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newbie question on powder, brass and bullets

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Diggers, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. Diggers

    Diggers Well-Known Member

    Hi all,

    Just starting to get into reloading. Im at stage one, READING. :D

    I would like to read up on the topics of powder burn rates, case volume and bullet rate and how all these things work together, AND what combos could be dangerous.

    I have realized that these topics are pretty important to loading accurate ammo that will all so be safe and not damage the gun as well.

  2. USSR

    USSR Well-Known Member


    Stay inside the parameters of any good reloading manual, and you will be fine. What you loading for?

  3. Crimp

    Crimp Well-Known Member

    The Lee, Hornady and Lyman's manuals are all good to give you the basics, along with ABC's of Reloading. These books will tell you how everything works together and what's dangerous. Here's a good burn rate chart.
  4. Diggers

    Diggers Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the info.

    I will be reloading .44 mag.

    I became a little concerned when I read a few posts about putting too LITTLE powder in a large volume case could be dangerous for some reason.

    Not due to a squib but due to pressure some how. I found that counter intuitive so I decided I needed to under stand the physics better.

    But yes, I would not load anything out side of a reloading manual parameters.

    I would like to load up a nice plinking round for my 629 four inch, 240 grain bullet going at 900 to 1000 fps sounds nice.
  5. Samuel Adams

    Samuel Adams Well-Known Member

    On a related note, on the average, how many times can brass be reloaded before needing to be discarded? I realize that not all are the same.
  6. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Well-Known Member

    To light of a powder charge can be as hazardous as to much. You will also notice the slow burning handgun powders(H110) have a narrow charge range. The 44 is much more fun to shoot with rounds at the mid or lower range. I use 2 powders for the 44, Win296(H110) & Hodgdon Universal. The win 296 is for max power loads & the Universal is for light to mid loads with cast or jacketed bullets. There are a bunch of the faster handgun powders suitable for light & mid loads for the 44. After reading some in the manuals you will see powders that come up often. For the max duty loads you will see fewer, usually win 296,H110, & maybe 4227. I load for a bunch of rounds & when it comes to handguns win 296 & H Universal covers a lot of bases.
  7. jfh

    jfh Well-Known Member

    Diggers: Your question suggests that you are interested in understanding ballistic theory and how it relates to reloading one's own ammunition. I've looked for the same materials myself, hopefully written for the literate layman and not exclusively for the Englineering Major.

    The closest I've come to an overview is in here . For more info on internal ballistics, see this sub-article .

    So far, other than a very fundamental understanding of pressure issues, I've gained little in this quest. The point is, for most reloaders it is probably more important to take a 'cookbook approach' and learn the physical techniques of reloading and accept published load data, rather than working from a theoretical perspective and 'drilling down.'

    I initially settled on the Hodgdon Burn Rate chart--found here . However, my attempts to understand VMD (density) characteristics lead to finding this chart--which is remarkably similar to the Ramshot chart Crimp linked to.

    I still don't have the slightest idea how to use this information, but father frog's summary does have some bullet points that help. Consequently, I am back at focusing on an intimate knowledge of recipes and components combined with the actual performance from a given firearm.

    In summary, stay with the manuals mentioned above and glean from them what you can. Richard Lee provides good information, even if his style is a bit egocentric.

    (I've not worked with 44 Mag, but I have worked extensively with 38 / 357 'replica reloads' for PD rounds in 2" barrels, even to the point of 'translating' 38 recipes into 357 cases and exploring a couple of powders that do not have much (if any) published data for use in those cases. But, I stay within conservative guidelines, and I rely on chrono data to help guide me.)

    Sam Adams: As for how often a case can be reloaded--it varies widely, given the expected parameters. As a rule of thumb, I figure ten reloads with medium-pressure recipes with new Starline cases, and anything beyond that is a bonus.

    I have some .45ACP brass that has been mostly / exclusively used for lowball loads that have the headstamp worn off--I'm sure they've been reloaded 50-100 times or more--and still work fine for plinking. OTOH, I've had 10mm cases give up (split) after less than five reloads with upper-end (NOT max) loads. The one cartridge case I consider problematic is .40 S&W, but I have not reloaded for it recently.

    sourdough44: I think you are talking about the "magnum" handgun powders (H110, W296) and not all 'slow burning' handgun powders, such as AA#7, Silhouette, etc., etc. This is kind of a quibble, I know, but there is a broader recipe base for slow powders as opposed to the limited range of the magnum powders.

    Jim H.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2008
  8. FieroCDSP

    FieroCDSP Well-Known Member

    I've usd a burn rate chart only in discussion, but that doesn't mean it's not useful some other way. THe VMD is important when measuring powders by volume rather than weight. Lee powder measures are calibrated in volume, and thus it's easier to calculate the volume of the charge when setting the measure, rather than do numerous tests on the scale. You still want to varify the final settings on the scale, but the VMD can help you get in the initial range, saving a bit of time.

    Say you need a charge of 3.8gr of Clays. the formula is:

    Desired Weight in grains X VMD= Volume cc

    So... 3.8gr CLays X .1462=.55556
    On a Lee PPM, you'd set the cavity to .55 and adjust as necessary from there.

    You can also use it to figure the amount of space remaining in a case, and if you're good with numbers, estimate the pressures, etc..but really, it's easier to use the cook-book approach. Really, the only time you'll need to figure pressures is if you're making a wild-cat load for a bore and chamber you create.
  9. FieroCDSP

    FieroCDSP Well-Known Member

    40 S&W isn't a real problem in reloading. I've got a few batches of brass that have at least 10 low-medium pressure loads on them and show little, if any, signs of wear.
  10. jfh

    jfh Well-Known Member

    FieroCDSP: Re VMD--yes, that is the benefit to having those values--e.g., you can work with the Lee disks nicely.

    What I have "looked at" / for is correlations between density and burn rates, and how they might point to load parameters. For example, there appears to be a limited range of powders that work really well in my 135-gr, 38+P "replica loads in 2" barrels project." That is, they generate max velocity with appropriate pressure and have more latitude in running out into the +P+ range before signs of pressure spikes show up.

    So, I'm trying to identify other parameters of those powders, such as density. The problem is that even 'comprehensive' burn rate charts have a wide variance in location, apparently due to the varying parameters for the components of the (SAMMI?) tests for determining burn rate. The simplest example is AA#5--on the Hodgdon chart, it's #30; on the Ramshot / tacticool chart, it's 53.

    So, what other 'characteristics' should we be considering?

    Jim H.
  11. Samuel Adams

    Samuel Adams Well-Known Member

    Thanx to both FieroCDSP &jfh.
  12. Diggers

    Diggers Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the info everyone.

    jfh thanks for your post, and point taken. :)

    I guess I just want to under stand the basics, so I don't do something real stupid. :what: I’m sure reading what has been suggested will get me there.

    However I will be following a load recipe just like I do when I'm in the kitchen trying to cook for my wife, so I figure that will keep me safe. ;)

    OH, and interesting info on the grains to volume conversion guys, I like that kind of stuff. :D

    Thanks again,

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