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Old 01-11-2021, 11:04 AM
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Default Advice For Trail Boss Powder

I did a search and basically found most people seeing nice clean shooting results with TB.

I have a couple of 9 oz bottles that I bought some time ago for .38 Special Cowboy Action velocities from my Vaquero.

I didn't have good results, so it was pushed aside for Universal/Unique burn rate powders instead.

The problem is I don't remember why I didn't like it in my .38 Special trials.

I now have a 3rd generation Colt SAA chambered in .45 Colt.

The revolver shoots quite well with some loads I had from 2016 when I had another Vaquero in .45. They consisted of 7.5 grains of Universal behind a 250 grain Silver Bullet RNFP. Just a much higher velocity load than I desire.

Any of you that use reduced loads of Unique/Universal powders know the efficiency of burn declines and you end up with remaining flakes, smutting, etc.

I don't like cavernous cartridge cases with only a dusting of powder so I decided to try the Trail Boss again. I really like how it meters and the much higher load density.

Using otherwise the same components I loaded two batches to compare over the weekend. The ones on the right are typical of the Universal load of 6.0 grains. I believe 6.5 is suggested starting point, but again I'm looking for low velocity loads. I expect a certain level of smut from the reduced load with Universal.

The ones on the left are typical of the 5.0 grain middle of the road data wise of Trail Boss. I wasn't expecting anywhere near this level of smutting. I think I may have discovered why I didn't continue use of TB with the .38 loads.

As you can imagine the revolver was filthy. The accuracy is excellent with both loads. The POI is hardly affected at the 40 to 50 feet distance I usually shoot.

I have since loaded 12 more using 5.5 grains of TB and used a slightly heavier crimp. Yet to test.

Any advice and experience shared is welcomed!



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Old 01-11-2021, 01:00 PM
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Unhappy Flakey

Yea, I too have never had good luck using IMR Trail Boss. I
believe I tried it in my 45Colt, 44Mag, and 44Spl. Revolvers.

The cases would Soot up along one side (cases not sealing up in
the charge holes), never confident in it, and could never get
the Accuracy I was looking for.

Now T.B. just sits in the back of my Powders. I will keep it, because
of the Powder Shortage.

I just like my old time favorites; Unique, Bullseye, Red Dot, American-
Select, Power Pistol, and Long Shot.

Sorry I didn't take any pictures, but that maybe because I was
gave up on it. My cartridges looked like your.

Thank you for the Range Report and Picture.
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Old 01-11-2021, 02:26 PM
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When Trail Boss first came out, specific/generic loads were not available yet, so they gave load development instructions instead.

IT IS VERT IMPORTANT TO NOT COMPRESS TRAIL BOSS!

loads very based on the amount of the bullet below the cannalure. You load based on the case capacity. That can change with different brands of brass and different bullets of the same weight.

1) Measure the inside depth of the case.

2) Measure the bullet below the cannalure, and subtract from total case depth.

3) Subtract another 1/16 to 1/8 inch from the height of the powder column. This is the recommender height for the powder; for that case/bullet combination.

Fill a case to that level and measure the weight, now you know the proper load. You can load less, but with diminishing results.

Note: for Cowboy Action loads 1/8" gap seems to be the more preferable, for rifle 1/16" has proven to be the most accurate!

Trail Boss also seems to shoot more accurately with medium to heavy bullets for you cartridge, it defiantly isn't for "Bunny Fart" and "Gamer" loads.

My 45 Colt, Cowboy load is 6.7 of WW231, and that out performs Trail boss in my handguns and about the same in carbines. But In my 38-55 modern 1885 Low Wall (Winchester/Muruku ca. 2005) a 1/16" gap load of TB and a 255gr bullet did a 20 shot group @ 100 yards that was less than a nickel in O.D. using tang and globe sights.

300 grain 45-70 are so-so at best. But 400+ grain bullets shoot very well in my 1895 Guide Gun, 1886 Browning 26", and my Shiloh Sharpe's 1874 30".

Hope this helps you get the performance level you desire,

Ivan
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Old 01-11-2021, 02:31 PM
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I found TB to work ok in the smaller 38 & 357 cases without the problem of smoky cases with the slower fps it put s out, vs the other powders that I use.

I don't load 45 but would venture out on a limb, that Red Dot powder, which is big and bulky, might work in those big cases for target loads and also help fill those cases up.

Good luck.
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Old 01-11-2021, 02:50 PM
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I have read a lot of high praise post on various sites for the cleanliness of the stuff.

Most complain about the odor, but otherwise swear by the use of it.

I have little doubt the blow back is due to the cartridge not sealing inside the chamber, so I'm hoping a half grain increase a bit more crimp will help.

I love the idea of this powder, but so far the execution is lacking for me.

I have plenty of Universal and at least a couple of pounds of Unique, but I sure would like to be able to use the TB due to its higher load density.

My chronograph went awol after a recent move, so other than being accurate enough and nasty I otherwise have no idea what the loads are doing.
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Old 01-11-2021, 03:55 PM
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In my mind, as noted above, smokey cases are likely a result of pressures being too low to expand the brass to seal the chamber. I find that Trail Boss loads are quite weak for me using published levels, an example is I use the maximum load for 158g 38 Special of 4.2g, and only get 744fps. That load fills the case using the heavy bullet, but I do not notice much fouling with that load. Of course, I only use the max loads in post-WWII revolvers and rifles.
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Old 01-11-2021, 08:13 PM
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My experience with Trailboss is similar to what others have said. It's really made for cowboy loads. They can be accurate, but I'd load 'em like Ivan said above. Fill the case right up next to the seated ogive. Even then you'll get mild recoil and low velocity. It's really perfect for just a fun day of punching paper.
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Old 01-11-2021, 08:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeplorabusUnum View Post
My experience with Trailboss is similar to what others have said. It's really made for cowboy loads. They can be accurate, but I'd load 'em like Ivan said above. Fill the case right up next to the seated ogive. Even then you'll get mild recoil and low velocity. It's really perfect for just a fun day of punching paper.
My experience also. Noticeably slower and I don't do hot rod loads either.
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Old 01-11-2021, 08:28 PM
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I've found my best results with TB using 95% fill and magnum primers. Basically, I cut a case off where the bottom of the bullet is, weigh ten cases full of TB then use 95% if that average weight.
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Old 01-11-2021, 08:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Norseman View Post
Yea, I too have never had good luck using IMR Trail Boss. I
believe I tried it in my 45Colt, 44Mag, and 44Spl. Revolvers.

The cases would Soot up along one side (cases not sealing up in
the charge holes), never confident in it, and could never get
the Accuracy I was looking for.

Now T.B. just sits in the back of my Powders. I will keep it, because
of the Powder Shortage.

I just like my old time favorites; Unique, Bullseye, Red Dot, American-
Select, Power Pistol, and Long Shot.

Sorry I didn't take any pictures, but that maybe because I was
gave up on it. My cartridges looked like your.

Thank you for the Range Report and Picture.

I like your powder scale. Had the same one for over25 years, and in December I dropped a 5,000 case of LPP on it and broke it. Found another one with the box on Ebay and bought it.
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Old 01-11-2021, 08:54 PM
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I have loaded a lot of "Smoky cases" in my days of light loads.

Even had smokie cases in the 9mm with a 124 FMJ load with, if you can believe ...............

CFEp & w231 powders !!

Don't mind them a bit, as long as the bullet goes out the end of the barrel.

I do get a little shaky in the legs when my chrony reads 500fps, though.

Don't give up on that TB just yet. It might still come under the wire with a low fps load that might be quite accurate.
It might take a 98% full load to work but it has worked for me in my 38 and 357 lead loads, if you don't mind using that much TB powder.

It's all good. Hope you find a powder that makes you happy.
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Old 01-12-2021, 06:07 AM
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Hot rodding is exactly what I don't want. I have Ruger's and H110 for that.

I'm after what I thought TB is intended for. Ruger revolvers I've went way beyond anything published. I also had much younger hands to hold on to them with whe I was doing such. I have no desire to experiment with non published data using a Colt S/A.

If the 5.5 grain load doesn't seal up and clean up, I'll likely set it back in its place back of the shelf or use it for fertilizer.

I know I can bump up the Universal just a bit and it will clean up. Still a low density load in the big case and higher than desired velocity. I have and can continue to live with the Universal powered loads

The TB has the right density, meters fines, good accuracy for the few I've fired, and is in the velocity range I want.

If it were any dirtier, I'd be as be well to fire black powder, Pyrodex or Triple Seven.

Thanks for all the information, encouragement, and advice!
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Old 01-12-2021, 09:36 AM
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I use 6.1 grains of Trail Boss in .44 Mag cases for Cowboy loads. I noticed the cases were smokey, but paid it no mind. These are listed as starting loads, and were fired in Ruger Vaqueros. After reading this thread, checked my cases last night as I have been using this load in my 29s and 629s for light loads. I did not find any smokey cases. That makes me wonder if the chambers of my Vaqueros are just a bit larger than the Smiths? Dunno. I like the powder for light loads in the ,44 Mag cases, though. Fun to shoot without the pain.
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Old 01-12-2021, 10:04 AM
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There are two BIG advantages for T.B. It is impossible to double-charge a case since almost all loads min to max produce more than half the case ful of powder. Second, there may not be another powder out there that will give as low SD numbers as Trail Boss, mostly because the case is near full of powder, resulting in very low single digit SDs.
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