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44 Spl. A little light and a little short

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by D.B. Cooper, Jan 10, 2018.

  1. D.B. Cooper

    D.B. Cooper Member

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    So.

    I loaded up 100 rounds of 44 spl tonight. I had some problems.

    My intent was to load 240 grn LSWC over 5.9 grains Unique. I checked my powder measure (Lee Auto Drum) at 30 rounds and discovered it was throwing about 5.3-5.4 grains. According to Lyman, 5.8 is minimum and 6.5 is maximum. (According to the chart that came with the Lee dies, the range is 5.5 - 6.3 grains.) There aren't that many that might be loaded below minimum, but is 5.3 grains of Unique going to be enough to get that 240 grn projectile to clear a 4" barrel?

    After making some adjustments to get back up to 5.9 grains, I checked the Auto Drum again after 20 rounds and it was throwing 6.2. I finally settled for 6 even, but I noticed that, every time I checked, it would throw powder in a range from about 5.9 - 6.3 across 5 consecutive charges. I've read that Unique doesn't meter well. Is that what I'm experiencing here, or is something wrong with the Auto Drum?

    NEXT...

    I set the bullet seating depth using a factory loaded round (HSM 240 grn Cowboy load). I put the loaded round on the ram, brought it all the way up, then turned the adjustment knob until I felt some resistance. The cartridges I loaded tonight measure out at 1.455 - 1.458" OAL. However, Lyman specifies a 1.50" OAL for that bullet. The last batch I loaded shot pretty good (In a 4.2" Ruger Redhawk); do I need to be concerned about this?
     
  2. SamT1

    SamT1 Member

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    The lead bullet should be fine exiting the barrel with that low of a charge. They don’t tend to get stuck like a jacketed bullet. A stiffer crimp will help it build pressure before it gets out of the cylinder and that bleeds off pressure.
    I’ll cbeck my old magical book in the AM and see if I can find that low of a load.

    Your close enough on length.
     
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  3. ray15

    ray15 Member

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    I've not used Unique but I think your variance at +/- .2gr. is reasonable for a big flake powder. Maybe a little better can be expected; I'm sure some Unique users will speak up.

    I assume you are using the Lee Classic Turret. Bear in mind that every force and impact the powder measure sees between throws will influence its output. If you run a full cycle on the press (all 3 or 4 dies) the jostling of the powder measure by the press operations will achieve a degree of packing of the powder in the drum.

    The key point here is that if you don't run the press through the full cycle and just drop 5 charges in a row you'll invariably get lighter charges after the first that make the variance look worse than what you will actually achieve if you run the press focusing on how consistently you operate it rather than obsessing on the charge. Get the throw set while operating the press through the full cycle - and once you get it set properly just run the press carefully and check every 25th or even 50th round to ensure you've really got the throw set correctly for the full cycle's degree of packing, that there's sufficient powder in the hopper and that everything's still operating correctly.

    I've fitted a baffle in the hopper so charge doesn't vary as the hopper empties. I rotate the measure to place its mass as close to the ram as possible. And I find it helps to stiffen everything in the path. I take the o-rings off both ends of the measure riser and tighten everything solid. I've also reinforced my bench to where you could stop a bus with it. I don't want the powder hopper whipping around for any reason.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018
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  4. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Always run a lot of charges through the measure weighing them all to see what it will throw before loading. I run 5 to 10 through depending on the powder just to settle the measure and then start weighing charges until I an satisfied I know what it will throw high and low on that setting. Might be 15 to 20 charges. If I change the setting even a hair I do it all over again.

    For light plinkers I record an average charge for the load, if it is close to max, and especially if there is a big spread, I record a max charge for the load, in other words, set the measure so the largest charge it throws is what I put down as the charge weight.

    5 isn't enough to make me comfortable, but let's say that is correct. Your average is 6.1, and your max is 6.3.
     
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  5. SamT1

    SamT1 Member

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    You may find that today it meters more accurately. When I’m working on large groups of ammo with flake powder I generally try to keep the powder measure loaded a day in advance. The consistency improves once it gets packed good.
     
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  6. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    Hoping that you set those initial 30 aside, personally I would pull them, resize with depriming pin removed to save the primer, check the bullets to smooth any dings, and reload with the new setting. Otherwise you just waste bullets on a load you don't want or trust. If you don't have one, you will need an inertial bullet puller for a modest investment.
     
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  7. Iroquois

    Iroquois Member

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    Great advice! If you feel uncomfortable it is for good reason. Never compromise your safety, it should always be in your best interest.
     
  8. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I never leave powder in the measure. Fill it, run enough through to settle it down, load, put the powder back in the jug.
     
  9. SamT1

    SamT1 Member

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    I just throw a small desiccant pack in on top and leave the powder canister sitting on the bench. I haven’t emptied my progressive press in 3 years but it’s got red dot in it and that’s obvious.
    That reminds me why I love the Dot powders. They kinda suck for metering and stuff, but gosh they are simple to use and always identifiable. My life would be complete if Hodgdon put red dots in one of their fast ball powders, green dots in h110 and blue dots in a ball rifle powder.
     
  10. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I am not worried about moisture, and there should only be one powder jug on the bench, so theoretically we are good there. I just like to close the loop so to speak.

    I used a lot of 700X in .38 Spl and .44 Spl years ago. It meters poorly but shoots well. I just made sure the max charge it might throw at the chosen setting was not over max data.
     
  11. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    I would be concerned if it were in certain revolvers. But a .44 magnum Ruger Redhawk can handle a stiff .44 Special load (and 6.3 aint stiff).
    In the 60s, the Lyman manual listed a 250 grain SWC bullet with 8 grains of Unique.

    I am not advocating to go over max just because decades ago they listed it higher. I realize that it is best to use current data with current formulations of powder.
    I'm just saying, in a strong Ruger (especially one chambered in .44 magnum) I wouldn't be concerned with my average being within 0.2 grains of max.
    But we're all different. If you're not comfortable with something, don't do it.

    Oh, and to the OP, I would imagine 5.3 grains will get a cast bullet out of the barrel with no issues.
     
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  12. SamT1

    SamT1 Member

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    55B58D56-2F0A-490B-B6DC-D6E033E3FD45.jpeg Here you go 1973 Lyman data for what it’s worth.
     
  13. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Member

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    The reason I don't use Unique, it's hard to get a consistent drop out of a dispenser. The good thing is that its very forgiving. Should be fine to shoot even though low. Just confirm the bullet left the barrel.

    As for OAL, set it to crimp in the cannelure grove, and forget about the OAL. Just make sure the it's not to long and binding in the cylinder. The OAL can be all over the place depending on who mfg the bullet. You do want to do a roll crimp to prevent bullet jump from locking up your gun.
     
  14. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    Looks like they gradually stepped it down over the years. (I do not have a manual with the 8 grains listed. I am going by a post from a guy on the castboolits site).
    One wonders if the powder changed or if they just got more afraid of lawsuits. lol
     
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  15. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    I believe 8 grains is currently for a 200 grain bullet.
     
  16. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    I don't either.
    It was one of my early reloading mistakes. I don't remember if it was Bullseye or Unique that I left in a hopper, but I now own a Uniflow that is really rough inside from the powder eating away at the plastic.
     
  17. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    I wonder if anyone has gotten a new plastic tube from Hornady to restore the clarity of the hopper.
     
  18. drband

    drband Member

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    You should be ok with those charges in a revolver.
    As suggested, always cycle the turret through all stations between drops for consistency.

    New measures and new drums work better after initial “seasoning”. They get coated with powder residue and drop more cleanly and consistently after 75-100 drops.
    Don’t give up on Unique in the Autodrum. I use it for plinking loads in .44mag cases with 7.5gr dropped very consistently. It’s almost always dead on accurate. Better way to check: drop 10 loads, fully cycling around the turret positions each time. Then weigh the combined drops and divide by 10. You’ll get a better idea of drop accuracy.
     
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  19. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

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    Yep, forget the overall length. Seat it to the crimp groove.
     
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  20. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    My experience suggests that people worry too much about "minimum" charges in straight-walled cartridges with powders that don't require a magnum primer.

    Starting load and minimum load are not the same thing for a great many pistol cartridge/powder combos. For most, sticking a bullet in the barrel is the biggest risk (with inability to cycle a semi-auto slide a more common annoyance). If you feel you are close to that threshold, make sure you see a hole appearing in the target for each pull of the trigger until you have amassed enough of a track record to know the bullet will exit that particular gun.
     
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  21. Iroquois

    Iroquois Member

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    Here is a load in 44 Special from the Speer #11 manual printed in 1987. Hope this helps. BABDCE2B-61A1-4B47-B7F3-11A68B38FA98.jpeg 1FBA3735-E0A3-4CB9-BE80-3E895DB8BF2D.jpeg
     
  22. Zendude
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    Zendude Member

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    With Unique, I also get a +-.2 spread in my AutoDisk. Since that's too much spread for 380 and 9mm, I had to discontinue the use of Unique.
     
  23. D.B. Cooper

    D.B. Cooper Member

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    That's actually my bigger concern...the under minimum loads. In the Army, we were always taught to pay attention for the "pop and no kick" of a squib round and the possibility of a projectile lodged in the barrel. Working as a Range Officer, the only AR I ever saw "blow up" was due to a projectile lodged in the barrel and another, full power round, fired immediately behind it. (A result of inattentive handloading combined with inattentive rapid firing on the range.)
     
  24. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    High nitro content powders like Bullseye are bad about it.
     
  25. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    WARNING: PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK. I'M JUST A GUY ON THE INTERNET, NOT AN EXPERT.

    The starting load in manuals for pistol rounds isn't generally determined by what will or won't stick a bullet. It's usually one of 3 things:
    • The max load minus 10% (do the math yourself, and you'll see this is overwhelmingly the most common);
    • A real minimum for H110 or other similar powders that are hard to properly ignite and do NOT work at lower pressures; or
    • Whatever fits in the lowest velocity column of their data (Hornady does/did this).
    As long as you aren't dealing with #2, for pistol rounds start loads aren't the kind of "hard stop" that max loads are.

    Go take the loads you are worried about being too light to the range. Take a good target with high visibility (like white cardboard or some shoot-n-see things or relatively new steel painted white). Also take a flashlight and a squib rod (a length of brass rod) and mallet. Shoot individual shots, making sure you see a hole/splatter for each and every shot. If you have a question, open the cylinder and use the flashlight to confirm that the barrel is not obstructed. If you stick a bullet, use the squib rod to drive it out. But you likely won't stick a bullet with what you're describing. Unique is famous for its tolerance/performance across a wide range of load densities and pressures.
     
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