Dan....What bothers me most is when we work toward "maximum" load, is defining just what that term means. Does it mean max pressures that the firearm can take without letting go? Does it mean the max pressure one can go to without blowing primers? Does it mean the max level we can go to and still maintain accuracy? What means max to some people doesn't hold the same meaning to others. What really bothers me is the new shooter/reloader, who just now has learned to adjust id loading dies, picks up on a load that is red line in the writer's gun, a puts a bomb together. This is not to be taken that I don't think the experienced reloader should not keep working to develop the most "efficient" powder burn rate/bullet weight combination for a caliber. I cut my teeth on #2400, since that was all there was in the slower burn rate when the .44 Mag came out. It's still a good powder, but its flash bang is still there. WW296/H110 are excellent for 6" and out barrels with heavy bullets, and so on. It the ongoing search for more and more velocity (or heavier bullets),some of the best powders have been overlooked. Medium burn powder like the old(new)Unique still works great in handgun barrels from 4" to 7.5" barrels! The AA5 powder has turned up some of the most accurate loads in .44 Special and Mag that I have ever seen. even when used in the 16.5 " ported barrels decent velocity can be reached without those ports looking like a flame thrower. Yes, we will lose a couple a hundred feet per second, but did we need them to start with is the question? I have, and will continue, to stress that controllability in handgun hunting as being much more important than a couple a hundred feet per second.
My criteria for a maximum load is simply one that is within safe working pressure, accurate, and easy to contol that pushes a bullet weight/velocity that I have found, from actual experience, to give a clean quick kill. Anything above that is a waste, in my opinion. But again, we handgun people are looking for different results and are interested in different aspects of the game. There is room by all, as long as we keep it safe.
Best Regards as Always, James