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Quick poll on starting and max loads

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by BsChoy, Dec 16, 2005.

  1. BsChoy

    BsChoy Well-Known Member

    Who here loads passed maximum recommended charges on a regular basis? Let me say I am fully aware of how different brass will take larger charges and not show pressure signs and all rifles are different...this I know...I was going to start saving a little time and powder by starting with the middle loads in my manulas instead of the minimum thats all.
  2. JackOfAllTradesMasterAtNone

    JackOfAllTradesMasterAtNone Well-Known Member

    I have some magnum pistol hunting loads that are off the chart. But these have been worked up for my pistols. SSRRH, RSBH. And a wildcat rifle round that's just at the extreme.

    Do I ever start at the low end of the spectrum when reloading/working up a set of loads for a pistol or rifle? Seldom. If I owned lightweight aluminum framed pistols -I probably would. But I don't. I own quality stout firearms and will push the Rugers a bit harder than I would, say a, Taurus 66.

    Oops... I do own a couple of 1940's Colt lightweight Cobra's. -They only get fed meals of light target loads though.

    So I guess I'd reason what I'm going to load for, then determine where in the load data I'd start throwing powder.

  3. dakotasin

    dakotasin Well-Known Member

    very few of my rifles run at or below max powder charges.

    most of my handguns run below max (except my 480... it runs a pretty hot load).

    if you want to go thru your load development faster, you need to try a different method. the ladder method is fast and thorough. another method i like i is one i call the 'assumption method'... anyway, both methods get your load done in one range session. ladder will take about a 10-20 shots, the assumption method needs 4-5...

    i used to bang away for hours on the range tweaking and tuning loads, but not anymore.
  4. JDGray

    JDGray Well-Known Member

    I usually start at the starting load data, the loads are generaly more accurate. I did load up some .357 ammo some years back. And after loading 100 rounds, I realized my scale was off. I unloaded 50 of them, and said the hell with the other 50, and just marked the box HOT! Well needless to say, after moving and not shooting for a few years, I forgot how hot the loads were. The day came that I shot ONE of those loads. My GP100 locked up, and I thought ****, there goes a nice gun! No damage was done, but I had to knock the shell case out of the cylinder with a hammer and screwdriver. So I stay inside the max load data, after that close call! JDGray
  5. taliv

    taliv Moderator

    just remember that after a gun blows up in your face, you'll probably spend the rest of your life kicking yourself for saving that extra $150 and 30 minutes it would have taken to start at the recommended pressure
  6. armoredman

    armoredman Well-Known Member

    I haven't loaded TO the max yet.
  7. BsChoy

    BsChoy Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the replies guys...I think the economics of reloading is kicking in and its hard to justify buying a pound or two of powder every month to the wife...I think I will try medium charges first and go from there....My rifle is newer make and model and should have no problem, and my brass if pretty fresh so case faliure should not occur...thanks again
  8. snuffy

    snuffy Well-Known Member

    It depends! If the rifle or handgun is new, or at least new to me, I'll load 3 at recommended starting loads and then go from the middle on up to max.

    I have one rifle,(300WSM), that I went over max by 1.5 grains after the max load showed promise by exibiting smaller groups. I was running the test loads over my chrongraph, while keeping close watch on all the pressure indicaters on the brass. By doing this, you can see if the particular powder/bullet/primer combination is running into dangerous pressure.

    Each incremental increase of powder should result in a steady increase in velocity, as long as the burning rate of the powder is correct. When you begin to see diminishing increase in velocity is when pressure starts to get too high. This will also show up in case head/pressure ring expansion. Having a micrometer capable of reading to .0001, you can measure that expansion. The only other way is to spend a lot of money for a pressure trace system like Oehlers.
  9. redneck2

    redneck2 Well-Known Member

    Only thing I "over-load" (and very seldom) is .45 LC in my Ruger. This is safe (to a degree) because the specs are super low for the old 1st generation and equivalent 45's. New Rugers are made to handle .44 mag pressures. There are guidelines published on some web sites

    I think anyone's an total idiot to overload a rifle. If you want a .300 Win Mag buy one, don't overload a 30-06 and then brag about how you "load 'em hot"

    As for reliable over-pressure signs....the only one that's truly reliable is when little pieces of metal fly past (and maybe into) your head. Case head expansion, flattened primers, etc have been proven bogus and totally unreliable.

    IMO, it's really not worth destroying your gun and/or yourself for an extra 50 fps
  10. snuffy

    snuffy Well-Known Member

    Oh really

    I think anyone's an total idiot to overload a rifle. If you want a .300 Win Mag buy one, don't overload a 30-06 and then brag about how you "load 'em hot"

    As for reliable over-pressure signs....the only one that's truly reliable is when little pieces of metal fly past (and maybe into) your head. Case head expansion, flattened primers, etc have been proven bogus and totally unreliable. Izzat so? You of course have proff that it doesn't work!

    Is that me you're calling an idiot? If so, you don't know me or my care/respect for my self or my weapons! If you can't read a mocrometer or obvious pressure signs, then don't do it. I'm saying it CAN be done in some guns, safely, if you have a chronograph and a precise micrometer and know how to use them.
  11. HSMITH

    HSMITH Well-Known Member

    I load everything to soft target loads to 'experimental' loads outside of printed data. It really depends on what I want to do with the load, and what gun it is to be used in.

    Snuffy, I have had a rifle settle in and really like a load about 5% over listed max too. The loads are safe from -15 to 125*, and very accurate. I don't go higher as a matter of course, but I have before and will in the future. I 'read' cases too, and have never had as much as a leaking primer let alone any type of real problem.
  12. larryw

    larryw Well-Known Member

    Seeing as max loads vary with the whims of the load data source's legal deptarment, and what was a midlevel load 10 years ago is outside the max today, I think it foolish to call anyone who uses his brain instead rules set down by a bunch of anonymous bean counters an idiot.

    I use load data as guidance, but base my actual loads on experience and results. Sometimes, going a tenth or four over this year's random max number just hits the sweet spot. But that's just me and I know my guns, my loads and how to use them.
  13. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Well-Known Member

    Going over maximum printed data is done at one's own risk. It is not necessarily unsafe, as the listed loads are well under max pressure. But when your loads begin to exceed any data you've ever seen on a given cartridge, it might be too hot. I go over max regularly with .223, .25-06 and 10mm. In bolt rifles, primers are about the best indicators for pressure without expensive equipment. I've found Winchester primers to be particularly soft, peircing before a CCI primer even craters. I work up loads using winchester primers and then switch to CCI when I find my limits.

    My top loads:

    .223/ 40 gr.= 3862 FPS
    .25-06/100 gr.=3580 FPS
    .25-06/117 gr.=3227 FPS

    10mm/180 gr=1406 FPS
  14. snuffy

    snuffy Well-Known Member

    EXACTLY! The cases used during the over the top loads I mentioned had normal primer seating "feel" when reloading them after the above max loadings. If pressures had been too high, the primer pockets would have been loose, from case head expansion! The load data was from Hornady using h-4831SC. Other manuals have it listed as much more than the ammount I was using. AND I wasn't doing it for more velocity, I saw the groups shrink as I neared max, they continued to shrink up to 1.5g over what Hornady called max.

    That's the only time I will ever go over max, is when accuracy increases,(gtoups size), near max, and I "read" cases saying I'm not near max pressure.
  15. Winger Ed.

    Winger Ed. Well-Known Member

    To answer your question, I normally end up about 10% below the max. loading on the .270 or .30cal. bottleneck rifle cases I reload for. Not that going through a few extra pages of old phone books isn't cool,,,, but just for shooting holes in a piece of paper, I seek the most accurate loads. And for the little bit of hunting I get to do, even these slightly lower powered loads go all the way through these little Texas whitetail deer and coyotes. And, as much as I shoot, I figure it stresses the weapon itslef a little less and they tend to to wear out so fast.

    Also, something that sort of sticks in my mind was a conversation I overheard once at our gu-ru gunsmith's shop. He was hammering on a bolt to open a rifle....... and telling the customer, "If you want the power of a .300 WinMag... just buy one. Don't try to make it out of your .243".


    Not to steal your thread, but here's what happened to me once sort of along the lines you're asking about:

    I got a large quantity, 15 pounds or so of 20-something year old IMR 4198 powder for $2. each, all in sealed, clean, unopened 1lb. cans. They sat around a few more years, and I stumbeled across a load in a old 'Cartridges of the World' book that called for 40 grains of it in 7.62NATO, or .308.

    So I loaded up a bunch...... what the heck, it looked OK, and smelled ALMOST as strong as new powder.......

    About the 5th or 6th one I fired blew up my Springfield M1A. The bottom of the bolt face blew out, the gases went into the magazine and it blew out/opened up like a flower. A big chunk of the stock let go under the bolt and really 'whacked' me on the right forearm arm ( I shoot lefthanded).

    I sort of figured out later:
    The load wasn't exceded... But the old powder had dried out, even in the metal cans over time.

    (New powder is still a little moist with the Acetone they make it with when packaged & shipped from the factory. This factor is figured in with the listed charge weights.)

    Once dried out.... I think each little speck of powder has about the same energy as it did when new, but without the little bit of moisture, they are each a little lighter too,,,, so, you also include more of them for a specific charge weight. Hence------ a overloaded case.

    In later years, I weighed some of the old 4198, and some from a new can, then put them both in a .308 case. The old stuff fit without being a compressed charge, but it did come up higher in the case than powder from the new can did. That sort of confirmed that there were more little specks of it to make 40 grains, than using the new stuff to make the same weight.
  16. snuffy

    snuffy Well-Known Member

    "ANOTHER VOTE FOR START LOW AND WORK UP TO MAX" Powder doesn't "dry out", the ether used as a solvent doesn't have anything to do with how fast it is. The old powder probably wasn't stored properly, allowed to get too hot. OR you simply overloaded the powder. The max load I could find for 4198 in .308 is 38.0 grains behind a 110 grain bullet. 37.0 is tops for a 125, it isn't recomended for over 125 grain bullets! Since you didn't include the weight of the bullet, we can only assume it was a 110, and it was 2 grains over max!
  17. grizz5675

    grizz5675 Well-Known Member

  18. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    I started loading for an '06 back in 1950. Lots of BSing with other handloaders since then, and a lot of loading for many different rifles and handguns.

    snuffy said it all pretty well.

    I'll just say that loading beyond the book max is not going to provide anything needful or worth having. The downside really sucks...

  19. snbend

    snbend Member


    I see lots of arguments for and against hotter loads. Some guns will shoot better with "hot" loads than others depending on the barrel. Factory barrels will not shoot as well due to the increased friction in the barrel. After market barrels will handle the "hot" loads better because they have less friction, therefor less pressure. Another consideration is barrel life. The more pressure applied during the firing operation the more wear on the lands of the rifle. This will equal to less barrel life or fewer rounds fired. More velocity doesnt accomplish much if you cant hit the target. Ultimatley each gun has a sweet spot for a given bullet weight. Why not find the sweet spot, use it, and possibly prolong the barrel life, and shoot the gun where it will be the most accurate?
  20. Winger Ed.

    Winger Ed. Well-Known Member


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