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Whether you are shooting factory ammunition or your own handloads, you absolutely must be able to detect and interpret pressure signs on your fired brass. Rifles can encounter pressure problems for a wide number of reasons. Excessive fouling, extremely hot environmental conditions, uniformity problems with components, lubrication finding its way into your chamber, or even a surprise rain storm can all lead to a condition which will produce unsafe pressures.
When these pressure spikes occur, severe damage to your firearm may result. This can lead to serious injury or even be fatal. As a responsible shooter you must understand the conditions that can cause unsafe pressure. If you understand some of the most common causes, then you will be better equipped to avoid them before they become dangerous to you or others around you.
In this article we will discuss the causes of pressure, as well as how to read that pressure on our fired brass. We will go into detail on what those pressure signs look like with some high resolution photo's that spare no bandwidth! First, we will talk about the role of brass during a firing event.
Without brass, it would not be possible to contain the force of the small explosion inside the action of the rifle.
The two components that are most important to keeping this pressure from bleeding back into the chamber are the brass, and the primer. The brass casings used in firearms can be thought of as a balloon.
That pressure causes the brass to expand to the dimensions of the chamber and essentially "plug" the rear of the chamber, giving only one way for the pressure to escape; out the muzzle. The primer has a role in this as well, due to the fact our cartridges must have an ignition source, and this is accomplished via the flash hole inside the primer pocket of the brass.
This means that pressure inside the brass is also transferred through the flash hole onto the primer cup.
Thus, signs of excess pressure can be seen on both the brass and the primer. Obviously the complexities of interior ballistics go far beyond the scope of this article. For the purposes of this article, it is sufficient to say that the brass and primer keep the pressure contained inside the chamber, rather than bleeding out past the bolt nose and through the bolt itself.
Some of these things we have control over, while others we must simply be mindful of.
We will cover many of these conditions here, in no particular order. Temperature Smokeless Powder, the substance we use for propellant in firearms, is a high-energy substance that is continually breaking down from the moment it is manufactured.
The longer period of time that passes, the less stable it becomes. Heat, can greatly increase the rate of deterioration. Consequently, heat also increases the energy released by the powder if it is ignited.
You may have heard the term "temperature sensitive" used to describe certain powders.
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If you are running ammunition that is somewhat "hot" on a cold day, you may find that it will be completely unsafe on a warm day. Direct Sunlight The sun gives off radiation which heats things up.Online book chapter provides an introduction to web accessibility, with links to more.
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