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Are modern reloading manulas too conservative?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Kachok, Dec 7, 2012.

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  1. Kachok

    Kachok Member

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    I am not one to push the envelope on a given cartrage, if I want more speed I'll use a larger case and a longer barrel. But I noticed that I have never had anything resembling a pressure sign in any of my rifles with a published max load, and have seen people use loads well beyond max with no issues. Just for my own information I slowly stepped a round up in charge myself just to see, again not even a flattened primer (not that anyone else here has ever done such a thing LOL). Are modern reloading manuals just too lawyer proofed in your opinion? Or do they really need to fib about pressures for our own safety?
     
  2. 56hawk

    56hawk Member

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    I would say that usually they are way on the conservative side. I've had several guns where I have chronographed factory ammo back to back with book max reloads and have had the factory ammo be 200 fps faster.

    With my 500 S&W I had to go seven grains over book max to match factory Hornady ammo. And even then the cases still fell out of the cylinder without having to use the ejector.

    On the other hand I have bulged cases in 10mm with a book max load, so it always helps to be careful and work up slowly. I also like to use manuals that list test pressures, and I cross check them with SAAMI specs to get an idea how much hotter I can go.
     
  3. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    IMO: No, they are not.

    When I started reloading in 1962, Speer, Hornady, and others did no actual pressure testing.
    They used real guns, and if they started showing pressure signs without blowing up, that was the Max load.

    Never mind that they used a new S&W Model 27 with polished chambers, and I had a worn out black powder Colt SAA converted to .357 with a worn out reamer in 1930 something.

    Modern load data is for the most part compiled using electronic pressure transducers that give actual pressure peaks & spikes never even suspected by ballisticians in the years gone by.

    What you see today is real measured pressure data that should be safe in any decently good condition gun of that caliber.

    What you saw in the old manuals was somebody's best guess, in only the gun they were using at the time.

    I stretched the frame and completely ruined a perfectly fine M1917 S&W in 1964 using published Speer .45 AR data.

    Keep in mind that published data has to be safe in anything.
    And they also have to leave a little fudge-factor for the folks that think they are way smarter then the guy running the million dollar pressure testing equipment at the lab.

    If only that were so!

    rc
     
  4. rg1

    rg1 Member

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    I'll compare it to a drivers education instructors comment, " The signs telling you the speed to drive in curves isn't the maximum speed you can drive thru the curve however SOME day you're going to see a sign in a curve telling you a certain SAFE speed and it MEANS it!" Some data I've seen in the past 30 years of reloading lists maximums that are definitely maximum. Some data I see in certain manuals I think are dangerous maximums and some data I think are outright lies and lawyer proofed. Some data maximums are no where close to maximum using the exact components listed and velocity they list is outright fabricated. A chronograph is a useful tool and will let you know whose data is realistic. It's not all data in a manual that lists low maximums but usually only in certain calibers. Be careful any time exceeding published maximums though and having several manuals to compare data is useful.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2012
  5. savanahsdad

    savanahsdad Member

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    I have a Savage mod.11 in 7mmWSM loading a 160grBTSP with H1000, load data shows start load at 65gr max at 69.5 , working up a load with the latter test jumping up .5 gr at a time to find the sweat spot for that gun, when I got too 67.5gr the bolt lifted hard ! , I stoped , went home pulled apart the last 4 rounds , and rechecked everything and tryed again , and again 67.5 gr of H1000 was max and 66gr is the sweet spot with that power , the book says 69.5 , but my savage has a tight chamber , and 69.5 would just be a bad thing to try, so in that case I would not say new load data is NOT on the light side now, with my Savage 110 and my 111 both in 270win IMR 4831 and H4831SC max loads work fine .
     
  6. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    What rcmodel said.

    I do know that, at least Speer, has lowered their 22 Hornet data but they said so in the little write up in their most recent loading manual. They said the maximum pressure was lowered for the new data. I do not have the book near by so I will not try to quote the numbers from memory. (Speer also now recommends using small pistol primers with 22 Hornet with their loads).

    While I do feel the lawyers and insurance companies are having a greater influence than in the past, I will still trust what the guy in the coke bottle glasses and lab coat determines with his multimillion dollar equipment.
     
  7. Boxhead

    Boxhead Member

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    They are a guide, nothing more. A few good manual's, a chronograph and a safe, accurate and sufficiently powerful load will be the result.
     
  8. just for fun

    just for fun Member

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    It would seem as though too many reloaders beleive that, "it's OK to go 10% over listed max, that's there for the lawsuits." Sure thing. You wouldn't mind if I moved a few stations down from you, would you? Your gun, your hand.
     
  9. RandyP

    RandyP Member

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    The devil is in knowing which published data is ancient from the 'it ain't blowed up yet' days, to the old copper crush pressure testing days and which data was compiled from modern pressure transducers. lol

    I mostly target plink with my plated bullet reloads and have a very limited budget so mid-range data works for me, both for the safety margin and more rounds per pound of powder. For SD loads I would work up from mid slowly but likely never load max.
     
  10. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Member

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    I think they are conservative, but "too" conservative? No.

    The publishers/testers no doubt realize there are a lot of reloading studs in the world who are convinced that every round they build must be a step more manly than anything they can buy, else what would be the point of doing it oneself? These types push the envelope and consider it safe because they figure the published numbers are conservative.

    I can imagine a scenario such as this: The testers discover the "real" max for a 240-gr EK .44Mag load--the one that won't cause a kaboom but sits on the ragged edge of prematurely wearing out a Redhawk--is 20 grains of powder X. The publisher knows reloaders are sometimes tempted to push a hair past book max, so they back off 10% and call 18 grains the "publishable max." Then the lawyers take away 10% from that already castrated number and call 16.2 grains the "acceptable liability" max. So the published max becomes 16.2 grains.

    The "factory ammo is wimpy" reloading stud reads that number for powder X and immediately knows it's too conservative because these published numbers always are. So he builds a handful of loads with this EK bullet with what he thinks is probably closer to the real max by adding 10% to the published max. No work-up, just a leap to the 110% charge. He loads the cases with a very manly 17.8 grains. He takes these to the range and brags to his buddies about them being 10% over published max, fires a few, pretends to be enjoying it so his buddies will agree that he is indeed a real manly man, and is satisfied. But the load he's shooting is still safely in at .2 grains under what was already 10% less than the marginally safe number.

    As long as our hypothetical manly man thinks he's loading above max, he's satisfied, and nobody gets hurt or sued. If he's got a chrony and access to the Internet--well, that's another issue.
     
  11. readyeddy

    readyeddy Member

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    Why would a publisher give information that would bring us close to disaster? There should be a safe cushion in case we make a small mistake that might take us over the edge in the event they give us a "real" max load.
     
  12. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    The days of having to push a caliber to just under the danger point are gone. We now have bigger calibers and better bullets. We now have tools to accurately measure pressure and to keep loads within safe parameters instead of making educated guesses. Instead of trying to make that .357 a .44, get a .44. Instead of tryin' to make that .44 a .454, get a .454. Thinkin' loading any gun past published max loads for any caliber is a sign of superior masculinity is not impressing anyone.
     
  13. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

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    With some consideration as to what cartridge, powder, and other elements that can increase or effect pressures, I find that the published data is well designated as a SAAMI maximum load.

    And considering that I load almost exclusively with slow burning powders for handgun and bottle neck cartridges, often times these powders will take you to compressed charges. So if you can't possibly squeeze more powder into the case, then how is it, that anyone could consider that as conservative? On the flip side, fast burning powders being used at maximum data will more often than not produce clear visible signs that one has reached the maximum operating pressure for that application.

    There are a couple of powders and cartridge combinations I have used that have allowed me to work up beyond the published maximum, but who knows what pressures those were running? And just because the case didn't separate or punch primers, doesn't indicate how close to the limit that firearm is getting pushed to as well? I don't own a transducer and reading cases / primers with any real accuracy, is almost like reading tea leaves.

    GS
     
  14. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

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    If anyone would know the limits, it would be Clark.

    GS
     
  15. dragon813gt

    dragon813gt Member

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    Without proper pressure testing equipment and the willingness to blow up your firearm you have no way of knowing if they are to conservative. I don't have the equipment and am certainly not willing to blow up my firearm to find the true maximum charge. So I will trust the manuals. I very rarely load max charges anyway. And the hunting 357 load I do load to max I shoot out of a carbine so I'm not worried about it being to much.


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  16. Hopkins

    Hopkins Member

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    It's almost impossible to idiot proof reloading. That is the aim of reloading manuals since the 70's. Jump to bolt action rifle triggers and examine how they are set up at the factory now. My guess is they average 5#+ these days. Lawyers trigger's are an absolute anathema to marksmanship.
     
  17. SHR970

    SHR970 Member

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    A bit of an exaggeration but :rolleyes: the point is valid. In the lab using a SAAMI tight spec. chamber and lead with modern equipment properly attached and ANSI Z540.1 certified and NIST traceable, we can know what is happening in multiple data points in the few milliseconds everything happens in. For those of us old enough, look at what a personal computer was in the early 80's, 90's, 2k's. We get more data and more accurate data each 10 years with better technology. That said, there is also the lawyer proofing of everything and for a reason.

    Some Darwin candidate will use Ruger 45 data in an Uberti. Some will read some interweb expert info and use as is.....like the fool some years back who said use (don't use this data) take a 30 carbine case, fill to top with W231 and seat a 110 gr. bullet. do not do this. Or the person who will use Buffalo Bore 45-70 in a trap door Springfield or clone.

    Some of us will methodically push the limits. We will do it with a reason and do it in a manner that will allow us to still use our given body parts. Others will do it haphazard and roll the dice. When you keep rolling the dice you will eventually lose.
     
  18. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    Another thing to consider is the temperature at which the ammunition is to be used. If you manufacture ammunition, or compile load data, you don't know the temperature of the ammunition when it's loaded into a firearm. A load might be well under pressure at ambient but seriously over pressure at hot or cold.
     
  19. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    All you need is a test barrel, transducer (calibrated), analog to digital converter and a PC running the appropriate software such as LabVIEW.
     
  20. ngnrd

    ngnrd Member

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    I figure if you find yourself needing to push a bullet faster than the max listed loads provide, you might want to consider stepping up to the next more powerful round for that bullet size. I.E., if you want to push a 130g pill out of a 270win at much more than about 2950 fps, trade it in on a 270wsm, or maybe a 270wby.
     
  21. J_McLeod

    J_McLeod Member

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    I think some of them are conservative with some loads. I've gone a whole grain over some published data in 40 without seeing much pressure sign. But I'm not going to be the one to push the envelope and find out how conservative it is.
     
  22. Andrew Leigh

    Andrew Leigh Member

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    The problem with loading are all the variables.

    Internal case volume.
    Powder manufacturing tolerance.
    Chamber size.
    Distance from lands (many new reloaders do not understand the effect)
    etc.

    So if one was to get all the variables going the wrong way then I think manuals are OK. We have locally produced case here that when loading 30-06will require 1.0gr less due to wall thickness as compared to a Remington case. Our local powder (can't get anything else) has a tolerance of +-3% assuming the worst this could be another 1.5gr. Worst case scenario I could be at 2.5gr off.

    If my max load was developed with a powder of tolerance -3% and I bought a new batch at +3% that would a difference of 4.0gr. Not insignificant.

    I do think many reloaders like to be at the top edge, why I simply don't know, when working at these extreme pressures on is looking for trouble.
     
  23. 1911 guy

    1911 guy Member

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    My opinion here, and some of you know a lot more about reloading than I do.

    Let's say the data IS conservative. It then begs the question "why does it matter?" the point of reloading is to either save a little money or make a load that is more accurate in your particular rifle or handgun than is available commercially. I can't think of anyone who just relishes the thought of spending an afternoon trimming cases or reaming primer pockets.

    If you're in it to save cash on range ammo, then using more powder is costing you more money.

    If you're in it to build a more accurate round for yourself, there's a couple facts getting in the way of pushing max. loads. With a few exceptions, the more accurate loads are in the bottom to middle of the scale. Now you want to bump it up a little to increase velocity while remaining below the point where accuracy begins to fall off. Published max load is probably still a few grains away. Maybe less if you're loading for a handgun.

    So what's the point of pushing the envelope? Call me a sissy or a blockhead, but I don't really see it. I could load a few more grains in my .308, but what's the point when it's grouping well and has enough velocity to make the bullet perform well past any distance I'm likely to shoot a deer?

    I also wonder if some of the percieved "taming" of max loads is due to more efficient powders in the last decade or so. Instead of cramming a case full of powder X and compressing a bullet on top, we can now load 3/4 case of powder Y with the same velocity and pressure. We've come far enough that there's now a market for powders that take up MORE room in the case to eliminate position sensitivity and the possibility of double charges. Trailboss comes to mind.
     
  24. coloradokevin

    coloradokevin Member

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    I'd say they aren't necessarily too conservative. Remember, people don't often exactly follow the loads, even if they feel like they are. Most of us have substituted different brands of brass or primers when developing loads, and we shoot these loads in guns made by a variety of manufacturers, with varying barrel lengths, etc.

    In many cases I believe the max load could be safely exceeded, if you knew what you were doing. But, in other cases I've seen pressure signs while relatively low in the charge weight, while exactly following the recipe in the manual.
     
  25. James2

    James2 Member

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    The loads have certainly been dropped some since my first reloading manual. I also see some variation in the manuals, and a larger difference in the data I downloaded from the bullet manufacturers. Here is how I look at it.

    Each one doing the testing reports what they found to be true in their test with the equipment they had. I don't expect it to agree. For sure the latest testing is using better equipment, so I take that over the old stuff.

    For me, the goal is to make some ammo that will be accurate and repeat. Once I have that done all I have to do is adjust the sights to be dead on at a specific distance, then learn to shoot! I don't really care whether a 270 is going at 2600 or 2800, as long as I know where it will hit at 100, 200, 300 yards etc. and know my ammo will consistently do it. Add to that: I want to be safe in the doing!!! No use crowding those max loads gents.

    We would be better served in finding that accurate load, and learning the flight path of our bullets than worrying about getting the fastest load in town.

    I use current data, and check several sources, then work up looking for that accurate load. I seldom get to the max load before I find what works well in the specific gun I am loading for.

    On one occasion in one gun I had a situation where with a certain powder I had overpressure signs with a start load. I never did figure why. I changed powder and all was well. These things can happen. That is why I always say start low and work up with care. Lets keep our guns in one piece and our bodies whole.
     
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