Author Topic: QCing your handloads  (Read 743 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline baldrage

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 506
QCing your handloads
« on: January 13, 2018, 04:32:50 PM »
How does everyone else handle quality control on your finished reloads?  I've been using the following system, works well for me (1 round that wouldn't fire out of 6,000 over the last year), but there's always room for improvement:

1) After I've finished a batch of 100 rounds, I'll pull 10 at random and measure OAL and crimp to verify they're in-spec.   

2) Put the finished rounds in a MTM case, run my finger over all the primers to try and detect any that aren't seated properly.

3) Close the MTM case, turn it upside down, put it down on bench and open it carefully so all of the rounds are standing bullet-up.  Then gently shake the case side-to-side to see if any of the rounds wobble.  If they do, that's an indication that a primer might not be seated properly and I pick that one up for a closer inspection.

4) Plunk-test every round in my barrel (removed from handgun, of course), and give each round a quick inspection in my hand, checking for cracks/splits/bulges, and then place them back in the MTM case for storage.  Case label gets a check-mark on it to indicate that batch of rounds has been QCed.

Do others still plunk-test/chamber check every finished round?  Seems like every time I start getting tempted to be lazy and have idle thoughts about not doing it, I'll come across what would have been a problem round, and that convinces me of the need to keep up a robust QC process (of course, this only seems robust to me -- perhaps I am actually a slacker and others have much more thorough methods).  In my most recent batch of 400 rounds, this QC process found three or four rounds that didn't plunk, and on closer inspection had very tiny cracks in the case mouth.  A couple of batches before that, this process revealed some 9mm Br (a.k.a. 9mm Kurz or 9 mm short) that had snuck into my brass and made it through the loading process undetected.

Offline M1A4ME

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3871
  • I've shot the rest, I now own the best - CZ
Re: QCing your handloads
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2018, 05:06:37 PM »
Nope, don't have/take the time to chamber check 400 rounds when I get done with them just before supper.

I do:

Look at the brass when I sort it.  Sometimes it's sorted before cleaning, sometimes after.  Depends on how clean the brass looks.
Look at the brass when I resize it (and listen to it, sometimes that little click noise is a case mouth cracking).
Look at it again when it comes out of the cleaner after resizing (removing case lube from rifle cases).
Look at and feel the primer when it comes out of the shell holder of the hand priming tool, to make sure the primer is oriented correctly and seated fully.

I look in the case with a bright light after I put powder in it (50 at a time, in the tray).  Any that don't look right get a powder scale check.  The minimum number scale checked from 50 is 5.

I seat the bullets and crimp (handgun only, not rifle) and look at each one as it come out of the shell holder, before being dropped into a box/jug.

Up to this point, I've never had a squib.  I've had a couple duds in .223 using Tula small rifle primers, well, maybe three duds with Tula small rifle primers.  I've had one case blow out and it was not due to a double charge (can't double charge = 16 grains of powder = in  9MM case with Blue Dot powder).

I did have a failure to chamber a couple years back in the P07 with a lead bullet reload.  The case mouth was swelled out (I think from the bullet being at an angle when it was seated).  Made me start rolling them around in my fingers under a bright (LED) light mounted about 10" above the press) to look for swelled spots.  That's the reason I caught the .40 S&W round I posted about a few weeks back.

I single stage reload.  I can feel primers that seat too easy (swelled primer pockets).  I can feel it if the neck cracks on seating in a rifle round, or if I missed one along the way during the previous steps.

All can say is I don't think you can look at the components too often while you're running through the steps of reloading ammo.  And anyway, I'm retired.

Edited to add - I double check my powder before adding it to the powder measure and before dumping the left overs back in the powder container.  I double check my primers before using them.  If I have some left over in the tray I dump them back in the empty primer box/tray.  I messed up setting the scale one day and that's why I installed the bright LED light over the press.  The scale sit back/right of the press and the light gets rid of that shadow from the window that threw me off by 5 grains on some AA#5/.357 SIG loads a few years ago (none fired, caught it the next day when I went back to finish reloading the brass I had ready and the light was coming through the window at a different angle.)

Oh, and I keep a reloading logbook to help me figure out what works, what I did last time, how many rounds I load, etc., etc., etc.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2018, 05:11:45 PM by M1A4ME »
Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.  So, if you see me walking the dogs with my SIG 556R, its okay.

Offline SoCal

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 218
Re: QCing your handloads
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2018, 05:38:00 PM »

Do others still plunk-test/chamber check every finished round?

I use a Shockbottle case gauge, does 100 at a time.  Then you just put the MTM case over it, flip and done.  Takes almost no extra time then just putting the in a MTM case.  Also when in the shockbottle (besides the finger check) if you tilt it until you are sighting along the bases any high primer really stands out "like a sore thumb".

https://dawsonprecision.com/shockbottle-case-gauges/
If I had known how much better being retired is than working I would have done it FIRST.

Offline Wobbly

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8621
  • Loves the smell of VihtaVuori in the morning !
Re: QCing your handloads
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2018, 05:41:55 PM »
This is my pistol process...

• Adjust the powder measure so that 10 dumps equals ten times the powder desired. That will take from 15-20 dumps, so the powder is well settled by then.
• Insure the right anvil is in the Seating die and adjust for OAL.
• Use the plastic ammo tray routine to make sure all the cases are 1) all the correct caliber, and 2) the correct quantity. Load cases into case feeder.
• Load the same number of primers
• Check the OAL and crimp on the first finished round
• Watch every powder level in the loaded case before bullet placement
• Do random spot checks on the OAL and primer seating, about every 20
• If there were long OAL rounds at the start, I send those back through Seating and Crimp
Only if the rounds are for competition.... drop each cartridge into a cartridge gauge that verified to closely match my SP-01 chamber. I don't check practice rounds.
• At the end, I stand all rounds in a plastic ammo case and check primer heights
• Ammo boxes labeled, check mark indicates 100% cartridge gauged rounds


- Check primers during seating. If it feels 'funny' then the case is pulled.
- Don't use the barrel but rely solely on the cartridge gauge and it goes much faster
- My modified Dillon powder measure does not wander during use, so only case inspection is needed
- Within the first 7 rounds I can usually have the OAL within +/-0.001"
- The Crimp die may need cleaning or lubing, but it's never wandered
- IME, Dillon equipment simply doesn't make big changes after being set, and that translates into peace of mind and low SD numbers telling me the cartridges are very consistent.

 ;)
« Last Edit: January 14, 2018, 03:37:55 PM by Wobbly »
In God we trust; On 'starting load' we rely.

Immature reloaders ask: What's wrong with this gun?
Mature reloaders ask: What did I do wrong ?

Offline muncie21

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 181
Re: QCing your handloads
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2018, 06:06:14 PM »
Here's my routine for pistol caliber loading with a 650.
  • Dial in powder drop- 10 drops, three times each. When all three are within 0.1gr (this is for USPSA, not bullseye) of my target I consider it good
  • When using a previously dialed-in tool head & dies, I run 10 rounds through (two full rotations on a 650) and check OAL and crimp
  • Load 300-500 rounds into bulk container
  • Place a label onthe container that identifies date, powder type, powder charge, bullet weight, OAL and which die (Lee or Dillon) I used.   
  • Label would typically read like this: Bayou 135RN 3.5PV 1.09 (D) 1/1/18
  • If the ammo is for a match, I check each round with a case gauge and periodically verify OAL

Offline Wobbly

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8621
  • Loves the smell of VihtaVuori in the morning !
Re: QCing your handloads
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2018, 06:51:06 PM »
Do others still plunk-test/chamber check every finished round?  Seems like every time I start getting tempted to be lazy and have idle thoughts about not doing it, I'll come across what would have been a problem round, and that convinces me of the need to keep up a robust QC process.
So what kind of problems are you seeing? I can see a split neck sneaking through, but not much of anything else ?


In my most recent batch of 400 rounds, this QC process found... some 9mm Br (a.k.a. 9mm Kurz or 9mm short) that had snuck into my brass and made it through the loading process undetected.
380Auto cases sneak in if you're not watching. Try using a 40 cal plastic ammo try to sort through your brass at some point. You'll spot every one of the 380 cases before loading it.
In God we trust; On 'starting load' we rely.

Immature reloaders ask: What's wrong with this gun?
Mature reloaders ask: What did I do wrong ?

Offline 2morechains

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 648
Re: QCing your handloads
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2018, 07:54:14 PM »
Ammo I use in matches I run them thru a case gauge and check for high primers.  Practice ammo I just load and shoot. 

Offline Smitty79

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1153
  • So many guns, so little time
Re: QCing your handloads
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2018, 08:45:32 PM »
I like using a 100 round Hundo case gauge.   It finds split cases and the occasional head stamp that I should have culled before using the cast for a 147 gn 9mm for my CZs.   I check the primers when the rounds are in the case gauge.    I've never had a round fail to chamber when it passed the gauge and I've never had a round fail to gauge that I couldn't find a problem with.
Don't mistake my high post count for knowledge or wisdom.   I just like hearing myself type.

Online 1SOW

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 14982
  • GO GREEN - Recycle 9MM
Re: QCing your handloads
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2018, 09:01:35 PM »
]Using a Turret Press for 9mm:,[/u] My range and comp. loads are the same in every respect.
-I sort.range cases ( most mine) by headstamp, visually check the case when sorting , size,  deprime, tumble and store
-I only use four headstamps known by me to be reliable  headstamps.  I sort these so the press  pull is uniform per session.
-A light is focussed on the case in the press .  Powder drop is visually verified unless powder load or type changes.  Powder is 10 drop averaged.  My VIT n320 10 drop 4.1 gr loads = 41.2 grains
-I measure every oal and rely on the press for taper crimp until I change the load, bullet or headstamp.  After confirming the TC no other taper crimp checks needed....long confirmed through the years.
-I visually check primer seats while loading them in MTM hinged boxes of 100.
-All rounds have fed and fired reliably except several in one week when an extractor blade chipped. 
Only Federal primers are used and all fire except twice in the last few years.  One I believe to have been oil contaminated would not fire with multiple strikes.  One fired on the second strike where the only explanation can be operator error.

I usually shoot 150 -200 9mm practice rds one morning per week.  Two matches per month consume about 130 RDS each:  the last few years my shooting has been limited to the above. Previously it was at least two more higher round count matches per month.  My loading routine was set then.


Offline baldrage

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 506
Re: QCing your handloads
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2018, 01:25:27 PM »

So what kind of problems are you seeing? I can see a split neck sneaking through, but not much of anything else ?

380Auto cases sneak in if you're not watching. Try using a 40 cal plastic ammo try to sort through your brass at some point. You'll spot every one of the 380 cases before loading it.

Yeah, the odd .380 auto sneaks in occasionally, and like I mentioned, some cases with minor cracks on the lip that I missed when sorting and tumbling.  Once in a while, I will get a finished round that just won't plunk for some mystery reason ... OAL and crimp measure in-spec, no visible cracks, but it just won't plunk and spin.  Those get pulled, de-primed, and dumped into the recycling/reject can.

Offline baldrage

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 506
Re: QCing your handloads
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2018, 01:27:31 PM »
I like using a 100 round Hundo case gauge.   It finds split cases and the occasional head stamp that I should have culled before using the cast for a 147 gn 9mm for my CZs.   I check the primers when the rounds are in the case gauge.    I've never had a round fail to chamber when it passed the gauge and I've never had a round fail to gauge that I couldn't find a problem with.

Thanks for the feedback on the case gauge.  It's occurred to me that would be much faster then plunking each round in barrel one at a time, but I thought I read somewhere (probably on this forum) that case gauges are not fool-proof due to 9mm CZ's tighter-than-normal chambers, i.e., a round could pass the case gauge, but still not pass the plunk test in my CZs?

Offline M1A4ME

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3871
  • I've shot the rest, I now own the best - CZ
Re: QCing your handloads
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2018, 01:54:53 PM »
Is it a "tight" chamber as in diameter?  Or a "short" chamber as in room for the bullet out past the case mouth?

I always thought it was "short".  The one time I had issues with bullets not wanting to chamber in my P09 it was due to the bullet being "too long" and the lead contacting the metal in the chamber/barrel throat.  Funny thing was those same bullets chambered fine in my CZ 75 Compact.  So each pistol can have it's own rules about bullet fit.  Reminds me, I need to shoot that partial box of reloads up next time I go to the range (just got to remember to take the CZ 75 Compact (CZ 85 Clone) and the ammo on the same trip.
Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.  So, if you see me walking the dogs with my SIG 556R, its okay.

Offline IDescribe

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3841
Re: QCing your handloads
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2018, 02:23:20 PM »
I sort cases using the technique in the video below:





And when I do that sorting, I look into the cases to make sure there's nothing wedged inside, and to cull stepped brass.



Press set up is press set up. And I'll do 10-round drops while adjusting the powder drop, as Wobbly described.

I can feel .380 cases and split brass in the sizing die.  I occasionally have some make it into the press, but they're caught at the sizing die.

The only post-loading QC I do is putting the cartridges into cases nose down, and lifting them up to my eye to look at primers.  Then flip them into another case right side up and look at them again.  That's it.

I don't chamber check.  I don't do case gauges.  Don't need to run another process to tell me my cartridges are going to function.  They all function.  I used to do more QC, but ultimately it was time wasted.  If your process is tight, you're cartridges are going to function.

If I were just learning to load, I would feel differently and do a lot more QC, and if I were finding problems, I'd use that to refine my process and eliminate those problems.  But now?  I'm not going to check thousands upon thousands upon thousands of rounds telling myself "Some day, this will pay off, and I'll find a bum round." 

The bum rounds that have come off of my presses have all been one of three things: fouled powder or fouled primers, both of which can't be inspected for, and high primers, which I do check for visually.  That's it.


Offline Wobbly

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8621
  • Loves the smell of VihtaVuori in the morning !
Re: QCing your handloads
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2018, 03:36:05 PM »
Yeah, the odd .380 auto sneaks in occasionally...

I sort cases using the technique in the video below:




^^ This is the plastic ammo tray routine I talked about earlier.

I use it to both count and segregate cases. Not only can I get exactly 50, 100, or 150 cases ready to go, but you can easily spot the cases that don't belong there.

Using this somewhere in your process will stop the 380Auto cases from sneaking in.


...and like I mentioned, some cases with minor cracks on the lip that I missed when sorting and tumbling.  Once in a while, I will get a finished round that just won't plunk for some mystery reason... OAL and crimp measure in-spec, no visible cracks, but it just won't plunk and spin.  Those get pulled, de-primed, and dumped into the recycling/reject can.

Pass those over to the "practice" batch. Just becasue they may not "plunk" doesn't mean they won't shoot. It seems to me that you spend too much time "re-reloading". What I'm saying is that if they don't pass your initial QC, then there's no need to invest any more time in them. You only want to invest time in good product. Rejects are used for practice without wasting time trying to "make a silk purse from a sow's ear".

Or stated another way... While a good QC plan might rework a product you have $100 invested in, those plans hardly apply to a cartridge you only have 10 cents invested in. It simply makes no sense to invest dollars of your time trying to save a 10 cent part.

 ;)
« Last Edit: January 14, 2018, 03:52:24 PM by Wobbly »
In God we trust; On 'starting load' we rely.

Immature reloaders ask: What's wrong with this gun?
Mature reloaders ask: What did I do wrong ?

Offline armoredman

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 17785
Re: QCing your handloads
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2018, 09:57:24 PM »
My habits are similar to M1A4Me, with some exceptions - I triple check every case with a flashlight for powder. I also check powder measure every 25 rounds for powder level, and every single case when primed gets "wobble" tested on the bench before it goes to it's new home. Also, when bullet easting I will stop and measure a random round in each 10 round slot on the reloading block for COAL.
I explained this to a coworker and they thought I was nuts - doing rifle brass as follows, every time;
1 sort and tumble
2 Check each case with visual and fingernail for cracks, bad dents, etc., right before they get,
3 deprimed/resized.
4 Case trimmed on Zip Trim
5 Case chamfered inside and out
6 Primer pockets swaged
7 Cases primed
8 case mouth belled with Universal Expander Die
9 Brass either stored for next loading cycle or moved back to the tray for loading.
It takes a while, but I like the results. And no, that's not for special loads - that for everything, including practice ammo. ;) If I was doing match brass, I would add in segregating by headstamp, sorting bullets by weight, primers pocket cleanout, and if I had the tool, bullet runout....but I don't have that tool yet nor do I shoot any matches.  ;D

 

anything