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Saturday, October 23, 2010

OAL/Crimp Issues in Remington 30-30 Factory Loads
*Updated 11/11/10

I received this from ‘Blake in Georgia’ and am reposting it here as a heads-up to the many folks who like the 30-30, and may be buying up ammo ahead of the hunting season. You can click on any photo in the series, if you wish to view a larger version. My experience with this guy is that he’s genuine- not someone who’d post a BS complaint. Blake wrote:

Alright, I'm experiencing a new phenomenon with my 1989 Glenfield 30A (marlin 336). I noticed that several cartridges that had been worked through the action a couple of times were experiencing some serious bullet setback. They were factory Remington 170gr Core Lokts so I thought maybe a bad batch with poor crimp. I decided Friday that I would carry Federal blue box 170s this weekend for the deer opener. Saturday I carried 4 in the magazine, 1 in the chamber with hammer on half cock. At the end of the day I pulled them out and the bullets in the magazine had moved back about 1millimeter, or enough to halfway cover the crimp mark on the bullet.

Yesterday I only loaded 2 in the magazine and 1 in the chamber and kept 2 in my pocket. When I got in last night I unloaded the magazine through the loading gate and removed the chambered round. The cartridges in the magazine were set back about 1millimeter again, and the cartridge that was loaded directly into the chamber by hand was still factory spec.

Here is a picture of the factory Remington Core Lokt 170s, all 7 had been in the mag and through the action at least once, probably twice or more. The horizontal cartridge is one that is fresh from another box.

Here is a picture of the new factory Federal blue box 170s, all were fresh Saturday morning.

So what's the issue here? I've hunted with this gun or one just like it since I started deer hunting and I've never noticed this happening. Is something wrong with my rifle? It's all original 1989 parts. Maybe two random boxes of bad ammo?

On a side note, should I throw out the really short Remington cartridge? I'm guessing the others will suffer in the accuracy department so I'll save them for plinking. The Federals aren't bad enough yet for me to pass on them but they may be after another trip into the magazine tube.

This was a brand new sealed box. Inconsistent setbacks. J02:

This was a brand new sealed box. DIFFERENT LOT "H24." You can see weird crimp marks on the brass on a couple and still inconsistent setback. H24

Another sealed box. Weird crimps and setbacks. ANOTHER DIFFERENT LOT: K13:

I opened 2 other sealed boxes of Lot H24 and they looked like the others with the weird crimps and setbacks.

Here is what that last sealed box looked like. Lot H17:

Just for a sanity check I went and handled every single other 30-30 cartridge in my box, all 280 rounds, Winchester and Federal. Only one single slightly "off" setback on one cartridge in a box of Federal red box, which is like $9/box at WalMart - I think it's their "house" packaging.

Do I have any course of action here? Should I contact Remington or something? I know I won't be buying ANY MORE Remington ammunition and I hope there is a way for me to get rid of this and recoup my cost.

I wrote that I've left 30-30 reloads in tubular magazines throughout the hunting season; I've also left Federal and Winchester factory loads in 94 Winchesters, stowed in the trunk of a patrol car, for months on end. The soft, exposed point of the bullet gets flattened out but the bullet does not-and must not-set back in the case. When the bullet sets back in a cartridge, it has the same effect on pressure as if you 'shaved the heads' on an engine. You are shortening the compression chamber and pressure can only go up. When it goes up too much, something blows. I added that most of what he photographed would not be unsafe to shoot, except perhaps the shortest one(s). I suggested that of he shot any of the other  inconsistently-seated and crimped cartridges, he should single-load them.

Blake contacted Remington and here’s the results of his first attempt-

Wow, I just called the Remington ammunition plant and got laughed off the phone. They said that OAL cartridge length has no impact on anything and that the ammo is fine no matter how far the bullet is back in the case as long as it's not loose. They said to go shoot a bunch and if there is a problem to let them know. I asked if they would warranty my rifle if their ammo damages it and they just cackled that their ammo won't do anything to my rifle.

Unfortunately right now they just lost a customer from that one interaction and I let them know, although I don't think they care.

But then, there’s that old ‘picture worth a thousand words’ thing and it worked to his advantage-

Ok. I sent an email with all the pictures to the main Remington email address. I then called customer service and spoke to a man who agreed with me that compressed rounds aren't "just fine." He had someone from the ammo plant call me and they are going to send me a FedEx box to send them all 9 boxes.

I guess they'll inspect them and reimburse me.

I was on a work call so I missed the call from Remington and they left a message. It sounded like the lady from earlier who told me they were just fine to shoot even once they are compressed.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out and how long it takes.

Interesting, indeed. You cannot produce the volume of ammunition that Remington does, without having an occasional problem slip through the QC net. It’s bad when it happens, but the measure of Remington will be how they handle Blake’s problem- and whether they recall certain lots of ammunition.

We’ll keep you posted here.

*Today, 11/05/10, Blake received his response from Remington which reads as follows:

November 2, 2010

Dear Sir,

Thank you for sending in the 162 unfired rounds of Remington R30302 ammunition. Our ballistic technician found insufficient crimp on some of the rounds you returned. The bullets need to be crimped to prevent a telescoped bullet into the shell case. Further testing did not reveal any other defects. We do apologize for the defect and are sorry for the inconvenience.

A sample no charge order for 9 fresh boxes of Remington R30302 ammunition has been placed to replace the rounds you returned. Please allow 15 working days for the order to complete. Thank you for your support of Remington products.

Bill Conrad
Product Service

Now you would think that would settle the matter, right? Well, not quite. Blake received his 'replacement' ammo from Remington today, November 11, 2010. He writes the final chapter in this story, as follows:

I received the 9 new boxes of 170gr 30-30 from Remington today and am not impressed. They all look just like the last batch in terms of weird brass marks, brass lengths, etc. They all look crimped just fine but I can grab some by the case and push them against the notepad on my desk and push the bullet back just far enough that the marks on the bullet slide under the brass. Is that a problem or is it normal?

I will say that visually the quality looks poor compared to Federal and Winchester

This is sad conduct from what used to be a pretty good outfit. I saw little things that pushed me away from Remington ammo, over the years, but I always wrote them off as the production line having a bad day, etc. If Remington is so far gone that they replace lousy ammo, with more lousy ammo, they don't need any of my business. I guess we'll see how many of our fellow shooters agree.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Pre-Season Stuff

I'm using this rare break from work to get the rifles ready for hunting season. While digging through the the pile I came across my son's post-64 Model 94 Winchester, the middle gun of the three below-

Frankly I was expecting a little more work getting it sighted in; since it worked out perfect, I had to post a pic of the zeroing target. The captions explain the rest.

The top rifle is my old 1959 Model 94 and it’s a shooter, too. I zeroed it at 200 yards yesterday and 3 shot groups hovered at 3 ½ inches, whenever I did my part. I love these old Winchesters... they invariably shoot far better than anyone gives them credit for.

The reload is 34.0 grains of H4895 with a 150 grain Sierra flat softpoint, WLR primers and any old brass.  Velocity runs between 2270 and 2296 fps depending on which 30-30 they’re used in. Most ballistic calculators say it’s still doing about 1620 fps, at 200 yards, and still hitting harder than a 158 grain .357 magnum does at the muzzle. I don't concern myself with the numbers though, because the basic 150 grain 30-30 load is well-proven in the field. Several years ago I killed a nice whitetail forkhorn, using the basic Winchester 150 grain factory load, at 238 paces. The shot centered the shoulder and knocked a chunk of bone, about as big as a quarter, out on the ground upon exiting the deer- who was down in one stride. The rifle was a garden-variety 94 Winchester.  

The bottom gun the photo is my wife's Rossi-built copy of the 1892 Winchester Trapper. I recently cooked  up a hunting  handload for her Rossi and my Old Ruger Vaquero, both in 45 Long Colt. 

This load is an adaptation of one of John Linebaugh's personal loads using a 250 grain Hornady XTP over 13.0 grains of Hodgdons HS6 powder. This load is too heavy for anything except the big framed Ruger revolvers, so please DO NOT try it from your Grandpa's Colt Single Action. It is however relatively mild in recoil and was just what I was looking for in a light-kicking hunting load for Peggi's carbine.

I had a limited number of test loads so I fired just three from each gun, over the sensors of my old Shooting Chrony Beta Max. From the rifle it averaged about 1205 fps; it did about 1050 from the 5 1/2" Ruger. Recoil is inconsequential from either gun. Penetration in water was 24" from both guns and the bullets turned into leaden toadstools at either velocity. 

I suspected this would shoot to the about  same point of impact, in both guns, as they do with our two bulk .45 Colt loads. The XTP load did precisely that, zeroing at 50 yards in the fixed sight Ruger and requiring no sight adjustments to zero to 100 from the 16" lever action carbine.

Sometimes, things just fall together and this was one of those times. Life is good ;)