Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New G23 (and it's always something, isn't it?)

So over the weekend I finally got the Gen 4, RTF Glock 23 in 40SW that I've been wanting to get for almost a year. (BTW you're missing a great deal if you're buying a new Glock without using the GSSF buying program - GSSF members can buy one Glock a year at LEO prices, which around here is $422 out the door).

Went to the gun show the same day, and bought a Lone Wolf G23 barrel to drop in. Good to go with my cast boolit reloads, right? Just like my 9mm G19 a year ago? Not so fast my friend, it's always something.

The "something" in this case was an excessive number of FTF, and also occasional slide not able to push the round in the chamber all the way into battery problems with my reloads, using Glock factory mags and the Lone Wolf barrel. A friend of mine had a similar problem a ways back, and said polishing his chamber fixed it up right nice. The chamber was just a bit tight or the like.

So I called Lone Wolf Distributors today, and also did some internet searching on the problem. Wolf said don't polish or ream out the chamber yourself, you'll void the warranty. Send the barrel back to them with $35 and 3-4 dummy rounds that are problems, and they'll enlarge the chamber to fit the dummy rounds. I also emailed their customer service, and got a very informative reply:

I suspect you have a reloading problem. This is easy to verify. Remove the barrel from the slide. Drop a factory round into the chamber. If the factory round fits slightly lower than the top of the barrel hood you are looking good to go. If the factory round does not sit slightly below the top of the barrel hood you will need to return the barrel to LWD and we will fix it right away.

The problem is most likely caused by an expanded or swelled case head that has not been fully resized. Ammunition that is fired from an original Glock factory barrel produces (very) expanded case heads. This expansion occurs because of the large chamber used in Glock factory barrels. Many reloaders think they are full length resizing their brass but this simply is not true. The sizer die has a beveled area located at the entrance of the die mouth. This beveled area helps guide the straight walled cartridge into the die. The case rim is held with a shell holder. The area of the cartridge that is between this beveled area and the shell holder never gets resized completely.

If you drop your reload into a LWD barrel and the case head (rim) sits above the barrel hood this is a good indication your brass is bulged and not resized correctly. Here is 2 ways to fix this problem:

1 Run your loads through a case gauge before shooting. Many reloaders currently use Dillon or Midway stainless case gauges however these manufactures are known to have liberal tolerances. If your Dillon or Midway case gauge works with the LWD chamber you are good to go. If not, we recommend you use the EGW case gauge. The EGW is known to run tighter tolerances. Once the reload is fired from the LWD barrel you should not have a feed problem again.

2 You can return your barrel to Lone Wolf and include 4 or 5 dummy rounds of your reloads (no powder or primer) and we will open up the chamber to accommodate your loaded round.

*If you are reloading 40 S&W or 10mm we recommend you use the Redding GRX push through die to remove 100% of the case budge.

Hmm, the problem may well be insufficiently sized brass, a tight chamber, or both.

Looking around at Midway and Brownells, these Redding GRX dies are between $35 and $65 (oddly enough, they are much cheaper at Brownells!)

So I got home, and started doing some measurements and dummy round experiments.
1) First off, the breech end of the Glock chamber measured (calipers) an inner diameter of 0.432"-0.434". The Lone Wolf chamber measured 0.425"-0.428" depending on how I held the calipers.

2) I made up about 8 dummy rounds, 4 from brass that was not shot in a Glock, and 4 brass whose primer had that Glock rectangular firing pin strike. Loaded them all up in the G23 with the Glock stock barrel and the LW barrel. No jams in either, with all rounds from both sets of dummy rounds working just fine when cycling the slide by hand. Measuring the bases of the sized brass dummy rounds, they were all 0.422" - 0.424". FWIW I measured some factory ammo and the bases of those rounds were all smack on 0.422", not one bit over on any of them.

3) All of the dummy rounds appeared to headspace properly, just below the lip of the chamber. I also dropped some factory rounds into both barrels to check.

I then went back and got about 10 rounds bearing the Glock-fired mark, and measured them. Most were 0.422"-0.424", but I found one that was swollen to 0.425 and which stayed that size even after being resized. Loaded up that case into a dummy round and tried it. Aha! Got a jam just like I was getting at my range session, FTF or go into battery. Round hung up in the mouth of the chamber.

This makes me think my main problem must be occasional pieces of Glock-swollen brass that won't completely resize. It's not all of them, just the pieces of range pickup I get that were shot in an especially generously-sized Glock chamber, or maybe that went through an earlier generation Glock 40cal with a less well-supported chamber.

I could spend $35 + postage and hope Lone Wolf makes the barrel a little looser. I'm inclined though to spend about $35 + postage for this push-through die and hopefully fix the problem at it's root. This could explain why I sometimes get rounds kind of stuck in my XDs also.

Decisions decisions. $30-$35 for a push-through die, $58 (!?!) for a carbide push-through die.

Midsouth for $29.50

Sinclair/Brownell's for $34

or a carbide one from Midsouth for $58

Or, how about just taking the guts out of the Lee Factory Crimp Die, and using the "pusher ram" from my cast bullet sizing kit to bottom-push brass through that? LIKE THIS

Holy moly, we may be on to something here. I tried the thing the YouTube guy did on some of my 40 brass, and wow! It does indeed seem to have "de-Glockified" the brass. I had one Glocked piece of brass that had been 0.425" even after resizing. Ran it through the stripped-out FCD though and it came out at 0.423"

I think I'll have to run a box or two of some loaded rounds through this thing, and then see if they shoot more reliably out of the G23 with the Wolf barrel. Fingers crossed that this will fix the problem!!

[UPDATE 12-4-10]
I was able to get out today and put about 100 rounds of the de-Glocked 175LFP rounds through the G23/LW barrel. The good news is it ran much better. The bad news is that it didn't run perfectly. Still had one or two FTFs (including a failure to go completely into battery, but it was easily nudged into place) and one stovepipe. That last perhaps due to loading them to only 4.5 grains of W231 instead of 5.1. But, on balance, much much better than last week. Good enough to shoot in an IDPA match, I'd say.

Next mini-project: load up a bunch of jacketed 40 bullets and shoot them through the Glock barrel, to see how well that works.

[UPDATE 12-5-10] The factory Glock barrel works well, no issues of any kind with about 100 jacketed handloads.

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