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I think Marshall, Dan, and the rest gave some positive answers as to how to approach a safe load. Anyone that has followed my posts and answers over any period of time, know I get touchy when talking about maximum loads. It is my opinion that max loads are not neccessary most of the time and the small amount of velocity gained does little if you are shooting game. There has been, over the years, suggestions as to measuring the expansion of the brass, ahead of the rim, on factory ammo....using that as a guide. This works fairly well if you use the same brass as factory in your reloads. The other most important point brought out is the seating depth of various bullets of the same weight. This is a most significant factor, especialy with the faster burn powders! The difference in standard and magnum primers is the temperture in the middle of the flash, not the amount of priming mixture. There is a high and low spec on primers, tested by the drop test. One must remember, in testing primers, that if one primer came from a batch running on the high side of specs, and the other running on the low side of the specs, there will be quite a difference. Flash holes can make a real difference on max loads. The tolerances in the firearm , among other things also. So.....the point is, why
run to risks of working right up on the red line of pressure? The overall gain of velocity is low compared to the risks involved. This certainly is not aimed at taking away from some of our members that tests all matter of things involving loading, but I will warn that what might be a max load in one firearm could be a bomb in another.
Best Regards, James
 

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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
 

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Dan & Mark....Thank you for your kind words. Many times, over the last two years, I have felt I had no business on this, or any other, forum. Handgunning has changed radically over the past 40 years. On one hand present shooters/hunters like Elmer Keith, Esquitar Skelton, Bill Jorden, and the rest are held high as examples and on the other hand most present day handgunners push for velocities and weights none of the old crowd would have approved of. Elmer was the finest game shot of anyone I know of , living or dead, and he always said a pistol bullet weighing 250 grs to 265 grs(in .44 & .45) at velocities between 1200 and 1400 fps was the best! He even thought that 1400 fps was a little high! Taking everything into consideration, I think he was correct.
My day of a handgun hunter is passing. We, on this forum, represent a very small percentage of the overall and the handgun hunter represents a small percentage of this forum.
My handguns are not "backup" guns, they are mainline meat guns. I hunt large wild hogs, as do most of my friends. No....they are not Griz, but you can bet they will tear you to pieces! Therefore, the handgun/load must have all the before mentioned requirements.
So, while being passed by by the new breed of handgunners with their hand cannons, I'll just keep trying to advise the serious meat hunters.
Best Regards as Always, James
 
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