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Thread: new loads for 44 special

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    Default new loads for 44 special

    I found some more good loads for my Ruger 44 special. 9grs. of AA#5 or 11 grs. of AA#7 using the same 240 gr SWC. These are from the Speer Bullets Data. Both are moving around 900 fps. These are both over the AA loading data base but at the low end of the Taffin Test. Taffin says that 13 grs. of AA#7 is max not the 9 grs. that the Accurate Powders book says. With 11 grs. there was no pressure signs and both were shooting one inch groups. I still like 6.3 grs. of 231 best, but both AA loads shot better than Unique for me. I tried the #7 with the 215 gr SWC and the groups opened up to three inches. Maybe the AA5 will work, that will be next.
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    I'll have to try the AA data with my cast 429360 sized .430, I've not had luck with any other powder yet. I cast the Lee 215 gr. and size .430 and it is very good over 6.0 of AA#2.
    Which 240 gr. SWC are you using and how hard is it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by TATER View Post
    Taffin says that 13 grs. of AA#7 is max not the 9 grs. that the Accurate Powders book says. With 11 grs. there was no pressure signs and both were shooting one inch groups.
    Understand that with the specific brass, bullet, primer and OAL in the specific firearm that Accurate used to generate their data it was a MAX load. It may or may not be MAX with different components and a different gun. Taffin used different components and firearm, but as far as I know he has NO access to to a PBL with a strain gauge for actual pressure measurements. I enjoy reading John's work, but he is a writer (and retired hs math teacher) with a LOT of loading experience; he is not a machinist, not a chemist, and not an engineer. He may be correct, or not, but either way there has to be a good reason why Accurate's MAX is so low, and I would want to know what that reason is before ignoring it. Just because it is in a popular magazine does not mean that it is correct, that the data was entered correctly by the typist, that a proofreader caught the error, that the data is safe. Remembering their published disclaimer, I would trust it no more than I would any data I found on the net from a non-industry source. The difference between the two MAX levels is so great that there is a definite possibility of an error somewhere. (It is also possible that the error is in Accurate's data, too. I have found a number of errors in loading manuals over the last 35 years - they are written, transcribed, proofread, and edited by human beings, and we all make occasional errors.) After having seen more than one revolver blown up by overpressure and the resulting damage and injuries to the shooters, I would prefer to err on the side of caution and could not advise otherwise on a public forum.

    When anyone publishes data that is so contrary to that of the powder manufacturer, I would want to be doing a lot more research before even considering using it in any handgun. The main reason is that unlike for instance, a bolt action rifle, pistols and revolvers very often show no pressure signs on their primers at all, even far in excess of MAX. Sometimes the only noticable sign is difficult extraction from a cylinder that normally has no problems, but even that is no sure indicator, and it only works with revolvers, and not every time. With pistols, there are often no signs at all before a KABOOM. (You were talking specifically about a revolver, but you should also be aware that loading too hot for a blowback operated semi-auto can damage the gun by excess wear and strain on parts that were designed to function within a specicic pressure envelope. Firing a lot of very hot loads even if not above MAX isn't overly healthy for a revolver over time, either.) Even if you saw no pressure signs, that does not necessarily mean the load is safe. The only reliable ways to tell if you are too hot with your handgun loads is by using a strain gauge on the chamber or by carefully micing the solid part of the case heads before and after firing.

    The first thing to do is to check several other current manuals for loads with the same powder and bullet weight to see if they agree with Accurate's data or Taffin's....

    This is the data I have on hand:
    Sierra says .44spec 240gr Jacketed 10.3-11.5MAX AA#7. Lee says .44spec 245gr lead 7.8-8.7MAX AA#7. Lyman doesn't list the powder with cast or jacketed bullets. This isn't enough data for me to make a safe determination, even with the AA and Speer data added in. At the very least, I would next want to be looking at both Hornady and Nosler data before proceeding to see if they could settle the question.

    You may be safe at that charge level, but if it were me, I wouldn't be shooting any more of them until I had more definitive data. Putting both our data together, two sources say low and two say high - so far there is no clear trend one way or the other for me to make what I would consider a safe or an informed decision. It is easy to assume that John is correct, and personally I might be inclined to trust him if it were a wildcat for which no data were available, but the round has been with us for long enough that there should be plenty more data out there, enough to KNOW. Life is to short for me to bet mine on an assumption, even with those awesome 1" groups tempting one.
    Last edited by versifier; 08-10-2009 at 12:10 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guesser View Post
    I'll have to try the AA data with my cast 429360 sized .430, I've not had luck with any other powder yet. I cast the Lee 215 gr. and size .430 and it is very good over 6.0 of AA#2.
    Which 240 gr. SWC are you using and how hard is it?
    I'm using the Hunter Supply 240 sized at 430. Today I tried 5.5 grs of WST at 850 fps with the 240 gr SWC. That is what "SIXSHOT" said he used and also was in the Taffin Test data. Now that is one sweet load. 1" groups with mild recoil. I had my powder thrower set for 11 grs of AA #7 and when I loaded in the WST I had to open her up a whole bunch to make it read 5.5 grs. of WST. I was a little worried that maybe I was missing some thing. But, they shot very very good. I guess the WST is just lighter by volume. There are a lot of good powders out there for the 44 Special. It seems all these powders, AA, 231 and WST have been more accurate for me with the 44 Special than Unique. And that was my old stand-by. This powder shortage has opened new doors for me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by versifier View Post
    Understand that with the specific brass, bullet, primer and OAL in the specific firearm that Accurate used to generate their data it was a MAX load. It may or may not be MAX with different components and a different gun. Taffin used different components and firearm, but as far as I know he has NO access to to a PBL with a strain gauge for actual pressure measurements. I enjoy reading John's work, but he is a writer (and retired hs math teacher) with a LOT of loading experience; he is not a machinist, not a chemist, and not an engineer. He may be correct, or not, but either way there has to be a good reason why Accurate's MAX is so low, and I would want to know what that reason is before ignoring it. Just because it is in a popular magazine does not mean that it is correct, that the data was entered correctly by the typist, that a proofreader caught the error, that the data is safe. Remembering their published disclaimer, I would trust it no more than I would any data I found on the net from a non-industry source. The difference between the two MAX levels is so great that there is a definite possibility of an error somewhere. (It is also possible that the error is in Accurate's data, too. I have found a number of errors in loading manuals over the last 35 years - they are written, transcribed, proofread, and edited by human beings, and we all make occasional errors.) After having seen more than one revolver blown up by overpressure and the resulting damage and injuries to the shooters, I would prefer to err on the side of caution and could not advise otherwise on a public forum.

    When anyone publishes data that is so contrary to that of the powder manufacturer, I would want to be doing a lot more research before even considering using it in any handgun. The main reason is that unlike for instance, a bolt action rifle, pistols and revolvers very often show no pressure signs on their primers at all, even far in excess of MAX. Sometimes the only noticable sign is difficult extraction from a cylinder that normally has no problems, but even that is no sure indicator, and it only works with revolvers, and not every time. With pistols, there are often no signs at all before a KABOOM. (You were talking specifically about a revolver, but you should also be aware that loading too hot for a blowback operated semi-auto can damage the gun by excess wear and strain on parts that were designed to function within a specicic pressure envelope. Firing a lot of very hot loads even if not above MAX isn't overly healthy for a revolver over time, either.) Even if you saw no pressure signs, that does not necessarily mean the load is safe. The only reliable ways to tell if you are too hot with your handgun loads is by using a strain gauge on the chamber or by carefully micing the solid part of the case heads before and after firing.

    The first thing to do is to check several other current manuals for loads with the same powder and bullet weight to see if they agree with Accurate's data or Taffin's....

    This is the data I have on hand:
    Sierra says .44spec 240gr Jacketed 10.3-11.5MAX AA#7. Lee says .44spec 245gr lead 7.8-8.7MAX AA#7. Lyman doesn't list the powder with cast or jacketed bullets. This isn't enough data for me to make a safe determination, even with the AA and Speer data added in. At the very least, I would next want to be looking at both Hornady and Nosler data before proceeding to see if they could settle the question.

    You may be safe at that charge level, but if it were me, I wouldn't be shooting any more of them until I had more definitive data. Putting both our data together, two sources say low and two say high - so far there is no clear trend one way or the other for me to make what I would consider a safe or an informed decision. It is easy to assume that John is correct, and personally I might be inclined to trust him if it were a wildcat for which no data were available, but the round has been with us for long enough that there should be plenty more data out there, enough to KNOW. Life is to short for me to bet mine on an assumption, even with those awesome 1" groups tempting one.
    I'm sure you are right. The Speer bullets data says for a 250 gr. SWC 9.3grs of AA#5 is max and 11.5 grs of AA#7 is max with a 250 gr. SWC. So I would think that 11 grs of AA#7 and 9 grs. of AA#5 with a 240 gr. SWC would be safe, Right? The 5.5 grs. of WST is out there with no factory blessing to be sure, but it has plenty of volume and shoots soft. What would you do, just not use it? And the others are less than Speer's own data. I think AA is just cautious of older guns and has to play it safe. The hottest load I use is 9.9 grs. of AA#5 with a Sierra 210 JHP. Right from their data base. Have you seen the loads listed in "HANDLOADER" for the Ruger 44 Special? Those are HOT. I already have a 44 magnum and am just looking for loads in the 800-900 fps range. Speer, Sierra and Hornady all show their loads to be above what AA says is max, I think I'm safe with their data shooting a Ruger 44 Special. If I was using a smaller gun or older gun, I would stick to the AA data. You have some very good points, thanks for your concern. And I need to say these are for a RUGER 44 Special.
    Last edited by TATER; 08-10-2009 at 02:03 AM.
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    My 215 and 240 are hand cast very soft, 50/50 wheel weights and lead. They are fired in a SS Taurus Model 441, 6" with no leading and function very well. I find that slower powders don't burn completely in low pressure loadings and I'm not interested in high horsepower 44 Special loads. I'll use a 44 Magnum for high power. I'm working to find an accurate load for the 240 gr., the 215 is good as I load it now.

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    It's always a tough row to hoe when you have conflicting data from normally reliable and trusted sources. I think Hornady's opinion added to the other data is a good confidence booster. I'd still want to check Nosler, but like you, I would be more inclined now to think AA's conservatism here is to prevent legal complications.

    There are a lot of older .44spec revolvers out there and not everyone realizes that Keith used the heaviest and strongest S&W frames available then to do the research that eventually produced the .44mag/m29. I imagine a lot of revolvers have been destroyed over the years by folks who wanted the super performance of Keith's loads but didn't understand the pressure limitations of their guns. Not that pressure measurements were easy to do or very reliable with the methods in use back then. When strain gages came into use, their accuracy and reliability caused the whole industry to retest and reevaluate data when testing showed that many long accepted loads were much hotter than anyone had realized. Copper and lead crusher tests were crude and much of the data from them unreliable, but that was the state of the art at the time, and their actual limitations only became apparent when modern methods became available. L.U. P. (Lead Units of Pressure) and C. U. P. (Copper Units of Pressure) are now happily replaced by pounds PSI readings and we have a clue now not only about MAX levels, but also about the entire pressure curve during ignition. Interior ballistics has moved from rough speculation to a better understood and explored science. Most of the math is way over my head, but I can read a graph and understand some of what goes on between pulling the trigger and the bullet exiting the barrel.

    I do not know how AA powders behave when loaded below starting levels, nor do I have any info here about them that I can find. While I am sure that the info is out there somewhere, when I don't know, I tend to get very conservative until I have the info in hand. "Maybe" and "probably" aren't enough for me when mistakes can be fatal. For instance, I would not hesitate to download Alliant powders like BEYE that have been in use for very light target loads for generations, while if I were using a Win ball powder I would never even consider going below START because of often documented erratic performance and dangerous pressure spikes. This is the other side of the "If you need more velocity move to a bigger case" coin. There isn't a current smaller .44 case to go to, so if I wanted to get some really light loads, I'd go with a powder I'm sure would be safe to do it with. It is hard to convince some folks that with certain powders there are good reasons for lower limits as well as the upper ones they automatically accept without question. Sometimes the starting load line is drawn not because of any potential danger, but simply because of poor or erratic performance from inconsistent ignition. But they don't tell you that in the manuals. Someone has to open up the frontier, and with a powder whose limitations I do not know, I would prefer it to be someone using a nice, safe pressure barrel in a Universal receiver where a pressure spike is something interesting to note instead of a disaster for both gun and shooter. This is one of those cases where the exploring has already been done by someone, somewhere, but it has never been compiled and published in an easily accessible form. Patient research yields a piece of the puzzle at a time, and we have to dig a bit to find them and put them all together. I would love to see a comprehensive evaluation of all available commercial powders that lists reduced load behavior, positional sensitivity, compressibility, and temperature sensitivity, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for it, and I have too many other projects going to want to tackle it myself.

    When I am working up loads in a wildcat chambering, I will use only a powder whose nature I am well acquainted with from many years experience in cases both larger and smaller than the one I'm working with, and even then I am watching both the chrono readings and the fired primers each shot like a hawk. When you're sailing off the charts, you have to go slowly and carefully, and use every scrap of available data to say safe. I have nothing but admiration for those who are willing (and prepared) to "go where no one has gone before". I don't personally want to be the one to go there first with a revolver.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guesser View Post
    My 215 and 240 are hand cast very soft, 50/50 wheel weights and lead. They are fired in a SS Taurus Model 441, 6" with no leading and function very well. I find that slower powders don't burn completely in low pressure loadings and I'm not interested in high horsepower 44 Special loads. I'll use a 44 Magnum for high power. I'm working to find an accurate load for the 240 gr., the 215 is good as I load it now.
    Hornady says; AA#5, 6.8 gr. = 650 fps., 7.3 gr.= 700fps., 7.8 gr. =750 fps. 8.4grs. = 800 fps., 8.9 gr.=850 fps. Speer say; 8.4 gr.= 868 fps and 9.3 gr.=936 fps. these were with the 250SWC while Hornady was with the 240 gr SWC. Speer used a Cimmaron Single action with a 5.5 inch barrel, R_P case and cci 300 primer. Hornady used a Charter Arms with a 3 inch barrel, Hornady case and WLP primer. I also have had very good results with 231 at 6.3 gr. and the 240 SWC from Hunters Supply. This was a cowboy action load from Speer. All this data was from " The Complete Reloading Manual for the .44 Special". I'm sure if you start at the bottom you will find a load with AA#5 that shoots very good using a 240 SWC in your gun, Steve
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    Thanks Vesifier for all your knowledge, you know much more than I do and respect your point of view. I want to be safe and don't want anyone hurt. I'm only saying what has worked for me, so if I'm off base please let me know. Thanks, Steve
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    No, you're not at all off base. I just hate to make a blanket statement without a little information about where I'm coming from and why. Sometimes there is a little more depth to any issue than is at first apparent.

    We tell everyone when they start to always trust and stick to the manuals, but there is very little discussion about what the hell you're supposed to do when those manuals you're supposed to trust tell you two very different things, and the differences appear to be a lot more than can be explained by the switching of one or two similar components.

    The easy way out would have been to say if they can't agree, don't use the powder, but that simply doesn't satisfy me. There is nothing wrong with the powder - the problem is that I don't understand the reason(s) for the conflicting data. I want to know why they don't agree so I can make use of a perfectly good available component and do so safely. There are some very intelligent and capable folks working up this data for us to use, and one would hope that their results, while they won't agree completely because of component differences, ought to at least be similar. I would expect to see at most a grain or two difference between MAX levels (maybe 5% at most) in a medium capacity rifle case, but four grains (9-13) in a little handgun case is almost a 30% difference. It makes my self preservation alarm go off and presents a mystery I want to get to the bottom of before I can use the powder with confidence in that cartridge. And it also gives a good opportunity to let new loaders see how more experienced loaders evaluate data from from both reliable and possibly questionable sources. I don't consider John a questionable source - quite the opposite, he has years more experience with big bore revolvers than I do - but when it is an issue of safety and the difference between the data sources is so great, I also want the opinion of someone whom I am sure knows a lot more than both of us do with a string of the right degrees after his(her) name to help me make an evaluation that I am comfortable with.

    When you do anything for the greater part of your life and/or achieve a certain level of mastery, you have learned to pay attention when something just doesn't seem right, whether you're talking about rush hour commuting, cooking, cutting threads in the shop, skydiving, or loading ammo. When you get that feeling, you stop and find out what's really going on. Natural selection has a way of making sure most of us learn this at a fairly young age. Those that don't learn to pay attention to warning signs don't live long enough to pass on faulty genes. Personally, I would like to see all of us here live long and productive lives and pass on their knowledge, firearms, and loading tools to the next generations. There is so much to learn about all the different facets of loading and shooting and it takes time to sort through it all the available information and make some sense of it, figure out what applies to what you want to do and what doesn't.

    When there is mention of a situation here on the forum that I am not comfortable with, my job is to call attention to it so that we can all look at it from different angles, think about it, and make our own evaluations. Sometimes it ruffles a few feathers. I am sorry when it does, but I would rather have a man pissed off at me than have a newby make a fatal mistake. Most understand, learn from it, and add their experiences so everyone benefits. Like anyone else, I get set in my ways, but just because I have been doing something a certain way since god was young doesn't mean there isn't a better (or safer) way to do it. (No halo, but no horns either - I have to turn on the bathroom fan just like anybody else.) When someone points it out to me, I will give it a fair evaluation and more often than not will change my loading routine, happy that I have learned something new that can save me time and/or keep me on the right side of the lawn for a few more years. I learn a lot here, too. That's a bit more philosophical than I usually get, but that's the chance you take when you get a writer going.
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