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WHAT CAUSED THIS?! Blew Up My X5 Legion...


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Full disclosure- REALLY LONG POST but a really bad experience. So, I’m hoping that the wealth of knowledge and experience on this forum can help me figure out what happened here. Full disclosure, it’s a REALLY, REALLY long post but I’m asking for patience because it resulted in a really hazardous outcome and I REALLY need some help. Obviously, I had a round – a handload – un-ass itself in the chamber of my X5 Legion, but I can’t say for sure what the cause was. To some of you it might be obvious. I’m hoping you folks can help me be as confident as possible about what exactly the cause was.

First, I’d like to say I am an experienced shooter, age 58 shooting in mostly local matches – IDPA, USPSA and some 2-gun and rifle matches. I am NOT however an experienced hand loader. In fact, other than shot shells when I was a youth, I am a completely green beginner. I had ZERO desire to enter the world of reloading, especially 9mm. It was cheap and available. Perfectly content shooting Federal Syntech 150gr in my pistols and the 130gr in my PCC. But COVID-19 had a predictably adverse effect on both Syntech cost and availability. Point is, several of my fellow match shooters felt like I was living in the Stone Age and could save a lot of money while “creating” custom loads that were every bit the equal of, or better than, the Syntech. I had lots of experienced (most with 20 years plus) reloaders giving me lots of great advice. Since I only had interest in doing 9mm I didn’t want to run out and buy a Dillon 1050, so I purchased a Lee Auto Breech Lock Pro 4000, which came out of the box ready to load 9mm. EVERYONE had they’re favorite bullets, powder, primers and recipes but in an effort to duplicate what I was already comfortable with (Syntech 150gr), I was “advised” to use a fast powder (Titegroup) and a heavy coated bullet (147gr Blue Bullet Flat Nose), 3.0gr with CCI SSP and an OAL of 1.135. But just because I got a ton of sage advice doesn’t mean I didn’t do my homework. I did… WEEKS OF IT! Before I loaded my first round. Read several reloading manuals and everything I could find on every forum I could find. So, I started. But at first, I decapped and primed off-press so I could concentrate on the process and NOT make any mistakes. I had seen endless threads about double-charges (BAD) or squibs (BAD too) and had no desire to ever visit either of those outcomes. So, I would take freshly primed cases and drop them by hand, one by one, to be sent to DIE #1 (sizing), then to DIE #2 (flaring and powder drop), then set the bullet by hand and on to the bullet seating (DIE #3) before finishing up at my Lee Carbide Factory Crimp Die. One-by-painstaking-one! Before anyone says “well that’s where…”, I need to mention that after EVERY powder drop for the first 200 rounds I would weigh each and every charge THREE TIMES! First on a Lee Safety Scale, then on a Hornady G2-1500 and lastly on a Frankford Arsenal DS-750. Then back into the case, set the bullet, “crimp” and post size. Took forever but I did not want to make a mistake. FYI, I’m using the Lee Auto Drum, which I ran an entire bottle through before checking the average drop on about 50 cases. Good to go I thought. First couple of hundred rounds were power factor and recoil Nirvana! But on round #326 I had a catastrophic KABOOM. For those keeping score, I was 126 rounds into loading in full index mode, although I was still using pre-primed brass in my collator/tubes. I even set up a huge LED light so I could visually inspect each case after the powder drop. I was excited because I loaded about 200 rounds that first hour. Needless to say, I ain’t so excited anymore. In fact, I’m downright apprehensive about EVER firing another one of my handloads in any of my pistols. The reason? I have NO clue what the cause was?

Before you rip into me for any one of several possible mistakes I could have made, know this. I’m conservative and safety conscious with all things shooting or ammo related. I did the work before I ever did the work, so why did this happen? I have a couple of theories (but they’re really questions) and I really need anyone willing to chime in with advice to please help me figure this out. Theory/Question #1- TITEGROUP! I know, I know, Titegroup is great powder for 9mm coated bullets and cheap and reliable. But I had already seen in several threads during the course of my research that in the hands of beginners, its low case-fill was a problem. I remember reading a post on another forum where the guy said “reports of guns blowing up from double-charges of Titegroup” were “grossly exaggerated and overblown.” Another, equally-experienced reloader got into a debate with some others by stating “I will never use Titegroup in small pistol cases like 9mm.” As I’m sure you know, it barely fills the bottom of the case so double-charges might be harder for a newbie like me to see. I know my drum was dropping accurate loads because I was spot checking it ALL the time. I would pull bullets even and double-check. So how could a double-charge have happened with the means and methods and painstaking double and triple checking I was doing?

Theory/Question #2- Bullet setback! After reading posts on 9mm “taper crimping” ad nauseam, every single person literally had their own “right” way to “crimp.” One guy said “it shouldn’t even be called a crimp die because you’re not crimping, just merely removing the flare and allowing neck tension to hold the bullet in place.” Others had pre and post crimp measurement data, what it should measure after flaring and then again after taper “crimping” or removing the flare and post sizing in the Lee FCD. But I ultimately took the advice I my Vietnam Vet buddy with almost 40 years of realoding experience- I set the FCD to basically smooth out/remove the bell/flare and measure to look for about .376 at the case mouth when done. However, there were just as many who claimed that the bullet had to have a firm “crimp” or suffer an inevitable bullet setback when chambering, resulting in an equally catastrophic over-pressure event. So…. I “crimped” and pulled bullets to check for damage to the coating, then I attempted to “push” the bullet in to the case on my work bench, which I initially had some issues with so I had to lower the FCD die stem a little more until I found the sweet spot. A never-ending quest for the “right” amount of “crimp.” And very frustrating. What I found out was that even with moderate pressure using my press as a sort of “ram-vice” by covering the die opening, a Syntech 150gr factory round would not budge, but several of my – and my buddies – reloads resulted in bullet setback. Still, I loaded several mags full and ran them manually through both my Legion pistols using slide lock and slingshot techniques, and then measured every single case OAL after to make damn sure it hadn’t suffered any setback. “Crimp” finally seemed perfect.

For those of you that have stuck with during this really way-to-long post, I thank you! I would REALLY appreciate any thoughts or feedback and what you think the cause actually was. Did it absolutely somehow HAVE to be a double-charge? Or could bullet setback have been the culprit. I’m afraid to hand load  right now and definitely afraid to ever use any of my rounds until I’m at least 99% certain of the cause. I obviously f****d up and it was not an enjoyable experience. Plus I blew up my X5 Legion... SMDH

brass 1.jpg

brass 2.jpg

legion 1.jpg

legion 2.jpg

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I have to be honest, it’s the press. Setback with a normal charge most likely would not have blown up the gun.

 

When I started competitive shooting and realized I needed a bunch of ammo I progressed from the basic single stage Lee to the Turret and then their top of the line progressive press. Spent oodles on extras to make it run well and finally through up my hands and bought a Dillon 650. 
 

The Lee press requires constant attention, you must observe every powder drop and make sure you don’t do a double drop. 
With the Lee press it’s easy to stop, fix something, load Bullets or brass and then restart without advancing the shell plate. I would put money on a double drop due to something like that. The only squibs I’ve loaded were with the Lee press because of the same issue, paused and then advanced the shell plate Without verifying the powder drop.

, which was zero.
 

As far as your loading recipe it’s just fine. Someone will blame it on Titegroup powder because it’s dense and can double charge without spilling over the brass. Personally I have loaded about 20k 9mm with TG and not one overcharge. I’m using Sport Pistol now and it has one advantage over TG, far cleaner and leaves a carbon residue that is easier to clean off the gun. 
 

Sorry to see the destruction of your gun and I hope you were not injured. 
 

BTW, for competition we reload for volume and yes maybe lower cost, but a quality press and all the goodies, like a Dillon, takes a whole lot of ammo production to “break even.”

Edited by HesedTech
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Looks like an OOB discharge to me or a double charge. There are a fair amount of issues out there with post-recall P320's and out of battery detonations because Sig effectively removed the disconnector from my understanding with the drop safety fix. See the below thread from pistol-forum on the issue. Very similar to your's. In truth, this could happen with factory ammo, so I wouldn't chalk it up to your reloads unless you cannot be sure that you had a double charge. 

 

https://pistol-forum.com/showthread.php?31179-Sig-Sauer-P320-Shoots-Out-of-Battery-Allegations

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It’s not the press. I use the auto breech lock pro for all my 9mm. Tens of thousands of rounds with no issues.
Appears to be an out of battery discharge. OOBs are usually a combination of a gun issue allowing a firing pin to drop before the slide is fully in battery, and a reloading issue where your ammo didn’t go into battery easily. Try plunk testing each round. Sorry about your gun.


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15 minutes ago, dansedgli said:

There was no way for my last X5 to fire out of battery. I doubt the legion can.

 

 

 

 

 

Here's a video of a 320 X5 firing 0.004" out of battery. It is possible on a lot of Browning tilting striker fired guns. 

 

https://pistol-forum.com/showthread.php?23557-Sig-P320-quot-failed-FBI-test-miserably-quot&p=679888&viewfull=1#post679888

Edited by pealandco
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My sincerest THANKS to all you fine gentlemen. Rather than multi-quote everyone, I'll try to cover the bases --

 

@HesedTech I actually did do a lot of start/stopping especially early on. But it was almost always while running one case at a time through the press. Still, as cautious as I was I could still have made a mistake.

@George16 Actually, the chamber on my X5 Legion is fully supported, although my OG X5 is not. @MemphisMechanic @LuvDog  and @pealandco OOB discharge obviously could be the cause, thanks for that info because I just wasn't sure about the how/why.

@dansedgli No sir definitely not. I separated by headstamp for the first 500 rounds for consistency sake. This was from a group of 100 of Fiochi. 

@CZ85Combat I worried about that with Titegroup from the get go, hence the ridiculously anal loading protocol, which ultimately I still failed some how. ??

@radny97 I actually plunk tested the first 500 rounds, including the one that blew out. I checked my Legion for max COAL and it came out to almost 1.20 but I'm using 1.135 . Some Freedom with147 FN Extreme Bullets I have also shot a bunch of me measure out at 1.15 and have run flawlessly. Oddly enough, the Syntech 150gr I've been using for years measures out at 1.11; and I checked for bullet setback ad nauseam...

 

To all, thanks VERY MUCH again for all your input and comments. I recognize most of you just from reading posts on Benos pretty much daily. FWIW, my MIM extractor was gone, but I'm guessing that's from the obvious damage at the case end? In other words not likely to be a cause of an OOB correct? Also, one last thing -- today I ran the remaining Titegroup through my Auto Drum and measured every case on three scales; 116 of them! I kid you not, 111 of them were RIGHT AT 3.0gr with five of them measuring 2.9gr. I'm 100% confident in my Powder Drop. I've known all along it was me, just wish I knew for sure what it was because I was pretty shaken. You guys have helped a lot though!

 

 

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6 minutes ago, pealandco said:

 

Here's a video of a 320 X5 firing 0.004" out of battery. It is possible on a lot of Browning tilting striker fired guns. 

 

https://pistol-forum.com/showthread.php?23557-Sig-P320-quot-failed-FBI-test-miserably-quot&p=679888&viewfull=1#post679888

 

The slide is back .004 but the barrel lug would still be locked against the slide at that point. 

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5 minutes ago, dansedgli said:

 

The slide is back .004 but the barrel lug would still be locked against the slide at that point. 

 

True, there are still a lot of OOB reports w/ Sig P320's, though. I see more on FB in various Sig groups than I do any other gun. Here's an example that involves a Legion that looks very similar to the author's explosion. Granted, it could've been bad reloads, but still interesting to see the numbers reported out there.

 

 

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Oh dont get me wrong, I think these guns are junk. I had 2 x5's. Both would bulge a certain combo of case and powder and blow up others. I ended up selling them and going back to my shadow 2's. I complained strongly at the time. lol

 

The problem for the regular x5 (IMO) is just the unsupported barrel. The earliest ones released the striker out of barrel lock up but unsure if it would hit the primer with the barrel in that position. The post upgrade ones with the trigger disconnector were much better.

 

Maybe the legion has new problems too? I thought the chamber was fixed in them?  

 

Those facebook  comments reduced my IQ level. 😅

 

 

 

Edited by dansedgli
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53 minutes ago, FALAR said:

Another reason I love compressed loads with slow powders.

 

Slow powder isn't a particularly good choice or an uncompensated pistol.  That's why the vast majority of reloaders here shoot faster powder and heavy bullets.  Plus, if you're loading a fast powder and can't tell the difference between a single charge and a double, the latter most likely being at, near or over the top of the case rim, you probably shouldn't be reloading to start with.  As for OP's situation, I'll put my money on double charge.  I've seen several 1911s blown up from double charges and the cases all looked nearly identical to the above photo.

Edited by ltdmstr
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it s a over charge  fired in a unsupported chamber. The more times you stop The more likely you will f up.

at some point you have to trust your equipment (press) if you can not trust it ,you need different equipment.

FYI Symtect is loaded with sport pistol powder. It takes up more space in the case so its easier to see. if you have no powder 

or to much with out stopping constantly.

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12 minutes ago, ltdmstr said:

 

Slow powder isn't a particularly good choice or an uncompensated pistol.  That's why the vast majority of reloaders here shoot faster powder and heavy bullets.  Plus, if you're loading a fast powder and can't tell the difference between a single charge and a double, the latter most likely being at or near the top of the case rim, you probably shouldn't be reloading to start with.  As for OP's situation, I'll put my money on double charge.  I've seen several 1911s blown up for double charges and the cases all looked nearly identical to the above photo.

Yes, that caused me a lot of anxiety with Titegroup; there was so little powder in the case at 3.0gr, so little volume at 3.0gr, that I just couldn’t always tell. 
In some ways, I believe my OCD on overdrive may have been a factor. If I had just let the press index as designed, as I did in the last 300 rounds, I don’t think I would have had a problem. In fact I’m certain of it. But because I was pulling cases, dumping powder to weigh/measure, dumping back in to the case and then setting it back into the shell plate, it’s obvious that that was probably a bad idea. FYI I bought an RCBS bullet puller and as crazy as it sounds I’m going to pull several hundred Bullets and measure the powder in every last one. That ought to tell me something right?

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