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Old 04-29-2012, 05:28 AM
Daimler1989 Daimler1989 is offline
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Default safe pressure of .44 Special handloads

Hi,

I'm trying to find out some good working handloads in the 900 fps range (200 grs bullets) for the .44 Special. I'm using the official reloading data sheets (Vihtavuori) and Quickload as a "backup" to cross check the data. Interestingly, QL gives me very high pressure specs even with the VV staring loads. Example: 200 grs Hornady XTP 8.3 grs VV N340 (starting load) - QL generates 19780 psi, which of course is far above SAAMI Max. I testet this load with a lead bullet (205 grs hardcast) which should bring 17440 psi according to QL. This load (stout but not heavy) doesn't show any signs of high pressure, no flat primers, even the brass is sooty somehow.

Should I reduce the loads to SAAMI specs or should I feel safe for the 696 and 624 to stay in the 18000 psi area? What do you think?

regards
Ulrich
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Old 04-29-2012, 05:52 AM
OKFC05 OKFC05 is offline
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Quote:
I'm using the official reloading data sheets (Vihtavuori) and Quickload as a "backup" to cross check the data.
The idea that you can outguess the VV factory load charts and modify them with an estimate of probable pressure from QL has me frankly puzzled.
I have trouble believing all the loads shown in the VV chart are above safe maximum, even though the European calculations are different slightly in figuring MAP.
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Old 04-29-2012, 06:53 AM
Daimler1989 Daimler1989 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OKFC05 View Post
The idea that you can outguess the VV factory load charts and modify them with an estimate of probable pressure from QL has me frankly puzzled.
I have trouble believing all the loads shown in the VV chart are above safe maximum, even though the European calculations are different slightly in figuring MAP.
Hi,

that's exactly the point. I always thought that each factory reloading data gives me a range of loads within a safe pressure range, and I was quite puzzled to see that VV is above max even with the starting load. That's why I'm asking, if I would do something not to recommend if I was using a load possibly within the 18000 psi pressure range (according to QL) in an modern S&W wheelgun....

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Old 04-29-2012, 08:39 AM
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Daimler,

Are you saying that per the VV lists the pressures they list are all ablve SAAMI MAP, or that the QL pressure estimates based on the VV data are high?

If you didn't understand, and your response indicates you didn't, what OKFC05 is asking, to paraphrase, "Why would you accept the QL estimated pressure as being more authoritative/accurate that the published pressures from the VV data sheets?"

If that is what you are saying, and it is the only logical interpretation. I'll shorten it up a bit. Why would you do that???????
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Old 04-29-2012, 11:00 AM
Daimler1989 Daimler1989 is offline
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Daimler,

Are you saying that per the VV lists the pressures they list are all ablve SAAMI MAP, or that the QL pressure estimates based on the VV data are high?
What I say is that the QL data, compared to the VV data, are extremely high in chamber pressure. I did use the same components for a .44 Special load as in the data sheet: 8.3 grs VV N340, Hornady 200 grs XTP, OAL 37,5 millimeters, Remington cases.
I know that QL only estimates pressure, because it can't draw into account every circumstance responsible for pressure like case capacity etc. But I am seriously confused that this estimated chamber pressure should be so different in level from what the facory data implies: QL gives me 19700 psi as a chamber pressure, which is about 33% too high. So I haven't fired this load yet, for security reasons. I can't imagine that VV will publish reloading data that was way too high, so maybe QL gets it's data by looking into a crystal ball?

Please excuse me if I should write some kind of imprecise, I'm no native english speaker, I'm german.

regards
Ulrich
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Old 04-29-2012, 12:17 PM
OKFC05 OKFC05 is offline
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Your English is fine. My German is horrible.
Aber Ich dinke QL ist nicht sehr gut...
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Old 04-29-2012, 12:22 PM
Daimler1989 Daimler1989 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OKFC05 View Post
Your English is fine. My German is horrible.
Aber Ich dinke QL ist nicht sehr gut...
your German isn't horrible at all, it's near perfect...

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Old 04-29-2012, 07:20 PM
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Speer's latest load manual has loads listed for the 200 gdhp in the velocitys you are looking for. Am currently using the loads with V V -N350 and unique for 900 fps from 696, and very good accuracy. Starline brass and Fed 150 primers.

6.2 to 6.4 grains hp-38 under a 200 lrnfp makes good practice load at about 800 fps from 696 and same poi.

Periodically V V has been revising/ sometimes significantly reducing their hand gun loads over the years, and used to post pressures. Situation was they used different pressure measuring system when they first strted publishing their load book hand outs.

Am currently using starline brass, 200 speer gdhp, Fed 150 primer, 8.8 grains V V N-350, hard crimp for 920 fps from 696. 7.8 grains unique gives about same results.
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Old 04-29-2012, 09:26 PM
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Daimler,

Don't take this wrong, but one of the problems with the tendency of members to not reveal their location is that no one has a clue as to where you are, parent tongue, etc.

QL and LFD both make estimates based on certain parameters, and, at least in the case of LFD, the results are based on a class of propellants rather than a specific one. Naturally there will be some deviation when a specific propellant is used.

The value of these two programs is in their ability to give a good indication of what to expect, if no published data is available. Where there is data, particularly when it was published by the propellant manufacturer, always take their data rather than what the ballistic program generates. The manufacturer has shot the data and knows what it does. Both QL and LFD are giving only an electronically generated guess!

I have no idea what is available to you, and what factory published date you have for non-European powders. As I am sure you know, we have a plentitude of load data published by several component manufacturers, reloading tool manufacturers, powder manufacturers and distributors. It is amazing how the various sources vary! After over 50 years of reloading, experimentation, wildcatting and study I have come to one conclusion, when there are discrepancies in data, use the manufacturers figures!

Yes, I was, and am, incredulous that you would give more credit to a ballistics estimation program than to the manufacturer of the propellant. Hopefully you now understand better why.

Just one more thing, and it is part of the same answer. I have never had any surprises when using manufacturers data, whether it be DuPont/IMR, Winchester, Hercules/Alliant, or even Hodgdon. I have had a few very bad surprises however when a bullet manufacturers data was used. Without naming names here is an example. Bullet makers data, 125 gr JHP, .38 Special, supposedly standard pressure. This was before +P! Bullet makers charge, starting 10 gr, max. 12 gr. Result, primer cratering more severe than often seen with .357 Magnum at a nominal maximum pressure of 2 1/2 times what is appropriate for .38 Special, and this was at the starting load! Powder manufacturers data? 4.4 gr Maximum load!!! This is not the only example I could give you from personal experience, just the most eggregious!
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Old 04-29-2012, 09:37 PM
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Do you have access to a chronograph?

1) Every gun is different. I trust the powder manufacturer's data #1, all other sources are of increasing suspicion. Even with reliable data, I start with a low range load...with every gun...and work my way up. It is surprising how different pressure can be in two different guns with the same load.

2) Better safe than sorry. I rarely approach max loads.

3) Velocity is never free. If you are expecting a certain velocity from a certain load, but you reach that velocity at a lower powder charge, chances are that that particular gun is running higher pressure than the test platform from which you are using data. A chronograph is your friend. I have a single gun...a 300WM...that I routinely load over max loads. However it consistently runs low on velocity for a given load, across a variety of data sources. For some reason it just takes a bit more powder to get the right velocity (and hence pressure).
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Old 04-30-2012, 06:39 AM
Daimler1989 Daimler1989 is offline
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Thanks all,

you reassured me that it's the most practical way to stick with the official factory reloading data. I will do some more test loads and then hopefully get my chronograph to work to check all the loads and then compare it to the manual..

regards
Ulrich
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Old 05-01-2012, 01:35 PM
tinkerunique tinkerunique is offline
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I have several reloading books that list different brands of powder and various grades of powder - the ballistics and velocities of each. The .44 Spl FACTORY ammo is light loads because of older guns - some of which were black powder loads when those guns were new.
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Old 10-12-2012, 12:36 AM
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I have an old .44 HE #2 that will not be as safe to put a "hot" load into as will a new .44 Magnum. The Magnum will shoot the .44 Spl load with a higher velocity (new barrel) and the old .44 will shoot a slower velocity (used barrel). Both will put a hole in the target equally well with practice, or bring venison to the table.
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Old 10-12-2012, 02:05 AM
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The August 2005 Handloader Magazine (issue 236) featured the 44 Special.
They detail loads in three pressure categories and discuss the revolvers for which each is appropriate.
Back issues are still available from Wolfe Publishing, AFAIK.
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Old 10-12-2012, 03:46 AM
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To put this simply, you don't have a VV load data problem, you have a QL problem. There are so many variables you need to input into QL and if you miss one or even more the results will be incorrect. I highly doubt a starting load from a powder manufacture will be anywhere near overpressure. QL is a good tool but I'm sure VV's ballistic laboratory is much better than software you can buy on the Internet...
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Old 10-12-2012, 04:52 AM
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I began handloading the .44 Special seriously about 1975. I had 2 Charter Arms Bulldogs at first. I then added an N frame conversion of a Highway Patrolman that had a brand new S&W .44 Special 4 inch barrel fit and the chambers re-chambered from .357 Magnum to .44 Special, the work done by a fine gunsmith Robert Ballard. I then added qaq 7-1/2 inch Colt Single Action Army, in addition to Model 29-2s of 4 and 6-1/2 inch barrel lengths.

I shot literally tons of cast lead melted into 255 grain semiwadcutter bullets in my Lyman 429421 mould. I sized them to .431", and used mostly wheelweight metal mixed with a little tin from tintype/linotype or plumbers solder to come to a proper test involving the bullet, a firm workbench and how hard I could press a sharp nail into the lead bullet. I found that bullets cast the hardest I could were less accurte and leaded the bores more than bullets just a bit softer.

I started out firing a couple hundred Winchester 246 grain round nose lead cartridges. These got me about 725 fps from my 4 inch Smith & Wesson. A box of Remington-Peters' same loading got me 697 fps

I first landloaded with the same bullets and Unique. The Lyman handbook's top Unique load with this bullet is 8.0 grains for 1,000 fps in their 5-1/2 inch Colt.

I used 7.5 grains of Unique under the same 255 grain cast bullet to get about 950 fps from my S&W. To duplicate the velocity of the feeble but pleasant factory loads, I used 5.5 grains Unique or 4.1 grains Bullseye. The accuracy of the Bullseye load was excellent, and their gentility allowed you to shoot them by the coffee can full, and let new shooters try out a big bore handgun with minimal fire, recoil, flame and blast. These factory equivalent loadings were a good pick for my Charter Bullldogs, too.

I shot the various jacketed 225 and 240 grain bullets from Speer, Sierra and Hornady over the same 7.5 grains of Unique I adopted as my all purpose load. Velocities weren't high enough to get much expansion with the jacketed bullets but accuracy was nice. The jacketed, store-bought bullets didn't give me much over my cast SWCs, so I didn't shoot many of them.

Every .44 Specialist eventually wants to try what Elmer Keith worked into as his heavy hunting load, the same Lyman 429421 255 grain cast SWC bullet that bears his name over a stout charge of 2400, touched off by a standard large pistol primer. I loaded up a few boxes with the 255 grain cast 429421, bullets scrutinized, weighed and sorted for unanimity, in once-fired W-W brass cases primed with W-W LP primers and used a charge of 17.5 grains of 2400. A good stiff roll crimp was applied.

I cheated and shot 6 of them first through my Model 29 .44 Magnum. They were less violent than my .44 Magnum handloads had felt in that same gun, so I went onto my .44 Specials.

The 255 grain lead / 17.5 grain 2400 / LP primer was a handfull in my N frame ersatz 1950 Target/highway Patrolman conversion's 4 inch barrel, but gave me 1,155 fps. The cases ejected without much effort and primers looked normal. I tried them next in my Colt SAA, and the 7-1/2 inch barrel gave me 1,205 fps and the light, plow-handled single action tried to pivot right out of my grip!

I shot the Keith / 2400 load a bit, at least 100-150 rounds each from the Colt and the S&W. There seemed to be no ill effects. They were more recoil, noise and power than I wanted for general woods and desert loafing duty, so I settled on the 7.5 grain Unique load as my .44Special standard. Been shooting that through a lot of Colts and Smiths for 40 years now and none of them have complained.

I think the 7.5 grain Unique / 240-260 grain cast SWC loading, dubbed the Skelton load by most who use it, is a great pick for any quality .44 Special revolver made by S&W, Colt or Ruger ever made. I think that one of Skeeter's industry friends ran tests on his load and pressures were about 21,000 psi.
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Old 10-13-2012, 02:07 PM
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200 grain factory loaded Speer Gold Dots do 920 fps from a Ruger 4 5/8" 44 Special that I own. I doubt that they are loaded over SAAMI.
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Old 10-13-2012, 09:09 PM
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OK, so for a given cartridge, bullet and gun does equal pressure equate to equal velocity regardless of the powder? In other words...
if it takes Xgr of powder A or YY gr of powder B to achieve 900 fps will both loads be generating the same pressure?
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Old 10-14-2012, 01:37 AM
mscampbell2734 mscampbell2734 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 125JHP View Post
OK, so for a given cartridge, bullet and gun does equal pressure equate to equal velocity regardless of the powder? In other words...
if it takes Xgr of powder A or YY gr of powder B to achieve 900 fps will both loads be generating the same pressure?
NO

Its not just pressure but PEAK pressure and pressure duration.

Think of it this way. The total energy put into/upon the bullet will determine its vel when it exits the muzzle.

If you load a extremely fast powder, lets say Bullseye, the powder builds to a rapid spike and then tapers as the bullet does down the barrel.

A slow powder, 296 for example, requires a heavy crimp because the powder actually begins to burn in the case and builds pressure for a micro second before the bullet exits the case. This pressure stays constant the entire time the bullet is in the barrel, and in fact a longer barrel allows more time for the pressure to act on the bullet. This is why longer barrels with MAGNUM loads give higher vel., think 20 inch rifle barrel vs. 6 inch handgun. Longer barrels with non magnum loads, think .45 ACP, give very little vel increase.
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Old 10-14-2012, 02:01 AM
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Not only is it peak pressure and duration, but actually the area under the pressure(time) curve.
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Old 10-14-2012, 04:06 PM
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i always used 17gr. of h4227 with a 200 gr. cast or jacket. and extreemly accurate load. i know that seems like a lot of powder, but it is very slow and does require a mag. primer also to burn complete. now the only 4227 is imr brand. i think it is the same burn rate.
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Old 10-14-2012, 05:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daimler1989 View Post
Hi,

I'm trying to find out some good working handloads in the 900 fps range (200 grs bullets) for the .44 Special. I'm using the official reloading data sheets (Vihtavuori) and Quickload as a "backup" to cross check the data. Interestingly, QL gives me very high pressure specs even with the VV staring loads. Example: 200 grs Hornady XTP 8.3 grs VV N340 (starting load) - QL generates 19780 psi, which of course is far above SAAMI Max. I testet this load with a lead bullet (205 grs hardcast) which should bring 17440 psi according to QL. This load (stout but not heavy) doesn't show any signs of high pressure, no flat primers, even the brass is sooty somehow.

Should I reduce the loads to SAAMI specs or should I feel safe for the 696 and 624 to stay in the 18000 psi area? What do you think?

regards
Ulrich
My scanner died and I am awaiting a repalcement. I have an old American FRifleman article with pressure tested loads for the 44 Special. Drop me a note in a few weeks I hope to have the new scanner by then.
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