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Old May 4, 2012, 04:30 PM   #1
dyl
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Okay, I believe it now

I had never believed that muzzle flash could ever come close to "blinding" you.

Then I tried some Bullseye powder behind 125 grains in my snub nose revolver.

It was in an indoor range with average lighting, and man was that bright. I had to restrain myself from looking at the blast rather than keeping my focus on the front sight!

I'm confused: I thought bullseye was a fast burning powder and supposedly all the powder would be burnt (and the pressure dropping) before the bullet even left the gun. So therefore the muzzle blast would be decreased as compared to a slower burning powder right?
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Old May 4, 2012, 05:20 PM   #2
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Right. A slower powder will make an even bigger fireball. The problem in the snubby is not that the powder hasn't burned pretty completely, but that it's still so close to its peak pressure when the bullet clears the muzzle of such a short tube that it's still very hot, which leads to luminosity of the gases and increased rate of burn of any as-yet unoxidized combustion products meeting the air (the powder doesn't have quite enough oxygen in it for every fuel molecule released during its deflagration).

Snubby's can suffer greatly from that short barrel time. I've seen up to 25% muzzle velocity variation in them with some loads. It's one reason I don't own any guns with barrels under about 2.5 inches. A line gets crossed somewhere between 2 and 3 inches, allowing 3 inch barrels to perform with considerably better consistency, especially with slow, heavy bullets like the .44 Special with 240 grain bullets.

There are two things you can do: One is to use the heaviest bullet you can get. Despite the added recoil, the old 200 grain WW law enforcement load bullets were a good choice for a .38 Special snubby, as they gave the powder more time to burn and the gas more time to cool before the bullet cleared the muzzle.

The other thing you can do is go to a still faster powder like Vihtavuori N310 or Hodgdon Clays (not International or Universal Clays, also good pistol/shotgun powders, but not as fast; you want just plain "Clays" in the name). These will need a smaller powder charge than Bullseye to hit the same peak pressure but will burn even faster and so will be more consistent. They will sacrifice a little off the best velocity you've been getting, but won't drop as low as the lowest velocity you've been getting.

I also recommend using the mildest possible primer with these fast powders so bullets aren't unseated by the primer to any significant degree before the powder burn builds pressure. The quick powders have no need for a hot primer to burn consistently. They light very easily.

The inexpensive Russian KVB-9 primers are probably the best choice currently available for fast powder snubby loads (sold in the U.S. as TulAmmo and Wolf brands of small pistol primers). You need a firm hand in seating them in some brass (firm is always better than too light in the world of primer seating; see this article to learn about setting the bridge when seating a primer). The Federal GM100M primers would be my second choice (if you can't get the mildest for this, get good consistency). To give the Russian penchant for target shooting its due (even their high schools have indoor ranges and full time coaches and armorers), their primers, properly seated, have proven in my tests to be the best for consistency on the market today, and the fact they are economical to boot, makes them a major best bargain in the accuracy reloading world.
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Old May 4, 2012, 06:48 PM   #3
amamnn
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I shoot 2 to 4 times a week during the rainy season in an oppressively dark, dank, indoor range. I've found that powders I have loaded in various revolvers and pistols will produce varying intensities of flash, and as Nick has mentioned, they do not necessarily produce flash in a predictable manner when you try to look at it by burning rate.


I shoot 2 revolvers (.32 HRM and .357 mag) and 2 pistols (.32 acp. and .380 acp.) which have short barrels, and I do this on a regular basis, in --or maybe more accurately since I prefer to shoot rifles, out of season.

I have tried a variety of powders in them all and surprisingly, at least to me, the slower powders produce less flash in some cases. In the case--pun unintended-- of the two revolvers, I have had the chance to use a variety of powders--from N-110, HS-6, W231, unique, bullseye, red dot, blue dot, W-296, N-340, to Lil' Gun. For my use in my firearms Lil' Gun works best--and a big factor for me is Flash since I shoot handguns ONLY at the indoor range. The pistols are a bit more restricted in the types of powder for which you can find accurate load data, but they seem to all require faster powders. These days, it seems the pocket pistol matches are fewer, so I don't load as much of the .32 or .380. After a lot of experimentation I ended up with w-231 in my powder bin after rejecting bullseye, unique, red and blue and white and green and purple and puce dot--ha ha--can you tell I am not an Alliant fan?

Anyway, as with anything in this business? hobby? endeavor?-- you need to experiment for yourself to find out what works for you and your particular firearms. PS, my experience with TA primers has been less than happy--Yes I know about the seating crush "required" ---a little investigation will reveal that the real problem is a less than acceptable QA as concerns cup diameters and heights---I tried 4 different lots of TA SP primers before giving up on them-----
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Old May 5, 2012, 09:58 AM   #4
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deflagration - that's a $10 word if ever there was one. I caught the meaning in the sentence but had to look it up for the exact definition.
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Old May 5, 2012, 10:07 AM   #5
dyl
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Thank you for all the info, certainly lots of things to try.

I'd been using Winchester small pistol primers, and 125 grain FMJ flat nose projectiles.

I noticed that Unique produced much less flash - if any, in that particular indoor range.

I might go with a heavier bullet next. Not too heavy as I'm trying make it easier for my wife to practice with her snub nose. And I have about 500 left of my 125 grain FMJ so it's time to re-order.

Amamnn - did you reject Unique and Bullseye based on muzzle flash or group size/consistency? - and did you go with W231 for that same reason - muzzle flash?

Right now Unique and Bullseye are the only powders I have (running low on Unique) - I'll likely use up the Bullseye and try W231 next in all my calibers and take notes. Metering small volumes may be tricky with my Lee Pro Auto disk - I don't have the micro-adjustable charge bar - or whatever the upgrade is for it. I've been fortunate enough so far that the disk volume sizes are within acceptable limits or close enough for safe function on 38 special and .40. I have yet to try 9mm but I have everything but bullets.
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Old May 5, 2012, 10:12 AM   #6
Salmoneye
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I was always taught that shooting indoors was bad...



We don't even have any indoor ranges around here (that I know of)...
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Old May 5, 2012, 10:16 AM   #7
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W231 is a good mild powder that measurews well in the Lee disk powder measures. If you do need smaller than 3 or 4 grains, I would get the micro disk set from Lee instead of the charge bar. The charge bar has trouble with small amounts less than 4 grains.
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Old May 5, 2012, 10:17 AM   #8
dyl
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I do know swinging baseball bats indoors is bad. But no one ever told me not to shoot indoors when I was a child.

I'm working on a membership to an outdoor range. Funny thing is with the purpose-built lighting system in the indoor range, chances are that the outdoor one will have better lighting on any given day.

In that case my concerns may not be an issue any longer if shoot outdoors mostly. But we'll see, that muzzle flash was a really rich orange color - not like an afterimage where you're wondering if it was there or not.
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Old May 5, 2012, 12:21 PM   #9
Edward429451
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Quote:
200 grain
That's interesting idea. Does anyone make a 200 gr mould?

Quote:
But no one ever told me not to shoot indoors when I was a child.
Didn't everyone grow up shooting groundhogs out their bedroom window?
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Old May 5, 2012, 12:59 PM   #10
jaguarxk120
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One of the classic muzzle flash's comes from a load of H-110 in a 44 Magnum, that will light up a indoor range like daylight.
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Old May 5, 2012, 01:03 PM   #11
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Dyl,

Now I know it's for the wife's practice loads, I'll send you in a completely different direction. First get some cast lead bullets. They'll soften recoil as compared to jacketed rounds. Then pick up a can of Trail Boss powder and try 3.0 and 4.0 grains of it with the 125 grain cast bullets. (Note this powder can have pressure issues with jacketed bullets in straight wall pistol cases, so don't try to use it with your FMJ's.) I think you'll like how that works out for her. Low flash and easy cleanup in everything I've tried it in.


Edward,

NEI makes a 200 grain GC SWC. They also make a plain base 190 grain SWC mold that would be close enough, AFAIC. Actually, these are closer to LBT WFN shapes than regular SWC's, per se. Would be good choices.

Lyman makes a RN 195 grain mold, 358430, that probably comes closest to the original WW load, but I'd favor the NEI shapes for defense performance and for holes in paper and for the flat nose shape being a little shorter and leaving slightly more powder space to work with.
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Old May 5, 2012, 01:48 PM   #12
Salmoneye
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One of the classic muzzle flash's comes from a load of H-110 in a 44 Magnum, that will light up a indoor range like daylight.
You do realize my Wife is going to be some ticked at both of us, now that I have to try this...
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Old May 5, 2012, 04:50 PM   #13
Vance
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I loaded some H110 behind a 125gr truncated cone bullet for my 357 magnum. I saw the muzzle flash in very bright sun light out doors.
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Old May 5, 2012, 06:54 PM   #14
Edward429451
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thx
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Old May 5, 2012, 11:37 PM   #15
Vance
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Saeco has a mold, it is either 357118 or 351118 that is supposed to throw 200 grain round flat nosed bullets in .358 diameter. It throws in ww alloy 220 grain .357 diameter bullets.
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Old May 9, 2012, 12:56 AM   #16
ballardw
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Try it with a ported snubbie. That can really get your attention when the fireball is going up past the sights ...
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