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Old December 6, 2019, 01:55 PM   #1
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Light loads Unique + JHC

I have several boxes of Sierra 180 grain jacketed hollow cavity 44 cal bullets. I want to load some mild loads to break in/loosen up a Ruger Redhawk I recently purchased.

I'm using Unique powder and the recommended starting load is ~11 grains. My favorite bullet for this caliber is 240 grain lead swc and 7.0 grains Unique.

Can I go to 9 grains for the 180? 8 grains?

The range will be 20, 25 yards plinking/paper punching.

I seem to remember back in the day, some gun magazine writer talked about jacketed bullets shedding their jacket in the barrel with extremely underpowered loads.
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Old December 6, 2019, 03:07 PM   #2
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Normally, you should not stray below the minimum powder load. Jacketed bullets need a reasonable push, and 11 grains is pretty light for 180 grain bullets. According to my Sierra manual, 10.4 is minimum and only pushing about 1300 fps. That will be fun in a Redhawk. With that heavy gun and only 180 grain bullets, it will be a rather mild load. If you want even more mild use cast 240 grain or use .44 special.

Reducing the powder below minimums risks the chance of a squib, and why buy a .44 mag and shoot mouse fart loads anyway?
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Old December 6, 2019, 06:58 PM   #3
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11 gns unique under a Rem 180 sjhp in 4 in 44 mag gets 1250 fps, and consider it a "medium" load. Extremely accurate in all 44 mags currently owned, including Ruger sa and S&W. May be a large difference in poi from heavier weight bullet loads, and some sights may need to be modified to get on at 25 yards. If looking for a 44 special type load, might consider 231 or Red Dot.

Even with slower speeds, you need to keep up pressures. Faster powders can work very well in 44 mag for lighter loads
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Old December 6, 2019, 07:40 PM   #4
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Yes you can go to 8gr, if you want. You're shooting a revolver and you're using Unique, for gosh sakes.

8gr Unique throws a 180gr bullet somewhere between 700 and 900fps range in the .38-40, the .44-40, the .44 Special, the .44 Magnum, and the .45 Colt. Safe, proven loads that have been in use longer than most of us have been alive. There isn't all that much difference between the size of those cases

Unique isn't one of the slow powders that misbehaves below a full load density. It is VERY flexible and stable from very light loads up to its max.
(that's why they called it "unique")

ALL revolver cares about is if the load is enough to get the bullet out of the barrel. Recommended starting loads in the books are just that, RECOMMENDED, and with the assumption that people want to start at the lower end of full power ammo.

There are some powder/charge combinations that have warnings "do not go below this"... Unique isn't one of those.

Unless there is a warning that the starting load is actually a limit, its just a recommendation, somebody's idea of where you ought to start.
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
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Old December 7, 2019, 11:26 AM   #5
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Hornady gives a minimum charge of 6.9 gr with it's 180 grainer in .44 mag in my 7th edition. Also claims to get 1200fps from it. I kinda have my doubts.

Underpowered jacketed bullets are more prone to getting stuck in the barrel as opposed to "shedding their jackets". I think the shedding of jackets relates to the copper jacket getting stuck with the lead core exiting the jacket and the barrel.
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Old December 7, 2019, 04:22 PM   #6
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I used to load 8 gr. Unique behind 240 gr. bullet and shoot 50-100 rounds everyday for lunch. in a Super Blackhawk .44 mag on a 25 yd. indoor range.
I gave my buddy a box to do some plinking with.
He complained that they shot fine and accurate but barely deformed upon impact with a rotten stump backstop. He said he had considered reloading the fired bullets!
Go figure!?!
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Old December 7, 2019, 04:28 PM   #7
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I've used 9gr of Unique with Lead SWC 180 grain bullets in 44 mag. They move along nicely at about 900 fps. I ended up switching to Win 231/ HP-38 for plinking ammo as it meters better.

You should be in the ballpark with 9gr and jacketed 180 grain bullets.
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Old December 7, 2019, 07:31 PM   #8
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You should be in the ballpark with 9gr and jacketed 180 grain bullets.
Thanks. My arthritic wrists thank you.
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Old December 7, 2019, 07:43 PM   #9
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off topic, but with absolute certainty, Foghorn Leghorn is without a doubt my most favorite cartoon character. "I say boy!"
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Old December 13, 2019, 02:17 PM   #10
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