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  #1  
Old 02-12-2017, 06:35 PM
Bov Bov is offline
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35 WSM load testing


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So, I just got my new 35 WSM the other day and spent a few hours at the range yesterday working a load with BLC-2 and 225 grain Sierra boat tails. I started at what is recommended for a starting charge in the 325WSM and 220 grain bullets and worked up from there.

I increased my charges by 1 grain until I thought there might be more flattening of the primers. See the attached photo the 3 on the left are the lowest powder charge and the three on the right are the highest powder charge, not much difference but maybe a little? There is still some edge radius on the primers so that looks ok yet. I also do not see marks from the extractor slot in the bolt face etc. I did not get any sticky bolt lift/brass extraction issues and they will all slide back into the chamber easily, no issues there. I did get some soot on a few of the fired brass, around the case head and some on the bolt face, but I have read a couple other posts on that subject and apparently there shouldn't be any issues? See photos.
I also took a bunch of case head measurements of pre fired brass and all of the brass I fired to see what I would find. Since I don't have a factory load to compare my measurements to, I may have useless data...

New=.5495
Low charge=.5516
Highest charge=.5525

Anyway, the low charge weight brass expanded an average of .0021 over the new brass, the highest charge weight brass expanded an average of .0030 over the new brass. So there was a difference of .0009" between the low and high charge weight brass. Again, no sticky bolt lift at all.

So, based on what I saw, I think I'm still good on pressure or am I missing something?

I had a borrowed chronograph but it wasn't registering shots or giving velocities that made any sense when it did record something, malfunctioning for some reason, maybe operator error too.
Attached Thumbnails
35 WSM load testing-bolt-face.jpg   35 WSM load testing-primers.jpg   35 WSM load testing-sooty-brass.jpg  
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Old 02-12-2017, 07:14 PM
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Update:
I was cleaning the bolt face and noticed I couldn't remove the dark spot near the firing pin. I got out a magnifying glass to get a better look. It appears to be a small crater in the steel. I looked through all of the brass and found one with a small hole in the radius of the primer, had to use the magnifying glass to see it. It was in the next to lowest powder charge group. It is a pressure issue or a defective primer? There was only one and brass with much higher loads were OK. Suggestions?
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Old 02-13-2017, 01:28 AM
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Bov,

The primers show no high pressure - what type are they? Certainly not Winchester large rifle magnum.

There seems to be rather excessive burnt-on soot on the bolt face and particularly around the edges? Is that old stuff? Is that after cleaning the bolt face? And the fact that one has to clean the bolt face rather than just wipe it with an earbud and a little oil tells me that there is gas blow back past the case walls. The top left case base in the photo certainly looks abnormally dirty. The rim groove of that case in your hand certainly is way too dirty for even a 10x fired case.

You used .300 WSM cases. Did you fire form from .300 WSM? Maybe the soot on the case necks you mention resulted from that? Were the shoulder diameters after fire-forming wide enough? Certainly you would not have shot .300 WSM cartridges in your new .325. How did you do the fire forming?

May I give my first order thoughts for what it is worth? Great pity you could not measure velocity as I see too low pressure and incomplete combustion symptoms. Which propellant did you use and what load? I would not shoot the rifle again unless it is with factory loads and a chronograph.
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Last edited by MusgraveMan; 02-13-2017 at 02:17 AM.
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  #4  
Old 02-13-2017, 02:36 AM
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It's a wildcat chambering, also known as the 35 Sambar (300 or 325 WSM expanded to hold 35 caliber bullets) so there is no such thing as factory loads. He stated using IMR3031 as his powder, but wisely didn't include charge weights.

When fire-forming, it's common to get a fair amount of soot. I don't try to measure case head expansion until after fire-forming is done. The crucial data from your first loads are the differences in case heads between low and high charge weights. There is less than .001" between them, which is good. On the other hand, both show a lot more expansion over factory brass than I would prefer, suggesting your chamber is a bit on the "generous" side.

Are you jamming the lands to fire-form brass, or trying to go straight to working loads? I have always found it necessary to fire-form before doing any serious load development.
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Old 02-13-2017, 02:51 AM
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Ah.. it is not a .325 WSM - which indicates a factory designation - but a .35-300WSM wildcat.
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Old 02-13-2017, 04:13 AM
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Not jamming the rifling, have to seat the Sierras a ways off to get .358" into the case. I do believe I had an incomplete powder burn with one of the low charges as there were some grains of powder that fell out of the fired brass when I checked the primer. I ran a clean, dry patch through at that time to make sure there was no powder in the bore.
Not every case had the soot, maybe 15%. I wondered about low pressure not making a tight seal...
I asked Hart for chamber dimensions but none were included with the firearm...
They are Winchester LRM primers...
They are brand new cases...
The bolt face was cleaned completely prior to these firings...

How about the hole in the primer? Defective or...

I used BLC-2 because it showed good velocity with lower pressures in .358 Win and .350 Rem Mag loads, which I thought would be similar. I looked at the .325 WSM for a starting charge - "same" case.
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Old 02-13-2017, 05:23 AM
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They are brand new cases...
Then that amount of impacted soot in the rim groove is totally unacceptable, as is the impacted carbon on the bolt face. No proper sealing of the case walls against the chamber surface.

The bolt face was cleaned completely prior to these firings...
See above.

How about the hole in the primer? Defective or...
I do not trust Winchester LR magnum primers one bit. Have had too many issues with them lately (and previously as well - so I stopped using them 10 years later (two months ago) I tried them again - with even more issues.

I used BLC-2 because it showed good velocity with lower pressures in .358 Win and .350 Rem Mag loads, which I thought would be similar. I looked at the .325 WSM for a starting charge - "same" case.


BIG difference between case capacities of the Rem and Win .35 cartridges. Look at .358 Norma loads as your case capacity is closer to that. My choice propellant would be RL 17/19.

I see no hole in a primer on a photo - but I had those useless Winchester primers blown and flattened and leaking at even below start loads. You have too low pressure there.
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Last edited by MusgraveMan; 02-13-2017 at 05:28 AM.
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Old 02-13-2017, 06:06 AM
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It appears to me that one of your fired cases has a primer hit off center?

Is that the case or is it the photo???
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  #9  
Old 02-13-2017, 10:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bov View Post
Not jamming the rifling, have to seat the Sierras a ways off to get .358" into the case. I do believe I had an incomplete powder burn with one of the low charges as there were some grains of powder that fell out of the fired brass when I checked the primer. I ran a clean, dry patch through at that time to make sure there was no powder in the bore.
Not every case had the soot, maybe 15%. I wondered about low pressure not making a tight seal...
I asked Hart for chamber dimensions but none were included with the firearm...
They are Winchester LRM primers...
They are brand new cases...
The bolt face was cleaned completely prior to these firings...

How about the hole in the primer? Defective or...

I used BLC-2 because it showed good velocity with lower pressures in .358 Win and .350 Rem Mag loads, which I thought would be similar. I looked at the .325 WSM for a starting charge - "same" case.
One of the challenges of wildcats based on the WSM line is how strong these particular cases are; since they're designed to withstand 65,000psi, it takes a pretty stout load just to get them to seal properly. Guys in Indiana are building 35WSM 1.8" cases and have seen the same issue.

Since you're not sure about the chamber, I would be focused on fire-forming brass. The best way I have found to do this is with heavy-for-caliber bullets (250gr, in your case) seated at or just into the lands, with a medium charge of a suitable powder.

I'm thinking the BLC-2 is a bit fast for what you're doing. There is a bunch of load data found on the following page.

https://forum.nosler.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=30173

Note that BLC-2 is somewhat faster-burning than any of the powders listed. I would consider the slowest powders listed for documented 35 Whelen loads to be about middle of the pack (in terms of burn rate ONLY) for the 35 Sambar. I would look at 4831 on the slow end and 4320 on the fast end. Consider using H4895 for reduced recoil loads, if that is of any interest to you.

While the 325 WSM is the same case, the expansion ratio of your 'cat is much faster...the slowest powder suitable for the 325 WSM is probably a little too slow for your needs. I would imagine between 4350, Varget and 4320, you'll find a charge weight that delivers good fill rate, good velocity and consistent pressures.
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Old 02-13-2017, 05:13 PM
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HarrySS
The firing pin does strike slightly off center...

I have load info on a Bryce Towsley 35 wsm from an edition of Cartridges of the World. Re 17 and Re 15 were used but of course there were no pressures listed. I also have a load for H4350 for the Sambar. These loads produce about 2800 fps at the muzzle with 225 gr bullets.

Looks like my attempt to get a lower pressure powder with good velocity backfired a bit and I'm not getting enough pressure.

There is plenty of room in the case for more BLC-2, in the heaviest load, the powder only comes up to the bottom of the shoulder.

I just looked over the brass from the two heaviest charges I tried and only one of the cases had any soot on it (very little) so maybe I am almost there...
I already have H4350, H4831 and Varget for other cartridges I load.

MusgraveMan
I did not include a photo of the primer with the hole in it. I would not have seen it without a magnifying glass...
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Old 02-13-2017, 06:37 PM
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broom jm
Was looking over the burn rate chart I printed out from Hodgdon and BLC-2 is listed as a little slower than Varget and IMR 4320 and a little faster than 4350. Also looking at the data from the link to the Nosler Forum (225 gr bullet), there are a few powders listed that have faster burn rates than BLC-2 as well, so maybe I have just been shorting myself on the powder charge so far.
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Old 02-14-2017, 02:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bov View Post
broom jm
Was looking over the burn rate chart I printed out from Hodgdon and BLC-2 is listed as a little slower than Varget and IMR 4320 and a little faster than 4350. Also looking at the data from the link to the Nosler Forum (225 gr bullet), there are a few powders listed that have faster burn rates than BLC-2 as well, so maybe I have just been shorting myself on the powder charge so far.
That's odd...when I go to the Hodgdon website and list all 325WSM loads for 200 and 220 grain bullets, BLC-2 is the second fastest powder given, after H4895.

Other burn rate charts I've seen (Powder Burn Rate Comparison Chart @ www.reloadersnest.com) list BLC-2 as quite a bit faster, in the H335 range.

If you still have a lot of room left in the case for BLC-2 powder, but your heaviest load sealed the cases well and gave you cause for concern on pressures, that tells me it's just a little faster than you want. My experience coming up with loads for wildcats and undocumented components has led me to search for the powder that is near 100% fill capacity when target pressures are reached. With something like IMR4350 you'll probably get a great fill rate and might not be able to overcharge and still seat a bullet.

Just some observations.
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Old 02-14-2017, 05:26 AM
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With your case expansion numbers, I'm curious where are you measuring? If the case head itself or .200" forward?

No experience with the Sambar but in other chamberings BLC2 tends to act goofy until approaching a max load. Agree with Jason that powder don't seem like a good match for your cat.
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Old 02-14-2017, 02:46 PM
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MontyF
About .2 in front of the rim groove

broom_jm
I was looking at the burn rate chart they have for a whole bunch of powders, not specifically for the 325wsm. Not trying to argue.

At work today, I was trying to think of an explanation for why the burn rate of this powder is too fast and not creating enough pressure.

So, one thought is that the powder is burned up before the pressure gets high enough to seal the case in the chamber for a long enough period of time. Adding more powder may build the pressure up high enough to keep the case sealed longer.

The other thought is that the pressure gets high enough initially to seal the chamber but it peaks too early and as the bullet travels down the barrel the pressure drops to a level where the case contracts enough for the gas to again escape back into the breech. A slower powder would increase the burn time and the distance the bullet travels down the bore before the pressure drops.

Do these thoughts sound reasonable or am I way off base?
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Old 02-15-2017, 02:10 PM
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It looks like a 35 Remington on steroids!
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Old 02-15-2017, 04:33 PM
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BLC2 is too fast for that cartridge! And, as someone pointed out, it is often unstable, especially if underloaded or overloaded. I would NOT add more powder, but go to something in the range of IMR4350 or even IMR 4831. In the Reloader series, RL-17 should be ideal for top loads.

For fireforming use something like H4895 or even one of the powders made for low velocity, like IMR4759 (Speers No.11 shows low VELOCITY loads for the 350 Rem Mag using that powder. I used it for fireforming necked-down .375 H&H brass for my 340 WBY, using 200gr Nosler BTs at around 2000 fps and it did an excellent job.

I agree with others, black soot around case neck, shoulder, or even the case body is a sure sign of too low pressure.

But also be careful not to use reduced charges of a slow powder that will be used in making ammo. That can be dangerous too.

In a .35 Whelen, I used BLC-2 (a book load) for the 300gr Barnes. It was not used for fireforming, but as a max load. It worked great for a few shots, and then KABOOM! That 300gr left the muzlle at well over 2400 fps! And the primer fell out on ejection. It's quite well known as being somewhat unstable under particular conditions.

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Old 02-15-2017, 05:42 PM
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MontyF
About .2 in front of the rim groove

broom_jm
I was looking at the burn rate chart they have for a whole bunch of powders, not specifically for the 325wsm. Not trying to argue.

At work today, I was trying to think of an explanation for why the burn rate of this powder is too fast and not creating enough pressure.

So, one thought is that the powder is burned up before the pressure gets high enough to seal the case in the chamber for a long enough period of time. Adding more powder may build the pressure up high enough to keep the case sealed longer.

The other thought is that the pressure gets high enough initially to seal the chamber but it peaks too early and as the bullet travels down the barrel the pressure drops to a level where the case contracts enough for the gas to again escape back into the breech. A slower powder would increase the burn time and the distance the bullet travels down the bore before the pressure drops.

Do these thoughts sound reasonable or am I way off base?
I can't offer any better advice than I already have, but trying to "think of an explanation" for why a powder is too fast is like wondering why the ice was too thin. Frankly, your responses are starting to worry me a little bit, so I'm going to bow out at this point. Get yourself a licensed copy of QuickLoad and look up published data for the 35 Sambar...it's not that hard to find.
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Old 02-16-2017, 04:32 AM
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I just thought there has to be some explanation or reason why powders act the way they do for different cartridges, conditions etc. based on their formulations, otherwise the whole process is a crap shoot.
Thanks for your help

458 only
This is the first I've heard of BLC2 being unstable, or difficult powder to work with. Thanks
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:13 AM
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Lots of good info to digest on this post. I guess the only comparison I have is with a 375HH. I use RE15 in this 24" Safari Rifle and a very wide range of bullet weights and corresponding charges. You night try RE15 on that basis, since it is very forgiving for this volume powder.

On the other hand looking at that case it looks allot like a 358 Winchester! There are plenty of book loads for that, so perhaps you can start there. RE 15 can be used as well many other powder types.

The 358 Winchester in a bolt rifle is really as 62,000 PSI, although SAMI does not admit that.

Last edited by frhunter13; 02-16-2017 at 05:22 AM.
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Old 02-16-2017, 08:36 AM
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broom_jm
I just thought there has to be some explanation or reason why powders act the way they do for different cartridges, conditions etc. based on their formulations, otherwise the whole process is a crap shoot.
Thanks for your help

458 only
This is the first I've heard of BLC2 being unstable, or difficult powder to work with. Thanks
The last version of COTW listed the 35 Sambar, with some load data. In addition to the source I already listed, you might look there. Continuing to pontificate on why BLC-2 is too fast is...the slipperiest of slopes, IMHO.
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