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Old 07-25-2018, 09:14 PM
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Default Max Load Dilemma

I’m working up loads for my new-to-me 6 1/2” 29-2.

I found a good plinking load, but I’m in a pickle on my higher-velocity load and wondered what some of your thoughts are.

Using Starline cases, Federal Magnum large pistol primers, Hornady 240gr XTP bullets and H110 powder, I started at the minimum load, 23.2 at 1350fps, and worked up to the max, 24.0 gr at 1400fps in .2gr increments.

I shot two six-shot groups at 10 yards with each load. My dilemma is, the 23.2 at 1350 shot decent groups, the ones in the middle were not acceptable but the 24.0 at 1400fps - the max load according to my Hornady reloading manual - were awesome! Far better than the others.

I went from slow to fast loads twice, letting the barrel cool off reasonably well between each group.

I normally do not load maximum loads, but there are no clear signs of high pressure - if there were, I don’t care how well they grouped, I would not load nor shoot them again.

But I do not want to beat up my revolver. I’ve considered loading up some of these for home defense and hunting only, maybe a box, and just shooting my plinking load the rest of the time.

I wish a lower-limit load resulted in groups like the max one did, so I could load those! But it is what it is. The max loads were cloverleafed into one hole on both groups.

Do you think a couple of hundred full-power loads over time could loosen up a 29-2?

This gun is very tight, having hardly been fired by the previous owner - like a handful of rounds, and he bought it new - so I don’t want to beat it up, either.

Your thoughts? And I appreciate your opinions on this.

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Old 07-25-2018, 09:33 PM
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To answer your primary question: The limited use you propose won’t hurt your gun in your lifetime.

A couple observations:

Those max loads are way overboard for home defense. A mild 44 special equivalent is more than enough.

Groups at 10 yards aren’t much use in evaluating 44 mag loads in a 6 1/2” barreled Model 29. The minimum range would be 25 yards. You’re not shooting a 380 Bodyguard, after all.

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Old 07-25-2018, 09:34 PM
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A few hundred rounds at 24 grains isn't going to kill your 29-2 with the 240 XTP. That gun was designed to handle full power 240 grain loads. Now, feeding it a constant diet of them, say in the thousands, would definitely start to loosen it up some over time, but I don't see where they will hurt your pistol for occasional usage.

Another powder that works well in 44 Mag is Accurate #9 and I find it to take downloading better than H110/296 and you might also look at Alliant 2400 too.
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Old 07-25-2018, 09:37 PM
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I love Performance loads with H110.

I have lost count on how many 8 pound jugs I have gone through over the decades.

You found a load that shoots good

Enjoy it and your revolver

If your Model 29's internals ever wear out, have the parts replaced.
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Old 07-25-2018, 10:37 PM
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I collect model 29s and I never shoot full house magnums. Don't enjoy it, don't see a need for it, not good for my smiths.

I have a 1000 case of starline 44 special brass.

Loads I use are:
Bullseye ~ 5.1 grains
W231 around ~ 5.3 grains in that range
2400 around ~ 12.5 - 14 grains
HS-6 my favorite 8 - 9 grains with cci magnum primer

All of these shoot super accurate out of all my 29s, they feel good and make the impression that you shoot a big bore revolver, not powder puff loads and not stout either. Really nice, I can shoot them all days long and the guns get better with each trip to the range.

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Old 07-25-2018, 10:54 PM
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Default For your lighter target loads....

You need to use a faster powder for your target to medium loads.

Decide what velocity you want and select a powder from the tables that will get that velocity in the upper third of it's range.

There's no reason your gun can't be awesomely accurate with another powder that's more suited for target loads and long range sessions.

You can load in the .44 Special range if it works for you.
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Old 07-25-2018, 11:14 PM
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I shot many heavy cast bullet loads (250 grain SWC and just under maximum charge of #2400 powder) in several 29s from the early '70s until a few years ago. I still have two of these guns, a 29-2 6" blue and a 29-3 4" nickel.

Some years back, most handloaders didn't load the .44 magnum down, though they would make up standard pressure .44 Special loads. I'm not sure now why I used to shoot the heavy magnum loads. They kicked hard, were noisy, and really not fun to shoot.

My guns surprisingly remain tight, but I no longer load or shoot .44 magnum ammo. .44 Special cast loads are pleasant to shoot and quite accurate in .44 magnum revolvers. Some needlessly fear a buildup in the cylinders from shooting .44 Special rounds. This is easily removed with a brush during routine cleaning.
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Old 07-26-2018, 01:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oysterer View Post
I collect model 29s and I never shoot full house magnums. Don't enjoy it, don't see a need for it, not good for my smiths.

I have a 1000 case of starline 44 special brass.

Loads I use are:
Bullseye ~ 5.1 grains
W231 around ~ 5.3 grains in that range
2400 around ~ 12.5 - 14 grains
HS-6 my favorite 8 - 9 grains with cci magnum primer

All of these shoot super accurate out of all my 29s, they feel good and make the impression that you shoot a big bore revolver, not powder puff loads and not stout either. Really nice, I can shoot them all days long and the guns get better with each trip to the range.
What weight and type bullets are you using?
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Old 07-26-2018, 02:53 AM
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Agree, if you want mid range loads, switch powders. H100 is great if you just want to full power all day. It just doesn't download well. A medium burner like unique, be86, power pistol, wsf, all will produce good 1250fps+/240gr loads. Fwiw, none of my revolvers see jacketed bullets anymore. Too expensive, too hard on the forcing cone. Today, with coated kead bullets, littke point in jacketed bullets for busting paper or tin cans. I even hunt with lead bullets & would use a lead HP if I down loaded for self def loads.
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Old 07-26-2018, 06:14 AM
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Quote:
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What weight and type bullets are you using?
fast powder: Bullseye 5.1 grains, Dardas cast 200 gr RN

fast but slower than Bullseye: W231 around ~ 5.3 grains, Dardas cast 200 gr RN

slow powder: 2400: 12.5 - 14 grains w cast 200 gr RN, this is an ok load for medium hot loads

medium slow powder: HS-6 my favorite: 8 - 9 grains with cci magnum primer, 210 gr Sierra JHC: This does not download well, < 9 gr with cci 300 primer there is unburnt powder, but with cci 350 primer and 8.4 gr shoots literally like a laser, this stuff also meters the best.
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Old 07-26-2018, 06:53 AM
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H-110/W-296, in my experience, works best when it is near or at maximum safe pressure. If you are looking for loads that exceed 44 Special, but are less powerful than full-on 44 Magnum, then perhaps you should look at a powder that is slower than Unique, but faster than H-110/W-296.

2400 would actually be a good choice. It is an older, flake type powder, but works well when loaded to less than maximum pressures. HS-6 or Accurate Arms #7 would also be good choices.
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Old 07-26-2018, 10:24 AM
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H-110/W-296, in my experience, works best when it is near or at maximum safe pressure. If you are looking for loads that exceed 44 Special, but are less powerful than full-on 44 Magnum, then perhaps you should look at a powder that is slower than Unique, but faster than H-110/W-296.

2400 would actually be a good choice. It is an older, flake type powder, but works well when loaded to less than maximum pressures. HS-6 or Accurate Arms #7 would also be good choices.
I have actually moved back to 2400 after decades of h110, because it down loads better. Even for hunting loads, 50fps more vel isnt really helping much.
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Old 07-26-2018, 11:48 AM
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FWIW; I did shoot my 629 "loose" with a bunch of max loads. When I first started reloading for my 44 Magnums I had a good case of "Magnumitis" and worked up to close to and sometimes max loads. I had to have my 629 sent back to the factory to have the barrel "clocked". I have since grown up and my 44 loads are a still Magnum, but lighter...

Personally, I like a load that I can shoot all day and have left H110 behind. But I would keep working on a load that will give you good accuracy, but not hard on your gun, and you (different bullets?). I use a lot of 2400 now and some WC820 and have worked up some loads that are fairly accurate. I believe almost any load will be an OK hunting load unless you're after grizzly (a 250 gr bullet @ 1000-1100 fps will put down any deer)...
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Old 07-26-2018, 11:57 AM
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Spend $50,000 on a car ... drive it .... wear it out ... buy another.

Spend $1,000 on a gun ... shoot it ... wear it out ... buy another.

Am I overthinking this?
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Old 07-26-2018, 01:20 PM
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A few boxes of those max loads each year is not going to wear out/damage a modern N frame....that is what it is designed to do.

Back in the 1970's I raced my 68 Chevelle many times at the local 1/4 mile drag strip, it was fun and I'm still driving it. I no longer race it at the strip....the car is fine, engine rebuild and the car is good to go .
I just got too old...I can't get my engine rebuilt !

Shoot that gun and enjoy it...life's a lot shorter than you think.
For accurate 44 magnum loads try 2400 !
Gary

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Old 07-26-2018, 01:41 PM
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I am pleased with a 240 grain LSWC over 10-12 grains of Unique. You will find that this is a very popular recipe for all full strength applications.
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Old 07-26-2018, 03:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike campbell View Post
Spend $50,000 on a car ... drive it .... wear it out ... buy another.

Spend $1,000 on a gun ... shoot it ... wear it out ... buy another.

Am I overthinking this?
OR;
Buy a $50,000.00 car and abuse it, never change the oil or any routine maintenance. Get a new car after present car dies prematurely.
Get a $1,000.00 gun, shoot max loads, rarely clean, or maintain. Buy an new gun after previous gun shoots loose after just 1,000 rounds...
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Old 07-26-2018, 05:51 PM
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I suspect that if you check Hodgdon's load data for that powder/bullet combination you'll find Hornady's Maximum is the STARTING charge weight for Hodgdon. While it may seem odd experience has shown me that the best path to accuracy is the Hornady 9th and it seems that with may calibers the most accurate load is the listed Masimum by Hornady. Reading between the lines perhaps what Hornady actually means is Maximum Accuracy instead of Maximum Pressure. Because it sure seems that way.
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Old 07-26-2018, 10:23 PM
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I don't load or shoot a lot of max power loads, but only because I don't enjoy them as much as downloaded target loads. For the same kind of punishment, I'd rather shoot 200 target loads than 50 hot max loads.

All that being said, if the hot loads are the ones you like, load 'em and shoot 'em to your heart's content. Your wrist and your wallet will both give up long before your model 29 does.
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Old 07-26-2018, 11:50 PM
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You need a Ransom rest to properly test accuracy. There is probably more variation from shooting without sufficient support than there is from the different powder charges.
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Old 07-27-2018, 09:11 AM
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All, thank you for these responses. I really appreciate it.

I should have clarified a little more about my reduced-power loads than half a sentence. I will be shooting these the vast majority of the time. Yes, these full-power loads kick like a mule and it’s overkill for me in 99% of situations.

Also, I need to reduce wear and tear on my wrists, they already get a lot of stress riding my Sportbike long distances with my buddies. I never thought about that, but I did notice they were way more sore than normal the next ride I took, and those little bones are already 58 years old.

My accurate reduced-power loads in this revolver are using Winchester WSF with Berry’s 240gr LSWCs, Starline cases and Federal standard large pistol primers. I read on here that it is cleaner-burning than the “new” Unique I have, and I also have 2400. I have not used it yet.

I’ll move it to 25 yards and try again, that is not a problem. I read on here it seemed that 10 yards is what guys were using but if most of you use 25 for load testing I can easily do that too.

I appreciate and understand a Ransom Rest is really the way to go but I’m ok with using the sandbags I have, not letting the gun touch them but to support a proper sight picture, a Weaver grip, proper breathing and a nice slow trigger squeeze. If I feel I’m going to flinch I do not pull the trigger, I let down and give things a rest like I do with my bow.

Not a problem with the lower power loads but I was starting to enter that territory a couple of times with the larger loads, I have to admit!

I can fight that though, I wait a bit, relax and go back to just letting the gun do it’s thing when firing while relaxing as much as possible one can do while shooting a .44 Magnum. It is going to anyway so why fight it and relaxing gives me far better accuracy. Otherwise I feel I’d just be flinging bullets downrange and that is a waste of everything involved.

Please keep thoughts coming, I’m learning a lot. I like the load suggestion that works in multiple revolvers of the same type, that is what I am aiming for but if I have to use different loads for the four 29/629 variants I have and my 57 I will. I keep very detailed records.


I learned on here that H110 is not safe to load down so I did not, this, it is what I used in these higher-velocity loads.
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Old 07-27-2018, 09:34 AM
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Default PRETTY GOOD ADVICE ALL AROUND.

You didn't mention what your intended needs were for the warmer loads, hunting??? 50 FPS doesn't amount to much for me, bullet selection would matter much more. You also never said how much "worse" the bigger groups were, does that really matter? I'm on board with trying other powders & at further ranges. 2400 Was the first powder that came to mind. Shoot a gun loose & just buy another??? I don't have that kinda $, the need or desire to shoot THAT MANY warm loads, DO YOU?
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Old 07-27-2018, 09:56 AM
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It's not at all unusual that a hotter load is more accurate than a milder flavor. Guns are like children, each with their own personality.

That said, the quickest way to come to grips with revolver accuracy is to measure your weapon. Knowing the dimensions of your cylinder and bore will give you instant insight into how a particular bullet is likely to perform... before the first round heads downrange.

Yes, a steady diet of hot .44 Magnum loads will loosen a Model 29. Probably more quickly than you'd like. There's much to be said for feeding it a balanced diet!

There's no reason not to shoot your big N-frame directly off bags. But I'd suggest you extend your distance. Careful technique and a hundred yards will quickly tell you what you need to know about any given load.
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Old 07-27-2018, 10:09 AM
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Yeah for me accuracy testing with any magnum, 4" or longer bbl starts at 25y. Longer bbl hunting guns go out to 50y & then 100y.
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Old 07-27-2018, 12:14 PM
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For one of the newer powders on the scene is BE-86 . Alliant has load data for it . It downloads 10% fine from Max of 11.8 using a 240 gr cast bullet . It meters better than unique and is uniques " cousin " only slightly slower burn . Just for your info , Elmer Keiths everyday carry load was a 245 gr cast bullet and 8.5 grs of Unique . This load he shot and carried the most . I hope this helps , Regards, Paul
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Old 07-27-2018, 12:45 PM
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Having Magnumitius can quickly lead to a case of Flinchitius .
I had a buddy that loved shooting his 44 magnum full bore pedal to the metal loads that after half a box he got the shakes so bad I would have to finish sighting in his Magnum Blaster for him....That always seemed like a case of self punishment to me , not fun .
Gary
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Old 07-27-2018, 01:03 PM
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When I was young, I loaded everything hot. Now I find pleasure with moderate loads.
My most common load these days , for my 629's {3 and 6"} and my 69 {2 3/4"} is using a mag case , a 350 primer and 9.5 grains of unique under a 210 gold dot. I lessened the load and lightened the projectile to have a pleasant experience. The 210 is designed for rifle speeds so acts more like a wadcutter with a cutting edge that will increase penetration rather than expansion. Makes a good "woods" load.
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Old 07-27-2018, 01:08 PM
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for serious hunting I load 23.8 grains of H 110 under a 240 XTP with a 350 primer in a mag case. {used with my 629-3, 6 inch I bought new , years ago}
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Old 07-27-2018, 10:23 PM
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I thank you for all your replies. The max load is for hunting only, I’m going to move out the yardages and I should clarify, I will only be shooting this load occasionally.

95-98% of my shooting will be with 1100fps loads using lead semiwadcutters and Unique or 2400.

I just wondered how many rounds a 29-2 could take before they loosened up. I don’t want to do that, and the difference between a 1100fps LSWC round and a 1350-1400fps JHP round was pretty dramatic to me. A whole different animal.

I know the endurance packages were introduced to handle higher velocity loads, but I prefer models from the 70s as those were the guns I grew up with. I graduated high school in 1978.

I just don’t want to beat them up, but the main purpose of handloading for me is to work up the most (or acceptable) accurate loads I can for each gun I own, then stick with it. I just would have preferred my higher-velocity round for this particular revolver to be farther away from the max load than what I ended up with being dramatically more accurate than the others.

These 1400fps rounds (the max) were cloverleafing into one hole in the two six-shot groups I shop with it when the others had more flyers and were spread out more consistently. I’d have rather the 1350fps rounds did that.

Thank you for the insights!

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Old 07-27-2018, 10:32 PM
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Actually, I think the primary reason the Endurance Package came about was due to the abuse the silhouette shooters were putting on their 29's, shooting a lot of hot rounds loaded with bullets heavier than the 240 grain variety, like the 300 grainers. They had problems with them shooting loose with a relatively low round count and also had problems with the cylinder turning backwards due to the cylinder stop bouncing out of the cylinder cut and the weight of the unfired rounds making the cylinder rotate backwards.
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Old 07-27-2018, 10:59 PM
Abflyboy Abflyboy is online now
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I'm a little late to the party but I would definitely practice enough with your full power loads to become proficient at 100 yards. Your pistol is more than capable of excellent accuracy at that range and shouldn't have a problem running that load.

After shooting nothing but hot magnum loads for 20 years, I too am coming to understand age, and not wanting to shoot full power loads all the time. I have a 629-4 8-3/8" that is nearing the 10k round mark, all with 24.0 gr H110 under a 240gr XTP. It isn't shot loose or worn out in any way but is also made after the endurance package was introduced.

When I inherited my dad's 29 no dash, I started looking for a more moderate load to shoot in that gun but still be a magnum power level. 13 grains of HS-6 under a 240gr XTP works very well for that purpose. Still plenty of power but I don't feel the punishment like the H110 gives.
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Old 07-28-2018, 12:39 AM
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There are those who believe the hotter, the better. I am not one of them as I have no need for shooting anything more dangerous than paper at ranges withing 50 yards. And I abhor recoil and muzzle blast. I also agree with whoever it was that previously said that the .44 Special is a perfectly satisfactory defense load. And that is about the level to which I load .44 Magnums, using faster powders such as Bullseye, Unique, 700-X, and AA#2. In the unlikely event I ever visit Alaska where I will need to worry about being eaten by bears, I will re-think my position on loading the .44 Magnum.

"...and also had problems with the cylinder turning backwards due to the cylinder stop bouncing out of the cylinder cut and the weight of the unfired rounds making the cylinder rotate backwards."

I had that problem when firing heavy loads in my 29-3 back when I first got it, and attempted several methods to cure it with some success. But the surest way is to not fire such heavy loads. My Ruger Super Blackhawk never had any tendency to do that.

Last edited by DWalt; 07-28-2018 at 12:46 AM.
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Old 07-28-2018, 07:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muddocktor View Post
Actually, I think the primary reason the Endurance Package came about was due to the abuse the silhouette shooters were putting on their 29's.
Most of my experience shooting hot .44 Magnums came from the years I was shooting Silhouette matches, back in the day. You needed both accuracy and high terminal energy to succeed in that game. And lighting off 80 hot rounds at those distances - the ram is at 219 yards - separates the men from the boys! On weekends I didn't have a match I'd be at the range testing loads. Probably averaged 500 upper-end .44 Magnum rounds a month.

My 6 1/2" Model 29 was always my favorite big magnum. But it quickly became obvious that it was never engineered to take such a pounding. I couldn't afford the Dan Wesson revolver that was de rigueur among Silhouette shooters at the time, and ended up buying a 7.5" Ruger Redhawk. The big Ruger heartily ate up all the punishment I gave it, and to this day if I really want to test the limits of that caliber... that's what I'll turn to. But it's action was never as sweet as a Smith. I forbade myself to even pick up my Model 29 during the week before a match.
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Old 07-28-2018, 11:44 AM
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I’m not sure how to reply with a quote attached like on my archery forum so I’ll just address a couple of things.

To the gentleman whom asked why I would want to shoot a gun loose and just buy another; please re-read my OP. The full intention of this thread is to see how many loads it would take before I had to concern myself with my “new to me” 29-2 becoming less than optimal. I am trying to prevent damage, not cause it.

To several others, I have said I’m shooting approproximate .44 Special loads - albeit in Magnum cases - 99% of the time in this revolver.

The extra blast and recoil of the full power loads does not make me “feel more like a man” if you will. I have nothing to prove to anyone so please let’s be clear on this.

To the gentleman whom referenced the amount of full power loads he shot through one, and also the fellow whom said early on that the amount I proposed would not hurt the gun, I thank you. That is what I was looking for, that information.

And to the suggested loads, thank you for that info as well. I have 9# of different powders and I think I’ll try the 2400 next as it sounds popular.

If I could get a slightly lower velocity (50-100fps or so) at less pressure with the same accuracy as the max load I described, that will be a happy medium as far as I’m concerned.

Again, thank you for all of your responses!

Last edited by jmclfrsh; 07-28-2018 at 11:45 AM.
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Old 07-28-2018, 01:10 PM
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Alliant Blue Dot will get you there , a little less velocity and still plenty accurate . They have load data on their website . Good Luck , regards, Paul
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Old 07-28-2018, 03:59 PM
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2 6 round groups isnt a very big sample size.. Neither is 10 yards far enough to give you much data ? What order did you shoot the groups in ?
You have only a .8 overal1 change in powder weight on a fairly heavy powder charge... I seriously doubt that is the cause of the difference if any actually exists.
But as stated you may want to try a different powder like 2400.
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Old 07-30-2018, 11:38 AM
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I shoot from min to max, letting the barrel cool down for a couple of minutes between each group, then from max to min with the same cooling down period. I keep the cylinder open and the revolver upright in a rest so air gets to it evenly.

After narrowing it down to two, I planned on three six-shot groups of each to figure out each revolver. I have five to do so I have to abbreviate it somewhat.

My next step is to try 2400 and take it out to 25, 50 and 75 yards to start.
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Old 07-30-2018, 12:52 PM
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24gr H110/win296 / 240gr JHP is my deer load.

some books show 25gr the max load.

6.5gr win231/HP-38 / 240gr SWC is a great mild plinking load.

10gr UNIQUE / 240gr is a good warm load.

-------------------------

240gr/24grH110 is not a good home defense load.

too much blinding flash

too much recoil for follow up shots

too loud
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  #39  
Old 07-30-2018, 01:10 PM
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I have shot to death a mod 29 and a mod 57, by shooting way too many hot loads, the top strap is the weak link and will stretch.
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