Titegroup in the .500 S&W: DON'T!

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by John Ross, Oct 18, 2020.

  1. John Ross

    John Ross Member

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    I have been asked by one of the members in a private message to comment on Titegroup powder for loading the .500 Smith & Wesson.

    I have now handled a grand total of five Smith & Wesson .500 magnums that were blown up using handloads. In EVERY case, the powder used was Titegroup.

    I believe there are two main reasons for this powder being wildly inappropriate for that cartridge: first, its burning speed is too fast for its density, which means that double or even triple charges won't overflow the case and may go undetected. Compounding this problem is the fact that the color of this powder is such that it looks very much like the inside of fired cases, and even if you look down in every charged case before seating a bullet, you may not notice a double charge.

    This is a recipe for disaster, and why I won't allow that powder into my loading room.

    Here's a link to a thread with pictures of what can happen with Titegroup in the .500:

    http://smith-wessonforum.com/reloading/178521-why-i-dont-use-titegroup-500-a.html
     
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  2. forty_caliber

    forty_caliber Member

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    Sounds like good advice. I've been known to use it in .45acp but really don't like how it performs.

    .40
     
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  3. Ohen Cepel
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    Ohen Cepel Contributing Member

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    I like TiteGroup a lot and use it in many loads. Sorry, but seems more use error than a powder issue. Were the people using published data when they blew up their guns?
     
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  4. kell

    kell Member

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    I agree. I use a lot of Titegroup and like it. Since many handgun loads can be double charged, I load a tray of 50 then carefully scan each one under a strong bench-mounted lamp. I can see down into the case and look for an equal amount in each one. A double charge (or squib) is very evident.
     
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  5. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    Titegroup bullseye zip and a lot of the other faster burning powders are not for people that don't have acute attention to detail. Mistakes in reloading have harsh real-world consequences.
     
  6. Reeferman

    Reeferman Member

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    I had a very close call with Tight group in a SBH Bisley 45 Colt. Had a close to double charge and got lucky as had no issue other than almost filling my shorts. Only thing it is used for now is 9mm.
     
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  7. sequins

    sequins Member

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    Not using a powder seems like the wrong solution to incompetent powder management. Using a powder that is less dense and impossible to overload is a great additional step for safety, but a double charge is a careless mistake that should be resolved through attention to detail. If you can't measure powder right you need to work on that, not powder selection...

    The linked SW forum thread speaks of "detonation", which is a much more interesting theory and point of discussion. If the issue is simple loading procedure I support Titegroup, but detonation? I hadn't heard that mentioned in a long time.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2020
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  8. U.S.SFC_RET

    U.S.SFC_RET Member

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    You have some strong feelings about Titegroup. I don't think that Titegroup really had the Smith and Wesson 500 cartridge in mind. Its been a good powder for most of my pistols However I don't have a S W 500.
     
  9. Virginia Jim

    Virginia Jim Member

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    Hodgdon’s website lists no less than 9 loads for the S&W 500 using titegroup. Blaming a reloading component for the reloaders error is like Liberals blaming firearms for murders.
     
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  10. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    Detonation is a thing with rifle cartridges powder forward and normally rifle speed powders. I have not read of this issue in pistols or rifles using pistol powder. Both unique and 2400 are used in a lot of low velocity rifle loads and I have not seen or found documents indicating a problem.
     
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  11. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Fast burn rate powders, containing a high percent of Nitroglycerine, :uhoh: may do strange things.
     
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  12. wbbh

    wbbh Member

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    IMO, it's not the powder, it's the reloader that loaded too much powder. To compensate for poor reloading discipline a bulkier powder may help but with large bore magnum cartridges there is ample room to load too much powder even with slower burn rate powders.

    OTOH, why spend all that money for a huge magnum revolver to shoot download ammunition?
     
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  13. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    Titegroup is a fast high nitro content powder, and IMHO, I agree it isn't a good choice to try to move such heavy bullets.
     
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  14. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    While I follow this mindset completely it is absolutely not a first-choice or an Optimum powder for this application I'm thinking that people use it because it's all they can find
     
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  15. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    I find the fact that Hodgdon lists Titegroup as a choice for full-house 500SW loads is... using the words very carefully... almost incredible. Looking at the list of powders... and with the exception of TrailBoss, which is listed for light loads, understandably... they are all slow pistol powders... except TG. I just don't get that.
     
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  16. bersaguy

    bersaguy Member

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    Well yeah, I'm surprised there's published load data for Titegroup in 500 S&W. That's a very fast powder for a heavy projectile. Although, if used properly it could make a nice reduced recoil/velocity load. You definitely would not want to chase velocity in that cartridge with Titegroup.
     
  17. MEHavey

    MEHavey Member

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    Somehow I don't envison bulk reloading/shooting the 500.

    Single-stage -- I drop powder into ALL cases before starting any seating ops.
    When low-volume, I then use a short/marked dowel dropped into each case in the loading block.
    Costs me 60 seconds, and the effect can last a lifetime. :)
    (sleep better too)
     
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  18. 35 Whelen
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    35 Whelen Contributing Member

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    An old story; someone doesn't pay attention to what they're doing and double charge a case. This is more of a reason to not handload than a reason to not a reason to use Titegroup, Bullseye, Red Dot, et al.

    I checked www.loaddata.com for 500 S&W loads and found a total of 38 Titegroup loads from Handloader magazine, Barnes, Oregon Trail and Hodgdon.

    35W
     
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  19. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Member

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    I still have a pound of TiteGroup in pristine unopened condition that I bought before I learned of the potential problems from using it. I'm not sure why I keep it as I don't ever plan to use it.

    There was a discussion on some forum (I don't remember which one) a few years ago in which some guy from Freedom Arms related how TiteGroup had been linked to cracking of the forcing cone in their revolvers. Allegedly the heat produced by TiteGroup damages revolvers.
     
  20. tightgroup tiger

    tightgroup tiger Member

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    I'm not going to stop using Titegroup anytime soon. It's my favorite powder in 9mm which I shoot a lot of.

    This is no different than when people were blowing up their 45 Colts back in the 70's-80's using small loads of Bullseye.

    The people that blew up their six guns with Bullseye blamed detonation and shape charging for that also, because people didn't want to admit they made a mistake and that mistake cost them a lot of money or they got hurt over it. So denial sets in and they blame someone else instead of putting safeguards in place, to make sure double charging doesn't happen in the first place.

    With the Bullseye problem in 70s or 80s, no lab could re-produce the detonation problem and dispelled it, they blamed it on double and triple charging and all the bad press about Bullseye went away in the next few years. Bullseye is 40% Nitro Glycerin just like Titegroup is.

    I'm sure Hodgdon pressure tested their Titegroup loads and deemed they were in safe working limits. Double and triple charging is on us not Hodgdon.

    This is a good lesson for all of us re-loaders, we can't be "to safe". We must double and triple check what we are doing and how we are doing it.
     
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  21. John Ross

    John Ross Member

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    DING DING DING! I could not agree more with your statement.
     
  22. John Ross

    John Ross Member

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    Some people, however, do exactly that. Shooting and reloading, as with all activities that have hundreds of thousands of participants, is a big tent...
    Loading&CastingSmall Captioned.jpg
    Extreme left of "Loading" picture shows a Dillon 1050 dedicated to .500 S&W. Extreme right shows an 8 station progressive in .50 BMG.

    The Dillon 1050 is being replaced with an autodriven 10 station Mark 7 Evolution Pro.
     
  23. John Ross

    John Ross Member

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    Excellent point. Both Unique and 2400 have a very long history of being safely used in reduced rifle loads, such as turning a .30-30 into a small game rifle using cast bullets.

    Circa 1970, a friend blew up a Springfield using a load he had developed of 24 grains of surplus 4895 behind a cast bullet. I don't recall the exact bullet weight, but I think it was around 150 grains. He liked this load for plinking because it was accurate, had low noise and recoil, and was dirt cheap to shoot. Then one day the gun disintegrated. Fortunately, he was wearing shooting glasses and somehow avoided being hit by any piece of the action. He pulled apart the remaining rounds that he had loaded, and nothing seemed amiss.

    The interesting fact in all of this is that a double charge of Hodgdon 4895 would have been 48 grains, which should not create enough pressure in the .30-06 with a 150 grain bullet to blow up the gun.

    Hodgdon claimed, as they always have, that detonation is a reloading myth that they have never been able to duplicate in the lab. They claimed that he must have loaded some inappropriate pistol powder or other propellant in the round that blew up the gun.

    I do not have a theory as to what actually happened.

    My own policy is to never load any round in any caliber with a loading density of less than 60% of case capacity, and to never use any powder, regardless of charge weight, that could exceed the pressure of a proof load in that caliber with that bullet. This practice has stood me in good stead for over 50 years.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2020
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  24. Waterboy3313

    Waterboy3313 Member

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    I use titegroup in all of my pistols. I don't load for 500 s&w but I find it great for plinking ammo. A little goes a long way according to the slogan on the bottle. Most cases could easily be double or triple charged. I like it and will continue to use it. I'm no expert but I when I am reloading I pay very close attention to what I'm doing and I have been happy with titegroup for my intended use.
     
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  25. murf

    murf Member

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    i do a lot of powder forward/powder back testing when developing new loads. the only problem so far is with hs6 in the 45 colt. powder forward increased muzzle velocity over 200 fps. i switched to blue dot for that load.

    i haven't tried titegroup in the 45 colt and don't think i ever will.

    luck,

    murf
     
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