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Old 02-06-2012, 02:06 PM
336A 336A is offline
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I've been reading and re-reading a few articles written by Elmer Keith here Elmer Keith Memorial Website|Guns and Ammo Archives

After reading a couple of articles and taking note of his now famous loads, my mental juices statred to churn. In one of the articles EK states that he used 17.0gr of 2400 in his .44 SPL loads containing his 429421 bullet in modern solid head brass. This is pretty much common knowledge as solid head brass has less powder capacity than did the old balloon head brass. Now fast forward to the article that Brian Pearce wrote on the then new Ruger FT .44 SPL, one of the loads that he used was Elmer's load (except now with Alliant instead of Hercules 2400) with no problems what so ever.

So this is where I start thinking to myself. If Brian Pearce used the EK .44 SPL load (and I'm sure there more out there that have too) which posed no problems, are Elmers' other loads still safe? Loads such as 22gr of 2400 under the 429421 for the .44 mag, and 19-20gr of 2400 under the H&G 258 220gr bullet in the .41 mag. So what do you all think on this subject? Here is one of the articles that lead me to post this question
http://www.elmerkeithshoot.org/GA/19...orite_Load.pdf
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Old 02-06-2012, 02:33 PM
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40 some years ago, I used 14 gr 2400 behind a 210 grn Sierra SJHP as a service load in my 41 Mag. M&P

I fired a round at a fleeing Ford Bronco and the bullet went through the spare tire,the tubing mounting device on the back of the tailgate. It continued on thru the tailgate and the back of the front seat and took out the radio in the dash.
I wanted loads that would enable me to deal with people in and behind vehicles.

That load did what I had in mind.

They durn sure weren't fun to shoot, but they did the job when I needed them. I used 15 grns for practice loads.

I have been doing a bit of shooting with Elmer's 38/44 loads in a pre-war Outdoorsman. They are hot and accurate and show no signs of over pressure.

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Old 02-06-2012, 02:43 PM
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Some of the powder burn rates have changed and what was max then may be excessive today I believe some of this had to do with military surplus powders being replaced with newly manufactured powders. I would consult a couple of loading manuals and watch for pressure signs as different guns, chambers, throats react differently.
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Old 02-06-2012, 03:56 PM
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Quote:
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Some of the powder burn rates have changed and what was max then may be excessive today I believe some of this had to do with military surplus powders being replaced with newly manufactured powders. I would consult a couple of loading manuals and watch for pressure signs as different guns, chambers, throats react differently.
Leonard, if you happen to know what these powders are and when these changes took place, I'd like more details.

336A, define safe. The loads would be the same today as when he loaded them, but that doesn't mean they are any "safer" today than they were then. They worked in his guns, with his componenets, loaded on his equipment and with his techniques but that doesn't mean you will get the same results.

The load you listed above for the .44 spl. is lower than the max. listed by Ideal/Lyman in their manual no. 39, but that isn't an invitation for everyone with a .44 spl. revolver to load it up and shot it.
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Old 02-06-2012, 04:06 PM
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Quote:
Some of the powder burn rates have changed and what was max then may be excessive today
For those who believe this to be so, do you have any idea relative to the size of the product liability exposure changing the burning rate of a propellant would create? You cannot simply "void" all previously published load data. I think you'll find that both a change in pressure spec's for a round plus changes in testing equipment account for load data changes plus the "lawyer" factor.

Bruce
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Old 02-06-2012, 04:15 PM
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what make you think that Elmer's loads were safe in the first place? I believe he blew up several guns as trial and error
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Old 02-06-2012, 04:30 PM
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I am not an expert but powders like 4831 and 4064 were originally military surplus when that ran out they were newly manufactured and are cleaner burning and using more nitro cellulose. Also a lot of the old loading data came from larger capacity balloon head cases.
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Old 02-06-2012, 04:49 PM
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Um, yeah, in some of Elmer's data, he makes mention of what goes in what cases. Balloon or regular.

Listen, loads are safe only in your firearms after you work them up. Always!

Thanks for the original post with the link. I will have a ton of reading to do now!

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Old 02-06-2012, 04:51 PM
Skip Sackett Skip Sackett is offline
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what make you think that Elmer's loads were safe in the first place? I believe he blew up several guns as trial and error
I will want to know what he blew up.
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Old 02-06-2012, 04:57 PM
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I believe the gun he blew up were 45 Colt SAA's but don't remember the loads. check his book "Sixguns"
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Old 02-06-2012, 04:58 PM
Skip Sackett Skip Sackett is offline
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That might be the reason he went to the 44Spl instead of the 45Colt. I do need to get that book!
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Old 02-06-2012, 05:11 PM
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In the 80's I thought everything I shot had to be "magnum". I shot hundreds of 44 magnums loaded with 22 grains of 2400 and magnum primers. All these in a 4" 29-2 (that I still have). Too much for me now, both in recoil and wear and tear. But, my 29 is still tight and still shoots better than I do. I don't think the factory .44 magnums are loaded as hot now as in the past. Maybe just me. Bill
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Old 02-06-2012, 05:34 PM
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I have shot two of Elmer's memorial loads.
1. I shot his 44 special load in a Charter Arms Bulldog and it was absolutely miserable. if it was shot in anything other than a Ruger it was too hot.
2. one of his favorite loads in the 45-70 was the 405 grain soft point and 3031. I think it was 56 grains but could have been 54. it was also very brutal in a Ruger #1S. I couldn't believe he was shooting them in an 1886 Winchester. the Winchester is a strong rifle but not that strong. nobody will help you shoot them up.
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Old 02-06-2012, 05:53 PM
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I would not shoot those loads in my two 44 Specials. One is a second model HE and the other a third model. Both were made before FDR was president. I would not blink about shooting them in my model 29.
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Old 02-06-2012, 06:14 PM
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Loved reading Elmer's various books and articles. That being said, I do not consider him a qualified reference for loading. Even in his day, he had no access to any instrumentation by which to verify anything about the loads he developed. I appreciate his work, etc. But when it comes to reloading, there is no substitute for current information that has been pressure tested, etc.
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:28 PM
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IIRC he talks about the Colt .45 SAA that he blew up in the article I posted a link to, if not it is one of the other ones. He blew that Colt SAA 45 up when he used a .458" inch bullet that he swaged down to fit in the .45 Colt case.
To the poster who asked what I call a safe load; A safe load to me is one that is within the specifications as set forth by SAAMI for a given cartridge.

I know EK loads may seem hot however some still exist in curent manuals. In the case of the .41 magnum 19gr of 2400 with a 210JHP is still listed as maximum in two current and well known manuals, and 20gr is listed as Max in another well known, current and respected manual with their 210gr JHP. If these laods are safe with a JHP which causes more pressure compared to cast bullets then they should also be safe with a like weight bullet.
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonard View Post
I am not an expert but powders like 4831 and 4064 were originally military surplus when that ran out they were newly manufactured and are cleaner burning and using more nitro cellulose. Also a lot of the old loading data came from larger capacity balloon head cases.
While that has happened, it's not like that in every case. To make it easy on everyone the rule of thumb is, do not interchange data for Hxxxx powders with that for IMRxxxx powders. In some cases the data is pretty much interchangeable, while others may be safe one way, but not the other.

But even with these powders, as with all the rest, there may be changes made over the years for smoother flowing, less flash or etc., but changing the density/burn rates to the point that it negates all the old data sources is an invitation to disaster, both physical and ecomnomic. There is no way they could guarantee that everyone that has the old data is notified to not use it anymore, or that they will even listen to a warning at all.
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:44 PM
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Elmer shot many fine old arms to destruction or near destruction in his quest for what became the .44 Magnum. Powder, cases and other elements have changed since Elmer's day. Why anyone would want to inflict such wear and tear on their firearm or themselves is beyond me. If power is what you are after shoot a .44 Magnum or one of the modern powerhouses like the .460 or .500 Magnum.
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:46 PM
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40 some years ago, I used 19gr 2400 behind a 210 grn Sierra SJHP as a service load in my 41 Mag. M&P

I fired a round at a fleeing Ford Bronco and the bullet went through the spare tire,the tubing mounting device on the back of the tailgate. It continued on thru the tailgate and the back of the front seat and took out the radio in the dash.
.
Damn tourists must have been playing some of that RAP stuff!
That will teach them!
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:55 PM
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To the poster who asked what I call a safe load; A safe load to me is one that is within the specifications as set forth by SAAMI for a given cartridge.
Then the answer to your question is "No.".

Elmer didn't always follow SAAMI reccommendations because he was an experimenter. He was the driving force for the .357 and .44 magnums and did this by shooting hot loads out of the .38 and .44 specials.

SAAMI sets limitations on ammunition to make sure every factory load is safe to fire in every firearm chambered to take it. Handloaders will tailor loads to specific firearms and what may be safe in one firearm might blow another into shrapnel, even though they are chambered for the same round.
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Old 02-06-2012, 08:05 PM
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Damn tourists must have been playing some of that RAP stuff!
That will teach them!
Nah, I was mad because he made spit my chew all over his windshield when he hit me......
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Old 02-06-2012, 08:14 PM
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It always surprises me when I see people say that a load's unsafe if it doesn't meet whatever current specs call for, regardless of the gun it's to be fired in or the load in question. Given the use of some common sense (I know, it's hard...) and sound practices, it's hard to get into trouble if you know what you're doing. Half the fun of handloading is recreating the vintage loads that brought us to where we are today. My pre-24 doesn't know that SAAMI changed the specs or how old it is. If it worked for Skeeter and Elmer, and if I recreate those loads correctly for what's safe in my gun, there's no reason for it not to be safe. A little hot, maybe, if I want it that way.
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Old 02-06-2012, 08:37 PM
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[QUOTE=Jellybean;136332912]Then the answer to your question is "No.".
QUOTE]

I'm not sure how this can be, as I stated up thread that a current manual shows 20gr of 2400 with their 210JHP as being within SAAMI specs. A JHP is going to produce more pressure than the Keith designed H&G #258 cast bullet with same charge of 2400 which Keith often recommended. BTW I'm not planning on loading any of these loads up as I already have a good load for my .41 mag. I had to stop as I reached my recoil threshold before I got to the maximum published load.

However like ChuckS1 stated it is fun to learn about the guns and loads that got us to where we are today.
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Old 02-06-2012, 08:49 PM
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Quote:
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Loved reading Elmer's various books and articles. That being said, I do not consider him a qualified reference for loading. Even in his day, he had no access to any instrumentation by which to verify anything about the loads he developed. I appreciate his work, etc. But when it comes to reloading, there is no substitute for current information that has been pressure tested, etc.
He did have access, he sent his .44 SPL loads containing 17gr of 2400 to H.P. Whites laboratory where the round tetsted at 25,000 PSI. Brian Pearce snet some of his .44 SPL keith loads to the same laboratory when he wrote the article about the Ruger FT .44 Specials. They found that Brians' loads created the same 25,000 PSI.
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Old 02-06-2012, 09:00 PM
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Elmer Keith liked high performance loads. Elmer Keith was an experimenter. Those statements are true. Elmer Keith had no access to test equipment? If you read his writings extensively you would know that he worked in an arsenal during WWII and he sent a loot of stuff to HP White labs for testing in his post war experimenting. Elmer Keith blew up a lot of guns? I've read this in lots of internet posts but not in Elmer's writings-- He did blow up a .45 Colt using rifle bullets and black powder............which led him to use the .44 special with it's thicker cylinder walls in future revolver experiments. Powder burn rates have changed? I do not believe this. Yes there are lot to lot variances but I get the same results today with powders that I loaded 30 years ago. THe shocking thing about some of Elmers loads is that they were maximum loads............few factories load to those levels now so EK stuff is shocking to the un-iniated.

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Old 02-06-2012, 09:16 PM
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Nah, I was mad because he made spit my chew all over his windshield when he hit me......
If you want to avoid that rundown feeling, quit playing in the street. Larry
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Old 02-06-2012, 09:42 PM
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I think a lot of people blend Dick Casull and Keith together when it comes to blowing up guns. Keith blew up a single action with the oversize bullets and black powder. Casull blew up single actions blending powder and trying to develop what is now the 454 Casull.

Keith loads are like every other hot load. Start low and work your way up.
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Old 02-06-2012, 09:53 PM
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If you want to avoid that rundown feeling, quit playing in the street. Larry
Durn, why din't I think of that??
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Old 02-06-2012, 10:56 PM
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Quote:
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I'm not sure how this can be,...
Are you asking about all his loads or just the ones you listed above?

You defined safe as "being within SAAMI specifications" then listed a load for a .44 spl. that is 9,500 psi over max, wouldn't that be considered unsafe?

Some of his loads are going to be safe, some not. As I said he did a lot of experimentation.

Edited to add:
If the source for .41 magnum data you cited above happens to be Hornady, their second edition manual lists the exact same powder weights/velocities as their seventh edition, even though the bullets are different. Something tells me they didn't really test the XTPs.

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Old 02-07-2012, 12:11 AM
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... Elmer Keith blew up a lot of guns? I've read this in lots of internet posts but not in Elmer's writings-- He did blow up a .45 Colt using rifle bullets and black powder....
Sir, Keith blew up at least two SA .45s: the one you mention (300-grain bullet with 35 grains of black powder) and another with a heavy charge of No. 80 assembled by a fellow who worked for Belding and Mull. Seems like Keith mentioned at least one other in "Sixguns," but I can't bring it to mind right now. I wouldn't call two or three guns "a lot," but the guy did blow up more than one in his experiments. And frankly, even one would seem like altogether too many if it were one of my guns.

Hope this helps, and Semper Fi.

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Old 02-07-2012, 01:02 AM
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Sir, Keith blew up at least two SA .45s: the one you mention (300-grain bullet with 35 grains of black powder) and another with a heavy charge of No. 80 assembled by a fellow who worked for Belding and Mull. Seems like Keith mentioned at least one other in "Sixguns," but I can't bring it to mind right now. I wouldn't call two or three guns "a lot," but the guy did blow up more than one in his experiments. And frankly, even one would seem like altogether too many if it were one of my guns.

Hope this helps, and Semper Fi.

Ron H.
Elmer also stated that he did not recommend the use of No. 80 in handguns then, either. He claimed 2400 worked far better. So, if we're going by the loads that he claimed worked well and recommended, I'd say they're still good.

I shoot Keith loads in my .357s and .44s with my own cast bullets, and they work well for me.
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Old 02-07-2012, 01:55 AM
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"what make you think that Elmer's loads were safe in the first place? I believe he blew up several guns as trial and error"

You can't make a omelet without breaking a few eggs.
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Old 02-07-2012, 02:16 AM
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and that was the day when those guns werent that valued and no one had any reason to believe that america would stop making firearms of that quality any time soon so it wasnt the equavalent of blowing that kind of a gun up to begin with back then

basically think of someone blowing up an old glock, that was what the equavalent of it was back then and SAA's were everywhere back then and pretty much easily traded for and discarded because of their popularity.

Plus it was for a very good cause, the creation of the 357, 41 and 44 magnum.

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Old 02-07-2012, 03:51 AM
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Elmer also stated that he did not recommend the use of No. 80 in handguns then, either. He claimed 2400 worked far better. So, if we're going by the loads that he claimed worked well and recommended, I'd say they're still good.

I shoot Keith loads in my .357s and .44s with my own cast bullets, and they work well for me.
Sir, I was just addressing Mr. Treeman's comment about Keith's gun blowups, not the OP's safety question.

The only Keith loads I've tried have been mid-velocity accuracy types, and as a rule they've been quite good. Regarding his max loads, Keith himself insisted that they be approached with caution, and I think that's still good advice today.

Hope this helps, and Semper Fi.

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Old 02-07-2012, 05:09 AM
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Here is some more food for thought. I posted this on another forum to get a broad depth of replies and insight. Anyway a feller' pressure tested Keiths' .44 mag mag load (22gr 2400 with RCBS 250gr K bullet) over his Ohler M43 and got close to 33,000 PSI in his particular revolver. He also tetsted 3 different lots of Alliant 2400 and got no more than SD than is common in lot to lot variation.
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Old 02-07-2012, 09:39 AM
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He did have access, he sent his .44 SPL loads containing 17gr of 2400 to H.P. Whites laboratory where the round tetsted at 25,000 PSI. Brian Pearce snet some of his .44 SPL keith loads to the same laboratory when he wrote the article about the Ruger FT .44 Specials. They found that Brians' loads created the same 25,000 PSI.
I grew up reading articles by men such as O'Conner, Carmichael, Keith, Askins, etc. I understand that in their early years, they often had to "fly by the seat of their pants" developing loads, etc. From what I've read Keith tinkered and experimented beyond that level of a informed hobbyist. I would not question the results of the H.P. White tests you cite. If all of Keith's loads, etc. were tested in a similar manner, there would be no questions as to safety, etc. But anecdotal statements are one thing while qualified laboratory results are quiet another. In my own experience I've loaded round for handguns and rifles that were safe in those particular firearms... loads that were not safe in other firearms chambered for those cartridges for which those loads which I developed. In my library I have manuals from major reloading companies that recommend loads that 30 years later are simply not at all considered safe. To a large degree this is because of better equipment that is more available and accessible. Nowadays, measuring case head expansion, eyeballing primer extrusion, stiff bolt lift, etc. are mighty poor means to determine the relative safety of a load. I have and maintain every respect for Elmer Keith. His book Hell I Was There was one of the first three books I ever bought from the Outdoor Life Book Club... along with Nonte's Pistolsmithing and Carmichael's The Rifle. One reason I now own a 21-4 is the influence of Keith, Skelton, etc. who spoke so highly of the .44 Special. I do not in any way mean any disrespect for any of these men. However I cannot equate their experiments in load development for their firearms with loads qualified by controlled experiments conducted by the trained staff of the manufacturers of ammunition and the major reloading companies. Sincerely. brucev.
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Old 02-07-2012, 09:52 AM
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I don't shoot "Keith" loads, nor "Skeeter" nor anyone elses. I create my own depending on what I want and what I feel my guns will handle. I'm sure Elmer and all the other old time experimenters will appreciate that because they were out to learn, not imitate. Plus, when Elmer was blowing up guns there was somewhat of an excuse because there was nothing stronger to use. Now there is no reason to overstuff a .38 or .44 special because we have firearms that are made for that and doing so isn't respecting what Elmer did, it's more like P-ing on his legacy.
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Old 02-07-2012, 10:00 AM
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Here is some more food for thought. I posted this on another forum to get a broad depth of replies and insight. Anyway a feller' pressure tested Keiths' .44 mag mag load (22gr 2400 with RCBS 250gr K bullet) over his Ohler M43 and got close to 33,000 PSI in his particular revolver. He also tetsted 3 different lots of Alliant 2400 and got no more than SD than is common in lot to lot variation.
That's interesting. I do not know a lot about the Ohler Model 43 device. How does it measure chamber pressure in a firearm like a revolver? The positioning of the transducer would seem to be a problem, as would the irregular shape of the cylinder (viz., the flutes). Did the author comment on that, or am I missing something?
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Old 02-07-2012, 10:26 AM
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I'd love to own one, but I don't even play the lottery.

Oehler Research, Inc.--Model 43 Personal Ballistic Laboratory
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Old 02-07-2012, 11:00 AM
Skip Sackett Skip Sackett is offline
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Well, if you get one, it will have to be used! They have been out of production for at least 5 years according to the phone conversation that I just had with them.

The next step up is their "83" and for starters, it is almost $10,000! That is without the extra $3,200 for the indoor screen setup!

I was told they are working on something else for us handloaders that want to measure pressure in a relatively inexpensive way but it is a while out yet.

Seems that they are a little leery of us too. Every time they make something for us "Joe Blows" to measure pressure, instead of trying to stay in safe bounds with that knowledge, we are trying to push it to the upper limits! Go figure!

I told them that was just human nature once again!

He did tell me that reading all of the pressure signs, primer, sticky cases, heavy bolt lift, and our other readable tea leaves, was proven with the #43 to be right about 75,000psi!

Needless to say, and this is how he put it, that is much closer to proof ammo than a standard load that most handloaders are looking for!

It would be ONE MEAN 38 SPECIAL though!
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Old 02-07-2012, 03:49 PM
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Skip, there are a few used ones floating around, the only problem is that when you find one for sell, they are asking for a lot more money than they sold for new.

But since I'm more into seeing how light of a load I can make now days, it's not that high of a priority. If I shoot a "cannon", it's going to have a carriage under it.
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Old 02-07-2012, 06:16 PM
Skip Sackett Skip Sackett is offline
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Went to the range today with a few loads.

This whole 2400 debate got me to wondering about the two lots I have on hand. One from Hercules and one from Alliant.
My Hercules is 1 day over 21 years old, exactly. It is from lot #645 on February 6th, 1991. The Alliant is just a youngster @ 1 month over 1 year old, or, 13 months old.

I thought, well, it has been a while since I loaded up any 2400 loads and I don't remember much about the last time so......I stayed a bit under the old maximum of 22gr. (Elmer's load!)

I did use his boolit though. A 250gr projectile from a Mihec H&G #503 clone. Cast kind of soft but big too and lubed with White Label Lube's Carnuba Red.

This isn't a picture of what I shot today, but it is one of the bullet and a cartridge:


The load was 21.1gr and I did notice something interesting, 21.1gr of the new stuff was more in volume than 21.1gr of the old stuff. I thought that was interesting.


The firearm was my M629 Classic with a 5" barrel. All loads used Wolf Standard Large Pistol Primers and a firm crimp was employed. Use the picture above for reference.

Here is what I got across my Beta Chrony @ 15 ft:
OLD H2400
1401fps
1464fps
1435fps
1397fps
1420fps
1392fps
Low 1392fps
High 1464fps
Avg 1419fps
ES 72fps
SD 28fps

I shot 18 shots. 6 across the chronograph and 12 at a business card @ 25 yards. Decent groups but, man, this was a handful!

The New A2400 gave these results:
1302fps
1326fps
1305fps
1340fps
1313fps
1335fps
Low 1302fps
High 1340fps
Avg 1321fps
ES 37fps!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
SD 15fps!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, the same weight was less volume with the old but I got higher velocities, by almost exactly 100fps, with the old. So, my conclusion is that the new powder is actually slower than the old, not the other way 'round.

With the newer 2400, there would be no way to get more than 22gr in a 44mag case and still get a bullet in it too. At least not one of mine that is trimmed to 1.272".

So, what does that tell you reloading gurus? Newer = slower?

Oh, I forgot to add that there were no flattened primers, at least, no more than usual with a full house 44Mag and extraction was super easy with just slight thumb pressure on the extractor rod.

Just food for thought.
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Old 02-07-2012, 07:12 PM
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Skip, I think that just shows to go ya that variations in New and Old 2400 are naught but lot to lot variations that can deviate either side of the mean.You sure make pretty boolits. What do your kids look like?;^)
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Old 02-07-2012, 08:29 PM
Skip Sackett Skip Sackett is offline
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Oh, thanks! As for the kids, well, 5 of the best looking ones to ever walk or take a breath BUT, that ain't nothing compared to the 9 GRANDKIDS!



p.s. I agree about the lot to lot variations. My sentiments exactly.
FWIW
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Old 02-08-2012, 12:18 AM
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Nice to review this old info.A lot of it is not fresh in my mind anymore.I do remember that I used 22 grains of 2400
with a 240 gr. Hornady half jacket bullet in a Ruger Super Blackhawk. I had worked up to 24 grains,but I was getting split cases on both new and once fired brass.
That's when I backed off to 22 grains and all was well.
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Old 02-08-2012, 12:33 AM
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I've had great success with 17.0 gr of 2400 and a hard cast 240gr bullet. I preferred a lower dose to keep my accuracy potential in check. It was always fun to hand a few of those over to a friend that was shooting a .44 magnum and ask him to see what he thinks of these little .44 special loads.
I also have tried some of his loads in my '55 38-44 Outdoorsman, they are impressive and will probably accompany me while afield this spring while flyfishing, I've also got some snake-shot loads built for those little problems should they present themselves.
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Old 05-06-2012, 12:51 PM
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I shoot 12.5 grains of 2400 in .38 Spl cases. No current reloading manual recommends it that I know of. I only shoot these rounds in N frame Smiths or single action Rugers. I believe the reason no one publishes data like this anymore is because in our tacticool gun world of plastic and lightweight alloy ultra small revolvers, people dont have the common sense to not try it. Look at the old 32-20 round. They used to make a light load for small revolvers and a heavy load for rifles. Guess which one is the only load data or loaded ammo available today. It's made to be idiot proof

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It always surprises me when I see people say that a load's unsafe if it doesn't meet whatever current specs call for, regardless of the gun it's to be fired in or the load in question. Given the use of some common sense (I know, it's hard...) and sound practices, it's hard to get into trouble if you know what you're doing. Half the fun of handloading is recreating the vintage loads that brought us to where we are today. My pre-24 doesn't know that SAAMI changed the specs or how old it is. If it worked for Skeeter and Elmer, and if I recreate those loads correctly for what's safe in my gun, there's no reason for it not to be safe. A little hot, maybe, if I want it that way.
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Old 05-07-2012, 09:29 PM
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336A thanks for the Elmer Keith link its great reading. Ron.
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Old 05-08-2012, 11:57 PM
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I have shot two of Elmer's memorial loads.
1. I shot his 44 special load in a Charter Arms Bulldog and it was absolutely miserable. if it was shot in anything other than a Ruger it was too hot.
2. one of his favorite loads in the 45-70 was the 405 grain soft point and 3031. I think it was 56 grains but could have been 54. it was also very brutal in a Ruger #1S. I couldn't believe he was shooting them in an 1886 Winchester. the Winchester is a strong rifle but not that strong. nobody will help you shoot them up.
Keith's old .45-70 load was a 400 to 405 gr. jacketed bullet over 53.0 grains of IMR3031.
Do NOT use this load.
I made a boxful about 30 years ago, for use in my 1977-made Marlin 1895. After a few (punishing) shots, I checked the cases: flattened primers, bulged head ahead of the rim -- sure signs of over-pressure.
Like yourself, I couldn't believe he was using this load in 1886 Winchesters.
I consider 50 grs. of IMR3031 under a 405 gr. jacketed bullet to be MAXIMUM in my Marlin. The Lyman No. 48 manual lists 51.5 as maximum. Either load, work up to it carefully from 45 grains.
Frankly, there is nothing to be gained by such action-straining loads. It's a .45-caliber bullet, weighing nearly an ounce! 19th century hunters were taking down grizzlies and bison with 400-500 gr. lead bullets at 1,000 to 1,200 fps.
Your rifle and shoulder will thank you.
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Old 05-09-2012, 12:20 AM
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My favorite load for my 1886 Winchester is a 405g WLNGC Meister bullet over 44g of H4895, very accurate for this old rifle and comfortable on the bench...you gotta smile when you shoot these old guns and produce a decent group at 100yds. I love to tear little ragged holes in the target.
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