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.50 BMG Reloading questions

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by robertham1, Nov 5, 2008.

  1. robertham1

    robertham1 Well-Known Member

    This is the first time I have reloaded the .50 so I have a couple simple questions.

    I have WC680 powder, 647 gr FMJ bullets and CCI primers. How many grains of powder would you recommend, and what should the overall case length be?

    Any info would be helpful.
  2. Remo-99

    Remo-99 Well-Known Member

    IMO Robert, track down some documented load data from the powder manufacturer and follow it closely. If you haven't loaded for it before.
    50BMG is a high capacity and high pressure round.
    And if load data is wrong, it can go wrong in a big way. Best to approach it with some caution.
  3. GooseGestapo

    GooseGestapo Well-Known Member

    I believe you meant WC860. The WC680 powder I'm familiar with is a long discontinued powder much like H4227 or AccurateArms #1680.

    Be extreamly careful in the details. WC860 is a pull-down powder from dissassembled .50BMG AMMO.

    Go to Jeff Bartletts web site. www.gibrass.com. He sells the powder and can provide some starting data.

    Be careful with the WC860 as some lots have different burning rates. The one I have is very similar to the discontinued H870. Some are somewhat slower and are more like AA8700. Start and max loads are as much as 10% different.

    Go slow, and low, till you see that you can go higher.............

    (I don't have a .50BMG; I load the powder in .300RUM and .257wbymag.)
  4. rg1

    rg1 Well-Known Member

    WC860 powder recommended start charges for 647-650 grains bullets is 210 grains. 700 gr. bullets start at 205 and 750 gr bullets start at 200 grains of WC860. Same info works for IMR 5010 powder.
    I've loaded different lot numbers of 860 and all have been very close in burn rate EXCEPT one lot which was slower. Same charges gave almost 200 fps less velocity. And since different lot numbers of surplus powders do vary you have to re-workup loads each time you switch lots of powder.
    You don't have to work up one grain at a time. 3-5 grain increases are ok. I think you'll find that somewhere between 218 and 222 grains of 860 will give you the velocity-accuracy combination you'll want. My favorite load is 220 grains with 647 ball and it gives 2750-2800 from my 33" barreled bolt action. 220 grains isn't maximum but close enough for me and no pressure signs. Do start at 210 grains and work up in your rifle.
    Trim cases if they are above 3.910". Recommended trim length is 3.900". I seat the mil-surplus 647 ball, API, Tracer, and AP to the military length at 5.450" and they work fine at that length in my rifle. Make sure primers are seated flush or below and carefully inspect cases for stretching or cracking.
    Have fun! (One exception on powder charges is if you load "spotter-tracer" bullets the maximum charge is no more than 170 grains with 860 or 5010.)
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2008
  5. robertham1

    robertham1 Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the info.

    Where can I buy a primer pocket swager for the .50 BMG?
    does anyone recommend a brand?

    Any thoughts on the case trimmers?

  6. rg1

    rg1 Well-Known Member

    Some say that a 50 primer pocket swager is useless. Seems they don't do a very good job with the amount of brass that has to be reformed. Most cut the crimp out with a 45 degree countersink or the mouth deburr tool. Just remove enough material to get the crimp removed. I use my deburr tool by hand and a hand scraper to just smooth up the sharp edge at the bottom of the cut. I use a small tipped screwdriver to feel that the crimp has been removed. You can feel the bump if it's not. 50 primer crimps are most often not centered over the primer hole and the crimp tends to be heavier on one side or the other. I highly recommend a primer pocket uniformer to square up the bottom of the primer pocket and to cut it to uniform depth. Primer pockets in military cases vary a little in depth and uniforming them for depth (.220" is about standard) will save you getting a high primer that will not seat flush or below. I have a K&M tool that I use in my DeWalt. I have a home made case trimmer but Forsters 50 case trimmer looks good. The 50 cases take a lot of cranking on the handle of the trimmer. One that is powered by a drill or if money isn't an object a Giruad or Gracey would be nice.
    It's not likely that you'll be loading high volumes such as with an AR-15 so if time isn't a factor hand tools will work. You loading for a bolt action, semi, or what? If you want a 50bmg primer pocket swager look for Ch4D tools. Here's some more info:
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2008
  7. 50 Shooter

    50 Shooter member

    RG1 posted some good info, K&M makes some nice tools for brass prep and I use their trimmer and primer pocket uniformer. I use an RCBS .17-.45 cal deburring tool for removing the primer crimps on the pockets. Once I get the brass deprimed I chuck the tool up in a drill and go to work. I can usually do a couple hundred in an hour or so. Like Rg said, you only need to remove enough material to get rid of the crimp. If you go nuts on the pocket you'll ruin the brass.

    Do follow the start low and work up guide lines on the powder, try loading a few at 210, 215, 220 and see how they do. You really don't need to max out the powder charge, all you'll do is beat yourself up and shorten the life on the brass.

    The hevanet.com site is a good source for loading info, you don't see to many sites with the same amount of info like he posted.
  8. Strongbad

    Strongbad Well-Known Member

    The CH4D swager works well. I've used it in the brass for my 50. You can definitely get away with using the deburring tool however. Good luck with the powder. All I've used so far is 50BMG and AA-8700, looks like the guys have given you a good place to start though.
  9. robertham1

    robertham1 Well-Known Member

    Thanks guys for all your info.
  10. robertham1

    robertham1 Well-Known Member

    Could you guys recomend a good and relative inexpensive electric powder scale?

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