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Common Malfunctions When Reloading Brass


There’s nothing that spoils a fun afternoon of shooting faster than firearm malfunctions and hangups, especially when they are caused by issues with your reloading brass. Although most reloaders don’t experience a high rate of problems, beginner handloaders can take a while to work out the kinks to get their rounds performing reliably and accurately. That’s why we want to discuss some of the more common issues and what might be causing them.

Problems with Cycling

Firearms cycling – the process of loading, firing, and loading a fresh round – can get a user easily hung up on some of the more common reloading mistakes. Although semi-auto actions are the most susceptible to cycling issues, even bolt action rifles can have issues cycling if the mistakes are serious enough.

The most common causes of cycling issues include using the wrong size of cases or using bullets that are not seated and crimped correctly into the reloading brass. Double check your cases are the right length (trim if needed) and practice seating bullets until you can get it just right.

Extraction issues can also be caused by handloading errors. If your pressures are either too high or too low, the action may not cycle correctly. Too low of a powder charge may not work the action on semi-auto firearms, and too much powder can cause excess pressure that will expand the case too much, bulging and jamming it or even rupturing it, which can be dangerous.

Problems with Firing

If some of your rounds aren’t leaving the barrel correctly, or if you experience far too much recoil compared to factory loads, you should carefully double check the following details.

A common cause for reloaded brass not firing is having primers seated too deeply, which may cause the firing pin to not strike them hard enough to ignite. Another possible malfunction is caused by improperly seated primers. This is known as a “hang fire,” which is the perceptible delay between the hammer hitting the primer and the bullet firing. These are caused by the powder starting to burn slowly and taking a small amount of time to build up enough pressure to fire the round. Hang fires can be dangerous; if the bullet doesn’t get enough pressure to leave the barrel it may get stuck. Check your firearm over carefully if you experience hang fires.

One other problem is excessive recoil, which is likely caused by either too much powder in the reload or damaged cases. Double check you’re using the right kind, and the correct amount, of powder. Double check all your cases for very small cracks near the neck or bottom since these cracks let extra gases escape and can even cause ruptured cases.

Problems with Accuracy

Many shooters get into reloading to improve accuracy, which makes accuracy issues even more frustrating. Before you start to diagnose the problems, make sure your rifle is accurate with factory loads and any optics are properly zeroed.The first thing to check is your reloading brass recipe: make sure to use only well-documented and proven loads to get the most accuracy.Many accuracy issues can be traced back to the reloading brass case. Use only high-quality cases and fire form your brass for the best results. Read more about fireforming here.Also make sure your powder load is accurately measured and consistent. Overloading on powder can actually decrease accuracy.We hope these tips will aid in making your reloading experience much more enjoyable and successful. If you have any other tips, feel free to drop a comment and let us know.