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Old November 18, 2012, 06:42 PM   #26
Unclenick
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James,

39.9 mm COL? That's over CIP or SAAMI max (1.550"/39.37 mm) and with a 125 grain bullet would leave the case barely hanging onto it. If I use those numbers QuickLOAD predicts less than 8,000 psi, which would explain why so much N350 is left unburned.

If you want to run loads that light, I would change to VV N310. Maybe N320 at the slowest. The reason is that in a snubby you can get pretty extreme velocity variations with slower powders just because some powders don't burn completely before the base of the bullet clears the muzzle. That's not how it's supposed to be, but in a revolver, if the bullet base has cleared the barrel cylinder gap before the peak pressure has been reached, it can bleed enough pressure off that the powder needs extra barrel length to catch back up. 3" barrels are usually long enough, but 1⅞" barrels can have some trouble with it. A quick powder will peak before the gap and keep you out of trouble. It'll be cheaper to shoot, too.
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Old November 19, 2012, 02:30 AM   #27
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Repeat, is 5.6 gr what you get from the autodisk on a scale or is it what the chart says you are supposed to get?
Sorry: was sure I'd typed that in an earlier reply. All my disk measures were checked with a digital scale, and I re-check every ten cartridges or so.

Quote:
39.9 mm
No, 39.39mm. This is a number I have in one of my sources. Again, I think I got it from the Lee Die instructions sheet.

Quote:
If you want to run loads that light, I would change to VV N310. Maybe N320 at the slowest.
I don't want light loads, per se. I thought I had found a decent load that would not strain the gun, nor the shooter and made the powder go a bit further. Bear in mind that this is the first incidence of problems with this recipe so far.

Now that I think about it, the only change I may have made is choice of primer: I think all these were Fiocchi...

Either way, when this powder is finished, I will probably go for a faster powder.

Quote:
It'll be cheaper to shoot, too.
You read me too well!!
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Old November 19, 2012, 04:45 AM   #28
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I do not have a load manual handy,but if you choose to buy a more optimal powder for this application,I'll bet if you look you may find the N-350 would work as a 44 Special type midrange load in your .44 magnum.(check,I'm just making a guess)

You did say(I think) you use "1/2 turn on the Lee fcd"I do not know what that translates to in roll crimp,but you will find in revolvers a good strong crimp is often key to good ignition.

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Old November 19, 2012, 05:48 PM   #29
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James,

Looks like my eye's missed the 3, earlier. Here's a link to the SAAMI drawing with both inches and millimeters given. The CIP drawings can be seen here (got to scroll way down) and their millimeter length matches SAAMI's. Lee must have typo'd.

That said, 0.02 mm conversion error doesn't mean beans in this context. My actual concern was you'd not got the bullet seated deeply enough for the case to have a good grip on it and to help develop adequate start pressure. Keep in mind that a .38 wadcutter is seated flush with the case mouth, telling you there's no real lower limit to seating depth as long as you have enough space under the bullet for the powder to behave and you work the load up that way.

I'd measure the bullet bearing surface length and seat that portion flush with the case mouth. If this were a fast powder burning well, I'd say you need to work the load back up to test it. But as you are below Vihtavuori's starting load recommendation of 5.9 grains of N350 for the 125 grain plated Ranier flat point bullet seated to 36.5 mm COL, I don't think you're in any danger. You're just running at pressures too low for the powder and maybe with bullet grip that is too light to let it start burning well.

Again, because of the short barrel I'd look at something faster. Vihtavuori doesn't list N310 in their loads with that Ranier bullet, but they do list N320, which I've found to be a good powder in .45 Auto. They recommend 4.5 grains as the starting load for the Ranier with that same COL, so you'll get more loads per pound with it, as well. I think you'll be much happier with it.
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Old November 19, 2012, 06:06 PM   #30
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Thanks, Unclenick!! I will look into faster powders.

In the meantime, should I seat the bullet deeper (it honestly can't be seated more than 5mm/1/4") in the case, or up the powder charge?

I may as well use the powder I have and find a good charge for it in the mean time

What I'm dreading now is opening up 160 cases with a bullet puller!!
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Old November 19, 2012, 06:17 PM   #31
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If the bearing surface is that short you are stuck with it. I don't think you need to pull the rounds. You're just going to need to keep alert for a squib that leaves a bullet stuck in the barrel. Firing a second round into a stuck bullet can destroy the gun. Make sure you see an impact each time.
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Old November 20, 2012, 01:20 AM   #32
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I wprobably try and work the load up somewhat and see how it performs up to an additional half a grain.

I see a long day at the range coming up, full of .38 single shots!!
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Old December 7, 2012, 12:41 PM   #33
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The end of an era.

I went to the range today. I'd loaded some new .44 loads and I also wanted to see of the .38 problem had been a freak occurence.

Alas, no.
I had 3 or 4 weak shots out of as many full cylinders. I checked the barrel each time and looked for holes in the target. Each shot had fired and left the barrel, except the last one:
A squibb jammed in the forcing cone. No more .38 shooting after that! It had been quite a weak pop and sure enough when I opened up the cylinder I could see the bullet in the barrel.

I put the gun away and went back to the .44.

Once home I gently knocked the bullet out and had a look in the barrel. I could see distortion in the walls of the barrel. I held the barrel up to the light and look at the gun from "above". Sure enough, the barrel had bulged.

Given that I had checked the barrel each time, this time, this must have happened when I initially noticed a strange shot sound, when my Dad was having a go. Thank goodness no one was hurt and thank goodness it happenbed to my cheapest gun.

However, this does not change the fact that I am sad.
I really liked that little Astra 680 and it was the best little 6 shot I'd ever seen advertised 2nd hand.

I've looked already for replacements: some S&W 5-shots at 4 times the price, and one or two Tauruses.

Moral of the story: beware the squibb. If it sounds wierd. STOP!! And check.
My mistake arose from only realising after the second shot, the first having been fired by my dad. Perhaps had I fired it, I would have felt and heard it differently than I did, standing to his right...

Sniff... Adios my little senorita....
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Old December 7, 2012, 01:38 PM   #34
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Before you sound the death knell...
Know that some revolvers with bulged barrels -STILL- end up shooting great. The bulge will always remain, along with the shame and lousy memories, but until it's been tested (with GOOD loads!) you don't know if the revolver is a complete loss yet.

My buddy has a Ruger Mark I semi-auto (apples to oranges, I know) and it's absolutely got a large bulge just forward of the chamber, but still shoot straight and sweet.
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Old December 7, 2012, 02:36 PM   #35
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Good to know.

I'll certainly give it a go, but before that, I'm going to dismantle all my .38s and reload them with a proper load. I may go straight to something north of 6-6.2gr and see how it performs.

However, if not, I can assure yoiu that another .38Spl will follow!! I like that calibre!
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Old December 7, 2012, 04:01 PM   #36
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James,

I have been following your adventures and commenting.

You seem to have the idea that low loads are preferred. They really are not. You can safely start dead in the middle of a load range (powder charge). The highest loads are still safe, look at some of the old load manuals and they pushed them much harder. Lawyers have kicked in since and not bad but has narrowed things.

For any of your loads, go with something around mid range, maybe a bit lower but not much. It will be safe. You can check results and see if you want to go faster or a bit slower. Slower means really caution on the low loads though. And if shooting in the cold you have an added issue with some powders not liking it and can push you over a too low a load pressure spike.

Max loads with temperature sensitive powders can cause issues as well but my personal opinion (and its only that) less likely that erratic light off at low loads with temperature sensitive powders. If it does spike the gun will take it as its a normal spike just higher than what you want. Not an erratic one that goes way high.

And years back I did the same thing with a Ruger 44 mag. Bad load and not thinking I hauled back and shot it again. I never checked the barrel though I realized what I did. Gun shot fine still.

It does happen.
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Old December 7, 2012, 04:24 PM   #37
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You seem to have the idea that low loads are preferred.
Not necessarily preferred per se, but certainly the place to start, or at least that is the general message I'd been getting from members and manuals.

Beyond that I was happy to stay at a low/starting load because I was just making practice/range loads. My powder would go a bit further and my gun would be less stressed, or so I thought....

Still, if a bit hotter is better, then so be it, I'm fine with that too.

As far as the Astra is concerned, it may be OK, but I can't say I'm optimistic. It is supposed to be my carry gun for the few times that I decide to do so in town. It may be relegated to practice gun otherwise.

If it is a goner, I'll be sad. The SA action was second only to the single-set trigger on my CZ rifle!!
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Old December 7, 2012, 06:12 PM   #38
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A little more powder will increase the pressure and improve the burn rate. I tend to stay away from minimum charges. You are using a fairly slow powder for the caliber. That powder will probably preform better as you approach mid range levels or slightly above them. Think of it this way. When pressure is increased you have additional heat. The additional heat will improve the burn and result in more powder burning while it is in the barrel. There are pressure limits you should not exceed. I think the only real problem might be the low charge you are using. Plated bullets will need slightly more effort to clear the barrel compared to plain lead. It is close enough most consider it one in the same thing. Jacketed bullets need more effort to clear the barrel than is needed with plated bullets. This is another reason I prefer to go one step above starting levels when using plated bullets loaded according to lead data when working up a new load.

If you are just looking for light recoil, using a much faster powder will do that for you even when loaded to mid range for that powder along with a light bullet.
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Old December 8, 2012, 05:35 PM   #39
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DANGER, Will Robinson!

James,

RC20 is well intentioned but wrong in his assertion of complete safety in starting in the middle of a load range. It depends on the powder and other components involved in the recommended range. I've twice in my life encountered loads at the bottom end of a recommended range that turned out to hard maximums for the guns I was using them in.

You don't need a lot of effort to work up. A general recommendation is 2% steps. So if a load range starts at the usual 10% below maximum, you have only 6 rounds to go to maximum, while looking for overt pressure signs. It's not worth not doing it, just in case you've got one of those peculiar combinations in hand.
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Old December 8, 2012, 06:36 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenick
I've twice in my life encountered loads at the bottom end of a recommended range that turned out to hard maximums for the guns I was using them in.
Any details on what caused that? That would be useful information to know.
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Old December 21, 2012, 12:14 PM   #41
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I tried a cylinder full on my little Astra 680. At bout 15ft, I managed an SA group of 2"....
Seems like it did kill the accuracy of this little snub. Up until them, it had been surprisingly accurate, espially at close range...

Sad.
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Old December 23, 2012, 10:49 AM   #42
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Bummer.

The barrel can be replaced. No idea what hoops you have to jump through on your side of the puddle to have it done, but mechanically it's not a big deal if the part can be had. It is also possible to bore out and ream the existing barrel and sleeve it with new rifling and cut in a new forcing cone into it. A good gunsmith can even salvage the front sight and make a replacement barrel from scratch, but that's going to entail a lot more cost, obviously.
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Old December 23, 2012, 02:02 PM   #43
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Not to get personal about a loved and/or treasured firearm, but going that route with an Astra would be like doing a frame-off restoration on a 1979 Ford Grenada.

Shoot it a bit more, give it a few chances and give your shooting a few chances.
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Old December 23, 2012, 02:52 PM   #44
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Quote:
ames,

RC20 is well intentioned but wrong in his assertion of complete safety in starting in the middle of a load range. It depends on the powder and other components involved in the recommended range. I've twice in my life encountered loads at the bottom end of a recommended range that turned out to hard maximums for the guns I was using them in.

You don't need a lot of effort to work up. A general recommendation is 2% steps. So if a load range starts at the usual 10% below maximum, you have only 6 rounds to go to maximum, while looking for overt pressure signs. It's not worth not doing it, just in case you've got one of those peculiar combinations in hand.
Thank you for the compliment, but I too would like to know what the circumstances are.

Frankly I have never sue the lowest levels. Depending on the gun its mid range, sometimes between low and mid, but never the low.

If there was an exception it would be an old gun of uncertain capability but I do not shoot those.
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Old December 23, 2012, 04:31 PM   #45
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I will try it a few more times.

If it really does prove to be ruined, I will simply resell it to someone for a little bit, making it clear that there is a fault. Failing that, I'll report it as destroyed to the police and hand it in.

I'll then just keep my eyes peeled for a replacement...
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Old December 23, 2012, 05:08 PM   #46
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I would have a gunsmith check your .38 for frame stretch and estimate the cost for to replace the barrel.

If the frame is good, shoot it a while and see if the accuracy is good.

Keep it and shoot it (as suggested by Sevens) until the barrel does wear out (I suspect you may eventually see signs of premature erosion starting near the bulge, but you may still get thousands of rounds of good shooting before it becomes a problem).

I expect it would be a lot easier to replace the barrel than to get a new gun, yes?

Sorry to learn of the damage.

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Old December 23, 2012, 05:24 PM   #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pond, James Pond View Post
If it really does prove to be ruined, I will simply resell it to someone for a little bit, making it clear that there is a fault.
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Old December 23, 2012, 05:26 PM   #48
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Unless you already KNOW there was powder in each cartridge, one cannot say for sure whether it was a squib or misfire.

The only two "squibs" I have had with my reloads were not squibs at all. They were solid loads of H110 in a 41 Magnum over magnum primers. They worked fine until I took the gun out and shot it below freezing; I had 2 bullets stop at the forcing cone in two cylinders. The reason I knew it was a result of the cold causing the powder to fail to burn correctly was a) I had loaded on a single stage and verified every charge, and b) when I opened the gun to check the barrel for obstruction after each odd-sounding shot the full powder charge poured out the back of the barrel.

Needless to say, I have stopped using H110 for that particular application.

A jug of powder is not worth the headache it can cause with your gun, get one that works right!
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Old December 24, 2012, 04:45 PM   #49
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Someone may have posted this already, but I'll tend to shake finished rounds next to my ear and listen for powder to verify.
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