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  #1  
Old 07-04-2010, 03:08 AM
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Position sensitive 44 spl


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I shot yesterday with a mid level Blue Dot load. I had experienced a wide velocity spread and lots of unburned powder in an old stand by load of Universal. The BD load did the same thing, yesterday. I stopped shooting and evaluated. Could this be a position sensitive situation. I loaded the Smith, raised the barrel to the ski, shook it real good and returned to the bags for some accuracy shooting over the chrony. Problem solved for both rounds. No unburned powder and accuracy and velocity spreads, all taken care of. In fact, velocity increased to a little higher than the Hornady manual lists for the load. Should I use something physical to position the powder? Have others found this to be true in the 44 spl?
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Old 07-04-2010, 05:29 AM
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Nope. Especially not with a slower, fluffy powder like Blue Dot.

I've always claimed that the normal handling of a handgun pretty much obviates position sensitivity. You hold it more or less horizontal, and the cocking action aids the level distribution of the powder. Recoil moves it forward again, obviously, but then the muzzle rises and it settles back. There's a constant shuffling of the powder - even before the primer blast blows it around like a leafblower.

Neck tension and crimp variation have more effect, is my thought.
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Old 07-04-2010, 06:06 AM
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I agree with Rocky, neck tension and crimp have more effect on uniform velocity and lower extreme spread.

Are you belling your case mouths? If using a Lyman M die they are too large in diameter by about .003”. The M die opens the case up too much and lowers velocity and increases extreme spread. For this 44 Spl I amusing the Lee case mouth expander which does not “condition the neck” and loading the bullets as cast either tumble lubed or hand lubed with Alox. I need to bring out the pans and pan lube a bunch of them. I have been watching some Charlie Chan movies while loading. I am finally home for a few days and trying to relax a little. I will shoot the Bisley this afternoon along with the 327’s.

I lost my mind and forgot which bullets you are using and what velocity goals you have.

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Last edited by William Iorg; 07-04-2010 at 06:07 AM. Reason: added a question
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  #4  
Old 07-04-2010, 06:27 AM
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All big cases exhibit at least some position sensitivity, but some powders light up a little more easily than others. If you haven't seen it, this article by a former CCI employee points out the main reason for magnum primers is to better pressurize the case at the start. That improves uniformity not only with hard-to-light slower powders used in magnum loads, but also improves consistency with partially filled cases of faster powders because it improves starting pressure in the empty space. If you aren't using them already, they should help with what you're doing, though you may need to bring the loads down 5% first to get a performance match. Also, cleaning primer pockets and seating the primers a little extra firmly can help with consistency. Firm squeeze against solid brass makes for more consistent primer ignition and case pressurizing time.

Keep in mind that .44 Mag (1.610") and .44 Special (1.615") have practically the same COL, so with the same bullets seated to maximum COL in both, you have essentially the same powder space available in both. So the magnum primer thing applies equally to both cases.

If you want to play with fillers, be careful. I think people forget they take up volume and that if you use anything substantial, you need to take the loads down (sometimes a lot, depending on the filler) when you use them. You also need to avoid any substantial mass being thrown forward against the bullet base, as that causes chamber ringing.

In those straight wall cases, I have simply used a chamfering tool to sharpen a retired case mouth and cut discs of newsprint to press down onto the powder column. I set the loaded rounds upright in boxes and carry them that way. It works with single shots, and seems to work OK with light loads in repeaters, but enough powder mass and recoil will cause the paper to dislodge, usually slightly sideways, so powder starts to leak through. At that point the paper actually shields part of the powder, making ignition worse. A small tuft of polyester pillow filler over the paper seems to keep it in place better. A dowel rod helps put the discs squarely over the powder.

I am shameless about altering expanders to suit my components. I narrow M dies so most cases have me pushing the bullet lightly into place. But that does vary with case age and neck thickness. I like the M die form because the bullets go in straighter and show a more uniform bulge line around the brass where the bullet base stops. But they are best suited to taper crimps that iron them back out well. The Lee Factory Crimp and the Redding Profile Crimp dies should also iron them back out for you. Another friend of mine actually taper crimps, then runs back through to establish the roll crimp on revolver rounds. I don't think the extra working helps his case life, but don't have any documentation of the effect from him.
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Last edited by unclenick; 07-04-2010 at 06:40 AM.
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  #5  
Old 07-04-2010, 12:38 PM
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I was surprised at my results. I did not think that either of these powders should be position sensitive but the result of my little experiment does seem to indicate they are. I did use my M-Die on these new loadings that this problem came up. The older rounds I loaded years ago did not show these problems and I am sure I was not using the M-Die then. I will definitely go back to flaring with my Lee crimp die on this next batch. I may have to go back to the Lee crimp too but I do like the consistancy of the Redding PCD. I sure don't want to get into fillers if there is a way around it. Thanks guys for the help.
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  #6  
Old 07-04-2010, 01:13 PM
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I think position insensitivity may be something of a myth? The last lot of M72 ever loaded by Lake City was 83% full of IMR 4895, but that was enough, even with its military magnum level primer, that if varied about 80 fps from muzzle down to muzzle up, pre-firing. Still accurate. It seems the slower rounds just let the Garand muzzle rise about the right amount to compensate at 600 yards. It also went from the primers being well rounded to noticeably flattened in the two conditions, so the pressure change was something.

If you know someone with a lathe and a toolpost grinder, they could adjust the M die for you.
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  #7  
Old 07-04-2010, 02:35 PM
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Nick, too wet to shoot, our ground is saturated.
I am loading some 429421 bullets this afternoon and thinking about primers.
As Rocky said Blue Dot is rather fluffy and I have never experienced position problems with it, I don’t like it and don’t use it very often any more.
The Lyman 429421 is .770” long and I seat it about .338”deep. This gives me a COAL of 1.592” for the 44 Special and 1.710” for the 44 Magnum. This gives the 44 Special about 20.4 grains of water and the 44 Magnum 24.6 grains of water. Rough figures of course, the bullet can be seated just slightly deeper. My S&W and TC’s will accept the longer COAL for the Magnum cartridge.
While watching it sprinkle I looked at case capacity between the two cartridges. Just under 2.0 grains difference between the cases, or as you said, about the same capacity.
The 44 Special has enough room for the following charges – uncompressed by my model – I don’t have Quick Load. This is case capacity – not load data.
17.2 gr of Alliant 2400
14.26 gr of Alliant Blue Dot
20.0 gr of Hodgdon 110
6.0 gr of IMR Trail Boss
10.47 gr of Alliant Unique
19.1 gr of Hodgdon Lil’ Gun

The 44 Magnum
20.75 gr of Alliant 2400
17.18 gr of Alliant Blue Dot
24.13 gr of Hodgdon 110
7.24 gr of IMR Trail Boss
12.61 gr of Alliant Unique
23.0 gr of Hodgdon Lil’ Gun

I don’t remember what bullet he is using so I cannot get closer but certainly my 44 Special loads are filling the case more than half full and I am not trying for high velocity.
A hotter primer might well make a difference but I would look at bullet pull and crimp first.
It will take a lathe or grinder. The stem on the M die is hard!
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  #8  
Old 07-04-2010, 05:31 PM
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Chief,
Don't even bother with the Blue Dot. Get some 250 grain Kieth cast bullets
and load your .44 Special up with Unique. The load is in all the books and on line.
You will fall in love with your .44. Don't take my word for it look it up but it's around
7 grains.

Zeke
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  #9  
Old 07-05-2010, 04:40 AM
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I am just way too conservative in my loadings. It gets me in just as much or more trouble as folks that load to max. Most loadings are meant to perform best at close to max. and at least at close to a full case. I always load midrange and because of that I always have loads that I can hear the powder when I shake the round. I never did like sneaking up on a H-110 load very much for those reasons. That being said, I miss out on a lot of performance. Trail Boss was pretty much made for folks like me but I have not tried it yet, and probably will not. I know that Universal should work great in this 44 spl because it is the mid range powder for the round. I know that Unique is the classic but this Universal is just a modern Unique. I never have got this stuff to work for me but I never have loaded it up to capacity. The max load according to the Hornady Manual for the Hornady bullet I am using is 6.6 gr. It gives an OAL for the bullet and I will use it also so I should be safe sneaking up on that 6.6 gr capacity. You can't push these soft swagged bullets very fast and this load is suppose to give 800 fps out of a 3 inch barrel so I will be getting a little over that but I don't think leading will be a problem. My 4 inch barrel on this Thunder Ranch looks pretty slick. I have not slugged it yet and I do have a trouble spot when I clean it but accuracy has been good, considering my problems with the load development.
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  #10  
Old 07-05-2010, 05:29 AM
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Chief,
Soft bullets are the way to go. With the 44 Special you are operating at 14,000 psi or less. In order to seal the throat and bore you new to have soft bullets. You’re like me with the 44 Special and trying for loads in the 800 fps and less level. Soft swaged bullets should work fine for you.
With your load thoughts I would switch to bullseye. 4.5 grains of Bullseye should give you around 700 fps.
In my Bisley the Lee 240-grain round nose bullets chronograph 536 fps from my 5 ½” barrel. The 208-grain Lee wadcutter with the same 3.0 grain load of Bullseye chronographed 595 fps. These are fun plinkers.

The 7.0 grain load of Alliant Unique will rattle in your case when loaded with the 240-grain bullets. Using the bulk Remington 240-grain JSP bullets my 5 ½” barrel got 849 fps, another very pleasant load.

I forgot to mention 6.9 grains of Alliant Unique pushed the Lyman 429421 740 fps from the 5 ½” barrel.
Elmer Keith told us the gas check raised pressures and in this case the Thompson 429244 gas check bullet ahead of 6.9 grains of Unique chronographe818 fps.

If you have some old Hanloader magazines look for:
2-1996
10-1996
6-2006


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Last edited by William Iorg; 07-05-2010 at 05:36 AM. Reason: magazines
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  #11  
Old 07-05-2010, 06:24 AM
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Thanks William. I don't cast so I may start if I can scrounge some lead. What mix do you use for your Lyman 429421 when casting for your low pressure 44 spl loadings? That is the classic Keith mold, is it not? That really appeals to me for my 44 spl. I have been struggling with a single mold to buy that I could cast a good hunting bullet for my 44 mag rifle and cast softer bullets from the same mold for my 44 spl revolvers. It is funny. I have been going thru my old handloaders lately but mine just go back to 2000.
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  #12  
Old 07-05-2010, 09:08 AM
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I just bought a Lee 240 TL SWC mould, and like it very much. As a tumble-lube design, it is intended to be shot as-cast. No sizing needed or recommended; just lube them with Liquid Alox and go.

I cast using range scrap, wheelweights, birdshot or whatever else I can scrounge, in any proportion. Have no idea how hard it is, but it is between swaged bullets and commercial cast - and works perfectly.
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  #13  
Old 07-05-2010, 10:44 AM
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Chief,

Like Rocky I use a lot of range scrap. I tend to heat my pot hot and skim a lot of the antimony off the top. The 429421 is the classic bullet for the 44 Special, the Keith 250 grain bullet from RCBS is more true to the original. NEI also has a copy.
Elmer Keith used alloy a lot softer than most of us realize. Keith typically used 1 part tin to 16 parts lead for a bhn of about NINE bhn. That’s pretty soft by today’s thinking.
Which rifle are you using? The Winchesters will feed the 429421 but the Marlins will not.
I shot three 44 Special loads across the chronograph today just to have a look, using R-P cases and as cast Lyman 429421 bullets with Remington LP primers.

12.1 grains of Hodgdon Lil’ Gun gave me 653 fps and lot of unburned grains of powder. I am obviously not reaching this powders working pressure.

12.1 grains of Alliant 2400 gave me 738 fps.
13.0 grains of 2400 gave me 865 fps.

These 2400 loads gave me excellent accuracy with several bullets from each string striking each other. My Ruger Bisley is a bit heavier than your S&W and my sights are better but I believe the 12.1 grain load would be one to try.
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Last edited by William Iorg; 07-05-2010 at 10:46 AM.
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  #14  
Old 07-05-2010, 12:17 PM
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When I first started loading .45 colts I never understood why the velocities I was getting were well below what was published in the manuals. Eventually I read about position sensitivity and realized I had a pattern going when chronographing. I did it from a standing position and would point the muzzle down, bring the gun up, fire, and lower the muzzle again to see if the shot registered. The important thing is every shot had the powder at the front of the case. When I started pointing the muzzle upward before shots the velocity jumped over 150 fps in some cases, and was right in line with published data.
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  #15  
Old 07-05-2010, 12:18 PM
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Kinda related Chief.
I use Blue Dot in 41 special and like it very much. 215 grain SWC @835 fps. Exstreme spread is 78 fps.
Beyond that, it shoots very well and fills most of the case ( I can hear powder move a little in there). The load is abit "sooty", but that cleans up easy with normal procedures.

Note also that my 41 magnum die set does NOT crimp as firmly as I would like on the shorter case. The bullets have never moved under recoil at these mild speeds though.

Good luck with your research.

Cheezywan
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Old 07-05-2010, 01:19 PM
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Cheezywan, take your seater die to a machine shop (or even better to a Vo-Tech school) and have them turn or grind 1/8" off the bottom and re-chamfer the inner edge. Shortening the seater has no ill effects, but does "lower" the crimp shoulder enough that you can turn in any degree of crimp you like.

For any .41 Magnum shooters, do remember that Alliant now warns against using Blue Dot in ANY .41 Magnum load, with any bullet. Like Cheezywan, though,I've never had a single problem with it in .41 Special and like it very much in that round.
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Old 07-05-2010, 02:16 PM
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Slim,

Agree with the switch to Bullseye for light loads. They can be quite accurate (accuracy being relative to the gun). The 5 shot 1.75" C-T-C 25 yard group below is one I fired on a scrap target, but kept because it was fired offhand from my 3" fixed sight Charter Bulldog. It was back when my eyes were still tip top, but even so I did not expect to be able to repeat it on demand with that short sight radius. I was using a center hold, and subsequently filed the rear sight notch open to center the shots horizontally. I left the elevation alone, figuring it would be about right for 200 grain bullets.

The load is just 2.9 grains of Bullseye under the swaged Hornady bullets according to the note. My memory kept telling me it was 3.9 grains, and, to to be honest, I can't tell you if my memory is wrong or if I had a moment of cerebral flatulence when I jotted the note on the target, but I'm more inclined to believe the former. In either case, there was lots of empty room left in the cases.

Keith's use of the softer bullets no doubt also reflects on the quality of the guns he was working with. My great aunt bought a Smith K-22 new for $38 in 1936. I got it in its original box when my aunt moved in the mid-80's. That old long stroke DA is so smooth I think I can honestly say I've never felt a better DA revolver. The single action trigger is also clean as a whistle. The bore and chambers look polished. I hate the tiny little continuously adjustable rear sight, but will leave it be to keep the gun original. It came with a factory-installed McGivern front sight bead, and I'm sure my aunt had no clue what she was buying? I've wondered if it was a special order from the factory for the store or for a customer who never picked it up? She wanted something for self-defense in her house out in the country, but undoubtedly just asked for something good and remembered the brand from her father's old Safety Hammerless .32 S&W (which I also have and which also shoots remarkably accurately for something so small and with so many bore pits; Great Granddad must have carried it a lot or failed to clean it from time to time). That K-22 sat unused since its purchase until, sometime in the mid-60's, my aunt let me shoot it one afternoon. The ammo was probably 1936 vintage, too. When I was given it later, I began mentally banging my head against the wall over the cost of that one afternoon of shooting twenty years earlier.

Anyway, my point is that Keith's old Smith revolvers probably had the same hand-fitting the broshure in the box with the old K-22 boasts of. The action tells me why Ed McGivern said he fired factory revolvers with no special trigger work. It just wasn't needed then. The smooth bore and chambers tells me why nothing would be needed to prevent leading, either. Today you almost have to firelap revolvers as a matter of routine to get that, but once you do, they can shoot soft bullets as fast as Elmer Keith did.

My comment about .44 Special and .44 Mag capacity being similar only applies to same-COL loadings, of course. That puts 1/8" more seating depth into the .44 Mag case, which is why I prefer them for accuracy loads even of the mild kind. The soft swaged bullets allow for the crimp to be rolled in wherever you want it.


Rocky,

I'd be interested to hear how the accuracy of the TL bullets has compared to comparable size conventional cast and sized bullets for you? When I switched to a 6-cavity TL bullet mold in .38 wadcutter, my K-38 groups cut in half over what I was getting from commercial .38 Special WC target loads. I was very impressed.

That range scrap is a mix of cast and jacket cores and probably more .22 Long Rifles than anything else in the world, and they are soft enough to slug a bore with. Apropos of what Slim was saying, people forget those soft little pills are moving out at over the speed of sound from rifles without leading excessively. I know some makers say they've gone to some percent antimony for swaging bigger bullets and that the occasional .22 is made harder than others, but most don't seem much harder than pure lead. After mixing with some cast bullets and a lot of jacketed bullet cores, I'm sure the hardness they give you is about what you gue4ssed.

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  #18  
Old 07-05-2010, 03:01 PM
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I used up the last of my Puff-Lon on a batch of 44 special 240 grain Nosler JHP. Full "book load" of Blue Dot from the Hornady Data. Don't recall the amount. Remington cases. Used a 1CC Lee dipper for the Puff-Lon. They shoot accurately, and no sign of hotness out of the model 29. Haven't chronied. BTW, I'm not impressed by the Nosler 240. It sheds jackets regularly in almost any media. Hard to beat a LRNFP.
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  #19  
Old 07-05-2010, 05:15 PM
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Blue Dot seems to work better with near max loads in my experience. I use Unique for 44 Special loads. 250 gr Keith worked well in every 44 Special I had.
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Old 07-06-2010, 08:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ironhead7544 View Post
Blue Dot seems to work better with near max loads in my experience. I use Unique for 44 Special loads. 250 gr Keith worked well in every 44 Special I had.
I like, have, and use Blue Dot, and have for a long time. The only time it has caused me problems is with lighter bullets, and or lighter loads. It's my favorite for 180gr cast bullets in my .357's, and it works well with hotter 240gr cast bullet loads in my .44 SBH. But it doesn't load down that well.

It's the best for 20Ga Magnum loads.
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