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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I went to the range yesterday with my USPc 9mm. I fired a shot and sparks flew out of the gap between the breech face and the chamber. I inspected the gun but nothing was amiss. I located the spent casing and it had a failure in the case wall. I continued shooting and it happened a couple more times. Locating each case it had a failure in the same point. The ammo in question is Federal 115gr Aluminum.


Later after coming home and cleaning my gun I inspected the chamber to find this. It's not lead build up since I've never shot cast lead rounds and I've scraped at it and it's definitely flaked off coating down to bare metal. It's not aluminum either since it's a depression into the side wall of the chamber. This is clearly causing a consistent failure in the casings. What should I do?




UPDATE - 9/16

Just got off the phone with HK CS. They essentially told me that the ammunition is at fault. The reasons being that aluminum as a material doesn't obturate properly. He has seen the problem previously and another customer had two of their .45 barrels replaced by Federal. One from a HK45 and a .45 Compact.

At this point I must send the gun into HK and have them give the gun a once-over for a clean bill of health and barrel replacement. I also must send a couple of the sample casings for documentation purposes. He will be sending a report to HK Germany as well to potentially assess the situation with aluminum cases ammunition and potentially revise the manual. He did confirm that the current warning in the manual against using aluminum cased ammunition is from a reliability standpoint.

UPDATE 2 9/16 -

I called Federal after getting off the phone with HK. They stated that none of their ammunition specialists were in at the moment and took my info so they could call me back. A few hours later I got a call from someone else at Federal asking me to tell them about the incident. They asked me if I was physically harmed which was nice. I fortunately was not. I gave them the rundown and they said they were going to send me a follow up email so I can send them pictures and a little more info. They stated the gun should be sent to HK for a look over to determine if it's safe to fire or if additional repairs need to be made. They sent me an email asking me about lot and load numbers located on the box and particularly a photo of the failed cases with the headstamp included. I gave them the info and the pictures. They said that they (obviously) must verify that the ammunition used and that failed was indeed theirs before they can authorize any sort of actions.

Update 3 3/3/16

I sent Federal the barrel, left over ammo from the lot, and the ruptured casings. They arrived on Oct 1, 2015. I never heard anything from them until some time in late December even after repeated calls and emails in the months preceding inquiring of the status. The letter below is dated January 7. With the busy holiday season that came up I didn't send the firearm to H&K until 1/28/16. Which cost $130 to ship it overnight to H&K. I got a call from them on 2/26/16 telling me my firearm was repaired and they needed payment info to release the firearm to me. I did and as of Wednesday 3/2 I have the firearm back in my possession with a replaced barrel and extractor. The barrel is serialized, but not to my individual firearm, and has polygonal rifling. I'm assuming it's an internal batch number. The numbers are printed where they are not visible when the firearm is assembled. It simply has the "9x19" engraving on the side wall when assembled. I have emailed the associated invoices for repairs and shipping to Federal tonight and await their respose.



FINAL UPDATE - CASE CLOSED

Today I cashed the check Federal cut to me. It included the repairs and the shipping to HK. A long, time consuming process overall. My advice to anyone out there - If you suspect anything is amiss with any factory ammunition, inspect your casings, SAVE YOUR BOX WITH THE LOT NUMBER, and SAVE YOUR CASINGS if something happens. Without the casings there's no way to prove to the ammunition manufactuer that their ammo caused issues. A person messaged me with similar issues and he had to go dig through the grass at his range the day after to find the ruptured casings. Otherwise he would've been screwed. Hope this helps and glad it's all over.
 

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Is it possible that you had a bad run of ammo with flawed casings and the case failures were causing that appearance on the chamber, rather than the other way around?
 

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holy hell! that is one messed up chamber lol. hopefully it is something you can remove but if it is then it looks like its going to take a lot of effort! good luck.
 

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I know there are others who love the stuff but I can't stand it. Hate cleaning up after it. Spent my fair share of time digging aluminum shavings out of internals. Brass only.
 

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Holy cow! Those are some nasty looking spent cases. You should be able to clean that out. Aluminum is much softer than the hammer forged steel used to make HK barrels. I think you got a bad run of ammo. Cases should never split that bad.
 

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It's a little hard to tell from the pictures, but this is a void in the chamber, and not aluminum build up? If the cases are unsupported, you are thinking that would explain the case splits, right? Makes sense.

If it is a void in the metal of the chamber, I'd call HK CS, and explain what you are seeing, and tell them exactly what you shot through the pistol and the result. Hopefully they will take care of this. However, as others more expert than me have said, aluminum ammo is not recommended by HK.

If it's build up, then the advice here about cleaning with a solvent sounds wise. Hopefully that's all it is.

Please post how this turns out when you resolve it.
 

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Of the 6,000 rounds I have thru my VP9's probably 4,000 have been the Federal aluminum case. I have never had one issue with that ammo. That is very interesting. Matter of fact I've probably shot another 1,000 federal aluminum thru my other 9mm firearms and easily 2,000 rds of .45 federal aluminum thru my 45's. Never one issue
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
It's a little hard to tell from the pictures, but this is a void in the chamber, and not aluminum build up? If the cases are unsupported, you are thinking that would explain the case splits, right? Makes sense.

If it is a void in the metal of the chamber, I'd call HK CS, and explain what you are seeing, and tell them exactly what you shot through the pistol and the result. Hopefully they will take care of this. However, as others more expert than me have said, aluminum ammo is not recommended by HK.

If it's build up, then the advice here about cleaning with a solvent sounds wise. Hopefully that's all it is.

Please post how this turns out when you resolve it.
Yes all signs point to it being a void in the chamber. If you look at the first two casings in the picture they failed in the exact same spot and even have the same shape as the other. After reinserting these casings back in to the loose barrel it's the same depth as these voids. I'll be calling HK CS on Monday.
 

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I know of one case where HK refused to replace aluminum-damaged barrels under their warranty. Good luck.
 

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If it's a depression in the chamber, scraping it won't do anything.

Time for a new barrel. My new USP 45 had a factory defective barrel. It was replaced under warranty.

If they don't replace it, it's only a few hundred bucks or so for a brand new one. Stick to using brass as recommended. Could have been a lot worse!
 

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I know of one case where HK refused to replace aluminum-damaged barrels under their warranty. Good luck.
See that makes me wanna say BS. I get if your extractor breaks or wears out. I get it if the gun jams, occasionally with crap or aluminum ammo. But not replacing a barrel that under all accounts should not have failed is bogus. Now i will also contend that if the ammo caused it then federal should be springing for a new barrel. But the question is what caused it, defective barrel, or defective ammo?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
See that makes me wanna say BS. I get if your extractor breaks or wears out. I get it if the gun jams, occasionally with crap or aluminum ammo. But not replacing a barrel that under all accounts should not have failed is bogus. Now i will also contend that if the ammo caused it then federal should be springing for a new barrel. But the question is what caused it, defective barrel, or defective ammo?
Same question I'm juggling right now.
 

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Clean it up and see what it is. You've got pictures detailing the current situation.

After that, I respectfully submit using brass cased ammo of good quality. I don't feed any of my guns anything but good brass cased all the way up to match ammo. Not just my HK's, all of them. Not throwing stones at those that don't, it's just what I do and I've had no problems.


If the ammo caused it, I'd be hitting up the ammo company. If it was HK I'd contact them and see what they'll do. I'd like to see the barrel cleaned up to see if it's the chamber or the ammo.
 

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Of the 6,000 rounds I have thru my VP9's probably 4,000 have been the Federal aluminum case. I have never had one issue with that ammo. That is very interesting. Matter of fact I've probably shot another 1,000 federal aluminum thru my other 9mm firearms and easily 2,000 rds of .45 federal aluminum thru my 45's. Never one issue
I just read thru a couple of my HK owners manual and I do see where aluminum is not recommend. I feel pretty stupid. I've inspect all my HK barrels, chambers and breech face. I do not see anything that's looks wrong. I hope I have not caused any damage that shows its ugly face sometime down the future. Aluminum is much softer than a "canon grade" barrel so I really never gave it any thought. I will probably not shoot aluminum any more in my HK's since it's what the factory recommends. I have a lot of brass case that has always been my reserve ammo that I guess I'll start using instead. Sorry for the reply own my own post but I didn't want other members to shoot aluminum based on my post.
 

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Yes all signs point to it being a void in the chamber. If you look at the first two casings in the picture they failed in the exact same spot and even have the same shape as the other. After reinserting these casings back in to the loose barrel it's the same depth as these voids. I'll be calling HK CS on Monday.
Best of luck. Hope you get it taken care of under warranty. Otherwise a new barrel does not sound too costly.

Break.

I have a question for those who would know. HK serializes the frame AND the barrel, right?

So what happens if you need a new barrel? Either from HK or aftermarket? What s/n is on the new barrel in either case?
 

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I just read thru a couple of my HK owners manual and I do see where aluminum is not recommend. I feel pretty stupid. I've inspect all my HK barrels, chambers and breech face. I do not see anything that's looks wrong. I hope I have not caused any damage that shows its ugly face sometime down the future. Aluminum is much softer than a "canon grade" barrel so I really never gave it any thought. I will probably not shoot aluminum any more in my HK's since it's what the factory recommends. I have a lot of brass case that has always been my reserve ammo that I guess I'll start using instead. Sorry for the reply own my own post but I didn't want other members to shoot aluminum based on my post.
Props to you for posting this.
 

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Best of luck. Hope you get it taken care of under warranty. Otherwise a new barrel does not sound too costly.

Break.

I have a question for those who would know. HK serializes the frame AND the barrel, right?


So what happens if you need a new barrel? Either from HK or aftermarket? What s/n is on the new barrel in either case?
A new barrel from HK will be the same as the OEM factory barrel but it will not have any serial number on it what so ever
 
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