightly compressed into the case mouth from the brute force of the Double Feed (I prepared these reloads a while ago and I'm not absolutely certain if I did a crimp on the case mouth). I'd say about 1/16" to 1/8" deeper. In hind sight I should have ejected this round, but I didn't. I know...

3. Fired third round into Berm to 'discard' it. Yes, I know I should have ejected it. That being said I didn't...

What I found was that when I shot this third round the case split/broke. The bottom portion of the case was ejected and the remainder of the case is now stuck snugly inside my M1A chamber.

So I have a few questions:

1. How do I get the stuck case out? Gunsmith? Or is there a way to do this myself?

2. Has anyone else experienced this kind of over pressure from such a seemingly small change in COAL? The case was completely split radially and the primer showed signs of over pressure also (flat and squashed).

3. I also noticed that on one of the cases from the first two rounds, the primer showed signs of being pushed out the back of the case, maybe half way out. Is this from under pressure or over pressure?

In hindsight, I suppose it really wasn't that small of a change in COAL. I should have ejected the round and dismantled it at home. Any observations, experiences, advice would be very helpful. I have just never had this happen before in the 3 years that I've been reloading and shooting.

This was the minimum powder load for this powder and bullet weight combination. I've not shot this rifle that much and this is the first time I'm reloading for the M1A. I've heard this rifle is a little finicky about ammo and gas pressure, but this is all very strange.

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M1A's are not finicky, just use 4895 in them! Either IMR or Hodgdon versions.

Unless your mags are really screwed up, the ammo is the place to look for malfunctions.

"once fired, military" brass is fired from machine guns, with larger than normal headspace. This stretches the brass, and can/will lead to head separations in M14 based rifles, as they unlock with fairly high barrel pressure.

With all the new powders on the market, and the current state of supply, this will not be an uncommon predicament as we try to make use of whatever components we can aquire.

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Recoil in mag without aufficient crimp can also contribute to bullet setback. Had very similar case failure in my rifle with Wolf ammo. To prevent scratching chamber with broken case extractor, had my gunsmith plug case neck and fill case with low temp melt alloy. Then after allowing it to harden, pounded broken (now filled) case out with old brass cleaning rod from the muzzle.

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Well I have to first say that I really do appreciate the advice. I was almost afraid that I'd feel like an idiot after reading replies about all the mistakes I'd made. So thanks for taking my inquire seriously.

The brass that I used wasn't once fired military as far as I know. I believe it was all Winchester.

Dan, IMR 4895 and IMR 8208 XBR are extremely similar powders in burn rate, appearance, smell, etc. One of my friends thinks they are the same but marketed differently :mellow:

I'm going to try the cleaning rod/brush method of extracting the case first. I'll let you all know how that turns out.

I'm also going to put all my ladder loads through the press one more time and add a crimp to see if I can avoid this SNAFU next time at the range. It sure did bring my range day to an abrupt end.

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The rod/brush method of extraction worked perfectly. Thanks for the advice.

Here are a few pictures of the brass with signs of over pressure, etc.



I've run all my loads through the crimp die so I'm hoping that will solve my issue. I'll give another report after I'm able to test those at the range.

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Pretty standard case separation, albeit a bit farther forward than most. M14 pattern rifles are terribly hard on brass and even good brass reloaded correctly last only 4 or 5 cycles.

I looked hard at your case head, looking for the near-inevitable dents in the outermost edge that the extractor leaves with each chambering, but it doesn't appear that this case was loaded more'n once or twice. The brass flowing into various recesses of the bolt is a pressure "clue".

The brass brush method, a GI case extractor or even another loaded round jammed into the split one will remove it - the "next round" method may require some wiggle/prying/pulling to remove both from the receiver and will likely dent up the loaded round.


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