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Reloading 9mm brass shot in Glocks

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RWS
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Reloading 9mm brass shot in Glocks

#1 Post by RWS » Wed Jan 24, 2018 8:04 am

Many of you may already know this but it's new to me and perhaps some others as well so worth a post, IMHO.

I recently reloaded a bunch of 9mm ammo using range pick-up brass. I use this "Grade 2" mismatched stuff when shooting on my nephew's farm in high grass or anywhere else that recovering spent brass is problematic. It's mismatched and is the least valuable brass I have so it gets the nod when finding your empties becomes a bigger chore than the brass is worth. But, I digress.

So... upon shooting some of this ammo I found that about 15% of the cartridges would not fully enter the chamber of my Walther P1 (or my nephew's Walther PPX for that matter), preventing the slides from going fully home. Long story short, I eventually discovered that Glock 9mm chambers are so oversize (for reliability I suppose) that the case webs swell enough that a full-length resizing die, depending on the brand/thickness of the brass, is often incapable of bringing that area of the case back to within SAAMI specs.

I bought a Lee undersize 9mm sizing die and a Wilson case gauge to check the next batch of reloads. Again using range pick-up brass I found that the undersize sizing die halved the number of reject cartridges but still would not give me 100% good cartridges when using the Wilson case gauge.

Once I made certain that I had eliminated any Glock-fired cases I got 100% good cartridges as indicated by the Wilson gauge.

The Wilson gauge is designed to simulate minimum SAAMI chambers. I took some of the reject cartridges and used the barrels from a number of 9mm pistols I have to see if the problem varied from gun to gun (and it does). So... my Walther P1 is one of my tighter chambers and causes problems. OTOH, cartridges easily fall in and out of my Glock 19. All chambers between these 2 extremes gave varied results; some worked and some didn't, depending on chamber dimensions.

I am now segregating my Glock-fired brass and using spent brass fired in other pistols for my grade 2 reloads. Just passing my experience on for what it's worth.

-Bob

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Re: Reloading 9mm brass shot in Glocks

#2 Post by ammolab » Wed Jan 24, 2018 12:36 pm

The Lee factory crimp die is supposed to size all of the case for certain function. It can be adjusted to not crimp bullet if desired. It can also size lead or plated bullets in the case reducing accuracy some report. Best used on jacketed .355" reloads.

What was your original die set? I have Used RCBS Titanium FL 9mm die for decades of 9mm loads with no problem on 9mm chambering. Was any single brand of brass an issue or did all Glock fired brass give problems?

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Re: Reloading 9mm brass shot in Glocks

#3 Post by RWS » Wed Jan 24, 2018 2:48 pm

My original die set was/is an RCBS carbide 3-die set that I've had and used for over 40 years and until Glocks entered the marketplace I never had any trouble with any of my reloads using the RCBS die set. Mostly I use jacketed .355 110 grain FMJ bullets when reloading 9mm. I infrequently load 124 grain bullets, but always jacketed .355's.

I bought just the Lee undersize sizing die from Midway. It really only reduces the diametral dimensions by a couple of thousandths so it doesn't hugely undersize the rounds. I have used Lee bullet crimp dies in some other calibers, but never with 9x19.

Commercial Winchester, Remington, Federal, and Hornady 9mm brass fired out of a Glock gave very few reloading problems. However, Fiocci, PRVI, S&B, Mag-Tech, & S&W commercial cases gave numerous problems when reloading if those cases were fired out of Glocks. However, military cases (particularly foreign military cases) were the worst offenders. These cases fired out of a Glock are very reminiscent of when, back in the 1980's, I tried to reload some 9mm range brass that had been fired out of a MAC-9 submachine gun. Same problem The web diameter had expanded too large for a standard sizing die to bring back into SAAMI spec.

Just out of curiousity, I removed the decapping pin from a Lyman .357 magnum sizing die and ran some of the worst offending reloads into that die. The nominal outside web diameter for 9mm is right at .392". The .357 mag's web diameter is more like .380". Since the outside case mouth diameter is right at .379" for both 9mm & .357 I knew I was pretty much affecting only the web diameter, and when I dropped the bad reloads that went through the .357 sizing die into the Wilson case gauge they then went in all the way with no extra thumb effort. So... I'm pretty sure I have the problem isolated and it's the oversize Glock chambers that is the culprit here.

For what it's worth, now that I take the time to segregate cases fired from Glocks I no longer experience the degree of problems I was having when Glock-fired cases were in the mix. I should note that I also load .40 S&W cases fired from Glock pistols but they do not give dimensional problems upon re-sizing like the 9mm cases, at least so far. I suspect the straight-walled .40 cases are more forgiving than the tapered 9mm cases.

-Bob

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Re: Reloading 9mm brass shot in Glocks

#4 Post by ammolab » Wed Jan 24, 2018 7:48 pm

Same die set as me...don't know why I said "titanium", it's Carbide. A lot of my brass is Glock fired all loaded with no problem in many 9mm pistols including a 1962 P38.

I see others on the net report the same issue as you.

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Re: Reloading 9mm brass shot in Glocks

#5 Post by Rapidrob » Thu Jan 25, 2018 9:48 am

The early Glocks had an unsupported 6 o'clock at the breech. This causes the bulge you see in the brass.
Some die sets have a tapered or large die opening and may not size this bulge down. They do this for progressive loaders where the case can move around a little.
Make sure your die is touching the shell holder or plate and you feel a cam-over as the handle is at it's end of stroke. This will use as much of the sizing die as possible.
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Re: Reloading 9mm brass shot in Glocks

#6 Post by woodchucker » Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:55 pm

To my understanding the newer generation Glocks do not have this problem. But for a new reloader it is good info to pass along.

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Re: Reloading 9mm brass shot in Glocks

#7 Post by RWS » Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:53 am

The problem is not the 6 o'clock bulge. It's the fact that Glock 9mm chambers are so oversized that the full 360 degree web on fired cases has sometimes been expanded too large to allow complete entry into smaller, more conventional chambers after full-length resizing. As Rob pointed out, the brand of resizing die has a lot to do with how far down onto the web the die will resize, which is why I now use a Lee undersize 9mm resizing die. It also seems to vary from Glock to Glock. I see oversize webs more often on the smaller 9mm Glocks and less so on the Model 17's.

I have friends that have both Gen 3 and Gen 4 Glocks and the problem shows up on fired cases from both guns. These should not have the 6 o'clock case bulge issue as is seen with the Gen 1 & 2 models.

With my Lee undersize resizing die I can get reloads that chamber about 80% of the time, average, so it's a borderline issue. Problem is that it is not visually apparent which fired cases will reload OK and which ones won't. Brass thickness is a factor as well. With the thin commercial brass cases that Remington and Winchester produce I can get closer to 95% usable cases because the expanded web is easier to reform and has less spring-back. With European mil-spec cases, or thick European commercial cases, the problem can be as bad as only 50% usable cases.

I only find out if a cartridge is usable after it has been reloaded. I drop them into the chamber of my Walther P1 barrel, which I consider to have a "tight" chamber and see if they fall out freely. I have since found that if I run reloads that won't drop free from the P1 chamber through a .38 Super resizing die that the smaller base on the .38 Super will fix the over-expanded web while not touching the 9mm tapered part of the case. This process maintains proper headspacing and allows the reload to enter and fall free from my Wilson case gauge (and any SAAMI chamber) but it is dimensionally a bit out of spec. Such reloads will essentially fire-form to the chamber so they get a big black X on the headstamp with a Sharpie out of concern that the brass might be overworked and are relegated to "fire and forget" reloads, never to be reloaded again (by me, at least).

-Bob

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Re: Reloading 9mm brass shot in Glocks

#8 Post by woodchucker » Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:58 pm

So basically you're rolling the dice if the brass ran thru a Glock regardless of generation. This is good to know, I've been considering the Glock 26.

Ive reloaded 9mm only in my lc9. But that was with brass (rem) only shot from my pistol so I never ran into any problems.

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Re: Reloading 9mm brass shot in Glocks

#9 Post by RWS » Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:12 pm

Well, it's too early I think to proclaim my experience as a universal problem but a good test wold be to reload some expended 9mm cases fired from a Glock, reload them, try them through your LC9, and see what happens. And... if you bought a Glock 26 and reloaded cases fired in it then I'm thinking those reloads should run through your Glock. Might not run through the LC9 though.

That's actually where I first discovered I had a problem. I was reloading 9mm cases fired from a Glock and trying to shoot them through my LC9-S when I started experiencing numerous failures to go into battery. I then tried those same reloads in other 9mm pistols with similar results.

I don't have any Glock 9mm pistols, just a model 23 in .40, so I don't have a lot of empirical data to go on as to what pistols might best run reloads using Glock-fired 9mm cases, which is why I would be tickled to see if you fare any better in yours, if your curiosity is up. There's really not much way to tell what model Glock range pickups were shot through, short of being at the range when they were fired.

My worst case was a Walther P1 that had the most failures to go into battery. That's why I started using the P1 barrel as a case gauge as it appeared to have the tightest chamber I've tried thus far.

9mm ammo is cheap at $190.00 per 1,000-rd case on-line with no shipping. It costs me about $150 to reload cases 1,000 cases (if I use jacketed bullets) so not much savings and my efforts could really be better utilized reloading costlier ammo. The only reason I have futzed with this issue for so long is that I have a lot of Glock-fired 9mm cases and I got sucked in to the problem-solving thing. Now that I have developed a system to deal with most of the problems the Glock cases will used in the free ammo I give my nephews with the caveat that they should be for range use only and not to bring those cases back to me to reload again.

And again, Woodchucker, you might have better luck than me, I dunno.

- Bob

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