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Sta-ball 6.5 powder

1064 Views 27 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Darkker
As I reported when the new annual Hodgdon manual came out they published a 7-08 load with the 139gr Hornady spire pt at 3050fps, I've been loading for that cartridge since it was introduced and never seen anything even approaching that velocity.
I only use 7-08 for deer hunting currently but still have 5 of them I load for, the 20" model 7 my wife has and four 24" 700's including my son's gun.
None of them including several I've sold over the years would get over 2800fps with a 140gr bullet, 760, Varget or 4350 would always top out between 2750 and 2800fps.
Doesn't bother me because that 140 nosler bt is deadly on big mule deer at those speeds without excessive meat damage or producing large bloodshot areas.
On the downside when I've switched to nosler E-tips or accubonds which work quite well in my 7saum at 3050fps, they pencil hole game at the much slower velocities produced by the 7-08.
Both of those bullets barely clock 2700fps from a 24" 7-08 with Varget at safe pressures, probably because they are harder to engrave into the rifling than a standard cup and core bullet, the animals when hit tend to stay alive longer than I like and the exit holes are small.
So along comes Sta-ball 6.5, I'm skeptical but bought some last week when it shows up at the local farm store.
I loaded it over the weekend and took it to the range today, starting load in the new Hodgdon manual is 46.0grs, max is 51.0c, I can't touch the rifling with either bullet when loaded to 2.80" length of a 700 short action magazine but that's fine these aren't bench rest rifles, if the load will group 5" at 400yds that'll kill deer all day long at my place.
First shot out of the gun with 46.0grs goes 2,993fps, I notice there's a good bit of recoil but the primers and web look fine.
On the low end I load in full grain increments to make the most of components.
Next load is 47.0grs, again good bit of recoil and the velocity is 3,035fps, primers and web are fine but undoubtedly showing pressure signs.
Apprehensively I shot a 47.5gr load, no doubt that it's to hot for the gun, the bolt wasn't sticky per se but I felt some resistance when opening. Primers were flatter than what I would describe as acceptable.
Typically, the velocity dropped when too much powder was used, 3,018 was the reading.
This was with the 140 nosler accubond, in my experience the E-tips produce more pressure, so I didn't shoot any of them.
In conclusion there's no doubt one could get 3050fps with a thin jacketed 140gr hunting bullet and probably 3,000fps with a homogenous or thick jacketed bullet with a 24" 7-08.
That is remarkable because that's what my 7saum gets with 13.0gr more powder, I'm wondering if the 6.5 sta-ball would produce higher velocities in that gun as well.
Is this the new "wonder powder"?!!!!!

Warning, this is my experience with my rifle and components. If you plan to try this powder in your gun starting loads should be well below the 46.0 I started with.
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Wonder how that would work on prairie dogs 馃

I've never seen that powder on the shelf and I know I've looked for it. I'm wondering about its use in a 284 Win . . . .

Both the local Murdochs have it in stock here RJ, they've gotten alot of powder in the last few weeks, the prices are still 32.00-48.00 a pound which is ridiculous imo.
They have a surplus of loaded ammunition, enough that it would seem to generate a sale or price reduction. Doesn't look like people are buying much ammunition.
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Hodgdon actually showed quite a lot of the old powders, that achieve more than 2,800fps; but to the spirit of what you were after, I get it.
You'll notice that the vast majority of their data online, is still listed in CUP.馃檮馃う.

When you get to the Staball and Staball match data, the same pressures yield significantly different velocities. That generally speaks to lot variation troubles, so I'm not really surprised to read your report of seeing that. I do appreciate the review. 馃檪
Which leads me to believe that "new" powders are just old powders with a fancy dress.

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That's from the new line, and new ingredient list.
But the same game has been in play since WWI.

The fact that Hodgy was still listing so much of their data in CUP, she because of the marketing contract they have had..... I'd be really curious to see what honest pressure testing reveals, about the classics. .....No pressure Kevin....馃槈

I stopped by Murdochs and picked up another pound today, ha ha
RJ, I don't see any data in the new manual for any of the sta-ball powders, there is some for 6.5prc but it's the HD variety, the speeds are nothing remarkable.
So you can't help but notice when something is different, I've thrown many different powders from my Redding benchrest powder measure. The dial is marked in 10ths, 5/10ths and full grains.
While the numbers don't always correspond to the actual weight of the powder generally speaking with fine grained powders 4/10ths equals about a half grain in weight, 6 to 7/10ths on the micrometer is a half grain with large extruded powders. Short cut extruded powders are closer than the others.
I was surprised at how dense 6.5 sta-ball is especially considering it's a rifle powder, 2-3 10ths on the measure is a full half grain weighed.
To the best of my recollection that's the heaviest powder by volume I've ever weighed, I'm not a chemist so it's simply an observation. A 7-08 case will certainly hold alot of it measured by weight.
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Well, the difference in ME at 2800 fps and 3050 fps tells you the average (not the peak) pressure in the gun barrel was 18鈪% higher in the second case. The question is what that does or doesn't mean about the peak value. Not being a great believer in free lunches, I think I'd be getting out the Pressure Trace to see what's happening. A load starting to get high-pressure signs before published maximum smacks of a problem, like a burn rate quality control problem or a prematurely aging lot breaking down its deterrent chemicals. I would check it out as thoroughly as you can. Obviously, it hasn't blown the gun up, but the rate of throat wear may be more than you'd care to have.
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If you read my post carefully I'm using a bullets that are not in the load data and generate more pressure because they have heavier jackets or no jacket at all because it's a homogenous copper bullet, I expected to have higher pressures and got them. I've run into the same issue with ballistic tips and accubonds, they look almost identical but the thick jacketed accubonds require almost 2 grains less for the same pressures. The bullet they list with that powder is a 139 Hornady spitzer, probably a great bullet when they introduced it sometime in the last century.
I picked up a box of Barnes LRX bullets today and another pound from the same lot. It's 2023 production btw.
Ah, I missed that somehow, and it explains the data not matching. However, you also said you couldn't get to the higher velocity numbers with the other powders. I assume that is true with your same bullets. There has to be a cause for that, and in guns it is higher average pressure. This leaves to be answered whether that higher average includes a higher peak value, or if it is all achieved with higher post-peak pressure. This is what the measurement would resolve.
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Well, I'm not a chemist, just a guy with five 7-08's, a bunch of reloading components, a micrometer, and a chronograph. When the gun, or the chronograph or the case expansion measurement or the primers say stop it really doesn't matter what some guys sitting in a laboratory at the powder company came up with using custom made test guns.
Something I didn't mention and probably should have is because it's not unusual to have my wife and son on the same hunt having loads for individual guns would be difficult to manage so I work up loads that are safe in all the guns and function through all of them. These aren't benchrest rifles and I'm not trying to squeak every last foot per second out of them, think of it this way, if you didn't reload ammunition you would more than likely buy a factory load with a bullet you wanted to use, millions of people do that every year and kill game with them. Deer, antelope, and elk are big targets, doesn't take a br rifle to kill them, doesn't take a cannon either especially when your hunting private land like I have for.....33yrs OMG I'm getting old!
I'd just like to switch to a copper allow bullet because we eat a lot of ground meat, not crazy about finding pieces of lead in it.
I saw the data with this powder and thought it might be possible to load some of the copper bullets to standard cup and core bullet velocities.
It looks like that may be possible.
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If you read my post carefully I'm using a bullets that are not in the load data and generate more pressure because they have heavier jackets or no jacket at all because it's a homogenous copper bullet, I expected to have higher pressures and got them. I've run into the same issue with ballistic tips and accubonds, they look almost identical but the tick jacketed accubonds require almost 2 grains less for the same pressures.
To clarify, are you measuring higher pressures, or are you estimating higher pressures?

Reading the fluff from Nosler, but noting the distinct lack of dedicated data; smells of something found lying in the pasture...馃槈

I see you snuck in just before me.
Case expansion isn't a reliable reporter of actual pressure. I shared this in several pressure threads, including a sticky.
I'm certainly not a chemist in a powder lab, but it also doesn't require custom make guns to actually measure pressure.

Read post #11
Read the edit in post #12馃槈
I'll clarify, any one of the four signators of pressure should make the reloader step back and access the load because as sure as the sun is to come up tomorrow the others are close behind.
I've known people who will ignore one or even two sure signs your on the raggedy edge of a stuck bolt, sometimes they get away with it sometime not. I believe the reason many people around here are more cautious is because it's pretty normal to hunt antelope when the mercury is showing 85-95 degrees then 2 months later it's below zero during deer and elk season.
I may buy pressure trace but am seriously considering a Labradar chronograph first, a guy had one at the range last week, no more setting up sky screens would be nice. They're pricey, I was hoping they would come down or someone would introduce a less expensive version.
I also have separate loads for AB's and BT's because one is a big game bullet and the other is a varmint bullet in both the 25-06 and 300RUM 馃榿

I have a question about Stabal 6.5, @Kevinbear , what the case capacity (s) of the cartridges you are going to use it in? Similar to the 284 Win?

RJ, the only cartridge I load for that it seems to do exceptionally well in is 7-08.
I believe your 284 is similar in capacity to my 7mm saum and the new 7prc, Hodgdon has dropped the 7saum data from the new manual I have but the new 7prc has 6.5 StaBALL HD data in it.
There's nothing extraordinary about the velocities when used in the bigger case similar to your 284. The real standout is a Powder made by Ramshot called LRT, 3100fps with a 162 eld-x at 59,000 psi.
Ah, gotcha.

Sadly the 284 has a 1:10 twist and even (Sierra, Nosler AB, Swift Scirroco II) 150's won't stabilize. I got some Hornady 139 grain to try next maybe with 100V.

1) Any one of the four signators of pressure should make the reloader step back and access the load

2) because as sure as the sun is to come up tomorrow the others are close behind.
1) I agree it should cause contemplation, and serve as a base generality. But they should not be confused with what they are not, which is a reliable reporter of actual pressure.

2) They just aren't, not reliably.
The sticky, among various individual posts with actual pressure testing regularly confirms this.

Case extractor groves expanded by 0.15" with measured, 50,000psi loads. I've also showed it's easy to be running 75,000psi loads with ZERO signs; including no extra velocity.

50,000psi isn't "just behind" 75,000psi.
And if someone has no way of measuring it either way, it's a false flag to claim they're closely tied. Or that they will inform something years of pressure testing has repeatedly shown they cannot.

Speaking specifically within Nosler's offerings:
I use Nosler bullets regularly. I've never been able to measure a pressure differential from either their "larger bearing surface" bullets, across to their "thicker jacketed" offerings. I say those in quotes in reference to the posts I've shared previously.

Those bullets aren't brand new this week, and no one anywhere with actual pressure tested data; shows separate loads for them. What that tells you is that there isn't actually any significantly different pressure with them. They're certainly isn't a difference that Kali Ma alone, can inform you via her divine smoke signals.

Nosler does suggest their mono bullets could produce different pressure, but again had no alternative data I could find. Given their inference to the bronze age God of reloading, the default position is no. This, and they're historically rocky relationship with the truth; makes me suspicious that this is a FL type claim.

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I picked up a box of these, anyone shot live game with them, results?

Nice looking graphics on the box, no doubts they'll kill well at 200yds but do they expand at longer ranges?
BTW nobody ever holds there on an antelope unless they're 100yds away in which case they would be looking at you ready to bolt any second!!
Unrealistic, just say'in.
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