Safety Warning for Berger 77 grain OTM Tactical Factory Loaded Ammunition

lash

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I did not think it was possible to over/under charge a cartridge using modern commercial loading equipment.
I was under the impression that every cases powder charge height was checked.
3293BBE9-FDB2-4403-92AA-2DF107714A19.jpeg


But seriously, modern manufacturing equipment IS very capable, but at least two things factor into this equation:
1) humans. The right powder and calibration has to be applied during the run.
2) even modern equipment needs calibration and preventive maintenance to make sure that variables are limited.

This is not an excuse for Berger, just a point that shit happens, even with today’s equipment capabilities.
 
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BuildingConceptsllc

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    I am of the opinion theres something else at play here besides an over charge, until proven otherwise. I don't know what that might be, and there are Many here who know world's more than I do about this stuff, but an over charge seems extremely unlikely imo
     

    lash

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    I am of the opinion theres something else at play here besides an over charge, until proven otherwise. I don't know what that might be, and there are Many here who know world's more than I do about this stuff, but an over charge seems extremely unlikely imo
    It’s been known to happen in more than a few occasions, by different manufacturers. I think that we should see what Berger’s response is first.
     
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    acudaowner

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    Just wondering if you pulled one of the other rounds not fired appart to see just what they loaded those rounds to and to check if all the primer holes were that large and have you sent any of your infromation on your problem to berger maybe a new employee is doing something they should not or machinery on the fritz I have no idea . glad you were not injured , Id be buying a lotery ticket and thanking an angle that was looking out for you .
     
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    BuildingConceptsllc

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    It’s been known to happen in more than a few occasions, by different manufacturers. I think that we should see what Berger’s response is first.
    It's possible, anything is possible, that just isn't what I would assume is the cause until I had some proof. Absolutely agree that we need to hear from Berger on this. Id like to hear more from the OP about checking his other rounds out. Going to check my own lot numbers shortly as well. I have a good bit of the brass from those rounds and Several hundred more rounds of it.
     

    BuildingConceptsllc

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    Just wondering if you pulled one of the other rounds not fired appart to see just what they loaded those rounds to and to check if all the primer holes were that large and have you sent any of your infromation on your problem to berger maybe a new employee is doing something they should not or machinery on the fritz I have no idea . glad you were not injured , Id be buying a lotery ticket and thanking an angle that was looking out for you .
    Yeah, that case looks a few clicks away from Serbu territory. That's a close one. Has me scared to shoot the rest of mine in my bolt gun, though I've had zero signs of pressure and I check regularly. Glad OP wasnt hurt, and glad he brought this to our attention.
     

    eastexsteve

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    ..but an over charge seems extremely unlikely imo
    They can happen, but it's usually not just one round. Some 30-odd years ago, Winchester had a run of overcharged 30-06 rounds. They published a warning that they exceeded normal pressure, and to only use the rounds in late model guns in good condition. They also offered an exchange for anyone who didn't want to use them.
     

    BuildingConceptsllc

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    Welp, I have at least some of that same lot # and have already shot many, but I also have more as well as other lots. I didn't have any issues with it. Sure would like to hear from berger
     

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    BuildingConceptsllc

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    Update

    Berger has reached out to me and offered to replace this ammunition. They also said ".We have had a couple of these reports. But it dosent seem an issue with all of this ammunition."

    ...
    Could you send the contact info for Berger? I don't really know what to make of that. "We've had reports of rounds damn near blowing up rifles but doesn't seem to be an issue with all of it" ???
     

    Molon

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    It takes well over 70,000psi to make lesser brass flow into the ejector pocket like that, as well as make the primer pocket go from a circular shape to an egg. Primers will often blow at 70ksi, but the case head might not have anywhere near that much eschar/soot.

    I agree with 357max, that if this wasn’t Lapua brass, we’d be looking at case head separation and a blown ejector at a minimum.

    My guess is that this was anywhere from 75-90ksi, maybe more.

    372e6d57-ecad-44e2-9eef-33ff0f4075d9_zpsgy9rgeau.jpg


    How much pressure does it take for the letters on the case-head to engrave into the face of the bolt?:)


    berger_engraved_bolt_face_02-2021962.jpg



    berger_kaboom_casehead_letters_01-2021963.jpg



    ...
     
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    Gwain

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    I still think you should look at barrel reamer specs vs loaded ammo. The PTG reamer spec for the neck is .252. Most Lapua and other high end brass is .015 on neck wall thickness. That equals a .254 loaded diameter (.015 neck x2 plus .224 bullet diameter). It should be a .250 loaded diameter for it to run right. I have seen this many times.
     
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    BuildingConceptsllc

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    I called Berger just to check and see if there were any other reports of this ammo being an issue and the rep I spoke with searched the lot number, and the basic ammo info and didn't find anything else. He was aware of this situation though. He said the guys in the factory and all are still looking into it and going to be getting back with the OP but they weren't aware of any issues with the ammo and had checked the record when it was produced, for their test fires. He said they tested it with. Bolt and AR weapons as well as their various other test and there wasn't any issue that they know a bout. Dude was super nice. Ended up basically saying that he doesn't have any concerns with me shooting it in my gun.
     

    Molon

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    I did not see any specs on barrel.

    Post #18.

    Thicker necks in a smaller/tighter throat would create pressure

    The case neck does not extend into the throat of the chamber.

    Try to drop a bullet back into a fired case, if you can. If a bullet does not drop free or with very little resistance into a fired case.....prob a part of the issue, along with it is a bit warm of a load to begin with.


    berger_pin_gauge_case_mouth_01_resized-2021964.jpg



    ...



    2nd, a faster twist rate with heavier bullets can show pressure sooner.

    This barrel has a 1:9" twist.


    ...
     

    Molon

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    I am of the opinion theres something else at play here besides an over charge, until proven otherwise. I don't know what that might be, and there are Many here who know world's more than I do about this stuff, but an over charge seems extremely unlikely imo

    So, you “don't know what that might be,” but you want proof that it’s not what you “don't know what that might be.”

    There’s a logical fallacy term for that.

    ..
     

    Molon

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    Update:

    Berger is sending me a call-tag for the unfired rounds. Berger also stated, "there has been a change in this load between the lot that you have and the lot that we are sending you. The new load was developed in a standard SAAMI 223 Remington chamber."
     

    BuildingConceptsllc

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    Update:

    Berger is sending me a call-tag for the unfired rounds. Berger also stated, "there has been a change in this load between the lot that you have and the lot that we are sending you. The new load was developed in a standard SAAMI 223 Remington chamber."
    Hate to ask the obvious, but.... What was the old lot developed base on ???
     
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    Molon

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    I still think you should look at barrel reamer specs vs loaded ammo. The PTG reamer spec for the neck is .252. Most Lapua and other high end brass is .015 on neck wall thickness. That equals a .254 loaded diameter (.015 neck x2 plus .224 bullet diameter). It should be a .250 loaded diameter for it to run right. I have seen this many times.

    Post #22

    The fired case neck measured 0.254"


    The unfired, factory loaded Berger rounds had neck diameters running 0.2505" to 0.252".
     
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    TxWelder35

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    @Molon do you have a way to measure distance to the lands/jam in your rifle?

    pure speculation, wonder if they developed it with a 223 Wylde or similar. In a short 223 rem throat may have been close to or jammed into the lands.

    Have you shot this particular load from Berger in this rifle before?

    Did you find the piece of brass from the 1st round fired?

    and lastly, it’s now summer and hot, possible the box of ammo was sitting in the sun/trunk of a car before it went through the rifle? Do a bunch of shooting and let the runs sit in the chamber a while?
     
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    Mike Casselton

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    Are you planning on sectioning the brass to get a better look at the inside?

    Any chance that during the forming process it could possibly have ended up ballooning and not have much material around the web?
    In theory, it shouldn't happen, but...

    Looking at the pics you provided, I'd say no, but it's worth looking into.
     

    Downtown

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    I believe some of these comments perhaps are from people who haven't read many of Molon's previous posts and don't realize he gathers tremendous amounts of very meticulous data on the ammunition he tests. I mean, he uses a custom K&M compression gauge to measure neck tension. I would say he's one of the most experienced ammunition researchers on this site.
     

    Mike Casselton

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    Here's another possibility.

    Did you possibly get a cartridge that had a much heavier bullet than was listed on the box?
    The machines should be set up to kick out any upside down projectiles and any that are too long.

    If the wrong profile piece was installed, then a heavy/long bullet could pass through the kick out tab and get loaded.
    Not only would the powder charge be wrong, but the heavier/longer bullet would be much, much deeper in the case causing pressure to skyrocket.

    Let me give you a personal example:
    Loading 17 Hornet with a 20 gr V- Max, WSR and AA-1680.

    Known safe load.

    I resize my brass, add the primer, charge with powder and grab a box of bullets.
    Load them up and hit the range the next day.

    The bullets are shooting great, but impacting about an inch higher than they should.
    Hmmm...

    The third round of the second group I feel a little puff on my face. Rifle is a CZ 527.
    I eject the cartridge and notice a little primer leakage. Not normal, but I figured I might have had a bad piece of brass.
    I proceed to shoot a couple more groups without incident (or so I thought).
    When I picked up the brass 3 or 4 had completely blown primers to the point they fell out.

    20210721_200900.jpg


    I was done for the day.

    The 17 HH is designed to operate at 50ksi.

    We'll come back to this in a bit.


    The 223 is listed at 55ksi and 5.56 is 58ksi.

    CIP lists both at 62ksi.

    Either way, even if the cartridge had been a 5.56 loaded to 58ksi (SAAMI) and fired in a 223 chamber, it would most likely not exceed 65-68ksi.

    To do the damage it did to that piece of brass, it had to exceed 75-80ksi to even come close to that.
    Most likely, the pressure exceeded 80ksi.

    In my above example in the 17 Hornet, the cause was easy to diagnose.
    I simply grabbed the wrong box of bullets that should not have been in that stack.
    Instead of loading 20gr bullets, I loaded 25gr bullets.
    Okay, 5 grains, so what?
    In a 223, 5 grains will get you some primer flattening and not much else. Really, it's less than a 10% weight increase. Not good, but not dangerous.

    Let's go back to the 17 Hornet.
    What does 5 grains mean?
    First of all we're dealing with a much smaller bore so any increase of powder gives huge increases in pressure and velocity. The max charge is like 12.2gr.
    Now let's up the bullet weight 25% and go from a boat tail to a flat base that also increases bearing surface.
    Bad, bad, very bad combination.
    My 50ksi cartridge just became 65-70ksi and blew a couple of pockets.

    Could the issue with your Berger ammo be as simple as a few extra heavy bullets ended up where they don't belong and got accidentally loaded into your ammo?

    Highly likely.
    I used to be a production manager for an ammunition manufacturer.
    Most of our employees knew their jobs well, but had no idea how dangerous a seemingly innocent gesture of picking up a few bullets off the floor and tossing them into the nearest bucket could be.

    What is the probability of something like that happening?
    Very high I would think.
    We had a scrap bucket for anything picked up from the floor just to prevent that.
     

    lloydx2

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    Needs new bolt. Also scope the locking lug recess on the barrel ext. It should be softer than the bolt. If it looks ok. Spec the new bolt for headspace to confirm no set back on Barrel ext. If it was mine I would put a new barrel ext on too. Not sure how they got enough of that powder in that case to do that? U may never know. All the evidence is gone
     
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    357Max

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    Well hell, this is a head scratcher.

    I like @Mike Casselton - Theory. 77gr - 80.5 probably not, but an 85.5 jammed in an already compressed load? Very plausible.

    @Molon - I would love to see one of your macro shots of the case head fired without issue? Did have even a hint of pressure indication?
    The above request is not to question you in anyway, but for the benefit of anyone reading this.

    Did Berger ask for the blown case back to help with their investigation?

    It's been stated by myself and others that Berger Ammo is on the Hot side, but to better articulate, (hot) meaning purely from a velocity standpoint. I don't mean to imply by (hot) that they're exceeding max pressure. It's meant as a compliment that they have dialed in a combo that exceeds typical velocities without exceeding pressure std's.
    Their Ammo shows no (hot) pressure indicators on my 6.5 Creedmoor whatsoever from 2 very different rifles. Functions perfect, no sticky bolt, primer cratering, or swipes. One of the rifles has a largish firing pin & This was with the small primer 6.5 ammo.


    You said this was a compressed load. Assuming it's supposed to be, it would then seem less likely to be an overcharge.

    I'm sure Berger would like to figure out what happened quickly!

    Pure unadulterated speculation here on my part simply because I like to trouble shoot.
    I don't want anyone reading this to get the idea that what I'm guessing could be the cause is correct.

    Disclaimer:
    I surely don't want to disparage Berger in any way. Shit happens & thank God it happened with Berger & Lapua brass.
    I have full faith in their customer service & their capability to run this to ground, if that's even possible. Hell I won a match this year using their factory Ammo & if I could get more I would.

    My best guesses are:

    • Wrong powder........I don't know there QA/QC process & I doubt it, but possibly a change over from another cartridge left a little of the wrong powder in the hopper. I really doubt it because it's probably a dedicated line.
    • Double charged primer. I question if it's even possible since it would most likely raise the anvil & cause a problem seating the primer. Yet with the crazy backlog on primers & manufacturers pushing production limits I wouldn't rule it out.
      • I tried finding any information on the web for overcharged/double charged primers. Turned up crickets nothing nodda.......really, there's never been a defective overcharged primer ever????? If they can have no-charge click mistakes, then it's seems possible to have an overcharged oops. This would be the worst cause for Berger since it would be the hardest one to determine. Might also explain why there are zero reports of it ever happening. How would you know after the fact? Evidence destroyed.
      • One more point that makes me suspect primer. You stated it had both more recoil and more muzzle blast. In my mind anyway I'd think a very hot primer could cause the back half of the powder column to detonate sending the yet UN-burned front half to the muzzle.
    • Really reaching for the stars on this one. Since load is compressed, is it even possible the boat tail wedged a kernel of powder between neck & projectile? Again any evidence of occurrence would most likely be lost once fired.
    I hope Berger can get to the bottom of it. I will stay tuned for updates.
     

    Mike Casselton

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    It's not a primer issue.
    People's idea of a hot primer is usually off base.
    Generally, a magnum primer has a longer flash duration, not a higher flame temp.

    The likelihood of an overcharged primer is a no go.
    (Check out Sierra's video on primer manufacturing)

    The machines making the ammo can't double stack primers, there isn't allowable room in the slider assembly.
    In fact, if the machine screws up, it will bind up and can set off the stack in the tube and any primer in the flipper tray.

    Too many ways to prevent that.
     
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    6mmRemM600

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    My guess is that Berger will want the spent cases and any unfired rounds and will willingly replace them at no charge.

    I had a similar experience with Barnes Vor-TX ammo in my 7mm-08. One shot felt different, having more recoil than the others. It was tight but did extract from my Savage Axis. Upon inspection there was no primer just a burned area on the where the primer should have been. The rifle was undamaged.

    I contacted Barnes and they sent me mailing labels to return all of the rounds fired or unfired so they could examine it. I sent in 2 boxes of loaded ammo and one box of spent cases. They were accommodating and replaced all 3 boxes of ammo. The rejoinder to the story was that due to changes to the PRK's ammo laws and their ban on "mail order" ammo sales I had to go through a "background check" with an FFL for ammo that I already owned...
     

    Crosswind

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    Doesn't look like any crimp on the unfired cartridge?
    Whats the throat length?
    I used to shoot 223 semi and it would some times close the bolt so hard the bullet would stay in the throat when I would clear the chamber.
     

    BuildingConceptsllc

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    There's so many things that can effect the pressure, we won't ever really know. Probably a few things happened with that round, where any one of em wouldn't have been an issue, but all of them at the same time caused such a massive pressure event. Had to be in the 80+ range to do that kind of damage and print the case head lettering into the bolt !
     
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    SoundFx

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    Kinda having a similar situation as Molon. I’m a LOT less experienced than most of you guys, but maybe there is an ammo issue.

    Brand new FN 20S in 6.5CM. It’s already back at FN for service after I saw this. Noticed this after less than 25 rounds fired. Pretty ugly.

    19F2AE75-8584-4EB3-9B7F-459306DBA15F.jpeg
    4394423B-EEF2-444A-99A2-A6288216BFFE.jpeg
     

    eastexsteve

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    Kinda having a similar situation as Molon. I’m a LOT less experienced than most of you guys, but maybe there is an ammo issue.

    Brand new FN 20S in 6.5CM. It’s already back at FN for service after I saw this. Noticed this after less than 25 rounds fired. Pretty ugly.

    View attachment 7672386View attachment 7672387
    See my earlier post in this thread about Berger ammo, and Federal ammo loaded with Berger bullets.
     

    eastexsteve

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    There's so many things that can effect the pressure, we won't ever really know. Probably a few things happened with that round, where any one of em wouldn't have been an issue, but all of them at the same time caused such a massive pressure event. Had to be in the 80+ range to do that kind of damage and print the case head lettering into the bolt !
    It doesn't take much to cause a pressure spike if all other things are equal. I'm always whining to people that 308win and 7.62 NATO are not the same cartridge, even though some 308win guns will chamber the latter. (I own two that won't.) Also, 308win can operate at a higher pressure, and can cause pressure problems in some 7.62 NATO guns. There can be enough pressure differences between the two cartridges that I have a HK91 that will blow primers with some 308win ammo.
     
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    Lite

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    Update

    Berger has reached out to me and offered to replace this ammunition. They also said ".We have had a couple of these reports. But it dosent seem an issue with all of this ammunition."

    ...
    Glad they will replace the ammo. It is concerning that they have had a couple reports. Normally that would trigger a recall in most industries.

    I have lot #: P002745-3. I don't know how Berger uses the -1 or -3. I think I'll hold off on shooting this for a bit. Thanks for the report!
     

    SoundFx

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    See my earlier post in this thread about Berger ammo, and Federal ammo loaded with Berger bullets.
    Yes, Sir. Your post is why I put up those pics. Just wanted to provide an unfortunately context-light but still (as far as I can tell) relevant data point that may point to the pattern you mentioned
    Not even close

    🙄 Thanks, Sherlock. I didn't post to one-up the severity of Molon's experience. Just wanted to add another point of reference.
     
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    SuperNiftyRocket

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    @Molon do you have a way to measure distance to the lands/jam in your rifle?

    pure speculation, wonder if they developed it with a 223 Wylde or similar. In a short 223 rem throat may have been close to or jammed into the lands.

    Have you shot this particular load from Berger in this rifle before?

    Did you find the piece of brass from the 1st round fired?

    and lastly, it’s now summer and hot, possible the box of ammo was sitting in the sun/trunk of a car before it went through the rifle? Do a bunch of shooting and let the runs sit in the chamber a while?
    I have read all these posts and was looking for someone to mention this. Lots of great material here and valid observations but this would have been one of the 1st things I'd check if it happened to me. Based on what I'm reading about Molon's experience and equipment I'm guessing checking CTBO has already been done for all remaining ammunition. If any are found to have been loaded long or grew because of being a compressed load that is definitely something I would want to let Berger know about.
     

    SuperNiftyRocket

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    I have read all these posts and was looking for someone to mention this. Lots of great material here and valid observations but this would have been one of the 1st things I'd check if it happened to me. Based on what I'm reading about Molon's experience and equipment I'm guessing checking CTBO has already been done for all remaining ammunition. If any are found to have been loaded long or grew because of being a compressed load that is definitely something I would want to let Berger know about.
    Sorry..... CBTO*
     

    TxWelder35

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    I have read all these posts and was looking for someone to mention this. Lots of great material here and valid observations but this would have been one of the 1st things I'd check if it happened to me. Based on what I'm reading about Molon's experience and equipment I'm guessing checking CTBO has already been done for all remaining ammunition. If any are found to have been loaded long or grew because of being a compressed load that is definitely something I would want to let Berger know about.
    If it’s supposed to be a compressed load than it’s hard to imagine it’s an overcharge as there isn’t the case capacity left to have big overcharge.

    I think it was most likely the combination of serveral things that caused the perfect storm.

    Already warm load with maybe slight overcharge, Bullet pushed forward giving a longer CBTO, short 223 rem throat meant the bullet was jammed into the lands, hot day rounds got warm in the sun, and we have a recipe that compound and can cause problems.
     

    Gwain

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    If it’s supposed to be a compressed load than it’s hard to imagine it’s an overcharge as there isn’t the case capacity left to have big overcharge.

    I think it was most likely the combination of serveral things that caused the perfect storm.

    Already warm load with maybe slight overcharge, Bullet pushed forward giving a longer CBTO, short 223 rem throat meant the bullet was jammed into the lands, hot day rounds got warm in the sun, and we have a recipe that compound and can cause problems.

    I think it has be something more drastic. The amount of over pressure needed to cause that is significant. I would lean more towards the wrong powder. If they are supposed to be using N150 and used N140, that would probably do it. Very interesting information though.
     
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