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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  Special Interests - Groups & Societies  |  The Winchester Model 1873 (Moderator: Major 2)  |  Topic: 44 WCF Smokeless Loads 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Coal Creek Griff
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« on: November 04, 2011, 11:53:40 pm »


This is a similar topic to one in the NCOWS section, but might be better here (or in the Shooter's Meeting).

Is it unreasonable for me to hope to get 1200+ fps with a 205-215 grain bullet from my 20" barrel Uberti 1873 short rifle in 44 WCF?  I thought that Unique might be the solution, but 8.5 grains only gets me about 1160 fps.  I don't want to stress the action too much, but I wonder if the modern metals offset the old design to any extent.

Also, I've tried loads with WW231, Red Dot, Unique and 700X and they all show position sensitivity--they all shoot about 150 fps faster if the powder is settled near the primer vs. near the bullet. 

I'm hoping to duplicate original BP velocity without beating my gun up too much.

Thanks.

CC Griff
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2011, 09:08:36 am »

Coal Creek Griff,

It is not unreasonable to get 1,200 f.p.s in a 20" 44-40 with 215 gr bullets.
To keep the pressures within the '73 limit, slower powders must be used.

Here is some Hercules / Alliant data that was taken in a 24" barrel that I tested in my '73's 21" barrel.....

Blue Dot -
24" barrel - 200 gr jacketed / 12.0 grs. / 2 1/2 / 1,225 fps / 12,500 CUP
21" barrel - 200 gr cast / 12.0 grs / WLP / 1,280 f.p.s.

2400 -
24" barrel - 200 gr jacketed / 14.5 grs / 2 1/2 / 1,230 fps  / 12,500 CUP
21" barrel - 200 gr cast / 15.0 grs / WLP / 1,265 fps

RL7 -
24" barrel - 240 gr lead / 23.5 / 2 1/2 / 1,290 fps / 12,100 CUP
21" barrel - 240 gr lead / 23.5 / 155 / 1,166 fps
21" barrel - 215 gr lead / 25.0 / 155 / 1,255 fps

Blue Dot and 2400 are position sensitive and velocities were taken with the powder positioned to the back of the case. However, by reducing the charges by 1 gr and putting a small square of toilet paper over the powder charge, cartridges could be fed from the magazine on the level and pretty consistant velocities were obtained.

RL7 data were capacity loads and worked very well. Since it is a slower burning powder, note the 124 fps difference in velocity in 3” of barrel length.  Using a 215 gr bullet and increasing the charge to 25 grs. gave very good results at 1,255 f.p.s.

Have fun.

w44wcf  
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« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2011, 11:27:15 am »

Thank you, sir.  I have a whole bunch of RL7 on hand, so I may give that a try today.   I already use it in my .223 and 45-70, so why not add another caliber, right?

CC Griff
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« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2011, 05:04:26 pm »

Not sure what the 40 ft/sec difference means to you, but I have gotten 1200 ft/sec in a Rossi M65 (older '92 replica) with a 20" barrel using 8.0 gr. Hodgdon's UNIVERSAL (NOT CLAYS!) with a Mastercraft Bullet Co. 210 gr nominal (213.5 gr average weight in previous lots) bullet.  You DO HAVE to be concerned with double-charging, but the loads are not especially position sensitive.  RL7 might be a good choice if you are shooting rifle exclusively, but if you are shooting both rifle and revolver, I'd go with the faster-burning powder.  Get a good, firm, but not excessive roll crimp on your bullet to insure good ignition. From a 7-1/2" barrel Ruger Old Vaquero with tight chamber throats, I get over 950 ft/sec with this load. Just under the SASS limit.

I assume no responsibility for the use of the above information in guns other than my own, and maybe not then. (standard disclaimer).

Load carefully, regardless, Pard!
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« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2011, 11:15:03 am »

Howdy
I have used the Unique and it has worked for me , but we are always searching for the Ultimate load . We want to find SAFE loads to shoot . We want to have a smokeless load that duplicates the original Black Powder loads . Some people wonder WHY ? it's simple your rifle will be ready to shoot POA with either load . Yes I like to shoot Black Powder but not all the time .
Loads with reloader 7 never thought about that , will try some later .
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« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2011, 05:21:48 pm »

I did try some RL7 loads yesterday.  I loaded and shot 10-shot strings over the chronograph.  I didn't test for accuracy--the only accuracy I worry about when testing velocity is to not hit my chronograph or its parts.

There was little to no positional sensitivity; the powder nearly fills the case.  I did have a fair amount of unburned particles left in the bore.

24.0 grains gave me 1173 fps.
24.5 grains gave me 1176 fps (remarkably close).
25.0 grains gave me 1264 fps.  Several shots in this string went over 1300 fps.

I don't have as much RL7 as I thought and I have a rather small reloading budget.  I do have a lot of Unique and W231, so I may play around with those while my budget increases.  I want to save most of my RL7 for my 45-70 and my .223.

Also, there are no RL7 loads in the current Alliant reloader's guide.  There apparently were in the past.  Any thoughts as to why they were removed?

Thanks for the suggestions and discussion.  This is very helpful.

CC Griff
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« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2011, 10:55:16 am »

Trailrider,
Thank you for your data. I find that Hodgdon Universal and Alliant Unique are almost identical in burning rate.

Rowdy Fulcher,
I have found that a capacity load of 25.0 grs of RL7 under a 427098 bullet will replicate the original b.p. load. Grin
There is a very small amount of unburned or partially burned powder due to the low chamber pressure but the load does work well.

Also, for some reason, if one wants to shoot a heavier 240 gr bullet in their 44-40, 23.5 / RL7 will do almost 1,300 f.p.s. in a 24" barrel at pressures that are safe in a '73 Winchester. Grin

Coal Creek Griff,
Thank you for your test results.  Alliant only showed the RL 7 loading with the 240 gr lead bullet. I decided to try it with the 427098 (213 grs) which seats a bit deeper in the case than a standard 200 gr cast bullet. 25 grs was pretty much a capacity load so that is what I tried with a good solid crimp over the front driving band.  

I did find that by using 155 Federal primers (magnum pistol) velocities were more uniform.
Here are my readings from a 5 shot string in the 21" barrel.... 1260/1263/1256/1255/1258 fps - very consistant Grin
Accuracy was first rate as well - 5 shot 1 1/4" groups @ 50 yards.    

I first saw the RL7 load for the 44-40 in a Hercules Powder Pamphlet about 20 years ago.  When Alliant acquired Hercules they copied the same data in their powder pamphlets up until a few years ago. Don't know why, but there were a number of other loadings for a number of other cartridges that were eliminated as well. Hmmm.....

Lyman does show 8.6 / Unique as maximum giving 1,226 f.p.s. in a 24" barrel with a 200 gr cast bullet. I would expect it to be very close to that in a 20" barrel. By comparison Alliant shows 8.0 grs as max. but with a 200 gr jacketed bullet.
I would suspect the powder was positioned to the rear of the case in those tests with the velocities being less if the powder was not positioned to the back of the case.

If you do run some tests with Unique, please let us know what your test results are.

w44wcf
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« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2011, 01:24:57 pm »

I mentioned in my first post that there was a very similar conversation going in the NCOWS section.  I'm afraid that I kind of duplicated something with this thread.

Anyway, I did do some quick testing with Unique.  Here's what I wrote in the other thread:

(Quote) I worked my way up to 8 gr. of Unique, which averaged at 1117 fps.  It was interesting to note that, if I settled the powder forward in the case before firing, my average was 1040 fps.  If I settled the powder to the rear of the case, my average was 1197 fps.

I then tried 8.5 grains.  The overall average was 1163 fps. (1090 fps with the powder forward and 1235 with the powder to the rear).  The velocity difference was apparently on either side of the speed of sound—there was a much louder crack with each shot with the powder settled to the rear.  

I was hoping for a load that put me in the 1200 fps range, but I also don’t want to abuse my rifle.  There seems to be wide-ranging opinions on what the Ubertis can handle.  Does anyone here have an opinion about Unique loads?  Can I regularly use 8.5 grains?   Does the position sensitivity of the powder seem excessive?  As a comparison, I tested some WW231 loads (7.5 grains) and they showed a similar position sensitivity. (End of quote)

I'll probably play around with it some more.  I also sent an inquiry to Alliant regarding this.  We'll se how they respond.

Thanks again!

CC Griff

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« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2011, 12:49:23 am »

Griff,
As you've found you do get variations in velocites due to positioning of the powder charge with these dense smokeless propellants.  However, have you tried tipping the muzzle of the gun up or down before firing the first shot...and then NOT repositioning the powder for subsequent shots? You may find some interesting data as the powder settles due to recoil's effect on subsequent shots.  Also, have you checked velocity variations due to temperature?  You may find that there is considerable variation if shot between zero degrees F. and 95 deg. F., possibly more so than the variation between powder back and powder forward.
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« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2011, 11:45:13 am »

CC Griff,
 If I were using Unique, and wanted a load that was not position sensitive, I would use 8.0 grs and a small square of toilet paper to hold the powder to the back of the case.

Rather than positioning the powder to the front of the case, I would suggest feeding from the magazine on the level which is the most likely way a levergun would be used. Then compare that to positioning the powder to the back of the case.

One load I use for Cowboy Silhouette is 6.2 grs of Titegroup.  Bullet - 205 gr cast - Primer WLP
Here are the velocities:
fed from magazine - 1,173 f.p.s.
powder to the rear - 1,202 f.p.s.
variation - 29 f.p.s.

With 6.5 grs of 231 there was more of a difference.....
fed from magazine - 1,063 f.p.s.
powder to the rear - 1,145 f.p.s.
variation - 82 f.p.s.

Tralboss is less position sensitive like Titegroup but it cannot develop 1,200 f.p.s. at pressures safe in a '73.

Of course, you could use a full case of b.p.  Wink  Shoots great and no position sensitivity......

w44wcf
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« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2011, 12:48:27 pm »

The tech guy from Alliant says that RL7 might work well with jacketed bullets, but he recommends a faster powder (Unique) with cast bullets.  We exchanged a number of emails, but he didn't always answer my questions directly.  He gave me a lot more attention than I expected, though.

One thing I asked had to do with the listed maximum loads for Unique.  They are currently listed under the "Cowboy Action Handgun" section only.  I wondered if the loads were rather on the conservative side or light for those interested in light loads/speed.  He confirmed that they were fairly low considering the antique guns out there.  He agreed that a modern-made gun could probably handle somewhat more pressure than provided by the 8.6 grain max, although he also agreed that the toggle-link action still provides some limitations over newer designs.  In a later email, he backed off and suggested remaining within the suggested maximum, even suggesting staying under 7.9 grains.  I'm sure there are some liability issues involved, but moderate pressures are generally safer for shooter and gun anyway.  (Note for those new to reloading: don't read too much into what I'm writing about pushing maximum load data.  It is nearly always a bad idea.)

I am, by the way, willing to use black powder, but I'd also like good smokeless loads.

I'm hoping to play around with some different loads this weekend, if the weather cooperates.

Thanks again!

CC Griff
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« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2011, 03:54:34 pm »

.............
One load I use for Cowboy Silhouette is 6.2 grs of Titegroup.  Bullet - 205 gr cast - Primer WLP
Here are the velocities:
fed from magazine - 1,173 f.p.s.
powder to the rear - 1,202 f.p.s.
variation - 29 f.p.s.
.............
w44wcf

Thats a fair load...when a person can't run a proper(BP) load that is  Grin ....I've ran a few hundred of those over the years & it worked well...made some nice stops on small game, including large groundhogs. Layed-em out real fast.
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« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2011, 06:37:22 pm »

I tested some more Unique loads today.  I loaded 20 rounds.  I fired the first five with the powder settled towards the front of the case and the second five with the powder at the rear of the case. There was a 173 fps difference.  I then shot the last 10 without removing the gun from my shoulder.  There was a 70 fps spread in the 10 shots and the average exactly matched the average of the first five (powder forward), which meant lower velocity.

My next tests will probably be with the reduced charge and the small square of TP.  44WCF--can you estimate how small you mean by "small square"?

Thanks, gents.

CC Griff
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« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2011, 01:07:42 pm »

CC Griff,

I would suggest cutting about a 1" square (2 ply TP or Kleenex), then folding it twice, making it about a 1/2" square. For cutting a number of squares, I would suggest making a cardboard template 1" wide as long as the TP. One can then draw guide lines on the TP in both directions.

Place the 1/2" square on the mouth of the case evenly and push it down on the powder using a 3/8" dowel.  The size of the dowel is important because the tp can be pushed easily to one side with a smaller diameter rod.

Once on the powder, lightly tamp down the upturned edges.  

If you have a plastic water supply connection pipe (gray color) laying around, that is 3/8" od  and works well also.

Regarding RL7......Hercules did, in fact,  publish a load using it with a heavier 240 gr cast bullet. Don't know why the Alliant tech would only suggest using it with a J bullet......but then again, I doubt wether he actually tested it.  It has worked well for me under the 427098 215 gr cast bullet.

Have fun!
w44wcf  
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« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2011, 03:24:14 pm »

Thanks!  I am having fun.

CC Griff
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« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2011, 12:51:34 pm »

CCG
I plan on taking my NEW 1873 out for a little shooting this weekend . I have a couple boxes of Black Dawge ammo will shoot them and hopefully will run a few over my chronie . Want to get a Deer with the 1873 using a back powder load . We have talked about smokeless loads but we were trying to duplicate the original black powder . Maybe we need to start looking at black powder Huh
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« Reply #16 on: November 19, 2011, 12:09:27 pm »

    I have tried a number of loads using 4759. The best so far seems to be 16gr powder topped with 3 pieces of Quaker Puffed Rice (filler), pushing a 200 gr. hard cast .427 bullet. The rifle is an Uberti "73 with a 24" barrel. MV averages at 1322 fps. Sorry, no accuracy data yet.

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« Reply #17 on: November 22, 2011, 06:22:59 am »

CC Griff,
I shoot a Uberti Winchester 1873 Deluxe rifle with a 24 inch barrel. My most accurate load at Black Powder velocities is 8.5 grains of Unique with the case filled to the top with Puff-Lon filler material topped with a 205 grain RNFP bullet from Desperado Bullets. The velocity that I get is 1260 fps with extreme spreads at times less than 15 fps. The Puff-Lon is compressed and holds the powder tight against the rear of the case. Puff-Lon increases the velocity somewhat over the plain load and when used with 5744 or 4759 it eliminates the unburned powder in the barrel. Puff-Lon is a bit messy but I find it's benefits out weight it's faults. I hope this will be of help to you.
Jubal
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« Reply #18 on: November 22, 2011, 11:54:48 am »

Don't think I've ever read anything about using fillers with pistol powders in the 44-40 or any other Cowboy cartridge.

Skeeter Skelton's famous load for the .44 Spl. was 7.5 grs Unique under a 240 gr SWC, no filler. Venturino doesn't mention it in his book on shooting single action revolvers. I didn't think there was a a 'bad' powder for the 44-40, but Venturino had nothing good to say about 5744, a powder he advocates in 50-70 - no fillers.

The current issue of 'Handloader' magazine has yet another article by Venturino on the 44-40 for revolvers - no fillers. The same magazine has an article by Brian Pearce on .45 Colt handloads for the Lipsey's .45 Colt Blackhawk - no fillers.

Different strokes for different folks, but I gotta keep my reloading simple; especially volume reloading for CAS pistols and rifles for both my wife and me.
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« Reply #19 on: November 22, 2011, 01:18:49 pm »

Joe,
I have also used 4759 and find that it groups well (1 1/2" @ 50 yards) Grin. I do find that I get a bit more consistant results with it using a mag pistol primer (Fed 155) due to the lower pressures at charge weights safe in the '73.

Jubal,
I have used PSB (Polyethylene Shot Buffer) but with slower burning H4227 which gave very good results. PSB is similar to Puff-Lon except that it is not lubricated. I would caution against using filler with faster burning Unique in an original '73 due to the higher pressure generated.
Might be ok in reproductions though.  

w44wcf

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« Reply #20 on: November 23, 2011, 12:17:52 pm »

If the laws of ballistics that apply to rifle cartridges also apply to pistol cartridges, fillers with small charges of smokeless may not be a good idea. The following quotes are from the Spring 2005 issue of Black Powder Cartridge News, an article on chamber ringing by Steve Garbe. His reference was "The Modern Schuetzen Rifle" by Wayne Schwartz.

"A tuft of Dacron fiber weighing about .03 grs was used to hold the powder near the case head with the intent of building pressure to fire form his cases. Using a new case for each shot, we proceeded and got torn necks, split cases and within a few shots a ring started to develop right where the base of the bullet had been. After destroying several cases, we had a significant ring in the barrel."
"We also tried kapok, felt in several thicknesses different quantities of Dacron, and target paper as well as wads made from newspaper. In all cases where the powder was held back against the inside of the case head we developed a ring; loads with Dacron producing the most prominent rings."

"The basic cause of ringing is that a coherent column of high velocity gas and burning grs of powder with considerable kinetic energy, when hitting the base of a stationary bullet, has to stop and in the process generates a thin ring of very high static pressure under the well known law regarding the conservation of energy."

"Experiences reported by other shooters indicated that a charge of loose powder did not ring chambers whereas the same load restrained by a wad against the powder face would sometimes ring and that old barrels were more prone to damage that barrels made of commonly used modern steel."
"The most commonly used filler is corn meal or similar cereal. I have never used this concept as over the years, I have seen several guns that have had half of the cartridge case pulled somewhere up the barrel from the chamber. The cases were pulled apart just about where the filler and powder interface had been."

The author conducted further tests using no filler, holding the rifle vertically. "This test confirmed our view that the ringing was not a result of the wad impacting on the bullet base causing it to enlarge, and so ring the barrel." He states:

"So much for the wads themselves being the culprit. Further test firing straight down produced no sign of a ring."

Reading this article was enough to convince me that I never wanted to experiment with loads using wads and small powder charges in ANY gun. Modern gun steels may well withstand the pressures generated, but I can live without knowing ......
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« Reply #21 on: November 23, 2011, 11:16:48 pm »

PJ Hardtack,
Thank you for the reference. I remember reading that back then. One thing that I thought was peculiar was the use of Bullseye powder which, to me,  is much too fast burning for conclusive testing.  Early smokeless powders used in b.p. cartridges were DuPont No 1 (approx. 4198 burning rate), DuPont No 2 (approx. 4227 burning rate) and Sharpshooter (approx 2400 burning rate).  Too bad that they did not test these powders which would have been the correct thing to do . 

Here is a factory 45-70 Short Range Factory cartridge cut away. Note the slower burning DuPont No 2 Bulk smokeless used with the over powder wad. If there would have been a problem with this cartridge ringing chambers, Winchester would have never put it on the market. Then again, they didn't use Bullseye powder either.



Also, the bullet used is 1/2 the weight of the standard 45-70 bullet and is similar in weight to 44-40 bullets.  Less weight = less resistance.

All that being said, I see no problem using case fillers (preferably PSB) BUT ONLY WITH POWDERS like  2400 or slower in the 44-40. I have shot a number of 44-40 rounds so loaded with no ill effects.

I see no issue with using a disc (.005" - .010" thick paper ) or a small square of toilet paper over faster burning powders since they are pretty much consumed by the time they reach the base of the bullet.

w44wcf
 

   
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« Reply #22 on: November 24, 2011, 11:48:27 am »

w44wcf

Like my posting said, the problem wasn't caused by the wads.

I don't knock success. If you're getting the results you want, have at 'er! I'm not a ballistician, just lazy. I'm happy with the results I get not using wads.

The other place I see no use for fillers is with cap & ball revolvers. None of them hold enough powder to hurt you. Messing with any kind of filler seems down right silly.
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« Reply #23 on: November 25, 2011, 12:18:00 am »

    Has anyone any experience with 44-40 pistol loads using Bullseye in their long guns?

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« Reply #24 on: November 25, 2011, 10:08:45 am »

PJ Hardtack,
Yes, not in the article you referenced, but in another article I had read, hard card wads seated down on the powder did cause chamber ringing in the 45-70.

I don't use fillers much at all in most of my shooting but they can and do improve accuracy / standard deviations in some instances so I would not call them silly at all. 

One of the things they do very well is act as a flexible gas check.  A friend bought an original 1876 Winchester in .45-60. The barrel was pretty bad, very rough with lots of pitting.  25 yard groups with smokeless were 12"+ with bullets keyholing.
We then tried adding PSB (Poly Shot Buffer) and what a difference that made. 5 shots in 1 1/2" with all bullets going straight on!
The PSB kept the gas behind the bullet, allowing it to transverse the barrel undisturbed.

That was later repeated in two other vintage leverguns with rough barrels in 38-40 and 44-40. Obviously relining would have been required to shoot  standard cartridges (no filler) accurately, but the owners wanted to keep their rifles in the original condition.

Joe,
I have not, but I know someone who does. I'll check with him and report back.

w44wcf 
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aka Jack Christian SASS 11993 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
aka John Kort
aka w30wcf (smokeless)
NRA Life Member
.22 W.C.F., .30 W.C.F., .44 W.C.F., .45 Colt Cartridge Historian
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