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  #1  
Old 01-23-2006, 12:54 PM
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Ramshot BigGame and Hunter powders


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Can anyone out there tell me how Ramshot BigGame and Hunter powders compare to H380 and H414? I'm looking for an alternative to H414 in the 30-30 with 190 to 200 grain cast bullets. H414 works fantastic in this application (2100+ fps from a 24" 336A with single digit std dev's) but the Ramshots are more economical and a bit easier to locate.

Thanks,
MC
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  #2  
Old 01-24-2006, 10:23 AM
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From QuickLOAD. Note, these represent measurements on particular lots of powder, and current lots may differ.
In decending order of burning rate (Ba):



On burning rate alone, Hunter comes closest. However, notice that both Ramshots have slightly lower energy density (kJ/kg; the first number), so it will take more of it to achieve the same velocity. In combination with their other characteristics, they will be compressed loads, where H414 is just under 100%.

Also, these powders look like they are a bit slower than you want. Modeling a Lyman #311334 bullet, with an estimated length of 1.17" with gas check (the length affects these calculations significantly), best performance of an uncompressed load in terms of velocity at maximum pressure is predicted by QuickLOAD to come from IMR3031. Winchester 748 also did well, but only filled the case 92% as opposed to 98% for IMR 3031. Filling the case improves ignition regularity and shot-to-shot velocity variation with it. IMR 4895 also did quite well and Alliant Reloader-15 did best (99.9%) as case-filling, uncompressed loads. All exceeding 2150 fps in the model.

Among the Ramshot powders in an uncompressed load, TAC actually used the least powder and made the least pressure to produce 2100 FPS, but like 748, it leaves nearly 8% empty space. Vihtavuori N140 and IMR 4064 both fill the case well, but don't produced around 40 fps lower velocity than the previously mentioned powders.

I hope this information helps you pick a new powder.

Nick

Last edited by unclenick; 01-26-2006 at 12:47 PM.
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  #3  
Old 01-24-2006, 10:38 AM
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Thanks Nick...

I've gotta get that program. There's only one problem though... BigGame is listed before Hunter on Ramshots Burn Rate chart. Is the above data specific to the 30-30 case with 190 to 200 grain gas checked bullets launched from a 24" bbl? What about the other variables? How do they affect performance?

MC

Last edited by MarlinCollector; 01-24-2006 at 11:03 AM.
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  #4  
Old 01-24-2006, 11:40 AM
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Every burning rate chart I've ever seen is organized in decending order of burning rate, as I did here, so that chart you mention is in agreement with what I posted here. They go from fast to slow.

Burning rate is a powder characteristic measured in a calorimetry lab. No guns involved, so it is independent of caliber.

Nick

Last edited by unclenick; 01-24-2006 at 11:44 AM.
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  #5  
Old 01-24-2006, 12:44 PM
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Nick,

Actually, your arrangement is from slow to fast with the fastest at the bottom. However, my confusion comes from Ramshot BigGame with a Ba of .522 appearing before Hunter with a Ba of .458 in Ramshot's table. If these Ba param's are in fractions of a second and are accurate, then Ramshot's table is incorrect.

MC

P.S. Actual experimentation with real powders and lead has shown "H380-like" spherical powders to be the fastest ball-type powders that will nearly fill the case, approach 2100 fps from a 24" bbl at less than 42K PSI and put 5 rounds into one ragged hole at 75 yards from a 55 year old production Marlin 336A using RCBS 30-180FN at 15 BHN. At BHN 15, RCBS 30-180FN weighs 194 to 195 grains with the gas check installed. Modeling is good but it can't take the place of actual experimentation. A slightly compressed charge of H414 is even more consistent and breaks 2100 fps in 60F weather. I have never tried Re15 as I believe it wouldn't meter as well as H380 or similar ball powders (e.g. WC852f and AA2700).

Last edited by MarlinCollector; 01-24-2006 at 01:42 PM.
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  #6  
Old 01-25-2006, 10:34 AM
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No, I have it right. You’re a victim of type faces that don’t distinguish between a numeral “1” and a lowercase letter “L”. Burning factor, Ba, is expressed in liters per second (l/s) under a specific set of conditions. A faster powder has a bigger number. Ramshot Zip, for example, has a Ba of 3.60 l/s. The key here is that the conditions are standardized to produce this relative burning rate number. The Vihtavuori Oy manual has a rather good rundown of propellant basics, and they mention that relative burning rates of powders can change order in some calibers. This is due to different conditions of confinement arising from the different geometries and the speed with which different bullet weights open up the space behind them.

Several of the powders I listed are stick powders (the IMR series, for example). In order to get the results I did, I had to substituted the Lyman bullet and also fudge the water capacity of the case to get an H414 load that performed to 2100 fps right at 42,000 psi. Not having your bullet or case or barrel dimensions, this was as close as I could get, and the relative performance of the powders are derrived under these fudged conditions. IMR 3031 achieved 2187 fps at the same pressure peak. None were compressed loads under the fudged conditions, including the H414, which was 99.7%, but they might feel that way, since a long bullet has to part the powder to the sides on its way in when you near 100% capacity.

That said, I have found QuickLOAD extremely accurate when all parameters are measured and entered. This requires not only the case internal volume in grains of water, but also the rifling dimensions (number of lands, height and width of lands, measured groove diameter), and the actual bullet dimensions. The program presumes the mildest primers available are used and has no option to compensate for magnum primers (they vary a lot). The last load I calculated in it, then worked up to, was for my AR with a 77 grain Sierra bullet over Varget using a Federal 205M primer. The program predicted 2710 fps. I measured velocity on an Oehler 35P with four foot screen spacing at a distance of 20 feet and got 2716 fps. When I subtract 4 fps to compensate for 20 feet of velocity loss, the QuickLOAD number was only 2 fps different from the mean velocity I measured. That’s a smaller error than the accuracy of the chronometer, so it is something of a coincidence, but gives you a sense of the possibilities.

I had the experience with my M1A that stick powders, despite having twice the metering variance of ball powder, were consistently more accurate. I was messing with AA 2520 one year and could not get it below 1.25” at 100 yards. Then, by happenstance I read mention of the fact ball powders are harder to light consistently than stick (smaller space path between grains for the flame front) and decided to try deburring the flashholes. Bingo. Groups off the bench dropped to 0.75” immediately. Probably the limit for my eyes with iron sights. The deburring showed no effect on stick powder loads at all. They light easily. Neither stick nor the AA 2520 charges filled the cases completely, and that is part of the ignition problem. Had the ball powder filled the case, as yours did, I expect the ignition variance would have diminished.

I presume the experiments you refer to are only for your particular gun. Vibration variables between firearms cause them all to favor certain load combinations over others. You may have found your sweet spot with H414. Nonetheless, I would recommend that before you embrace any generalities too completely, you give weighed charges of some other powders a chance. Take a look at Grit’s ladder thread. Also, check my warning about slow powders and secondary pressure spikes (your bullets are heavy enough that you shouldn’t see this problem).

Also consider getting one of the inexpensive Lee Perfect powder measures for stick powders. It has a patented wiper system that tends not to catch on stick powders nearly as often as conventional measures do. It will still be +/- 0.2 grains with stick powder, verses +/- 0.1 from ball powder, but it is pretty easy to haul to the range and experiment with. I find more stick powder loads that have a broad charge tolerance around the sweet spot than I do with ball powders, but that is gun and bullet sensitive and nothing is sure until you try it.

Nick

Last edited by unclenick; 01-25-2006 at 10:55 AM.
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  #7  
Old 01-25-2006, 11:41 AM
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Nick,

Thank you for clearing that notation thing up... it was really bugging me. The problem now is that H414 is not faster that H380.

I checked on the price of QuickLoad and it looks like it's going for $150.00 US... is that about right? Who's in charge of QuickLoad and what are the system requirements? Someone recently gave me a PC that's about 7 years old which seems to run 98ME OK and I'd rather use it than take up disk space on my Mac to run Virtual PC.

Also thanks for the tip on the Lee powder measure tool you mentioned for extruded powders. I may try a short cut powder in the future but I'm getting such great results with H414 that I may just refrain from seeking a "better deal" with the Ramshot powders. There probably is a better tool for de-burring flash holes; however, the first thing I do to my brass after fire-forming is trim to length and de-bur the flash holes with my cheezy Lyman flash hole de-burring tool.

Thanks again for all the great information.

Regards,
MC

Last edited by MarlinCollector; 01-25-2006 at 12:17 PM.
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  #8  
Old 01-26-2006, 12:46 PM
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NECO is the only U.S. source for QuickLOAD. It was developed and is maintained by a German fellow named Hartmut Broemel, and I believe he licenses NECO exclusively. If you have Windows 98 or Windows Millennium (ME) it should run fine. It isn't a power hog.

I have found QuickLOAD to disagree on burning rate order for several powders. Clays is the most extreme example, with QuickLOAD making it the fastest of all powders. But keep in mind its numbers come mostly from Russian laboratory measurements of samples of the powders, so what you see in QuickLOAD reflects one lot of powder and it is not clear how representative that lot is? All I can be sure of is that the lot of H380 they measured was slower than the lot of H414 they measured, and that's not a big surprise when you start with numbers as close as theirs are.

For example, in a conversation with a Hodgdon tech, he assured me that H110 and Winchester 296 are the exact same powder from the exact same plant going into drums with different labels and shipped to Winchester and Hodgdon. It always has been. The Russians measured a sample of each label, apparently coming from different lots, and got a Ba of 0.7941 for the H110 and 0.6300 for 296. So, clearly .1641 is within the lot variance of Ba for that powder, and, as a percentage, probably is for a lot of others as well. Taken together with the other characteristic differences, I get about 3000 PSI difference when I run a 240 grain .44 magnum round with the same number of grains of these two powders in the program. Both produce very safe pressures with factory recommended loads from either company.

This is all coming down to why you need to work up to loads recommended by QuickLOAD or by any other program or by any reloading manual. The same Hodgdon tech I mentioned above told me that in the U.S. it costs about $50K to have all the characterizing tests run on a powder. So even the manufacturers don't do full batteries of these tests on every powder lot. They just try to control the manufacturing parameters and most likely run standardized test loads for pressure and velocity to ensure a particular lot hasn't gone too far afield. They have been known to resort to blending to bring a lot back within reason. This is because an ammunition manufacturer has pressure barrels and will adjust their loads to lot variations, while the hand loader usually won't, and they don't want to blow up guns. The Russians do their tests for their military and then sell the results for extra income. Otherwise this kind of software couldn’t even be possible, being created and maintained by a small enterprise.

Whether the Ramshot powders are a better deal or not depends on their price where you are. In QuickLOAD's listing it took almost three grains more Hunter by weight, and about 5% more compressed volume to reach the same velocity. Not much of a bargain. BigGame took a little less powder by weight than H414, but about 2% more volume. This is pobably owing mostly to the big differences in progressive burning limits. But the BigGame might save you money. On the other hand, if you've found a sweet spot load, you may do nothing but worsen your accuracy. Luck of the draw, there.

Nick

Last edited by unclenick; 01-26-2006 at 12:57 PM.
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  #9  
Old 01-28-2006, 11:25 AM
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Nick,

I concur.

In addition, I'd rather spend the 150 bucks on a mould, gun powder, primers, etc. I'll just have to ask you when I need help with powder burning characteristics :-)

Regards,
MC
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