Reloader’s Bible Page 11 : It won’t Cycle Again!

In semi-automatic shotguns, the choice of powder can significantly affect cycling reliability due to differences in burn rate, gas production, and pressure curves. Some types of powder are known to cause issues with cycling, especially in semi-automatic shotguns. Here are the key factors and types of powder that can potentially lead to cycling problems:

### Factors Affecting Cycling in Semi-Automatic Shotguns

1. **Burn Rate**: Powder burn rate influences how quickly the powder ignites and burns inside the cartridge. Powders with too fast or too slow burn rates may not generate enough gas or may generate it too quickly, impacting the shotgun’s cycling mechanism.

2. **Gas Production**: Semi-automatic shotguns rely on gas-operated systems or inertia systems to cycle the action. The amount and timing of gas produced by the powder can affect the system’s ability to cycle the action reliably.

3. **Pressure Curve**: The pressure curve of the powder refers to how pressure builds up and releases during ignition. Powders that produce a sharp spike in pressure or inconsistent pressure levels can disrupt the cycling mechanism.

### Types of Powder Known to Cause Issues

1. **Fast-Burning Powders**:
– **Issue**: Fast-burning powders can create a sudden spike in pressure and gas volume, which may exceed what the semi-automatic shotgun’s gas system can handle.
– **Effect**: This can lead to excessive recoil, increased wear on the firearm, and unreliable cycling, such as failure to eject or failure to chamber the next round.

2. **Slow-Burning Powders**:
– **Issue**: Powders that burn too slowly may not generate enough gas pressure or may generate it too late in the firing cycle.
– **Effect**: This can result in insufficient energy to cycle the action fully, causing failures to eject spent shells or failures to feed new rounds.

3. **Powders with Inconsistent Performance**:
– **Issue**: Powders that vary in quality or consistency can lead to erratic pressure curves and gas production.
– **Effect**: This inconsistency can cause intermittent cycling issues, where some rounds cycle fine while others do not, compromising reliability.

### Examples of Problematic Powders

1. **Unique**: A flake powder known for its versatile use, but can be problematic in semi-automatics due to its burn rate variability.

2. **Bullseye**: Another versatile powder, but its fast burn rate can cause excessive pressure spikes in semi-automatic shotguns.

3. **Trail Boss**: While excellent for reduced loads, its bulky nature can lead to inconsistent cycling in semi-automatics designed for standard loads.

### Recommendations for Semi-Automatic Shotguns

When reloading for semi-automatic shotguns, it’s crucial to select powders that are known for their consistency, appropriate burn rate, and gas production suitable for semi-automatic actions. Powders like Hodgdon Clays, Alliant Red Dot, and Winchester 231 are popular choices for target loads due to their consistent performance and suitable burn rates for semi-automatic shotguns.

### Conclusion

Choosing the right powder is critical to ensure reliable cycling in semi-automatic shotguns. Avoiding powders with extreme burn rates, inconsistent performance, or excessive pressure spikes can help maintain smooth operation and prolong the life of your firearm. Always consult reloading manuals and consider the specific requirements of your semi-automatic shotgun when selecting powders for reloading.


Info by Cory Bredow


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *