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Old November 19, 2019, 06:48 AM   #1
jetinteriorguy
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Pressure signs ?

I started seating my bullets in my Savage 12FV out .070" further due to throat erosion, so I figured I would add powder due to the extra space in the case. I started with my original load of 38.5 gr of H4350 with Hornady 140gr ELDM's. Then I went up to 38.8,39.1and finally 39.4 gr. This is still under Hodgdons load data using a comparable bullet. The 39.4 load shot the best but I was getting some resistance on bolt lift. The primers were somewhat flattened with just a minuscule amount of cratering, but no ejector swipe imprint or swipe marks on the brass. I also had comparable results with 38.8 gr but no resistance on bolt lift. So I'm thinking I'll load ten of each, then shoot five of each over the MagnetoSpeed and five of each for grouping to decide which one to go with. Any thoughts on this process?
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Old November 19, 2019, 07:59 AM   #2
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Back off the powder until the bolt opens and closes smoothly and no primer deformation at all. Start from there.
No reason that you cannot chrono and group at the same time.
What were groups like with your original loading?

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Old November 19, 2019, 08:22 AM   #3
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Some primer flattening and cratering is normal. Both aren't signs of excessive pressure.

Are you full length sizing the fired cases?
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Old November 19, 2019, 08:27 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetinteriorguy
I started seating my bullets in my Savage 12FV out .070" further due to throat erosion, so I figured I would add powder due to the extra space in the case. I started with my original load of 38.5 gr of H4350 with Hornady 140gr ELDM's. Then I went up to 38.8,39.1and finally 39.4 gr. This is still under Hodgdons load data using a comparable bullet. The 39.4 load shot the best but I was getting some resistance on bolt lift. The primers were somewhat flattened with just a minuscule amount of cratering, but no ejector swipe imprint or swipe marks on the brass. I also had comparable results with 38.8 gr but no resistance on bolt lift. So I'm thinking I'll load ten of each, then shoot five of each over the MagnetoSpeed and five of each for grouping to decide which one to go with. Any thoughts on this process?
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You didn't specify but it sounds like you are testing 6.5CM ? I have a 6.5CM R700 with a McRee's Precision barrel and I have done a lot of testing and for whatever reason when I was testing the Nosler 147 ELDM and RL17 and was under 1 grain of max I definitely started to see some elevated pressure signs. I see some flattened primers, and a slight ejector swipe mark. It's been a bit frustrating for me as when I enter this area I do see an excellent accuracy node. 6.5 seems to be a caliber where you can easily observe some elevated pressure signs IME. Iv'e since backed off to the next lower accuracy node and it shoots very good, i'm not interested in flirting with high pressures and burning up a $525 precision barrel.
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Old November 19, 2019, 08:46 AM   #5
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Pressure signs on brass and primers is very unreliable. Fifteen years ago, Denton Bramwell used strain gauge pressure measurement to document the same amount of case head expansion on the same lot of 7×57 brass with the same loading history could happen on an individual case at 40,000 psi or at almost 70,000 psi. Primers are also famously variable in their response to pressure from brand to brand. Also the longer your headspace the lower the pressure at which they can mushroom because more of the primer can stick out behind the case.

Even extractor marks can vary with brass. If you use brass with a softer head, like Hornady, and you compare it to brass with a hard head, like ADG, you may see swipe marks cease and even sticky bolt lift may back off.

The bottom line with brass and primer pressure signs is you can only be sure they apply to the particular brass and primers you are working with. They may or may not apply to the gun.

One possible cross-check is to look at chronograph results. Usually, when a chamber starts to stretch (a cause of serious high-pressure-type sticky bolt lift) instead of soft brass being responsible, you will see a drop in velocity as the load increments due to the chamber volume growing near the pressure peak. It's normal for velocity to have flat spots as a load is incremented, but velocity drops mean steel is stretching. Investing in a Pressure Trace is the only further step I am aware of that a handloader can take to confirm this.

Meanwhile, try some different brass and see what happens.
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Old November 19, 2019, 08:52 AM   #6
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What's the primer cup edge radius minimum that is the standard to define a flattened primer?

Is it the same for all primers regardless of cup metal properties and dimensions?

I've shot 7.62 NATO proof loads at about 81,000 psi (67,500 cup) and most people looking at the fired case heads and primers say they're a normal maximum load.

Last edited by Bart B.; November 19, 2019 at 08:59 AM.
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Old November 19, 2019, 09:02 AM   #7
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If all primer pockets had the same lip radius and all primer cups were the same hardness and thickness, I suppose you could come up with a number. At the moment, all that is certain is if the primer pierces and leaks it has gone too far. Hindsight is always 20-20.

I once did some experiments with some LC 64 NM ammunition in our club Garands, tilting the muzzle down to get the powder away from the flash hole before coming level to shoot it, and tipping the muzzle up before firing to get powder over the flash hole. I got 80 fps difference in velocity and the primer went from unchanged roundness to flat. No sign of piercing, though I have noticed in the past that most old Garand bolts have a ring of gas cut pits surrounding the firing pin tunnel from rounds that have leaked. Presumably, those were mostly firing military loads which should have been tested and regulated to proper pressures about as well as factory ammo can be expected to achieve.
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Old November 19, 2019, 10:24 AM   #8
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My bad, yes it's 6.5 CM. Using the MagnetoSpeed doesn't hurt accuracy other than a slight shift of POI. The brass is Starline, which in my experience is not as soft as Hornady, but not as hard as Nosler. I have worked up some loads with RE16 about a year ago and they definitely showed ejector marks accompanied by some pretty high velocity so I have an idea how that can go. Upon closer inspection of primers they all are the same right from the starting load up. My brass prep is as follows, deprime, clean primer pockets, toss in the tumbler for an hour just to make sure no crud to mess up my sizing die, then I lube and body size, followed by neck sizing with a Lee collet neck sizing die, and one final tumble with a little odorless mineral spirits and used dryer sheet. This brass has had the necks turned and runout is consistently .001" or less. I'm also using CCI large rifle primers. Originally this rifle would consistently group five rounds at 3/8" to 1/2", as the throat eroded it gradually opened up to 5/8" to 3/4". At that point I put the rifle away intending to rebarrel, then I got the urge a couple days ago to play with it some more. The 38.5 gr were just slightly over 1/2", and the 39.1 gr were just under 1/2".

Last edited by jetinteriorguy; November 19, 2019 at 10:31 AM.
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Old November 19, 2019, 02:52 PM   #9
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"...38.5 gr of H4350..." That's close to max but less than Max. You shouldn't be seeing any pressure signs. Even though it's a compressed load. Compressed loads are nothing to worry about but it starts long before you get anywhere near the Max load. The Start load is 36.0. 36.5 or 37.0 are very likely compressed.
39.4 is .6 from Max. Shouldn't be any signs there either.
"...I went up..." You should be going up by half a grain from the Start load. Not picking a load increment and hoping.
Seating longer isn't going to fix throat erosion if there actually is any.
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Old November 19, 2019, 03:43 PM   #10
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I do realize seating longer doesn't 'fix' anything, it just keeps the bullet jump optimal based on my initial testing. This load wasn't compressed at all, either initially or now with the new load/seating depth. Really my only concern with all of this was feeling a little more resistance when lifting the bolt, this being the only traditional sign of possibly excess pressure when shooting this load.
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Old November 19, 2019, 04:32 PM   #11
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if I have a sticky bolt lift or ejector marks I back off...period. No posting looking for opinions or trying to justify.

I don't give a darn what the experts say. It's my eyes, hands etc and if it does feel right it probably isn't right. Common sense goes a long way and a few extra FPS is not worth blowing a receiver up. A friend blew his wifes rifle up looking for that extra 25FPS. She was ok but has not fired a rifle since
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Old November 19, 2019, 05:13 PM   #12
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I wouldn't call it a sticky bolt as much as it just takes a little more effort to open than the previous loads. I agree though, it's more important to be safe than sorry. I'm trying the lighter load tomorrow and if it works as good as I think I won't even bother with the heavier load. I guess the temptation to use the heavier load is due to the lack of any other real definite indicators of over pressure.
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Old November 19, 2019, 06:20 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetinteriorguy View Post
I started seating my bullets in my Savage 12FV out .070" further due to throat erosion, so I figured I would add powder due to the extra space in the case. I started with my original load of 38.5 gr of H4350 with Hornady 140gr ELDM's. Then I went up to 38.8,39.1and finally 39.4 gr. This is still under Hodgdons load data using a comparable bullet. The 39.4 load shot the best but I was getting some resistance on bolt lift. The primers were somewhat flattened with just a minuscule amount of cratering, but no ejector swipe imprint or swipe marks on the brass. I also had comparable results with 38.8 gr but no resistance on bolt lift. So I'm thinking I'll load ten of each, then shoot five of each over the MagnetoSpeed and five of each for grouping to decide which one to go with. Any thoughts on this process?
Despite it sounding crazy, seating closer to lands increases pressure.
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Old November 19, 2019, 06:24 PM   #14
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Years ago, I ran my loads super hot in everything. One day it occurred to me, if you want to shoot 100 fps faster than a 7 Rem mag is supposed to, ream it to 7 STW. Etc. Etc.
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Old November 19, 2019, 07:55 PM   #15
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Since most of my shooting takes place in an indoor 100yd range I'm not concerned over velocity, just accuracy. I don't plan on doing any shooting longer than 300yds with an occasional bout at 500 yds when available. But for me, 98% of the time I'm indoors at 100yds.
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Old November 19, 2019, 09:17 PM   #16
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Pressure signs on brass and primers is very unreliable.
I disagree. The marks are very reliable, they are there, you can see them. What is unreliable is people's conclusions about what the amount of pressure producing those marks actually is...


Quote:
The bottom line with brass and primer pressure signs is you can only be sure they apply to the particular brass and primers you are working with. They may or may not apply to the gun.
Agree with this, except for the last part. The pressure absolutely does apply to the gun. It HAPPENS IN THE GUN, for goodness sake. It applies.

Now, what doesn't apply is the belief that "excess" pressure is automatically a dangerous thing. All pressure signs are, are signs that you aren't where you ought to be. They don't reliably tell you how far beyond where you ought to be or WHY you are beyond where you ought to be, that part you need to figure out from other factors.

Whenever they show up, they are a sign you are not where you ought to be, with the specific combination of gun and ammo you are shooting.

For that, they are absolutely reliable. For anything else...not so much.

Cratered and flattened primers tell us something isn't what we want it to be. They don't tell us something is dangerous, or not, or WHICH thing it is.

Quote:
I wouldn't call it a sticky bolt as much as it just takes a little more effort to open than the previous loads.
That's the definition of a sticky bolt. "Sticky ranges from "just a little more effort" up to having to hammer the bolt to get the action open. At that point "Sticky" turns to "frozen".

By all means, chronograph those "sticky" loads. See if you get any SIGNIFICANT difference in velocity. Significant is the key here. A double handful of FPS isn't significant. A few hundred, is . See what you get and decide for yourself if the gain is worth the additional stress on your equipment (brass and the gun itself)
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Old November 19, 2019, 11:31 PM   #17
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44 AMP, have you ever shot rifle proof loads generating 81,000 psi?
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Old November 19, 2019, 11:51 PM   #18
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"The 39.4 load shot the best but I was getting some resistance on bolt lift.......... I also had comparable results with 38.8 gr but no resistance on bolt lift."

I'm lost as to why you would not want to stick with 38.8gr at this point. If you already have throat erosion in this barrel, why look for more with hotter loads when you have one that is "comparable?"
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Old November 20, 2019, 05:44 AM   #19
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Quote:
Pressure signs on brass and primers is very unreliable.


I disagree. The marks are very reliable, they are there, you can see them. What is unreliable is people's conclusions about what the amount of pressure producing those marks actually is...
Traditional pressure signs don't show up until you are at 70,000 PSI, which is well over a max load. You could be over the max pressure allowed for the cartridge and still not get any of the traditional pressure signs.

That is unreliable.
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Old November 20, 2019, 09:06 AM   #20
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I tend to think like Reynolds357; the increase in COAL moves the bullet towards the lands (obviously), but how much room is there in the chamber for the length increase? What is the current COAL? I get excellent performance with Sierra 140 MK’s using 40.3 of H4350. While I get a little primer flattening, there are no signs whatever of overpressure. In fact, the Starline brass is holding up superb, with very little stretching when full length resizing. However, if I try to increase COAL much from where I am, the bullets will be in the lands where pressure will surely increase.
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Old November 20, 2019, 10:21 AM   #21
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I have found "case life" to be the most reliable indicator of excess pressure.

If I can load a case 8-10 times, my pressure is good. If primer pockets start enlarging after 2-3 reloads, my pressure is too high., Case head expansion is also as decent indicator. (assuming you're using quality brass in a SAAMI spec chamber.)
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Old November 20, 2019, 12:10 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Ben Dover View Post
I have found "case life" to be the most reliable indicator of excess pressure.

If I can load a case 8-10 times, my pressure is good. If primer pockets start enlarging after 2-3 reloads, my pressure is too high., Case head expansion is also as decent indicator. (assuming you're using quality brass in a SAAMI spec chamber.)
Yes, long case life is a good safe pressure indicator.

If there's less than a. 002" spread in case headspace between fired and resized case headspace. Some have got over 50 reloads per 308 Win case doing this.
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Old November 20, 2019, 01:10 PM   #23
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44 AMP, have you ever shot rifle proof loads generating 81,000 psi?
No. But I have fired a round that at best estimate generated between 90-110,000 psi. I don't recommend it.

Quote:
Traditional pressure signs don't show up until you are at 70,000 PSI, which is well over a max load. You could be over the max pressure allowed for the cartridge and still not get any of the traditional pressure signs.

That is unreliable.
What "traditional" signs are those? Cratered primers? Flattened primers? Pierced primers? case head expansion beyond initial .001"? something else?

Those things can, and have shown up at pressures below 70k psi, and under the right conditions can show up below regular working pressures. And as you noted some don't show up at much higher than working pressures.

I think what is unreliable is the expectation that a certain pressure sign will ALWAYS show up at XXXX psi and that a certain pressure sign showing up ALWAYS means you have XXXX psi (or more).

Most of us consider cratered primers to be a pressure sign. They are. But while often a sign of pressure higher than desired they can also happen at normal pressures, because of factors specific to individual guns and/or ammo components.

Perhaps its just the way we use language differently. I consider pressure signs reliable in the sense that when you get them, you got them, and getting them means something isn't what we want it to be.

They are not reliable predictors of anything else, though. Nor do they show up on a "set schedule". Every gun can be different. Every individual round can be different, despite all we do striving for uniformity.

I've seen the same ammo behave normally in all aspects in one gun and crater primers in another.

All our measurements have tolerances and sometimes you get performance at either end of the bell curve when you expect something in the middle.

Not getting what you expect doesn't always mean the thing is unreliable, but it could mean your expectations might be.
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Old November 20, 2019, 02:23 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by 44AMP
I disagree. The marks are very reliable, they are there, you can see them.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmr40
Traditional pressure signs don't show up until you are at 70,000 PSI,…
I should have put up a link to the article. What is remarkable is Bramwell demonstrates in one brass lot with matching load histories and fired in the same gun, one case gets a specific pressure sign with a powder charge producing just 40,000 psi peak pressure, while another case in the same lot doesn't get that exact same sign until it is loaded to 70,000 psi. So that raises the question, which of the two loads is that pressure sign telling you is the limit? I think this is the problem that caused the old pressure-sign-based load manual data to include a few loads that were too hot in some guns.

The conclusion I took from the article is the common practice of incrementing loads until you find the first case or primer to show a clear pressure sign and then backing the charge off 5% and loading and firing without further investigation is something of a crapshoot. Just like shooting groups, you actually need to get pressure signs in a big enough sample of cases (I would use at least 10, but 30 is better) and then to choose a load based on an acceptable brass loss rate (percent of the population outside the bottom end of the pressure sign bell curve based on the SD of the powder charges producing the sign). The pressure sign in one case or primer is, obviously, valid for that particular case or primer. The problem is knowing how far you can extrapolate the result from one case to others. Was that case with the sign exceptionally resistant to pressure or average or below average? You have to run the test ladder repeatedly to find where the darn things fall.


Quote:
Originally Posted by reynolds357
Despite it sounding crazy, seating closer to lands increases pressure.
It depends how deeply you seat. Here's a curve derived from data in Dr. Lloyd Brownell's 1965 U of M study of pressure for DuPont. It is for a round nose bullet, which makes the curve more gradual than a spire point does, but it gives you a good look at the shift and the fact there is a minimum pressure seating depth either below or above which pressure is higher. Above the minimum pressure seating depth and closer to the lands, loss of gas bypass is the dominant term. Deeper than the minimum pressure seating depth, the bullet intrusion into the case shrinking the powder space becomes the dominant term.

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Old November 20, 2019, 05:21 PM   #25
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Today I shot ten rounds of each of these loads over the MagnetoSpeed. The heavier load definitely exhibited better accuracy. The interesting part is that the MV is identical to the original load even though it's .9 gr more powder. It also didn't seem to exhibit any more increase in effort to lift the bolt than the lower charge. I also measured the case length on the fired rounds and compared to full length sized cases they averaged .003"-.006" longer. This is for both charges. As far as case life, with the original charge I have fired at least 600+ rounds using the same 100 cases and the primer pockets all still pass a go-no go gauge no problem. One other interesting thing, this charge is only .1gr heavier than the load I shoot in my AR10. The difference is the AR10 ammunition is loaded quite a bit further into the case in order to fit in the magazine, but it's also using Nosler brass which is a little larger case capacity and I believe also a harder brass.

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