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Discussion Starter #1
We have touched on this once befor I think, but I need a refresher. I have heard that the lower power loads (800 fps ish) are better off with a BHN hardness around 16 rather then 21. OK, so now that I am making a bear load for my wife and her 3" S&W .44 Mag, what BHN should I use? The load will be a 240-255gr bullet with a big meplat hopefully moving around 1000fps. It will kind of depend on her. I am working her up slowly. At what velocity level is it OK to use BTB 21 BHN bullets? IS 1000fps there or should I use the softer bullets still. Remember we want penetration, not deformation. What problems are created by using hard bullets at low velocity? Leading? Thanks
 

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Beartooth Regular
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Hard bullets should only be a problem IF they don't fit the revolver properly or the cylinder throats are much smaller than the bore. If your throats are okay, and you get the bullet sized .001 to .002" over the cylinder throat size you should be in good shape.
I have shot the BTB 265gr WFN as slow as 900fps with no leading and excellent accuracy (for me, anyway:p ), and my usual huckleberry pickin' bear load clocks about 1100 fps. I find it entirely manageable, but my wife doesn't like to shoot it much. She CAN hit with it, though!

I would definitely stick with a hard bullet for bear protection.

IDShooter
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I know my local bullet source likes the softer bullets for slow load. .38 & .44 spl. etc. Just wasn't sure 1000fps was "fast" enough.
 

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FA18,
From what I understand it has more to do with pressure than the actual velocity. As IDShooter said, if it fits the gun it doesn't really matter. The problem with hard cast bullets and lower PRESSURE, is that they will not obturate to fill the throat and/or bore, which causes terrible leading if the diameter is not correct for the gun. I learned this the hard way with some undersize bullets I made of Linotype. I'm not an authority on these matters, but I'm pretty sure that's concern with hard bullets at lower speeds.
 

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Hi, Cub:
As the other gents said. According to the local BPCR shooter, my .45 and .38 bullets are HARD, but only one of the .38s leads and that may be a quirk of the design. I size them .001" over bore or throat diameter and lube them with Orange Magic. On the other hand, the local .45 commercial cast bullets with hard lube leaded some. The .45 size seemed OK, and I was able to cut leading by boosting the charge. The .38s, from a different supplier, had a soft lube and were hopeless. Remington swaged bullet, which are quite soft, are OK. Of course it's hopeless with hard bullets if the cylinder throats are SMALLER (edited) than the bore. You might get away with it with soft bullets.

Bye
Jack
 

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Jack,
I always thought the big problem came into play when the throats where smaller than the barrel, otherwise you would just size the bullet to fit the throat and let the pressure do the sizing down for the barrel. Am I off base here?
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Cub,

If she won't be shooting it much, then I vote that some leading is inconsequential.

I would personally load hard cast to take after Mr. Bear. If they lead... so be it, just practice with something else.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the info. The gun is a S&W 629. Stainless .44Mag. It is the "Alaskan Backpacker II" series with a 3" barrel and full underlug. I sent it to Magnaport and had them port the barrel. I don't know if it help with recoil much, but it sure lowers velocity. Garrett's 310gr ammo advertised at 1325 fps only gives about 1090 fps from her 3" ported barrel.
 

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Your velocity difference is do to your barrel length, not the porting!! Garret's figures are probably base on a 7" barrel not a 3".!:D Which is about 50+/- fps per inch reduction in barrel length.:)
 

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The Troll Whisperer (Moderator)
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In a timely manner, Dave Scoville has an article in this month's issue of "Handloader" specificily addressing cast bullet hardness in the .44 Spl and the .45 Colt for low and high psi loads. The main issue is whether the correct BHN for desired loadings will obturate to seal the bore from gas bypassing the bullet, thereby causing gas cutting to destroy accuracy and increasing leading of the barrel.

His contention is that commercial bullets are cast much to hard for anything other than magnum loads, approaching 35,000 psi or more. These bullets normally have a BHN of 16 and that they do this for convenience of moulding, to consistently produce the best shaped bullets with the least waste as a matter of economics

He further contends that with a 14,000 psi loading, a BHN or not more than 10 produces the optimum obturation.

Beveled bases increase the blowby and gas cutting in bullets of too great a hardness. Gas checks are recommended to ease this problem.

He goes on to state the bullets Elmer Keith settled on had a BHN of 10 and worked well for his souped up loadings for the .44 Spl and .44 Mag. These bullets were cast of 16:1 lead/tin.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
FWIW I think Garrett tests his loads on a 4" barrel. I think my loads will follow those recommendations pretty close. I use hard stuff for full power loads and softer for lighter loads. I will go find a copy of that magizine. Thanks
 
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