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Old July 18, 2013, 09:39 AM   #1
FISHY-A-NADO
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Am I getting overly analytical?

Am I getting overly analytical?

I am reloading for .38 special using Titegroup with a 158 grain Lead SWC by Falcon Bullet Co.

Reading Lyman's 49th, I find this:
Quote:
"Bullet # 358311 duplicates the factory lead round nose 158 grain bullet very closely. Bullet # 358429 closely duplicates the factory 158 grain semi-wadcutter. This is the Elmer Keith design bullet and makes an excellent choice for hunting".
(I'm not loading for hunting, and that's not the issue here, I just included the entire quote from Lyman's for clarity).

When I consult the charts in Lyman's, bullet #358429 is listed as 170 grain. The MAX load data given in Lyman's shows 3.4 grains Titegroup, 1.537 OAL, 864 fps, and 16,500 C.U.P. and a starting load of 3.0 grains.
MAX Load data from Hodgdon for 158 grain Cast Lead Semi-WadCutter (no listing for 170 grain) shows 3.8 grains Titegroup, 1.475 OAL, 920 fps, and 15,400 C.U.P. and a starting load of 3.2 grains.
Additionally, Lyman's shows a 158 grain Lead Round Nose Flat Point with a MAX load of 3.3 grains Titegroup, 1.448 OAL, 895 fps, and 16,100 C.U.P and a starting load of 2.9 grains.

I understand that different test set-ups are used by different entities and those differences will yield different results. I also understand that bullet design differences with the same bullet weight will also lead to variances. I have read in quite a few places on this and other forums that Titegroup has a pretty narrow range between min and max loads and all the load data I can find seems to bear this out. What confuses me is that Lyman's MAX load for the 158 grain LRNFP is only .1 grain heavier than Hodgdon's MINIMUM load for the 158 grain LSWC and the MAX load listed by Hodgdon is 15% more than the MAX load listed by Lyman's. I am having trouble wrapping my mind around the idea that the difference in design of the two bullets with identical weight would make as much difference at it would appear from just looking at all this data.

I know it is stressed by most on this forum to cross reference multiple sources for load data and that normally, the powder manufacturers own data SHOULD be the most reliable. At the same time, it seems that most consider Lyman's 49th to be a must-have manual. In this particular case, the differences between the two sources seems to be pretty large. Am I missing something in translation or am I just too anal in my approach and research?
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Old July 18, 2013, 10:02 AM   #2
NoSecondBest
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I worked as a guality engineer/manager for many, many years before I retired. Different testing facilities will use different gages, fixtures, and procedures to measure and test everything. The loading manufacturers are no exception. There is a variation in the measuring process called gage R&R (repeatability and reproducability), variation in the gage itself called gage error (a certain amount is acceptable), and different processes are used entirely between one manufacturer and another. It all adds up. In over forty years of reloading, I have never found any problems using anyone's starting loads and working my way up. I quit guessing about the differences a long time ago. The reason I use a variety of loading manuals is that none of them offer starting loads for every weight and type of bullet. I look through them and find what I want or what is the closest to what I want and start from there. Pick one and work your way up from the starting load and you won't have a problem. FYI...being analytical isn't bad. If often prevents problems when you ask the right questions and get some valid answers. The people who get hurt don't look at the data or ignore it.
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Old July 18, 2013, 10:25 AM   #3
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
I am having trouble wrapping my mind around the idea that the difference in design of the two bullets with identical weight would make as much difference at it would appear from just looking at all this data.
That's because it doesn't. There are far more variables than "two bullets".

You've got different brass, different primers, different lots of powder (which could be a big difference in itself), different test guns, different environmental conditions, different pressure test units, measuring equipment, copper crusher lots, etc...

The bullets themselves, though, could be a big part of the difference. I don't know the actual length of those two bullets but being totally different designs, they're probably quite a bit (relatively speaking) different in length. Small difference in length make big differences in pressure in handgun cartridges, where the available initial space for powder burn is quite small.
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Old July 18, 2013, 10:34 AM   #4
schmellba99
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One other variable not listed is this as well:

Different lawyers, who will advise on what safety factors and liability exposure each company is willing to be exposed to concerning their published data.

Among all the other variables, this is yet another reason why two testing companies can have significantly different published data on the same loads.
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Old July 18, 2013, 01:34 PM   #5
biggfoot44
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In addition to the usual factors noted, the other factor is the length of the bullet, specifically space taken inside the case.

The Lyman manual lists data for their specific molds , many of which are classic, even iconic, and many are of distinctive design.

Somthing like 98% of commercial machine cast bullets are made using the molds from Magma Engineering. If a particular SWC design is more faithful to Elmer Keith's design , you will know it because the maker will be heavily promoting it as such. If you are looking for data specifically for that exact bullet, the standard Lazer-Cast line from Oregon Trail is example, and the now defunct Bull-X was defacto national standard for years.

While it is a frequent admonishment to follow load data exactly, there is a rule of thumb that will give greater safety : If everything else is the same, a bullet of equal wt that takes less space in the case, will give lower pressures with the same powder charge.
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Old July 18, 2013, 03:22 PM   #6
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That kind of disagreement between sources happens all the time.

The highest-pressure load listed is 16,500 CUP. The 38 Special +P limit used to be 22,400 CUP. If you're loading for any sort of a strong, modern revolver, all the loads listed are pussycats.
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Old July 18, 2013, 04:26 PM   #7
Mike / Tx
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All of the above, plus....

IT also depends on the alloy as well. A softer alloy could quite possibly give more pressure due to it expanding to fill the chamber and forcing cone better. Not to mention size differences between the actual test barrel and yours, or what the actual bullets tested were sized too.

Then throw in the lube which was used as well some give lower pressures than others. It all might not be a lot in the overall scheme of things, but they add up.

As mentioned simply use the start data, and work up. Look for accuracy first and foremost and you should be fine.
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Old July 18, 2013, 06:37 PM   #8
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More all of the above, plus. . .

Speer #14 and Sierra's latest publication has 158g bullets where one powder - if forget which, this is from memory - the minimum in the Sierra is more than the maximum in Speer. And Sierra tends to be more conservative (less powder) than Speer. Go figure.

But I believe you're overthinking this. First, if you're going to shoot these 38's in a .357 gun, you have nothing to worry about whatsoever. The pressure won't exceed the firearm's ability to handle it. Start low, test it in your gun, adjust it to suit your needs/likes, watch for excessive leading, and have fun learning.
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Old July 18, 2013, 07:44 PM   #9
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NoSecondBest (Bill Jorden): "In over forty years of reloading, I have never found any problems using anyone's starting loads and working my way up. I quit guessing about the differences a long time ago. The reason I use a variety of loading manuals is that none of them offer starting loads for every weight and type of bullet. I look through them and find what I want or what is the closest to what I want and start from there. Pick one and work your way up from the starting load and you won't have a problem."

Ditto, and there it is.

What I read is often laughable. We aren't going to get more "accurate" info from a powder maker, a bullet maker or Lyman; they all give us accurate data based on their tests with their components and their firearms on the day of their tests. I doubt lawyers have much directly to do with what the engineers publish.


"FYI...being analytical isn't bad."

Except we really don't have the detailed info, or experience, we need to make an intelligent analysis in this instance. So, start low and test it ... all of it, then we will know.

Last edited by wncchester; July 18, 2013 at 07:53 PM.
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Old July 18, 2013, 09:16 PM   #10
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wncchester, actually Bill Jordan wrote "No Second Place Winner". NoSecondBest is close to what he wrote but not verbatim. (I have the book).
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Old July 19, 2013, 06:59 AM   #11
FISHY-A-NADO
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I appreciate all the replies. The information, explanation and tips given will be invaluable to me as I continue to learn about this hobby.
Quote:
The highest-pressure load listed is 16,500 CUP. The 38 Special +P limit used to be 22,400 CUP. If you're loading for any sort of a strong, modern revolver, all the loads listed are pussycats.
Quote:
if you're going to shoot these 38's in a .357 gun, you have nothing to worry about whatsoever. The pressure won't exceed the firearm's ability to handle it.
I know I am well below the pressure limits of my gun as I will indeed be running my .38 reloads through a .357 magnum revolver. I am just very analytical in my approach to anything (hobby or otherwise) that I decide to undertake and my questions are more in an effort to better educate myself in the many nuances of the hobby.

FWIW, I actually started with the MINIMUM load given in Lyman's and worked my way up to their MAXIMUM so I thought I had reached the limit until I double checked my Hodgdon sheet and discovered that I had another .4 grains to work with before maxing out according to their data. I guess what really got me to questioning the variance was that the spread beetween MIN and MAX in Lyman's data was only .4 grains.

Learning is FUN!
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Old July 19, 2013, 07:35 AM   #12
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There is yet another variable in data for the 38. Sometimes for lead bullets they will not push the upper end at all. I believe the thinking is that leading is more of a concern than getting the last bit of velocity. They also worry (rightly so) about sticking a bullet in the bore, so the starting loads might be close to the max. Different books put more emphasis on one factor than the other, so you get differing data.
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Old July 19, 2013, 05:43 PM   #13
wncchester
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"wncchester, actually Bill Jordan wrote "No Second Place Winner". NoSecondBest is close to what he wrote but not verbatim. (I have the book)."

You're right of course, it just triggered an old imperfect memory.

I greatly admired Mr. Jorden, and many others of his time. America was once a place where strong men of personal courage and absolute intergrity were valued, even in politicians. It's enough to make an old man want to cry.

Last edited by Brian Pfleuger; July 19, 2013 at 06:21 PM.
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