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Old March 20, 2013, 07:35 AM   #1
Pond, James Pond
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.44 Mag: Am I pushing my luck?

A while back I posted a question about some strange symptoms of my .44Mag reloads. That thread lead to me developing my existing "woods" load. It is a meaty 240gr FMJFN with a nice big 1/5" meplat. It sits over 21gr charge of N110 ignited by a Fiocchi large pistol primer.

From my 4" Redhawk it reaches 1300fps.

One member on that thread gave me some interesting insight that I'd not had before: this velocity seemed pretty high for a 4" barrel. Looking at the data I had posted, it seems that the increases in velocity were pretty consistent at about 20 extra fps with each additional 0.5gr of powder.

However, between 20 and 20.5gr there was a single bigger jump of about 70-80fps before settling back down to the increases I mentioned above.

Is this load pushing my luck and punishing my Redhawk?
Should I back off the charge to the "pre-jump" values of about 1200 fps?
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Old March 20, 2013, 08:55 AM   #2
243winxb
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44 mag. -240gr

Hard to know. Different Component = Different Pressure. Compare the 300 gr N110 load data for Hornady & Sierra bullets. Big difference. Out of a 4" barrel, 1200fps sounds better to me if the accurace is good. http://www.lapua.com/en/products/rel.../relodata/6/21 Seems like your 21gr load has 1 of the pressure signs listed here. #16 http://www.shootersforum.com/handloa...ure-signs.html
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Old March 20, 2013, 09:08 AM   #3
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Sorry to change the subject, but how can we get that list here and made into a sticky?
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Old March 20, 2013, 09:19 AM   #4
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Send a personal message to Unclenick, he is a member of this forum also . Its his post the link goes too.
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Old March 20, 2013, 09:23 AM   #5
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Doesn't sound out of line at all, based on Vihtavouri's data.

They show a starting load of 20.4 at 1,427fps and a max of 22.1gr at 1,547fps from a 7" barrel.

You'll probably lose about 200fps from 3" of barrel, which would put the max load at about 1,347 in your gun and you say you gain about 20 fps per 0.5gr... you're two steps below max, which would be another 40fps.... 1,340fps at max load.
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Old March 20, 2013, 10:46 AM   #6
Pond, James Pond
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Brian's post is encouraging, but that pressure sign is not!!

Perhaps I just need to chrono my existing loads again to get a clear velocity, then make up about two cylinder's worth of 20gr and 20.5gr loads to get a clear comparison.

All the velocity data I have now is just based on between 5 and 6 shots of each charge...

Fabul-tastic link there, 243 winxb!!
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Old March 20, 2013, 11:39 AM   #7
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One single pressure sign on it's own is misleading. You progressed beyond the one area of an unexpected velocity jump and it settled back to expected numbers, yes?

My first impression is that the velocity numbers in that charge range were wrong or a fluke.

I might also surmise, though this is just a guess, that the charge at that range was getting into the PSI area where the powder likes to be, so it burns better, but further increases don't make it burn "more better", so you again get more linear increases.
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Old March 20, 2013, 12:14 PM   #8
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Thanks for the positive view, Brian. As it happens, this load is quite stout for me, so I'll probably do most of my shooting with the 200gr plated bullets.

I'll certaily do some more chrono tests, and will probably end up making some lower charges just to confirm the figures I already have. If anything comes up, I'll know if it is fluke or fact.
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Old March 20, 2013, 12:28 PM   #9
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A couple of thoughts:
  1. 240gr@1300fps from a 4" barrel is very much "max" with any powder I'm aware of.
  2. Why are you screwing around pushing the load? 240gr@1200fps would be plenty and easier to shoot.
  3. Where's your published load data for this bullet? The problem with "pressure signs" is that there aren't any until you are way overpressure.
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Old March 20, 2013, 12:29 PM   #10
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He is well under Vihtavouri's published max load.

http://www.lapua.com/en/products/rel.../relodata/6/21
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Old March 20, 2013, 01:49 PM   #11
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Quote:
Why are you screwing around pushing the load? 240gr@1200fps would be plenty and easier to shoot.
It is a woods load.

Estonia is heavily forested and there are bears, wolves and elk. It is unlikely I will come across any of these, but it is not beyond the realm of possibility, especially as I camp in the sticks, and have two dogs who might antagonise the "locals".

So, I want something that can deal with those. In the case of bears, at least, I do want the punchiest load I can get. If 1200fps would be as effective as 1300, then 1200 is fine by me, but the consensus seems to be that is by no means certain when dealing with bears...

It is not permitted to just wander around with a gun on my back, so something I can carry discreetly is the reason for a revolver.

Hence my screwing around!!
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Old March 21, 2013, 02:46 PM   #12
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A Redhawk is pretty robust,and you are not "way out there"

I'm not a ballistics engineer,lets not call this "advice".I'm calling it"what I might do",OK?

Take 12 or 18 cases and shoot your load.Do not use all your cases,just a few.Pay particular attention to the effort it takes to seat the primers.If you still have tight primer pockets after 4 or 5 reloadings,then I would call it good.

Brass is expensive.Loose primer pockets after 4 loadings is expensive.

If the primer pockets stay tight till the necks fatigue and split...10 or 12 loads,or better,I do not see a problem.

I wouldn't necessarily use that process on a revolver less strong than a Redhawk.

As a younger man,I had the pleasure of working with a gentleman who came to USA from Estonia.Due to the 3rd Reich,he lived in interesting times.I have a very fine precision angle plate he made.I think of him when I use it.

For your purposes,a hard cast Keith semi-wadcutter of 240,265,or 300 gr will wpork very well.Your fully jacketed flat points should do well.

If you should have to shoot a bear or other large animal,be aware that bullets designed to expand may be seriously disappointing in penetration.

Last edited by HiBC; March 21, 2013 at 02:57 PM.
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Old March 21, 2013, 08:45 PM   #13
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44 magnum bullets are made in 3 diameters the last I looked. .429" .4295" & .430" Diameter & bearing surface of the bullet comes into play when working at maximum loads. Fatter diameter & long bearing surface will make more pressure. Loading data for one bullet that is Ok pressure wise, may be to hot with the same amount of power & a different bullet.
Quote:
It is a meaty 240gr FMJFN with a nice big 1/5" meplat.
Who makes your bullet?
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Old March 22, 2013, 02:44 AM   #14
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For your purposes,a hard cast Keith semi-wadcutter of 240,265,or 300 gr will wpork very well.Your fully jacketed flat points should do well.
I have actually ordered some .430 265gr Hornady SJSP, designed for use in rifles. If they ever turn up, I will use them as a woods load, under another healthy charge of N110. Despite being SP, I'm told that the lead used is cast in such a way to expand at rifle velocities so out of my 4" it should essentially behave like a hard cast. That is the plan.

Quote:
Take 12 or 18 cases and shoot your load.Do not use all your cases,just a few.Pay particular attention to the effort it takes to seat the primers.If you still have tight primer pockets after 4 or 5 reloadings,then I would call it good.
This is all quite subjective, and I have no point of reference....
I don't have a bone crushing grip, but nor is it weak. When I hand prime with the Lee priming tool, some primers need both hands and gritted teeth to seat, others only one hand. (all done in cleaned brass)

So in those terms, what is loose and what is too loose?

Quote:
Who makes your bullet?
A Serbian company called PRVI Partizan. If you look at the OP of this thread you can see what these loads look like, compared to the S&B soft-points in the speedloader.
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Old March 22, 2013, 07:36 AM   #15
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True,Mr Pond,it is subjective.I don't know all your components,and you are stuck with what you have.

Of course this won't work with range pick up brass,I would hope that with new brass,or maybe once or twice fired brass there would be some uniformity of feel.Perhaps you could subjectively sort out a batch to work with.

And,I do not know your primers.In my experience,CCI,Winchester,Rem,etc primers prime with pretty uniform effort,a change means something is looking for attention.I stop and see what is going on when I feel a change in priming effort.

Priming effort is related to case head expansion.If your primer pockets are loosening,you are in the hot zone.

Also,please do not apply this to less strong guns.A light 38 spl revolver or a 45 Colt Single Action Army may have thin cylinder walls that can fail before "pressure signs" show up.
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Old March 22, 2013, 09:08 AM   #16
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Without pressure gages to test your ammunition you are in a gray area. It could be something or it could be nothing.

All I have is a chronograph and that really does not tell pressure. But, I often fire factory loads, with the same bullet weight, believing that if my loads are faster than factory, then my pressures are higher.

If you are not experiencing extraction issues and your velocities are within the range of published data for that powder, I would not worry.

Based on my decades of shooting pistol ammunition, the velocity spreads are much, much wider than that of rifle loads. An 80 fps outlier may well be within the expected pressure and velocity variation for your load.
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Old March 22, 2013, 09:20 AM   #17
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You're still inside the book range so you should be fine. As to excessive abuse on your gun I wouldn't worry. Many of the manuals i own have have a seperate "higher pressure" load data section that is titled "For Ruger Firearms Only". Ruger wheelguns may not be as pretty as a Colt but they sure are tougher!
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Old March 22, 2013, 01:16 PM   #18
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Quote:
there was a single bigger jump of about 70-80fps
The clearance between the barrel & cylinder face may be different on one chamber . If less clearance, velocity may be higher. Test using the same chamber for each load.
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Old March 22, 2013, 01:23 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CountryUgly

You're still inside the book range so you should be fine. As to excessive abuse on your gun I wouldn't worry. Many of the manuals i own have have a seperate "higher pressure" load data section that is titled "For Ruger Firearms Only". Ruger wheelguns may not be as pretty as a Colt but they sure are tougher!
A couple more thoughts:
  1. You're only "inside the book" if you are using the same components - which he is not.
  2. Are you sure you are not confusing the longer OAL section? It's not higher pressure, it just takes advantage of the longer COL possible.
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Old March 22, 2013, 02:32 PM   #20
Pond, James Pond
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Hmmm....

As I said earlier, I think I'm going to draw up some 20 and 20.5gr loads just to see what is happening, velocity-wise.

Statistically, the risks of my messing up on reloading or over-stressing my beautiful Redhawk, are significantly higher than me bumping into a bear in the woods!!

I guess these are the worries one has when one doesn't own a Super Blackhawk.
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Old March 23, 2013, 08:57 AM   #21
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A lot of responses, the sum of all of them has me confused and I have loaded and shot a lot of .44 mag.
Have to wonder why you believe it necessary to load max, or max-max, in that maggie.
What overpressure signs have you seen?
I have never used Fiocchi primers, is it possible they are pushing pressures? Have you tried other brands to compare?
You won't hurt that Redhawk but your hand and wrist might eventually rebel at the recoil from max loads.
Just drop the charge a tad and carry on is my best advice from here. Even toned down a bit, a .44 mag. is still a potent round.
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Old March 24, 2013, 10:41 AM   #22
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I just recently loaded up some 240 JSP's (Remington) with N110 for my 44's and ran into some questions myself. I've always used 2400 for my loads previously which works great as long as you keep the pressures on the upper end. When I try to back down with the 2400 I find it gets very dirty and leaves alot of unburnt powder around to muck things up. I'm looking to see how the V-V N110 performs. My Speer #13 book shows a max load of 20grs for N110 whereas Lupau's site shows consideably higher at 22.1.

I have both a Super Blackhawk and a Redhawk and have taken them to some very extreme velocities without any issues from the guns. I've found that I am the weak link as the recoil starts to become too brutal for me to handle at these speeds. My New Model SBH will be having its 35th birthday this year and I have total confidence it will safely handle anything a sane person would put through it, my Redhawk is built to the same standards and I feel equally comfortable with it.

As other reply's have questioned, why push it that high? I feel the gun will easily handle it but the abuse on the operator is not really justified by the gains.
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Old March 24, 2013, 10:49 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by totaldla View Post
A couple more thoughts:
[*]You're only "inside the book" if you are using the same components - which he is not.
Why is the particular bullet of such importance?

Even if he's using the same bullet, he's not using the same gun, powder lot, primer brand (or lot if same brand), same cases. Even the "same" bullet is not identical from one production machine to another.

Data for same weight bullets of similar construction (jacketed, lead core, in this case) is just as interchangeable as primer brands, cases and powder lot #s.

Start low and work up.
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Old May 10, 2013, 07:18 AM   #24
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Well, today I shot 10 rounds of 20gr, and 10 shots of 20.5gr.

Last time, I shot my heavy loads with 21gr of N110, I got an avg 1311fps, as quoted in another thread.

Following my plan that I'd decided upon given the advice in this thread, I made up 10 x 20gr and 10 x 20.5gr.

The results were interesting. The only real difference, aside from powder charge, was the weather. It was about 22 celsius, as opposed to -10 last time.

This time the velocities were pretty consistent.
20gr: I deleted on shot at 1261fps giving an AVG of 1327fps, and a S.D. of 11. I got one one split case starting from the neck.
20.5gr: Again, the values were very close, and the AVG was 1346fps, again with a S.D. of 11. No split cases.

So these values blitz my previous high using the 21gr listed above. More velocity from lighter loads, both of which had been on the weak side in the dead of winter.
Can it really just be down to temperature?

Based on these figures, and based on the fact that I don't see myself carrying in winter (I'm not in isolated forest then and bears are sleeping!), I think the velocities at 20gr are ample.
Having said that, the accuracy at 20.5 was perhaps a bit better. That could also have been me finding my form.
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Old May 12, 2013, 12:43 PM   #25
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Based on the figures above, I have made up 6 rounds of 20gr and these will be my "summer" woods load. If 20gr in warmer weather gave FPS above those of 21gr in cold weather, what would happen if I had to fire the 21gr rounds in equally warm weather. It could be anywhere north of 1360FPS. Even for my Ruger, from 4.2", no thank you!!

Given that there is a clear discrepency with my most recent chrono readings and that the previous time, I seemed to have had a pressure spike as shown by a sudden leap in FPS between 20 and 20.5gr (not seen this time), I have also made up 10 x 19gr and 10 x 19.5gr, just to see what they read.

If 19.5gr gives my velocity of 1300 or so, I'll settle for that all together.
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