Wednesday, January 15, 2014

On reloading and record-keeping

How many of you, when you reload ammunition, keep records of the specific components used in each load batch? I know tat some folks do, and others don't. I typically do, unless I get lazy, and a recent discovery just hammered home why each of us who reloads should keep detailed records of each lot, right down to component lot numbers for powders and primers.

About a year and some change back, I bought a Glock 21 used off Gunbroker. I took it out to the range with a bag or two of my trusty reloads, only to have no end of problems with it, as written about here:

New Glock Fail

I had that pistol all apart. I replaced it's striker and striker spring, I detail-cleaned it, I did everything I could think of short of sending it back to Glock. It still would not fire reliably, leaving some primers dimpled but not fired. Finally I started trying other ammunition and found that it was flawless on any factory ammo I fed it and reloads from batches different from the can I'd been using. Not only was it frustrating and embarrassing but it shook my faith in this pistol for a long time.

Fast-forward to a few months ago. I had my S&W Model 58 overhauled by a S&W armorer that I work with, and when I got it back from him and started to shoot it again, I started getting misfires with it. It was hitting the primers and dimpling them, but they weren't going off. Being a year or so later and a different caliber completely, I didn't link this problem to the earlier Glock 21 trouble until I was glancing at my ammo load spreadsheet recently. And there it was: Both pistols were choking on ammo that I assembled using primers with a specific manufacturer and lot number. In the case of the S&W, I'd just switched over to shooting ammo made with those primers the first time I took it out after it came back from repair. Naturally my first instinct was to call my friend up and ask him what he'd done to my revolver. An apology has since been made.

And not only was I able to figure out what was wrong in the case of both otherwise-reliable pistols, but because I kept these records, I was able pull and dispose of the unused primers in that lot and then go back through my ammo stocks and locate other ammunition made with these same primers. There's only a couple hundred rounds of these bad rounds left, but they're now set aside as practice ammo and I can take them out knowing that many of them aren't going to shoot the first time they're struck. Fortunately most such rounds are .45 ACP and I have a 1911 that whacks them hard enough to fire them 100% reliably. I just need to keep those rounds away from the Glock.

It's never fun or easy to admit that you screwed something up. Maybe I did screw up here, or maybe the manufacturer did, or the store that I got them from didn't keep them dry. But regardless, those primers were defective when they went into my rounds and if not for meticulous documentation of which components went into each ammo batch, I'd still be scratching my head trying to figure out why certain firearms weren't working right. It's tiresome to keep such records but in this case, it paid off.

So are you tracking your ammo batches to include powder and primer lot numbers? If not, I'd recommend it.


  1. I have not in the past other than powder and bullet weight. Good point ML! I will start to do so in the future.

  2. Excellent point, and I 'had' the records from the last time I reloaded... I'm now down to the last 50 or so wadcutters... sigh

  3. Good point - I always record the recipe, but haven't always notated lot numbers. based on your experience, I think I'll start...

  4. Anonymous11:04 AM

    Primer lot numbers? No.

    From now on, though.


  5. Wolf primers? I've found them to be even harder than CCI or winchester in the sense of some strikers not setting them off.

    1. These were Winchester, which really surprised me.