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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was referred here by a member of the 1911 Forum. I'm having some troubles with my brand new M1A, and some folks think my COAL may be the problem.

Mine is set to 2.730". Is that too long, and what COAL do you recommend?
 

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It might help to post this query in the "ammunition" forum. That seems to be where the reloaders hang out.

The standard COAL (case head face to meplat tip) for the .308 M1A ammo is 2.800" This is set by autoloader dimensional requirements (box magazine dimensions and so forth).

2.730" is not too long. In fact, it seems a bit short. Tell us more about the ammo? surplus, factory, handload, bullet, case, etc.
 

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Mac - you might ask one of the moderators to move this to the Ammunition section.

Here's his 1911forum thread which answers my question "What problems?"
http://forums.1911forum.com/showthread.php?t=466656

COAL 2.80-2.82" for Sierra Match King 168 grain bullets. But COAL has nothing to do with your failures to fire.

Please do not put WD-40 in your firearm.

Soaking the bolt in an appropriate solvent and then lightly lubricating the firing pin with oil or CLP sounds like a good idea after 7 years of storage. Heck, your Dad may not have removed the grease, etc. that came on the gun from the factory and that really needs to be removed from everything. Especially inside the barrel and chamber.

Find TonyBen's tutorial on lubrication here (forget exactly where) and follow instructions. You'll need appropriate grease and some light oil or CLP.

Do you have a case gauge? You should. It will help figure out whether the headspace dimensions on your handloads is (a) too long, or (b) too short. There's no point in us guessing from out here in cyberspace. Get a Wilson (or comparable) case gauge.

Hope this helps.
 
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I was referred here by a member of the 1911 Forum. I'm having some troubles with my brand new M1A, and some folks think my COAL may be the problem.

Mine is set to 2.730". Is that too long, and what COAL do you recommend?
Need info if you like help. What exactly is trouble would help a bunch, feeding, extraction, tight fit...? And as already posted, how are you reloading? Trim length, what shoulder set back on brass before and after sizing, bullet, powder load, etc?
 

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COAL has nothing to do with the problem.

A short list of possible causes:

  • Ammunition- headspace could be too short, check with Wilson type cartridge gauge. I see you are using a short COAL, are you using the standard .308 section of the Hornady manual or the service rifle, I recommend using the service rifle section.
  • Firing Pin- could be worn, chipped, broken. Look at the point, it should be rounded and smooth. Measure how far it protrudes from the face of the bolt when it's pushed all the way forward (.044" - .060"). There may be a problem with the receiver bridge that stops the firing pin from going all the way forward.
  • Bolt- isn't going all the way in to battery, don't guess if it's in battery look at the right bolt lug and make sure it's all the way down on the rail. Some receivers had a problem with the rail and needed a little metal removal to allow the bolt to go in to full battery (where the bolt roller contacts the rail).
 
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Find TonyBen's tutorial on lubrication here (forget exactly where) and follow instructions. You'll need appropriate grease and some light oil or CLP.

Hope this helps.
Heres the link to Tony's youtube channel. LOTS of good videos. I found them invaluable being new to the rifle, but besides normal maintenance, it doesnt sound like your problem is covered in them. Still....a good watch. GI2

https://www.youtube.com/user/tonyben3/videos
 

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Here's his post on 1911 forum:

"This gun is new in the box. My dad purchased it 6 or 7 years ago and never fired it. Along with a few other guns he just gave it to me; he and his wife downsized everything, sold their house, bought a camper trailer, and are traveling the country until The End.

So, of course, I don't believe in safe queens. I bought a set of dies and 200 pieces of once-fired LC brass. I annealed them, sized, trimmed, chamfered, debarred, etc. I don't recall the exact trim length, but it was the length listed in my 7th edition Hornady manual.

I made five test loads with five rounds each using IMR 4064 powder, CCI Bench Rest large rifle primers, and Hornady's 150 grain BT FMJ bullet. The powder charges ranged from the bottom to the top of my charts (same book previously mentioned).

Today was range test day. I was excited. However, of the 10 rounds I *tried* to fire, only 7 went BANG. Two of them only went BANG after two or three attempts. The dent in the primers is virtually nonexistent, but the action clearly goes "CLICK" when I squeeze the trigger. I can hear and feel that big, heavy hammer falling inside the rifle.

At first I thought the primers must be the problem. CCIs are harder than other brands. However, I've loaded some .30-06 and .35 Remington rounds from the same batch with no problems whatsoever. All of them went BANG with no issues.

I'm thinking the problem is inside this brand spanking new gun. What do you guys think I should do? Please don't tell me to buy factory ammo and test it. I hate buying factory ammo, and I've been reloading for decades and all my dimensions were within the guidelines of the book. "

Sounds like he didn't properly resize his cases and the safety bridge preventing him from losing his face.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
UPDATE:

I disassembled the gun and looked at the firing pin in relation to the channel which is machined into the receiver bridge. It was lined up with the bridge and moving correctly.

HOWEVER, when I chambered a round, the firing pin was *NOT* lined up with the channel. There is the problem.

So I completely disassembled the gun and cleaned everything again, especially the chamber. Upon reassembling it, the problem persisted.

At a COAL of 2.730", I find it hard to believe I'm still too long. But that might be the case. I used a full length sizing die on this brass, so it surely can't be oversized.

What do I do next? At least we know where the problem is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Sounds like he didn't properly resize his cases and the safety bridge preventing him from losing his face.
Full length sizing. You can't size any better than that for a semi-auto!
 

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How did you measure your cartridge headspace/know how far you set the shoulder back?

Some guys seem to prefer a small base die, especially with tight/match chambers, as a regular FL die doesnt do the trick.

Im a total newb to reloading myself, so won't offer anymore insight on something so critical.
 

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Full length sizing. You can't size any better than that for a semi-auto!
Yes you can.

GOOD factory ammo like a box of federal gold medal match would help you narrow down your problem but I'm 99.9% sure it's case sizing issue. You need to either screw the die down a little further for some more shoulder bump or get your hands on a small base die.

I know this because I was in the exact same position with LC brass, regular FL dies and my DPMS SASS. 1:10 stuck in the chamber. Small base dies and never had a problem again.

Heaven forbid that factory ammo sticks/doesn't fire but that has happened too. You wouldn't be the first guy to have an M1A with inadequate headspace from the factory.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
There was a card contained in the box (this is a new Springfield M1A, not mil surplus M14) which said the headspace was set at 1.631. I just read an article which recommended small base dies. The Hornday dies I own are standard (but full length, not just a neck sizer).

Should I set the sizing die down so far that I'm overcamming the ram on the press a tiny bit? I usually set the die so it *just barely* touches the shell holder.
 

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You should buy a RCBS case gauge in .308. This is the best instrument to measure a cases (sized or unsized) headspace based on what your die and press give you.

Camming or not camming is not going to give you a good number.

I don't use SB dies. My rifles are at 1.633 and 1.630. I generally size to 1.626. YMMV. Every gun/die/brass lot is different.
 

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Should I set the sizing die down so far that I'm overcamming the ram on the press a tiny bit? I usually set the die so it *just barely* touches the shell holder.
Yes that is how you are supposed to use an FL die. Just touching and then give it another 1/8th or so turn.

lower the ram and turn the die 1/8 to 1/4 turn farther into the press. Check the adjustment by returning the shell holder to the top of its stroke--you should feel the press cam over center. Now set the large lock ring and your die is adjusted to properly full length resize cases.
That is straight from the RCBS manual.
 

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Should I set the sizing die down so far that I'm overcamming the ram on the press a tiny bit? I usually set the die so it *just barely* touches the shell holder.
This is probably the problem, I've seen many new comers to the M1A make this same mistake, it causes the headspace to be too long and the bolt wont cam over in to full battery, this can prevent the firing pin tail from aligning with the channel in the bolt. A Wilson style cartridge gauge will help prevent this.

Yes, you need to cam the press over a little, not just touch the shell holder.
 

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Also I would not anneal the cases ofter just 1 firing, as it would be "possible" for the necks to be too soft and be "drawn" out when the neck expander ball comes out of the case. This could affect the headspace of the reload also. The probable cause is, as has been stated, the die needs to be adjusted a little more. Good luck and get the case gauge it is your friend.
 
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