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Old January 20, 2013, 06:55 PM   #1
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.45-70 Gov't and Trail Boss experiment

Ok I have been loading for my Marlin 1895 with Trail Boss. A friend of mine that comes through the area every once in a blue moon was coming, and offered to bring a Chrograph. So I decided on a little experiment with Trail Boss powder, and charging methods.

The results were an eye opener for me. I though there would be a greater differance then there was.

For the test I used 2 charging methods.

Method 1 a 3.1 cc Lee dipper with a heaping scoop. (average throw was 14.0 grains. With a variation of +/- .2 to .3 grains. Most dropped at 14.0 like clock work.)

Method 2 Hornady Auto Charge DPS (Electronic powder dipenser for those that do not know what one is.) Charge weight set at 14.0 grains. (Drop was 14.0 every single time.)

To be sure of things all drops were weighed by 4 scales.(Anal I know. Which I am ususaly too lazy to do.) Scales were a digital Smat Reloader. A Lee Safty Scale, The digital on the Hornady DPS, and an RCBS 10-10. All showed the weights to be the same from scale to scale.

In shooting for groups if the loads had been mixed up in a bag I would never be able to tell with my shooting with iron sights. That is just being honest.

Ok well I got to the range he set up the chrono (Chrony with remote read out. I am not sure of exact model.) Distance was measured out at 15 feet with a tape measure.(Stanley)

Test gun is my Marlin 1895 barrel length is 16 inches.

Weather was 68 degrees, and sunny. Wind speed of 12 mph coming from the front of us with a wind chill of 67) Humidity at 35%. I am not sure of elevation. I think it is somewhere near 580 ft above sea level.

All brass used is Remington from the same bag of new unused cases. All were run though the sizing die to assure they were round. Primers used were CCI standard Large Rifle primers. Bullets were 405 grain HB .459 RNFP (Lee Mold.) Drop size is .460 average weights of bullets from air cooled clip in wheel weights is 395 grains. Lubed in Lee Liquid allox, and shot as cast.)

Test groups were 5 runs of 5 shots each for each method. Total was 50 rounds.

Groups were alternated to assure fairness from carbon in the barrel. 5 fouling shots were fired first then all loads were fired after a 15 minute cool off. 10 minutes was the time between groups. With shots being 10 seconds apart.

Dipper loads averavged 1100 FPS to 1110 most being right in the middle of that. Lowest recoded was 1094 higest was 1135. Those two were the only ones not between 1100 t0 1110.

Dispensed loads were almost exactly the same. The exception being the high and low only being one shot each from 25 shots. Lowest was 1096. Highest being 1128.

Groups at 25 yards were a ragged hole in the 10 ring of a B-27.

With the Trail Boss I am going to guess that volume will trump exact weight to a small degree. I just though some people would like to see the numbers posted.

By the way. They shoot exreemely clean. Other than a bit of carbon from bullet lube you can not tell my rifle has been fired.

I did test with .38 Special though that horse has been beat to a skeletal pulp.
No matter how many times you do it and nothing happens it only takes something going wrong one time to kill you.
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Old January 20, 2013, 07:22 PM   #2
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sounds like it was a good day at the range.

If I had to guess I would have guesses that you would have gotten pretty close to what you did. I would think that any one with minimal effort could reproduce a similar charge time and again.

I think the big difference is that the auto charge set up is much faster, with the same reliability. Where as I think that if you tried to speed load or load at a pretty good clip with the dippers, you could increase the odds of error.
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Old January 20, 2013, 07:29 PM   #3
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The dipper method is faster than the auto charge by about twice as much. Scoop, liflt, pour though funnel, tap, tap, tap, and assure the powder has gone down the funnel. Stick into loading block. Reach into the bowl for the next prepped case.

I use the dipper most times. I have the Lee Perfect Powder Measure. Though I have it set for my .38 Spcecial loads. I keep it that way due to the fact that I shoot 2 to 3 hundred of them every weekend.

For fine grained powder like H335 for .223 Rem it is quick as I can seat a bullet, and take out the next case. Same for 7.62x54R with 4320 though most of the 7.62 gets charged with the same 3.1 cc dipper, and Trail Boss for Mrs. M&P's rifle. .30 Carbine loads with H110 or AA#9 go quickly as I can seat the bullet, and take out the next case as well.
No matter how many times you do it and nothing happens it only takes something going wrong one time to kill you.
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Old January 20, 2013, 10:23 PM   #4
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Trail Boss is so "un-dense" that you could probably scoop the cases full without weighing (just kidding).

Seriously though, how many grains of TB can you get into a 45-70 case? I really can't imagine a powder & cartridge combination where a couple tenths of a grain could be anymore meaningless. You probably got more variation from the amount of time you had a cartridge chambered before firing.

Glad you had fun though!
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Old January 20, 2013, 10:28 PM   #5
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I've gotten excellent accuracy using the same load as you describe, though I Don't have a chronograph. I Love Trail Boss for use in my 45-70s
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Old January 21, 2013, 08:49 AM   #6
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I personally like a bit more speed out of all my 45-70's, & like the cartridge ( I have 4 guns chambered in 45-70 ) so I've never loaded Trailboss in 45-70... but I do use Trailboss in alot of cartridges, including in my 40-65 Rolling Block, last time I had the 40-65 out, was at the CAS state championship 2 years ago, for the long range buffalo side match... my 1st time shooting something like that, turns out, I could have easily won that stage, if I had been better prepared to even compete ( I shot it for fun, just walking while on the clock during the competition ) but I hit 7 for 7 buffalos, at various ranges to 150 yards, so the powder does a good job of getting me on target...

I also find that bulk measurement is just about the same as scaled weights when it comes to Trailboss
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Old January 21, 2013, 10:45 AM   #7
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Good Post.
The cowboy shooters seem to prefer Trail Boss. I have tried it and found it to be very accurate in a trapdoor. I know several people that use it with their modern replica Sharps, rolling block, & other single shots. It fills a niche with those who like to fill the case & not worry about pressure & cleaning. One person I know cut a 2.75 inch group with the vernier sights at 200 yards in a Shiloh Sharps.
As a traditionalist, I like prefer black powder in older rifles as that is what they were made for. I too own a Marlin 1895, however 3031 is my powder of choice for this rifle.
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Old January 21, 2013, 05:15 PM   #8
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The load I was using I can load hotter if I want with more Trail Boss. I forgot exactly how much I could get into a case witout compressing it. I have it in my notes. I followed Hodgdon's directions with a dummy round, and an emty case marking it with a dry erase marker at where the case owuld be full without compressing the load.

Note I read on Hodgdon's site that 13.0 grains is a max load for trap door rifles.

I have some other powders if choose to load hotter later on. As of now I am happy with what I use. The only thing I am doing with it is punching holes in paper out to 100 yards. Most times it is 25 or 50 to make things easier on my eyes with iron sights. At 100 yards I shot a few 5 shot groups that were around 3 inches. Which is about as good as I can do with irons.

My .38 special loads with Trail Boss had an SD of about 10 FPS with an ES of under 40 FPS for 24 rounds. 21 of 24 were 715 to 720 fps.
No matter how many times you do it and nothing happens it only takes something going wrong one time to kill you.
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Old January 22, 2013, 06:35 PM   #9
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I wonder if I could use Trail Boss in my 50-140 Sharps? I still have a full 8# keg of Pyrodex CTG powder, but at 122 grains a case it goes fast and I'm looking for a substitute when I get low.
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