titegroup and large cases


December 8, 2007, 02:33 PM
I am writing this as a warning to my fellow handloaders. Be careful using TiteGroup powder in large cases (16 gns) .I used to own a Smith 500.Now I own about a $1000.00 paper weight. It blew up. The general conscience is it was my luck to be a victim of detonation.
What doses this mean according to Webster?
det•o•na•tion: • The act of exploding.
That is what happened all right.
I am told by my elders in the shooting community to not even involve Smith and Wesson that their first words will be” Sorry buddy we don’t cover handloads”.
What would you do? Send it off to S&W .The cylinder split in two so a repair is out of the question. Sell it on EBay? Sorry guys I am just a little discussed. It was a fun gun to shoot but I am not sure if I am ready to pony up another $1000.00 for a gun right now

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December 8, 2007, 03:03 PM
I can understand your frustration, that sucks. not sure what you can do with it. maybe smith can get you a new cylinder? not sure about the cost of that though

December 8, 2007, 03:38 PM
My last 6 guns were 3 Kimber 1911 and 3 Sigs 9mm,40cal and357sig I like the quality and fit of these. No more gun toys.Unless of course Smith would like to steep up and take one in the name of customer relation. One can hope.

December 8, 2007, 04:02 PM
I use Tite Group for .45 acp. I notice it leaves a stain on shells.[That's normal] I even found a split case last time I tumbled. Thanks for the heads up. Sorry about your gun. Glad your ok.

December 8, 2007, 04:10 PM
I maybe over reacting but I am changing powder.No more 500 to fill so I am thinking about 231 for 45acps.Any thoughts?

December 8, 2007, 06:18 PM
I'd go with a slower powder for 45 auto in your case. You keep wanting to play with fast powders in (relatively) large cases. Until you can be sure your reloading technique is 100%, I'd get the extra safety margin of a powder that will overflow with a double charge. Maybe something like Unique; just make sure it needs 6+ grains for a normal load. If you don't already, start visually inspecting every case before seating a bullet.

The reason for the above suggestion is I looked at the Hodgdon site and they have titegroup loading data for every weight of bullet for the 500 caliber. If there was detonation potential, my strong hunch is they would have found it during the extensive load development. I suspect either there was a material flaw in the revolver, you had too much powder in a case, or had a barrel obstruction. You could always talk to hodgdon and send in some sample rounds of the ammo for them to check. On the odd chance, if there was something wrong with a certain lot of powder, this may help them find it (and they'd probably replace the pistol if it truly was a powder manufacturing problem). It's rare, but does happen.

I use it, but Titegroup is one of those very fast powders that just doesn't have as much safety margin as other powders. Factors like the bullet being seated deeper (setback, a big deal in semi-auto reloading) or a small amount of extra powder can cause big changes in pressure. I also use 231 in 45acp, but you have to be aware of the risks with the fast powders. You may see people recommending clays for 45; pass on it for now. Clays may not meter as well as other powders (causing powder load variations) and it's very fast also.

One reason people like to use the fast powders (especially new reloaders) is you don't have to use as much powder and it looks like big money savings. It isn't. The major cost of handgun ammo is the bullet (500S&W doesn't count, anything that can hold 50 grains of powder is a rifle round IMHO). The cost of the primer and powder (per round) is essentially a fixed cost. Maybe this doesn't apply to you, but I'd stick to a slower powder for awhile anyway.

Master Blaster
December 8, 2007, 07:41 PM
Call Smith and Wesson anyway and tell them the cylinder split, they may be surprisingly helpful, replacing the cylinder and maybe the gun for free or at a nominal cost. Call them, if you don't the answer is already no. so what have you got to lose??

In the past I burned through 20 lbs of titiegroup, in .45 acp, .38spl, .357 mag, .44 mag .45 colt, 9mm, and even .32 acp. It was my go to target powder for large cases. I now use trailboss for lead at target velocities, and only use titegroup in 9mm, and .32 acp. I never had a problem, but becuase its low volume and hard to see you can easily double charge a case. What type of press were you loading on??

My guess is that you either double charged the case or undercharged and stuck a bullet with the first shot and blew the cylinder with the second.

Run a cleaning rod with a tight fitting patch down the barrel and see if it hits a large spot where the tight patch is suddenly loose. That will be a bulge caused by a stuck bullet.

Post a picture so we can see the gun and how the split cylinder and frame look.

December 8, 2007, 09:43 PM
Just a couple of thoughts...In every discussion I've ever read of detonation, it's always been discussed as a problem with small amounts of SLOW powders in large cases. Titegroup is anything but a slow powder.

Second, Titegroup is advertised as being particularly good for small volumes in large cases and being position insensitive.

I guess it's possible that's the cause, but I'd think hard about other possible problems first.

Not trying to be argumentative, just pointing out some things I've read.

December 9, 2007, 06:24 AM
Call Smith and Wesson. The gun is of no use to you now anyway, so you have nothing to lose.

December 9, 2007, 10:44 AM
You don't mention any injuries. I hope you came out unscathed. Dirty britches won't count against you.

This doesn't sound right to me either. Tightgroup lights real easy and is very fast. Works great in large cases and is even advertised for this. Send the gun to S&W and see if they can find a flaw. If not, I'd chalk it up to an accidental double-charge and be glad I still had all my fingers. (Which are worth more than $1000 apiece to me)

I used to shoot 3-4 grains of TG under a 190gr cast bullet in 7.7jap as a plinker. It was very consistent and that tiny dose of powder was pretty much lost in the large case. Of course, I was safe in that a double or maybe even a triple charge wouldn't of hurt that rifle.

Mal H
December 9, 2007, 11:00 AM
I've got similar thoughts on this as bobaloo. How certain are you that you didn't have a double load? It's easy to do in a roomy case like the 500 and a relatively small amount of powder.

Smokeless powders don't detonate, and you have chosen the very one that is reputed to work better than most in large cases.

I also agree with the others that a call to S&W is in order.

Steve C
December 9, 2007, 03:29 PM
I concur with Mal H on the double charge as being more likely than a hypothetical detonation. Tight Group is such a dense low volume powder that you could throw a triple charge into the big S&W .50 case an not notice it.

The .50 cal S&W is running at rifle pressures of 50K psi and a double charge would push it well beyond 100K psi as pressure rises exponentially with increases in powder.

December 9, 2007, 04:16 PM
Sorry to hear about your gun. I hope you're ok.

I've been using 16.5 grains of Titegroup under a 335 grain plated hollowpoint for a couple of years now and have had no problems with it. I can't say I shoot tons of them but I think I'm upto about 600-700 rounds. Any chance you could post a picture of the gun? Those things are built so massively it's hard to even imagine it coming apart.

Take care,

evan price
December 10, 2007, 12:35 AM
Wow, I put 9.7 grains of titegroup into my .44 mags and I believe I could see a double.
Sorry to hear about your issue, lucky you were not hurt.

I like titegroup. clean. meters well.

December 10, 2007, 12:50 AM
Sorry to hear about your gun, but I've fired over 3000 rounds of .500 loaded with Titegroup. As others have noted, it is one of the better powders for smaller charges in bigger cases.

I posted what probably happened to you in the other thread you started (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=320403) on this. I don't think it was your powder. I think instead it was the amount of powder you used for your plated bullets (you shot them out of their jackets):

I know of a a guy that blew one up with a smaller charge than what you were using, and I almost had it happen to me. Those bullets shouldn't be run faster than about 1200 fps with that powder (for the record, I use 13 grains of Titegroup under a 335gr plated bullet that gets me to 1200 fps out of a 4" barrel). I'm going to assume that you roll crimped the rounds too. Keep in mind that there's no cannelure on those bullets.

Here's what happened to me:

I recently loaded some of these bullets with Titegroup. They were a bit hot (about 1500 fps) and I forgot to reset my crimp die from the roll crimp I was using on some other bullets and H110. I made ten rounds and took them to the range to try out. Everything felt and sounded fine. However, when I opened the cylinder, I found a ring of copper 'jacket' stuck in the forcing cone. One more shot, and it would have been the end of that revolver. You've got to use a taper or very light roll crimp on those bullets, and keep them under 1200 fps. They won't hold up if you try to run them faster.

If you have any rounds left, try pulling a couple of bullets and taking a look under the crimp. If there's a big indentation, or if you can see lead, then that's your problem.

Just for the record, my buddy sent his back to S&W and they repaired it - not for free, but for a lot less than a new gun.

December 10, 2007, 01:13 AM
Just call S&W. They should help you out, it's not a common occurrence. They should rebuild or replace it. Don't tell them it's a handload, although, I bet they do ask... A gun like that should have coverage even on handloads.

Steve C
December 10, 2007, 03:18 PM
They should rebuild or replace it. Don't tell them it's a handload, although, I bet they do ask... A gun like that should have coverage even on handloads.

You must be related to the woman that walked into the dealership and wanted them to replace the new car she just wrapped around a phone pole since it was still under warranty.

December 10, 2007, 04:22 PM
I have been sticking to bulkier powders just to avoid the pitfall of the double charge ! so far i have only used imr4227, hs6, and LilGun ! i have however experienced the other side of the coin ! Be careful ! be patient , and be precise ! Kevin

December 11, 2007, 08:52 AM
Thank all of you for your input.My method for loading 500 rounds.I weight the empty brass then charge it then weight it again then the bullet then weight it .Could I have screwed up sure. Did I NO. If I assumed this was my problem I would stop handloading. I have involved S&W and they have been great.The pistol is on its way to Smith.As for SteveC I am blaming no one.If you have nothing positive to say sit on your keyboard.We will see.

Mal H
December 11, 2007, 10:07 AM
Easy there, lotsunsold. I don't believe SteveC's comment was directed at you.

Doug b
December 11, 2007, 10:25 AM
A friend double charged his m-29 with bullseye many years ago,cracked the cyl.and broke his wrist.S&W worked with him on the repair of the revolver to his satisfaction.

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