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A recent post here concerning trimming pistol brass got me going. I've never trimmed any pistol brass, but I'm aware that many gizmos exist to do it. There are lengths listed, guages sold, etc. And yet... some of the heavyweights here are of the opinion that it simply is not necessary.

This makes me wonder. How many other practices are, to put it bluntly, a waste of time? How many gizmos are sold that serve no useful purpose?

I've always wondered about the following items...

1- "Snap Caps".
Dry-firing a pistol is a universal practice. And except for rimfires, I know of no damage from dry-firing. I'm sure that Snap-Caps don't hurt. But I suspect we have been "Successfully Advertised To" on these little dealies.

2-"Springs take a set if left compressed"
I've had several engineers tell me that this simply can not happen. Springs wear from compression cycles. A compressed spring is taking no damage. Is this one simply an old wive's tale?

3-"Full length Guide Rods"
This one has been debated hotly for years. I can simply see no advantage to them. They seem to be a solution to a problem that does not exist.

4-"Headspacing on the lip"
It is my belief that most cartridges that we are told do this simply do not. The extractor holds them in place, they never reach the ring in the chamber that they were intended to headspace on. Nearly all my .45 ACP brass is too short to reach that ring anyway, I quit sweating that dimension long ago.

5-"Cleaning Primer Pockets"
Progressive reloaders skip this completely. Yet you can buy a plethora of tools to do it. Like snap-caps, I'm sure they don't hurt, but... why?

That's five statements off the top of my head. And we have all seen articles and advertising concerning them. Please feel free to pick them apart one by one, or all at once.

And if anyone else has a bee in their bonnet, here's your chance. At least that way I'll have company in Pistol Purgatory...
 

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igli said:
I've always wondered about the following items...

1- "Snap Caps".
Dry-firing a pistol is a universal practice. And except for rimfires, I know of no damage from dry-firing. I'm sure that Snap-Caps don't hurt. But I suspect we have been "Successfully Advertised To" on these little dealies.
snap-caps, I'm sure they don't hurt, but... why?
I recently took the Springfield XD armorer course and was surprised to learn that that's one centerfire pistol where you actually should use snap caps for dry-fire training. It has an atypical design in which the firing pin (striker) is relatively thick and has a slot in it through which a roll pin passes to retain it. When the pistol is fired repeatedly without a cartridge or a snap cap to limit the travel of the firing pin (their choice of terms), the roll pin will become battered.

I guess dry fire is not a common practice in Croatia.
 

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igli said:
1- "Snap Caps".
Dry-firing a pistol is a universal practice. And except for rimfires, I know of no damage from dry-firing. I'm sure that Snap-Caps don't hurt. But I suspect we have been "Successfully Advertised To" on these little dealies.
I used to believe that, too. Then I broke firing pins on a Smith 19, a Colt Python, and a P.38 (that one, twice) by dry-firing. Now the only pistol I'll dry-fire is a 1911. I've never heard of anyone breaking a 1911 firing pin.

3-"Full length Guide Rods"
This one has been debated hotly for years. I can simply see no advantage to them. They seem to be a solution to a problem that does not exist.
I wonder why so many newer designs have them, then. I used to put them on all my 1911s and I believe they made them run a bit more smoothly. These days I wouldn't pay extra to put one on a 1911, but if one came with one installed, I wouldn't pay extra to remove it, either.

I prefer the two-piece designs, which do not complicate disassembly in any way (provided that they're not screwed down more than finger-tight).

4-"Headspacing on the lip"
It is my belief that most cartridges that we are told do this simply do not. The extractor holds them in place, they never reach the ring in the chamber that they were intended to headspace on. Nearly all my .45 ACP brass is too short to reach that ring anyway, I quit sweating that dimension long ago.
You're prolly right about that one. I've never had any "headspace" problems with any of my .45s or 1911s. But then again, "we all know" that original Colt .38 Super barrels that headspaced on the case mini-rim were hideously inaccurate, while aftermarket barrels that headspace on the case mouth shoot very well. Is this really a headspace issue, or is something else going on here? Charlie?

And if anyone else has a bee in their bonnet, here's your chance. At least that way I'll have company in Pistol Purgatory...
I just read a new one in a recent magazine article. Some instructor somewhere is preaching that the reason handguns are so difficult to shoot well is that the weight of trigger pull almost always exceeds the weight of the gun itself. This sounds good at first, and actually has some validity if you're bench-resting the gun and holding it loosely. But you get a pistol in a good, solid grip, in a good, solid Weaver or other strong two-handed stance, and now the gun, your hand(s), your arm(s), and your entire upper body are for all practical purposes one solid entity whose weight far exceeds the weight of any trigger that you can actually pull with one finger. Discuss.
 

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Are you sure you aren't just repeating everything I've written for the last 25 years? You just left out the need to keep brass by lot or sorted. That's not true either.

I have mixed feelings about snap caps and dry firing and with only a few exceptions think it does no harm and snap caps are rarely worthwhile. Rimfires, unless equipped with inertia firing pins can be damaged with only a little dry firing and some shotguns with pressed in firing pin bushings can be harmed. That is not to say that stuff like Snake reports doesn't happen but it really is rare.

Cleaning primer pockets simply doesn't matter and I've done tests in both rifles and handguns to show it. Gude rods generally do no harm or good but the public thinks they help so makers put them on and charge more for them.

Pistol cartridges do technically headspace on the case mouth but as a practical matter you're right the extractor takes care of it. If you study SAAMI cartridge and chamber drawings the only time that happens for sure is with a case that is the maximum length and a minimum chamber. If you measure new pistol brass it is almost always at the shorter end of the tolerance limits.

Nor does headspace make and difference in accuracy for pistols. We made a fixture to test variations in headspace with the .45 ACP and the only time it mattered was when it was go great that the firing pin couldn't hit the primer.

Trimming is a total waste of time for pistol cases
 

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1. I use snap caps in every pistol with which I practice. This may not be necessary, but it's cheap insurance.
It is a necessity with one of our pistols: the Kel-Tec P3AT. In this gun, if there isn't a cartridge to stop the firing pin, it batters the tip of its retainer, the screw which also retains the extractor. Batter that screw tip enough, and you will find that the firing pin sticks in the full-out position, which will not be good for your health.

2. A coil spring will "take a set" starting with the first time it is compressed. The spring manufacturer has allowed for this. Once it has taken this set, the only activity that will end its life is repeated compression and release, otherwise known as "metal fatigue." A coil spring that remains compressed for years will have a full and rewarding life, and will work properly when you ask it to.

3. I believe that a full-length guide rod in a 1911 serves only to complicate disassembly and to make money for its manufacturer. If you understand the interior workings of a 1911, you know that, between spring plug and (short) spring guide, its spring is completely contained and under control at all times.

4. In the 1911, headspacing on the case mouth is, I believe, more honored in the breech (pun intended) than obeyed. The internal-extractor 1911 is a controlled-feed gun, and the rising case is always hooked under the extractor. A too-short or too-well-crimped case is "headspaced" on the extractor and its pressure against the chamber wall, and fires quite safely.

5. I have never cleaned a .45 ACP primer pocket in my life...except after the fact, when a primer jams on a bit of tumble medium.

(Sorry Charlie: you were posting while I was writing.)
 

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igli said:
This makes me wonder. How many other practices are, to put it bluntly, a waste of time? How many gizmos are sold that serve no useful purpose?
I've always wondered about the following items...

1- "Snap Caps".
2-"Springs take a set if left compressed"
3-"Full length Guide Rods"
4-"Headspacing on the lip"
5-"Cleaning Primer Pockets"
1. It can't hurt and it adds a safety step to insure the chamber has no live ammo.
2. I don't know if they take a set, but a magazine carried gets cruddy and cleaning and cycling regularly can't hurt.
3. If well designed, makes take down and field strip a whole lot easier and harder to lose parts. 1911 vs HP.
4. Seems to work better for the .38 Super.
5. Your range must be a WHOLE lot cleaner than mine.

Geoff
Who has been around awhile.
 

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Snake45 said:
I just read a new one in a recent magazine article. Some instructor somewhere is preaching that the reason handguns are so difficult to shoot well is that the weight of trigger pull almost always exceeds the weight of the gun itself. This sounds good at first, and actually has some validity if you're bench-resting the gun and holding it loosely. But you get a pistol in a good, solid grip, in a good, solid Weaver or other strong two-handed stance, and now the gun, your hand(s), your arm(s), and your entire upper body are for all practical purposes one solid entity whose weight far exceeds the weight of any trigger that you can actually pull with one finger. Discuss.
I'll go with the unnamed instructor (I might have thought you were referring to me but I don't write for magazines). I don't dispute your point but, under stress, you may not acquire that perfect two-hand hold, when you need it the most - and you will be most likely to rush your trigger stroke. I believe that the issue is most crucial with small, lightweight guns with double-action triggers, which is why I carry a stainless-steel S&W Centennial in my pocket and leave its Airweight brethren in the safe.
 

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4. Seems to work better for the .38 Super.
5. Your range must be a WHOLE lot cleaner than mine.
The change with the Super just corrected a worse problem with the semi-rim, but now it acts like everything else

5. you're kidding... right?
 

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1.) Snap Caps- I don't really see the need except I do use them in Rimfires I work on.
2.) Mag springs and 'set'. The colonel once told a story about a woman who gave him a 1911 her husband brought home from the second world war and put in a trunk in the attic. This was in the eighties. It still had a fully-loaded mag in the well. He test fired it with that magazine and all seven fed and fired without a hitch. So much for 'Set'.
3.)F.L. Guiderods- I think everybody here knows how I feel about that waste of money.
4.) headspacing on the rim of the mouth- I've had exactly one instance of Headspace interference with 45ACP Ammo. I have a box of 230 grain Black Talon DPs that wouldn't go into battery in old Number one. When I cut the chamber for the barrel( Not the Kart I installed Charlie, this was a Colt NM) I went .001 past min. headspace. They were .002 too long, typical Winchester.
5.) Primer-pocket cleaning- I only do that on Match Ammo for the Garands. I'm a little anal on those loads and do everything I can to enhance accuracy( Neck turning, uniforming, flashhole deburring, etc). I even use a Micrometer setup on my Lyman Electric trimmer for them. But, everything else I load, no. However, on heavy-loads for the 357, 44mag and 45Colt, along with Carbine and Garand I do trim to min.length each time as they do stretch.
 

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Charlie Petty said:
5. you're kidding... right?
And the reason would be that what is removed in cleaning primer pockets is residue from the primer, not dirt from the range, which would have an extremely difficult time making its way through the flash hole, then forming a crust in the pocket, forward of the primer?
 

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The only two I can speak to from experience are Snap Caps: I use them in my Kel_Tec 9mms. Like SteveM1911A1--those little blasters require them, since they have been designed to be as small and light as possible for the caliber and capacity. This means light, less-robust parts.

The other is the trigger weight v pistol weight: as Spwenger points out, unless you have a tight grip on the gun, the effort to draw back a heavy trigger will cause the pistol to shift in your hand (why else do target shooters seek featherweight triggers?). The pull weight, combined with small size and light weight are what make snubs and subcompact pistols so hard to shoot for those trained and experienced with larger models.
----
Ok, one more "heresy": How about "Wolf ammo will eat your guns"? Put another way, "Never shoot 'Commie ammo in non-'Commie' guns"?

Kel-Tec is big on this (it's even in their manuals). In a full-size gun, with relatively heavy and robust parts, I don't worry about it. In my Kel-Tec pocket 9mms, I pass*, since any wear would be magnified by the smallness of pistol parts.

Especially in one that will be carried for SD!
 

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I now make it a point to use snap caps, but as a safety measure. I go a step further, i paint two magazines white so I can do speed reload drills, and only snap caps will ever go in these mags.
 

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shep854 said:
Ok, one more "heresy": How about "Wolf ammo will eat your guns"? Put another way, "Never shoot 'Commie ammo in non-'Commie' guns"?

Kel-Tec is big on this (it's even in their manuals). In a full-size gun, with relatively heavy and robust parts, I don't worry about it. In my Kel-Tec pocket 9mms, I pass*, since any wear would be magnified by the smallness of pistol parts.

Especially in one that will be carried for SD!
"Eat your guns" may be a bit of hyperbole. My understanding is that the extractors in pistols of older design that were engineered around brass cases and of some rifles that are already know to have fussy extraction may experience excessive wear and/or premature breakage if fed steel-case ammo. I don't believe it to be a concern with modern duty pistols, which tend to have more robust extractors.

Still, if I must lend a pistol to a student, I would prefer that they use it with brass- or aluminum-case factory ammo.
 

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Three firing pin stories:

1. One of my kid's friend's dad brought me a stainless Ruger Mark II that he said had just started "jamming." A glance told the story: The edge of the chamber had been buggered by the firing pin. I filed off the buggeration and then looked for why this had happened. There was no firing pin retaining pin in the bolt! I went to put the thing back in its factory box to order a pin from Numrich and guess what, there the pin was laying right in the box. I reinstalled it, gave the gun back to the guy, and he reported it worked fine. Haven't heard another word about it since.

2. I built up an ODI Viking from a kit of parts remaindered out by RANDCO in the '80s. Almost everything in that kit that wasn't a spring was cast, including the firing pin and extractor (!). After as few as a couple hundred dry-fires, the rear of the firing pin would peen so badly that it would stick in its hole in the firing pin stop. I filed off the peening two or three times before I gave up and replaced the firing pin.

3. I have an Armi-Jager AP-74 (AR .22 lookalike) that I hadn't shot in over a decade. It was working fine when I put it away, but the next time I got it out, the firing pin was broken. I hadn't dry-fired it at all, ever. So either that firing pin broke on the very last shot last time I shot it, or my kid had been playing with it and dry-firing it at some point in the intervening decade (he had access to it, but I like to believe he has better sense, especially since he could have played with it anytime he asked, and he knew that). Those are the only two possible explanations I can come up with. BTW, the chamber is un-buggered. So this broken firing pin is a complete mystery to me.
 

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I've actually seen a couple of 1911 pattern pistols whose firing pins had been swaged down and/or broken by excessive movement through the breech during dry firing. In at least one case, the firing pin hole in the breech had been worn oversize and required bushing. I expect that a weak firing pin spring was the cause, but it does show that some remedial action might be advisable if you plan extensive dry firing. Someone was selling a padded firing pin retainer at one point.

If you're serious about using the snap-caps for dry firing, get the ones with a spring loaded plunger in place of the primer. the ones with a wad of plastic are going to wear.
 

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What about "rifled" Forster [sic] shotgun slugs?

1. I believe that the NRA technical staff demonstrated years ago that the reverse rifling makes no contribution to accuracy. My understanding is that it's there to compress easily if someone fires one of the slugs though a barrel with a choke.

2. "They tumble beyond 50 yards." While I can't seem to muster the accuracy claimed by some elite groups of cops and prison guards, the week after I was fed that bromide in a hunter-safety course, I brought back a five-shot group fired at 100 meters. All the holes were perfectly round with the exception of the little slots left by the "rifling." (That was one of the incidents that led to the cancellation of the invitation to help teach subsequent sessions of the course.)
 

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Charlie Petty said:
4. Seems to work better for the .38 Super.
5. Your range must be a WHOLE lot cleaner than mine.
The change with the Super just corrected a worse problem with the semi-rim, but now it acts like everything else
5. you're kidding... right?
Back to procedure. Do I de-prime as a separate step using a hand pin, plastic mallet and base cup and then toss the cases into the rumbler?

Yes I do. Then I inspect the case and primer pocket for anything. Usually only some media is ever found in the primer holes or flash hole.

Geoff
Who does not do the bulk reloading thing, but my old Dillon comes close.
 

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William R. Moore said:
I've actually seen a couple of 1911 pattern pistols whose firing pins had been swaged down and/or broken by excessive movement through the breech during dry firing. In at least one case, the firing pin hole in the breech had been worn oversize and required bushing. I expect that a weak firing pin spring was the cause, but it does show that some remedial action might be advisable if you plan extensive dry firing. Someone was selling a padded firing pin retainer at one point.

If you're serious about using the snap-caps for dry firing, get the ones with a spring loaded plunger in place of the primer. the ones with a wad of plastic are going to wear.
A small piece of (at least) 1/8"-thick leather, tapered (skived) at the bottom to fit, placed between the hammer and the firing pin retainer, will make an excellent "snap cap" for a 1911.
Get a free scrap of sole leather from a shoe repair shop, and try it.

The transparent-colored-plastic snap caps with internal springs break and come apart pretty quickly.
My experience is, therefore, quite different from yours: I find that the red-anodized aluminum snap caps with plastic pellets in their primer pockets last much longer. The "primers" in these snap caps rebound quite well, and don't wear out.
 

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""Eat your guns" may be a bit of hyperbole."--spwenger

Yes, that is a tad hyperbolic :wink: , but I've read a similar emotional level in some threads. For myself, I ran a box of Wolf 9mm through my PT92 yesterday. Now that I think about it, the amount of smoke kind of reminded me of black powder! :ek:

Especially now that a polymer coating is used instead of lacquer, I'm not bothered. Even with the "bad" lacquer, I don't think I could run a gun hot enough to cause excessive deposits in the chamber.
 

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The only time case length has mattered was with some .44 mag loads that were loaded in a non big three case. First two shots were all about sticky extraction and flat primers. Yet the loads were not max by any stretch. Grabbing the calipers I noticed that bothcases were .02 over max trim length. Cut down to minimum length, those same loads were very mild.
 
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