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Thread: Can lube cause squibs?

  1. #1
    Boolit Man
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    Can lube cause squibs?

    I have been reloading for about 10 years, but I’ve only been casting for about a year.
    I have had my first squib with my cast bullets. I assumed I had skipped putting powder in, so I modified my loading sequence to eliminate brain dead repetitive habits. I was shocked to get another scrub. I have never had one until I started loading cast bullets.

    I tumble lube with Lee Alox/JPW/MS. Is it possible that the lube is contaminating the powder and causing squibs? The last squib was barely a pop. It seemed the primer was possibly contaminated too.

    And finally, if these are the result of lube contamination, what are your precautions? I am a slow revolver shooter. But it still concerns me. I have not had any similar errors until I started loading my own cast bullets. If anything, I have been more attentive since then.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Was there a bunch of unburnt powder in between the bullet and the case?

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy Newboy's Avatar
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    Yes, I have experienced that.

    I assumed the lube had too much paraffin, or the shells were stored in the heat, and too long.

    I changed to a different lube, and then eventually powder coating.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  4. #4
    Boolit Master mehavey's Avatar
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    Highly unlikely ALOX/Wax combo you mentioned caused powder contamination. (highly)
    But if you're worried, throw the tumble-lubed bullets onto a pizza pan and place in oven for 20-min at 225° before bed and leave there overnite as things cool.

    Once properly applied/dried, ALOX ain't goin' nowhere.





    postscript: You need only the thinnest of films w/ ALOX. Try just "greasing" thumb/forefinger with pure LLA, lightly twirl bullet between them as you pick it up/place on pie pan. No need to have much (if anything) in lube grooves at all. Thin..... Properly applied/dried, ALOX is the oldest/most effective/cleanest/trouble-free of cat's meow lubes.
    Last edited by mehavey; 09-17-2020 at 07:22 AM.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Ozark mike's Avatar
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    If this was a grease type loob id say its possable but not alox. I have used grease cookies for years and still nary a problem. So i doubt that was the problem what load caliber bullet primer ect
    Those who would trade freedom for safety deserves neither and will lose both

  6. #6
    Boolit Master


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    I had it happen with .38 target loads that had been stored for 25 years. (2.7 gr of Bullseye). I doubt it would have been a problem with a rifle case with a lot more powder but I do not know for sure. Never had one on loads less than 5 years old.

    I suspect in your case, it is loading protocol. If you are using a single stage, after charging powder, seat the bullet. There is no good reason to use a loading block and charge with powder first, set bullet down and seat bullet after the loading block is full. That is my method when loading on a SS press.

    If on a progressive, check if you are getting a lot of static electricity or powder hang up anywhere.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Actually there is a good reason to charge the cases and set them in a loading block after charging and before starting the bullet. It is to examine every case to see if the powder level is the same. Everyone has their own methods that they have developed over the years to avoid under or over charges. Some will even use a short dowel as a "dip stick" having marked the dowel when the powder is at the correct level. This shows easily if there is something out of the ordinary. Not the only way of doing something, just the way I prefer to double check the powder level. Dusty

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    I'm with Dusty. In between charging cases and setting bullets the little LED flashlight comes out and powder levels get a good look over.

    A little bridging in your measure and you can come up short. And the next one might be an overcharge. Does not happen often but I prefer to catch them.
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  9. #9
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    You don't give us much to go on, but with what you said, I'd bet benjamins that it ain't your Lee Alox/JPW/MS Lube.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dusty Bannister View Post
    Actually there is a good reason to charge the cases and set them in a loading block after charging and before starting the bullet. It is to examine every case to see if the powder level is the same. Everyone has their own methods that they have developed over the years to avoid under or over charges. Some will even use a short dowel as a "dip stick" having marked the dowel when the powder is at the correct level. This shows easily if there is something out of the ordinary. Not the only way of doing something, just the way I prefer to double check the powder level. Dusty
    I installed some BRIGHT lights over my reloading my bench. I examine each and every shell after dropping the powder. If it looks good, I then set the bullet onto the case, and then place it in the reloading tray.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master Ozark mike's Avatar
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    I trust my 55. Never had problems with shy charges. And i always use full case powders. I got smaller guns if i desire less recoil
    Those who would trade freedom for safety deserves neither and will lose both

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    It’s very easy to get distracted, just having a visitor in reloading room will distract you. I like powder checkers for back up for looking with plenty of light on the subject.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I ran into a similar situation years ago. Was very puzzled at the occasional squibs that all of a sudden began happening after years of no such problems. I load on progressive and these were 45 Colt cases with 7.5gr Unique. Hard to see that in the big cases. The primers were CCI and I trusted them, so I removed the powder measure and bottle. Lo and behold there was a bit of fabric fuzz in the bottom of the neck of the bottle upon the wiper. That was easy to cure, but I had HUNDREDS of rounds to pull and the charges were erratic. Lesson learned; I inspect the powder measure before each refilling, I closely watch as the powder is slowly poured into the hopper for foreign matter, I use a baffle, I mounted a mechanic's mirror over the bullet seating station to allow me to peer down into the cases before setting bullets on case mouth. No such problems since, knocking on wood. I suspect the fuzz may have come from some Elephant black powder I had used previously.

    prs

  14. #14
    Boolit Man
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    I am loading Unique in .44 and .45; 231 in .38. I have modified my process so I fill 5 cases at a time, inspect 5 cases for powder level, and then seat 5 cases. Even made a little sign with the sequence and put it next to my block. Using a turret press. Previously I was charging and seating one bullet at a time. There is the possibility that I skipped a step due to defective repetitive motion habits.

    I admit that I probably use too much lube. Or seated the bullet before it was dry. Not defending myself. It made me re-examine my process of both lube and charging. I do use a 55 and then weigh each charge on an electronic scale. Am OCD about powder weights. The “charge 5 - compare - seat 5” should have eliminated omitting the charge.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    as I seat cast bullets I look at bottom first and if excess lube is on base I wipe the bottom off before seating. but I recently came across a whole bunch of 9mm that was loaded a few years ago and none will even fire. all have Winchester gold colored primers, not the older chromed ones, but loads with cci primers all fired.

  16. #16
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I can only share my experiences as I haven't done a double blind test on lubes affecting powder. I have only been casting since the mid '80s and have used a lot of alox and 45-45-10 dip lubed. I also have mixed up some home made lubes and pan lubed several thousand bullets for 38 Special up to 45 Colt and just a few 30-06 and 223 rifle bullets. I have stored some handloads in a tin shed but for the last 10 years in a stick built shed. Neither air conditioned (first shed in So. CA w/temps to 110, and last 10 years in So, OR from lower 30s to occasional 95 degree days). I think the oldest was some 44 Magnum that were maybe 17-18 years old and all fired just as if they were a year old. I've experienced no squibs, no erratic ignition from anything, including lube contamination...

    Safe reloading techniques have been well covered on every forum I've visited (many times) so I'll just add my method. I had a squib in 1970. Since that time I have looked in every case, rifle and hand gun, I have reloaded to make sure there is powder and if there is a double charge (no way to tell if the charge or too light or too heavy, just make sure there is one powder charge in the case)...
    Last edited by mdi; 09-17-2020 at 11:57 AM.
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  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    I mostly use coated bullets so I haven't got the personal experience to pass on about bullet lube contamination. I can tell you through personal experimentation that very heavy case lube contamination can cause squibs and hang fires, but it takes a lot to do it.

    I load on a progressive without automation, using a little mantra called "the 5 P's" to remind me of the necessary steps for proper press function and production of safely charged rounds:

    Pull (the handle, to size/deprime/charge/seat/crimp in the various stations).

    Push (the handle, to prime).

    Pick up a bullet and case.

    Peek in the charged case to confirm proper charging.

    Place the bullet on the charged case and the new case in station one.

    And repeat.

    Doing this, I've only had squibs I made deliberately (those case lube contaminated loads and a couple powder free cases when I was starting out so I could actually hear what a squib sounded like).

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    I experienced quite a few squibs before I found the cause on my progressive (Lee Load Master). Turned out the powder measure was not retracting correctly. So, minor fix with a spring and have not had one since with a pistol.

    When loading rifle I measure each load and pour in the case at the proper step in the process. I have had two squibs out of about 6000 rounds in the last three years. It happened when I get distracted and forget to pour in the powder. I changed my procedure after the second squib. The good part is that a primer only will not push a bullet into the barrel of my .308

    Lube? I've not ever had a problem with it and we used to store our loaded ammo in an unheated/uncooled shed during summers of over 110F. We pan lubed with the generic brown stick lube and the ammo was stored base down. My theory is the bullet 'seals' against the case walls so almost no lube will get anywhere near the powder.

  19. #19
    Another cause for what you call a squib bullet is the primer seating.
    Primers should be seated so they are slightly below flush for best operation in all guns, including those with lightened trigger pulls which can lighten the primer strike causing the misfire ,occasional or frequent.
    Merely seating the primers flush with the bottom of the case means the primer strike has to drive the primer in further to let the anvil bottom out and then fire the primer.
    In other words, a strong primer strike finishes seating the primer and ensures a positive primer pop. This info has been known and published in the older reloading manuals and included in some of the recently published manuals as well.
    So, seating the primers below flush should include cleaning the fired crust out of a once fired shell primer pocket as well. The fired crust or ash residue can cushion the anvil, although seating the primer deeper than flush can break up this ash or crust and usually primers will successfully fire.
    To repeat: a merely flush seated primer over a dirty pocket combined with a weak primer strike will sometimes yield a weak misfire or a fail to fire.
    Add cold weather and maybe stiff oil or gun grease and the tendency to misfire increases.
    Even a dirty gun with dirt preventing the shells to bottom out can lessen the primer strike coupled with the above.
    Seat primers to the bottom of the pocket below flush and clean your gun.
    Even tumbling once fired dirty shells before reloading will ensure no dirt under stuck under a rim where the carbide die doesn't scrape.
    Good luck !

  20. #20
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by dverna View Post
    I had it happen with .38 target loads that had been stored for 25 years. (2.7 gr of Bullseye). I doubt it would have been a problem with a rifle case with a lot more powder but I do not know for sure. Never had one on loads less than 5 years old.

    I suspect in your case, it is loading protocol. If you are using a single stage, after charging powder, seat the bullet. There is no good reason to use a loading block and charge with powder first, set bullet down and seat bullet after the loading block is full. That is my method when loading on a SS press.

    If on a progressive, check if you are getting a lot of static electricity or powder hang up anywhere.
    Moisture condensation inside the case in the unused portion of the case exposed to internal air pocket? Get the same thing on the insides of my semi tanks in the winter. If you don't fill the tanks up full, when the fuel cools off the inside will have condensation on the surfaces and in the winter ice.
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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check