So this past spring I decided to shoot USPSA in Black, had some troubles, and am finally blobbing about it.
I started out giving my Colt Government 1911 a whirl with the darkside in the Single Stack Minor division, but I ended up having feeding troubles due to fouling/carbon build up in the chamber, of which a simple bore snake was not sufficient to clear it. When I got home, I took the Colt apart, and noticed that their was so much fouling in the chamber, the cartridge wouldn’t seat, and the slide didn’t have enough umph to force it in. So I asked some old timers who used to shoot USPSA/IPSC ‘back in the day’.
Two issues came up:
- Chamber was too small
- Not enough loob
Let’s talk about each of these.
Chamber being too small.
‘Huh?’, I said to them, ‘but they cycle my rounds…’ Turns out, ‘back in the day’ (‘back in the day’ as being defined as last 70s early 80s), as part of tuning up your gun, barrel chambers would get sized to your cartridges to help with accuracy, and power factor. ‘Huh?’ It was explained that when the round goes off, gases escape around the edge of the case, while this all happens in fractions of a second, it is enough time to effect accuracy and power factor, and part of the tune up was to tighten up these specs. What the hell does this have to do with black? Well, no room for the gases to escape really, and the carbon builds up rather quickly. And with a tight chamber, the round can’t really ‘shave’ off any of it during the feeding process. So now I understand why people said not to use a 1911 with real tight spec’s a few years ago. It did not accure to me that they were talking about the chamber.
With this all in mind, I broke out my hand dandy micrometer to find out my chamber spec’s. But I should note that I highly doubt that this micrometer from Lowe’s Home Center is up to NASA standards.
My Colt Government has a chamber size about .4685
My Springfield GI .45 has a chamber size about .4745
So what my cartridges? A random pull out of the container shows a spread of cartridges sized between .4665 and .4710. That’s quite a spread. Made me guess that not all reloading dies are created equal. Some of them were loaded with Lee dies, others loaded with Dillion dies. And no I’m not a big enough nut job to keep them all separate. My solution? My Colt will stay with smokeless, and my Springfield will enjoy both black and white magic.
So the spread regarding my cartridge sizes, makes me think that the old man who told me ammo sizing gauges are no substitute for the chamber of ‘your’ gun is actually onto something.
So what can be done. Use a different barrel? Use a different gun? Use a quality black like Swiss, Shutezen, or Kik (neither of them leave much fouling, and combust rather nicely). Bring the proper cleaning equipment and swab out the chamber/barrel between stages? I’d say use the right powder, and bring the windex soaked patches and cleaning tools.
Not enough loob.
Theory that developed is that the loob is more for the chamber area, than the actual barrel. Discussions discussed rifling spec’s, which, by a quick glance, makes the 45acp barrel look like my 44.40 barrel. Grooves seem rather spacious, so it is believed that these spacious grooves, along with a short barrel, reduce the need for heavy loob. But it’s actually the chamber, that needs this loob. Reason being, to help keep that fouling in the chamber and breech area of the barrel soft, to assist in feeding the next cartridge. This was belief was given credence to all the moist slop that I found in my Springfield around the chamber area and on the slide, while on my Colt it was dry and caked on, which prevented the feeding in the first place.
While discussing this loobing the chamber, if you can pick what is happening, it is easier to understand. So it’s locked, cocked, and ready to rock, and you pull the trigger. Cartridge goes boom, and at the same time the boolit is traveling down the barrel, the slide is pulling the case back. This pulling the case back creates a vacuum bringing fouling and loob into the chamber and the gun itself. But in the middle of all this, the lube is liquifying, and getting mixed with the powder residue we are talking about. Now, not all the loob is dumped into the chamber, some of it actually makes it’s way into, and along the barrel with the boolit.
So what kind of boolit should one use? Easy, one that carries enough loob to begin with. Yes, we are talking lead boolits here. Some people have reported using a 200grain 45colt Big Lube boolit sized to .452. Other people, like myself have used a 200grain Semi Wad Cutter sized and loobed to .452.
Loob? Yes, loob. If you’re shooting real black, it is recommended that you use loob for said black. Some people have used regular smokeless loob in their revolvers, which is fine, cause it’s a short barrel, and ‘back in the day’ cap and ball shooters didn’t even use loob, but since we are using semi auto technology, it would be good to use the right loob for reasons mentioned above.
That’s been my experience with 45acp in Black, your mileage may vary.