Two Letters Re: Ammunition Handloading Basics

This is in reply to a couple of earlier letters, and I would like to point out some corrections.

1) Lee powder dippers are safe to use as directed. If you actually read the directions and especially the discussion about the dippers in the Lee Modern Reloading Manual you will see that Lee specifies only dippers that cannot go over the maximum weight charge if used with appropriate powders. The dipper provided with a set of dies will only be appropriate with certain powders, and those will always be a little or a lot under the max charge weight, even if the weight to volume ratio varies from that given by Lee. He builds in a margin of error to ensure you can;t go over the max amount unless you really try, or really don’t read instructions, in which case you have no business reloading ammunition.

2) There is more tribal rumor about Glock Kabooms and unsupported chambers than there is fact floating around the Internet. First, Glocks are not the only pistol with partially unsupported chambers. The Model 1911 traditionally is only partially supported. Some SIGs are as well. In fact, there are probably fewer models with fully supported chambers than there are partially. So, unsupported chambers by themselves do not cause Kabooms, otherwise most pistols would be blowing up. I suspect a good number of kabooms are from reloaders that would rather try to blame Glock than their own attempt to go over the maximum load, or their own inattentiveness. Several Kabooms I have read about turn out to be done by shooting a squib load and getting a bullet stuck in the barrel and then shooting another bullet right behind that. That is very likely to bulge or burst the barrel but has nothing to do with the chamber. Many other kabooms are reported with conjecture about the cause but no supporting evidence. I challenge any Glock Kaboom expert to provide first person evidence not hearsay from Internet forums.

There are many of us that reload the .40 S&W in our Glocks without a problem for years upon years. It is like any other cartridge in that you must check the condition of your brass upon each reload and look for signs of case head separation. Most of us that reload the .40 for the Glock find that the case necks crack (as all cartridges will eventually) long before the head separates from the case. Of course if you are always loading your ammo to the maximum loadings or beyond then you should not expect very many reloads per case before they start to fail. Common sense should tell us that if you want your cases to last longer, and you want to reduce the chance of catastrophic failure, then don’t load to the maximum or beyond. And check your cases before and after each reload session. Throw out any that are looking suspicious.

If you are really concerned about this then you can buy an aftermarket barrel for any of the Glocks with cut or button rifling and more fully supported chambers. And every reloader should read at least two reloading manuals before starting to reload. I would recommend The Lee Modern Reloading 2nd Edition, one of the Lyman manuals, or Speer #13 as good beginning manuals. Nosler is not a very good intro, especially for handguns, but is excellent for advanced rifle reloading. I have heard the Hornady and Sierra manuals are also good starters. I would actually recommend acquiring at least three manuals: one by the equipment manufacturer (Lee, Speer/RCBS, Hornady) and/or The ABCs of Reloading; a second from the powder manufacturer of your choice (Hodgdon, VV, Winchester, Alliant, Accurate) and a third from the bullet maker of your choice (Oregon Trail Laser-Cast, Lyman for cast bullets, Speer, Sierra, Hornady).

Reloading is serious business and requires much reading and paying attention to detail. But let’s not scare ourselves with rumors and hearsay.
Thanks for a fantastic blog site! – JB, Oregon


Mr. Rawles:
LK from West Virginia obviously doesn’t have much experience putting reloads through Glocks, and is relying on Internet hearsay. A quick perusing of such forums as Brian Enos’ and Glocktalk will shed light on the myth and render it what it is, completely untrue. USPSA and IDPA competitors feed their guns a steady stream of reloads, and many of those guys are shooting Glocks in various forms, including the dreaded “.40 caliber kaboom monster!” I have two Glocks that have yet to see a single round of factory ammo, and one of them has eaten over 30,000 reloads without a glitch. The standard caveats apply when it comes to reloading, in that you must be cautious and follow all guidelines, but if your loads are within listed tolerances from a reputable reloading manual, you should have absolutely no problems. Additionally Glock states that you should not use cast lead bullets, and only use jacketed rounds. I abide by that guideline, but others have ignored it. Your mileage may vary, of course, but nobody should fear quality reloads shot through a Glock. Respectfully, – JCL