Primers and sabots

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Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2016
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Whenever I hit the club to shoot I have a habit of taking the grass about 6 to 10 feet ahead of my station and maybe 12 feet across so I can retrieve my spent sabots at the end of the session without having to dig thru all the stuff other shooters have left behind.. I also save the spent primers. When I get back home, I take time to study them a bit. This started out a curiosity but is now habit. These items can tell quite a tale.

Yesterday I wanted to do a follow-up shoot with the Patriot using the 195 grain Expanders and didn't have to shoot much to see that things were as the should be. The picture is of the primers and sabots used minus one sabot that eluded me.

Every primer fired [W209] came out clean with zero blow back. Each sabot opened up wonderfully without any evidence of tearing or torn petals and the cup base was uniform on all of the sabots. These are observations that I like to make to assure that things are all on the up and up with a particular load. This load of 56 grains of IMR4198 is stellar all the way around. Based on a chrono reading from the other day the bullets are running at around 2375 at the muzzle, +/- a couple fps. I'm going to hunt this load.

Interestingly, with my .45 Kodiak I use the same bullets, primers and sabots with a weighed 63 grains of BH209 [about 90 grains by volume] and see almost identical spent primers and sabots. At 70 weighed grains of BH209 in the Kodiak the petals were tearing, some completely off, and the cups on the bottom of the sabots got ragged and accuracy began to wander. I'd have just assumed the barrels was getting too warm had I not stopped to check those sabots and the primers were just starting to show soot up the sides... all signs of too much pressure.

I save the primers and sabots from each gun shot and at each session now. If things were quite kosher with the shooting with a particular gun that I know was shooting well the last time sometimes I see little tells on either the primers or sabots and will go back and re-weight the charges remaining in tubes just to be certain I wasn't sleeping while I weighed the powder out. Sometimes its a plug that fouled earlier than I thought it should have and the back pressure is working its wonders. I've had reliable T7 loads go bonkers on me and found out it was due to really high humidity and the sabot faces were hardly pressure cupped at all. I could have probably reused those sabots.

At any rate, I just take time to look at little things even if the shoot goes well. Sometimes these things will point out an issue that's still to come. Most often its just reassurance that things are going good. And picking up my spent stuff is just a good way to show that I clean up after myself and not leave things for someone else to have to pick up. Sometimes it rubs off on other shooters after they see me picking up my mess. and that's just healthy for the club and range.


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Being an avid reloader, I always check my casings. I started looking at my sabots and realized I wasn't being consistent. Starting that bullet sabot combo straight is critical. Consistency is the key. Hope I never need a follow up shot when buck fever kicks in.
Wow Tom I find that interesting that your BH209 loads out of your Kodiak were tearing up your sabots and sooting up your primers. The primers I could possibly see a difference but the sabots are baffling. I would thing that 56 gr of IMR4198 would have more pressure than 63-70 gr of BH209?!
Could it be twist rates, bore diameter, bore roughness? What could be causing this.